Jackson and Coleman Vrana of the angst ridden twin gay brother rap band, Elephant, are more than just a typical music act. The duo provides a blend of controversy with swift in-your-face lyrics that might just open up a whole new generation of queer gangsta activism.
Originally from Oklahoma, Jackson and Coleman now balance life in LA with their new music career. Jerry Nunn chatted with the duo by phone.JN:
(Jerry Nunn) Where are you calling from?
EL: (Jackson Vrana) We are in LA.JN:
What is your nationality? You have an unusual last name.A:
(Jackson): It is Czechoslovakia. Our dad was adopted and it is Czech is all I know.JN:
Were you born in LA?A:
(Jackson) No, we were actually born in Oklahoma.
(Coleman Vrana) We were born there and then I moved to New York when I was 18. Five years or so ago Jackson moved to LA. I came out here a few years ago once I started doing the Elephant thing.JN:
I was born in Oklahoma too.A:
(Coleman) Really? Where?JN:
(Coleman) Oh yeah, we are from Shawnee originally.JN:
I know where that is. Did you guys ever go out the gay bars in Oklahoma City?A:
(Jackson) We were too young.
(Coleman) I heard they are really dull.JN:
There is a gay hotel called the Habana Inn where they have drag shows at a place called The Copa. It's not too bad.A:
(Coleman) I have heard of it.
(Jackson) I think they are all on the same strip.JN:
They are and right by my grandma's house! Where did the name Elephant come from?A:
(Jackson) It came from the proverbial one in the room. That is how we always felt growing up when we would walk down the street. Wherever we were people's eyes would be all over us. We felt like a freak show walking around. It felt natural to call it Elephant.JN:
Have you heard of the Latin group Elefante?A:
(Jackson) I have heard the name mentioned before but I don't know what they do though.
(Coleman) People have told me of other Elephants out there.JN:
Elefante is a rock group. Does one of you have blonde hair currently?A:
(Coleman) Yes, I do.JN:
Are you single?A:
(Jackson) I'm not single. Coleman is single.
(Coleman) I'm single and always available.JN:
How is your single "Queernation" doing?A:
(Jackson) It has been good. There is a lot of interest out there with blogs and that sort of thing. Our director Jim Zabilla is amazing. He just made a video for us. It has a Party Monster kind of a theme. It is us in a truck. It is very cinematic and all about us performing. It has been getting some good buzz I think.JN:
How do you feel about censorship?A:
(Coleman) We feel like what we are doing is progressive. We want people to embrace language that they really are not comfortable with and pop culture in general.
(Jackson) We want them to try something that is foreign to them. It is tricky to do but it is a good way to progress in society.JN:
What rappers are you fans of?A:
(Jackson) Right now we are big fans of Yo Majesty and Shunda K. Right now we are making a big lesbian vs. gay rap battle with them for an EP. We are in the studio working on that right now.
(Coleman) We just played at Austin Pride with Yo Majesty. We are touring with them in America and Europe. They are really cool.
(Jackson) They are old school but really great.JN:
You did the remix for "Johnny Are You Queer?"A:
(Coleman) Yes, Josie Cotton who owns the record label that we are under. We met her about a year and a half ago. She asked us to do this remake of "Johnny Are You Queer." We added a dirty rap over it.
(Jackson) She wanted us to make the song as edgy as it was in '82.
(Coleman) It really pissed off a lot of people.
(Jackson) It really did!JN:
I watched the video for Notorious HIV.A:
(Coleman) We made the video on our own.
(Jackson) We imagined it with lost camcorder footage. We pieced it together on its own somehow.
(Coleman) We wanted to make a song that sexualized men with HIV in a way. You never hear messages like that anymore, equating men being hot with HIV.
(Jackson) They are always just about safe sex.JN:
Have you heard of gay rapper Cazwell?A:
(Jackson) Yes, definitely.
(Coleman) He's a lot of fun.
(Jackson) He has more of a pop sense.JN:
Are you coming to Chicago?A:
(Jackson) Yes, we are touring all over.
(Coleman) It will sometime in November or December.JN:
Do you Twitter so we can find out the date?A:
(Jackson) Yes, everything that is Elephantwave including elephantwave.com