SHANE: I’ve been following Angelo for a minute now since I heard Madonna and then I just started becoming familiar with Well$ since NASCAR and your guy’s music together sounds so dope and complimentary of each other. Top to bottom, man Zäire is no skips for me.
WELL$: Appreciate it, man. That’s how we kinda designed it or like that’s kind of the whole goal, you know? We wanted to make the seamless album something that, you know, you could just hit play on and live with.
SHANE: I mean from the very first try, it gave me this like overwhelming, Kanye-level feeling. For me, it’s hard to find that balance of hip-hop and soft melodies and rhythm that you find in R&B without sounding the same. That niche, sound and chemistry you have together really came through on this project.
WELL$: Wow, I think that’s kind of a testament to me and Angelo’s background. I mean, you know, I think where we started musically isn’t necessarily where we are at now. And we’ve covered so many things and grown into so many lanes. We tried to experiment with so many different things on the project and this is kind of the by-product of that. Like, that’s how our music is going to sound because of how much different genres we pulled from.
SHANE: Well, wait so how did you guys link up? For people reading this who don’t know you at all, why don’t ya’ll introduce yourselves a bit and talk about how yall linked up.
ANGELO MOTA: Honestly, we’ll sell the movie rights at some point, but we met in a super crazy way. I had this manager named Brian Krista (shout out to him). He’s like one of the most genuine, he was like the first genuine dude I ever met, like doing music. And he introduced me to WELL$. WELL$ you know, was popping off, he was like doing a bunch of shit. And I was like, damn, I wanted to originally produce and l make some beats for him. And then like eventually try and work together on some stuff. So he was coming up to New York for a Pigeons & Planes show and he was like, “Bro im finna just come to your house.”. It was crazy, he drove from North Carolina and you have to go through Jersey to get to New York. So he was like, bro, I’m coming to your house to pick you up, like pack all your shit. So I was like, all right. I have like, I wanna say I have like $9, like to my name type shit.
This is like 2015. And I was like, yeah, f*ck it. I’ll stay in Bedside with these guys for three days. And, um, they literally drove to my house it was like a little coop, and we were like crunched in there. I don’t really talk about that a lot, but I was like, wow, man they’re really trying to get to New York and still like, in some way, like trying to involve me and you know make sure I’m comfortable and I’m good. We ended up ending the night at WELL$ show and somehow ended up hanging out with like Joey badass. It was wild.
WELL$: I guess on my end, I just really f*cked with Angelo you know what I mean? We were practically the same person in a lot of ways. It was almost like, damn, I got a brother in this. He knows exactly what I’m talking about when I’m dealing with all the sh*t I go through in music and life, you know what I mean? It was no problem to pick him up.
SHANE: Damn, that’s a f*cking movie dude.
ANGELO MOTA: Oh there’s so many other pieces, I mean I could talk about it all day. I mean it was just the amount of stuff that me and Well$ have experienced together. Like, you know what I’m saying? I’ve taken like the Chinatown bus to go see him and he’s taking the bus up to me – crazy sh*t. 6 years of living life and experiencing all that together.
WELL$: That’s kinda what this project is – all those crazy times and all those crazy experiences just kind of rolled up into one message. I don’t know and in a way it’s kinda like we’re closing a chapter on an era in our lives. You know, we’re getting older. So that’s why I think the project works so well because we had so much content to pull from in those six years that we spent with each other, that it just flowed..
SHANE: I mean, knowing that now, too, the entire project’s essence makes sense. My next question was gonna be about if you guys made music together or not before.The way that all the tracks sound and work together, it feels like you’ve been working on things together for decades. That sound and chemistry is really hard to come by sometimes. I feel like the only thing I knew of from you two was “Drunk Yet” and even then reflecting that carries the same weight of emotion.
ANGELO MOTA: We have a lot of unreleased stuff, you know what I mean? Angels has taken multiple forms. The idea originally was from Mike who is also super tied into Zäire project, and he was like y’all should do an album together. So we had this concept idea for this album called, “God Hates Angels”. We have a bunch of records from that. We have records that we’ve both been featured on for each other that just have never come out. So we’ve been making music together consistently for like six years like we said. Which is why Zäire when we linked up, we got it done so fast, you know?
WELL$: That’s another thing I like, I don’t think a lot of people would know or understand but this is practically two weeks of work. And you’re not getting that. Nobody else has given you that like, in two weeks you make it like a product like this. I don’t think you’re going to get that anywhere else. I’m just, I’m proud of us. And I’m tipping our hat to us. Cause like that’s kinda crazy.
ANGELO MOTA: Yeah, bruh, it’s easy for me and WELL$ would be some depressed ass people. So like it’s easy for us to kind of shit on ourselves a lot and be hypercritical, but sometimes like, you know, yeah, we should build ourselves up. What we did technically and the amount of quality we’re able to achieve, I feel like it’s, it’s harder to come by. And obviously like thanks to Tim as well (shout out to Tim).
SHANE: Well the project is f*cking good and I feel like you definitely have to own that sh*t. Truly, you put some real time and energy into it, man. That’s 6 years of real life-living in a 10 track pack. Which by the way, what’s the story of the project really? Where did Zäire come from?
WELL$: Mike, as Angelo was saying before, he played a big part in both of our careers, you know, and he always wanted us to make a project together. So when we found out he was having the kid, which is what the project for. For us, you know, starving artists we were like, all right, what’s the best we can give them. And we just came up with the idea of finally doing this album and giving it to him as a gift. But as we were making it, it kind of formed on its own and turned into more of like a message from us speaking to Zäire, which is the name of Mike’s son. Almost like, as a guide to life and something to help navigate the tough times.
ANGELO MOTA: Like WELL$ said I was in LA at the time and I got a call from Mike and he was like, “Hey, like I’m having a baby”. And I was like, what? I was crying, bro. I was so happy. It was crazy because his nickname is Father Mike and he’s been that father-like source before he’s had like a child. Mike was always like a source of wisdom and inspiration. You know, what I’m saying is enough to inspire you to do some shit. And after that I called WELL$ instantly and ever since then we have been talking more because WELL$ and we’re both kind of like going through our own stuff too. When I came home from LA, I moved into this spot in Jersey city and I was like, yo, you should just come here for like however long and we’ll make this album.
So he came here, we made the album and two days before Mike’s baby shower, we were like, bro, we should drive down there to play it for him and then come back and all that. And he was like, yeah, like let’s f*cking do it. I hopped in my car, which I was not sure that was some divine intervention because I did not think my car was going to make it down there in the first place, let alone, so we drove down there, um, on Friday. We got there early Saturday morning, we slept for a few hours, went to the baby shower and then got back to Jersey Saturday night. The AC broke on the way back and it was 95 degrees and it was like the most tense car ride ever, bro. But all in all, it was like a 14 day process.
SHANE: Sh*t, man. What was Mike’s reaction?
ANGELO MOTA: You know, I think he might of shed a tear. He was so shocked we were there because you know, me driving down in North Carolina has been a huge part of like me, WELL$ and Mike’s relationship. I’ve always gone down there, like taking the bus down. Just knowing that we were able to do that and my car somehow survived it too, you know what I mean? It just, just f*cking amazing the way that that shit made me feel like I don’t even think if I got a Grammy, I would feel the same way. It’s a different type of fulfillment.
WELL$: There’s real emotions tied to this entire project tied to this music, you know? I mean, I cry, I think the day that we made NASCAR or like the next morning. I cried, like, you know, like this shit is like, I don’t know, man, like it’s just deeper than music.
I know how cliche that sounds, but truly that’s really what it is like for both of us Angelo and Mike, when we all were broke together. Legitimately fucking me and Angelo split packs of cigarettes and meals. You know what I mean? It’s just, you know, when you look back on all of it and you finally get a chance to see what you’ve accomplished to see where you’re at, it’s kind of breathtaking. So there’s just real emotions attached and just real shit going on with this music.
ANGELO MOTA: Even during the album, you know, like we’re making shit while we’re going through like crazy moments in our lives. We wake up and some days I can’t get out of bed type sh*t and then WELL$ is in my room like, “Yo get the fuck up, let’s go.” you know what I mean? Sometimes WELL$ is like, yeah, I’m just not even talking feeling it and I’m like, bro, we got four days left we got to do this right now.”. Zäire aside, that help me navigate a very emotionally complex and hard part of my life experience so far.
Having Wells there for that and I guarantee, me being there for his trials and shit, it just helped us grow as people. We could have not made Zaire and having gone through that it was just as, as fulfilling for me. But then to have, you know, a baby that we’re making this album for them to learn off of it for the rest of his life. We hadn’t mentioned this, but he get’s a piece off and we give him half on publishing and a cut on the masters. You know, we wanted to keep it within the family. It was something to own for the rest of this life. That was kind of our baby shower present. We drove down and realized we dont have pampers or baby clothes and shit, we should just give him a piece of this album.
WELL$: It’s crazy to almost didn’t come out. It was always just going to be something that’s the gift to him.
SHANE: All that makes you think you, when you hear about shit “that’s supposed to happen” in your life and you just don’t know it yet until you experience it. Like you guys did for this entire 6 years of knowing each other. The project feels like a perfect reflection of those moments that you guys went through. Like you just don’t know what’s gonna happen, but it happens and you get through it.
ANGELO MOTA: Yeah, man. I mean, it was real life. Like it really happened. You know we didn’t have like a meeting and be like, all right, how are we going to storyboards etc. As conceptualized as the album ended up being it was super off the cuff. We did what felt natural and it came together like this.
WELL$: I think it’s a testament. I think that’s just, it goes to show like who me and Angelo are and what we went through. A lot of our real life is in this music, you know? And I just don’t know any other way to share that. I kind of have to do this and put that shit on wax to even work through these problems, myself. As people are hearing these things, we might be going through that problem as we speak, because this is our lives as we know it.
SHANE: I feel like personally there’s just so much pressure in intention to be so crazy creative and make music that falls into these certain categories and shit nowadays to get into playlists and top charts etc. It’s refreshing to hear how natural this entire relationship and project came together. What’s something you wish you could tell you your younger self or honestly just younger artists coming up in this industry about this whole journey?
WELL$: For me, I think as males, we don’t value our male friendships enough. You know what I mean, in the sense of like, we don’t lean on our friends as we should, our males don’t lean on their friends as much as they should simply because of, I guess, like whatever stigma or whatever machismo that we’re supposed to be, but like, to be completely honest, like having Angelo there with me while I was going through what I was going through, I couldn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to do about by myself.
And like, it made me realize and really appreciate. You know, just mint, just mental, like just fellowshipping, just with your, with your homies, bro. Like I know like that sounds super vague and super, you know, general, but like I truly do mean that like take the time to actually sit down with your friends and like, what are they, what are their problems? What are they going through? Try to help them through them. Cause I, the last thing you want. To be like, damn, how did I miss that? Or how did that? You’d never know, bro.
ANGELO MOTA: Whether you see it or not, you know what I’m saying? Like you’re. You might hide the way you feel about some Sherry ma and a big part of me and Wells, like working together so much has always been like, we’ve already spoken to each other. Very candidly. Like when I was younger, I was a lot more of like a hothead and like, Get mad and just like be yelling and saying shit. You can’t just sit with something that is eating at you and act like it’s not there and continue to do this masking shit where like nobody knows what the fuck is going on. So you need somebody that you can kick the shit with and say like things that you know, would probably make other people kind of uneasy and be able to express that emotion as openly as possible.
SHANE: That hits close too home for me for real. I was going to say, man, that’s what friends are for. I mean, that’s exactly what a friendship is. You gotta be able to experience everything together. The good days and bad days.
ANGELO MOTA: They thought we was going to be giving up some plugins. We just talking about how much we love each other. Like, you know, y’all thought you was going to get an in-depth production analysis. Nah, check in on your homies.
SHANE: It’s about to be the best interview ever. I won’t take up too much of your times guys I do appreciate ya taking time out your day for this fellas.
ANGELO MOTA: We love doing shit like this. It’s really crazy that you wanted to talk us about this with us. This could’ve been three hours and we would’ve done it.
Check out the guy’s project “ZÄIRE” today here.