Jayk Gallagher is an emcee, an actor, a producer, and on the boob job quality control board for a prestigious Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. He wore fedoras before they were uncool. And I'm pretty sure there's a meme that needs to be created. (SEE BELOW)
Gallagher is like one third Pete Nice and one third veteran character actor Paul Giamatti and one third Tobias Fünke. There's no scientific evidence to back up this stuff, it just comes to me from Jesus. Ye of so little faith!
As proprietor of the monthly music event, Galaga, Jayk has had the opportunity to consistently worked the most creative names in hip hop. With his new EP out called, Corporations, Choose Me, Jayk is making a name for himself in the sometimes scattered and schizophrenic hip hop community of Los Angeles. Sit back and enjoy the ironic mustache ride.
JAYK GALLAGHER INTERVIEW GO:
SYFFAL: Ok Gallagher, as a denizen of the megalopolis that is Los Angeles: Fat Burger, In & Out, Jack in the Box, or whatever the Fuck that Umami shit is? I still haven't gone, mostly because that part of town annoys the shit out of me, but also because I'm convinced the undiscovered Jelly Belly flavor is poonTANG!
Jayk Gallagher: Del Taco all day.
SYFFAL: I thought you were going to say you were a vegetarian. Mostly because you don't have the I-eat-Macho-Combo-Burritos gut.
You've been embraced by the hip hop community here is LA. I've always thought of it as more of a community than a scene. Do you see it that way?
Jayk Gallagher: I've been really blessed that the LA music community is the way it is. Particularly the underground hip hop community. For some crazy reason, they just embrace people that do a good job and who aren't evil. Ever since the first time I went to Bananas at Kaos Network in Leimert Park I was struck by the equal opportunity ability to rock that's present throughout the city. Sure there's a bunch of cheap crap if you look for it, but what I'm trying to say is there's a preponderance of people willing to share opportunities with other kings of amazingness.
SYFFAL: When did you realize you had super powers and how did you get them? For instance I realized about ten minutes ago that I have the power to write interview questions while playing Batman video games in a children's dentist's waiting room. I received these super powers by forking the light socket of a woman a lifetime ago.
Jayk Gallagher: I got my super powers when I was 14 years old standing on the street corner in St Johnsbury, Vermont yelling out lyrics to Gravediggaz songs. That was when I discovered that I could turn lead into gold and straight fries into curly.
*****(Editor's note: I think, here at Syffal, we've all been there, except maybe Tom... not in Johnsbury per se but a street corner in Amurikah yelling out "Suicide.. it's a suiciiide!")
I did a lot of battling in my late teens. Made a lot of tracks when I was 20 but never put em out. Moved to LA in 2004 and didn't find the underground. So I didn't make much of anything cuz I didn't know where it would land. But a few years ago I discovered the thriving, full, loving, wonderful, pulsating community that is LA hip hop and I started releasing things... cuz people actually wanted to hear new things. And it went well. The reaction was good. So I did it harder. Like I know you do in the bedroom. You perv.
SYFFAL: Calling me a perv is like calling Ceschi the East Coast 2mex. Totes, brohym! Your Galaga shows have featured some pretty sick lineups with artists like Open Mike Eagle... who have been some of your favorite artists to work with and why?
Jayk Gallagher: I'm sitting in a bakery in St. Albans VT right now playing Open Mike Eagle's "Rappers Will Die Of Natural Causes" for the Vermonters. He's a big inspiration for me with his very intellectual lyrics and his calm, melodic delivery. But I don't really rap like him. I'm influenced by the rapid fire stuff of Project Blowed and Freestyle Fellowship and such. And the slow stuff of like your mom.
*****(Editor's note: Dude, my mom listens to Faster pussycat and could kick your ass!)
In regards to who I love to put on Galaga... Subtitle is awesome. 2Mex is great. Those are guys I love to put on, besides the homie Open Mike Eagle. Alpha MC and VerBS are good friends of mine and Galaga wouldn't be the same without their occasional participation. I've got Rifleman and Alpha both featured on my last EP, Corporation Choose Me, and they both did great at Galaga. It's been good having Existereo and Cadalack Ron come thru, blah blah I'm just listing fools now.
LA is absolutely filled with artists that inspire me, everybody from Gingee to Elos to Brand B (Dirt Raid) to Alwayz Prolific to Gypsy Mamba. I could go on and on but I'm going to stop.
SYFFAL: Actor, emcee, promoter, writer: you wear a lot of hats mister. Do you just like wearing hats or do you have a bald spot your tryin' to hide? What's your favorite hat to wear? If each of those roles (and please feel free add more if I've overlooked any) was, indeed, a actual real life hat, what would each hat be for each role? Example: rapper: definitely a suede Kangol because I'm so old and only ancient rappers can still rock a suede Kangol.
Jayk Gallagher: If I'm going to pick a hat it's going to be a fedora. Cuz that's what I used to wear a lot. Before fedoras became a horrible fashion choice. Because I'm a hipster. I'm a dirty hipster. And sometimes it looks like I have a bald spot. But I don't have one. Everyone thinks I'm Jewish so maybe a Yamukah. A Yarmulke. But I'm not Jewish, so forget it.
SYFFAL: If you could wear one of them and gets paid bruh... like paid paid, which hat would you take off the rack and strutz out the house wit?
Jayk Gallagher: Acting has to always come first, actually. And if I was gonna wear one hat to get rich off of it'd have to be acting.
But I'll tell you this, if I was a rich ass acting, starring in two full movies a year, or one full season of some TV show a year, I would still find time to make and perform and tour rap. I wouldn't stop. I love rap and rap is a necessity in me as an expression. As is music-- I would continue to make beats and continue to play guitar and sing and blah blah blah. Because it's a necessity.
Believe me if it wasn't a necessity I would have stopped the hustle a long time ago. I know other musicians would agree. The hustle you need to do in acting, rapping, writing, anything like that-- is so hard, and requires so much effort, that we don't do it unless there's something a little screwy in our heads, something that makes it a necessity to do it.
My rap hat would be a fedora. My acting hat would be hatless. These answers from me are boring haha.
SYFFAL: If you could come back as one artist from the 90's who would it be and why?
Jayk Gallagher: Bill Clinton. Cuz he left us with a budget surplus, and ran the free world as a playbook saxophonist.
SYFFAL: Let's play a game of word association. I say hip... you say?
Jayk Gallagher: Ster.
SYFFAL: When I say Fuck the... you say?
Jayk Gallagher: Negativity
SYFFAL: No, dude. The answer is the cops! Always the cops.
When I say put your... you say?
Jayk Gallagher: Money on the dresser. ?Number in my phone
SYFFAL: Now we're talking. When I say C. A... you say?
Jayk Gallagher: Home.
SYFFAL: I swore I was going to get you to say the standard robotic west coast answer of, "All day!" Swag or not? Do you put ham on anything? YOLO or no no? Cray or gay?
Jayk Gallagher: I am pretty anti-swag when it comes to my own self expression. I'm down with whatever anyone wants to do for themselves, but I'm not really going to listen to much swag rap, I'm definitely not going to say swag. I will however chant "e'eyday e'eyday" when that YOLO song comes on. Or at least I did the first 40 times.
On my song "Corporation Choose Me", off the EP of the same title, I lampoon swag rap. The song sounds like a swag rap song, the lyrics are written like swag rap lyrics, but they are about how I desperately want to sell out and have a corporation own me. In other words, I am saying literally the figurative subtext of swag rap songs. I'm sure that'll bore your readers, but it gets my rocks off.
*****(Editor's note: This does, indeed, get my rocks off while simultaneously it also is depressing to me that it does.)
As you know I throw monthly shows called Galaga 2331. I first started throwing shows with Adam Weiss. We were called "Hipsters Heart Hip Hop". After a year of that, doing kind of authentic underground hip hop shows, like Galaga does now, Adam started changing the tone of the acts we booked. He started bringing in a lot of swag rap. And he renamed our collective "Ham On Everything." So I split from that. Brand B, Alwayz Prolific, Elos and myself have Galaga 2331, which is devoted to dope beatmakers and smart underground hip hop acts. We have a pretty regular group of individuals that come through every month-- a lot of art and artists and cyphering. I'm really happy with it. And we don't do any swag stuff.
Believe me, I'm not an idiot, swag stuff makes money. Those swag rap parties that I shy away from, they get packed. People want to hear a group of girl rappers rap about putting their pussy on your face. I don't. I'd rather listen to JNatural if I'm going to hear a woman rap. Or Gingee, or Nite n Dae. That's the good stuff. And they play at Galaga.
SYFFAL: A self-proclaimed dirty hipster who doesn't do swag? You are an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a BRC burrito (beans, rice, and cheese – as a patron of the great Mexican-ish fast food, you undoubtedly know that, but we have readers from the hinterlands where little girls have Mexican food on their Trapper Keepers right there alongside the unicorns). If you were indeed wrapped up in a BRC burrito, what would the BRC stand for?
Jayk Gallagher: Broke rich child.
SYFFAL: Recommend five songs and explain why our readers need to stop sleeping.
Jayk Gallagher: [If you wanna know me]
The New Year - Death Cab for Cutie
The Biggest Lie - Elliott Smith
Death is Coming to Get You - Beck (and Whimsical Actress)
Little Girl Blue - Nina Simone (and Wild is the Wind)
Strokes - Angles
[What I'm listening to now]
When - Susanne Sundfør
Precious - Little Dragon
Hypocritical Kiss - Jack White
Illest Four Letter Word - Cage
Fuck Sound Check - Copywrite
God Loves Ugly - Atmosphere
Miscommunication - Sahtyre
The Processional - Open Mike Eagle
Stop Acting like a Douche - VerBS - (and Feelings Get in the Way)
Nocando remixed by El-p
Going Up - Gypsy Mamba
Jerky - Elos
Dolow Kidd and Devi Wonder
Brand B and Dirt Raid
Gingee and JNatural
SYFFAL: Or 25... either way! Good list though.
I think we're in this time where interesting music is getting play. From indie rockers, mellow aged rappers, angry aged rappers... music seems more mature and creative lately. Do you think that the demise of the "record industry" has finally led to some kind of democratization of music? I mean that people are going to Youtube and choosing smart and original shit as opposed to being force fed Dayglo, fish-eyed lens effected, least common denominator shit. Have you benefitted from this? How does a young artist (or an old one) break through all that noise?
Jayk Gallagher: Well the problem is that no one is making any money off it. VerBS is incredibly well established, has done something like 400 shows in the last few years, and he still pushes a bicycle (although he does that by choice), but as incredibly well respected and venerated as he is, he doesn't have piles of money flying at him. I don't see Open Mike Eagle getting rich this year, even though he has Slug and Atmosphere tearing across town through traffic to get to his music video shoot (which we're grateful to have had at Galaga a few months ago.)
But it could work out for both of those dudes above with real material success. They have to keep up the hustle as they've been doing it. I see longevity pay off more than anything in hip hop.
I don't think that people are choosing smart and original shit on YouTube. OME gets several thousand views, KnockSteady gets several thousand views... Kreayshawn gets a million views in the first day her video came out, before anyone had signed her. Swag sells.
But you're right, the underground music industry is seeing some very mature, creative music. 2Mex writes great lyrics. Nocando writes great lyrics.
SYFFAL: And you are right about a couple of things too. We're not making any real money doing this stuff. Syffal was created and is maintained out of the love of a well-placed cock joke. Ain't none of us making any money off this!
Jayk Gallagher: But, truthfully, nobody was making money doing noncommercial stuff before the industry's collapse either. Now I feel like more of our time and energy can be directed at creativity and originality, as opposed to trying to hustle up a record contract.
Second, swag sells. It always has. I mean glam rock, hair metal, disco, rap. We've always been the alternative right? Punk, hip hop, and good ole fashioned, foot-stompin' rock & roll.
There's always been more money in glamour but there is more truth and longevity in what we do. There will always be more money in being a prostitute than in falling in long and living a lifetime together. Nobody pays you to fall in love and then spend the rest of your life nurturing that love until it's something that you might die if it went away.
Have you benefitted from this? How does a young artist (or an old one) break through all that noise?
Hell yeah I have. One of the ways the whole democratization has benefited me is through battling. Through my battles on Grind Time and KOTD I've gotten recognized on subways and by security guards and that's pretty fun. Sometimes I go to auditions and the guard down stairs recognized me from battles and the casting director recognizes me from acting. So I'm pretty grateful for that.
Even though battling is a very testosterone filled homophobic sport some audience members have filtered over to my somewhat indie rock influenced music-- added me on facebook or they clap me on the back at shows. Battling has treated me really well.
Beyond internet democratization, I think there is a sense now in hip hop that anyone can do it, regardless of background, as long as they come correct. I've definitely benefited from that with my argyle sweater vests and wingtips.
SYFFAL: The question is: How to turn that love a lifetime in a fat bank account?
Jayk Gallagher: I don't know man I just hustle and keep creating art. The majority of my bills get paid by art creation. So that's cool. I got what I need. But there will come a point. I'm pretty materialistic. I want mid century modern furniture. But the combination of acting and rapping so far has me at lower middle class hahaha which means poor in LA. Whatever. I love it. And I'm blessed.
SYFFAL: Speaking of internet hustles, promote thyself! The new EP is dope. Where can one come upeth on this release? Where might we stay current on Jayk Gallagher's coming and goings? Any new projects in the works? Tours, shows, events?
Jayk Gallagher: So the Corporation Choose Me EP is now available on jaykgallagher.bandcamp.com and jaykgallagher.com. I didn't put it on ITunes cuz I didn't wanna pay the creep that offered it to me. Go get it, it's rad, and it's a collab with the amazing Alwayz Prolific (Swingy Recordings, Hellfyre Club, E Super).
I've been recording an EP with Hellfyre Club over ELOS beats called "Seismic", though I may lose patience with that and fold it into a full length album. Either way there's plenty in the works.
I redid some of my beats with my homies The Vim Dicta on guitars. Went in and recorded the vocals at the place The Chronic was recorded. It was a huge honor. Thanks to my buddy Jeff Greenberg who owns The Village, where historic albums by Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and haha Nelly were recorded.
Oh yeah and I just started an indie rock band called Hobart W Fink. That's fucking fun. Keep an eye out for those shows in LA.
SYFFAL: Thanks so much for taking the time Galgz. I can call you Galgz, no?
Corporation Choose Me, EP: jaykgallagher.bandcamp.com