It's 10:30 on a Saturday night and Nobody (Elvin Estela) is in the midst of hosting his weekly show at the influential Los Angeles college radio station, KXLU 88.9 FM. It's an appropriate place to acquaint oneself with Nobody, considering "a lot of stuff from that era came out of here." In the late '90s KXLU not only introduced Nobody's hip-hop mindset to indie music, it also led him into collaborations with Dave Scher and Chris Gunst (Beachwood Sparks), and Jimmy Tamborello (Figurine, Dntel, The Postal Service), who appear on his newest release due out this month. Like his well-received 2000 debut, Soulmates, Pacific Drift: Western Water Music Vol. 1 (Ubiquity Records) is an experimental hybrid of sound, less hip-hop and more electronic than its predecessors.
Other differences between the two records abound, yet the underlying theme remains the same: take polar opposites and see what you get. Although Nobody may not use exact opposites, he mixes musical elements not normally heard together. His first record joined hip-hop with psychedelia, while his recent work combines numerous elements from the psychedelic '60s to electronic, all the way to abstract hip-hop. Two years in the making, Pacific Drift marks a decisive shift from the first album; swapping MCs for singers, loops for instrument sounds, and a collection of old songs for entirely new material. This time around, Nobody is coming into his own by showing off his ability to craft well-developed songs.
While many of his songs are original, some are covers of '60s favorites. This move is in honor of the music he's been listening to for the last six years: Pearls Before Swine, The Zombies, West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, and the Monkees. During the last half-hour of his radio show, "She Comes in Colours," (named after a love song), Nobody plays music that is so cool you've probably never heard it; Love, The Creation, The Byrds, Can, Tomorrow, and The Millennium. His ability to play obscure and eclectic songs is similar to how he composes tracks, inspiring one critic to coin the term, "shoegazer hip hop." For Nobody, this hybrid music comes naturally and Pacific Drift is no exception.
"I didn't make it pretentiously like I'm gonna make an indie rock weird record, I just made whatever I felt and what I'd been listening to and what I wanted to do." Take for instance, "Porpoise Song." It is a Monkees track that he always liked and decided to cover. "When he goes 'clicks clacks' it reminded me of hip-hop. I knew Chris [Gunst] would be in that song because his voice is so right." Other vocal and instrumental collaborators include Languis, Paul Larson (Athalia, Dntel) and Ikey Owens (Mars Volta). The result is a solid album both diverse and mesmerizing.
After his radio show, Nobody drives to a benefit party for dublab in downtown LA, where he will play music not heard on his earlier show. Dublab is an online radio collective and Nobody was its very first DJ. He is also one of the featured artists who designed an original record sleeve for the Dublab covers project, Up Our Sleeve. As the night winds down, the next DJ begins his set. Nobody sits in a corner next to a speaker which is blaring music by The Rapture. At this point, he explains that he hopes Pacific Drift will accomplish for listeners what it achieves for him: "I want it to make me feel hopeful. At the end of the day, you just want to feel good." And with that statement, this weekend night reaches its end as appropriately as it began.