Photo by Kelley Jackson // Lucy Pearl Photo ©
For New Granada Records recording artist MRENC (aka Eric Collins), the experience of listening to Candy Bars’ On Cutting Ti-Gers In Half and Understanding Narravation was an enriching experience that only got better with each spin.
“Overall I remember the impression of it just sounding authentic and artistic without being trendy or pretentious…just good jams…a cool album.,” he wrote to SubAp! in a recent email interview, “I remember feeling proud of it coming out of FL.”
SubAp! caught up with the St. Pete-born MRENC in an email interview where we talked about that Candy Bars record, balancing creative forces and family life, and even the potential of a Star Wars theme park in Florida. Have a look at our full chat below, and catch a rare performance from Collins tonight. More information on the show is available at our calendar page.
MRENC: I love it! Oh yes, I’m multi-tasking with it to the max: using the Pitch Control as a tape-drag-FX kind of thing on pads/synths/etc. , using it as a post-mix-”warmer-upper” kind of thing , using it to get samples from old cassettes I find at thrift stores , and also using it record some new “garage-pop” stuff.
You’re Facebook page says that you’re not trying to “make it.” While you’re not out there to get signed or acquire legion of fans, you are still an artist/creative person. How do you balance your muse or the creative force inside of you with your work and family life?
I put the “not trying to MAKE IT” line up there as a funny way of saying that I’m having fun doing what I want…”making it” isn’t the reason, you know? I’ve pursued that in the past & had various levels of “success”, there’s nothing wrong with it, I’m just going down this path now.
The balancing act is a little tough for me. I used to deliver pizzas at night, so during the day I could play with my kids, do family stuff, whatever. Then when I got home, everyone is asleep and I would stay up for a few hours by myself working on music. Now, I work all day, come home & love on the family & then fall into bed! Now I’m having to MAKE time for music. It’s different for me, and I’m trying to adjust because I love it and miss it. My wife and kids have been trying to help me too, but it’s tough to conjur up energy and focus when there’s not much there.
What’s the status on Orlampa’s development as a city?
Hahahaha! We should ask the mayor of Polk City, I think he’s the guy that was trying to get it constructed. I’ve just decided to call anything in between Orlando & Tampa, “Orlampa” because I’ve always felt like the adopted son of the 2 cities! Haha. I was born in St.Petersburg and then raised in Lakeland, lived in Tampa for a few years & also in Orlando for a few years. I also spent all my teenage & everything after years going to both for shows & whatever else. I’m definitely a Central FL boy…a true Orlampian!
I don’t think they can do any worse than what Lucas did to the Eps 1-3, so it’ll be fun to see what comes of it. What I’m REALLY excited about is the possibility of there finally being a Star Wars Theme Park!! If anyone can do it justice, Disney can. Putting it in central FL would be a crazy bonus! (by the way, I’m a big LEGO fan…gonna be taking my kids to check out the new Star Wars Mini Land at Legoland FL in a week…stoked!)
I do remember! I came across it on Emusic (I’ve had a subscription for years, I love it!), and I remember being impressed…then I looked at the record label and saw “New Granada” and was like, “Whoa!”. Then I kept seeing ads & praise for it, and got excited for Candy Bars / New Granada / the Tampa music community! I think I’m an old school romantic in that way. Overall I remember the impression of it just sounding authentic and artistic without being trendy or pretentious…just good jams…a cool album. I remember feeling proud of it coming out of FL.
The secret for me is realizing that God doesn’t need my “art”…especially to smash Him into people’s faces. Haha. Being a follower of Jesus, I’m supposed to try my hardest to BE like Jesus…He didn’t do the soapbox thing, people came to Him because He treated them with respect and love and (respectful) honesty. He engaged them as a friend or loving leader with creative stories that taught them, and honest words that stung at first, but was what they needed to hear. I’d say the closest He ever got to “soapboxing” it is when He would challenge the religious leaders & people, but it was always to them, and then He would turn and teach everyone else who was following Him from the situation.
My art, like any other artist, reflects my mind and soul. My thoughts, my feeling, and my beliefs come out in my art. Some people use art as a backdrop for their agenda, and a lot of people seem to dig it, at least for a little while, but I think real art brings it all together in a creative and moving way. Incredible masterpieces throughout time all have “agendas”, but they were presented artistically and creatively…they move the viewer or listener to thought and inspiration. I think if I was an art major or something equal, I’d be able to explain it better…maybe I should start researching it a lot more so at least I can come across like I mostly know what I’m talking about. Haha!!
On “Too Much Time” there is a verse with a line about “material obsession.” Your design work is awesome, but what’s it like to create these great designs with the idea that they’ll be printed on things like posters and clothes in the hopes of spurring someone into action (ie: going to a show, or buying said clothing)? Is there a balance that can be found between our perceived need of “things” and our love of making cool stuff? (Sorry if that question doesn’t make sense, I don’t know if I communicated that thought very well.)
Makes total sense, and is a good question. I don’t mean that line as a general overview of all “material” though. That song is written from a personal point of view about me going through a time of just consuming non-stop pretty much without giving any thought. Worrying and thinking about money, making enough & spending too much on stuff. Also, it was after I had joined American Dance Party and was realizing how much stuff in the world, especially by the USA, is made in other countries in abusive and/or unfair working conditions. It started making me feel sick and very sad…very “1st World” elite, like they weren’t equal humans like me. Ugh!! The song covers a lot of ground I think, but I had to get it out of me so that it could hold me accountable in a way. Also, I wanted it to be out there in case it could speak to anyone else that might be around the same spot on the life’s path. (pretty much the reason why all my songs are born really)
Wow…difficult question man, but a good one. “Might not know about though” is good though…hmmm… 1. Eshon Burgundy (his voice, flow, and style just slay me) 2. F.Stokes (been a fan of this guy for a minute now…he’s still coming up, but coming up real fast. His raw-ness and story telling is on point) 3. Erick Dayz (younger dude, but has classic style & word play. He’s dangerous)
Yes, thank you for asking about it. It’s definitely a labor of love all around. American Dance Party is a non-profit streetwear tshirt and apparel company that I joined up with a few years ago. I do all the designs and A LOT of other stuff, hahaha! We only use 100% sweatshop free products (100% has been Made in the USA so far) + our printing is done in Chicago. We donate profit % of the shirts to local organizations that take of homeless families, people, mothers and children, etc + we’ve donated to different orphanges + we’ve taken on special cases of persons that need help with hospital bills, etc. Its tough because we refuse to use any products that we don’t know 100% for sure weren’t made from abusive labor, so that raises our cost up + we donate almost all of the earned $ to organizations. So it doesn’t leave us much $ to put back into growing the company or paying outside professionals that actually know what they’re doing to help us! Hahaha! We just go at it and do what we do…have fun while doing it and mock ourselves for being so stubborn to think we can actually stay true to our own standards! LOL
Ray, thanks so much for this interview and this opportunity! And thank you VERY much for the quality of the questions!! I’ve done my fair share of interviews over the years from all my other musical endeavors, and none of them ever spent the time to do as much research or even seem like they were this interested before. I was apprehensive about doing it, but now I’m super glad I did because not only did I get to expand on some of the goings-on of my art, but it also was medicinal in ways. Many thanks for what you and your crew over at Sub•AP do for the FL and even global music/arts “scene”. Cheers, Grace and Peace!!
MRENC — along with King Of Spain and A La Corda — plays the last of three shows benefiting the Fujiki-Hastings Family Trust tonight at The Bricks in Ybor City. More information on the show is available at our calendar page, and you can stream “My Body” below.