Brothers Daniel and Javier Rodriguez have just brought about their debut album under the moniker Operation Culture — in the midst of a pandemic year, no less! After premiering their single “Go Far” with us back in April of this year, this reggae-loving duo out of Wilmington, North Carolina has finally unleashed their full-length, Real Thoughts Only, on all major digital outlets.
Operation Culture is just gearing up.
As rising band in the reggae scene, Operation Culture shows mighty potential and we at Top Shelf Music wanted to know more about their history, the making of the LP and what’s to come. Here is what the brothers said.
Congrats on your debut album! How do you feel ‘Real Thoughts Only’ represents your project as a whole? What is the general theme you’re trying to convey?
- Javier: Thank you, that means a lot. For real. I feel as if this album represents the beginning of a journey for us. Daniel and I have always been working to produce music we like, but I think this is the first time we got very serious about us doing this full-time. This thought process is what kind of inspired the album really… I think both of us had a realization that the music is the only thing that really fires us up in life.
- I’m a big believer of not conforming to the way society tells you to live your life. All of us make choices in our lives, because society says ‘this is the way to success’, when, in reality, everyone’s success can mean different things. So, I guess the main theme of the album is to keep it real and honest with yourself.
As a relatively new band on the scene, being only one year old, how does it feel to already have a full-length album under your belts?
- I love full-length albums. I know that the new way to drop music is dropping single after single, which is also dope and we hope to do also. But, there is something to be said about a full-length album. I don’t think there’s a better way to capture a moment in time of an artist’s life, especially if they drop multiple albums; it’s fun to go back and listen how their taste changed, the instruments chosen, the vibe of the Vox and even what the songs are about. That’s kind of what we were going for when we decided to drop a full album. We wanted to mark this moment in time.
As brothers, were you always collaborating growing up?
- Collaborating, arguing, laughing, competing — all of it. We’re pretty lucky to have been as close as we are growing up. I think skateboarding really brought us together and sparked the flame of working together on creative projects. We used to film each other throughout the years and I would piece it together to drop different videos all over the place, even pre-YouTube days. Once we both got into reggae music, all the focus shifted to learning how to play music and produce songs together. I don’t know if it’s some sibling shit, but I feel as if we’re generally both on the same page for what the next steps are.
How are the tasks split in the studio? In the writing process?
- Writing together can look a million different ways. Sometimes, it starts with something I wrote on the acoustic guitar; other times Daniel has already produced an entire song with no Vox. We don’t really try to put rules on who does what cause, at the end of the day, it’s just about the music itself. People can tell when you are trying to force something — even in music. It can get frustrating sometimes and we definitely argue. But, I think we both know that the music comes first and we really enjoy the process of experimenting to see what vibe is true.
Is there anything on the horizon for Operation Culture? What are your plans with the return of live music in 2021?
- This is just the beginning. We have some fun and dope visual projects that will be dropping very soon. At first, when we realized COVID would shut things down for a while, we were bummed cause a driving force behind the album was that we wanted to tour as hard as we could on it. But, as most of life goes, we had to adapt and keep hope. We’re cooking up some music videos, live performance visuals and much more… really just trying to build a community to have fun and engage with while we’re all at home, for the most part. These times will be in the history books and I think we all gotta do what we can to support each other and our mental health. We can use technology to keep in touch and create some type of human interaction until live music comes back. So, if anyone ever sees us online and wants to share new music, play video games or chat about anything, definitely say what’s up!
- When live music does return, we plan on hitting the road as hard as we can. This year has made me really appreciate how special a live show is. We played a private backyard party about a month ago and it was a blessing, to say the least. Hard to describe the feeling of playing or attending a live show, especially when the music means so much to you, but I think all of us are more than ready to get back there. We can’t wait to catch a vibe with everyone!