Eli Lu Talks Spoken Word Mixtape: “Sound Mind”
Eli: “Sound Mind” is our first cinematic spoken word mixtape. In parallel with each track, there will be 12 short films with two bonus tracks, that visually represent each spoken word/rap piece. Rather than shooting in the style of a music video showcasing us as the artist, our objective is to focus on storytelling and cinematic appeal. Our hope is that it will draw the audience into paying more attention to our lyrics, message, and storylines. Ultimately, we wanted to create conscious pieces that would be thought-provoking in more ways than one. Derrick Dean is producing the films of “Sound Mind” and has been an intricate part of getting this project moving.
Lu: We figured since we’re doing spoken word, why not use our other passion, which is filmmaking, and combine the two. During creative sessions, we started thinking about including other forms of artistic expression such as music, art, and dance. The short films are being shot in various locations around Philadelphia and will include collaborations with other local Philadelphia creatives, such as poets, musicians, and artist. We’re using this platform to discuss issues regarding crime in correlation to poverty, global warming, breaking barriers and stereotypes, betrayal, the crack epidemic that plagued Philadelphia in the late 80’s, and so much more. Although this project contains heavy content, the goal is to inspire, enlighten and ignite conversations that will provoke action for change. Eli and I just want to be relatable, honest and real with our art. We don’t want this to be something you visit once and if it is, we want it to be something that sticks with people internally.
Eli: This project also gives us an opportunity to work with so many creatives, actors and artist around the city as well as find new talent. For instance, Lauren Butler has been our production assistant and intern for the summer. She’s a current film student at Temple University. It’s been great working with both her a Derrick. Derrick’s a professional photographer as well, so our team is well versed in many areas.
Lu: Once all of the pieces are recorded, mastered, and shot Eli and I will host a red carpet screening and exhibition to showcase the product. We plan on screening “Sound Mind” around the city. After each screening, we’ll host a Q&A and a conversation segment to allow the audience to be a part of something that goes beyond film. Our next plans include launching “Sound Mind” online.
Q: How Long have you both been writing?
Lu: Eli and I have been writing since childhood and performing spoken word for the past 7 years, but this will be the first time that we’re doing a mixtape, our first time in the studio and the first time we’ll be sharing our spoken word to this degree and capacity. It’s something different for us.
Eli: We were shy and quiet kids who were very immersed in the arts from a young age. Our Aunt Pat kept us rooted in the arts. I mean, it started very young, as young as kindergarten. So we were always being creative and creating things from scratch. We stayed in our room a lot which was considered weird or anti-social to some at the time, but we were in our room being creative with drawing, painting, and writing. By the time we got to the seventh grade, we started writing raps and songs. Shocker right? No one really knows this (laughs). So you can expect there to be a mixture of spoken word, rap, and songs on the mixtape. This mixtape will be the first time that many will hear anything from us.
Q: How did this project come about?
Lu: On our rides home from film shoots with Derrick Dean who we first met on the film set of “The Book of Nimrod” (a web series shot in Philadelphia created by the late Carla P. Morales) we would always talk about passion and purpose. The three of us shared many talents and goals. We all kind of just sat in the car one night, Eli and I expressed what we wanted to do in regards to a spoken word mixtape to Derrick, then there was a moment of “Let’s do this,” and from there we instantly started working on “Sound Mind” together. A short time after, the three of us sat down to have a creative session.
Eli: For Lu and I, spoken word has always been our outlet to express our true feelings. From being raised by our grandparents, there were many hardships and truths that we had to deal with that poetry and spoken word helped us through. So when it comes to “Sound Mind”, there are some pieces that are heavy because it’s coming from a place of honesty. I tend to go into deep thought and heavy writing when I hear about world disasters, killings and things of that nature. It’s like, if you ask me in person I don’t have the words to say but through paper and pen I can pour my heart out. This mixtape will finally allow Lu and I to express our thoughts and feelings about various topics.
Lu: Also, there’s so much content out there nowadays, and so many platforms for new content but there seems to be a lack of conscious content. I just want to see and hear more relatable and versatile content in music and film. For me it’s this; if I want to hear and see it – don’t complain about it, just create it. The accessibility to technology and entertainment platforms are easily obtainable now, more than ever before. We figured to take advantage of that to share our messages and spoken word.
Q: What do you hope people take away from your mixtape.
Eli: I want people to be more conscious and thoughtful in their actions and decisions. As mentioned in one of our tracks “Evil People”, What are you putting into the world? Just know that what you are putting out, is what you’ll get back. I want people to hear our work and it touches them in a way that it changes their life. Although we’re using entertainment to get the message across, it’s more about the messages in our work that we want people to focus on. It’s a movement.
Lu: If nothing else, I would want people to walk away with a sound mind – no pun intended! (Laughs). But seriously, in moments of despair or our darkest moments, in a world filled with hatred, fear, pain and anything negative in nature, we were given a sound mind to endure such. ‘God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.’ If you don’t have a mind that allows you to sleep at night, gives you peace; a mind that allows you to love yourself or the next person despite their differences, then what good is it? Sound Mind is freedom.