The Steoples
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Gabe & Yeofi – photo by Steven Simko

Meet the Steoples — Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker (GB a.k.a Gifted & Blessed) and Yeofi Andoh. GB is a longtime producer who was integral to the start of the Los Angeles beat scene. He recorded his full-length debut album in 2004, which also marked the first collaboration with vocalist and U.K. native Yeofi on the haunting “Love is the End” single. The two had met through mutual friends, drawn to one another through their shared appreciation for genre-defying creativity.

“Up to that point, there really weren’t too many folks who were experimenting with bridging the genres in so many kinds of diverse ways like we were interested in,” GB says. They were both open-minded, and both reaching for good music instead of being locked into a particular style.

When they met, something clicked. GB was working with certain musical colors and collages that resonated with Yeofi, and the result is Six Rocks, an exploration of sound that often emerges as a collection of unfinished ideas. In lieu of being incomplete, however, GB prefers to describe it as unresolved. There are no typical song structures or chord progressions, or any sense of normalcy here. And that’s a good thing. Much is left to interpretation and imagination.

The process—for both the artists and the listener—is akin to putting a puzzle together with pieces made out of clay. GB will often have a musical or instrumental piece that catches Yeofi’s ear, who will hear lyrics and melody begin to take shape. He doesn’t hand-hold in presenting his prose, mostly preferring to communicate with emotion instead of taking an overtly literal approach.

“If there is any intention in the music we make, it’s to put people on unfamiliar ground,” Yeofi says. “We’d like you to be in a space you’re not particularly familiar with and don’t know how to react.”

If it sounds frightening, fear not. By not going to a default response, the listener is forced to interact more intently and become more engaged with the music. The first Six Rocks single, “From the Otherside,” is a tale of love told from dual different perspectives, with Yeofi’s vulnerable lyrics and tone riding the eclectic warmth of GB’s production. Sonically, other tracks drift from tribal to free, from Dilla to Debussy, as the kindred spirits craft aural soundscapes that are both cathartic and cacophonous—at times, within the same creation.

“I might find something that texturally catches my attention, or the mood or color will inspire an atmosphere or starting place,” GB says. The Los Angeles native is also heavy into analog electronics, using either sampling or MIDI sequencing as a starting point for his work.

The outcome is an 11-track odyssey—two brothers addressing the mystery of life, with their conversations set to music. So much attention is in all of the wrong places these days, they say, so music is our collective refuge. And for the Steoples, it’s also their passion, and where they choose to devote nearly all of their time.

“Our motivation is to add another color and another voice to the musical landscape of the times,” GB says, and Yeofi is quick to follow up.

“It’s another voice in the conversation.”