Interview with Eddie, Jesse, and Jonathan of WATCH THE DUCK; Mini-tour announced prior to @SXSW! @watchtheduck
Let’s get it poppin’ off! Atlanta’s Watch The Duck is a 3-member conglomeration of Hip Hop beats, EDM drops, Soul flavor, and Rock attitude. That, and they have a big ass duck for a mascot… Definitely something to check out if you like having a good time! Make sure to scroll down for tour dates, videos, and a bunch of other goods from this trio!
All trained and tested musicians and performers, Watch The Duck are getting ready to release several tracks and videos just in time to bring on the warm weather (for us unfortunate Northeasterners anyway.) I caught up with Eddie, Jonathan, and Jesse over the phone is a candid conversation to talk about where they come from, the Atlanta music scene, who they’d like to tour with in the future, and how they like to get down!
G- What’s going on, man? How’s everything going?
J -It is going fine. It’s a little cold right now, but other than that it’s going great!
G- I’m with it. It’s single digits up here right now. I’m in Syracuse, NY and it is awful. I know you guys are originally from Houston, but are now ATL rep, right?
J -Well, actually it’s a couple of different places. We’re originally from Alabama, but we were living in Houston before moving to Atlanta.
G- Right on. You familiar with Fajita Flats in Houston?
E-We definitely are!
G- For sure, man! Best margaritas I’ve ever had! I can’t walk in there and plan to walk out, that’s all I can say. I’m always stumbling when I walk out of that place.
J- There’s a couple of places. Houston just has a great reputation for margaritas (laughs).
G- Right on. Well anyways, hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five and I’m coming to you from Syracuse, NY. Let’s get right down to it, man. I’m interested to see what you guys are all about. I’ve been watching the new video a bit and it’s badass! If you could, just introduce the members in the group and tell me what you guys do… What do you play?
E- Alright. I’m Eddie and I’m a member of Watch The Duck. I try to play the spoons on all the records, and every now and then add a little bass here and there.
J- My name is Jonathan from Watch The Duck. You know, I play a little keys, dj, and a little video.
J- I’m Jesse. I sing, cut grass, and do that.
G- (laughing) Right on! Now, you guys have all been involved in music for quite a while, and Watch the Duck is fairly new. How long has the group been around, when did you first get started, and what was the impetus behind it?
J- Watch The Duck first got started… Wow. Well, I think it originated around 2007.
J – Where we started using the phrase. But at that time, we weren’t thinking about calling ourselves that. It was just a phrase for us to help us take situations a lot easier. It was really an inside joke, long story short, but we would walk into a certain situation, any industry standard situations where a lot of people, everybody can be in the room and think they’re a lot more important than they probably really are, and we would always say to ourselves ‘Watch the duck,’ you know?
We would say it in front of people, and what it meant to us is, if you ever watch a duck, they’re always smooth sailing on tip of the water, but under the water he’s kickin’ like hell to stay afloat.
G- (laughing) Right on.
J – So it kinda took a the lines of all of us in that room, the fact that we was in that room and trying to get something accomplished. But, you gotta be soul sellin’. So it was really like a joke that we would say to each other, kinda like a code phrase I guess.
G- OK. Now, upon listening to the song, it seems like you guys are really diving deep in terms of your genre spreading. I mean, you’ve got clear elements of soul, EDM, Hip Hop… I want to know how you come up with this formula, because it’s very cohesive and can fit into many different categories.
J – Well, we don’t think about it. (laughing) Actually, to hear you say it that way, it’s kinda scary almost. But, we really don’t think about it.
J -It’s a culmination… We’ve been making music for years in every different genre. So when we get together to do it, we’re not really thinkin’ about it. We just… Our influences and all those influences and everything we listen to, we just do it. We do what we love and we just put it together, and it comes out as something new.
E -We produce like our iPod, I mean. I think we try to put it all into one song.
J – We listen to so much music, and we’re into so many different styles of music, that I think it comes out. Everybody is influenced by something, you know? We’re influenced by so much, so it’s like gumbo for us, I guess. We kind of throw in ingredients of everything we like.
G- I dig it. Now, you guys are currently on the road correct?
E – No we’re actually in the studio right now recording for our EP, and we’re going on the road at the end of February. We’re recording our EP and shooting a couple of videos next week.
G- Alright. So how many songs are going to be on the EP and how many tracks are you shooting videos for?
J – Very good question, as far as a good question to how many songs are going to be on the EP. We are shooting 4 videos.
J – Yea.
G- Damn, dude!
E – Yeah. We’re actually doing it in one week. For us, it’s like… I feel like the rest of the world. We were fans of, like, “Moonwalker” and things like, even the way Jay-Z did his watch with that mini-movie. We want to tell our story ‘cuz we kinda feel that with “Poppin’ Off,” we kinda started in the middle of the story. We didn’t tell people how we started poppin’ off.
And I think that’s what this EP is gonna do for us, and the videos, because all the videos happened before “Poppin’ Off.” Like, it tells the story of everything that happened, which got us to that whole house party.
G- So it’s going to be Watch The Duck: Episode 1, Episode 2, and Episode 3 after the first one drops, huh? (laughing)
J – Kinda. Each video will be able to stand on its own. Some people may only see one. In a perfect world, people would see all of them, but we know some people may only see 1 or they may see 2, so the video will be able to stand on its own, by itself. And it’ll be the name of the song.
Like, the very first one we’re doing is called “Freedomville.”
J – And “Freedomville” is actually a studio/frat house we pretty much recorded and stayed in in Atlanta. We called it Freedomville because it was just like that, it’s just free. Actually, where the “Poppin’ off” video took place is right in the front yard. To explain Freedomville, what it is, and not just the album but also, for us, it’s a state of mind. Coming here and deciding to do this was a choice that, mentally, took off in Freedomville.
G- And can you tell us about what that transition was like? Moving to a whole new city with a brand new scene, and just dropping a hot track? What was that like for you guys?
E – It was fun. We’re, like, adventurous, artistic dudes. To us it’s like let’s go someplace else and start over. And then when we got to Atlanta, we saw… We grew up in Alabama, so we thought we knew Atlanta. We actually thought we knew what Atlanta was about.
When we got here, we found out that there was a whole ‘nother thing going on, that we had never experienced, in Atlanta. With the clubs, and the whole east Atlanta scene like The Graveyard and all that stuff, the different cultures that were coming together in Atlanta, and it was just fun. It was like a new realization, I guess.
And then, coming back to home where we were originally from, Alabama, it was just a lot of fun. I love being in the A… It’s really cool. Everybody is really receptive to the music, and the whole movement that we’re doing, or that we’ve jumped in on and become a part of.
That’s another thing I like about Atlanta; Everybody down here kinda has their own movement going, but everybody’s movement kinda coincides with everybody else. It’s really more open-minded than people know. There’s a whole lot of scenes inside the city. It was really cool, man.
J – It’s not just bottlin’ poppin’ and “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” I think that’s just kinda, like, Atlanta’s cash cow. That’s what everybody likes. But underneath that, Atlanta is the same old Atlanta. It’s always been really animated, really creative, and just a whole bunch of cool people partying and getting’ down.
G- Dig that! Now, you brought up partying. Based on the video I saw, and the music that I’m listening to, you guys seem like a partyin’ group of guys, and if that’s the case, how do you guys get down? What kind of beers and booze do you want people bringing up to the stage?
J – Hennessy and Coke.
E – Yup. Hennessy and Coke, Yuenglings, Red Stripe, Blue Moon…
J – I like Blue Moon.
J – Yea Blue Moon is nice! I don’t know if this is cool, but a little herb…
G- Yo, we are uncensored here at Live High Five. You can say whatever you want!
E – (laughing) You know, Molly candy for the girls, for the women. I’m not a Molly man myself, but I like whatever people are partyin’ on.
G- I dig it. I can’t wait to get you guys up into Upstate NY. Hopefully you’ll come up when it’s a little bit warmer because you don’t want to be here right now, I promise you.
J – You don’t have to explain, man. 11 degrees? It’s single digits, right?
G- Oh yeah… It sucks. It’s frozen.
J – We’re not gonna fly into that (laughing)
E – Maybe for Spring Break.
J – I don’t even know if we can fly in. It’s iced over?
G- Yeah they’ve been de-icing the planes up here for the past couple of days, man. It’s not fun.
E – We’ll come up here in the cold if, in our rider, we have enough girls. Like 2 girls for each guy to keep us warm.
G- (laughing) Ok.
J – Body heat is the best way to warm up!
G- Damn right! Well, we’ve got Syracuse University up here, and there’re some fine co-eds! As an alumni myself, I can tell you, there are some pickings up there… You guys would go over well in the area, too, so look into it.
E- Right now, as a band who’ve relocated for your music, you tour together, your record together, what would you say is the most difficult thing about being in a band or on the road, and what have you had to tell yourself were you ever in doubt about your music or future as a performer?
J – That’s a good question.
J – I think the biggest thing we have to deal with, with being in the band, is it’s hard to really explain how much everybody contributes, you know what I mean, like, and we really don’t like explaining it, either. Cuz I mean out process is so cool and organic. I think the hardest thing is we want everyone to know that, without having to say it. We kinda wish that everybody could just, like, come to our studio sessions, which is why our show, the way we perform our shows, we literally produce on stage… So you can get a sense of how each one of us hold our own.
Because we’re a band, but we’re each independent as well. We’re more like a collective.
J – But, at the same time we’re independent, we depend on each other, too. And also, the other hard part is if there’s not enough girls, there’s 2 other guys, you know what I mean? Especially if the one that you want happens to be with the other guy first. (laughing)
(At this point, everyone is laughing and chattering over the phone and it’s really tough to decipher everything, but it’s clear these guys like their women, have a good time with each other, and aren’t into double dipping.)
E – At the end of the day, we’re homeboys, you know? We’re partners, so we hash through it. You know, you enjoy performing, but you expect a little treat at the end of the night. You’ve been working hard for 90 minutes, you’ve been sweatin’ and doin’ your what-nots and whatever, and you’ve got girls giving you the eye, and they walk right past you and turn back around, and say ‘Hey can you take of picture of me with The Duck?
You do it, because you’re a cool guy and everything, but you’re like ‘Man, you know… You want The Duck now, right?’ Because he’s in all the videos, he’s in all the pictures, so…
G- Well, if the most difficult thing you guys have to deal with is who gets how many at the end of the night, I think you’re doing alright, so? So, keep in that frame of mind because when you come up here, I’m gonna be hanging with you guys and be like ‘Kick up something to me, too.’
J – (laughing) We got you. We believe in that. We really believe it ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none.
G- I love it! Now, a couple of last questions… I want to know, since you’ve all been in music but Watch The duck is fairly new, I know you’re forward thinking guys and you’ve got plans for the future… If you could curate a feasible 3-band dream lineup that Watch The Duck would be on, who would you bring out on tour with you and why?
J – Outkast!
J – Yeah Outkast.
(This is repeated loudly by everyone. Good choice!)
J – You said ‘Why?’ Because Outkast is the shit! The fuse Hip Hop, RnB. They are kinda like the forefathers of the things we do. We’ve listened to them coming up, and they were a big influence in the things we decided to do and we did, especially music. They were outside the box, they were different, they came out the South kickin’ ass. It was like ‘YEAH!’
E – I know this sounds like a stretch, but if we could combine, like, The Stones, Queen, if we could resurrect Freddie Mercury, and put this together…
J – Also, could we reunite The Smiths?
J – Those songs, and what he says… Our influences are all over the place.
G- It sounds like it, and you guys just curated the best Coachella lineup there could ever be!
E – You don’t even have to take drugs to go to that show!
G- Absolutely not. I’d be drinking Pepsi and eating Chee-tos and would be having a great time!
J – And 5-Hour (energy). I couldn’t go to sleep. I couldn’t even get sleepy for that.
G- I’m with it. So, one last question before we go… You guys are on the upswing, you’re building, and you’re doing well at what you do. The music dream will never die, and there are kids out there that want to do what you’re doing. From your experience as cats that have been doing this for quite a while, what advice can you give some of the young up and coming musicians, rappers, EDM cats, and producers out here who want to make it in music, on the road, and want to be professional musicians like yourselves?
J – Google it. Google. It.
J – Whatever question you have, Google and Youtube it, and don’t give up.
E – Work on it. Work on it really hard every day. We’re never satisfied. Even if we work on this EP and we tell you about a particular song, we’re not satisfied with it. We still want to make it better.
And another thing, too, is make it better for you. I don’t like being in a room deciding if a certain demographic will like it. Do it for you, and just pray to God that there’s a demographic like you.
G- Right on. Well, look, thank you guys again for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today. Big shout to Amanda at Magnum, and I’m gonna be watching for you guys and I’m looking forward to catching you guys up here! Nothing but the best of luck to you guys.
J – Thanks man!
EXPERIENCE WATCH THE DUCK LIVE
EAST COAST TOUR DATES ANNOUNCED LEADING UP TO SXSW MUSIC FESTIVAL
WATCH THE DUCK TAKES OVER BET’S 106th & PARK MARCH 4th
WatchTheDuck are currently in the studio and preparing to take their groundbreaking “soul step” sounds along the East coast playing Boston, New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia, leading up to their live debut performance at this year’s SXSW Music Festival.
Giving show performance experience that blur the lines between EDM, dance, trap, hip hop, and electronic, WatchTheDuck’s infectious, soul step sound that has been electrifying Atlanta’s hip hop, dance, trap and dubstep scene will now be heading along the east coast to bring their live party on the road starting February 15th in Atlanta and wrapping up with a string of grand finale performances at this year’s SXSW Music Festival.
On March 4th WatchTheDuck will take over BET’s hit music video countdown show, 106th& Park where the group serve as the guest DJ’s and turn the live studio audience into a rave dance party. In addition, they will also take the stage to deliver an electrifying performance bringing fans into their “Poppin’ Off party” aesthetic which consists of independent, freestyle dance parties the crew became known for in the Little Five Points section of Atlanta. Back in December, the music video for ‘Poppin Off’ debuted on BET’s 106th & Park and since then has remained a staple of the countdown in addition to rotation on MTVU and MTV Jams.Following ‘Poppin Off,’ WatchTheDuck partnered with Complex Magazine to premiere their follow up video, “Reactivated,” this time the video features the dance crew RemoteKontrol. “Their new video for “ReActivated,” which features dance crew RemoteKontrol rocking all gold everything and performing some sick, synchronized moves, brings WatchTheDuck’s futuristic, genre-bending sound to life” says Complex Magazine.
The WatchTheDuck crew — which includes Alabama natives Eddie Smith III, Jesse Rankins and Jonathan Wells, three accomplished musicians, producers and DJs based in Atlanta by-way-of Alabama—and their operating philosophy, lifestyle and, now, the fourth member — THE DUCK. “Everybody sees the duck traveling smoothly on top of the water,” Eddie says, explaining their monkier. “But nobody sees it kicking hard as hell under it, struggling to stay afloat.”
Catch WatchTheDuck on tour:
Feb 15th – Atlanta @ Metroplex
Feb 19th – Atlanta @ Mason Murer
Feb 22nd – Philadelphia @ Underground Arts
Feb 23rd – Washington DC @ Rock N Roll Hotel
March 1st – Baltimore @ Rams Head
March 2nd – Washington DC @ 9:30 Club
March 8th – Boston @ Brighton Music Hall
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