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ON AIR

15:10 LA

18:10 NYC

Not Live

An afternoon with Eyedress.

“It’s not deep. It’s just art.”

Nora Lee, Writer

Nora Lee

Writer

Updated

As we zig-zag up a hillside haphazardly dotted with terracotta rooftops, we almost miss Eyedress’ house, perched discreetly behind an unassuming wooden gate. Like the artist who resides within it, the home is initially withdrawn: not much is revealed at first glance. Eyedress steps outside, sporting a thick-rimmed pair of black rectangular sunglasses that conceal even the slightest glimpse of his eyes. He stands silently in the doorway for a moment, seemingly sizing up the group of strangers crowding his patio, before gesturing for us to follow him inside. 

We walk towards the back of the house, passing walls adorned with family portraits. It’s clear that Boaty, Eydress’ 10 month old son, is the star of this show. Eyedress returns to his seat in his small studio space, tucked away behind a sunlight-drenched kitchen, and resumes tinkering with a beat on his computer. It appears that our arrival had interrupted a pressing train of thought. He turns to address Chris, his manager, business partner, and trusted friend: “Cashcache! sent me this beat,” he explains, “I’m trying to add some drums.” 

Born Idris Vicuña in the Philippines, Eyedress has called many places home in the 31 years since. After moving from Manila, to Phoenix, to Orange County, to the Philippines (again), then finally to London, Eyedress has been planted in Los Angeles since 2018. He has a lovely home in the Hollywood Hills, a kind, radiant wife, perhaps the cutest baby this world has ever seen, and even a brand new Costco membership. Life is pretty sweet. 

“That’s some grown-up shit,” he tells me—but Eyedress remains young at heart. Music is what he loves, and therefore it’s what he’ll always do: “‘Cause that’s what makes you feel young, and you don’t wanna let go of that inner kid.” After a decade of working as a musician—and 4 EPs, 4 mixtapes, and soon to be 4 studio albums under his belt—Eyedress still lights up when he talks about making a song. Despite his self-contained demeanor, Eyedress thrives when working with others. When asked about his favorite partner in the studio, he immediately replies, “Anyone. Everyone. There’s no favorites, I just love collaborating.” In 2021 alone, he’s released collaborations with Na-Kel, BoofPaxkMooky, Cashcache!, 10kDunkin, Triathlon, Dent May, Cartier God, YUNGMORPHEUS, King Krule, and his wife Elvia. 

Last year marked a pivotal moment for Eyedress’ career, as his hugely successful 2020 album, Let’s Skip to the Wedding, secured unprecedented traction. The project’s lead single, “Jealous,” surpassed 100,000,000 streams, earning Eyedress his first gold record. While much of Let’s Skip to the Wedding is wrapped up in the exhilaration of newfound love, the album still indulges a darker side. But since the birth of his son, Eyedress has left his more painful motifs in the past: “I got a family now, so it’s not about that.” These days, he's taking a more carefree approach—and on his upcoming album, Mulholland Drive, Eyedress finds himself truly happy.

The excerpt below has been lightly edited for clarity

I wanted to ask you about all the different places that you’ve spent time in during your life. But your roots are in Manilla. How do you feel like those roots shape you today?

Nora Lee

I guess it made me more well-rounded… and more cultured. But, like, too much culture honestly. The culture in the Philippines is stuck in time.

Eyedress

How do you mean?

When I moved back there, they were stuck on emo shit. I liked that shit when I was a little kid, so I was like, “Why is this still what every band’s trying to do right now?” I grew up in America for the most part, so I was exposed to whatever came out here in the 90s. I also moved out to Orange County [from Phoenix], and I got into bands and shit. I would’ve never got into that shit if I had grew up in Phoenix my whole life. 

I was playing in bands, and I started going to shows—just got a little exposure to living out here. And then I had to move back to the Philippines when I was around 16. I knew what I liked already, so it was hard to adapt to what they were into, ‘cause I was just trying to be cool with everyone. Shit was just backwards. People didn’t fuck with me out there. They thought I was weird or some shit.

Do you feel like moving back to the Philippines had a positive impact in any way?

Yeah, ‘cause if I had lived out here, I would’ve, like, worked at Starbucks—that was my aspiration when I was like 16. I was like, “I’m gonna graduate high school, and I’m just gonna work a regular job.”

You lived in London for a couple years when you were working with XL.

Living out there, you know, I got to meet people I fuck with. I got to meet RATKING, and through RATKING I met King Krule, and I was already friends with Mac Demarco before that. Boiler Room was doing punk shit at the time. It was sick—everyone was out there. All the grimeheads, the hyperdub dudes, and then I’d see, like, Jonwayne just sitting there, like, “The fuck is Jonwayne doing here? Okay, what’s up?!” But you know, I was just going along for the ride. I remember Blue Daisy was there too, just making these heavy, dark rap beats. It was a cool time, and I was lucky enough to be there. All that shit inspired me. That’s why I make everything now, ‘cause I like all that shit.

What drew you out here to LA?

I was going through a lot of shit in the Philippines. You know, it was like people threatening to kill me and shit. Real shit. I wasn’t liking that vibe, ‘cause where I grew up in Phoenix, if fools threaten to kill you out there, they’re gonna fuckin’ kill you. So I ended up staying out here, ‘cause I didn’t wanna be around trouble anymore. And I met Chris [laughs]... and Chris gets what I’m doing. I’ve just been trying to make a living off of this shit.

LA is not an easy city, you know, I was broke forever. I felt like I was doing the same thing over and over. But I was having fun, ‘cause I like everything we’ve made so far, and I never have any bad experiences when we make shit. We’ve just been nonstop creating whatever the fuck we want—like, animation, I don’t fuckin’ know… clothes. This fool [Chris] opened up that world to me too, ‘cause Chris is so fuckin’ on it with anything related to making anything. We made a tech deck the other week.

Is there anything else that you really like about LA or really don’t like about LA?

I don’t hate anything about LA. It saved my life, so I don’t like when people come here and talk shit about LA. I’m like, “Bro, you don’t even know the good part about this place.” There’s a lot of real ass people out here, they look after you like you’re family. I feel like everyone I’m around, they’re not on the fucked shit. That’s why I love LA: I’m not around anything I don’t wanna be around. 

Out here, you can be surrounded by everything you love. All the music… In the Philippines we had shows, but it was so rare—like, Toro y Moi would play once in a blue moon. You’d be waiting, like, years for a good show. Out here, it’s every fuckin’ month, bro, someone from somewhere that’s poppin’ is in LA doing some shit. To live out here is like, you get fuckin’ spoiled. 

In terms of music, do you have a usual process that you stick to?

Smoke mad weed... Just play a drum loop and play chords over it [laughs]. It’s not deep. Whatever comes out lyrically is what I’m going through personally. But when I’m making music, I’ll be like, “Damn I’m gonna make some 80s Miami Vice shit.” So that’s what’s in my head, and then I’ll try to make my shitty version of it on my instruments. 

Music’s fun. I just be having fun, ‘cause this is the celebration part of the day for me. Especially now, with my son, I gotta take care of the family before I get to, like, have fuckin’ fun—have you guys over interviewing me. Gotta make sure all the responsibilities are out the way. My job is pretty fun—just get to have a bunch of sessions with the homies, and record, and smoke weed, and make videos, and smoke weed at the shoot. It’s chill. 

What are you listening to right now?

I’ve been listening to 10kDunkin a lot, Cashcache!, Tony Shhnow—that’s what I’ve been listening to on the daily. And then, on the regular, I like listening to Jessica Pratt and shit… and Vincent Gallo. I listen to so many fucking bands. I listen to Bad Brains, I listen to SoundCloud rap like Summrs and Slimesito. I listen to Homeshake—I cry to that guy’s music. I love all that shit. I’m always digging through old music too, ‘cause I’m always trying to sample some shit for rap beats. Yeah, like synth funk from the 70s is crazy. I like everything.

What’s your favorite thing—anything—that you’ve made?

Thing?

I mean, it could be a song, it could be, like, those pants [points to Chris’ pants]

Okay, shit… Boaty?

That’s fair too!

It’s trippy ‘cause Boaty will know how to make all the things that I know how to make, and he’ll probably shit on me.

How did you meet your wife?

I was on tour with this band Innerwave, not trying to meet nobody. I had just put out “Jealous,” and I was going through all that shit with someone else—it’s like when you’re with somebody and you can’t claim them type situation, and I was just mad jealous. And then I met Elvia, the sweetest girl ever, in Vegas. Weren’t even supposed to meet, doesn’t know anything about my music... Fire. My bandmate Zahara had invited her. She was like, “Yo, talk to this girl, ‘cause my girlfriend thinks I’m gonna cheat on her with this girl,” which was Elvia.” When Elvia pulled up, I didn’t even know anything about her, but she was really beautiful when I met her. That’s how we met, and we just got along. 

I didn’t think I’d ever see her again, but then my friend MarcyMane, he’s a rapper, he was like, “Yo, I’m filming a video in Vegas for this reggaeton artist. Can you help me film it?” And I was like, “TA-DA!”—the fucking doors opened for me and Elvia. I went out there and I ended up staying for like another week, sleeping on my uncle’s floor. We’ve been together since. We were talking about having a baby, and we made a baby, and now we’re ‘bout to go hit the road. [Boaty babbles loudly in the next room] I think that’s him! [laughs]

Your family seems like a huge source of inspiration for you.

Yeah! I get inspired by the homies, too. Whatever my friends are going through, I’ll make songs about it. I remember when my best friend’s dad passed away, I made a song about that, like him feeling down about that shit. I get inspired by a lot of stuff. My family is the motivation, you know. It’s like, I gotta provide for my family, so I better make some fucking heat in here!

How do you keep up with all of it? What keeps you pushing?

Having Chris, having my team—that keeps me driven. ‘Cause honestly, everyday I could just be like, “Fuck, I wanna give up.” But these fools are always like, “No bro, you’re tripping.” Every other week I’ll be like, “Bro, I’m at the end.” I’m just negative like that, for real. Having these guys keeps me sane. I’ve always just tried to take care of my brain, like not go to dark places, ‘cause I’ve entertained bullshit before. I just wanna be happy, so nowadays I’ve just got good people around me—I motivate them, they motivate me, we just uplift each other. Pretty simple, as complicated as it is [laughs].

Your last album from last year, Let’s Skip to the Wedding, was hugely successful. Did you anticipate that? How does it feel?

Didn’t see it coming. Things were so bad, but everything was so good, if that makes sense. At that time in my life it was like, it had to work—whatever the fuck I was doing had to be on point. That’s why there’s so many genres, ‘cause I didn’t want people to be like, “Oh, he just makes this style of fucking music.” I was just going through it. 

I met Elvia and she saved my life. A lot of my older stuff is inspired by pain, and I feel like now I’m trying to see outside of that. There’s more to life than making this sad shit. Especially now, I can’t even be sad. I got Boaty, who’s infinite joy—it’s a disgrace to be sad with him around. So I’m just trying not to get caught up in my feelings. I still try to hit the heartstrings with shit, but it’s different now. There’s no darkness—there’s only darkness that we all collectively experience —but there’s no personal darkness in my life right now.

How do you feel like the new album as a whole speaks to where you’re at now?

The album is just me in a happy place in my life. It’s not deep. I have a song about going to 7/11, ‘cause fuckin’ Harmony Korine asked me to audition for a 7/11 commercial. I didn’t get it, but I made this song for the audition, and I ended up keeping it on my album ‘cause I was like, "This is random as fuck. What am I even talking about? A slurpee."

I have some gangster songs too, but it’s over some garage-rock shit. I’m talking about violent shit, and then it’s just on some 60s rock type beat. When I grew up out here, it was like everyone skated and was into everything—they were into rap shit, they were into rock shit. I’m trying to keep that unity in my music, too. A lot of the musicians that I look up to that make this like indie-hipster-whatever sound shit are white as fuck. So I’m trying to make, like, the more cultured version of that stuff. ‘Cause I’ve met some artists that I am a big fan of, but I’m like, “Damn, they’re so white. They don’t understand what it’s like being marginalized.”

Is there a takeaway or a feeling you want people to have when they listen to it?

Like watching TRL on shrooms. TRL kinda played everything on MTV—that vibe. I’ll even make some soft-ass R&B shit, and then I’ll make some punk shit where I’m supposedly so hard. I don’t even care anymore, I make what I like. People can say whatever they want. It’s not deep. It’s just art.

If you could—knowing what you know now—look back and tell your younger self some piece of advice, what would you say?

I would say… “Stop worrying.” I worry too much. I worry so much—like, I look at the window type shit. Paranoid as fuck. I’ve never done anything bad because I was worried, but being so worried is so hectic. You can’t go back and say those things to yourself, you just gotta learn that when you’re older.

Yeah, try to worry less tomorrow.

Yeah, just trust whatever good things you’re doing already. Back in the day I was worried about making money, and my parents were like, “You gotta get a job!” and I’m like, “But this music shit—trust!” It didn’t pan out the way I thought it would—it actually really panned out the way I never thought it would. I never thought any of this shit could happen. And then as everything—even up ‘til today—as everything unfolds, I’m still in shock by all this.


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