INTERVIEW BY: SHADRESS BURKS
We meet at Blank Space. A local bar that looks like the stomping grounds where underground artists come to be themselves while honing their craft. A place that bears the soul of an artist and the authenticity of their sound. As I walk through, I feel like it’s a place you come to see someone before they become famous. It’s a typical afternoon in St. Louis as I await their arrival. Not long after I get comfortable, the duo walks in like two old friends ready to hang out. Her carefree aura mixed with his sarcastic, yet comedic vibe is easy to see the moment you encounter them. Most people have seen their personalities beam throughout their videos. While others, have heard their passion for music up close and personal during their performances. If you don’t know who I am referring to, let me introduce you to The Knuckles. A musical duo who wears individuality like vintage clothing and everything about them screams eclectic, fun, and unapologetic.
Having started out as solo acts, both Aloha and Rocky were no strangers to the music scene. Knowing each other for over ten years, the two decided to combine their sounds into one. Still holding onto their individuality, the two mesh a variety of sounds and genres together. Proving they are not short of creativity, the Knuckles have only begun to scratch the surface of what they can do as a team. Linking up on the scene of a Bone Thugs-n-Harmony video, the two felt the universe had finally brought them back together. Now if you’re curious to where the name The Knuckles derived from, I can tell you it’s nothing complicated. After brainstorming countless names for days, they decided to use Rocky’s last name (which is Knuckles by the way). To them it fit and nothing would even come close to being the perfect name. Laughing about their future Simpsons cameo (put in the universe by me), I had to know what goes on behind the scenes. Like most groups, everyone plays an intricate role in the group being a success. With them both being writers, composers, and producers, it’s easy to see how they gel so well.
Though their team contributions are plenty to brag about, their individual contributions also keep the wheels turning. He’s the rapper to her singer, and she’s the optimist to his pessimist. On any given day, one can be Batman, while the other is Robin. They move in unison even though they are individuals. Together, they are the epitome of Ying and Yang. “The Knuckles are duality. It’s either up or down, left or right with us,” says Aloha. To Rocky, they appear to be jackasses on paper, but that’s clearly not the picture portrayed in front of me. The chemistry they share during this interview alone is proof of their duality. Their personalities coincide with one another as if they feed off each other’s brains. They are what a duo should embody on and off the stage. Not wanting to dwell too much on their separate qualities, Aloha interjects how she too has bars (laughs).
As the conversation moves on, the topic of what their sound is compiled of surfaces. Aloha says, “Insanity” while Rocky interrupts with his definition of the word. After deliberation, the two agree on the term Accomplished Insanity. Giving her credit in a comedic way on being the brains of the operation, Rocky sits back as Aloha explains her reason behind the clever label. Switching the credit to him, Aloha explains how Rocky was the first person to give her the creative freedom she longed for with her singing. Agreeing they complement each other musically, the mutual respect they have for one another is shared through words, facial expressions, and laughter.
Experimenting with different styles, in the beginning, it was just figuring out who they were as a duo. As time passed and their sound evolved, they managed to write and produced 300 songs in their time together. Hence the label, accomplished insanity. On the fast track to success, it’s not hard to see they are embracing their accomplishments and living in each moment. For most, success is such a goal they don’t cherish the moments they had reaching it. Although, that’s not the case with The Knuckles. To them, building bonds and having adventures are important. With over 300 songs recorded, having a favorite song can’t be easy. As they scroll through their mental catalog, Aloha finally decided on 315, while Rocky settled with Bubble and Dancing in The Dark. Having musical influences like Prince and Janet Jackson, it’s no wonder you gravitate to their sound. As a student of Prince, we laugh through Rocky’s story of how he became a member of The Revolution. We even reminisced about 12 CDs for $0.99, and the Purple One, who left such a lasting a memory on all of us. Though no pictures of him in Prince costumes are in Rocky’s vault, it is a fact he will be a member of the Revolution forever.
As we wrapped up our afternoon of laughter, the was a question of whether they missed being solo artists was asked. Their answer was simple, “It’s all about the Knuckles. We’re just making music. We’re a production team and we’re nice to look at.” When it comes to their music, they want people to feel that feeling you feel when you’re a kid and it’s time to go home, but you’re not ready to go inside yet. The lasting feeling that makes you keep coming back for more.
For more on The Knuckles, follow them on Instagram @theknucklesband.