(featured photo by Jake Mulka)
Gulley is a producer, DJ, and label head from Detroit, Michigan. For more than four years, Gulley has been carefully crafting and perfecting his debut full-length L + S, released today on his own Shadow Temple Records imprint. We spoke with Gulley at length about his creative process, the significance of the project, and his commitment to Detroit artistry and opportunity. Read on below, and be sure to cop the project on Bandcamp here, and listen wherever you get your music:
B: How does it feel for this project to span such a long period of time?
G: Shit, it’s a relief! (laughs). I didn’t expect to be working on it for this long, I’m just glad for it to be out in the world.
B: I remember us talking in the last interview about how the project has songs from different periods of time, how does the project represent these different eras in your musical career?
G: It’s crazy, because I feel like a lot of those beats are older at this point, but music is timeless at the end of the day. I feel like it’s hard to tell, because I’ve dropped so many projects in the time since I first started recording L + S, so there are a lot of different styles in there. But honestly, most of it is pretty old at this point, except maybe one or two tracks.
B: It’s interesting, because the audience gets the music at a certain point, but they don’t always know how long it’s been and that context can sometimes add to the meaning of it.
G: Right, very true.
B: The nature of the project is very collaborative, it’s kind of a representation of your personal and musical relationships in a way. How does that play into the overall significance of the project?
G: All these people on the project are family; Detroit hip hop, at least the community on our side of the spectrum, is very tight knit. Even if we haven’t been working together for years, when it actually happens, it can produce a certain type of powerful energy.
I wish we saw more of that in Detroit, specifically in the local and underground scenes. Before I was even a producer, I used to want to see a producer project like this, one that brought a bunch of different people together from our scene to just make shit. I’d say DaG has definitely made beat projects with different rappers on there, but I always wanted to see one with every song having some features, different combinations of artists, just something special. When I eventually stopped rapping, I was just like shit, why don’t I do it? I’d given the idea to a lot of people in the past, but I figured it was time to take my own advice.
B: How does it feel to be releasing music right now?
G: Man, I had like a whole plan. Events, different things, but really I just didn’t want to hold it anymore. I just had to readjust the plan to today’s times. Plus, we gotta keep working even despite everything that’s going on. I feel like the city could use some heat, from the city, you know. It never hurts to release good music, even if it’s not always an ideal situation. There’s plenty of other artists doing their thing as well, I just figured I would contribute my portion to it.
B: It’s interesting, because I see some artists being skeptical about releasing content because there are these bigger issues that we need to be focused on. But at the same time, even the people fighting the good fight need to be able to relax and enjoy something every once in a while, so it’s important for artists to still practice their craft and to bring their creativity to the world in these difficult times.
G: Yeah, for sure. It definitely hasn’t been a lack in general from artists, but I feel like I’ve felt a little lack from our side. I got love for all artists, cuz really if you’ve got the courage to go up there and do your thing, I appreciate you. But I do think there’s a certain side of Detroit that doesn’t get all the shine that it needs, so I wanna put a light on those artists and let them see some different talent. That was a big goal of mine.
B: Right, exactly. I feel like for people outside the city, Detroit rap has a certain connotation or a certain style of it comes to mind for them. You see people giving Detroit props lately for certain artists, but just like with any local scene there are so many different facets of the city that don’t always get the recognition that they deserve.
G: People tend to forget Motown man, we got real soul here. And you got all these Motown babies, people that grew up on that listening in their homes, that’s like our parents and even us. I do feel like we gotta start tapping into that, cuz there’s really some interesting combinations in that.
I feel like it seperate like this man: you either a Dilla baby, or a Blade baby. Then there’s the Dilla and Blade babies…there’s just some interesting combinations man, because there’s so many different influences in the city man, and I feel like most people only see certain aspects of it. I want people to get the whole spectrum.
Plus in general, I feel like people can get a fucked up perspective on it. Michigan alone is a beautiful place, then of course Detroit is a beautiful city, I just want people to see that or at least kind of understand it.
B: Yep, I feel that.
G: And it’s not just about what gets released, because a lot of shit gets created here that won’t see the light of day. I’ve got so much unreleased shit, so many artists that was gonna be on here, but at the end of the day it is what it is and I’m happy with the project. Sometimes people just create for the sake of creating, and that’s just as valuable as what gets released.
Going back to my earlier point, at the end of the day I just want to see people being able to eat of their own creativity. I want to bring more opportunities here, I don’t want people feeling like they gotta leave to make their bread or whatever. People tell me all the time, you gotta get outta here man or you gonna be stuck here like the rest of these old fucks. And I’m like that’s fucked up man, why can’t I make it here? Why can’t the next kid after me try to make it here? No disrespect to anywhere else, but it should be some type of platform here. And I’m tryna be a part of doing that.
B: Exactly, you’re so right. I remember seeing Guilty Simpson perform back in like 2016 with Jay Electronica talking about the same thing. Like why do artists need to leave to get their recognition? He was really challenging Detroit artists and fans to support their peers while they’re still here, not waiting until the world notices.
G: Man, and the influence don’t stop at music. Cars, bro…like tell me where in the world you’re not seeing the influence of Detroit. This is the holy land, I want to be buried here. I love Detroit.