P.O.S. Interview

Sasquatch is a meeting place for all styles of music. Sitting down with P.O.S. aka Stefon Alexander showed that sometimes all styles of music meet in a single person, as well as at a Festival. The rapper, punk rocker, beat maker, and all around talented vocalist and lyricist seems to be working five jobs at once and hasn’t even let a rather serious medical condition slow him down (much… he did take a little time off, the man’s not insane).

On the third day of the festival I had the chance to sit down with P.O.S. in a co-interview conducted by myself and VancouverisAwesome blogger and friend, Adrian McCavour. Here’s the gold that came out of the brief but enlightening 20 or so minutes.

Myself (JR): So you haven’t even had a second to breath yet because you just came from another festival yesterday…

P.O.S.: Ya, at home in Minneapolis there was a hip hop festival called Sound Set that Rhymesayers Records throws and it was… really fun. We were out there playing with Snoop Dogg and Tech N9ne and, well, Busta Rhymes didn’t show up for some reason. Which sucks cause a lot of people were there to see him. There were 27,000 people there and he decided “day of show” he wasn’t coming.

Adrian McCavour (AM): You’ve got so much going on there with Rhymsayers, Doomtree [Collective]…

POS: …Marijuana Deathsquads, Gayngs, all these different groups. It’s the perfect city, as far as I’m concerned. I wish the winter was a little bit shorter [laughs]…

AM: But the music scene there, you’ve got punk, you’ve got rap, you’ve got rock: how does everything influence you and how do you hope that you influence all the difference scenes that are going on there?

POS: I think ever since I was a little kid in Minneapolis you notice that it’s not so much about listening to the radio or watching MTV, it’s about trying to compete with the other bands in the city. There’s enough music that’s it’s not even really a competition, it’s more like, “This band is really creative, let’s try to make something as good as that.”

AM: Watching Killer Mike [perform] last night he was throwing down lyrics like, “Dance music: that shit’s for suckers.” Listening to your new album and what you’ve done in the past… you bring in everything from other genres…

POS: Everything! Everything that I enjoy, man. I want to make music I want to listen to. You can’t just get stuck on one thing. When I was younger; probably up until I was 18 or 19, I would not listen to anything that wasn’t punk or hardcore or metal. Maybe the occasional old hip hop like Dre or Snoop or some shit but… it took me a while before I could make creative strides on my own. I mean, I got really into German Techno! And you can hear it on the new record; it’s in there. I still wanted to keep all the urgent drums and the shouting and stuff too though.

JR: And you’ve still got KCMP’s (radio station 89.3 The Current in Minneapolis) “Ruining The Current” so are you playing everything there that you dig too?

POS: Ya, ya, ya. If I can’t do [the radio show] live, they’ll let me tape it if I’m on the road or stuff like that. I’m ten weeks in and it’s great.

AM: Is that a really good outlet for you to put the stuff you like out there? The German Techno and all that?

POS: Ya. I’ve gotten the chance to play a little bit of everything that I like so far and I’ll keep playing more. I had a 90’s grunge-themed night a couple weeks ago. Last week I played a lot of hip hop and new stuff. That’s the cool part about it!

AM: Have you gotten any reaction back about it yet?

POS: People live tweet it every week and they send me lots of really cool messages so it’s been fun.

AM: Moving back to Doomtree and Rhymesayers for a minute; it comes across as though you guys have a really familial structure. You have a really good relationship with these guys that’s been growing over the last decade, could you elaborate on your relationship with everyone involved?

POS: With Doomtree? Ya. Doomtree started as a production crew and then just all of my friends that rapped and we all kind of counted on each other. I knew how to get shows, some others knew how to get a bit of press, other people knew more about how to structure [the music] and we all grew up thinking that Wu-Tang lived in the same house and were best friends. [All laugh]. So we sort of modeled ourselves off of what our ideals of what a crew looked like and we actually did live together in two different houses! I think that really set us up. We’re all pretty much friends for life now.

JR: Is there anything other than Doomtree that you’re focusing on now or putting more of your effort into?

POS: For sure. The band Marijuana Deathsquads is kind of the… while I’m waiting to get started on more hip hop, you know, collecting beats and that, we’re working on Marijuana Deathsquads’ full length album, Oh My Sexy Lord coming out in July. We’ve done several residencies as a band; we camp out in LA for a month and play once a week. We’re about to finish one [song] in Minneapolis next week, we did [a song] in New York, Austin… it’s a good band. It’s members of all old bands I’ve been in: Building Better Bombs, members of Gayngs, and members of Polica… We played our first show as a band in a year yesterday at Sound Set and I look forward to touring like that later on this year.

AM: You weren’t able to tour this year for your new album because you had the liver transplant…

POS: I didn’t get a transplant yet, actually. I’m on dialysis still. But ya, I had to cancel and kind of take everything easier. I’m just stepping up now to get back into it… So I’m really excited to get back. To not be able to tour a record is something I’ve never done. Never Better (2009) came out and I played 225 shows. To put out a record and then do only 10 shows that year is, well, heartbreaking and ridiculous to me. I’m not really mad though, I know that’s just what it is.

JR: Now, in terms of your video presence, you’ve got the video for Bumper: it’s pretty raw with Pitchfork’s City of Music project. But then you’ve got Weird Friends with a much higher production value and concept to it. Is it difficult for you to balance the visual that you want to share while having people still pay attention to what you’re saying?

POS: It is rather hard to pick video concepts. I would much rather have all my videos just be the band playing but that’s just hard to pull off and that’s not what everybody wants to see all the time. It’s a tricky thing. But I think that once this band [Marijuana Deathsquads] gets as tight as we were yesterday at Sound Set I feel like that’s what people are gonna want to look at. I mean, we’ve got, in my opinion, some of the best drumming that anyone’s ever seen live. I’ve never seen a hip hop band that was as compelling, to me, as the band that I’m working with right now. Live band hip hop ends up getting this sort of “jazz” feel and we tried to really OBLITERATE that and focus on the urgency of the drums and focus on making sure that shit cracks, you know? Really tight, really loud. Most of the music I make is really drum based anyways…

AM: On top of that you’ve got really great lyrics. You always seemed really socially conscious. You seem really critical of society…

POS: …of garbage? [laughs]

AM: …of ways that we can improve as human beings.

POS: All the music that I cared about growing up had a little bit of that. Whether it was silly NOFX stuff or serious Minor Threat stuff or Ice Cube or whoever; there’s not just fun, there’s also some sort of underlying agenda. And I know that not everybody wants to take music so seriously all the time but that’s just the shit that was always important to me.

AM: You also talk a lot about the change in technology-driven time. What’s your biggest concern with the way people feel when it comes to new media?

POS: It kind of does. It’s hard to gauge that and write about that in a real way. Everybody needs to take time away from their phones… everybody’s “zombieying out” and it’s changing the way our faces look cause everybody’s looking down all the time. People are getting jowels all early and shit. It’s fucking gross [laughs]. I don’t think you can save the world. I don’t think you can save everybody, you’ve got to live the way you want to live and do the best that you personally can and hopefully that affects the people immediately around you. Every generation thinks the world’s going to hell.

JR: On the flip side to that though, do you find it easier now to get your music out because of the new media and all the channels available to you?

POS: Absolutely. I think that the hard legwork that Doomtree and Rhymesayers have done to gaining true fans that are down to do what we’re actually trying to get out, those people are the ones that are looking out for what I’m doing when I’m not rapping and looking out for what my friends are doing when they’re not rapping. And that shit’s really important to me, you know? I don’t have millions of fans but I do have like 20,000 solid people that are gonna check for what I’m doing and hopefully share with their friends… and I’ve made that work for almost ten years now so I’m not really trippin. I may not be famous, I may not be a household name but I’m able to do what I love everyday!

AM: And from there, you’re gonna start touring, well, slowly touring…

POS: Ya, hopefully I’ll get out later this year and really hit the road hard and show off my new songs and hopefully put out some more songs.

AM: Working with Astronautalis as well?

POS: Yup. We’re putting out a 7” at the end of… next month… maybe? Sometime this summer for sure. And we’ll be putting out a full length as soon as it’s done but both of us just stay so fucking busy, you know.

JR: Are you two going to be touring together at all?

POS: Hopefully. We really like working together so as soon as we get a chance to do it together, we will.

AM: Anything new in terms of Gayngs? I know Justin Vernon was on one of your tracks so has anything new come out from that?

POS: The next Gayngs record, I think it’s gonna be called “Le Ron”, and we’re gonna push a little… it’s gonna be a little different. It’s always gonna be different. When you’re dealing with Ryan Olsen who’s the main producer for both Gayngs and Marijuana Deathsquads, you’re gonna get a different kind of vibe depending on what’s going on in the little world that he’s making. I don’t want to say too much but know that there’s more music coming.

JR: Well just make sure you head up to Vancouver on your tours.

POS: I absolutely will. I love most of Canada… [all laugh]. I love Vancouver, I love Montreal… I even love Toronto, man. I feel like Canadian people are infinitely nicer and sometimes that confusing, but it’s also really nice so I’ll get to Canada. I promise.

That’s a promise a growing number of Canadians are gonna make sure he keeps.

Shahidah Omar interview

Finding someone who exudes musical talent while still embracing originality is so rare to find these days, that a person like this is close to being a mythical creature. Reigning from the South Side of Chicago,he Shahidah Omar is one of these mythical creatures, as she brings a whole different sound to the music industry that showcases her classical training in opera while mashing together a rock sound with R&B and Hip Hop tones. Shahidah will be showcasing her eclectic style for the second year at Bonnaroo in June. MVRemix had the opportunity to discuss her debut album Freedom, her upcoming set at Bonnaroo, and her influences.

What do you miss most about Chicago?

I grew up there and there were a lot of us, nine siblings. So, I just miss the comradery there. It’s a little different here on the west coast because; a lot of people are just spread out. Mostly, everyone is just here for entertainment. Chicago feels like home. You can talk to people on the street all day and it’s a lot closer together. You get around and you get more stuff there

In June you’ll be heading over to Tennessee for your second year at Bonnaroo! How are you feeling about that?

What! [laughs] I am so super duper excited about that. Last year we did two stages, and this year I think we’re going to do a stage and they’re going to add two other ones for us. Bonnaroo is like Woodstock. There is a lot of people! Have you been?
Yes, I have been. It’s a lot of fun, it’s pretty intense!

Oh my god, it is the best experience for a musician. The best experience, I can’t even explain how amazing that feeling is to have all those different people coming out to see you. There is all different kinds of people who love music and that is all that they are there for. Its frickin’ awesome. It’s amazing. So excited.

Do you like performing at festivals or in intimate venues better?

I prefer festivals honestly because it’s more people and you get all different kinds of energy. I love the outdoor festivals more so, because it’s out and it’s freeing. But, I do love the intimate shows. They’re sweet and people really get to know you better. You get to act a fool at the music festivals! [laughs] It’s a totally different experience.

How do you usually prepare yourself for a big music festival?

Well, right now I’m in LA and some of my band members are in New York, and some are here in LA So, when I’m here on the West Coast…and I have a place in New York too…but when I’m here in the west coast, I’m in the studio all the time, and I’m rehearsing at this spot around here. There is this place here, the best rehearsal spot ever. I rehearse there all the time without my band just to get myself moving. Then I bring the band together. I’m going to New York this Sunday and I’m going to meet my whole band. Some of us are coming from LA and New York, we’re going to rehearse there. So, the whole process is fun.

I read an in interview that you did previously that you tried R&B and hip hop, but that you weren’t happy doing that and that you prefer rock music. What is it about rock music that makes you happy?

Freedom. The name of the album is Freedom, but freedom seriously. I’m not just saying that because we are having this interview. It is really freeing for me. R&B and Hip Hop, that is what they expect you to do as an African American woman. They expect you to be in that box. So, when you are able to do something different and people are actually accepting it as something different. They’re accepting it as that and you’re actually being that…I prefer that. So, with rock music the live element is different. I play a little bit of guitar and percussion. It feels more freeing. I love R&B and Hip Hop, but it’s one of those boxes that I don’t feel like I have to be in. However, I do like to mix the sounds together at times.

What are some rock influences that you have?

I love The Cranberries, Radiohead…I’m really into Metallica and hard music like that. I do love the softer side of alternative music, and Radiohead is one of my favorite bands like I said. Bjork, Peter Gabriel is one of my favorites. Um…the list can be like…Sting! I love Sting. U2! They’re all amazing for different reasons.

Radiohead is going to be at Bonnaroo, are you going to check them out there?

Yes! [laughs] I cannot wait to go and see Radiohead, I’m like we’re going to stay the whole time this year. I didn’t get to be there last year. We’re going to see all the bands while we’re there. So, yes!

So, your debut album Freedom is the most unique album that I have heard in a while. The whole album could literally be made into a rock opera. When I listened to it, it was really theatrical. Have you ever considered making it into a rock opera?

Yes. Thank you so much! I really appreciate that compliment. Absolutely, I mean I’ve never thought about doing it in a theater aspect, but that’s pretty cool actually. [laughs] We do call it a rock opera sometimes because when I’m performing it live, I actually do a little bit more opera than what is on the album itself. So we go from straight rock to opera. One of the songs is like a rap/rock Opera song on there. But yea, I haven’t thought about that. That’s pretty good, I’m going to have to look into that deeper.

What track on Freedom means the most to you?

Means the most…I think “People of the World.” For “People of the World”, I wish that for “People of the World” that the musicality of it came out on the album like it does live. Like with all those crazy live instruments it turns the songs sideways and you really get to hear the lyrics in it. “People of the World” for me is an album song, so I don’t know how it would be looked at as a single. But, for an amazing album song, it’s my favorite because it’s talking about what is happening in the world in general. From all different aspects. From being judged by your color to wanting to unite to watching people with illnesses and spending money. It’s very political, but at the same time it’s real. It’s so real. Its from different aspects all over the world, that’s why it’s called “People of the World”, that’s my definite favorite song on the album, as far as connection-wise.

If there was a movie made about your life, what actress would you want to play you?
That’s a good question…I don’t know! Oh god, I never would have thought of that. That’s a good question. Who do I think to play me? I really don’t know! I can’t think of anybody. I might have to think about that a little deeper. I can’t think of anyone to play me. That was a good question, I’m going to have to think about that.

Any last words for your fans?

I love my fans, and I’m so appreciative for being accepted for who I am through them. I love their connection with my fans from having fans that like different things. It’s makes it so much more fun knowing that we can connect. I love them! I love the connection and all that cool stuff!

Chiddy Bang Interview: Taking on the World But Still Proud of Their Philly “Roots”

Back in 2009, Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege and Noah “Xaphoon Jones” Beresin released their first mixtapes titled “The Swelly Express”. Although earlier in the year the popular music blog Pretty Much Amazing put a number of the songs from Chiddy Bang’s MySpace account in constant rotation, the two Philly-born, alternative hip-hop artists were relatively unknown outside of Pennsylvania when the album dropped. All that has changed, and changed fast. With two more mixtapes released since then, a couple of EPs and, as of February 22nd of this year, their first full length studio album “Breakfast”. Touring almost constantly in the last year, Chiddy and Xaphoon Jones took a couple minutes out of their busy schedule just before heading onstage at this year’s Sasquatch Music Festival to talk about where they’ve been, where they’re headed and what it’s like meeting childhood heroes.

** Chiddy Bang at Sasquatch 2012, photographed by Chelsea Chernobyl

Although “The Swelly Express” got their first big hit “Opposite of Adults” into rotation around the States, the most interesting part for many was hearing Black Thought of the Roots making a guest appearance on the album.

Chiddy: Seriously, right? He goes into the booth and just lays down the most legendary verse we’d ever heard and I could just look at his face [gesturing to Xaphoon]…

Xaphoon: And I’m behind the deck, thinking, “I’m recording Black Thought right now!” Being someone who’s grown up in Philly, going to see them at Clark Park or South Street when they were promoting their album, or even just going to buy their CD’s as a kid, you know? You don’t notice how much your childhood heroes effect you until you kinda compare them to other people. When we were at Big Sean’s album release party we ran into Jay-Z and Kanye and we were both going, “Whoa, this is CRAZY!” but I didn’t have the same gut feeling like I did being around Black Thought.

Off “The Swelly Express” you guys released a video for “Opposite of Adults”. That’s one of the most fun video’s I’ve seen in a long time, it’s hilarious and got style at the same time. Is that reflective of the way you record and the way your creative process works?

Xaphoon: I don’t think you’d see a lot of other acts around do a video like that, except four years later we’re starting to see it now in Little Wayne and Tyga videos they have the big heads or they’re being silly with it, but, at the time, we just tried to illustrate the point that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re not stressing or worrying about looking gangsta, we’re just having fun…

Chiddy: Ya, it’s fun and because we’re not worrying about that shit or walkin’ around all stressed out, it’s easier for it too stand out. It stood out and was, I guess, a contribution to the scene and it was great for us. I love it, man!

After “Swelly” you guys dropped the “Air Swell” mixtape with a whole host of UK artists on it. The one that stood out for me was your remix of “Stylo” by Gorillaz. How did that come about?

Xaphoon: Ya, we’re on the same label, Parlophone, so that was one of the first cool “label-things” we got to do being newly on that label. [The label] just asked us, “Do you wanna remix the new Gorillaz single?” And we’re like, “Fuck Ya! Of course we wanna remix that shit!” And the fact that [Parlophone] liked it enough to put it out was awesome!

Chiddy: That’s definitely one of my favourite remixes. Just everything about making that was amazing. Definitely. I mean, we don’t even perform it [live] ever but…

Xaphoon: … It kinda like sets it off in the direction that I was feeling about us which is that our remixes are way better than our regular songs [laughs]: you know, taking people’s ideas and putting them in a new context.

Your first studio album, “Breakfast” just dropped end of February. That was pushed back a couple of times though… was that a perfection move on your part?

Xaphoon: It’s hard when you’re signed for a big song such as “Opposite” and then you tell the label that you don’t want to put it on your first record cause you want to make your first record from start to finish and really congruent and linear, and, well, flow. It would feel weird to take older songs that don’t really fit into what you’re trying to do right now. It’s very easy to make a big song if you sing over a big song but we wanted to push on, grow, and do cooler things in the studio with instruments. We wanted to work with artists instead of just sampling artists, you know, go into the lab with them! So, a song like “Opposite just wouldn’t have fit into the grain of the album. Telling that to your label… well, you have to take your time after that and make them feel confident again before they pump the record.

Found the “Chiddy Bang Store” online: T-shirts, wristbands, booty shorts…

Chiddy: Booty shorts? [laughs] Shit. We’re into that now?

The merch store on your website…

Chiddy: Oh ya, that’s ours. It’s official. There’s good shit there!

Wondering if that was your idea? Gonna get into the fashion loop a la Kanye?

Xaphoon: We might, who knows? [Pointing to Chiddy’s shirt of his own creation] “Waffles and Cream”. We got style.

Chiddy: We doin’ it with style every day, so we’ll see.

Looking into your facts I found something interesting: Chiddy, you’ve got a Guinness World Record! Nine hours and change freestyle rap?

Chiddy: Nine hours plus, man, ya. Basically, our manager came in the process of making it and said, “Yo, we want you guys to do something to remain in the face of the public and at that time we weren’t ready to put out any new music so I just basically accepted it as a challenge for myself, you know what I mean? I didn’t wake up and decide I wanted to do it… my manager presented it to me and I was like, “What do I got to lose, right?” So I tried it and I just happened to do it. It was in Vegas and it was amazing. I started at about 11:30 in the morning and [rapped] till about 8:47. It was crazy.

Tours coming up: You’ve got the Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller tour booked then a tour with the group Fun., and you’re not done there. You guys tired already just looking at that sort of schedule?

Xaphoon: It’s gonna be crazy but I feel like a lot of people wanted to be on those two tours and… well, we got that. It’s gonna be a crazy summer and we’re very lucky to be touring with people that don’t have any problem selling tickets [laughs]! We’re gonna have a lot of fun and make a lot of groovy music!

Chiddy: MAD crazy music’s gonna come outta this summer. It’s gonna kill!

The “Grab a Plate” mixtape that you’re looking to drop, when’s that happening and what’s it all about?

Xaphoon: Those are the kind of songs that have sort of trickled out while the album’s been out and we might release one or two more still. There’s actually one called “Twisted” that’s brand new that’ll come out as part of a May or June release.

Chiddy: We’re really pumped for “Twisted”. It’s gonna be good and when something’s brand new you really get hyped but we also are getting to know when something’s good and not just “good right now”, you know?

After a few jokes about going to see their show which was scheduled for 4:20, Chiddy and Xaphoon took to the stage and had the crowd jamming in no time. Hand in the air, a cacophony of sound after (and during) every song, Chiddy Bang responded to the crowd with style, knowing that, playing the main stage at a festival as massive as Sasquatch was special in its own right but just the next stop on their way to the top. I for one, will be counting down the days till their next album drops and getting my hands on the next mixtape as soon as possible. Check out their site over at chiddybang.net if nothing else so that you can see just how much fun these guys have making stellar hip-hop and the reason guys like Jay-Z and Kanye may just be taking more notice of this Philly duo very soon!

Spac3man Interview

Humility is a trait that many artists are lacking in this day and age, and it is rarity to find a hip hop artist who has this. Spac3man proves to keep his humility, even with his career becoming a success. Spac3man made the quick transition from hypeman to his labelmates on Sportn’Life Records to a hip hop artist with singles that continue to grow in popularity everyday such as the upbeat tracks “Fly Dena Mufuka” and “L’s Up.” Last year Spac3man was dropping his mixtape Featuristic, and this year is performing on the Maine stage at Sasquatch Music Festival in Washington. MVRemix caught up with Spac3man to talk about his Sasquatch performace, people he wants to work with, and his upcoming tour with the king of mash-ups, Girl Talk.

How are you feeling about your Sasquatch set Sunday?

I don’t really get excited until I’m about to go onstage. I get to the microphone and when I jump up there that is when I’m excited. Overall, I feel blessed about the show.

Are you new to playing the festival scene or have you done some festivals before in the past?

Nah, I’ve done quite a bit of festivals. Not a whole lot, but I’ve done like four festivals. Rockin’ outside… I love rockin’ outside! I like rockin’ inside for the acoustics, but at outside shows I always tend to do a lot of fun songs just because we’re outside.

Are you going to stick around and catch any sets from fellow performers at Sasquatch?

Yep, I’ll be there early enough to catch sets before me. Also, I have a lot of friends that are performing too. So hell yeah, I can’t wait to get there. I’m more a fan than anything when it comes to music… That’s what I feed off of, other artists that be doing there thing.

How was it transitioning from a hype man to your label mates to being a rapper?

I mean it’s cool but for me, it wasn’t something that I was only doing, it was something that got me somewhat seasoned for the stage; to be up there and to be what I wanted to be. I got like 200 credible performers that I’ve always looked at and was like, “Damn, these guys are rockin’.” Then I met up with them and stuff. I knew I didn’t have that on stage, so to be able to hype for them and them to show me what they do, it helped take me to another level.

Girl Talk’s shows have been known to be completely crazy and chaotic are you looking forward to touring with him?

Yeah, I can’t wait to get out there. I’ve watched a few videos online, but I’ve never actually met him in person, but I’ve seen what he do and I respect it. I can’t wait to mash what I do, my type of energy to his type of energy. ‘Cause we have different energies and stuff.

What is the craziest thing that you have seen at one of your shows happen?

Uhh… females showing me their titties. [laughs] I have this song that I only do live that I did with this group called Soda. Pretty much, the song is just about females showing titties, it’s called “Flash”, but they never finished their part, so I was like “Man, I just wanna enjoy this.” Everytime I played it, females were really showing their titties to it. I don’t know… I enjoy it. It’s a fun part for me.

I’m sure you’ll see a lot of them at Girl Talk.

[laughs] Well, it’s all ages though so I don’t know.

How do you usually wind down after a performance?

Ain’t no winding down. [laughs] Ain’t no winding down! We hype until we just sleep!

So you go party?

Nah, we go to eat… something like that. Then most of the time we on some stuff where we go try to find an after party or something you know. So, it’s not always a winding down thing. Vocally I’m winding down, but I’m still having fun.

Let’s talk about your mixtapes…I know you dropped your mixtape Featuristic last year – when is your next one going to drop?

I plan on putting out another one, another Featuristic 2. I have a lot of features. I have a lot of people that I do features with. Some people put the songs out, some people don’t. So, I’m like “Fuck I love that song!” That’s the thing with Featuristic, it’s an extra push for the songs I was on. It’s a way for some of the artists I work with to really be seen. I might put it out right before I put out my EP, because I just want to keep it alive because you know, everyone is excited, so I just want to keep feeding them and keep them happy.

If you had to pick one producer that you could work with, who would it be?

I’m really big on local producers, I’m not really big on finding big producers because I feel like those dudes are… you know what you will get from them. But from a producer that no one really knows. Well, what producer would I like to work with? One producer that I have been wanting to work with for a long time. [pauses] Damn, this is hard as hell [laughs] Can I break it into two people? It would be Timbaland and The Neptunes. Those are like two producers that I always thought, “These dudes are crazy.” If I wanted a crazy beat, I would go with them. If I wanted like an amazing song, I would work with Kanye West on the production because just the progression and the way he produces beats is marvelous. It would be between those three. If I wanted a crazy album, it would be between those three.

You’re from Seattle and some icons came from there like Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain. I noticed a little bit of a Hendrix vibe at the beginning of the L’s up video. Who are some icons that inspire you?

I always look at people that… Just hip hop or anything?

Anything.

I would listen to a lot of gospel and R&B when I was hella young. I don’t know, hella R&B inspires me. What are some icons that inspire me? On some like performance shit, probably Michael Jackson. The passion that he put into it, and every move that he does conveying what he was saying. Being able to vocally say it and mean everything? That was crazy. That’s what I try to do. I wear gloves on stage. It’s a real serious thing for me. Aside from making music, making sure my performance is right is the big thing. I think that Michael Jackson and Busta Rhymes are the cats that I see and I’m like, “I have to rock this shit.” You know what I mean? I can’t come out here and play around. That’s that type of shit that I get from those types of dudes. Micheal Jackson, Busta Rhymes, KRS-One…those type of motherfuckers. They aren’t standing for a wack show.

What is coming up for you in the future?

My EP, Beyond the Stars is actually really different from a lot of those songs that I have now. They have a lot of upbeat energy, but Beyond Stars is a lot of me expressing emotion and bring a different type of energy; a different type of emotional energy. I wanted to create a lot of emotion from me within the people, where if I am talking about this in my life I want you to feel like you are there too. If I say, “Life sucks,” I want you to be thinking at the end of the song, “Life sucks.” Like you know what I mean? I’m not pushing that, but that’s where I am trying to go with it. With this project it is more into my life, and different from what I really do. That’s why I’ve tried to do a lot of upbeat songs around this project, because when they get this project there isn’t going to be a lot of that side of me. You have that now, here is this. You know? All in all, I want people to know I’m a person. Not that I’m a damn juke box.

Any last words?

Yeah, spell my name right S-P-A-C-3-M-A-N. Shit, hella new shit coming and I apologize for the wait. The wait will be worth it. Beyond the Stars coming soon.

Rockie Fresh Interview

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

Jasiri X Interview

Jasiri X is a jack of all trades; an MC, Activist and Entrepreneur, Jasiri uses his gifts to follow in the footsteps of other groundbreaking, socially-conscious artists such as, Public Enemy, KRS-ONE and Tom Morello. Where other artists proclaim their status as a Hip-Hop mogul, Jasiri dedicates his time to bringing awareness to social, and political issues. Check out, “What if the Tea Party was Black,” and you’ll understand why Jasiri is a force to be reckoned with. MVRemix had the opportunity to talk with Jasiri about what he does, influences, working with artists that share his same passion and fervor for informing the people and future plans.

MVRemix: You are an MC, activist and entrepreneur. How did you become what you are today?

Jasiri X: Reading [chuckles], also I was raised in a household that was very conscious. At a certain point in my life helping my community became more important to me than Hip-Hop, even though I love it. To be able to do both simultaneously has been a blessing.

MVRemix: Your songs always carry a message, and due to the responses you get, you obviously strike a nerve. Is that the intended goal, or are there other things you try to get when you release a new song?

Jasiri X: I want to strike a nerve, but also hopefully create dialogue. I believe the messages I carry are true, and if we can talk about them we can begin to see things eye to eye.

MVRemix: It is great to see you use hip hop in such a positive way, that really has not been seen since the days of Public Enemy. What influenced you to take this approach?

Jasiri X: Public Enemy [laughs], also X-Clan, KRS-ONE, Bob Marley, Nas and Wu Tang.

MVRemix: How was it working with X-Clan’s Paradise the Arkitech and NYOIL when you did “Enough Is Enough?”

Jasiri X: Paradise is like my mentor/brother; I don’t do anything without first having at least a conversation with him. It’s been a blessing to work with someone who has produced classic Hip-Hop albums. NYOIL showed me the power of videos in getting your message across, and he taught me about the video side, and even recommended the program I use to edit. He also connected me to Rel!g!on and Wandering Worx which is my current label, so he deserves a lot of credit in my development.

MVRemix: Your videos have contributed to not only raising awareness about who you are, but raising awareness of issues that are going on in the U.S. How has the reception been from both supporters, and opposers?

Jasiri X: People usually either love it or hate it, especially in the cyber world, but in person I get a great deal of respect from supporters and opposers.

MVRemix: You shot “American Workers vs. Multi-Billionaires” in Madison, Wisconsin, during the people’s takeover of the statehouse. It reminded me a little bit of Rage Against the Machine’s video for “Sleep Now in the Fire.” How was the experience, and hearing the opinions of the people there?

Jasiri X: It was an incredible experience! Seeing all those people in the statehouse gave me goosebumps, and really made me understand the power we have when we unify. The people were extremely nice and respectful, and very educated about the issues.

MVRemix: Speaking of Rage Against the Machine, you performed “American Workers vs. Multi-Billionaires” with Tom Morello, in Los Angeles for the Our Communities, Our Jobs Rally. How was it working with Morello, and do you have any plans on collaborating with him on anything else?

Jasiri X: He did one of the most incredible shows I’ve ever seen, and he was one of the most down to earth people I’ve ever met. I actually just met someone who works closely with him, so hopefully a collab is in the very near future.

MVRemix: You performed and presented at the Netroots Nation, which is a really cool conference featuring people such as, Dan Choi, Biko Baker and other important individuals. How was it performing in front of all of these political activists, and how did your presentation go?

Jasiri X: I got a great reception at Netroots. I don’t think a lot of people knew how powerful a tool Hip-Hop can be, especially politically, when framing our issues. I got recognized a lot too because of, “What if the Tea Party was Black?” which was kinda surreal.

MVRemix: You’re gearing up for a second album, you’re continuing work on your successful series, “This Week With Jasiri X” and you recently headlined a fundraiser for Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha. What inspires you/ pushes you to continue doing all of this?

Jasiri X: Well it’s my job now [laughs]; this is how I make a living so the more I do, the more progress I make, but I also love using my gifts to help others. There is no better feeling in the world.

MVRemix: You are all about change, and supporting problems that need immediate solutions. What would you say to those who also want to make a change, and want to help out?

Jasiri X: Keep pushing and working towards real change; we’re in the late innings and we’re winning so stay focused.

Don’t forget to check out the new video by Jasiri X – Jordan Miles

Jasiri X tells the story of Jordan Miles, the 18 year old honor student who was brutally beaten by 3 undercover Pittsburgh Police officers while walking to his grandmother’s house. “Jordan Miles” was mixed by Diezel and directed by Paradise Gray.

Call Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala at 412.350.4400 and demand he file charges against the 3 police officers who brutally beat Jordan Miles

Blueprint Interview

To say that Albert Shepard, better known as Blueprint, is just a rapper, would be an understatement. His music pushes boundaries, combining influences and sounds that have recently gained acceptance in the realm of hip-hop.

Founder of Weightless Recordings, and a part of Rhymesayers Entertainment all-star roster, Blueprint has paid his dues to get to where he is now. This road has not been easy though; battling with sobriety, and the desire to challenge the “conventions of what hip-hop is,” as Blueprint puts it, led to a five-year hiatus, where Blueprint developed a new aesthetic on creating music. The end result: Adventures in Counter-Culture, an innovative, unconventional approach.

A personal and artistic transformation, Adventures in Counter-Culture showcases Blueprint’s abilities to weave together synths and drum hits, while using intellectual and progressive lyrics. MVRemix talked with Blueprint about this change, support from Rhymesayers, sampling, touring and the newfound electronic R&B sound that Blueprint had crafted way before Kid Cudi or Drake were around.

MVRemix: Adventures in Counter-Culture was not only a musical journey for you, but it led to you improving your life in various ways. How did the process of making this album help shape you into a better person, and a better musician?

Blueprint: Well, when I first started working on the album I really had no idea about the time and scope of what I was trying to do. I understood that I was going to be bringing together a bunch of different genres of music, but I was really unaware of how difficult of a task that would be. So as I got deeper and deeper into the process it started to hit me–that there was no way I was going to finish it and make it the album it needed to be unless I stopped doing a lot of things I was doing.

So, socially having something that ambitious kind of forced me to take a step back from a lot of the social things I was a part of, and since most of it wasn’t good for me anyways, it made perfect sense. Things I was doing like drinking almost every night, and staying out until 4-5 am–that had to stop. But, the hardest part of quitting that lifestyle isn’t really quitting itself, it’s finding meaningful things to do with your time, so you wont go back to doing it all over again. So, I started working out and riding my bike more.  That led me to eating better because I wasn’t going out every night. Because I wasn’t going out every night I had time to start reading again, so I got a library card and read tons of books. All those changes allowed me to put 100% into music again, and not get caught up in the distractions–but they also made me a better person.

MVRemix: When I reviewed your album, I noticed there were certain sounds that definitely reminded me of Kid Cudi, Drake and the more synthy, electronic R&B sound you hear in some of the big hip-hop artists nowadays. You had developed this sound way before any of these artists were even known. Were you skeptical at first of how the sound would be received/ were you reassured when artists such as Kid Cudi, Drake, and even Kanye, became popular?

Blueprint: When I first started Adventures it was 2006, it was before Cudi and Drake really existed, and before Kanye had put out 808’s and Heartbreaks, so at that time there was literally nobody doing that and no frame of reference for what I was doing.  I could see where the music needed to go, but it was difficult to get people around me to really understand it because there was nobody doing it back then. Plus, this was right after I had put out the 1988 album and the Soul Position album Things Go Better with RJ and Al, so it was a very dramatic musical change for some people.  I believed in what I was doing but there were definitely times where I wasn’t sure it was going to work out, so it helped a lot that Cudi, Drake, and Kanye did what they did because they definitely made it easier for me.  For the first time, where I was going actually made sense to some people who didn’t get it before because even though Kanye, Drake, and Cudi aren’t doing what I’m doing, they are singing and rapping, and that’s a necessary frame-of-reference for some people to understand what I was doing.

MVRemix: Your philosophy now seems to be, more instrumentation and less sampling, which can definitely be seen on your latest album. Did this mainly develop through wanting to just go against what you were comfortable with doing, or were there artists who also influenced you to move in that direction?

Blueprint: I think it developed mostly because everybody around me was getting sued for samples, and I realized that if I didn’t have any other way of making a good beat then I would probably be next! I started working on doing beats without samples around 2005, actually right after the 1988 album came out, just experimenting and wanting to do something different, but also knowing that my future as a producer could be dependent upon my ability to adapt, and have more than one style of production.

MVRemix: I read in another interview that you had been getting into Kraftwerk, which is a great band. Did their electronic sound have any influence on the songs you wrote?

Blueprint: I don’t think Kraftwerk influenced any specific songs on Adventures in Counter-Culture, but they definitely influence and inspire my instrumental work. They were the first group that made me realize I needed to study to really gain an appreciation, and understanding of electronic music. A lot of people think of electronic music as just dance music, but the history of it has always been a lot more than that.

MVRemix: After a five year hiatus, you came back stronger than ever. Was Rhymesayers supportive of your new sound?

Blueprint: From the beginning they were very supportive. They never told me to go back to my old style, or to do something that would be easier to make or market. They only wanted me to take the music as far as I possibly could.

MVRemix: There seems to be a gap in hip hop where some artists still rely on samples, while others create their own beats/ melodies. You have The Roots, N.E.R.D. and artists on Rhymesayers, including yourself, who seem to want to have their own sound, without relying heavily on sampling. Do you think sampling stifles an artist, or can it help them in a certain way?

Blueprint: There are certain artists who I think just need to have samples in the beats. Cats like Ghostface, MF Doom and the Wu-Tang–cats like that. I think those guys are stifled by not being able to sample as much. But, there’s also a group of people who can create something really unique without it. I think prior to Adventures in Counter-Culture, I was headed down the path of being completely reliant on samples, which is really hard to reverse once you hit a certain point. So, my goal as a producer was to be good at both styles, so that I didn’t have to rely completely on sampling because the sampling laws are getting ridiculous, and artists are getting sued right and left. I’m not at the point where I can afford to pay a lawsuit, so I’ve gotta be careful. Although I can’t really sample like I used to, I still make beats using samples all the time, so I’m still into that style–I just cant do it for myself like I used to.

MVRemix: How has the fan reception been? When I last saw you perform in Austin, everyone was digging it, and I definitely enjoyed your Keytar skills.

Blueprint: So far the reception has been great. Austin was a really good night, and one of the best nights of “The Family Sign Tour.” I’m really happy with how people have responded to the album so far.

MVRemix: Besides working with Rhymesayers, you also have your own label, Weightless Recordings. Are there any new projects going on with either Rhymesayers/ Weightless?

Blueprint: Because of the time I’ve had to dedicate to the new album, I actually haven’t had any time to spend on Weightless this year. The next release should be an instrumental album by producer Latimore Platz, but we’re not sure when that’s going to drop since it’s not completely done yet. Maybe after that we might do another Greenhouse EP and album with Illogic.

MVRemix: Where do you want to see yourself in not just hip-hop, but in music as a whole as you continue to grow as a musician?

Blueprint: As a musician, my goal is to just keep pushing as far as possible, and challenging the conventions of what hip-hop is, and to keep making better and better music.

On album and live, Blueprint delivers a performance that is raw and powerful. One can only imagine the creative thoughts floating in Blueprint’s mind, and if he remains on the road he is on now, hip-hop will continue to change, widening the spectrum, and reinventing a realm that we all have become complacent with. Different, confident and innovative, Blueprint is the breath of fresh air hip-hop needs, and trust me, you will be thankful for it.

Tech N9ne Interview

There are a select few artists in the music industry, Hip Hop especially, that can say they’ve made it to the top independently. Tech N9ne can though. Having taken his indie label Strange Music in the late 90’s to sell well over a million records by today, and touring the world, the Kansas City emcee has proven that with the right drive and support, you can be a contender alongside the major labels.

He’s currently on the road performing for fans and promoting his forthcoming album “6’s and 7’s” which features the Deftones, Mint Condition and Lil’ Wayne amongst others.

Tech N9ne took some time out of his day while in Vancouver to sit and talk with MVRemix for a while.


Continue reading “Tech N9ne Interview”

Trentemoller Interview transcripts

Reaching a packed club is always an interesting experience, noticing the line ups and the array of attire that people sport. Venue’s Trentemøller show provided an interesting assortment of fans.

Before the set, the crowds were thick, packing around the stage and securing the best viewpoints from the balcony. Before long, Trentemøller and his band began at the Vancouver, BC club and entered into their performance filled with eclectic moods and powerful light shows.

With Trentemøller’s music, songs tend to be a lot longer than what people typically expect. Those in the audience that were unfamiliar with him, but had his music recommended by others were treated to an amazing first exposure.

Anders Trentemøller and his band have solidified a live experience unlike any other group, and the Dane has accomplished a lot having been making music in various capacities for nearly two decades now.

After the set on April 13th, 2011, I went back to have a few words with Anders Trentemøller about his forthcoming set at Coachella, how the Ultra Music Festival went and which music videos (check out “Sycamore Feeling” and “…Even Though You’re With Another Girl“) and live performers influenced him.

Continue reading “Trentemoller Interview transcripts”

Trentemøller Interview

Reaching a packed club is always an interesting experience, noticing the line ups and the array of attire that people sport. Venue’s Trentemøller show provided an interesting assortment of fans.

Before the set, the crowds were thick, packing around the stage and securing the best viewpoints from the balcony. Before long, Trentemøller and his band began at the Vancouver, BC club and entered into their performance filled with eclectic moods and powerful light shows.

With Trentemøller’s music, songs tend to be a lot longer than what people typically expect. Those in the audience that were unfamiliar with him, but had his music recommended by others were treated to an amazing first exposure.

Anders Trentemøller and his band have solidified a live experience unlike any other group, and the Dane has accomplished a lot having been making music in various capacities for nearly two decades now.

After the set on April 13th, 2011, I went back to have a few words with Anders Trentemøller about his forthcoming set at Coachella, how the Ultra Music Festival went and which music videos (check out “Sycamore Feeling” and “…Even Though You’re With Another Girl“) and live performers influenced him.

Following our interview Trentemøller quipped about how much enjoyment he gets from touring, but for the band to take days of here and there while touring is a rarity. The expense of having the eleven people involved take a day off means hotel costs and huge expenses. He also mentioned about his acceptance of the public’s perception that Trentemøller is a DJ as opposed to an artist as his Royksopp remix and other remixes have earned him higher notoriety separate to that of his solo music.

One thing was settled that night though, Trentemøller and his band can easily captivate an audience by their music alone. No emceeing or “We love you Vancouver” needed in order to have people leave happy and roar. Just play the songs and leave the stage.