Purity beats perfection. Every time. Gabonano and Ralph Quasar (fka 18Sense) have found a pure place that lies somewhere between procrastination and productivity. There, the duo lackadaisically built a launch pad, from which the Lazy Astronauts took to space, and they show no sign of coming back down. The recently released, self-titled album, Lazy Astronauts, feels akin to a laid back, San Diego version of Madvillain (Madlib x MF Doom). Gabonano’s production is exactly what one would request if he found himself drifting out to space in an out-of-control spaceship. As the Lazy Astronauts freely float among the cosmos, Ralph Quasar’s raps range the gamut, from battle-worthy, to feel good, vibe-out lyricism, to thoughtful musings and introspection. Though thematically and sonically the album is an excursion among the stars, there is something very down to earth about the content provided by Ralph Quasar and the various features, keeping the project rooted and relatable, and not too abstract. You get a sense, through the album and in the following interview, that these two guys are really as laid back, content, and cool as the skeleton floating along on the red balloon in the album art. On this #WestCoastWednesday, you should take time away from your usual orbit around your responsibilities, and drift into the space between Ralph Quasars ears, set to the out of this world soundscapes by Gabonano. As you’re transported to another galaxy, enjoy reading a piece of the Lazy Astronauts’ story. Read. Listen. Enjoy. Share.
SDLHH: Who are the Lazy Astronauts?
Ralph Quasar: All of us are [Lazy Astronauts] if you think about it. I mean, by group name Gabo & I are, but everybody is a lazy astronaut since we all live in space & have the means to explore the rest of the universe, yet we don’t. It’s kinda like we have a lot of potential and don’t use it. Plus, we all love space & fascinate over it, so it’s fitting.
Gabonano: Ralph and I are the laziest astronauts. We hella procrastinate with our art, but when it’s crunch time (like 5 hours left to turn in a 10 page paper), we turn on our jet boosters and go! But yeah, on another tip, we all definitely don’t think beyond our space suits sometimes, and that’s ok. Love the place and space you’re in.
SDLHH: How has hip hop changed your lives?
Ralph Quasar: It has connected me with Gabo, which led to this album, so that’s pretty cool. It has connected me with a lot of my closest friends, along with people from all around the world. I don’t think that would have happened had I not been doing this hip hop shit. Very thankful for it.
Gabonano: Hip hop has been in my life since I was 6 years old, so I wouldn’t know any other life besides the one I currently live. Most importantly, of course, I’ve met some crazy amazing human beings just off the common love for hip hop.
SDLHH: You have to love how the culture connects us and helps grow and shape us. Speaking of hip hop connecting friends though, please share the story of how and when you two crossed paths.
Ralph Quasar: We met on SoundCloud like 5 years ago or so. I was working with the homie, Nordyne (UK), back when I was good at rapping & I think he found me through that. & then at some point down the line we figured out we lived somewhat in the same area. Well, we live like an hour away from each other, but for SoundCloud that’s down the street because most of the people I was working with were overseas. But, working together was easy. He sent me a beat & I rapped over it. Then we decided to do an album. It was a lot of on & off because we are the laziest astronauts of them all, but we eventually got it done 4 years later, haha.
Gabonano: Yeah, what Ralph said. It was this genius of a beat maker by the name of Nordyne who really brought/caught my attention to 18sense (Ralph’s past life). I’m a pretty good reader in people’s choice for beats, so having listened to a bunch of Ralph’s stuff, I knew what kind of beats would stick out for him. I wasn’t trying to make anything similar to what he was already rapping on, but I definitely tried to go for a particular soundscape and once we started actually hanging and vibing. I got an idea as to where to take this space film. I think the fact that Ralph can make beats like no other helped this little situation of a film we got go smoother than a baby alien’s bottom. He just knows what to do.
SDLHH: What was the impetus that led to Voltron coming together, that led to the Lazy Astronauts?
Ralph Quasar: Uhhhhhh, shit man, I don’t know. We just made shit & hung out & became super tight homies & it all happened. I met Trav through Gabo which led to CALiENS, which led to me rapping less & making beats more, which led to 18scales which then brought me back to finish this rap album. Now we have a super fly squad with really really fresh content, haha.
Gabonano: the lazy astronauts thing came to us about a year and a half of hanging out and stuff. We were listening to a rough version of our album, with our homie Justin Truelove (who recorded that version), and the lightning sort of struck. Lazy Astronauts. Caliens. you see a pattern? 😉
SDLHH: What’s the creative process like between you two?
Ralph Quasar: At first it started with emails & dropbox. Eventually we would link up and work together in person, but it was kind of just all over the board. There isn’t really a set in stone method.
Gabonano: Online for the first couple tracks, and then both of us going to each other’s respective creative dojos. The best songs come out when you link [in person] though, for sure!
SDLHH: You are both ridiculous producers. Unique, yet super similar in the quality, warmth, ear and feel/vibe. Who are some of the producers that inspired you? While we’re on this question, let me ask two more: 1. Gabonano, who is another SD emcee you’d like to work with and why? and 2. Ralph Quasar, who are some emcees, locally, nationally, historically, that have inspired and pushed you to become the lyricist you are today?
Ralph Quasar: I always liked the shit Exile sampled. Madlib, Dilla, & Nottz are some of my favorites for sure. My brother Spliffdini made me want to make beats though. I always saw him doing it, & wanted to do it myself. Rap wise: Blu, DOOM & André 3000 probably influenced me the most growing up. Locally, a lot of my friends kill it & make me go wayyyy harder. The homies D2A outta Oside always bring the best out of me when we collab on some rap shit. DreTrav & Ric Scales are my squad, but inspire the fuck out of me every day with their talent. Idk man, there is influence all around me & its super tight.
Gabonano: In my early days: erick sermon, rza, pete rock, dj premier
My teen years : 9th wonder, dilla, madlib, rjd2, cold vein el-p, blockhead, hi-tek
Nowadays : mainly only madlib cuz that’s styles on top of more styles.
Maaaan I just wanna say I’m blessed to have made two albums with two of my favorite rappers (dre trav & ralph quasar), who oddly enough, happen to be from San Diego, but if I could say anyone, I’d like to make an album with bdotwatt (brandon watson) but he be playinnnnn jkjkjk
Oh, I think a scvtterbrvin x gabo tape coming soon too; I think that’s an SD dream come true.
Other notable SD rappers I want to send beats to when the time is right : magoon, ghostdad (formerly checkstub curt), John Givez, you (the reader) – if you’re tight and believe in yourself.
SDLHH: So, on the Lazy Astronauts’ recently released, self titled album, Gabonano carries the production weight, and Ralph Quasar puts words to the themes the beats draw out of the listener. Gabonano, do you rap as well? And Ralph Quasar, is it tempting to want to tinker with the beats? Or is it freeing to just focus on the lyrical content?
Ralph Quasar: Gabo raps when he is stoned & it’s more so a spoken word haha. Word has it he is dropping a verse soon though. But nah, I never have the urge to tinker with his beats. I just focus on the raps. I focus enough on my own beats that I don’t even think about it when he sends me stuff.
Gabonano: Yup, beer and weed are the main recipes for stupid, heady gabo raps. I close my eyes and freestyle only (never written content). Skelly sküll proposed the idea a while back (2 years?), of producing an album for me, but I can only rap while drunk and stoney and it can only be freestyles. I still very much want to do this.
SDLHH: You both have this sort of mystique about you. There is a depth to you that is perceptible in the music, both instrumentally and lyrically. Tell us a bit about the internal place you draw from. What inspires you to create? What’s your why?
Ralph Quasar: I really want to give a deep, thought-provoking explanation, but it really boils down to just loving to create for fun. I have been playing music my whole life, so it is kinda just the way it is, haha. I like making dope shit. It feels good.
Gabonano: Sometimes it’s a shitty day at work and I can turn that shitty feeling into a great one once I throw on some old records and zone out.
Most times, it’s a beautiful day and I want to translate that day into art somehow, and all I know is beats, so I open FL Studio and get to work. All in all, it’s the heart. It’s one of my first loves. It’s my drive. Hip hop is life, just like Shrek and Chipotle is for some.
SDLHH: Alright, let’s zero in on the album. You each get three words. Describe the LP.
Gabonano: Chubby Green Men
SDLHH: That’s fun. Please know this question comes from a good place, but why wasn’t there a big campaign leading up to the release? You know, like sponsored ads on Instagram and Facebook Ads? I only ask because I want the most possible people to hear the beautiful music our city is consistently churning out, especially something this dope.
Ralph Quasar: We kinda just dropped it because we had been working on it for so long so we just said ‘fuck it.’ We didn’t really think about that, lol. There is still time to do all that stuff & promote it heavy. Once we get these videos going, it will be a better time to do so. PLUS, WE LAZY ASTRONAUTS SON!! Too lazy for all that shit. Good music finds its audience… sometimes.
Gabonano: Yeah, it was almost a desperate New Year’s Eve resolution situation when we decided to drop it. We weren’t gonna sit on this album any longer, and we just really wanna make a second installment! So in order for number two to happen, we had to blast off from space station San Diego to get this really crackin’. And yes, to echo Ralph’s last sentiments there, “if you build it they will come…”
SDLHH: I fully get wanting to get the project out, and not wanting to taint the purity of music like yours, and that it’s really about the music, I just want as many people as possible to hear it! Now that we got that out of the way, let’s have some fun telling stories a bit. Please tell the story of your favorite session during this process. Something funny. Something epiphanic. Something you know is going to make the other person piss himself laughing about.
Ralph Quasar: I was stoned pretty much every session so I don’t remember. Sorry mom, haha. It’s hard to pinpoint the sessions because we worked on it on & off for so many years. There are so many different memories over that time that were amazing & brought us closer together, but nothing to piss over haha. I feel as though Gabo will have a better answer haha.
Gabonano: I think we were really stoned in Big Sur one time, practicing for a show at the legendary Gilman in Berkeley the next day, and it was about 2 am at this time, so we were both pooped like hell and I dunno what the hell line Ralph couldn’t say, but I remember looking at him and he was literally rapping in his sleep and he caught himself and we both started busting up. We both knew we pushed it that far and had to call it a day after that, no doubt. As far as favorite sessions go: any that involve Ric Scales rapping and playing River City Ransom simultaneously.
SDLHH: Favorite song on the album? Why?
Gabonano: wtfiu?!? cuz that’s like, “Yo, we are out here and if you don’t get the hell up out your seats and stop looking at your phone during this performance, we might cry inside for a bit.” Best intro song ever.
SDLHH: Dope! Okay, let’s start wrapping up. How has the city/scene helped to shape your sound?
Raplph Quasar: It brought me into contact with a lot of really cool people who inspire me constantly. Shouts out to Vista. Shouts out to San Diego.
Gabonano: The scene has been active as of late, and that’s amazing to see. It probably was always like this, but the internet has made it possible for people to involve themselves whenever they open Instagram up. I am super grateful to all the homies who have extended their hand and have asked for me to play for them. I don’t take that shit light. A few years ago, this little Mexican kid would have never thought he could rock a hip hop show in SD, and that’s now possible because of those who have faith in me. Mad love to you peeps.
SDLHH: What’s something you guys’d like to share with San Diego’s hip hop scene?
Ralph Quasar: More music. Good music.
Gabonano: You have no clue how crazy talented you are, San Diego. Have faith, support your local scene.
SDLHH: One emphasis of SDLHH is to see a heightened level of unity in the San Diego hip hop community. Can you guys point to some other artists who you see as comrades and who you guys also see as helping to progress the scene?
Ralph Quasar: Aside from the WatsToday & WizrdsOnly squad, the homies D2A hold it down out in Oside heavily as well as the homie KNOA. They got that Clef House records poppin off right now. Veks & Missing Children doing great things for hip hop. The gawd Mathias Kruse & Snail Cage are killing it. Of course Tec & Park & Wreck Collective doing the flyest shit in bringing hip hop to you live every week along with Kahlee with the Hip Hop Weds. There is a lot more I should mention but at the moment there is a kid crying outside & it is breaking my concentration. Shouts out to all the homies. I see you.
Gabonano: 4th floor. There’s this guy Eddie Zuko who’s tight and has some heads in his camp doing their thing. Rossi Rock has been my brotha for a minute, and he’s bout to blow for sure this year, I feel it. it’s 1:58 am and I can’t think of anymore that Ralph hasn’t already named.
SDLHH: Finally, where should readers go to connect with you, both collectively and individually? When can we catch you two sharing this album, at least in part, in a live show setting!?
Ralph Quasar: You can follow me @RalphQuasar on IG & Twitter if you want. Follow the squads @WatsToday & @WizrdsOnly too.
Gabonano: gabonano on all things social media. twitter, insta, spotify, bandcamp, apple, etc. Next Lazy Astronauts live show is Feb 21st at The AC Lounge, opening up for legendary Frank Nitty! Thanks again for keeping up with us!
Peace, Love & Hip Hop,
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