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Sound Off! 2020: 49th Parallel

Sound Off! 2020: 49th Parallel

49th Parallel, a rap group comprised of five friends who have been hanging out for as long as they can remember, focuses on fun and friendship at the core of everything they create, and their goal is to share that collective passion with everyone. Their debut album was the result of an artist residency on Lopez Island and a partnership with YouTube channel Yes Theory. Since then, 49th Parallel has set themselves on a path to build their community and share their music.

Made up of Aidan (vocals), Cormac (beats), Nicky (beats), Sam (vocals), and Vasili (vocals), you can find 49th Parallel at the Sound Off! semifinals on Saturday, February 22. Here's what the five-piece hip-hop collective had to say before they take the Sky Church stage:

What was your reaction to finding out you'd be part of Sound Off! 2020?

Cormac: Incredibly excited.

Sam: Honored. We all grew up in Seattle and we used to come to Sound Off! We had a couple of friends in bands who performed and it was a big thing to go to and see. It is a really crazy surreal thing to be like, 'oh, we're actually able to perform in this now.' It's really cool.

Nicky: I got the phone call that we got in while I was studying for a final in the middle of a completely quiet library, and I screamed, "let's go!"

How would you describe your sound?

Sam: We make rap music, but I feel it’s not like it’s…

Vasili: Not traditional.

Cormac: Yeah, it’s not exactly what you’d hear on the radio. I know when I produce, when I make beats, I started out trying to sound like other people and then slowly just finding my own sound out of that.

Vasili: We use a lot of live instruments. We all have our own ways of rapping, but it’s kind of cohesive at the same time. It’s like we all rap a different way, and then Aidan can sing like crazy.

Aidan: Pushing the envelope is what I would say. Pushing the genre of hip-hop.

Sam: Trying to, at least, because it’s so saturated at this point.

Nicky: I think it’s a pretty modern take on a little bit more traditional type rap, but then also we try to bring in a little blend of some classic rock, which you probably wouldn’t hear that if I didn’t say that, but maybe if you listen back after.

Sam: I know Nicky and Cormac’s favorite band of all time is the Beatles. When we were recording our album, that music was playing a lot and we were trying to incorporate those interesting ideas that they sort of revolutionized and bringing them into rap music.

What are you hoping to achieve through your music?

Cormac: Make people happy.

Aidan: Yeah, that’s all I ever wanted to do.

Vasili: This is all for fun. This is just fun.

Sam: Give the audience a glimpse into how we feel when we're recording a song, or what sort of feelings are going into that process. As far as live performances, it really is all about fun. We want the crowd hype, but we have some slower songs. We want them just to reciprocate the energy that we're given to them. We give our 110 [percent] and all of our audiences always give it back. So it's really fun.

Aidan: Vibes.

If you could describe your sound or your music as an animal, what would it be and why?

Cormac: Elephant.

Sam: Why, bro?

Aidan: Because they’re wise.

Cormac: Because they’re very smart and big and full of love.

Sam: A rabbit. It’s got to be a rabbit.

Aidan: Oh, a rabbit.

Cormac: A rabbit.

Sam: We have a song called ‘rabbit,’ so it's got to be a rabbit. I would say a turtle-roo. That's a mix of a kangaroo and a turtle. But they wouldn't like that answer, so…

Aidan: Anyway…

Nicky: And Sam’s talked too much.

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About the author

Tony Drovetto is MoPOP's Content Marketing Manager.