By Hillary Storm

What would you think if I told you a group of undiscovered 19 and 20 year olds from the suburbs of upstate New York just got access to record in the notorious Ruff Ryders studio in Yonkers? If you’re anything like me your first thoughts would be along the lines of, what the fuck, who are they, and how? Well, allow me to alleviate some of this anticipation. 

I was lucky enough to stumble across one of these up-and-coming artists, Souly Had, during one of my routine listens to Discover Weekly on Spotify a couple of weeks ago. After being impressed by Had’s recent release, “Deja Vu”, which based on first listen I thought was a young Mac Miller, I decided to dig deeper into the foxhole of this artist’s catalog. What I discovered was 1. This kid is a lot more than a one-hit wonder 2. He’s relatively unknown but popping off, and most importantly 3. He was not the only one making music like this.

As luck would have it, I was able to contact Souly by sliding into his DM’s on Instagram. Souly is one of six members of a small hip-hop collective growing out of the Schenectady/Rotterdam region of upstate New York that goes by Entrèband (you’re going to want to remember this name). These young artists are following in the footsteps of other millennial musicians such as Chance the Rapper by doing everything from making beats, producing, recording, mastering, filming music videos, and releasing tracks all on their own. And the results are pretty damn impressive. Souly had a twitter video of him performing the popular, “so gone challenge”, go viral—getting shared over 7 thousand times. Had also received over one million impressions on Twitter, got 153,000 plays on one song on SoundCloud, earned 75k listens to Deja Vu on Spotify, and released a song with Alanna Aguiar on iTunes …all in less than a month. But, like I said, Had is not the only young artist in Entrèband making this kind of traction. Other members, Mac, JVOTI (Just Vibe Out to It), Harold, Dahm, and Deo all have SoundCloud repertoires which boast listens and shares well into the thousands…not bad for a bunch of kids who only just started releasing their music via social media about a year ago. 

As hard as it was to assemble a group of young hip-hop artists together, I eventually was able to hook up with Souly.Had, Harold, Mac, Deo, and Dahm (JVOTI lives in Houston) on their car ride home from Yonkers, to find out a little bit more about Entrèband and the unique artists who comprise this colorful musical entity. Now’s the time to start paying attention (and to start listening).

So first off, what is Entrèband?

Harold: So basically, Entrèband is a group of childhood, and not so childhood like friends, who all got together based on the fact that we all wanted to be involved in music somehow. Whether it was producing, mixing, artistry, promotions anything like that. Entrèband was kind of the name and logo we came up with together, a mix of entrepreneur and band. Eventually it kind of formed its own meaning.

Had: Everyone just started saying it, and yea it caught on.

So is the move all about being independent?

Harold: Independent is a weird phrase to use ‘cause like a lot of people claim independence and then outsource to other places for different things. For us its more so like, we are gonna do everything ourselves until someone approaches us with something we need. Entrèband is more of a hometown movement than anything else, one that will evolve into a bigger entity as we grow out of upstate New York.

Do you guys have different roles?

Harold: I mostly mix, but all of us rap and produce, and mix, so its like…some of us are better than others at different things but we all kind of simultaneously play every role.

Dahm: Beats, producing.

Deo: I like to produce beats.

Had: I have a distinct voice, so singing.

How did you guys meet each other?

Harold: Uh, that’s weird. I don’t think we’ve ever been asked that.

Had: How did we meet bro?

Harold: This weird kid, Jake Swan, came from your school to my school, and he was like undeniable, all up in our faces. We got close with him, and he had been chill with all of Had’s boys and friends—kind of bridged the gap. And, I guess the first time we decided to do something serious together was after I opened up for Chris Webby and Had was in the crowd. He came up to me after, and was like “Yo, we got to do this. We got to work on music together”.

Dahm: The wonderful world of the internet.

What is the scene like in Schenectady ?

Harold: WACK

Had: Yea, pretty wack.

But you have access to the city right?

Harold: Yea, I actually went down to Yonkers for an internship after graduating. I lived there for like 8 months. It’s not even that upstate is wack, it’s just like everyone thinks they can rap and it kind of ruins it for people who are actually doing it.

Do you two specifically ever get shit for being white?

Harold: No, not really. I think we just make a sound that is so natural that it’s not like we are trying to be fake or cliches.

Had: The only time I ever got noted on my race was when the So Gone Challenge video went viral on Twitter. Everyone was like oh, “white boy this, white boy that”.

Harold: Yea but thats just Twitter shit.

Nice, so what is a day in the life like for you?

Harold: Wake up, smoke, get in the studio, smoke, stay in the studio, maybe go thrifting.

Had: We just linger in the studio upstairs. THRIFT.

Harold: Upstate NY is boring! That’s why we do this.

Dahm: Personally, I go to college for 6 hours, work for 7 hours, and then am in the studio until I pass out. Repeat.

What are your goals 1 year, 5 year, 10 year? The Vision?

Dahm: 1 year? 500,000 plays on SoundCloud, new features so I can support myself off music, and a few fans to be rocking with me. 5 year? Famous. Simple as that. 10 year? Running people who are famous.

Mac: 1 year? Grammys. 5 years? Surfing. 10 years? Beach.

Deo: You can do whatever the fuck you want!

Harold: I think about it every day. My thing is I don’t want to be some superstar artist. I just want to be involved in making hits, like being in the studio. I want to be known as a person people come to, to like bless a song. It would be nice to get in the studio with Alex Toumee. Main stage SXSW.

Had: Yea SXSW.

Mac: I like a wide range of sounds. I want to work with people in every genre, from Ratatat to Adele, to Lil Uzi & Ab-Soul and back. We have such a diverse sound across all the artists. Like we have JVOTI who can hit falsettos without trying, and Dahm who can do triplets in his sleep. We are just focused on not being put in a box.

Harold: Ultimate vision is prosperity and being an entertainment superpower.

What is your brand?

Harold: Our brand kind of developed even before the music did. Our friend group has always been about clothes and style, thats why we started thrifting. We were these kids who made music, with long hair, who thrifted and wore vintage or 90s clothes. Love neon ski jackets!!

Had: People looking at us like weirdos. We would like show up to a party and people would all form a circle around us thinking we were weird. Lot’s of color.

Harold: Not giving a fuck pretty much…thats our brand. After a while people started noticing and we got labeled. The style of wearing whatever we want.

What are your influences?

Had: I don’t really listen to a lot of the stuff that sounds like what I make, lovesong-ish rap or whatever you call it. I listen to a lot of XXXtenacion, heavy metal rap type shit. Different genres.

Mac: The first CD I ever got was Get Rich or Die Trying. I wasn’t even supposed to really have it cause my dad didn’t want to listen to it, but my mom got it for me. The early NY hip-hop sound was definitely my first influence. From there I was a internet kid, so anything I could find I listened to.

Any outside of rap/hiphop that formed your style?

Had: Yea, the culture of it all. A group of people together, a cypher, and freestyles.

Harold: The biker culture. My stepdad rode a Harley so my mom was in that scene, riding and I was like that little kid at a biker bar shooting quarters and listening to Metallica. Thats why it’s weird hip hop is what I chose to make out of everything, it was kind of like the last thing I heard but at the same time I feel like those outside sources helped me find melodies.

Had: Yea I started playing guitar to Metallica and AC/DC

What experiences led you in to rap/hip hop?

Had: My mom, gave me a little walkman with a bunch of Eminem on it, as cliche as that is. Curtain Call was huge for me. I used to run through that shit all the time and I just started to free style…

Harold: For me, I always rocked heavy with the NY movement. Illmatick, Reasonable Doubt, and Jay-Z. Then I got into torrenting, downloaded Eminem’s discography. Listened to that shit a ridiculous amount. Then after that it was like, whatever I found—black hippie, Kendrick Lamar, School Boy, J Rock, Dr. Dre… I would find a song, then go find their projects and learn about them.

Aside from music any other passions?

Mac: Art. Art as a whole. I’m currently the Creative Director at C&C Entertainment Firm, so I do a lot of art among different mediums. Eventually I want to host exhibits, seminars and endless different things really. I just really want to help young people who don’t have an outlet get their stuff out there. Whatever it is, music, art or dance.

Had: Outside of music? I like to edit the videos. I used to do that in high school. I was playing basketball but that’s like old shit…I don’t have time for anything outside of music. We go thrifting! But you already know that.

Harold: Music became too demanding for me and every other passion is gone now. It’s so crucial that our main focus is music, any other hobby is counter-productive.

Tell me about song development?

Had: I start with the beat. Everything sprouts from that, ground up.

Ok but like lyrics, do you only write about things you’ve done? Like Had, in Deja Vu, do you actually drink Cabernet? or do you know what an Atari is?

Had: I do actually, I only write about my own experiences. I also write a lot about relationships. Sometimes they’re from one specific girl and other times generalizations of all relationships.

Harold: Yea, same thing. Like I go off of how I am feeling. If I’m mad I won’t make a happy song.

Had: I don’t like making songs that don’t have the aspect of feeling first. I don’t rap to rap anymore. Yea and they all develop together with other members, like in Deja Vu, me and 50GOD (an extended member) wrote the hook together and made the beat together. Genuine collaboration with everyone.

Mac: I don’t know. I feel like music can touch people in different ways. For some people having a good beat is all they need. Others like to dive into lyricism. Some people love certain tempos and instrument variations. I’m just saying what’s on my mind and hopefully doing it in a way people wanna hear.

What would you say is the full experience of your music?

Dahm: I wouldn’t say theres a unifying message to my music. All my songs are an exercise in contradiction and confusion because I try to examine issues from more than one point of view. This gets confusing but makes interesting music.

Had: I know a lot of people tell me they listen to my stuff when they have a bad day. My songs are emotional and a lot of people can relate to it. Like this chick apparently broke her neck, and said she just listened to my whole Soundcloud and it made her feel better. So that’s rewarding.

Harold: I feel like nostalgia. I like making records that bring people back to times in their past. Like showing you the things you’ve made it through. Kind of like Dre’s records, they are nostalgic, they have a sound that makes everyone who listens to it feel the same way even if it’s a thousand different experiences.

Mac: I don’t know. I feel like I music can touch in different ways. Having a good beat, it all effects people differently. I look to give people positive energy. I don’t have a specific sound. Like I said, Entrèband has such a unique sound like we have tracks that can have people in a mosh and then the next song will have people in tears. I keep my play open. I definitely think the overall message at any angle though is that you’re trying to affect people to where when they wake up, their like I gotta put that song on it puts me in a good mood.

Harold: I want people to always be flipping to us, whenever they open their phone. An instinct play. Songs you still have on your playlist forever because you can’t delete them, they’re a part of your life.

You guys are like the little positive tribe huh?

All: Laugh

Off of that, there’s a lot going on in the world right now, and as a millennial artist are there any issue today that bothers you that you use your music to address?

Had: I think my way of responding to it is by being positive. Making music that is positive and makes people feel good.

Harold: One of the biggest issues is division based on meaningless factors. That whole subject to me is baffling. Growing up I never even saw life like that, never approached anyone being like you’re different and that’s bad. I just try to stay away from it.

Mac: Yeah, I’d like to avoid getting myself in world-topics with my music for the most part. You can take someone like Immortal Technique and he’s super political with his music and that’s cool , but with my music for now, I’d just like to stray from those arguments. I’ll always speak whats on my mind though when the times right.

What’s next?

Dahm: So much heat!

Had: We just got 6 songs done in 10 hour studio session. You will hear all of them, everyone has a verse on them, and everyone wrote on them. 

SO what’s up with having access to DMX’s recording studio?

Harold: Well, I was originally supposed to go to college in Boston for engineering but my school closed 2 months before classes started and denied any new entry. so my mom found this internship opportunity in Yonkers and it turned out to be with the studio a lot of D-block affiliated artists went to like, Styles P, Jadakiss and The General Nat Turner. It wasn’t until I brushed shoulders with a guy named Pat Gallo who is supposedly DMX’s old roommate (not known to be fact, jus what i was told). Then I learned DMX recorded in the room previously with Ruff Ryders. Definitely was cool to think I was working at such a legendary spot so early in my career. I recently relinked with the owner, and he heard some of what we were making and thought it was dope. So we will be down in Yonkers a lot more recording there.

Hell ya that’s awesome. Can we expect any new releases?

Harold: Singles

Had: Yeah, singles. Me and Alana Aguilar are going to work on another song together. After I write the verse, we will put it out as soon as possible. But yea mostly singles to just get the buzz around.

Dahm: I am currently planning on releasing a project between 10-15 tracks called Midnight Special. It’s going to be incredibly cool.

Had: Features from me?

Dahm: Yep features from Had and Harold.

Deo: I want to put a track out with everyone from Entrèband on it out but it’s hard ‘cause I have to figure out how to have everyone be in their niche, and everyone’s so different. But when everyones in their niche they vibe.

Mac: Focused on singles. I got a project with Had that might be out in the next year. My solo project won’t come out for a long time.. Maybe a group project in the next 365 too? I don’t know. We’ll see.

Anything else?

Dahm: Broke college student looking to sell beats. Please contact me for my instrumentals!

Mac: I feel like some Moe’s right now *.

Harold: I’ve been checking every rest stop, nothing bro.

Had: Shout out Moe’s with the fire queso!

* Shout out to Moe’s Southwest Grill

Do yourself a favor and take some time getting to know the thrift master Entre-boys. Visit the Entrèband Soundcloud to stream all of the group’s music including their upcoming new releases!

Best of Entrèband…so far.

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