Interview: Tyler Craven Talks Earl Sweatshirt & Samoa Experience

Interview: Tyler Craven Talks Earl Sweatshirt & Samoa Experience

Complex: Did he ever rap for you guys?

Tyler Craven: He would say a few lines every once in a while. I read some of his stuff. I love his music. I love Tyler’s music.

Complex: He wrote a lot while there?

Tyler Craven: Yeah. He wrote enough to make a whole album, at least.

Complex: Does he have to keep his writing hidden the way people have to with their iPods?

Tyler Craven: They don’t search our houses. They don’t search our houses because we don’t have access to anything. A student might get some cigarettes once every six months. I got super cool with the staff, so they hooked me up all the time. They trusted me enough and knew I wouldn’t go and tell the other students. I got really lucky in that aspect. I would smoke with Thebe and stuff. There’s a storage room where students have their iPods and shit, but it’s locked until you get to the level that you’re allowed to have it. But students will still go in there and steal shit out of their own storage bins. That’s how the kid got the PSP.

Complex: Makes sense.

Tyler Craven: If a therapist got a hold of his writing, I don’t know what they would do, but that could be very bad. Very bad. I would think that they would just throw it away immediately. They are extremely anti-sexist, and obviously his music is going to have “cunt this, cunt that.” [Laughs.] They would go fucking crazy with the rants they would go on in groups.

Complex: Is the discipline ever physical or is it always just rants?

Tyler Craven: There are three staff there, now two, who were incarcerated their entire lives in the U.S. and the reason they’re in Samoa now is because they were deported. They’re both former Crips, but they never beat us. One of the guys got fired after I left for verbally going crazy on a student because he pissed him off so much. I attempted to get that staff member to punch me in the face once because I know if he did my parents would pull me. That’s the kind of shit students do to get out. That’s how desperate I was. I wanted to talk shit to this guy so much that he was going to punch me in the face, and I knew he would do it, too. I didn’t get him to do it because I would have had to be away from the rest of the staff. A staff member came down while he was yelling at me, and they told him to back off and forget it. I was just laughing in his face.

Complex: What’s the day-to-day like? What do you do at Coral Reef?

Tyler Craven: Sure, I’ll give you a school day and a Saturday and Sunday. School days you wake up when its still dark outside. Around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. Go have breakfast and then we go to school 'til two o’clock, I think. We go to lunch in the middle of school, at 12. Then right after school, we go back to our houses and change out of our school uniform. Yes, they make us wear a uniform even though there are only 18 kids there and we’re not even out in the public at all. We go to group right after that for an hour, hour and a half. All the groups are run by a therapist, never by a student. Well, a student runs one of the groups on Sunday, but therapists run all the other ones. Sometimes the therapist will bring in a sad story about some kid who died on heroin, or we’ll watch a movie about some kid who’s done drugs. 

On the cow dung there was a very large amount of shrooms. All of us that comprehended what they were started eating them, including Thebe.

Complex: Is there any hard labor?

Tyler Craven: There’s no hard labor. There are hikes. This is kind of funny. We went on a hike once, and we all noticed we were walking through a cow field. There were cows everywhere for part of the hike. On the cow dung there was a very large amount of shrooms. All of us that comprehended what they were started eating them, including Thebe.

Complex: Real psilocybin ones?

Tyler Craven: Natural, 100%, straight from the cow shit. I’ve done shrooms in the past and these were unlike any other ones I’ve ever seen. Straight white.

Complex: What happened when you guys started tripping?

Tyler Craven: We were chill because we didn’t want to get caught, but there was a good four of us who did them.

Complex: Was it fun?

Tyler Craven: Thebe and me just went back and sat in our house because we didn’t want to get caught. We said if we were going to do this, we just have to be chill afterwards.

Complex: Was it a fun trip outside of the limitations of it?

Tyler Craven: Hell yeah. First of all, us druggies who were there had a great time. The hike was great, too. I love getting high and going outside.

Complex: Do you have any idea when Thebe will be back?

Tyler Craven: Because so much light is on the program right now, because of Thebe, I’m thinking the therapists are going to let him leave when he’s 18. Just him. If he’s not gone when he’s 18, that’s when authorities in America will know about it. He'll be an adult in his home country. At that point lawyers will be looking into it themselves just to get some money out of it.

Complex: How would he have to progress through the level system to get out before that?

Tyler Craven: In order to get out you either have to be fake or wild, like I said. For the first four months I was fake and I kept my mouth shut. I just went along with it like, “These bitches are retarded, but I’ll just go along with it.” It got on my nerves more and more, and then I got over it and said, “Fuck this.” I told myself I was going to start being honest, and I told my parents that in the phone calls with them. It was six months of me faking it and then four months of me talking shit about the program in front of the therapists and straight to my mom. I would list off everything that made the program dysfunctional. In my situation, that worked, but every student’s situation is different and it has a lot to do with the parents. In Thebe’s situation that won’t work because they kept him in the box for three months over Christmas. They don’t give a shit. They just want to keep him there. His parents want to rip the verbal violence out of him, I guess. Which isn’t going to happen. But that’s what they want to do. They don’t understand that that’s not going to happen so they keep trying and trying.

Complex: Do these programs change people?

Tyler Craven: No. My wilderness program was the best experience of my entire life. I changed there a lot. I’m not saying I changed there a lot, but while I was out there I saw the world extremely clear. A major part of it was the diet they gave me. The diet and being so close to the earth, because everything you’re doing relates to the earth. Mother nature is your therapist there. The therapists at the wilderness program were extremely intelligent. The therapist I had was the smartest person I have ever met in my life. He taught me a lot. Just about my brain. He could break it down like crazy. Thebe said the same thing. He said his therapist in wilderness was smart as shit, too.

Complex: Did he specifically tell you that the CRA therapists weren’t helping him?

Tyler Craven: That was kind of a given. Every single student there talks shit about the therapists non-stop. That was a very open discussion on the daily between students. We would walk out of group everyday and say, “Wow, did they really just make us play that gay ass game?” It’s like, is this a day care center? That’s why it got on your nerves so much. The people that care about their parents' money are also pissed. My parents were spending all this money and were ignorant to what the program actually was. They trusted these people, the therapists, simply because they were labeled as professionals. They said, “We sent you to professionals, and we trust them as professionals.”

Complex: What was it like coming back to the States

Tyler Craven: My adjustment back to the U.S. was overwhelming. Life seemed unreal. I felt stupid and mind-numbed because when you're there, you're forced to block out almost all emotion because you have so much built up, but if you act stupid, you're gonna stay longer. When I got back, I got caught smoking again and pushing. I moved out and got a job landscaping for eight dollars an hour, busting my dick like a Mexican.

Complex: How do you feel about your newfound fame/cult hero status amongst Odd Future and Earl Sweatshirt fans?

Tyler Craven: Though I answer all text and Facebook messages, I don't give a shit about any of it except for the people who offer me shit. This one dude offered me a place to stay if I'm ever around his way, but a plane ticket to Samoa for a covert operation would be some real shit. [Laughs.]

Complex: What's going on in the picture that confirmed Earl's presence in Samoa?

Tyler Craven: We stopped for ice cream after we performed at a festival and did a Samoan tribal dance. The U.S. ambassador to Samoa paid for us to have some ice cream.

Complex: Did Earl want people to know the truth?

Tyler Craven: Yes. Of course he wanted his fans to know the truth. Music is his life and a musician is nothing without his fans. He was pissed when the therapists made him write that bullshit to the New Yorker.

Complex: Do you have anything you want to say to Odd Future?

Tyler Craven: I want Odd Future to know that I have more info regarding Thebe that is not available to the public. I want to speak to Tyler, The Creator. This is very important for Thebe's earliest possible return to the U.S.

Tags: earl-sweatshirt, tyler-craven, odd-future, ofwgkta
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