Interview with Alternative/Hip-Hop Collective "HUNTR"
LA-based alternative/hip-hop collective, HUNTR, has emerged on the scene with one mission: to push more progressive sounds and originality to music’s banal forefront. Originally formed as a duo at Ronnie's Diner in Culver City, the name HUNTR was inspired by Philadelphia-bred frontmen Gilbere Forté and Raak's
spiritual journey to rediscover their respective journey in life and music. That pursuit (or "hunt") aptly led to the group's name. As production began on their self-titled debut effort, the collective soon expanded to four members; Berklee-grad drummer Nick Audy, Karagandy-born multi-instrumentalist Boris Likharev.
Daily News: What does a typical day look like for you?
Gilbere: First thing I do in the morning after waking up, is pray and meditate. Thanking God for giving me a pulse and putting air in lungs. Then I read all my unread messages, and the most obnoxiously weird shit you can imagine in the HUNTR group chat. There’s like 10 of us in there, and I just…no words. After 20 mins of laughing, replying and scrolling through the all of that, I hop out of bed and do some stretches to get blood flowing through my body, and I’m off to the gym.
Most days I’m running errands, by night, I might hit the studio with Raak, Nick, and Boris for a few hours depending what’s on the to-do list. Since the album is out, our focus is getting our live show super-tight and the best it can be, so rehearsals have been priority. Other than that if there’s an event, or a friend is having something, I might hit that up. Otherwise I’m somewhere getting inspiration. Then I’m back home watching Viceland until I crash out.
Nick: I’m not a morning person so usually my day starts a little bit later. I'm pretty religious with a smoothie once up and then I'm usually out the door, running errands and whatnot. I’m definitely more of a night person so I usually get ready to either hit the studio around 7pm till the sun comes up or I’m making my rounds about town.
Raak: Wake up, brush my teeth. Drop a K Cup of my favorite Coffee Bean in the Keurig, eat a Trader Joes wrap and walk to the studio with a random morning playlist on.
Daily News: What projects have you recently been working on?
Gilbere: We just released the HUNTR album, and are mapping out the next.
Daily News: What was the inspiration for your career route?
Gilbere: I’m a student of life at the end of the day. I want to see the world. I want to meet new people. I want to learn about new cultures and traditions. I started making music because I love the feeling it gave me just listening to it. I learned early how music was a universal language. So I made it my career to speak to the people I may never get to meet.
Nick: I guess it started when I was 2. Mom lost me at a concert to only find me crawling towards the drummer on stage. He gave me a stick and was kind enough to let me play. Once he heard what I was doing he gave me the other one and said to my mom, “I think you have a future drummer in the family". The next day my mom bought me a pair which I can still remember the color, purple sticks with a black tip. We couldn't afford a kit until I was 15 so I played on our couches and pots & pans up until then. I was convinced that everyone knew how to play drums cause it was very easy. I thought if you can walk, talked and eat then you must be able to drum as well lol. I quickly learned that wasn't the case. So that's when I knew this was special and something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Raak: A million thoughts and ideas flows through my mind by the minute, so it was only right to turn them into songs.
Daily News: What do you find most challenging and exciting about your career?
Gilbere: The most challenging part of what I do is balancing patience and eagerness to learn as much as I can, as fast as something interests me. Most exciting would be that I’m given the opportunity to do that because we have access to so much information.
Nick: You honestly never know what may or may not happen with your music. You could be making history because everyone loves your music, or not because everyone hates it. The unknowing is both exciting and scary.
Raak: Most challenging is maintaining schedule, with my team and my family and my friends. Most exciting is the spontaneity of everyday.
Daily News: How do you manage a healthy work/life balance?
Gilbere: My spiritual and physical health comes first before anything I do or want to do. I give myself time no matter what, to keep my mind and heart clear; from my diet to the people I keep around me, and places I go. When I’m not working on music, I try to make time to take in new experiences.
Nick: That is challenging. I try to dedicate certain days not talking about music or the band, and connect more with my friends and family. I will admit I'm not that good at this still, but I'm working on it.
Raak: Sleep is key, and managing a healthy schedule where sleep needs to exist. The problem that I have at times is I drink a lot of coffee. I have been working on getting a goodnight’s rest to have more energy to work hard and stay healthy. Cutting back on old bad habits like drinking and smoking is key too. It is amazing how much more of the day and week you get when you cut out these habits.
Boris: Unfortunately this is not my strong point, but I am working on it.
Daily News: What do you consider your greatest achievement so far?
Gilbere: So far for me would be the release of this HUNTR album. This is the type of album I’ve always wanted to make. As a solo artist I had two record deals and never got a chance to release an album. Now as an independent and forming HUNTR with Raak, Nick, Boris, and Helly. I can do whatever I want, when I want.
Nick: It's hard to say since I try to not spend much time thinking about them. I would say just being able to have a solid album out right now, that we all believe in, is an amazing achievement for this band and myself.
Raak: Greatest achievement so far is playing my first show in Los Angeles with these three awesome individuals. I was scared shitless before hitting the stage, but then DeNiro had the house engineer play Jay-Z "I Got The Keys" right before we went on, and then as soon as I hit the first note on “i i i“ everything changed. It was super liberating and thus far my greatest achievement…until the next.
Boris: Being part of HUNTR family for sure. When I came to United States from Kazakhstan, I didn’t know many people, so to meet these guys and start building what we have in just one year is incredible.
Daily News: Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
Gilbere: In 5 Years, touring the world. 10 Years, traveling and researching indigenous cultures. 20 Years, touring the universe with Space X haha.
Nick: Still doing what I am passionate about now for sure, but maybe with more progression in my playing and writing. I want to see improvements over time. If you don't improve I truly believe you’re not giving it your all when you create.
Raak: In 5 years I see myself touring the world with my band, seeing places I’m dreaming about at the moment. 10 years from now, married to a beautiful woman with a bunch of little Raakys and Raakettes running around in our beautiful home. 20 years, Time magazine cover and having conversations with Elon Musk on Mars.
Daily News: Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Gilbere: Don’t let someone else’s lack of vision impair yours.
Nick: Don't ever compare yourself. Know that you can always get better. Never give up. Let your passion guide your work, play and life. If you do all that, then you will be successful for sure.
Raak: Don't force anything. Whether it's a beat or poem or career change or relationship, if you're not happy it's not it. Just move on. Trust me, super cliche but it's true. Time heals and you will be amazed where and when you will find yourself.
Boris: Keep practicing. Keep doing. Don’t give up.
Daily News: Where is your favourite place to dine in your city and why?
Gilbere: I don’t like giving up my low-key spots, but one of my faves is Laurel Hardware. It’s super chill, great food, and the ambience is fire.
Nick: Honestly it's tough for me to dine out, due to major food allergies. So I'm probably the worst to ask about this. But I would have to say Mel's Diner. It reminds me of a diner back home in Boston, so I guess it’s a comfort thing and I love their breakfast. Plus they know me now haha.
Raak: 800 Degrees because I take pizza very serious and at this place, pizza takes me very serious. It's art.
Boris: Panda Express, because their "Orange Chicken" and "Beijing Beef” is next level.
Daily News: What’s your most treasured possession?
Gilbere: My dog Zeus, he’s my spirit animal.
Nick: My family, my friends and my drum kits, everything else comes and goes.
Raak: At this very moment, my Y-3s.
Boris: My wife and my band.
Daily News: Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Daily News: If you could be in someone else’s shoes for a day, who would it be?
Gilbere: Richard Branson
Nick: Tuuka Rask
Raak: Christian Bale
Boris: Anthony Kiedis
Daily News: What’s your favourite country to visit and why?
Gilbere: Never been to Australia, but everything about the photos I’ve seen breathes life to me.
Nick: I would have to say the UK, but London more specifically. I've never been but it is a place I've always wanted to go to because of its rich musical history.
Raak: I want to go Italy, for the pizza, and the beaches.
Boris: Japan. Very interesting culture.
Daily News: What is your greatest fear?
Gilbere: Not trying.
Nick: Losing the ability to make music. If I couldn’t create anymore I honestly don't know what I would want to do.
Raak: Feeling afraid.
Daily News: What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Raak & Nick: Pinkberry
Boris: Building houses in The Sims.
Daily News: And lastly, what does success look like to you?
Gilbere: Living out my true potential.
Nick: Being able to solely do what I love for the rest of my life and being able to live off that alone. That is success.
Raak: Seeing my family and friends happy.
Boris: Being happy, being healthy and being able to do what I love to do. Seeing my family and friends happy and healthy. Very simple.