MVRemix: How long have you actually been rapping? How did you get started?
Rockie Fresh: I’ve been rapping since I was in high school. I used to just kick freestyles for people and with friends, and it grew on me and eventually I decided to take it seriously and start recording.
MVRemix: In 2009, you dropped Rockie’s Modern Life. What do you think is different about you and your sound on The Otherside?
Rockie Fresh: I’d say the main difference is that The Otherside was a much more mature effort. With Rockie’s Modern Life, I went into the project wanting to give people something fun. But with The Otherside, my approach was a bit different. I’d say I grew tremendously from RML to The Otherside, and The Otherside is a bit more universal both conceptually and sound-wise.
MVRemix: You were just at SXSW in March. Was this your first big festival? Tell me about what that was like.
Rockie Fresh: SXSW is great. I actually was there the past two years, performing at different hip-hop blog and brand sponsored showcases. I’d say though that my first real big festival experience was at Bamboozle this year. That was what really made me believe that I could take everything to another level. When you perform in front of thousands of people that truly love your music, there’s nothing better.
MVRemix: What’s a consistent theme or message in your songs?
Rockie Fresh: I think the message is generally positive. I’m not going to say I don’t rap about weed, women, and other things like most rappers, but the way that I approach the issues is different than most. It’s more reflective. Every song though has a different message, and many are up for interpretation.
MVRemix: Describe your very first experience rapping in front of someone.
Rockie Fresh: I’d say my first performance was the most notable in terms of rapping in front of people. I had never taken to a stage before to perform, and it was definitely nerve-racking, however, when 500 people showed up to see it, my confidence level skyrocketed. I definitely would say I’ve grown a great deal as a performer since then.
MVRemix: You’ve said that you can be found listening to Paramore and Fall Out Boy. What kind of inspiration do you draw upon from alternative or rock groups? Do you think they influence your music?
Rockie Fresh: Everything from content matter to the sound of the songs. You’ll notice on “Otherside” that there is a lot of alternative rock influence, be it from the samples used or the instruments played on certain records. “The Worth” featuring Mike Golden definitely has that alternative vibe, as do a ton of other records. I actually just did a few new records with Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy and the Madden brothers from Good Charlotte, and this really let me take that alternative vibe to another level and was a dream come true.
MVRemix: I think every region has its different sound when it comes to rap—the Bay Area’s got hyphy music, New York’s rap is tough, political. You’re from Chicago, also home to big rap names Kanye and Twista. How would you characterize Chicago rap, or Midwest rap in general?
Rockie Fresh: Chicago rap has a lot of angst, and a lot of struggle. There may not be one particular sound, but I think we all share a similar perspective as Chicago artists . The people’s attitudes in our city definitely influence the music. It’s a mindset I’d say, being a Chicago rapper. I’d like to say I have some of those qualities, but am also enitrely my own person with my own style.
MVRemix: Which rapper or rappers do you think have influenced your rap message and your rapping style the most?
Rockie Fresh: I’d say Kanye has always been an inspiration, as has Jay-Z. These might be typical, but I’ve also been influenced by artists outside of rap like John Mayer as well.
MVRemix: Tell me about your verse writing process. Do you sit down to write, or write as you go along?
Rockie Fresh: I typically spend a lot of time with an instrumental, writing at random times when I get inspiration. I also often work with my producers to construct instrumentals from scratch for a specific song or concept that I have in mind.
MVRemix: Tell me about the name Rockie Fresh.
Rockie Fresh: Well, Rockie actually has a few different origins, and I’ll leave those up to people to figure out for themselves. If I had to explain it’s origin completely, I think it’d lose a bit of its charm. It just was a name more so given to me by the people around me, who started calling me that.
MVRemix: You’ve been compared to Drake, Wiz Khalifa. How do you plan to differentiate yourself on a competitive platform where mixtapes are a dime a dozen?
Rockie Fresh: I want to make it clear that although some inspirations come from certain artists, it doesn’t mean you are JUST like them. I plan on separating myself by taking a different approach and perspective. I don’t do this to intentionally be different than everyone else, I do it to make music that people will like. I think I am already my own artist, and will continue to grow as that.
MVRemix: You grew up in the 90s, presumably watching Nickelodeon if the title of your last mixtape is any indication. What’s the deeper inspiration behind the title “Rockie’s Modern Life”?
Rockie Fresh: It was really a play on words that stemmed from the cartoon show name, and became something else. As I made the project, I realized I was crafting my own modern version of what hip-hop meant to me growing up. It was like I was taking my life, and applying it to hip-hop.
MVRemix: Any embarrassing moments while performing?
Rockie Fresh: Definitely. Once I had a skipping DJ track, so the song was skipping behind my vocals and I had to keep up with it. It was not a good look, but I managed and just ended up cutting the track and rapping the rest acapella.
MVRemix: What’s up next for you?
Rockie Fresh: I’m headed out on the road this Fall, details coming soon, re-releasing “The Otherside” on July 27th with a bunch of new material and remixes, and recording a brand new project due out in October. Keep up to date at www.rockiefresh.com or twitter.com/rockiefresh