The genesis of rising Hip-Hop/Pop duo, XUITCASECITY (pronounced Suitcase City), was anything but a sure bet. Mike Gomes grew up in Safety Harbor, Florida, about 20 miles west of Tampa. A singer of Italian and French Canadian heritage, he got his first guitar when he was 15. By 17, though, Mike decided to incorporate singing into his act. Since he didn’t know any producers, he taught himself how to produce his own work. As he developed his musical chops, Mike gravitated toward the work of indietronica acts such as Passion Pit. Concurrently, budding African-American rapper, Cam Young, was growing up in the Tampa area. He and his family had relocated to Florida from New Jersey when Cam was 7, and his father brought his affinity for New York hip-hop with him, exposing his son to the work of The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Jay Z and Big L. His mother, on the other hand, preferred the work of Michael Jackson and Prince — hence Cam’s interest in and proficiency as a rapper and a singer.
A mutual Facebook friend provided Cam with a connection to Mike, who started receiving tracks from Cam via messenger in 2012. Mike didn’t listen to Cam’s work initially, though. “A month or two after he sent the first track, he sent another one,” Mike recalls. “Usually people don’t follow up and he did. So I gave it a listen. And it turns out it was the whole vibe I was on. His style of music was combining rap and indie music. That was a big turn on for me music-wise.”
It started with four friends in a studio, each with wildly different personalities and journey’s, but all united in their support of each other. Before they knew it, almost by accident, they were recording some of the most powerful material of their careers, moving into a house together, and launching one of the most exciting new names in music: WHATEVER WE ARE.
The group’s four members—Gabrielle Ross, Chris “Trippz” Michaud, Joey Castellani, and Ian Biggs—had spent the majority of their careers as solo arts, but the chemistry when they wrote and recorded together was undeniable, so they embraced the new direction and uprooted their lives to move into a shared house on Long Island where they could make music in their living room-turned-studio-space full time. As a result, these songs represent not only a clean start artistically, but also a fresh new outlook on life. Whatever We Are’s music blurs the boundaries of genre as it melds four distinct voices into a singular whole, and four wildly different backgrounds and personalities into a unit. Their mission is to carry this theme of breaking boundaries much farther than music, and inspire others to be undeniably true to who they are. With this, they wear white to symbolize unity and a blank canvas. Each member contributing equally to their songs, starting from a blank canvas each time and the creative process forever a new formula. The foundation based on a judgment-free zone, no limitations, just open-mindedness and passion.