When Raised by Wolves’ 24-year-old collaborators, Chris Cleary and Jonny Ny, met seven years ago while students at Tartan High School in Oakdale, they bonded over music, comics, and their mutual disinterest in ever having office jobs.
Cleary, who’d been involved in garage bands, became interested in production, so he attended IPR, graduating in 2016. After relocating to Los Angeles to pursue music engineering opportunities in studios, he realized that what he really wanted to do was make his own music and perform. When he returned to Minnesota six months ago, he and Ny formed Raised by Wolves.
Raised by Wolves’ debut EP, Pack It Up, showcases the two MCs’ complementary rhymes styles and their minimalist yet melodic beats, with standouts including the hypnotic hip-swaying “I Want to Be Your Man Baby” and the foreboding “Out of Control.”
Cleary spoke to us ahead of Raised by Wolves’ EP release show tonight at the Entry.
City Pages: What is Raised by Wolves bringing to the local hip-hop scene that perhaps we haven’t seen before?
Chris Cleary: I like to think we’re something different just because we do draw from different influences, rock as well as funk and stuff like that. The Minneapolis hip-hop scene has traditionally been like a boom bap style, a little bit more traditional ‘90s hip-hop going on. We’re trying to branch out from that.
CP: Did both you and Jonny write the lyrics on Pack It Up?
CC: For the most part, I write my parts and Jonny writes his parts. We collaborate on some of my parts as well. He’s a better writer than I am.
CP: What hip-hop artists influenced your style and your songwriting?
CC: Definitely Atmosphere has been both of our biggest influences for a long time because they’re relatable and from the place that we’re from. Stylistically and in lyrics, we try to emulate a little bit of that. As far as newer stuff, I really kind of fell in love with everything J. Cole has done. We draw influences from rock acts like Linkin Park as well.
CP: Tell the story behind one of your songs on Pack It Up.
CC: “Internet Money” would be the one that has a story. It comes from a place of being fed up with the state of entertainment, like all these YouTube stars coming out with a weird video and then getting rewarded by being able to play festivals; for instance, the yodel kid in WalMart playing Coachella. We were both kind of fed up with the fads. We’re more interested in making something real.
CP: How did your education at IPR affect the way you make music?
CC: It’s definitely given me a new perspective and a new ear. They teach you the technical stuff, obviously, but they instill in you to listen to music in a different way. If I’m listening to a new album, like J. Cole’s new album, there are things that I could point out that I wouldn’t have been able to before.
CP: What was the process of recording the album like?
CC: We did it mostly at my home. It took probably four months. It was a lot of defining our process and getting it down, since we hadn’t put out a project before. We ended up doing what felt most natural. I started out doing a lot of the production and then Jonny came in and wrote to it.
CP: What was the biggest challenge in bringing this album to life?
CC: Just learning the whole recording process was a little bit of a challenge for us, as well as just being busy with our day jobs. We had to find the time to work around them.
CP: What are your day jobs?
CC: I work at the Fifth Element record shop. Jonny works at D-Spot. Best wings in Minnesota.
CP: How would you describe each of your personalities?
CC: Jonny is way more outgoing than I am, for sure. He’s really good at meeting new people and making relationships. I’m a little bit more reserved, but I think once we’re in our comfort zones, we’re a joy to be around. [Laughs.]
CP: Has Raised by Wolves ever performed live before? Or is your release show your first show?
CC: That will be our first show. We’ve performed separately but not together.
CP: Wow. Does that make you nervous?
CC: Nah. Nah. I’ve always loved performing. It’s one of my favorite parts of the job.
Raised By Wolves
With: Dungeon, TheBaptist, Kazem, and DJ Alejandro
Where: 7th St Entry
When: 7:30 p.m. Mon. May 14
Tickets: $5 - $7; more info here