Hi! “Hello, Hello Are You Still There?” marks your second collaboration with the A-HA Network. What inspired the creation of this album, and how does it reflect your evolving artistic journey?

A: Me and Marko Level would hit each other up during the quarantine talking about how crazy it all was.  Online Counter Psyops was a project we started during the pandemic in an attempt to offset all the fighting we saw online.  Mostly psychological ideas to help with mental health hidden in some concept hip hop album set in the future.  We had so much fun with the first OCP album we did another one.  It reflects our journey in a way of us getting bored, trying new things and working with new genres.

E. Grizzly, you mentioned the importance of alternative perspectives in your music. Can you elaborate on how this philosophy influenced the lyrics and themes in “Hello, Hello Are You Still There?”

A: I just try to see the other side of things with these tracks.  One song is about being Grateful because I would see a lot of entitlement.  Another song is about blaming social media, the press and capitalism for mental health issues instead of victim blaming.  I hear a lot of pessimism so “The First Day of Spring” is a very optimistic song.  Almost every song on both albums tries to share a different perspective or idea.
Marko Level, your collaboration with E. Grizzly seems to seamlessly blend different musical genres. How do you approach integrating elements of hip hop, trap, bass, and EDM to create a cohesive sound?

A: “It started with my mom and dad.” Said Marko Level.  “They would listen to a lot of different genres like disco, R and B, soul, classic rock, and synth pop bands like Kraftwerk.  I also grew up in Brooklyn and we all listened to a lot of New York house music, break beats and hip hop.  The production is just what comes out of all those influences.”
The album title, “Hello, Hello Are You Still There?” suggests a theme of communication or connection. Could you explain the significance of this title in relation to the album’s content?

A: It has multiple meanings.  I’ve been called a space case since I was a kid and my friends would tease me saying “you still there?”.  It goes out to fans of our music checking if they’re still there.  People with mental health issues as well.  
In your collaboration, how do you balance your individual artistic styles and influences to create something unique in Online Counter Psyops?

A:  Marko Level plays mostly with the indie rock band Alukard and solo acoustic.  I’ve been playing at punk shows for years with the band Felipe Pupo.  But we both started in music doing hip hop so we’re just getting back to our roots.  We played together for a while when we both lived in Miami too so it’s easy for us to work together.
The themes of dignity, confidence, and integrity are central to your music. How do you hope your listeners will respond to these messages, especially in the context of the current social media landscape?

A: Music listeners can be very cliquey.  For example the people who liked my early boom bap hip hop don’t like the punk stuff.  The people who listen to the punk stuff don’t listen to the hip hop we released.  The people who listen to the band Alukard don’t necessarily listen to Marko Level’s hip hop and EDM production.  The people who listen to OCP are an entirely different group and I’m sure they’ll appreciate the message.  Most of the responses we’ll hear though are “when’s the next Felipe Pupo album?”, or “when’s the next Alukard album?” but this is just what we felt like doing this year.
Can you share any memorable experiences or challenges you faced during the writing, composing, and production process of this album?

A: We recorded all the tracks one weekend in Miami but we felt like adding one more song.  So I recorded the last song in Philly but the mics just didn’t sound the same.  It caused a delay for months and we tried to tweak the vocals but it just didn’t work so I had to go back to Miami to re-record the vocals for the last song.
Looking at your past work and this latest release, how do you see your music evolving in the future, and are there any new genres or styles you’re eager to explore?

A: I would say a new genre I would want to work with in the future is a post punk/synth rock sound.  Me and Irv the Villain in Philly started that project recently but that’s going to take some time to tighten up. 
With the growing popularity of streaming platforms and digital media, how do you see the role of independent artists like yourselves changing in the music industry?

A: Most of the musicians in the DIY scene have been ridiculously poor for decades. Literally my whole life.  But I would say recently I have been seeing some of my musician friends doing pretty good and it’s inspiring.  I personally can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  The dream of being able to pay all your bills with just music, shows, merch etc.  We don’t need the industry gatekeepers anymore.  All the secrets are on the internet.  

Finally, are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that fans can look forward to from Online Counter Psyops in the near future?

A:  We have a new Felipe Pupo afrobeat punk project we’re releasing soon.  The hip hop purists have been giving me a hard time for years so I’m doing some boom bap projects with Cold Rhymes Records and the Karma Kids next year.  Two groups of MC’s and producers I would highly recommend.  Alukard is currently recording.  OCP was just something that organically happened so I’m not too sure if we’ll do another one.  We’ll see.