Heels & Picks: Eli-Mac shines with ‘Dub Stop’

Jan. 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

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BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser

National audiences first fell in love with Camile Velasco in 2003 and 2004, when she placed ninth on the third season of “American Idol.” Though I was not yet a resident of Hawai’i at the time, I remember Velasco from that season.

Velasco caught my attention and I connected with her. She was spunky, had a unique fashion sense and a smooth R&B delivery. There was, and still is, a hip-hop edge to her that is very authentic. It’s just a part of who she is as an artist. What appealed to me is that she is one of those people who just IS an artist, end of story. I fall into that category as well, so I totally get her.

Eli-Mac in one of her street-smart fashion ensembles. Photo courtesy of Eli-Mac.

PHOTO COURTESY OF ELI MAC

Eli-Mac in one of her street-smart fashion ensembles.

Here we are at the dawn of 2015 and Velasco is coming out of the gate with a strong EP entitled “Dub Stop,” but these days we know her as Eli-Mac. JP Kennedy from The Green largely produced the EP (he also acts as her manager), which features a mix of dub, reggae, pop and R&B. Her catchy melodies and deep, smooth voice with sandpaper edges make for an engaging listen.

With nearly every song on the EP garnering local radio airplay, in all likelihood you’ve heard some of these songs and they are already etched in your brain. From the laid back, vocally captivating “They Don’t Know” to the title track, there is a lot to get into here.

I really enjoyed Velasco’s contribution to Kimie’s “Haters” single, so it’s a treat to get a larger look at what this artist has to offer at this stage in her career. She’s been on national tours with “American Idol” and had massive exposure, and I’m sure many mainland fans are waiting to see what comes next for this Oahu-based hip-hop and R&B diva.

When I saw Velasco’s EP cover, I knew we would get along great. “Dub Stop” looks like a screen from the old-school Pac-Man video game, and I’m the kind of girl who owns a Tetris-print dress.

I checked in with Camille to talk about her upcoming EP release at the Republik, happening this Friday January 23rd. Here’s what the American Idol alumna had to say.

HONOLULU PULSE: I love the look of your album graphics. What inspired your Pac-Man themed EP cover?

ELI-MAC: I’m not sure who inspired our Pac-Man theme. I think it was my manager. We were going through fonts for the single cover for “Dub Stop” and we came across the Pac-Man font. With the name Pac-Man being a little similar to Eli-Mac, we just thought it would be a perfect fit.

HP: Was the EP produced entirely by JP Kennedy?

COURTESY CAMILE VELASCOA "tour selfie" with J-Boog, foreground, The Green and friends.

COURTESY CAMILE VELASCO

A “tour selfie” with J-Boog, foreground, The Green and friends.

EM: It was mostly my manager JP. We did two tracks with Kapena (“Dub Stop” and “They Don’t Know”) and I co-produced “They Don’t Know.”

HP: What are the themes on the EP?

EM: We wanted to make the EP fit the first single, which was “Dub Stop.” So we wanted to keep the rest of the album in a similar style. Kind of more of a hip hop/R&B/soul type of eclectic reggae. And as we move further our goal is to progress and mature the sound as we move on from album to album.

HP: Tell us about your tour with The Green.

EM: The tour with The Green and J-Boog was absolutely amazing!! I hadn’t been on tour for over 10 years. It was more than I ever thought it would be. I always loved traveling and being on the road, so the tour was just perfect for me. Sold out crowds, J-Boog and The Green – you really can’t ask God for anything more.

HP: What’s coming up for you?

EM: Next stop for me is my big show at The Republik on (Friday). It will be the first show I’m headlining in many many years. After that I’m going to go to Maui with the Vitals in February and then go on a mini tour with Rebel Souljahz in March. After that my goal is to finish a full-length album before the year ends.

HP: Tell us about the other acts playing your EP release party.

EM: First of all, we have Likkle Mai from Japan. She hails from this super awesome band named Dry And Heavy and she’s probably one of the best female reggae artists in the game. Next up we have my friend from California, Tenelle. She rolls with Common Kings and she’s absolutely gorgeous and so talented. Then we have my two good friends playing, two amazing local bands, The Vitals and Jimmy Weeks Project. The show is jam-packed with talent, it’s gonna be a good one and you don’t wanna miss it!!

TICKETS ARE available for Friday’s show at The Republik Box Office and at http://jointherepublik.com.
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Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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