Welcome to Georgiavania – Willie Isz interview

Willie Isz are interviewed online in the first free digital download copy of HHC Digital. Click HERE to download / Read an extract below…


Let’s get this out of the way now: It’s like we’ve fallen through a rip in the space-time continuum and emerged into some not- quite-other place, where everything’s the same but not really. Where Georgia and Pennsylvania both exist, but instead of being separated by vast swathes of everyman USA, they’ve become cross-woven into a mythical third: Georgiavania; a place where machine music can sound like ghoulish castles, and where reality finds itself stitched through with the residue of long-digested comic books, their spirit-creatures buzzing in your ear. A place where ‘80s shoe-gaze rock’s glacial guitar slabs exist, sure, but rather than being confined to some dusty, black-trench-coat past – the half-remembered food of some imaginary John-Cusack-charismatic-loner’s orange-fuzz headphones – it’s here and now, knitted contemporaneously into southern bounce, Prince and Bowie – like some winged, woolly cow with sheep/pterodactyl DNA.

Lest we avoid the elephant in the room, this is, more to the point, a place where a renowned Goodie Mob-ster can collaborate with Lex Records’ conceptual-plunge-poolist producer du jour. And where the fruit of that collaboration, for all its apparent defying of rules – geographic, generic, common-sense – can find itself obeying the one rule that truly counts in music: that it gets you in the kishkas and stays there; the butterfly in your gut.

But, as we said, this is like a fall through a rip in the space-time continuum, and we’re not talking about Cee-Lo Green and Danger Mouse as Gnarls Barkley. Nope, we’re talking about what happens when lightning strikes twice and another, slightly more gravelly Goodie Mob-ster teams up with a subsequent generation of Lex-signed conceptual-plunge-poolist. This is what happens when Khujo Goodie comes up against Jneiro Jarel’s freedom principle. This, you see, is Willie Isz.

Khujo: “Willie Isz is so beautiful, man. My real name is Willie, my daddy’s name is Willie, and I think JJ’s people’s name is Willie. There are a lot of Willies in the United States of America. I don’t know about Europe, but there’s a lot of Willies here.”

Jneiro: “As for the ‘Isz’, I was a really huge fan of this cartoon series called The Maxx – a comic book series; it was on MTV Oddities for a minute. And it was set in this other world called Pangaea, and there was two sides of it. One side was the dark side and the other side was the happy side, and there was two types of these little creatures called Isz’s in it. There was the dark, evil Isz’s, and then you had the good Isz’s. And my man Khujo, the way he sometimes growls, and through certain vibes on the record, it just reminds me of the Isz’s when they coming after you. But, you’ve got the good Isz’s as well, and that’s another thing that me and Khujo is about: we about upliftment and positivity.

“Then the title, ‘Georgiavania’, that’s just about two different worlds coming together – just how I was talking about Pangaea. I used to live in Atlanta, Georgia. I lived here for four years when I was a child. I lived a lot of places, but I’m currently living in Pennsylvania. So, he in GA and I’m in PA – it just made a lot of sense.”

Khujo: “Georgiavania is a mythical place that you can’t see with your real eyes…”

Jneiro: “…Just a representation of me and Khujo Goodie.”

Khujo: “He gives me that Organized Noize and Outkast feel on the production side. So I figured, ‘Okay, this is gonna be great; it’s gonna be a great, galactic travel’ – when you put people together who know music and respect music, they’re most definitely gonna take it to a whole ‘nother round, instead of just putting out the norm music that’s out there.”

Jneiro: “I remember the first article I read about us, they was like ‘The odd couple’, because they couldn’t imagine how me and Khujo was gonna pull it off, they thought it was gonna be like Gnarls Barkley. But, the way we came together, man, it just happened so smooth. And when people hear the record, if they ever doubted that it would be a good combination, they gon’ take their words back, for sure. It wasn’t like we thought, ‘Oh, Danger Mouse did something with Cee-Lo, I’m gonna do something with Khujo…’ It wasn’t like that at all, that wasn’t what we were thinking. The thing with Khujo is, he’s actually one of my favourite rappers, man. This is how real it is: before I even met Khujo, I always wanted to work with him or get him featured on a song, but I was like, ‘Oh, man, I’m never gon’ get in touch with him’. So I’d pretend I’m him and do choruses and make sounds that sound like him – like ‘Butterfly Away’ on Shape Of Broad Minds, I did that chorus trying to be just like Khujo Goodie.

“So that’s why I say, like, you never know what’s gon’ happen. It was so perfect, ‘cos I already was wanting to work with him, and I didn’t ever think it was gon’ happen, and it happened.”