Eastern Sunz
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Eastern Sunz

Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2001 | SELF

Portland, Oregon, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2001
Band Hip Hop

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Oct
26
Eastern Sunz @ Cloud and Kelly's Public House

Corvallis, Oregon, USA

Corvallis, Oregon, USA

Oct
25
Eastern Sunz @ The Granary Pizza and Nightclub

Eugene, Oregon, USA

Eugene, Oregon, USA

Oct
05
Eastern Sunz @ Kelly's Olympian

Portland, Oregon, USA

Portland, Oregon, USA

Music

Press


What does the term ‘independent’ mean to you?

TravisT: We are independent artists in that we don't have a manager, booking agent, record label, etc. We work to create our own opportunities, but have also been fortunate in meeting a lot of supportive people along the way who have helped out in one capacity or another. We have a great support system.

When you first started, was there a conscious decision to seriously pursue music as a living? Was it just about making some noise or were there deeper motivations?

TravisT: Growing up I had always listened to hip-hop, but it was not something I ever thought I would directly be a part of. I started out DJing at a time when nobody in my town was, and I certainly never thought I would become a rapper. Initially it was just something to do for fun, and a way to express certain things that I might not otherwise.
It grew into more when I realized that music can truly have an effect on people. Then it began to shift to more of a focus on writing lyrics that people can relate to and hopefully be inspired by.

Courage: I started writing rhymes when I was ten. I was infatuated with the music from the first time I heard it. I immediately started emulating the artists. I made the conscious decision to seriously pursue music as a career when I was 16.

Do you have day jobs or is music your full-time gig?

TravisT: Both. Eastern Sunz as a business is more or less self-sustaining, but being that we are independent artists, there are a lot of costs that go into making music that many people don't realize. I still consider myself a musician first, but the real world exists and bills need to be paid. Right now we are still trying to position ourselves to make the jump to living entirely off of music.

Courage: I’m a grad student at the University of Oregon. I study community and regional planning.

You take on political, social and environmental issues in your music. What issues are you most passionate about and why?

TravisT: It's hard to pick just one. Sometimes our music can come off as cynical, and maybe rightfully so, but I am inspired by everything around me. I don't want to go out of my way to bash our country and leaders, but I do look for opportunities to draw attention to social injustices in areas where the country and planet can improve. We speak a lot about environmental issues, which I believe are a very real threat and drastic steps need to be taken. At the same time I feel as though if we are going to save the planet, we need to work on the human element as well. Quite simply, three things that I strongly feel we need major reform on in the United States are the health care system, the education system, and the prison system. Each of those could be an entire interview in and of themselves.

Courage: I’d add the overwhelming corporate influence in areas like media and politics. I think our politicians largely represent corporate interests and not the citizens they’re elected to represent. It’s a problem spanning the entire, albeit limited, political spectrum in this country.

What do you hope to accomplish with your music?

TravisT: When I sit down to write it's essentially a form of therapy and a way of getting things off my chest. Ultimately you hope that people are listening and can be affected by what you say. At the same time, it's tough to digest when people actually tell you how you have affected them. At the risk of sounding self important or pretentious, because we have branded ourselves as a group that speaks on a lot of social and political issues, I feel there can be a certain responsibility that comes with making the sort of music that we do. I have realized that there are people out there actually listening and it can be a heavy thought. I really don't write songs to try to change people's opinions or force my beliefs on anyone. In fact, I wish that people would challenge us more often on some of the things that we say. I just try to express whatever it is that I am feeling at the time, and hopefully can at least get people thinking about issues, and possibly in different way. I don't claim to be an activist, but I hope that it is possible that music can inspire and motivate change, even if the effect may not be immediate or easily quantified.

What kind of impact has social media made on the band and the spread of your music?

TravisT: It's amazing how much things have developed since we started out over a decade ago. The internet has entirely changed everything about the music industry, and I would argue that it has been almost certainly in favor of the independent artist. Now virtually anyone can create and distribute music at a fraction of the cost and reach people across the world. Fans are also able to discover new music that they may never have known about otherwise. Social media is constantly evolving and sometimes it can be a struggle to keep on top of the trends and figure out what the best ways a - Indie Mag


Music Spotlight: Eastern Sunz
by Joel DeVyldere

Eastern Sunz can hold a live show together —a fact that people on more than one continent can attest to. Through American and European tours, thousands of fans have heard the brilliance and seen the light while grooving to the beats of this socially conscious Eugene-based hip hop duo.

“You can be heard or be herded like sheep, be the early bird or get murdered in your sleep,” Sunz front-man Courage related, as he broke it down for fans at the Wow Hall last month. But these fellows — Courage and TravisT— aren’t just your average bass-bumping, ‘hood-conscious emcees. Lyrics from the Eastern Sunz are permeated with an optimism uncharacteristic of their genre, a tempered realism that unassumingly reaches out for environmental justice and social equity with surprising clarity and liberal doses of sarcasm.

The Sunz take the game to a whole new level with Filthy Hippie Music, a record aware of its own quirks and eccentricities, and shamelessly self-described on the title track as “concise and relevant.” And they deliver. The six tracks on FHM deal with topics as different as poverty and deforestation in a cacophony of what is called on the album “street knowledge laced with academic concepts.”

FHM drops March 23, at which point fans and skeptics alike will have the pleasure of hearing six of the sharpest, cleverest, and arguably most relevant tracks in the hip hop genre. The Sunz, who took home an Independent Music Award for last year’s Corroded Utopia, have really outdone themselves this time.

“I started rapping in third grade,” recalls front man Courage, whose real name is Aaron Harris. “I pretty much started rapping as soon as I heard rap music. I basically picked up the pen and started emulating it.”

Five albums later, after ten years together as a group, Oregon-raised Courage and TravisT are still making music. But there’s a lot more to them than just beats and rhymes. Both rappers are college graduates, and both are engaged in presenting listeners with an environmentally conscious societal critique.

“My academic career and my music career run parallel in a lot of ways. I think they have both informed each other, in terms of the direction that I’ve chosen to go in my life,” says Courage, who is studying urban planning and community development at the University of Oregon.

“Looking at community development is looking at societal equity issues, environmental issues, all the political and economic stuff that goes into the context of what creates a community. That ties into other environmental issues in terms of health, crop production, environmental equity and safety... and those are the themes of our music.”

“Make love, not war. Smoke weed, not tobacco,” begins the track entitled Threads, which projects an optimism on a life often muddied by complex systems of oppression. Controlled substance use is portrayed as positive throughout the Sunz’ music, while only abuse is depicted as negative.

So, how do you craft an album that features the voice of Bill O’Reilly and an entire track devoted to Beatles references?

“To me, creating hip hop music is like making a collage,” Courage explains. “It’s taking all these different components and putting them together... It’s like a dialectic. It’s kind of like this interesting synthesis of your collective life experiences and also the products from society, with the samples that we might grab.”

On the subject of influences, Courage starts talking up the Oakland-based rebel rap group The Coup. “They’re probably one of the first to warm me up to a lot of issues.” He sees himself as part of a long line of socially conscious emcees, a tradition that Courage aspires to continue: “Music is always entertainment, but I think that first and foremost we’ve definitely used it as a medium to convey concepts and ideas that we consider to be important and pressing.”

And, though they have met with some commercial succes - Insurgent Magazine


Eastern Sunz is not hustling everyday, big pimpin’ or sippin’ on gin and juice. You won’t see Aaron Harris and Travis Taylor (better known as Courage and TravisT) throwing dollar bills and featuring their ride of the week in music videos. Instead, the duo raps to the beat of its own 808 and promotes a sub-genre of “intellectual hip-hop”—a thread that covers political and social issues, as well as sustainability.



Portland, OR-based duo Eastern Sunz is five albums deep into its career and has already toured Europe. When Harris isn’t scoring verses though, he’s finishing homework and reading assignments for his degree at Portland State University.



“I find that staying in school, always discovering new ideas is really a lot of what inspires me to continue to be creative,” Harris told CMJ. An undergrad student majoring in social science, Harris finds that academics and travel keep the him and Taylor at the top of their game, creating music relevant to the times as well as highlighting timeless themes that will always be present in our dialogue.



The two met at a mutual friend’s fundraiser, performing with other groups. Taylor was looking for an artist with which he could DJ, while Harris was looking for a way to perform more seriously. When Taylor started freestyling at his birthday party, the two became a dual rap group, with Taylor running behind the turntable in live performances to DJ.



“I really feel that making hip-hop music is a lot like making an artistic collage,” explained Harris. “It’s an eclectic bunch of sound coming from all these different places.” The group usually works with Oregon-based producer Smoke, who finds a beat as a foundation for the collage. They then find the right verses and samples that will fit together in the big picture.



The time spent finding the perfect mix has paid off seeing as Eastern Sunz was recently nominated for Hip-Hop Album Of The Year in the Independent Music Awards for its 2010 album Corroded Utopia. The only nominee to represent the west coast, the duo is among five others that have been nominated and it’s the two’s biggest nomination to date. Its last album 9 Triangles received an honorable mention in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest.



As in their music, Harris and Taylor are always looking to find what they need to do to move ahead. “It’s about being a voice to the underrepresented people,” said Harris, who along with Taylor serves as a voice for underground hip-hop. Though the two would love to have successful mainstream careers, they’re not about to give up what they’ve worked to build.

- Brianne Galli - CMJ


You bought a Prius. A canvas shopping bag. But have you greened up your hip hop records?

By Reilly Capps


Two Live Crew did not join up at a Sierra Club meeting. And NWA did not coalesce at an NRDC summit.

And so it’s possible that Eastern Sunz is the only rap duo who met at a fundraiser for an environmental nonprofit.

Eastern Sunz raps about the environment. And if that sentence makes you want to click away, check out some songs. You could be hooked. Especially if you consider yourself a lover of good lyrics.

Eastern Sunz are the only rap group I’ve ever heard that samples Swollen Members as well as Michael Polin and Al Gore.

Unlike rims and Chinchilla coats, climate change isn’t easy to rap about.

Thankfully, the Eastern Sunz duo — Aaron Harris and Travis Taylor — are deep thinkers. Harris, who goes by the bold stage name of Courage, is studying urban planning at Portland State, with an emphasis on planning cities in an environmental way. (Everything in Portland is done with the environment in mind, turns out.) Harris is the only rapper I know of who is about to get a masters degree, and also the only rapper I have ever heard rhyme the word “deontological,” a word so obscure my spell-check doesn’t know it, a word nobody’s used since Immanuel Kant stopped freestyle rapping.

Check these enviro-rhymes from their new album, “Corroded Utopia.” From “Treadmill of Production”:

“Let’s be honest, ain’t nobody got no time for the trees / when they’re feeding off extinction like the birds and the bees.”

From “Run”:

“These oceans getting too acidic, these rappers too terrific / outline their ill consumption real specific.”

Children of the ’60s lament the fact that there aren’t good protest songs anymore, and wonder why that is. And some people say it’s because the problems went away: there’s no draft, and racism and sexism are off the law books.

But Eastern Sunz doesn’t buy that line of reasoning.

“I don’t think you can say that the issues aren’t as big,” says Taylor. He goes by the stage name TravisT. We’re talking in his living room in Portland. “How can that be, when we’ve got global warming, which affects the whole world?”

Harris says the same thing. I spoke to him by phone.

“It’s not that the problems are any smaller. If anything, the problems are bigger and more immediate,” he says. “We’re the generation that holds the fate of mankind in its hands. If we drop the ball here in the next 50 to 75 years, we’re gonna be in an irreversible downward spiral. it’s now or never.”

Both rappers will keep chipping away at ignorance, rhyme by rhyme, album by album (they’ve put out five now), and show by show — they’ve toured the whole country, and they play at the Portland Hip Hop Festival tonight.

Taylor sees hope in the past, when songs protesting Vietnam and segregation actually brought change.

“Protest songs [helped] civil rights eventually come around. But it’s hard to quantify how much or any impact those songs had,” Taylor says. “In this country, we do the right thing eventually, it just takes us a long time.”

Before Harris started rapping about the Kyoto Protocols, he used to want to bling — be a big successful rapper driving a Rolls. As an adolescent, he rapped made-up stories about shooting people. Then he started camping. “I went to the wilderness and was like, there’s so much more to the story,” he says.

It’s hard to fathom why so few artists reference climate change. You’d think, in the era of green, it would be a way to get a little cred. It’s worked for Eastern Sunz. Because they’re unique, because they’re talking about topics thinking rap fans find interesting, promoters will book them based on their content, and fans will drive 200 miles.

Like a lot of musicians, they haven’t yet been able to quit their day jobs. But they hope to someday. And just when Taylor starts to get discouraged and thinking that nobody’s listening, something cool will happen to restore his faith. Like when somebody can recite his lyrics back to him, or when a random fan had one of his lyrics tattooed on her feet.

Just one more way his words, and Eastern Sunz’s message, will travel.

- Riled Up


In 1990, it seemed there was an unspoken uncertainty in hip-hop, which seemed to coincide with the uncertainty of what was going on socially and politically in the United States. 20 years later, the song remains the same. Twenty years from now, if one wanted to know what was going on socially and politically in the United States and the world, and what people were concerned about, I would point them to Corroded Utopia by Eastern Sunz.

This album was released earlier in the year, but wasn’t able to get to it until now. However, the lyrics perfectly describe the concerned times we live in. The opening track, “Treadmill Of Production”, explains clearly the urgency many people are feeling, on why a lot of people are loving the abundance of crap being fed to them when there are serious things to be concerned about, away from the boob tube and the boob earbuds. In “Run”, they may simplify themselves by saying that they want to bust on people Captain Caveman style, but there’s something in those words. About 12 years ago, hip-hop seemed to be paranoid about the forthcoming illuminati, and while it’s not the end of the world, it’s hard to tell a younger generation that things are going to be okay when they are being exposed to more sadness and hatred than we were at that age. Perhaps we elders can pass this album along and say “there’s good and positivity, everything is not a reality show, but I can show you the good and bad of actual reality”.

In other words, Eastern Sunz are realists, they tell you how it is. I hate wanting to use the term “street poets” because someone is going to come in and say “those guys ain’t hood” or “what do they know about the streets?” but there’s a term, “hitting the pavement”. It means to put yourself in action, to put one step forward and do. Corroded Utopia is the first step into a world that, to adults, may feel like it’s falling apart but the journey on this album is to find balance and hope in the muck. “Up In Flames”, “Begging For Change”, and “Burying Myself Alive” should be a good indication of what these guys are touching on, and with lyrics such as “I know it’s been said that I’m preaching to the choir/Half man, half gas can, I’m trying to light a fire/I’m trying to expire the exposure of these liars/Or reason for treason in the dreams of freedom fighters” (mixed in with an appropriate sample that goes back to the concerns of people in the Vietnam War era), it’s not mere sloganeering, it’s an eager statement for change.

Eastern Sunz have not stopped being conscious or making music that becomes a collective consciousness, and it’s an album that easily ranks among the best hip-hop that looks to unify with the people of the world who simply seek better. While music alone may not change the world, it is through inspiring music like this that will help people to plant the seeds towards a more nurtured human garden
- This Is Book's Music


Transcript of Courage Q&A with Lunatic Fringe Productions

Q: Why did you decide to get into hip-hop?
A: I started writing rhymes in third grade.  Reading, writing, and addressing social issues have always been passions of mine and so it happened that hip-hop was my ideal form of expression.  I instantly fell in love with the music the first time I heard it.   
 
Q: Why did you decide to go the conscious route?
A: I think my approach to hip-hop reflects my upbringing, my experiences, and the type of person I am in everyday life.  I grew up in safe neighborhoods, I attended good schools and colleges, I've extensively traveled abroad, and I've spent lots of time in the wilderness.  For that reason I don't feel I decided to go the conscious route so much as I decided to keep it real. 
 
Q: What is your opinion, if you have one, of so called street rap or gangsta rap?
A: I grew up listening to gangsta rap.  It's powerful music and it has drawn awareness to the injustices and inequalities in Everyhood USA.  Furthermore, it put westcoast rap music on the map.  I may not agree with everything being said but there's nothing wrong with disagreeing.  I think Guerillas in the Mist is one of the finest albums of all time. 
 
Q: Do you feel that hip-hop has a responsibility or do you think its an individual's choice?
A: I think each individual has to determine their own responsibilities.  Hip-hop's a vast culture and it means many different things to many different kinds of people all over the world. 
 
Q: What inspired you to present the kind of material you do?
A: I started wrting conscious hip-hop the first time I went backpacking in the wilderness.  For two weeks I was away from the streets, watches, money, cellphones, televisions, etc., and it gave me time to reflect on my values and put my life into perspective.  That was my initial inspiration. Traveling to South America had a similar effect because the standard of living over there is so low.  Once I witnessed the intense poverty that most of the world lives in, writing rhymes about fancy cars was the last thing on my mind.
 
Q: Do you feel that hip-hop influences society or vice-versa?
A: The way peoples talk, dress, act, what they value, the types of people they strive to be, I think all these things and more are influenced by hip-hop.  Hip-hop is literally a worldwide culture.  If hip-hop didn't influence society I wouldn't have a reason to be making albums. 
 
Q: Who are your biggest influences in music and why?
A: Immortal Technique, Outkast, Goodie Mob, Wu-Tang, Promoe, Greenhouse Effect, Blackalicious, The Coup, and Saul Williams, just to name a few.  These are intelligent people who utilize hip-hop as a form of communication to speak to the important issues of the day.
  
Q: Do you think that the consciousness style of hip-hop will ever reach the level of popularity that street rap has?
A: Great question.  Yes.
 
Q: How much influence do you feel the music industry has on the proliferation of street rap as opposed to consciousness rap, because it seems that one style of hip-hop is promoted more than the other?
A: Another great question.  I think the music industry has a great deal to do with the proliferation of street rap.  Street rap promotes consumption: clothes, cars, alcohol, women, whatever. The message is to consume.  Since the same super-rich people who own the big record labels own a chunk of everything else, it all works out very well for them.  Music videos serve as commercials; inspiration to make other people go out and buy things.  On the other hand, I think one role of conscious hip-hop is to draw attention to this cycle of unsustainable consumption, and that would inevitably work against some of the very same people. - Lunatic Fringe Productions


Courage - Spiritual warfare

On the hunt for the next big thing in underground hip hop? Look no further, "The Art of Spiritual Warfare" by Courage of the Eastern Sunz is not only head nodding but thought provoking. In the days of P Diddy and Fifty Cent it isn't every day that you encounter a rapper with a message. Whether it be about politics or environmental issues Courage hits deep on a lot of heavy topics. Originality and soothing beats makes this album truly incredible, the clever lyrics being the icing on the cake.

Hailing from Seattle Washington, Courage talks about the declining environment and the degradation of our current society. The message hits home as he continues to point out key flaws in our current lifestyle. The war over seas, global warming, and the numbing of our young people's minds. The poetry found in this album is phenomenal, great music to expand your mind with.

Excerpts track 13. Mathematiks
------------------------------------------------------
"Blacks that fought for civil rights now playing video games, as if environmentalists contain a different mind frame."

"Heard of the Sunz? I'll be damned unless we find solution, whichever one comes first cause I might die from air pollution. And sunshine aint never been this bright, cause we used to have an ozone to protect our eyesight."
-------------------------------------------------------------

Although the music has a lot of meaning behind it, it is executed in such a way that it's only there if you need it to be. As to say that the beats and flow of rapping are good enough to enjoy the music on a superficial level as well. The majority of the background samples are soft and soothing to the ear, nothing incredibly harsh which makes it very easy to relax to and enjoy the vibe. Some song even feature faint nature sounds such as birds singing in the background to add to the calming, earth friendly ambiance. There is a lot to this album that one might miss the first time it is listened to but after a few plays a variety of "subliminal messages" appear. It's the subtle details that really make this album great. This album is a solid production, all songs are mixed and mastered at a high level of proficiency. Something that tends to get neglected in a lot of underground hip hop now a days, "The Art of Spiritual Warfare" didn't skimp on the acoustic aesthetics.

All thing's considered I enjoyed this album immensely and recommend it to all walks of life. Whether you be a s$*t talking skater or a university professor this album has a lot of value and I think anyone could benefit from giving it a listen. If you have any interest in the declining environment, and other such powerful social issues this album raises multitudes of enlightening thoughts. Try something new and support the Eastern Sun'z finest.

-Mishak
- UndergroundHiphopReview.com


Courage - Spiritual warfare

On the hunt for the next big thing in underground hip hop? Look no further, "The Art of Spiritual Warfare" by Courage of the Eastern Sunz is not only head nodding but thought provoking. In the days of P Diddy and Fifty Cent it isn't every day that you encounter a rapper with a message. Whether it be about politics or environmental issues Courage hits deep on a lot of heavy topics. Originality and soothing beats makes this album truly incredible, the clever lyrics being the icing on the cake.

Hailing from Seattle Washington, Courage talks about the declining environment and the degradation of our current society. The message hits home as he continues to point out key flaws in our current lifestyle. The war over seas, global warming, and the numbing of our young people's minds. The poetry found in this album is phenomenal, great music to expand your mind with.

Excerpts track 13. Mathematiks
------------------------------------------------------
"Blacks that fought for civil rights now playing video games, as if environmentalists contain a different mind frame."

"Heard of the Sunz? I'll be damned unless we find solution, whichever one comes first cause I might die from air pollution. And sunshine aint never been this bright, cause we used to have an ozone to protect our eyesight."
-------------------------------------------------------------

Although the music has a lot of meaning behind it, it is executed in such a way that it's only there if you need it to be. As to say that the beats and flow of rapping are good enough to enjoy the music on a superficial level as well. The majority of the background samples are soft and soothing to the ear, nothing incredibly harsh which makes it very easy to relax to and enjoy the vibe. Some song even feature faint nature sounds such as birds singing in the background to add to the calming, earth friendly ambiance. There is a lot to this album that one might miss the first time it is listened to but after a few plays a variety of "subliminal messages" appear. It's the subtle details that really make this album great. This album is a solid production, all songs are mixed and mastered at a high level of proficiency. Something that tends to get neglected in a lot of underground hip hop now a days, "The Art of Spiritual Warfare" didn't skimp on the acoustic aesthetics.

All thing's considered I enjoyed this album immensely and recommend it to all walks of life. Whether you be a s$*t talking skater or a university professor this album has a lot of value and I think anyone could benefit from giving it a listen. If you have any interest in the declining environment, and other such powerful social issues this album raises multitudes of enlightening thoughts. Try something new and support the Eastern Sun'z finest.

-Mishak
- UndergroundHiphopReview.com


It seemed like decades that I wandered through the halls of hip hop without more than a song or two of environmental awareness to be had. For a while the Black Eyed Peas were politically conscious, but never eco-conscious. Really, how many hip hop groups do you know that rhyme about organic food?

Until recently I knew of not one. Ni uno.

But Eastern Sunz is keeping it very real with four albums of social and environmental lyrics on some deftly mixed beats. They groove far more than krunk.

The duo hails from Seattle and they got written up recently at Conscious Choice.

Here's a chorus from "Natural Flavors:"

Fat per serving's ninety-eight grams, what's in my food man?
Rampant malnutrition in a prosperous land, said what they putting in my food, ma'am?
I said what's natural 'bout these flavors? The FDA make moves to regulate us,
It's never 'bout our health, it's for the papers.
So educate yourself because this government aint ever gonna save us,
just feed us hamburgers and Now N Laters.

Is this the new sound out of Seattle?
- GreenDaily.com


The two emcees that make up Eastern Sunz out of Seattle, WA are among a small group of messengers within the hip-hop universe. The two member group uses their talents to educate and to inspire thought and conversation instead of just “shakin’ dat ass.” The polished and highly produced beats and rhymes will have you moving but the Eastern Sunz bring a deeper level of lyrics and stimulation than anything you get to hear from mainstream conglomerates (“Single Farms”). More and more people are starting to crave music that communicates the issues of the day; it is traditionally what music was used for most all the way up until…modern times.

The Sunz who consist of emcees Courage and Travist, are traveling the world and spreading messages not of belief but of thoughts, ideas and most importantly; warnings. American Idol isn’t going to warn you about genetically modified foods, but these two will have it stuck in your head. - The Nightlife Network


Eastern Sunz come with a competent rhyme about the environment, I’m feeling the production which is backed up by an old school sounding loop, the track has samples of Al Gore talking about saving the planet.
This makes a pleasent change to all the gangsta, battling and run of the mill hip hop themes.

- Wordpress


Eastern Sunz have been around for six years, and have gained a following in the Pacific Northwest for covering environmental issues. There was a time in this music's history when some one like KRS-One would say that his reality is not a tree, it is not something he sees everyday so he's not going to rhyme about it. However, he did write the infamous "Beef", which talked about how fast food restaurants may be the biggest drug dealers around and that eating healthier may be the best option for everyone. That was very much political and social, and one could speak on their beliefs and perhaps be motivated to make changes in their own lives. Courage and TravisT are the two MC's who want to be able to teach information in a manner that will make it easily consumable, going into the minds of those who need to hear it, as they do in Nine Triangles (self-released). In "Understand" they get on the spiritual side of things and tell people that respect of ones self and the next man and woman is needed in order to make it through in this life: Drift on the wind through a rolling savannah Watching four-legged peoples making good pace at a medium canter I echo through the heart of a drum beating deep in the slums And touch the homeless children begging for crumbs Quietly whisper that a chance gone come, to my daughters and sons Who walk the planet with definitive purpose The babies you've been told that they are worthless Old ladies clutching their purses, and the few who listen close to my verses All behold a rising sun to the east Illuminating what was darkness with brilliance and heat From the pillaged rainforests to the endless concrete Where CO2 turns to oxygen and cycles repeat Where violence doesn't stop and the drug dealers meet And people sell their souls for the secrets they keep So the shadows grip their hearts till they can no longer sleep And the world keeps on spinning without missing a beat The group also touch on the hazards of fast food ("Natural Flavors"), manipulation towards giving a reason for a war ("A Problem"), and pushing to fight for what's right ("Dear Diary"). The group are about exposing the malicious lies our president and vice president try so hard to hide, but when you are in a culture where information can be found and deciphered in seconds, hiding is no longer an option. Courage and TravisT have very different styles, and the way they bounce back and forth between verses makes things flow smoothly. The burning of the one dollar bill on the bill is a metaphor to say that the group sees to destroy anything that is corrupt under the eye of one nation, under a fictitious God who has anything but liberty and justice to offer to its citizens. Nine Triangles is an album that seems to be the solution to a painting that has been thickened with dust and soot for years, and by wiping it away you discover colors and textures that have not been seen in years. Their venom may be too strong for some, but sometimes people need to be poisoned and repoisoned in order to discover how tainted they have become. Listening is the antidote, and Eastern Sunz want to be the caregivers for a more positive and brighter tomorrow. - Music For America


Eastern Sunz.... wow, were do I start??? You guys are very different, what you guys stand for rarely ever seems to get main stream exposure... Let's change that.





1. Who are you?

The name of our crew is Eastern Sunz. My name is Courage. Travis T makes up the other half.

2. What's separates yourselves from other artist?

Lyrical content. Our focus is on political and environmental issues while a lot of rappers stick to cars, clothes, women, and money. ?

3. Where are you from?

I was born in LA and moved to Ashland around high school. We spent the last three years in Seattle and now we're in Portland.

4. What is your movement about?

Our movement is about promoting ecological and political change with thoughtful music. We want our grandchildren to have clean air to breath and clean water to drink. We need big changes and we're running out of time. ?

5. How would you catagorize your style?

Political/Environmental Hip-Hop?

6. When did you start doing music?

Third grade. Eastern Sunz started in 2000.?

7. What artist have influenced you?

Promoe and Looptroop Rockers, The Coup, Immortal Technique, Wu-Tang, Outkast, Goodie Mob, and others who bring integrity and an important message in their music. ?

8. What projects have you worked on?

We have four full-length albums to date. One of our latest tracks was just featured in a short film by Activist Entertainment entitled "Designing the New World". Visit our website at www.easternsunz.com and click on the link to view it. ?

9. Were do you see yourselfs in 5 years? ?

Touring a lot and making a living doing what we love to do.

10. Is there an Artist/Producer whom you would love to work with? ?

I'd also love to work with DJ Muggs and Sabzi of Blue Scholars.

11. What is your overall view of music as a whole? ?

It's a powerful medicine.

12. What has been the most major project that you have been involved with up to this point of your career? ?

Our latest album, Nine Triangles. We cut no corners while making it and we worked with some incredible artists including Smoke, Macklemore, Ricky Pharoe, and Lafa Taylor. Also, we recently organized our own national and international tours. That was like working a full-time job.

13. Where can people learn more about Eastern Sunz and purchase your music?

Please visit our website at www.easternsunz.com or our myspace at www.myspace.com/easternsunz. You can purchase our music from our online store, from itunes, and at cdbaby.com.

- Elements Of Art


The following interview was conducted as part of the program for Northwest Greenfest in September of 2007:

TravisT:

Music Questions:


1. When did you know you wanted to be a musician? Who inspired
you to become one?


I don't know that I ever consciously made the choice. I don't have a
direct influence that comes to mind, but I did have a horrible art
teacher who pretty much uninspired me from pursuing art. So I guess
if it wasn't for her I might not be doing music today.


2. Describe your sound. How did you develop it?


My style is pretty introspective, with a lot of political and social
messages. I try to cover important themes, but in a light manner. I
started basically just getting the technical side or things and once I
got into it, I realized it's a great outlet to express yourself so I
started focusing more on content.


3. What are your goals with music?


My personal goal right now is to be living semi-comfortably solely off
of music. When I get to that point I'll have another goal. On a
broader scaIe I want to make music that evokes emotion from the
listeners and gets people thinking about and discussing world issues.


4. What is your biggest accomplishment in music to date?


I would have to say the release of the latest album, Nine Triangles.
We put a lot of time and energy into and I'm proud of our work. So
far the response has been good.


5. If you could cover any album from front to back what would it be?


A hip hop cover album would be pretty boring, but it would be cool to
do a live recording of one of our albums backed by a band or full
orchestra.


6. What are some words of wisdom you live by?


I don't think anyone really lives by their own words of wisdom as much
as they should, but the Golden Rule still remains a pretty good one.
A little empathy goes a long way. Also, "live like there's no
tomorrow" sounds good... in theory anyway.


9. If you could have written one song what would it be and why?


The Happy Birthday song. Did you know that someone still owns the
rights to that? And anytime it's used in a movie or TV show they have
to pay them to use it.


10. If you could play in any band besides your current project(s)
who would it be and why?


I don't know what band, but I always wanted to be a drummer. Maybe in
another lifetime.


Social/Political Questions:

1. If you could pick anyone (alive or dead) to run our country;
who would it be? Why?


I don't know that I would pick any one person, but if I did, it would
be someone a lot smarter than me. It's gotta be a tough job, I know I
sure as shit wouldn't want to do it. I suppose anyone is better than
the current leader though.


2. Should Americans care what the rest of the world thinks of us? Why?


Absolutely. Sometimes the outside observer has a more realistic
perspective of things. We are supposed to be the world's leader and
setting an example. Talk to anyone outside of the US and you usually
hear stories and sometimes the effects of our country's actions that a
lot of people are completely unaware of.


3. How important do you think global warming is? Why?


Well, really it's the biggest issue isn't it? And sadly I feel like I
don't focus on it enough. If we don't do something, it will be the
end of the planet. But it's like if we save the planet, then what?
It's not enough. It's the most important issue because we are talking
about the end of human existence, but part of me thinks "So what if
human existence ends?". It's not enough to save the earth if we don't
start working on the shit in it. We gotta learn to be better people
and fix the human element too.


4. One of the biggest questions of our time is whether Americans
should give up certain liberties for heightened security. How do you
feel about that?


I believe that there needs to be a balance. Security is important,
but there's just currently no logic to it. Authorities are being
empowered to do anything as long as it's in the name of "securing our
freedom", when in actuality they are really taking our freedom away
little by little. I feel like a criminal every time I go to the
airport.


5. What do you think our nation's top priorities should be? What
should your local government's top priorities be? Do you care?


For both the nation and on the local level, we need to focus
infinitely more on education and health care. I think about this
nearly everyday. It is unfathomable to me how the richest country in
the world can't supply adequate health and education needs to it's
citizens. Also, the legal and prison systems need a major overhaul.


6. Are the majority of American children getting the proper
education to prepare them for the world of tomorrow?


Are the majority? No. Every other day it seems like anoth - Northwest Greenfest


Conscious Hip-hop Comes to Seattle

By Sophie Raider

You don’t often hear emcees rapping about eating organic or saving the rainforest. Well, prepare to be amazed because Eastern Sunz does just that.

Originally from Oregon but recently relocated to Seattle, this hip-hop duo creates music with a strong social and environmental message. Aaron Harris, aka Courage, and his counterpart Travis Taylor, aka TravisT, bring conscious lyrics to hip-hop culture through songs like “Oreganic” and “Nuclear Suicide.”

“One of the most essential messages,” says Harris, “is that we live in an entirely unique time period in the history of earth. We don’t have the luxury to ignore environmental issues. We either confront these issues now or our grandchildren won’t have a world to live in.”

Harris has been rapping since he was eight-years-old. His initial environmental revelation occurred while alone in the wilderness on a backpacking trip in the eleventh grade.

“One of the most primary functions of rap music is to convey a message,” says Harris, who points out that communicating a need for change is not a new thing in hip-hop. “The gangsta rap of the ’90s had an underlying message that things aren’t right—that things in our society need to be fixed.” Harris believes that “need for change” message has been transformed into an anthem of affluence and materialism. “Mainstream hip-hop today is an illusion, it’s a commercial.”

Eastern Sunz is bringing back the message of change. Their song, “Natural Flavors”, opens with a soundbite from Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, speaking about factory-produced flavor additives. Eastern Sunz raps:

Fat per serving’s ninety-eight grams, what’s in my food man?
Rampant malnutrition in a prosperous land,
said what they putting in my food, ma’am?
I said what’s natural ’bout these flavors? The FDA make moves to regulate us,
It’s never ’bout our health, it’s for the papers.
So educate yourself because this government ain’t ever gonna save us,
just feed us hamburgers and Now N’ Laters.

Eastern Sunz has toured with Rahzel and Andre Nickotina and collaborated with Vursatyl and Ricky Pharoe, among others. They plan to release their fourth album, Nine Triangles, next month. See them live on April 5 at the Kirkland Avenue Pub in Kirkland, May 11 at Tommy’s Nightclub & Grill and May 24 at the High Dive in Fremont.

For more information and to listen to their songs visit www.easternsunz.com


- Conscious Choice Magazine


Conscious Hip-hop Comes to Seattle

By Sophie Raider

You don’t often hear emcees rapping about eating organic or saving the rainforest. Well, prepare to be amazed because Eastern Sunz does just that.

Originally from Oregon but recently relocated to Seattle, this hip-hop duo creates music with a strong social and environmental message. Aaron Harris, aka Courage, and his counterpart Travis Taylor, aka TravisT, bring conscious lyrics to hip-hop culture through songs like “Oreganic” and “Nuclear Suicide.”

“One of the most essential messages,” says Harris, “is that we live in an entirely unique time period in the history of earth. We don’t have the luxury to ignore environmental issues. We either confront these issues now or our grandchildren won’t have a world to live in.”

Harris has been rapping since he was eight-years-old. His initial environmental revelation occurred while alone in the wilderness on a backpacking trip in the eleventh grade.

“One of the most primary functions of rap music is to convey a message,” says Harris, who points out that communicating a need for change is not a new thing in hip-hop. “The gangsta rap of the ’90s had an underlying message that things aren’t right—that things in our society need to be fixed.” Harris believes that “need for change” message has been transformed into an anthem of affluence and materialism. “Mainstream hip-hop today is an illusion, it’s a commercial.”

Eastern Sunz is bringing back the message of change. Their song, “Natural Flavors”, opens with a soundbite from Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation, speaking about factory-produced flavor additives. Eastern Sunz raps:

Fat per serving’s ninety-eight grams, what’s in my food man?
Rampant malnutrition in a prosperous land,
said what they putting in my food, ma’am?
I said what’s natural ’bout these flavors? The FDA make moves to regulate us,
It’s never ’bout our health, it’s for the papers.
So educate yourself because this government ain’t ever gonna save us,
just feed us hamburgers and Now N’ Laters.

Eastern Sunz has toured with Rahzel and Andre Nickotina and collaborated with Vursatyl and Ricky Pharoe, among others. They plan to release their fourth album, Nine Triangles, next month. See them live on April 5 at the Kirkland Avenue Pub in Kirkland, May 11 at Tommy’s Nightclub & Grill and May 24 at the High Dive in Fremont.

For more information and to listen to their songs visit www.easternsunz.com


- Conscious Choice Magazine


Discography

Live From Mississippi Studios (2016)
Placebos For The People (2014)
Filthy Hippie Music (2012)
Corroded Utopia (2010)
Nine Triangles (2007)
The Art Of Spiritual Warfare (2005)
Hiphopapocrypha (2002)
To Those of Higher Consciousness (2001)

Photos

Bio

Eastern Sunz provide a fresh take on sociopolitical issues, which has recently landed them the John Lennon Songwriting Contest grand prize, the Eco Arts Awards grand prize, first place in The International Songwriting Competition, and The Independent Music Award for Album of the Year.

The Oregon hip hop duo consisting of Courage and TravisT have been recording and performing music together for over a decade. They have worked with such artists as Grammy award winner Macklemore and ten-time Swedish Grammy award winner Promoe. Their dynamic live show often features a full band and has kept them touring across North America and overseas, as well as helped them make a name for themselves on the festival circuit.

Eastern Sunz offer a powerful alternative to hip-hop's status quo by bringing focus to an array of topics through entertaining music without alienating the casual listener. With a cult fan base fortified by press, radio play, and a grassroots movement, Eastern Sunz have expanded their reach to all corners of the world.

Quotes:

"Two hip hop genuises armed with microphones and the truth."
-Nightlife Network

On the hunt for the next big thing in underground hip hop? Look no further.
-UndergroundHipHopReview.com

Eastern Sunz are bringing back the message of change.
-Conscious Choice Magazine

"Theyre committed in getting their message and music across, in a way that is unlike a lot of other hip-hop artists today. Some might say they are the utopia in todays corrosion."
-This Is Book's Music

"A mix of humble tree hugging and giddy swagger."
-Willamette Week

Keeping it very real with four albums of social and environmental lyrics on some deftly mixed beats.
-GreenDaily.com

"Lyrics from the Eastern Sunz are permeated with an optimism uncharacteristic of their genre, a tempered realism that unassumingly reaches out for environmental justice and social equity with surprising clarity and liberal doses of sarcasm."

-The Insurgent

Past festivals include:

Seattle Hempfest Mainstage (Seattle)
Denver Post Underground Music Showcase (Denver)
Muddy River Jam Festival (Philadelphia)
Duckfest (Illinois)
Promenade Festival (Boise)
Neon Reverb Festival (Las Vegas)
Playground Festival (New Mexico)
Indiefest (San Diego)
LYME Festival (Missoula)
Folklife Festival (Seattle)
Artoleptic (Seattle)
Portland Hip Hop Festival (Portland)
Fire In The Canyon (Portland)
KPSU 15th Anniversay (Portland)
Montaqua Skate Jam (Montana)
Sound To Mountains Bikefest (Seattle)
Tacoma Hempfest (WA)
Emerge N See (Oregon)
Summer Circus Festival (Oregon)
Cirquinox (Oregon)
Midsummer Dream Festival (Oregon)
Northwest Greenfest (Washington)
Earth Day Celebration (Oregon)
BS Fest (Oregon)
Spare Change Festival (Oregon)
Jefferson State Hemp Expo (Oregon)
And More

Radio Play:

Pandora Internet Radio
Spotify Internet Radio
KEXP (Seattle)
KBOO (Portland)KPSU (Portland)Wild 107.5 (Portland)
Many other major, independent, college, and internet radio stations throughout the country and world.