Vince Staples Brings the Life Aquatic Tour to Denver

Vince Staples
Vince Staples Photo courtesy Universal Music Group
Vince Staples didn't set out to be a rapper when he was growing up in Long Beach, California. But a chance trip with some friends to Los Angeles, where he met and befriended members of the Odd Future collective, changed his life trajectory. Now considered not just a promising rapper, but one of his generation's most significant voices, Staples has collaborated with multiple artists in and out of hip-hop and has worked with producers with a taste for the experimental.

Staples released the usual sort of mixtapes early in his career, but it was with his 2015 album, Summertime ’06, produced by No I.D. and in part by electronic artist Clams Casino, and its stark visions of life turned upside down that Staples caught the attention of a wider audience. In 2016, Staples continued his creative partnership with No I.D. as well as bringing in respected electronic artist James Blake for the Prima Donna EP. His current venture, dubbed "The Life Aquatic Tour," is a nod to his love for the movies of Bill Murray.

Westword spoke with Staples ahead of his March 3 show at the Gothic Theatre.

Westword: Is The Life Aquatic one of your favorite Bill Murray movies?

Vince Staples: Not really that movie. I like all Bill Murray movies. There is only one Bill Murray. He's very important. He was in Groundhog Day and he was a Ghostbuster. Not many people can say they were in both of those things. He was also in the Army, in [Stripes].

The electronic elements of your music are especially interesting. Is there something about those sounds that you think helps to express what you're trying to convey in your music?

It's what I liked when I was young, and I liked Daft Punk and No Doubt and Portishead and things like that. Those were sounds that resonated with me.

Last summer you talked about how we're in the post-Makonnen period. Do you feel we're in yet another period at this point, different from last summer?

I don't know. We're probably still post-Makonnen. There's a lot of singing going on, and [they're] having fun with it, and that's important.

Obviously you've collaborated with other hip-hop artists, but you've also worked with Flume and Clams Casino.

Harley [Streten, aka Flume] reached out because he liked my music. I wasn't that familiar with him at first, but I liked his music. He taught me a lot. Clams wanted us to do a song for his album 32 Levels called “All Nite.” While doing a session for “All Nite,” he asked if we wanted him to do anything for our album, and he did work on “Norf Norf,” “Surf” and “Summertime.” But our album came out before his.

Vince Staples will perform at the Gothic Theatre with Kilo Kush on Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4, at 9 p.m.; 303-789-9206, $25-40, 16+.
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.