State Champs and Vertual Vertigo join forces

Chris Krapek

The dudes behind the DeKalb duo State Champs and the world renowned Vertual Vertigo sure know how to stay busy.

They’re working on LP’s, EP’s, mixtapes, instrumentals, music videos and movies. Now they’ve combined forces to form the new hip-hop head supergroup, The Conservation Area.

As a part of Middlewest Fest, State Champs and Vertual Vertigo will play at 7 p.m. tonight at SMLTWN Skate Shop, 229 E. Lincoln Highway. The all-ages show is the only one of the festival that will focus solely on hip-hop music and will feature an after-party where scenes from their upcoming movie will be shot.

The Northern Star spoke to State Champs’ Johnny Redd and Nick Arcade, and Vertual Vertigo’s Ezekiel 38:

Northern Star: How did State Champs and Vertual Vertigo get involved with Middlewest Fest? What do you expect from the show?

Nick Arcade: Basically, Kickstand [Productions] got in contact with us and asked us if we wanted to perform. We were like ‘of course.’ I expect it to be a blast. I expect a lot of people there and a good atmosphere.

Ezekiel 38: I think our show is unique because we’re the only hip-hop showcase of the whole festival. P.O.S. is coming out, and that’s really the only style that’s remotely similar to us. You know, he rocks with a band sometimes and has some darker kind of music. As far as feel-good, Chicago-style hip-hop, I feel like we’re going to be running things.

NS: Talk about the new movie you guys are working on, [with new group The Conservation Area] “Conservation Area: The Movie.”

E38: It’s kind of like a true story. All three of us battle with different relationships. I’m married, these two guys are working on different relationships, and we kind of played off our own characters and ourselves to show the tugging of love versus passion. I think that anyone can relate, it doesn’t necessarily have to be music. It’s what you want to do, and then what you’re girl wants you to do. It’s kind of meeting halfway in the middle.

NS: How would you convince someone who’s thinking about going to an emo show to come to your show instead?

E38: There’s going to be a lot of rock, a lot of emo, a lot of different kind of music. There’s only going to be one hip-hop showcase. We’re above just some basement caliber hip-hop heads, we’ve been around for a while, we’ve been doing this for a while. We’re pretty professional when it comes to on stage. We might be some goofy kids with caps, but when it comes to rocking, we get the job done. It’s an all-ages show, so that might swing your vote if you’re under 21. And I don’t think anyone else is shooting a movie at Middlewest.

NS: Is it hard to find inspiration to make music in DeKalb?

E38: We live here, but we hang out all over the world. I get my inspiration from stuff I see on a daily basis.

Johnny Redd: When you think about DeKalb though, there’s nothing to do. You’ve got nothing but time to think. It’s where I do my thinking at.

NA: It’s not hard. If you’re creative enough, you’ll figure it out. I grew up here, so I know nothing but these cornfields. I’m not making anything up, but I draw from experience, the people around me.

NS: What’s the moment like in your guys’ career right now? Do you feel good right now?

JR: I feel good right now. We’re riding it, but we have to keep going, This can’t be it. We’re working on another movie, before we even start this movie. We’ve got to keep grinding it out, really.