Waves in the desert
Looking closer at Engraves collective and the students who run it
The stage was dimly lit at Illegal Pete's on the night of Tuesday, March 26, when a group of performers took the stage to perform an assortment of hip-hop and rap. The group was the Engraves Collective, and that was their first show.
The founders of Engraves consist of Daniel Wall, KAIZER, Yung Davon, Tim Lukau, Khailill Knight-Papaioannou and Zach Cohan.
Wall, 22, is a management information systems and entrepreneurship major and a marketing and event coordinator for JBL, as well as a singer, writer and producer.
KAIZER, 20, raps, sings, produces and is a psychology major. Davon, 21, is the co-owner of the Diamond Doge studio; he raps and coordinates events for Rare Intentions, a Tucson art collective.
“We are a collective of creatives that come together to make art,” Knight-Papaioannou said.
Lukau, 21, whose stage name is Mothy Dula, is a computer science major and math minor who engineers and produces music.
Spatial organization and design thinking major Khailill Knight-Papaioannou, 25, whose stage name is KP DJs, produces and is an entrepreneur. Cohan, 21, goes by ZCO on stage, is an arts media and entertainment major and raps, writes, produces and sings.
The founding members were connected mutually, some having already collaborated. They said shows and performances connected all six members.
“I think it was the shows that we started doing back here [Cohan’s backyard] that kinda all had us in the same places and engaging with each other and just like interacting with each other on a regular basis,” KAIZER said.
Things took off from there, according to KAIZER.
“Then we just kept linking up in the studio, ‘cause there’s not many studios around here, and Zach's house is always bumping,” said Davon in reference to where they sometimes meet to make music.
The competitive vibe in the creative scene in Tucson banded them together as well, Davon explained.
“In my personal experience, speaking for myself, trying to work with other artists in Tucson, there was a sense of ego where no ego made sense, because it's like, 'Why do you have ego?'" Cohan said. "You’re just a local, you haven't done anything. Working or just talking, having conversations with Davon and KAIZER and working with them — there's a sense of camaraderie — as likeminded individuals.”
The name of the group came from switching around the letters of a popular group of superheroes.
“I was kind of talking to Tim about rearranging the letters of Avengers, and we kind of came up with the idea of, or I guess the word, ‘engraves,’” Cohan said.
The group has expanded as a result of their past Sunday sessions, when local artists would meet at Cohan’s house to join the collective, set goals and collaborate, Cohan explained. Some of those artists made their way onstage at the Illegal Pete’s show.
The six members plan to leave the audience with a bold, energetic show, Lukau said. “I want them to say, ‘Who the hell do these guys think they are?’"
Wall elaborated on the group’s goal to make a change in Tucson’s creative scene.
“I think definitely the goal is to create waves in the Tucson community, in the UA community, and create that foundation that Tucson never really had," Wall said. "Especially in music, I want this to be like the start of it all. Create something that Arizona hasn’t seen before.”
The first show solidified that Engraves is here and they’re bringing waves to the Tucson desert, Cohan said.
To learn more about the Engraves collective, visit their Instagram page @engravesofficial.
To learn more about the founding members individually and their work, you can also find them on Instagram.
Daniel Wall: @danielwa11 | KAIZER: @kkardshark | Yung Davon: @coolmandavon | Khailill Knight-Papaioannou: @khailill | Tim Lukau: @mothydula | Zach Cohan: @zachscohan
Follow Ambur Wilkerson on Twitter