by Hugo Lunny
MVRemix: For those that are now hearing about Dru Hepkins the musician (not just the MVRemix contributor) for the first time, tell us about yourself.
Dru Hepkins: I’m a man of many passions; I love to compose music, I love to write, and I guess I could throw partying in there as one of my passions too. Seriously though, I’m an artist who makes music strictly because I love to do it. Sure I’d love to be wealthy and support myself with my talents, but I’m not trying to be an entrepreneur. I just love music and I love being recognized for what I do.
MVRemix: You play a variety of instruments – was this something you chose to pursue or something your parents pushed and you went along with it?
Dru Hepkins: No, I really wouldn’t say that. I come from a musical family and all my brothers and I play instruments, and yes my parents made us take lessons when we were younger – but no, music wasn’t never pushed or encouraged – and certainly not for a career. My mother encouraged it when it meant singing for the church and for family holidays but not much beyond that. I just got possessed by music on my own and went at it every day.
MVRemix: How did you score a position as an executive assistant at Atlantic Records, and what became of that?
Dru Hepkins: Years ago, I was sent there as a temp and I worked myself like a dog. I was only supposed to be there for a short time, but I was determined to make a mark. Then my 2 week position turned into a few months. I was working real hard and it impressed my superiors – at first that is [laughs]. Then they switched me to a more fast paced department, Urban Publicity. After spending some time in that department they eventually hired me full time. But honestly, in my heart of hearts I wanted to be an artist, and not just work for them. After a few years there I got wild and starting bugging out, partying and being irresponsible. I was cocky and stupid and I would say wild reckless statements and so on and so forth. I’m on good terms with my old bosses and of course I wised up, but I learned after having a lot of fun working for a powerful label and taking advantage of all the perks, I would never be happy living a lie. Alot of people crave label jobs – and they are fun and exciting, but if you’re an artist I wouldn’t advise it. I’ve learned so many valuable things and made excellent contacts, but as an artist you could really lose yourself fast.
MVRemix: You’ve played a number of roles in the music and entertainment industry, how important do you feel networking is?
Dru Hepkins: Networking is extremely important. The right contacts can definitely make it happen for you. But I tell the truth, it also annoying and often doesn’t get you anywhere. If you’re a female artist, most of these fellas interact with you because they want to sleep with you. And in general there’s a lot of folks who are self absorbed, caught up in other things, and/or don’t really want to help you. People want to be involved when they see you getting a buzz on your own. Just real talk. The industry and networking can really be a frustrating ordeal, waiting for people to call you back etc etc. All artists should do as much for yourself as possible. You just have to keep on networking and be smart about it. Hopefully the right situations will surface.
MVRemix: You’ve also been freelancing for a while, what inspired your interest in interviewing and general journalism?
Dru Hepkins: I love to write. Like I said, it’s one of my many passions. Also, when you’re an up and coming artist yourself trying to blow up, it’s the next best thing to interact with and learn from the already successful artists. I study them when I interview them. I analyze their different personalities and I always, respectfully, compare myself and what I have to offer to their stardom.
MVRemix: As a songwriter, who has influenced you?
Dru Hepkins: I always stumble on that one no matter how many times it’s asked. It’s many people. It’s Bob Marley. A roots reggae band called Third World. Its Prince. Even guys like Elton John, Billy Joel, Lionel Ritchie, these guys helped me with main stream appeal because these guys wrote great songs following the right main stream formulas. But I don’t get influenced much, and not by one particular artist, nor do I try to pitch toward the mainstream, I really just try to find my own voice.
MVRemix: How does living in New York shape your attitude towards music, art and culture in general?
Dru Hepkins: Man, we are the pinnacle of everything. Seriously though, I don’t mean to be biased but NYC always had an elevated music scene. We’re exposed to so much and we have such an eclectic existence. NYC shaped what I want to hear in many ways. I admit, I like to hear lyrics and wit in hip hop and I haven’t been a fan of lot the music that’s been coming out in the south and Midwest. With other types of music in NYC, there are bands from all over that come here and we get to soak in different styles.
MVRemix: You’ve stated that the game plan was to take your music over to Europe, and you’re set to perform some gigs there early next year – why the push for the European audience?
Dru Hepkins: I just feel, know, the reception will be better. American music is way too dummied down, contrived and controlled by money. I’m not suggesting this doesn’t happen anywhere else, but to a lesser to degree. Over here, kids sit and wait for the albums companies have been spending lots of money to promote and convince you is hot. I know that these acts don’t necessarily represent the best or most talented music. You just have a better shot to stand out other parts of the world.
MVRemix: How did the name “Rockult Entertainment” come to be?
Dru Hepkins: Well I’m a little eccentric and I liked the name “cult”. Music is my cult. I work at it everyday and I’m very passionate about it and devote so much of myself to it. I fused words that mean the cult of rock. I came up with “Rockult” and I loved it.
MVRemix: Tell me about the album, “Declamation of Useless Genius.” How did the title come about?
Dru Hepkins: The title came about one day when I starting writing a song. I laid the beat down. Then I composed a bass line and laid down the bass parts. Then I threw in some keys and guitar. I sampled some sounds I heard outside, went with a small recorder, taped it and mixed it in. I wrote the words to the melody etc etc. Later that night/morning I stayed up watching a rap video show. I was watching a lot of these new cats coming out and noticed not many of them were saying anything or displayed any type of talent. With some of them, I’m not sure that they even wanted to. I started to feel like despite everything I was doing, a catchy hook and the right corporate backing would drown artists like me out every time. That’s the way it always is; a lot of clowns jump out in the front and divert the attention to themselves while really gifted ones are the unknown weirdoes roaming around in anonymity. For my title, I thought of guys like Edgar Allen Poe. Edgar Allen Poe died broke and distraught like so many gifted people because they often don’t fit in. For some, it’s not like they’re trying to be famous in the first place, it’s a gift and it’s just what they do. All Poe’s poetry was gathered after his death and he was recognized and revered for who he was post mortem. “Declamation of Useless Genius” is for all the true artist out there lost in this abusive industry. In a industry that worships image, clothes, gun shots, sex tapes etc etc, there can exist an artist with “useless genius”.
MVRemix: How long did the record take to record and how planned was it – ie did you set out with a tracklisting and stick to it or record a number of songs and chose a select amount leaving the rest on the “cutting room floor”?
Dru Hepkins: My problem was I could never make an album man! I write songs everyday! I have different styles of songs. Some are rocked out, some are more urban, some are retro, some are jazzy. The hardest thing to do was pick 10-15 songs and call it an album. Eventually, I pulled some songs that worked well together and would best cater to the same audience.
MVRemix: From what I can tell the album appears to be quite eclectic with mixing “Grab on That Fat Thing” and “Stripper Girl” with an anti-racist track (“Voices That Always Know”), how do you manage to combine such differing subject matter and styles and have it mesh well?
Dru Hepkins: I write about whatever I feel. Stripper girl was written with a buddy of mine Vince Delorenzo, he composed the guitar parts. It had a different feel so I just went with what I heard in my head. It was kinda commercial and rocky but it works. As for all the other songs they’re all so, so different in style and subject matter. Ironically that’s what keeps it consistent and what makes it gel together. All the songs are eclectic and different so it becomes a consistent expectation.
MVRemix: What do you wish to achieve with the album?
Dru Hepkins: Firstly, I’d like to pay the rent. But seriously, I love making music and I want the people that understand and appreciate what I do to be able to hear it. I want it to reach as many supporters as possible.
MVRemix: Any videos planned?
Dru Hepkins: Yes, I’m already working on one with my boy Marko from Essential Entertainment. We’re working on the video for “Sit and Wait 2 Die”. We went up to Atlantic City and shot some footage.
MVRemix: What separates you from other singers/writers? Why should I opt to listen to your music above others?
Dru Hepkins: Because I’m me. I’m not corrupted by the industry either. After you soak it in, you’ll definitely start to get and appreciate what I’m doing. I’m not looking for celebrity guest appearances; I don’t make songs to fit in either. I do what I want to do the way true artists used to. I bleed this music, I laid most of these songs down by myself, brick by brick, line by line, note by note. That’s something you don’t see anymore. Cats buy tracks from hot producers, collaborate with prolific song writers and everybody comes together trying to make a hit, or buy one. Not me. I think I can make hits and I’ll compose write and produce them myself.
MVRemix: Have fun with this one, a la “Fight Club” – “If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight”?- Would you win?
Dru Hepkins: Oh… ok. Well that Kramer clown with his racist rant for starters. that was wild and I still didn’t forget that!!! That’s the type of thing where somebody has to beat that ass! Then put a fork up his a** since he likes that so much. He’s way out of touch and he’s stuck in the wrong decade. I don’t care what nobody say, there was very little explanation for that and he needs to be drop kicked. I know there’s more but I just can’t think right now.
MVRemix: What next do we have to look forward to from you?
Dru Hepkins: I’ll be hosting a few things, producing and writing for various artists. But mostly, you could look forward to more good music and writing.
MVRemix: Any last words?
Dru Hepkins: There’s no doubt in my mind I was born to do this. I’ve always known it. Artists could hit me up for beats or music. You can hear my beats or songs on my soundclick or myspace pages. And oh yeah – you could buy that album man! Itunes, napster rhapsody, emusic and all that plus it will be in select stores soon. Check the site for info. www.myspace.com/druhepkins)