Killin’ The Silence: “Life Support: / OMN Featured audio

Nina Crow
Written by Nina Crow

Killin' The Silence: "Life Support: / OMN Featured audio

We are told: 

 This genesis of Killin the Silence’s new single “Life Support,” was released by the Portland, Oregon-based hip-hop group April 8th, sprang from conversations between vocalist Monivoi Vataiki, lyricist Stephen Jerome, and producer/lyricist The Stains of Leisure about near death experiences that they had personally lived through and what it was like to occupying that hazy space between life and death.

The song opens with sound design re-creating the moment of plunging into the divide, where you can hear the distant voices of paramedics in the outside world working to save you, but are unable to communicate back.  The Stains of Leisure drew on his own experiences going under anesthesia and existing in that twilight zone as he created the opening sequence.  Heavily influenced by the sounds of life support equipment, the opening synth even mimicking the sound of a breathing machine. 

Originally recorded in early 2020 long before the pandemic, the group shelved it while working on other material, but have decided to release it as it feels oddly descriptive of the current moment we find ourselves in as a country and world.

But, who exactly is Killin The Silence? 

Killin the Silence is the independent, genre defying hip-hop duo comprised of cinematic lyricist Stephen Jerome and multi-instrumentalist/songwriter/producer The Stains of Leisure.

The two spent the last several years crafting their debut record Killin the Silence Volume:One.  An immersive concept album steeped in hip-hop, funk, rock, and jazz that pushes the evolution of the genre.  The twenty-six minute musical odyssey is laced with social and political commentary about the rise of propaganda and the media’s ability to influence populations, reshape governments, write history, and amplify ideologies.  The album was a collaborative endeavor which brought in Portland via Canada vocalist and lyricist Monivoi Vatakai, local MC [e]mpress and vocalist BLK + IVY.  All staples in the NW hip-hop and R&B scene.

From outward appearances you wouldn’t think the duo had much in common.  Separated by almost twenty years of age and from different sides of the American cultural divide, Stephen and The Stains of Leisure bridged that distance through a love of music, intense desire to engage in political and social analysis, and a shared respect for our common humanity.  That’s not to say that their creative partnership has not been without its own turmoil, but those trials and revelations became steeped into every note and word of their music.  After all no one can escape the lens of their own experiences, but only lessen its effect through art, music, and love.

Stephen and The Stains of Leisure first met through a Portland State University capstone project titled Behind Bars, which worked with incarcerated youth producing music and poetry.  At the time Stephen was in the last years of a seven and a half year sentence at the Camp Florence Youth Transitional Facility in Florence, Oregon.

The Stains of Leisure (Jason T. Edwards) was living in Portland, Oregon and working as the sound designer for broadcast television, including NBC’s hit television show Grimm, as well as The Cape, The Brave, The Mindy Project, Midnight Texas, and numerous pilots for NBC, Netflix, and HBO. While at the same time producing and developing his music underground.

Initially collaborating on music for an animated series, The Stains of Leisure and Stephen quickly bonded over their love of music and engaging in intense debate. All of which provided the foundation for this musical project.

Born and raised in Portland Oregon, Stephen is a performing artist, activist, racial and social justice advocate, and community educator.  Convicted as a teenager, sentenced to seven and a half years in the Oregon Youth Authority, Stephen used his time to educate and expand his understanding of self-worth, potential, and purpose through art.  Music was central to his evolution.

Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist The Stains of Leisure is a lifelong musician, visual artist, and writer.  He’s spent the last twenty years working as an award-winning sound designer for documentary, animation, film, and television while working out of his boutique recording studio in SE Portland.  In between work and family, The Stains of Leisure strives to nurture creative projects into existence.

Together they are Killin the Silence.



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Nina Crow

Nina Crow

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