Written by Josh Sudman
Alec Mallas and Abhi SV of El Capitan find inspiration in their defining experiences. Musically, El Capitan fuses old school hardcore rap and alternative rock, producing an upbeat modern rhythm suited and clever wordplay, sounds which are grounded in personal history.
My own experience brought me to my hometown of Thousand Oaks, California and a friend named Michael Falk. Falk is a social media manager for developing artistic talent in Southern California, running a well-followed Instagram account focused on artist exposure. Falk connected me with Alec and Abhi, better known by their stage names Abhi the Nomad and Foster, who currently are making their own version of indie-rap. Pulsating bass, catchy samples, and phenomenal lyrical talent make El Capitan easy to love. I had the opportunity recently to sit down with the members of El Capitan and discuss their music, videos, and plans for the future:
Rare Candy: Being based in Southern California, are you named after El Capitan State Beach?
Alec Mallas: Is that a beach? It’s also a peak on Yosemite.
Abhi SV: It’s more just random.
AM: Yeah we really like the way it sounds, the idea of it. We are fitting it with our new logo, a ship that frankly just looks dope, too.
AS: We really like the way El Capitan comes out on paper, it rolls off the tongue.
RC: Do you think your name goes well with the music you’re trying to make?
AS: Oh definitely, our name helped shape our sound.
RC: So what kind of music did you listen to growing up?
AM: Really a lot of indie stuff, a lot of rap. Just indie and rap pretty much.
RC: I guess that’s a good blend of what you’re trying to do right now.
AM: Yeah pretty much. I listened to some… let’s see: Death Cab for Cutie, Local Natives, and that classic rap shit.
AS: I listened to a lot of stuff like that too, but I was more into a little bit heavier stuff. I was really into Rage Against the Machine, Radiohead, Cage the Elephant, Arctic Monkeys, and then of course old Kanye.
RC: Any album with a bear on it right?
AS: Right, you know it.
RC: So your individual names are Abhi the Nomad and Foster and Cazz?
AM: I just go by Foster. Cazz is my alter-ego, for making beats.
AS: Well, I don’t know where Foster got his [name], but we’ve been calling him that as like his real name for so long now. He introduces himself as Foster to everyone.
AM: I got Foster from when my ex-girlfriend went to this airport, and met some homeless dude there, which now that I say it, doesn’t make much sense because homeless dudes can’t just be in airports. He ended up rapping for her, and she came home and told me. I thought it was pretty dope, so I just started calling myself that.
RC: What about you Abhi?
AS: There are actually so many names, but Abhi the Nomad is the one I’m set on, because I’m actually from India, like one hundred percent Indian. I wasn’t born or raised here. I’ve been traveling my whole life. I lived in China for like 7 years, most of my time was in Beijing or the Fiji Islands.
RC: Do you think your travels have any influence on the music you’re trying to make?
AS: Oh it definitely does, because it has an influence on my personality. From traveling so much, its like my cultural values are different, even though I sound American. I guess the things we speak about are a lot more worldly because of it.
RC: And you’re going for a worldly kind of vibe?
AS: That’s what comes out, honestly. We don’t always control what we say, it’s almost like us vomiting extremely well. «both laugh»
RC: So I saw your video for your song “Zodiac” on Hot New Hip Hop, loved the sound, upbeat tempo, you were doing your thing. What was it like making the video?
AS: “Zodiac” was really fun. We were a bit more serious [with “Zodiac”] than with videos we had tried to make before, because we had good equipment for the first time and people who could film for us. Foster how long did it take to film?
AM: Like 5 hours—we just got someone’s garage, a fog machine, pizza, and some beers—really it was just a fun process.
AS: We have two coming out this year.
AM: Our first is for the song “64,” it’s going to be tight. It’s our first use of greenscreen and [Adobe] After Effects and technical video stuff. We have a whole video crew now, and they’re awesome.
AS: Our second is for a song about death, and that’s coming out a bit later, it’ll be cool.
RC: You release most of your music on Soundcloud right now, do you see yourselves releasing any EPs any time soon?
AS: That’s actually what we are working on right now. Our mixtape-slash-album is called Vanilla Chocolate. It’s almost done, we’re actually working on it later today. And it’s kind of like, if you’ve heard Danny Brown’s old stuff, he has a Side A and Side B—and Vanilla is like the new-school stuff, and Chocolate is the old-school stuff.
Check out more of El Capitan’s music at their Soundcloud.