The name of Vulkan the Krusader first came onto our radar when his vocals popped up on a track on Steel Tipped Dove’s epic double volume project & A Whole Bunch Of Crazy Motherfuckers earlier this year. Titled “Last Prayer,” the song introduced a rap voice that seemed to drop introspective gems with ease. What came next, though, was something of a curveball: An EP project titled Robbie Darko that was styled around a lost ’80s pop demo and featured Vulkan trading up spitting for trilling. Nattily, it came on tape cassette — a savvy format for the lo-fi dreaminess contained within.
Speaking to Vulkan, it turns out he’s been leaving a trail of a back catalogue for a few years now. His first three releases form a series titled The Rebirth Trilogy and recurring references to Japanese anime shows and V For Vendetta pepper his music. One of those is “Wild Horses,” a loosie that has been safely locked in the vault since 2011 and was inspired by the graphic novel-turned-movie. Stream the track below and read on to get up to speed on Vulkan’s art.
What’s the back story behind the new song, “Wild Horses”?
It starts with [the producer] DA from London. I’ve made a couple of tracks with him. He’s a genial young man and it’s sickening how talented he is. This is a loosie actually from my second project I made in 2011 called V For Vendetta which follows the theme of that movement. I tell people I was Anonymous before Anonymous was Anonymous. Ooh, I gotta write that down.
How did you hook up with DA?
YouTube is the best thing ever in the world. I was looking for beats and YouTube is great for finding talent. I came across DA’s page, I hit him up and asked him if I can rap over some of his beats. He checked my sound out and told me he would love to make some music happen. His sound is very kinetic to what we felt I think was really hip-hop — euphoric at times with a sense of the dramatic. I feel he should be working with major artists and getting out there more with American hip-hop artists. The guy can really make some million dollar sounds when he puts his mind to it. He’s only fucking 19 though, so to me his future is boundless and he’s a chameleon.
You initially wanted to release the song on November 5th, right?
Yeah, I released the lyrics yesterday to just have something out there, to celebrate what music should be. The character V from V For Vendetta resembles me in some ways; I am one man but I can be an idea that creates change. Each project is like an act of terrorism to me, I am the one who no one believes in, the one who no one expected nothing out of. The power of music grants me a voice, grants me the power of inspiration and the power to destroy. I am on a mission to cause change in hip-hop. The industry should not scare the artist, the artist should scare the industry, and I take the same methods the fictional V uses in sonic form. That’s where my mythos lies, in King Vizzer, ruler of the fourth realm. Sounds crazy, right? But I’m dead serious when I tell you I wanna collect the heads of those who made hip-hop a shit-hole and a laughingstock of a genre. This is November 5th and this is my scars and my ambition to make the most eclectic sounds hip-hop has heard in a long time.
You also released the Robbie Darko EP recently. Why did you decide to trade up rapping for singing on that project?
I always was curious about singing and harmonizing — as a new artist people know me as a “rapper,” as crude as that word is. I hate labeling things — he’s this, she’s that — and I wanna be this thing that knows how to make anything. I needed to take my mind into someone else’s. I recently lost a female companionship that led me to write a couple of songs. Subconsciously, I deal through my music: I don’t cry or feel anything in real life, like I’m not mad or anything. It’s because I use all that energy to make these sounds. So in person, it’s like it never happened, it’s only on record.
What’s the idea behind the anime vibe to the cover art?
Anime has a love story. In the ’80s my favorite anime, Robotech, had a love story and introduced children to dramatic tales of love. So I put myself in that zone: an artist in the ’80s who made a demo based on his favorite anime. His name shall be Robbie Darko, in essence of the movie as well as because the character lived in the ’80s. You can hear that the artist, if he lived during that time, he was advanced in his sound and you can tell he uses that. I speak about it from this perspective ’cause I really felt like it wasn’t me making that record — it was really Robbie Darko.
Anime and Japanese imagery will play a big role in my next trilogy which is called The Master Years — each project will have an anime-like cover that’s at least influenced by something from my love for the genre. Specifically, Robbie Darko is tied-in to the next project that starts the series.
Why did you decide to release Robbie Darko on tape cassette?
Well if you listened to it, it basically sounds like a really fuzzy demo; an unfinished product of a bygone era. Tapes as a music medium to me give us that nostalgia as well, and I’ve never seen a tape like the Robbie Darko EP tape. I always wanted to see something like that as a child: I took the art from Robotech and the yellow and black pattern from my favorite Veritech fighter robot. It’s just really beautiful to see it physically, you know, like a relic you will never forget about and proudly display. Who out there didn’t dub tapes and cop tapes when they were kids? I’m from that era as a kid. I didn’t get a chance to really live it out, but the sound of them, that lo-fi-ness, that crunch, the feel of them, it’s really something I always admired.
Growing up, what were your most treasured tape cassettes?
Alright, so of course we gotta start off with my all time favorite album, GZA’s Liquid Swords. I stole it from some kid at school, some rich white kid. I took it home and dubbed it for my friend White Mike. That cover was epic. [Raekwon’s] Purple Tape, of course, is another gem of mine, and NWA’s Straight Outta Compton, and there’s my Depeche Mode Violator tape. The first tape I ever got was Ice-T’s Power album, the cover with his wife with the shotgun! I didn’t own very many cassettes, like I said, and I was really into the CD era at that point in the late-’80s entering into the golden era. I was in L.A. at the time as a kid, but I tell you what, I was the only little kid riding around his bike with a walkman on bumping [A Tribe Called Quest’s] The Low End Theory like a drug addict when that came out.