Apple Juice Kid and collaborator Mark Abercombie talk their new album “Love, Love”

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Emmy-award-winning musician Apple Juice Kid (Stephen Levitin) and visual artist Mark Abercombie have united in the name of art to create “Love Love”, an album that combines multiple genres and mediums including a spiritual reading from Deepak Chopra. 

You both have detailed histories in your respective careers bringing your own skills and ideas to the table beautifully. How did this collaboration come about?

APPLE JUICE KID: I met Mark years ago when I taught him drum lessons while he was in high school. I have always followed his creative career as a visual artist since then. I was working on my second producer album, collaborating with singers, rappers, producers and musicians from all over the world. I had an idea that I could also collaborate with a visual artist to create custom artwork inspired by each song. I was scrolling through social media, and kept seeing Mark’s artwork come up and fell in love with his style and creativity. We got on a call, and both agreed this would be a great collaboration. We came up with the idea to make the words Love Love in different languages on each piece of art, since the title of the project is Love Love. Mark ran with this idea and made the most amazing paintings, which we also have worked with Halos and Vines(Has) which is a clothing brand to put the art on t-shirts.

MARK AMBERCOMBIE: Ive always thought that having this collaboration falling into my lap by JUICE was something great. Its felt special since the beginning. Ive known that this collab has been “beyond the norm” from the very start. To be honest. Anyways, juice has always been a mysterious figure of high regard for most of my life. I was introduced to his music and used to listen to one of his bands since i was a kid, long before i met him. Then in high school, he entered my life as a drum teacher, but was perceived as a musical wizard, capable of drumming and programming skills that were profound. i stopped seeking music a couple years later when all of my creative efforts were being taken up by my new interest of visual art… he left an impact in the greater area because, occasionally people brought him up in conversation in big ways. Then out of nowhere around 2020 i got a call out of the blue from juice who offered up my participation with the project. I was immediately on board and excited from the beginning. Im not sure i should mention this because its downright sad but i will anyways, that at that moment in my life i was in a deep addiction with cocaine and alcohol, i was not as dependable and solid as i was in the previous years. I seemed to have taken any success i had up to that point for granted, first by celebrating with substances, then being controlled by them. In a big way this project, has been one of the things that has motivated me to get those addictions tamed in order to function better for myself and others in order to serve a greater cause. And since that initial call that juice had with me, introducing me to the project, im blessed and thrilled to be able to say that i no longer struggle with those addictions which has enabled me to serve this collaboration and many other creative projects in a way that im proud of. I feel like im back, and the future looks bright, so to speak. So really the collaboration on the album “love love” has been a personal journey of redemption. From being lost to having a foundation of health/sanity that serves as a new lease on life… what a gift.

For Apple Juice Kid, why was it so important to include visual art in your music, and for Mark Abercombie, why is sharing your art with a musical project important?

AJP: I love creating, creativity and collaboration in all forms. My talent is with musical creativity, and I knew I needed to find someone who could bring these songs to life with visual art. Most musicians will make artwork forthe album covert art, but I thought my project could be a little different with the words Love Love in each artwork inspired by different songs on the album, translated to different languages with the end result being art that you can wear.

MA: One thing that is so exciting to me about this project is how important my contributions of 2d paintings have been to every aspect of this. To combine fine art and hip dope new music Is something unique. Its wonderful that art which would normally be presented in a gallery setting, is now featured in the music videos, on the album cover, and in the merch. And obviously i took great lengths to match the energy of the music to the visual art. It was a fun challenge.

You’ve described this project as genre-mashing and more than just an album. Why genre-mashing and why do you think it gets the right message across?

AJK: I have always been inspired by multi genres being in high school in the 90’s and fed a steady flow of music from MTV and BET. My music collection would go from A Tribe Called Quest to Nirvana, D’angelo to Daft Punk. Producers like Mark Ronson, Swizz Beats and Questlove inspired me to make the transition from drummer to producer which I knew mash-ups would be the way I felt most inspired to make music. If you mash up 2 or more genres, then that is something new and refreshing, which always sounds exciting to me when creating and producing music.

MA: In my opinion the genre mashups that are happening in the album not only show off the large spectrum of skill that juice has, but more importantly it also is a mirror to peoples’ taste in these times. It offers a listening experience that never has a dull moment. From track to track surprises are at every corner.

Do you have a favourite memory from this collaboration?

AJK: When I created the song Time sampling Deepak’s voice the night before I met him in NYC for the first time, thinking it would be cool to present him a beat/song with his voice when we met. I intended for this song to be the intersection of spirituality, dance music, meditation and Hip Hop. He loved it so much he sent it to Oprah after our interview.Going to Sly and Robbie’s (legendary Jamaica production team) studio in Jamaica, and sampling a song they did, blending trap with dance hall, blasting it on their speakers and seeing their reactions so positively to the collaboration that was happening between us.Finally seeing the Halos and Vines “Love Love” t-shirts with Mark’s artwork + the music videos that Seku and the Dialog Social team make for the songs was a powerful completion to a project that has been several years in the making.

MA: I would say, there have been 3 so far: Getting the album live through streaming.
getting the first writeup of the album by a journalist, and seeing my art on wearable merchandise

Do you have a dream artistic collaboration for the future?

AJK: There are a few artists that have been on my list for a while which I think my beats would sound perfect for: Missy Elliot, M.I.A., Q-Tip, Pharrell, The Roots, 4 Hero to name a few.

MA: I have no idea what the future holds. But i have faith that if i try my best in every area of my life then great collab opportunities are inevitable

Is there anything else in the works that you’re especially excited about?

AJK: After giving birth to this Love Love project, I am very excited about my next producer album which will be more of a fusion with Drum and Bass, House, World Music, Hip Hop, with the songs being more uptempo and danceable. I did a month-long artist residency at MESS Studio in Melbourne, Australia which is an electronic studio full of vintage analog synths. This has been the start of the next album, which is full of possibilities, mash-ups and creativity. I also intend to continue with my music education series, Beat Making Lab, teaching beat making to youth in community centres around the world and more collaborations with Deepak Chopra including Hip Hop for Higher Consciousness.

MA: For sure, i mean my daily painting habit in my studio still thrills me after all these years and i think as long as painting still feeds me then thats the main thing. I participate in art shows all the time and finding opportunities where i can excel is like the endless primal hunt, that our ancestors and perhaps all life can relate

Thank you! I really appreciate you two taking the time to answer these questions and share your experience with Indie Is Not A Genre. Cheers!

Kendra Brea Cooper

kendra brea cooper

Kendra Brea Cooper is a freelance music journalist for Indie Is Not A Genre based out of Canada, Sustainable Stylist and Thrift Editor at PostModern.



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