Interview: Uhlife Out Of The Darkness

By | September 4, 2012 at 7:47 am | No comments | Featured Post, Interviews, MUSIC | Tags: , , ,

Every so often there comes an artist that will demand your full and close attention at first listen, as is the case with the new upcoming rarity, uhlife. Rarity in the full sense of the word- from the name to the persona, philosophy to the music, there is something just so intriguing about this character. Whether it be the mysterious appearance, the lyrical diversity, good ear for production, or the fact that the new comer makes it a strict rule to stray away from the use of masculine and feminine words (such as he, his, her, she) which display lyrical exclusivity; It is safe to say that uhlifeis stepping out of the norm, bringing a refreshing and versatile sound for your ears with the mixtape debut (barely)uhlive.

So, who is this out of the blue talent and how did the mysterious individual come to surface? I can’t think of any other source more fitting than Uhlife (whomever that is) to give us insight into these things.

ISM: First and foremost, we’d like to know, in your own words, who exactly is uhlife? and where did this obscure, unidentified rapper (whomever it is) come from?

Haha, uhlife is a life.

And where I’m coming from is all the places I’ve been (physical, mental, spiritual, and so on).

ISM: What was it like for you growing up? And what led you to pursue making music

Growing up was um… strange, unstable, confusing. Beautiful and mind-opening.

I moved a lot from place to place, spending time in very different environments around very different kinds of lifestyles. I had no choice about where each place was, just went with it and never felt like I belonged, but always adjusted though. My appearance has always been ambiguous, confusing to folks, so it was always difficult to fit in. Opened my eyes to a larger picture. I just live my own type of life now and blaze my own trail against whatever odds.

Music was always there though, from the get-go. A constant. Being the soundtrack, Guiding me, Teaching me. It’s one of the first things I can remember experiencing enjoyment to. Naturally, I started wanting to make it. It became a doorway to freedom, ‘cause I ain’t free in real life so music is me getting free.

ISM: Wow. That’s actually a very interesting and inspiring take on it. With that being said lets talk a little bit about the sound, message, and intent behind uhlife’s music. Describe the philosophy and motive of what you portray through your music.

The music is about life, the experience of it. ‘Cause that’s all that matters: How we experience life as we live it. The only motive behind my music to is to convey and portray my life experience, thoughts, emotions, and ideas in a way that others can relate to their own. When I say others, I mean whomever. I’m not trying to exclude anyone. It’s frustrating when you’re listening to a song, ill as it may be, that’s from a very particular perspective and you can’t fully connect to it for that reason. You gotta switch words around in your head or tolerate certain words to apply it to yourself. That’s why when I write songs, I don’t use terms I feel are exclusive (i.e. he, she, his, her, ethnic, racial, religious or sexual slurs, etc.) I try to write in a way that allows anyone who digs the sound (whether female, male, transgender, gay, straight, bisexual, black, white, brown, yellow, whatever) to adapt the words to their own lives. The philosophy is: Everyone may not dig it, but welcome everyone with it.

ISM: (barely)uhlive, we are immediately captivated by two things: the sound (the overall musical presentation) accompanied with the desperation and anguish threaded into the lyrics. What exactly were you going through at the time of creating this project that enabled you to channel such climactic energy?

Listen, learn, relate.

ISM: Who would you say are your top musical influences?

Lo-fi tape quality recordings. Rap, Psych & Electronic music.

ISM: You know, it’s very interesting that you didn’t name a person/artist as a musical influence like many would when interpreting that last question, why is that? Are you not influenced by other music makers

Of course i’m influenced by other makers of music. They’re who make the styles of music I just named, haha. I’m jivin doe, I know what you meant. I didn’t name any particulars ’cause there’s too many. Beyond making music, I collect it, and I’m inspired by so many artists in such subtle ways it’s almost pointless to try to name all of them. The list is always being added to. Always! So when this question comes up, I stick to the styles of music that have had the most influence on me.

ISM: By the lyrical content within your music, one can draw the conclusion that you are revealing and expressing some of your inner most thoughts. In a couple of songs off your mixtape debut, (barely)uhlive, you boldly talk about death and the contemplation of ending your life. Have you ever tried to commit suicide?

Ready to die, that’s what I was born for, this life is suicide.

ISM: There are many references in your music to confusion, self doubt and weed. Do you feel like a lot of people, in inner-city environments, smoke (weed) to simply try and relieve themselves of a certain pain or apprehensiveness in life? If so what are your thoughts on that And do you think this might be something that ultimately keeps people stagnated?

People do drugs all over the earth for different reasons and experiences, inner city or not. Whether weed, in particular, stagnates people depends on them. It’s not like nicotine, crack, or heroin. Couple hits of those and you’re physically hooked. Whether weed holds you back or not just depends on how you react to THC and you’re own personal habits.

ISM: To discuss further subject, more often, than not, we find that there is a certain socioeconomic trap in our society, set out for us to fall in. Do you think things like the previous question (being a weed smoker) gives us into that trap? Or is it something that allows us to remain centered enough to be able to “recharge” and move on with life’s experiences and routines?

Depends on who you are and how you handle your habits.

ISM: Straying further away from your music and onto your image, we have not been able to put a face to uhlife. What is the concept or purpose behind keeping your physical identity a mystery? Is it in any way in correlation with the concept you aim to portray in your music?

“It is completely unimportant. That’s why it is so interesting!” I think Agatha Christie said that once.

Also, “some mystery should be left in the revelation of character in a play, just as a great deal of mystery is always left in the revelation of character in life, even in one’s own character to [them]self.” Tennessee Williams said that.

Mysterious is ambiguous. Also, I don’t like the majority of the images the mainstream media puts out there. I think a lot of them are exclusive, culturally biased, and psychologically damaging. I like mysterious, ambiguous images that don’t tell you to be something, but welcome open-ended interpretation and adaptation.

The focus should be on the music anyway.

ISM: On the cover of your mixtape, (barely)uhlive, you are shown hand tied, with a rope sitting loosely around your neck, and a paper bag mask of what seems to look like some kind of insect. What is it? Can you elaborate on the meaning and/or symbolization behind this portrayal of yourself?

That’s my face on the mask. It’s also anyone’s face. Just a face. Wrinkles from stress and eyes wide shut, streaming with pain. Affected by life and the world around us. I draw it everywhere. Different versions of it are in almost all of my artwork. It’s a face for the faceless. The rope is a broken neuse. The cover is just a portrait of me. Of someone. Whoever. A life. Barely alive. Bound. In pain, but still alive.

ISM: Moving away from all the seriousness… here’s some food for thought. If you were to be stranded in an island and you could only choose 3 things to have with you, what would they be?

Simple. Food, clean water, shelter.

ISM: Word Association: (first word that comes to mind):

ISM: Illuminati

A distraction

ISM: Revolutionary

The undistracted

ISM: Art


ISM: Death

Survive it

ISM: uhlife

(barely)uhlive (

ISM: To sum it all up to those who may still be unfamiliar with uhlife, why should they keep an ear out for you? what does uhlife have to offer to listeners and what separates uhlife from the pack?

Why not be open-minded? listen, learn and relate the rest.

– Illsociety Magazine

All photos shot by Jessica Lehrman

© 2011 ILLSOCIETY Media Group LLC. All rights reserved.