by Brittney Oliver
A love for music, life, and good vibes seems like the perfect formula for the three Tennessee natives who form the funky electro-trap band and art collective All Cows Eat Grass (ACEG).
All Cows Eat Grass, formed in 2011, is named after the mnemonic device used to remember the A, C, E, and G notes related to the bass clef of the grand staff. However, there’s another layer to their name, which metaphorically means that even as individuals we are all the same. Terrence “T. Brown” from North Memphis, Jeff “iamjeffcohran” from South Memphis, and Reneeka Rae. from Clarksville became a trio through their work relationship, as they are all a part of Janelle Monáe's tour production team. It was a natural progression from creating Monáe's live experience to living together to now creating their own music together.
ACEG is the epitome of cool, or as they prefer, “kool.” Sporting gold Esquivel boots, friendly Southern demeanors, and mellow vibes, ACEG’s music is influenced by their time together as roommates, tourmates, and bandmates. That’s a lot of time to spend with one person, yet alone two, but their closeness can be seen at their dance parties and can be heard in their music. REVOLT caught up with this kool crew for a chat about all of it:
REVOLT: When did you decide to start All Cows Eat Grass?
ACEG: We started having these shared experiences in foreign places like London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Australia. This inspiration of being thousands of miles away, experiencing music, fashion, art, food, and culture with your best friends sparked our creativity and encouraged us to go beyond producing live shows and spurred us to start All Cows Eat Grass.
REVOLT: What unique elements do you each bring to ACEG? What makes you alike/different from each other?
ACEG: We all believe that “Nothing great is done without enthusiasm," [Ralph Waldo Emerson] so the most prominent aspect of our friendship is that we all have great positive energy and balance one another out energy-wise. We spend a disproportionate amount of our time together telling jokes, laughing, and getting into rather harmless trouble.
REVOLT: When was the moment that you knew ACEG could be something bigger?
ACEG: Honestly, from the moment we listened to the first EP, The MILK EP. It reminded us a lot of the big bands we hear in Europe like M83, Kings of Leon. We strive to have that same type of festival energy with more urban-sounding tendencies.
REVOLT: What's your music-making process like? How do you come up with songs and titles?
ACEG: We spend a lot of time talking about our past/present/future experiences, things going on in the world, etc., so we have a great pulse of where we are individually and collectively. The songs that we create are a reflection of our reality and our conversations. As far as the titles, those are pretty simple, as they come from either the hook or a code name that Jeff makes when he’s cataloging the songs.
Each of us has music sessions on our own and then we’ll have group sessions where we present our ideas to one another, then write and produce together.
REVOLT: For our readers who have never heard your music, explain your sound in five words:
Jeff: Jamming, electronic, funky, dance music.
Terrence: Cool, fun, meaningful, interesting, refreshing.
Reneeka: Big, broad, jammin, transcendental, dance music.
REVOLT: What have you learned from working with Janelle Monáe and the Wondaland team that has influenced elements of your sound, style, and performance?
ACEG: As producers of Janelle’s live show, we’ve learned how to organize, inform, and move large touring groups throughout the world. That’s made touring as All Cows Eat Grass much easier, since we are a significantly smaller unit. Tempo and energy play huge roles in our live show, as it does in Janelle’s. When we perform, it's important for us to give the crowd smiling faces, great entertainment and showmanship, and jamming, danceable music.
REVOLT: What was it like being around each other 24/7 as roomies, tourmates, and bandmates? Did that worry you when forming the group?
Jeff: It was really natural being that T and I grew up together. Reneeka and I spent all of my time off of the road together, so once she got on the road, it was even better. We are all each other's security blankets, so us being together is more comforting than anything.
We’d rather work with our friends and family than with strangers. T and I are preachers’ kids and have been part of start-up churches that featured our families. Those experiences in watching a family band together for a shared passion helped us approach All Cows Eat Grass from a place of love and respect. It’s easier to mitigate issues because we all know that we love, respect, and want the best for one another.
REVOLT: What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?
ACEG: Don’t start a band with people you don’t like. A band is more than just a band. It is a family, so you have to tend to it just as much. Positive energy, patience, mercy, hard work, shared values, and communication are golden when making a band.
REVOLT: What's next for ACEG? What's your ultimate direction for your group?
ACEG: We are releasing new projects in 2017 and hope to step up our touring. We hope to move our All Cows Eat Grass Dance Party around the country, as it has garnered a great following in Atlanta.
Find more on All Cows Eat Grass @ACEG_music on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat.