Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson Share ‘Hokey Fright’ Details

Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson. Photo: Chrissy Piper

This spring, Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson will release Hokey Fright, their first album as the Uncluded. The album pairs Aesop’s baritone raps with Kimya’s easygoing lilt over 16 productions that flit between acoustic guitar and beat-based backdrops. It may seem like an odd pairing, but we can assure you that this friendship-turned-creative partnership will be one of this year’s nicest surprises. Hive recently checked in with Kimya and confirmed cat enthusiast Aesop and pestered them to reveal some more details about the collaboration.

What’s the story behind the album title, Hokey Fright?

Kimya Dawson: It’s something Aesop’s grandma used to say. He told me about it and I thought it sounded awesome. I had never heard it before and we both thought it would be a great title.

Aesop Rock: She would say it instead of “Holy Shit!” It was her inoffensive exclamation. We searched it online and I asked my brothers if they had ever heard it elsewhere, but no dice. Maybe she made it up? I dunno.

You’re calling this project the Uncluded. Did you come up with any other rejected names for the group?

Kimya Dawson: Initially we were Precious Bros and you will even hear us say that in a couple of songs, but we found out that there is a band called Precious Brothers. They are actually brothers with the last name Precious. Bummer. Then it took us well over a year to come up with a new name. We toyed with a bunch of ideas — Poltergasm, Willsmiths, Clap Clap NGO… We asked for suggestions at shows and that was comical at best.

Aesop Rock: It was weird because Precious Bros was decided upon swiftly and we loved it. Then once we realized we couldn’t use it, I feel like we were throwing around band names forever. Ultimately I think the Uncluded fits us best, so I feel okay with it.  Poltergasm is pretty good though.

Is the first single, “Earthquake,” representative of the sound of the whole album?

Kimya Dawson: Not really. Some of the songs are built around acoustic guitar and some have beats that Aesop produced. Some of the guitar songs have drums and or synths. Some of the ones with beats have glockenspiel and flute. Some are heavy and fast. Some are folky and slow. Some are folky and fast. All but one have a ton of words because, well, we’re us.

Aesop Rock: We both came into this wanting to do vocals on something different than our norms — so I was really into some of the acoustic-based songs, whereas I think Kimya got a kick out of getting a beat or loop sent her way. Most of the tracks would start with one element, either an acoustic guitar or a stripped-down sample-based loop. In passing things back and forth we would each add both vocals and perhaps other musical elements to what was already there. Some got scrapped, some got kept.

What’s going to surprise people most on the album?

Kimya Dawson: Maybe “Tits Up.” That’s like our epic rollerskating rink party jam. And I rap like a goofus.

Aesop Rock: Yeah, I mean, it’s gotta be “Tits Up.” It’s beyond goofy. Kimya rapping is a genre in itself.

One of the songs is titled WYHUOM. What does that stand for?

Kimya Dawson: Wayward Youth Have Uppity Old Moms. Just kidding. I don’t know if I’m supposed to say…

Aesop Rock: Where’s Your Halfwit Uncle’s Ovulating Mistress?

If you had to recommend one song from the album for people to check out first, what would it be?

Kimya Dawson: I would recommend people listen to one of the folkier ones and one of the beat based ones so they don’t write us off as being all one or the other. Maybe “Delicate Cycle” and “The Aquarium” or “TV On 10.”

Aesop Rock: I think the way “Delicate Cycle” came out on the record is where I’d send people first — we’ll have a video for that one.  I think it’s just a solid example of what we do, and a lot of the other songs branch out from there.

The Uncluded’s Hokey Fright is out May 7 on Rhymesayers

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