the Industry : The Universal Ninjas

the Industry is back with an unsigned group, The Universal Ninjas, hailing from Evanston, IL- the North Pole. With their spoken word and live instrumentation combined with house, Anika Trujillo and Ariel Rogers are paving the way here in Chicago. Check their music out and enjoy the interview!

What are the Universal Ninjas all about?

Anika Trujillo: The Universal Ninjas to me are a collaborative project, I believe everyone has art in them we view the world through two artistic lenses daily. AMy dream is to build this beyond music, not anything necessarily physical or tangible but an understanding. We can have a "place" formed where my individualism does not interfere with your individualism or our collective understandings of respect, acceptance, and love. AThrough this I believe untold strength and solidarity can be not only created but fueled and sustained.

Ariel Rogers: Right to the point, eh? I am about good music. Period. Lyrically punctuating and melodically enveloping.

How would you define your sound?

Anika Trujillo: I would have to say we are soul, funk, jazz, electric hop. AWe play and sing or play and rap, I believe this is where hip hop will have to go to stay relevant. AEvery other genre allows the artist to be a musician/singer/songwriter but for some reason in the world of hip hop we compartmentalize so much and limit people to being a rapper or a producer…why? The sound I try to create must be free more so than anything else.

Ariel Rogers: Delicious and Nutritious: Our music bases with house, reverbs with soul, and bleeds honesty. Progressive thought is the message and its draped in layers of our sound-manifested energy.

What is your view on the fragmentation of Chicago?

Anika Trujillo: Chicago is fragmented firstly geographically so why wouldn't people's attitudes and behavior follow suit…I believe the fragmentation within Chicago is a symptom of a much greater problem that is prevalent throughout the US. AWe have a long way to go but fortunately I have seen many people such as ahem *Drunken Monkee* that are determined to unite the city and aren't afraid to speak about it. Tearing down gentrification, eliminating/decreasing police brutality and getting Daley out of office…phew I said it…will make an impact without a doubt. I'm ready to see and be a part of real change; but I'm not leaving it to the government to take care of.

Ariel Rogers: I really only gear attention to progress…unity. In fact, we appreciate the exchange of energies and perspectives that result from collaboration. Email

If you could fly anywhere, who would you want to hear your music?

Anika Trujillo: I'm gonna take this a step further and say if I would want Jack White to hear my music and jam with me. AWhile this great opportunity was still available I would also cut up with Benny Benassi, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, N.E.R.D and Sa-Ra.

Ariel Rogers: Outerspace…The Universal Ninjas (>.<)

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Do you have to be crazy to be involved in the arts, or are you born into it?

Anika Trujillo: Ha! We all are born with a lot of crazy in us so utilizing that in terms of art is a natural progression…we are also trained systemically through school, work, etc to not let loose this crazy. AThe first lesson anyone learns is restraint in some form…in short we are born into it but the degree to which we all implement it is dependent on the degree to which we allow ourselves to be broken.

Ariel Rogers: Your question merits an A or B answer. Nature vs. Nurture? Chick vs. Egg- kinda answer.But there are no rules or criteria in music.

Everyone keeps talking about a "Chicago Industry," what do you think of this?

Anika Trujillo: Where? Who? Please give them my number… AI see a lot of people that are working on their own. AI see a lot of people with their own label or their own group… AI do not necessarily see these individuals composing what you would call an industry. AI know that there are bigger venues and connections to be made but you end up having to make 50 different contacts through 100 different people because so and so has beef with such and such over show money or event promotions. I always leave room for me to be halfway wrong about anything and that is my sincere hope with this. AOtherwise I will have no choice but to join the "they had to leave Chicago to blow up" Club

Ariel Rogers: I hope they're saying positive things! There's a lot of uniquely authentic talent. Some of my favorites have been Prince God, Blah Blah Blahs, Professor Gorilla Dickens, Bomba Con Buya, FM Supreme, ILL-legit, I Luv Luv Birds, Le Ciel, Lady Fipsyde, Kahari Williams

I like to think that positive music always has a place next to "negative" music- is music just music?

Anika Trujillo: I believe music is never just anything; it is expression and can move a person to any range of emotion depending on their listening objectives. APersonally I make it a habit to be focused on a solution, progress is the goal. AI don't address negativity but rather the solution to that negativity. I cannot stop anyone from doing whatever they wish, but I will say be careful what you speak into your life as well as others lives. The words we use have a funny way of echoing and coming back to us. AIt's all in the universe.

Ariel Rogers: What? Kinda like "you need the good to balance the bad? I see it like this. Music is art. Art is expression of thoughts and feelings and P.O.V.'s. "Negative" music is an indication of a negative person. The question then becomes, what is making this person so gosh darn surly? This universal medium tells stories and conveys information. Its unfortunate that rap music has stagnated because it's a reflection of ones livelihood. We humans have another level of consciousness to attain…self and mutual respect.

Who are some of your major influences that you listen to?

Anika Trujillo: I listen first to what God says to me, second my mother, third all of my sisters, fourth is music.

Ariel Rogers: Michael Jackson. The Beatles. MC Hammer. AGnarles Barkley. Etta James. Eminem. The Fugees. The MisEducation is still and forever will be a classic. Stevie Wonder. Aretha.Franklin.

How do you start the creation process?

Anika Trujillo: It's different every time. AIt could be just this stage in my life but a lot of my lyrics come from frustration. AI speak on what I feel in my heart about myself or the way I view situations with other people that don't necessarily include me but affect and effect me. AIt comes from a zone, a trance almost. ACreating music is difficult and for me always lasts longer than the initial creation/blueprint.

Ariel Rogers: We jam. Whatever results from a session of unscripted music creation is what we end up piecing together for complete compositions.

Which artists in Chicago do you think are paving the right way?

Anika Trujillo: A lot of artists are moving in new and creative directions so it's hard to name all of them. AThere are a couple that I truly admire the first is a band called I luv luv birds they are so innovative and ingenious almost without even trying. AThe second is of course, Drunken Monkee, he is hands down the best hip hop performer in Chicago. Go to his shows, anyone and everyone.

Ariel Rogers: See the sixth question.

When is the LP coming out?

Anika Trujillo: Ahhhh Homemade…well the EP is done, but going from EP to LP takes a bit of time. AHopefully some new song will be up soon. AI believe whatever it needs to be it will be and it should be done by the end of the summer or perhaps sooner or possibly later. AAnyone looking to get their fix can go to our myspace or FB or just google us, any site has our songs free for download. ANo need to resort to piracy just yet.

Ariel Rogers: In time for Chicago Summer :)

What makes your music unique?

Anika Trujillo: I don't know, I try to write things that I can repeat over and over but still believe in its content and feel it emotionally every time. AI try really hard to write things that also sound somewhat familiar in terms of phrasing to what we actually say on a regular basis in conversation. ACreating a unique sound is not the primary goal but it is a factor in the process. I would say that Ariel & I play off of one another a great deal and our songs evolve 2-4 times with each of us revising or redoing what the other did with our own spin on it.

Ariel Rogers: The audacity to spoken-word on top of live instruments, braced on a thumping house beat…its musical gumbo. Plus we're classy ladies.

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::images courtesy of The Universal Ninjas ::


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Posted: March 26th, 2010
at 7:21am by Koookiecrumbles

Categories: music,the industry

Comments: 3 comments


3 Responses to 'the Industry : The Universal Ninjas'

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  1. Great interview! Just shot The Universal Ninjas, they were a blast to work with.

    Chelcie S Porter

    30 Mar 10 at 8:45 pm


  2. The Universal Ninjas are the truth, they music, they sound, everything is just wonderful and i’m very please to work with theses amazing women, i love them like my little sisters, plus they interview was so damn dope cause they speak the truth and i love them for that,
    “Tweak Central Academy”


  3. LOVE the UNs! they have a unique, interesting and fun sound that really appeals.


    6 Apr 10 at 11:23 pm



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