Indianapolis funky-rap group, W3ThePeople, have released their first full self-titled album – and I couldn’t be more excited.
Friends since childhood, the group naturally reconnected through music. Each member contributes something totally different and creatively awesome. Most importantly, each W3ThePeople track is independently their own – from start to finish, the group writes, produces, records and promotes every inch of the project.
In preparation for their full release, I was lucky enough to snag Laura and Deven (sadly, Steven couldn’t make it) for a few beers at Square Cat Vinyl in Indianapolis’s Fountain Square.
If one thing is clear from my casual meeting with the two friends, it’s just that: they’re friends. Not just bandmates or business partners – the natural chemistry is obvious, which I’m assuming helps make the music so great.
Read on for the deets.
So obviously you guys all met at North Central [High School] but when did you decide you wanted to make music together?
Deven: Honestly around this time last summer.
Laura: It was a magical summer.
Really?! Like was there a special magical moment?
Laura: I think so! Well, for me it was. We first started with the snow song.
Deven: No, we didn’t start with that! We’d already done Sudden Moon. That didn’t even make the album.
Laura: Yeah, we made a song together and it was just fun. Then on July 4th weekend we did it again.
Deven: It was very natural. We were all just hanging out after we’d already come back in contact with each other. You [Laura] had just moved in with Alexis and we just had kick backs and shit.
Laura: ALL THE TIME!
Deven: Yeah. And we just started making music. And then like 4 days later we’d realize we had 3 or 4 songs done and we’d be like “oh, that was dope.”
So was it like “oh you can sing, I can rap. Let’s make music?”
Laura: Well we did stuff in college too. Remember?
Deven: Oh, yeah! So Steven and I worked on music together since our freshman year in college. We were making music in our dorm room closets.
Did all of you guys go to Depauw?
Deven: Yeah he [Steven] went there for a year, I went there for two years and Laura graduated from there.
Laura: Yeah, so they made music all the time. I hopped in on one song so it was always a little thing that we talked about. Then in the summer it just happened.
That’s so cool!
Deven: Really cool. All very organic.
Do you realize how dope it is that you have friends that are super creative and talented?
Laura: I keep saying that same thing!
Deven: It’s super cool. One of our other friends, Ben, is dropping music right now. His project is really cool – it’s called Something Stories. He’s dropping segments through a website, it’s more of an experience. There are four individual chapters each being released every two weeks. He’s also made a bunch of paintings that go along with each chapter with written pieces that also go with the paintings and songs.
Damn. That’s really well thought out.
Deven: Oh, yeah. He’s been working on the album for like two years.
Check out Ben’s work here. “This is a story about finding home in a friend and the journey back from heartache. It’s about falling in love and being reminded that it can happen again.”
Is it hard to collaborate and write a song with three different people who have three very different ideas?
Laura: In the beginning, I didn’t think it was hard at all. They would make a beat and then I’d just listen to it and catch a vibe from it. Then we’d just shout out what came to our head or what direction we wanted to go in. We kind of just roll with it.
Deven: I think that’s a big reason that we decided to stick with it and create a whole body of work. It did feel very natural. There were a lot of moments where we would have a general idea of a song and we’d decide to write just what we thought of something, and when we went to show each other it would be so similar. It’s really crazy. I feel like we took that as a sign that we should keep going.
It helps that you’re really good friends too. It’s not like you’ll intentionally shit on each other… right? [Laughs.]
Laura: That’s very true…
Deven: [Laughing] At some point I think we’d need to be transparent but you’ve gotta be able to work with people that you’re comfortable sharing those ideas with.
So, Deven and Steven make the beats and then Laura’s there to riff on them and apply vocals?
Deven: Laura’s there when we make the beats, but we have more of a technical understanding. We mix and master the project too.
Oh, so you handle all of it?! That’s awesome. It seems like that’s becoming more common, but there’s still always someone in the background.
Deven: I’ve been realizing this, even with things outside of music. It’s just so much more accessible now. It’s so much easier to create. You don’t have to have a ton of experience or the basics of Photoshop, but you’re still able to create things with easier programs like Canva. It’s really interesting how many opportunities are out there to be a decent creator. Have you ever heard of Mathaius Young? I think he does everything by himself too.
Do you think that’s a good thing?
Deven: Yeah. It allows people with taste to be able to create without having to be super technical or have a ton of money.
That’s true. Key words: “with taste”
Laura: That’s very true.
It gets a bit out of hand sometimes, though. You think you’re about to listen to a Drake song and it’s some 37 year old DJ making mixes in his basement.
Laura & Deven: [Laugh.]
Deven: Yeah! Cause it is so much easier now. There are so many “artists” now.
I’m excited about your new full project. How are people reacting to your music so far?
Deven: It’s difficult because it’s hard to do something like this in Indianapolis. For example, my brothers don’t enjoy my music. One of my brothers is in the music industry and he told me all of the things that he didn’t like about the music. And then it dawned on me that he was pointing out things that were all commonly expected in a hip-hop album. He was reviewing it from that lens – I could see that, and I understand it, but that’s not all that this is.
I think it’s great that your sound is so different – it’s what sets you guys apart. You don’t want to be like every other hip-hop album.
Deven: And that’s the thing – I was just talking with someone about that. I have a hard time with constant replication. Everyone’s doing the same thing and wants to sound like this or look like this, it’s interesting. I don’t really understand it.
Right. You seem like you want to blur the lines. It’s also so dope that you’re all completely different. You have the white girl, the Indian guy, the black guy. And the sound itself is so different, but I think it’s supposed to be. If it sounded like every other rap or hip-hop or even R&B album, I’d be disappointed because I was expecting a sound that collected all three of your personalities.
Laura: Yeah, for sure. The funny thing is, I hadn’t even thought about that until someone else pointed it out! We were just friends who enjoyed making music – and this is how it all turned out.
The clear racial diversity reflected in W3ThePeople only scratches the surface of the openness that they’re aiming to encourage. The new self-titled album is a true reflection of free thinking through a unique blend of musical production. They’re fusing genres and lyrical topics that have only been done by the ambiguous musical legends of yesteryear – take artists like Earth, Wind & Fire and Prince and add a dose of environmental and resource activism.
Even if you’re a hip-hop purist or just plain closed-minded, there’s much to be respected of W3’s creative process and passion for the music they make – all with the purpose of spreading love and encouraging diversity in thought.
My personal favorite is the opening track, Headspace – fighting the power and setting the tone for the rest of the album.