Erick the Architect of Flatbush Zombies talks ‘Future Proof': “[it] isn’t just an EP or album title”
Erick Arc Elliott (aka Erick the Architect) has been making music on his own since before forming Flatbush Zombies with Meechy Darko and Zombie Juice, and he's put out beat tapes in the time since the Zombies' career took off, but he's just now releasing his first "proper" high-profile solo release, the Future Proof EP, this Friday. It includes recent single "Let It Go," plus four other songs, with an all-UK cast of guests, including Loyle Carner, FARR, Col3trane, Pip Millett, and Sophie Faith, the latter of whom also lent her voice to "When I'm Gone," a major highlight of Flatbush Zombies' 2020 EP Now, More Than Ever.
Future Proof, which will be followed by a full-length album of the same name, serves as a grand introduction to Erick's solo career. Taking influence from turn-of-the-millennium classics like OutKast's Stankonia, D'Angelo's Voodoo, Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun, and more, it's a rich-sounding, soulful EP, and as the EP title implies, these songs directly respond to the chaotic state of the world that they were written during. They're powerful songs that stand tall next to Flatbush Zombies' catalog, and this brief release very much leaves you wanting more.
Two songs and a non-album freestyle are out now, and the whole EP drops Friday. Read on for my chat with Erick about the EP and listen to those songs...
We're almost a year into the pandemic, concerts still don't exist, etc - how are you holding up at this point, and what kind of effect did Covid have on the making of the EP?
The pandemic gave me a moment to focus more on how to enrich my life physically and emotionally—it's easy to put things to the side when you are constantly traveling/touring. The EP was made during different times of 2020, but I think the events that transpired throughout the year directly affected what I chose to wrote about. Lots of self reflection and a whole lot of time to think and reminisce. I spent a lot of time speaking to old friends and reconnecting with people I haven’t spoken to in a while.
You've done solo stuff before, but your most recent solo releases were instrumentals. What inspired you to branch out from Flatbush Zombies and do your own rap record?
Although much of my past work highlighted my production, I’ve been making music as a solo artist before I started to release music as Flatbush Zombies. I felt like the time I spent home during the pandemic allowed me to work on this music a lot more.
Tell us about the name Future Proof. Judging by the lyrics, it seems like it's a response to the chaotic state of the world?
In the song, “Selfish” on Future Proof, I rapped, “When the music from the soul, boy you Future Proof.” It was then I came up with the title of the project! Originally I was going to name the song "Future Proof," but I then realized it was the over arching theme of the music I was writing about. To be your most authentic self requires a lot of transparent honesty and patience. In order to be prepared for the things that will transpire in our future, a lot needs to be shared for us to learn as a people. We are all going through something, all the time. I just wanted to tell a bit of my story.
What do you most hope that people take away from these songs?
I would love for people to walk away feeling they learned something about themself through my music.
All of the guests on this EP are UK-based. Can you talk about how that came about?
Many of my favorite artists are UK based/born, Amy Winehouse, Brian Eno, The Beatles, Gorillaz, Elton John, Phil Collins, Eric Clapton, etc. I was introduced to many of these artists at a young age, which was very impressionable on the kind of music I decided to make. At the time though, I didn’t distinguish them as UK artists, but as artists that were making music I really connected with. I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe on tour, and I would always reach out to artists while I was traveling from city to city, sometimes even meeting up with artists to make music on my days off.
I met Linden [Jay] in London while traveling to Paris for a show. I was already a fan of FARR and had reached out to home months before we met in person. I took the train from Paris to London to hang with him at his house and vibe out. We ended up making a tune at his house/studio and was introduced to his partner Romèo via FaceTime. All of the features came together very naturally! I’ve known Col3trane for some years as well. We met in Newark, NJ at a Lana Del Rey show about four years ago. I met Sophie Faith in LA a bit before the pandemic began, where I recorded her hook for our Flatbush Zombies song, "When I’m Gone." I’ve been a fan of Loyle Carner via his work with Jorja Smith (another friend of mine). Him and I were wanting to make a record together and “Let It Go” became that song. Lastly, I’ve never met Pip Millett in person but I must’ve played her song “Make Me Cry” millions of times. I reached out to her to get onto my song, “Selfish” and she vibes with the record. This is how the project was made!
What were some of the specific musical influences on this EP?
I was playing a lot of these albums as inspiration right at the beginning of the lockdown:
Common - Like Water For Chocolate
Jill Scott - Who Is Jill Scott
Erykah Badu - Mama's Gun
Outkast - Stankonia
D’Angelo - Voodoo
Of course I’ve played these albums many times before, but I’ve never listened to them as a direct muse for the songs I’m writing. I also felt like there was some parallels between these albums being recorded in 1999-2000, during another big change In our society. 1999-2000 / 2019-2000.
What's next after this EP? A full-length album? A solo tour when it's safe?
Future Proof the album is next, and a solo tour is definitely in the works!
Anything else you'd like people to know about Future Proof?
“Future Proof” isn’t just an EP or album title— Our world is changing faster than ever and I would hope that we take a second to think about how we can better ourselves emotionally, financially, socially, and mentally. There is always more to learn and I don't think now is the time to deprive ourselves of information.
1. I Can’t Lose
2. WTF ft. Col3trane
3. Let It Go ft. Loyle Carner & FARR
4. Die 4 U ft. Sophie Faith
5. Selfish ft. Pip Millett