Q&A: Issa Gold of The Underachievers discusses musical influences, goals

Matt Robertson

Issa Gold and AK, a rap duo under the moniker the Underachievers, combine psychedelic influences with fast-paced beats to create lyrically driven music. The pair performs at the Parish on Wednesday night as part of their current 55-show tour in support of their recent album Evermore: The Art of Duality. The Daily Texan spoke with Gold about musical influences and the start of the group.

The Daily Texan: How did the Underachievers get their start?

Issa Gold: AK has been rapping since he was 11. I didn’t start until a few years ago. I was managing him at the time, and just for fun one day, I was in the studio and rapped on this beat which wound up making it onto “Indigoism” [The duo’s first record]. Everyone liked it and said we had to keep going as a duo. At the time, I was trying to get my Ph.D and write books, but I saw how music was a universal language, so I joined up with AK and we became the Underachievers.

DT: You’ve said you listen to artists like Local Natives and John Mayer. Have they influenced the music you make?

IG: When I started rapping, I was a huge music fan. I listened to a lot of indie rock and classic rock — anything with a lot of emotion and deep meaning. A lot of these bands and lyrics helped fuel my life and get me out of depression. So when I came to music, it was because I saw how it affected me and I wanted to be able to reach people like that.

DT: Was music the key to overcoming that depression?

IG: It was really about having a network of friends where no one judged each other by how you looked or what you talked about. Having that helped us grow and get through that depression together, and that’s what we’re trying to do with the music is make that network for other kids who feel alone or need a friend to realize they’re just like us. What we did for each other we now do for the fans.

DT: Is helping kids who struggle with depression your main goal with your music?

IG: I’m trying to unite our generation. I see a lot of similarities in kids around the world. There’s a whole movement dividing people, based on socio-economic class or whatever else. Our capitalistic society of man-eat-man is negatively affecting people, but when people come together, they are capable of a lot.

DT: How have you reconciled the different kinds of music your fans look to you for?

IG: I don’t want to make any project sound the same because then people compare them, whether people like them or not, you can’t compare them because they’re all different. Now we have fans that enjoy us for our lyrical songs, fans that enjoy us for our bangers. With Evermore, I wanted to showcase both styles of music that we make in a way that you can really pinpoint the differences.

DT: Working as a duo, what does your process for creating songs look like?

IG: [AK] kinda lets me run free with the ideas, and then he’ll come in and lay the best verses ever on the song. I just build the skeleton, and then he helps with the rapping part of it.

DT: Are there upcoming projects that you can talk about?

IG: We’re working on “Lords of Flatbush 2,” which will be released next year early. The next more serious project will come out in the winter, near December.