If the terms “16-piece orchestra” and “sci-fi hip hop” don’t line up for you in the same thought (or in the same day), it’s forgivable … until this Saturday night.
Deltron 3030, the sci-fi themed Oakland rap force of Del the Funky Homosapien (aka Teren Delvon Jones), Dan “The Automator” Nakamaura and Kid Koala (aka Eric San), plays Grass Valley’s Center for the Arts this Saturday night. They’re touring in support of Event II, the 2014 follow up to the group’s much-loved debut Deltron 3030, released in 2000.
In the 14 years between records Del wasn’t sitting idly reading comic books (note: at the time of our interview, Del’s preferred selections included Rat Queens and Battlechasers). He’s released almost one solo record per year since 2008 and a slew of collaborations which help keep him nimble.
“If I’m working with somebody else, you gotta compromise and work together,” Del explained. “I feel like I work better when I have parameters. Say the record is about car racing, or if the cadence is a certain type, I’m gonna try to match that. I might try to freak it a little bit but I’m not gonna throw the song off by rapping a whole different way. You can’t be creative without some kinda parameters anyway. That’s why music has structure, it has form. It’s so you can be creative.”
Collaborations have paid off big for Del. There’s the matter of the musical and cultural juggernaut from the early 00’s...
Event II sports an impressive roster of guest stars, largely dictated by Nakamaura and range from actor Joseph Gordon Levitt and comedian David Cross to musicians like Zach De La Rocha and Emily Wells. While releasing a long awaited sequel with high profile names attached is a great way to get noticed, Del says there’s a larger expectation today.
“People want more: Bigger, better; making a record isn’t enough. I spend all my time making music, studying about music or trying to conceptualize new ways to present my music to people. A lot of my time is spent observing. It’s critical. If I don’t do that I feel like I’m gonna be lost, like I’m not gonna be able to keep up with everybody.”
One of the ways Deltron 3030 is innovating is by touring with classically trained musicians. The band will be backed by a group of musicians dubbed the 3030 Orchestra.