Lushlife’s Interview about his week recording at Residencia Gorila

Lushlife hanging outMusician, producer, rapper and dear friend Raj, better known as Lushlife in the music industry, stayed with us at Residencia Gorila. He arrived in the middle of a pronounced rain with a huge smile. The author of the song “Magnolia” came to Tulum to live a full-on work and embracing experience. After one week we chat with our man to listen from his own voice about his staying in Tulum.


Residencia Gorila. What was your sensation when you first arrived to Residencia Gorila in Tulum?

Lushlife. I came to record on a whim; I didn’t know any of the Residencia Gorila’s team beyond email interaction, on the shuttle from Cancun I got a little bit anxious, it was raining very hard and I felt sad, I was anticipating coming to a sunny paradise and it was monsoon rain, but that was superseded by the human hospitability, I felt immediately welcomed.


RG. How was the feeling of getting back to Tulum, since you were here some months ago, what was the difference?

I was here in Tulum for one day a few months ago with my ex-girlfriend at the moment where our relationship was crumbling, (so it wasn’t that much of a paradise), no (laughs) it wasn’t that much of a paradise. But I saw the place! I didn’t know anything about Tulum, we were staying in Playa del Carmen and when we came here we walked around and went to dinner I knew it immediately it was the perfect place to record an EP. What is great about this trip versus the experience before is that the first time I was very much a tourist doing tourist things and now I really felt that the people in Residencia Gorila embraced me, suggested places to me and took me around to hang out as a local, I felt that I had a very authentic Tulum experience.

Lushlife on Gorila's Terrace

RG. What was your mission here as Lushlife?

For the last two and half years I’ve been working on my third album; it always takes me a long time with my albums. On the internet there’s just this endless stream of content, but I still care so much about the album as a work of art and a representation of who I am at a certain point of my life that I spend a lot of time doing it, I don’t care if nobody hears my name for two years. On the other hand my record company said “we’ve spent a lot of time and money on it, we don’t just want to throw it out there while nobody is talking about you, lets record another small piece of five or six songs and we’ll release that before the album ”. So what I recorded here was an EP of six songs, collaboration with another musician from Austin, Texas, his name is Botany, he produced most of the music and I co-produced it, which help me focus on the lyrical composition. And what I end up writing was –I think– my most overtly political work with social commentary.


RG. Tell us a little bit about yourself as Lushlife and as human being…

 My name is Lushlife, I’m from Philadelphia, and besides playing music I like to ride my bike just go around the city although I have a car. I’ve been making rap records for the last 8 years. I grew up listening to and playing in jazz groups, I play piano classically and play the drums. I also started Dj’ing when I was very young. When people ask me “what do you do?” I say I’m a rapper, but really there’s so much beyond this, through hip-hop I have a really broad musical experience, and on the last 3 years I can say its really paid off in a sense that I can play in Japan or record in Tulum, I feel blessed that I can make a living, and a really good one, as a musician.

Lushlife in Boston

Photo by Isaac Remsen –

RG. Can you describe a scene from Tulum that got to your memory?

There’s two things with what I really connected, one is the natural beauty, having the sea right in front of Residencia Gorila and being able to walk to it, to a gem of beach that you only read on magazines. The first time I went swimming on the water, on totally calm blue turquoise water, was a very healing sensation, a very lasting one. And the other thing was the human connection that you make, like last night that we went to have dinner at Cenzontle and after went to Gitano for a few drink and just hang out with good music and a bit of dancing, Tulum also has that electric element of the night life.


RG. Can you mention a meal that you enjoyed the most on this trip?

I thought I had pretty good fish tacos last time I was here at Zamas, but honestly the fish tacos in La Eufemia are way beyond, I’ll say it on the record. Also the vegan tamales I had in town and the tapas in La Gloria de Don Pepe while watching the Champions Final was great. And having home cooked breakfast at Residencia Gorila; every single meal here has been great!

Lushlife and the Gorila team

RG. Of all of your experience here in Residencia Gorila, in Tulum and on this trip, how would you sum it up?

I would say that the most important thing that I’ve realized for the independent artist and musician is that opportunities like these are extremely important. I’m lucky to have any kind of budget to do what I do, certainly I couldn’t just be like I’m going to rent a multimillion-dollar studio and live on a hotel. Residencia Gorila was perfect was perfect because I realized there’s people that foster and support people like me, that have the ideas and the space to bring artists and help us to create and to execute art in a setting like Tulum is unbelievable… I think Residencia Gorila is doing an awesome job!