The Emotional Oranges are embedding popular music with mystery and theater. The two musicians are accompanied by a streamlined team of six or so, independent like a lean start up, fostering their rise in the cultural psyche and shows around the world – from Coachella to Cape Town.
The artists they feature are carefully chosen and exquisite, the heartiest crop in a world of cream, for example – Vince Staples, Becky G, Unusual Demont, and Biig Pig.
Their earliest song was the theme for RuPaul’s Drag Race 2018. They’ve been covered by Clash Magazine, VICE, MTV News, Highsnobiety, LA Weekly, and BBC News.
The two keep their identities masked in brand. They’re savvy. And they respect their privacy. They’re products and denizens of modern Los Angeles. In press and literature alike and the vast battleground of love between, they’re referred to as A. and V.
After a perspiring and enlightening, an energizing like lightening session in their recording studio, the Emotional Oranges, A. and V. fell asleep.
Ahead interview and fantasy blend in service – in hope – of theme or the special hidden something theme blankets like down, the stuff of the mightiest mystery.
The translations of Rumi’s work that dance ahead in this story were kindly, empathetically, graciously, and with an infectious sense of joy allowed to appear by Jawid Mojaddedi.
Mojaddedi is one of the most skilled and decorated translators of Rumi’s couplets and choruses of all time. This story is better for his spirit and craft.
And the air coming through the vents smelled of roses and the spice of magic. Their psyches blended, and the two dreamed together.
It was a hive of poets, a library of souls. The oranges were on a flat clearing above a staircase carved into the honey-colored rock of the surrounding cavern.
The acoustics placed every sound in one’s ear as if on a feather pillow, and the rock seemed alive and gay. Their hollow could fit a few professional ball stadiums, and it branched into a hundred of its kind – full to the brim with markets and writers, but mostly there were performers.
Boulders shaped like honey dippers sprouted from the ceiling and gently perspired orange juice, such that it covered the floor and made clean pools in raised alcoves. It was sweet as an angel’s handhold even to the taste of a single dipped finger.
Orations rang out, clamoring against each other in a perfect and disorganized orchestra. A. and V. stood in awe. Two men approached the Oranges, one with a single gold hoop earring and the other in a black robe. The two musicians recognized the two approaching instantly.
“You’re my favorite poet, William Shakespeare. I used to be obsessed with you in high school, which is a little strange. But I can say that I yeah, I love you,” said V. “I played Juliet in high school.”
“Thou knowest the mask of night is on my face, else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek for that which thou hast heard me speak tonight,” she recited in memory.
And A. said to the other approached poet, “Rumi! I’m Iranian. You were not just in my house, but in the open mics I would go to with my dad. The immigrant community, you speak to them.”
Déjà vu came out from the under blue, and without the primogeniture of verse, it’s a question what A. would have done.
With serendipity, he had recitation at his side like a weapon. Against his mind, A. traced the tail of a poem of his father’s – scholar, economist, and writer Majid Naficy.
The poetry, recreated in prose, goes: “Your son is dreaming in the next room and uttering words like a mute. Tomorrow he is going to a summer camp, and during his absence you want to pick Rumi from the shelf, hang down the pot and potlet, blow out the flame on the stove, and waterfast for five days. Perhaps what you haven’t found in feeding, you will discover in emptiness. He has packed his knapsack and placed it near the front door. His sneakers are shining in the dark and you are asking yourself: “What he is dreaming now?””
The paternal spell gave A. a sense of comfort, and he realized he and Rumi had spoken in recitation aloud, together, and to the astonishment of their company.
Shakespeare said, “mark how one string, sweet husband to another, strikes each in each by mutual ordering – resembling sire and child and happy mother who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing.” The four artists descended the stairs and found themselves chattering amidst the people.
The two denizens of the old world asked the citizens of modernity, land of hasty travel, where the most beautiful cities once touched their feet.
V. told them Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. Shakespeare and Rumi asked if they’d ever felt unsafe in travel.
“In Paris, two years ago, we were driving I had to go get makeup,” said V.
“I hear that,” said Shakespeare.
“We were in a cab. I was filming because it was Paris. And these dudes run up on the car and the cars on a red light. And they they’re like, give me your phone,” said V. “The guy pulled out a knife and was like, you want to die tonight? And the Uber
“For me, danger is not being able to find a meal that satisfies my soul,” said A. “I don’t feel fulfilled unless I have great coffee and a great meal. It could be once a week, but if I get that one great coffee, I write it down in my little notebook, my little binder. And then same thing for wings. I found the best wings I’ve ever had in my life – believe it or not – from a white guy in Tokyo, Pizzakaya.”
The bard laughed. “Sweets with sweets war not,” he said. “Joy delights in joy.” The four, in their passing, nearly swept by the statue of a woman – made from the honey rock.
A. recognized her and said, “that’s my grandmother.” The three placed their feet and experienced emotion grip them, the concerting kind – building from their lowest feelings to their highest.
“She was amazing. She was an angel. She was probably the only human I’ve ever seen never get upset or angry or mistreat another human, no matter what,” said A. “And I couldn’t tell if it was just the wisdom or age, time taking its course or whatever. She raised nine kids in a one-bedroom type sh**. So, I don’t know. And she used to work in a bathhouse back in Iran. So, I don’t know if she let her anger out at an earlier age. I wish for one ounce of what she had to keep in my mind.”
“My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground: And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,” said Shakespeare. “And all in war with time for love! As it takes, you engraft her new.”
After some time and distance and the groups fair share of voyeurism, the bard changed the topic and asked how money was dancing in both the bright and night in their art in their day and age.
“It’s basically everything in the American music industry? It’s the whole thing. It’s a bomb in a fu****g horrific way,” said A.
“If music be the food of love, play on,” said Shakespeare, to himself. “Give me excess of it that, surfeiting.”
“It’s a box, and it throws an artist in the box and closes the door,” said V. growing quiet into thought.
Rumi spoke then, interrupting a long period of personal silence which stretched like fog over a Sunday morning blanketing his company in comfort.
He said, “cobbler’s leather and farmer’s soil are veils – it’s understood. God is the real source of our livelihood.”
“The reason that capitalism has fu***d the way people make music – not just music, art in general – is because everything is driven off survival. You must make money to x, y, and Z,” said A. “And then people started looking at music and musicians like they were food and beverage. There’s a whole lot of fast food.”
Rumi spoke, but it was so close to song – on the tip of hypnosis or enlightenment or mental syrup with nutrients too – that the gang’s movement looked like dance. Oh, there goes a flash mob, several bypassers said. Those marked to be special by the chance catch of their eye delighted in their treats.
“I had bought faulty goods, but thankfully God made me see their flaws immediately: I would have lost my money otherwise and noticed defects too late with my eyes. With wealth gone and life wasted I’d have bought faulty goods with my life’s wealth had He not,” sang Rumi. “Like selling goods and being paid false gold but heading happily home once they were sold. Thank God the false gold was revealed to me before more of my life passed wastefully. It would have weighed on my neck then forever, a shameful waste of life altogether.”
There was silence for a long time after that. The performances detonated around them, and the markets buzzed like a fly hive. But the four were with each other. And what passed between one passed between all.
“Your favorite artists, they all – in their own way – practice a level of restraint,” said A. “Sometimes you got to go a little longer with the foreplay, and I feel like in this day and age, there’s none of that. There’s no build. It’s all P**nhub straight up.”
“There’s a wayless way,” said Rumi. “In dreams, you happily travel everywhere, but do you know the path that gets you there?”
“There’s a reason why pieces and parts are placed in your life, from your ancestors to where you’re at now,” said V. “Because you can feel your ancestors; before every show, I pray to them because I feel them and they’re what drives me on stage.”
“I definitely believe in God. I believe in God for many reasons like prayer. And as a kid, I prayed every single night for days like this – for where I’m at right now, to the point where I’d be in tears,” said V.
“Named ‘water from the eye, consider what you saw that made you cry. What hidden thing did your eyes see before which made its own two fountains start to pour? If you then saw the other world, that prayer,” said Rumi, “gains from it splendor that is fine and rare.”
“I’d be waiting tables at TGIFridays in New York, or Bubba Gump Shrimp. And I was just like praying, praying, praying, praying, praying, praying, praying,” said V. “The way my life has gone and the journey I’ve been on and the people I’ve met along the way, there’s no way that that’s coincidence to me.”
“I perceive that men as plants increase,” said Shakespeare, “cheered and cheque’d even by the self-same sky.”
“We just show up for each other. And it’s on some skin-to-skin sh**. You shed all that, and you feel like you can really embrace people for who, at least in this circle, you can embrace them for who they are. You can avoid judgement,” said A.
“Disputes between men stem from names, my friend. Should they reach meanings, then peace would descend,” said Rumi. “‘For the sake of great men,’ the Prophet said, ‘God makes unclean things pure and clean instead. Each spot I place my head, He’ll purify, from that bare floor to far beyond the sky.’”
The sweet tang of the dream was descending into murmurous zing.
“Love comforteth like sunshine after rain,” said Shakespeare. “What have you learned of late from love and from pain?”
“No one will ever love you more than your dog,” said V., “in the most beautiful way. I come home and the way she looks at me! If a dude ain’t looking at me like my dog looks at me, I don’t want it. I don’t want it. Come correct now because my dog loves me so much.”
“I’m giving myself a bit more grace this year,” said A. And they woke up.
You can buy tickets to the Emotional Orange’s tour, here. You can watch their music videos, here. You can follow them on Instagram, here. And you can follow them on Twitter, here.
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