7 questions in heaven with Celia Inside, pt. 2

ci 7 questions 2

My girl Jessy aka Celia Inside aka total babe pal from NYC (and my first real-life internet friend) has some new tunes on the way AND has just released a really fun cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” produced by Kid Jimi. Listen above to her buttery, pretty, is-this-B-on-the-radio-yet voice and read about what she’s been up to while recording her new r&b album “Overtime” coming out next year!!!

CELIA INSIDE FB, TWITTER, TUMBLR

How would you describe your new album “Overtime”?

It’s soulful, cool, sometimes playful + fun, a little edgy… and lighter than my previous work in a wonderful and necessary way, haha. The music has definitely shifted more into hip-hop and R&B territory — that’s where I feel most natural. It’s still full of harmonies and left turns, though. Overall, I think it shows some very different sides of me as a person and artist. It’s hot!

Is “Overtime” a departure from your last Celia Inside release?

It is in that it’s less emotionally heavy and more beat-driven. It’s less wanna-be alt-rock music, lol. I was really married to the idea of making indie rock music on my first EP, Remodel…. That had a lot to do with my environment and the people around me back when I was living in College Town, USA. I think I was trying to appeal to a scene more than honoring my own musical inclinations. Some really cool stuff came out of that creative time and I’ll always love Remodel, but the music I’m making now is the most exciting for me yet. And I think it’s the most exciting, period! These songs are coming out so nice!

What was the inspo?

The inspiration for the music is a big mix of my life here in NYC and the people who fill it every day; working + living in different parts of the city and experiencing the different cultures, clash of cultures and gentrification all of that entails; rediscovering my love for hip-hop and also parts of myself that kind of got buried during my college+ years… a lot of stuff. Figuring out what kind of grown up I can and want to be! (A #crazysexycool one, obvi)

What has changed since your last EP “Remodel”?

Oh, what *hasn’t* changed!? Haha, almost two years ago, I decided to up & move to New York — it seemed to be where I needed to go — and my life has changed a ton. I’ve made friends, found work I can appreciate doing, moved around, fell in love with someone amazing!…. I’ve learned and experienced so much in such a short time.

All of these things affect the music and how I approach all things Celia Inside. Then, I’m more inspired, motivated, and happy than ever and can’t wait to release and share more as I move forward — this time, with a real plan, and a lot more experience + vision.

Are there any challenges to recording in NYC like noise or 5 roommates?

Omg, yes. Both of those things, actually — haha. I literally lived with five roommates for a little while! It wasn’t as ridiculous as I thought it might be, though (and it made for some fun + diverse parties). Yeah, noise is always a challenge here but I do my best with what I have and there are ways to work around it.

celia inside

 

Are you playing any shows for this release?

That’s the goal, but I’m more focused on recording and building up my online presence right now. I’ve literally met all of my collaborators via the internet! And my next major release will be an EP that won’t be out for a little while. Lots of singles/covers here & there first.

I’m still figuring out what kind of live performance would suit me and these songs best. It’s exciting to enter this new realm of possibilities, though, and check out different kinds of equipment, which is totally new to me. I want to make sure my singing/harmonies are a strong component of my life set along with the beats to these songs.

Anything else interesting about the new tunes?

This is my C.I. era — I rap, I sing, I make beats, I produce; I’m doing a lot of things I used to just experiment with but never really gave my full focus (and confidence) to. I’m making music for myself now and the music reflects that. I’m a better producer now than ever and only getting better. In the words of Fiona Apple, “here’s coming a better version of me!…”

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7 Questions in Heaven with Vacation Dad

7 Questions Vacation Dad

I first heard of Vacation Dad through a friend named Elliot (who plays in killer MPLS band Dial-Up). I was immediately blown away by the imagery of the name Vacation Dad: the zinc nose sunblock, the sunglasses with the string hanging around his neck, the Hawaiian shirts that smell vaguely of old cologne and corn dogs. I have probably thought about the name “Vacation Dad” 2 or 3 times a year for the past 3 years, yet I’ve never managed to get on top of my local show shit together enough to make a performance of this elusive name genius. 2014 goals: get a real job, clean the basement, see Vacation Dad live. Until then, feast on the Vacation Dad interview that had me fangirling.

1. Your name is so brilliant. How did you come up with Vacation Dad?

mmmmm its kinda hard to pin down.  i first heard the term when my friend pat told me to stop being such a vacation dad.  i think i had told him to put on some sunscreen.  but the project started when i was laid off and just hanging out in my bathrobe and recording when i wasn’t on tour.  so i kind of became this ridiculous, slightly embarrassing but mostly fun party animal.  vacation dad seemed to fit pretty good.

2. If your music could be described as an animal, which animal would it be and why?

it’d be probably be some kind of psychedelic snake that flies.  can’t say why, thats just what came to mind.

3. What projects are you working on right now?

well, i run MJ MJ Records and am a main organizer of FMLY FEST MPLS so right now i don’t have much time for VD.  but i swear to god i’m going to finish something soon as i can (its been like a year and a half since i released anything).  i’m working on a concept album called “AFTERLIFE”.  it’s a funky odyssey of sorts – a psychedelic journey that takes you from your death through the afterlife and eventually into the heavenly bliss of absolute nothingness. its also going to be a fully interactive video game.

4. Who would you rather have play “Dad” in the family comedy feature film “Vacation Dad”: John Candy or Dan Aykroyd?

dan akroyd for sure.  honestly i never thought john candy was all that funny, he just tends to be in funny movies.  like a better version of david spade.

danaykroyd

5. How does a song come to you?

usually starts with a beat, then a groove, then the hook.  i dont fuck with words.

6. What is one international city you’re dying to play a live show in?

i’d really like to go back to nicosia, cyprus.  i played there a couple years ago and it was just the best fucking thing.  kinda want to tour hawaii too.  or anything tropical, i’m not picky.

7. What’s next for Vacation Dad?

i’ve got a show coming up at 7th street with hundred waters, fort wilson riot and har-di-har (which is a fucking insane-o bill) otherwise just trying to get FMLY Fest together, then hunkering down to finish AFTERLIFE.  probs not gonna go on tour again till i finish it.
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DOWNLOAD VACATION DAD MUSIC HERE

7 Questions in Heaven with Dichotomy

7 Questions Dichotomy

I first met Alex Kauffman through a friend I studied abroad with in Brazil back in 2008. That friend referred to him as “kauffy” if I remember correctly. It was 2009 and we walked into the certifiably dude apartment. I imagine it was full of furniture probably salvaged from street corners that was peppered with bowls of dried mystery food sitting abandoned in forgotten corners of the Como apartment. Maybe I’m making all that up, but dudes are dudes so it’s probably true. Anyways, I’m pretty sure there was a guitar in his hands, or at least guitar hero. Either way, he is here now with a handful of albums under his belt with his group Dichotomy. They just released their second full-length album Subterranean (that you can pick up here). Check out what 1/3 of the group Alex “Kauffy” Kauffman has to say about the songwriting process, Valleyfair and Mars.

1. How did Dichotomy get started?

Joe Laurin and I were roommates in Dinkytown a few years ago. I had a guitar and a violin, he had a keyboard. We just messed around for fun, but we did it every day to the point where we started to learn how to use blues scales and improvise. We eventually learned how to produce our own multi-track recordings, and then eventually got confident enough in them that we made them public and released them online.  We started to figure out how to book shows for ourselves, and we’ve been a live act ever since.  We joined up with Nick Shvetzoff about a year ago, he was the perfect compliment to what we already had going on.  Joe and I were always able to play together really well, but we always had to plan out the backing track beforehand and that was a bit stifling.  Nick can control and improvise percussion and other sounds along with Joe and I, so every piece of the band is interactive with one another live.  It’s exciting to have reached that point.
 

2. What is your songwriting process like?

It can be different each time, and we are always coming across new starting points.  It used to be a lot of recording a part, sitting back and listening to it, and then going back in and adding another part and then repeat.  But a lot of it comes out of our jams too.  We jam to get ideas and riffs out, and then we can hone in and build an actual track around the good bits.  After the “meat” of a track is recorded/sequenced, we’ll usually just listen to it for a good week or two to see if there is anything screaming at us that is supposed to happen, or not.  We are really quick putting out new ideas to start something but are pretty slow and deliberate when it comes to actually finishing the track and finalizing it.

3. If you could go to Valleyfair with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Jimi Hendrix.  It would be fun to see what he’s like riding a roller coaster.

 

4. You just released your second full length album “Subterranean”. How has your sound mutated since the “Blue Flame EP”?

It’s changed a lot but it’s also kind of come back around again. With the early EPs, we had more of a harsh, urgent sound. Occasional vocals. It was more guitar driven at the beginning. Heavy beats. Then we started adding a lot more violin and piano, and it started becoming much more like modern classical music.  Longer pieces with key changes and lots of parts and sections. Still dark most of the time, but slower and more drawn out.  That was where we were at when we recorded “Nocturnal”.  Since we’ve been playing with Nick and adding more synth and electric violin, it has shifted back more towards an urgent and heavy “live” sound.  Sometimes it’s simple, sometimes more complicated, but there is an energy to the rhythm.  There is much more of a live feel to it now than there was before.

dichotomy heart burger

5. I know it’s hard to choose between one of your latest sonic babies, but what’s your favorite song from “Subterranean” and why?

That’s tough…I’d have to say Tony Montana is my favorite as of right now.  It has a good balance of catchy and weird.  It’s has a nice melody to it, but at the same time you are never quite sure when the the loud and harsh sounds are going to lash out at you next.

6. What does the future hold for Dichotomy?

We want to try to play live as much as we can.  In the cities or elsewhere, whatever we can get going.  We’d like to make at least a couple more videos for the “Subterranean” album.  As far as new music, we always have new stuff cooking, but we’re going to be doing more singles and EPs for the time being.  We’ve spent a lot of the last couple years working on full albums so we are ready to change it up.

 

7. Would you rather compose a song alone on Mars or with a glass of whiskey with Frank Sinatra?

Alone on Mars all the way. I’m more into spacey shit these days. I like making music in solitude AND with a view, so that pretty well covers both.  I would have loved to jam with Sinatra, but he notoriously hated loud rock music, so he probably wouldn’t want to get down with us, since we are more or less an extension of that. Maybe not though. Just an educated guess.

7 Questions in Heaven with False Teeth

7 Questions False Teeth

If you’re tryinna get yo’ friction on, then you need to pay attention to False Teeth, a self-described hip hop/electric indie rock duo slash total QTs from Minneapolis. The duo is a pair of names you may have seen before at shows around town or somewhere on the Inter Web: Bobby Phisher of Bobby Phisher and Matt Sandstedt from I, Colossus and Jon Jones. Their debut album, Grapefruit, is coming out May 20th via Polkadot Mayhem. This is what they have to say about butts, Pokemon-inspired songs and one little know legend of Ja Rule.

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1. How did you all meet and decide to form a band called False Teeth?

we bonded over a similar appreciation for riddick movies and cinnibon flavored pinnacle vodka.

2. Describe the sound of your new False Teeth album using 3 emojis.

shrimp, top hat, pizza (Editor’s note: 🍤🎩🍕)

3. What is band practice like?

A lot of butt jokes and pointing. Also coffee. Because of everyones weird schedule we usually practice in the mornings on friday. Pre-gaming beforehand.

4. You’re releasing an album called “Grapefruit” soon. What’s the weirdest song on your album?

“Red Barrels Explode” forsure. The hook is in 7/4 time and theres a lot of pokemon involved. We wanted to make a song about tweaking out on video games and in that fashion we had to make it really weird.

IMG_9346-2

5. If you had to pick one artist to collab with from NOW THATS WHAT I CALL MUSIC 10, who would it be and why?

Ja Rule. Anyone that has beef with fiddy cent is a friend of ours. Ja rule is a rare breed of person who has done nothing but try to better the lives of people around him. Whether it be through his music his acting or hamster-esq smile Ja is for the people. He really revolutionized the way we think about all white furniture in music videos as well. Taking a step back though we see thats just the tip of the ice-berg. In 2003 he donated 1.3 Billion dollars to Doritos in hopes they would continue the # dimensional line of snacks, unfortunately they declined his request and left him bankrupt. With no where to turn, young Ja was faced with a choice, turn back the only snack that had ever truly trusted or pick up the mic and try again. So a year later in 2004 against all odds Ja Rule got back on the reins and released Sprite Remix soft drink to much critical acclaim. To this day Ja Rule has sold more soft drinks then any other musical artist known to man.

6. If you could have one celebrity star in a music video for a song off of “Grapefruit”, who would it be and why?

Rick Moranis. He is the key master. False Teeth is the Gate Keeper.
rickmoranis

7. What is your wildest dream for False Teeth?

Guns and Ammo Magazine Front Cover. Also, this is not exclusive to False Teeth but it is our dream to live in a world where avocados never go bad.

7 Questions in Heaven with Isobel Trigger

7 Questions Isobel Trigger

Isobel Trigger is a synth pop band from Victoria, British Columbia. Recently freaking out over their first radio airplay on a station up north, they have secured a bunch of festival gigs this summer and are well on their way to taking over that friendly country above the good ol’ U.S. of A. Check out what they have to say about doughnut holes, Craigslist, and Hot Hot Heat.

1. How did you guys start as a band?

Felicia: Brett (our guitarist) and I met in music school and we met Ariel and Kyle through online dating for bands (aka craigstlist)!
Ariel: Yeah, I remember walking into some weird warehouse that was their jam space for my audition, in a really industrial area of town. It was totally sketchy but obviously worth it in the end!

2. What’s your favorite snack during band practice?

Ariel: Tim bits (that’s doughnut holes for you Americans out there) and/or sushi!

Felicia: It’s not uncommon for one of us to be late and call to take dinner orders from the others. I like sushi because it’s light and easy to sing after eating… and… well… who doesn’t like doughnuts?
omg it's true
omg it’s true

3. Tell me about your upcoming EP Nocturnal. Exactly how cosmically awesome will it be?

Felicia: Well, we are aiming for astronomically awesome, as in shooting for the moon, literally (you’ll have to watch our video for Tiger Shark to get that joke). We plan on releasing a video for each song and you can expect lots of gritty synth, creative dance beats and unique vocals on top of our usual dirty guitar and funky bass.
Ariel: We are very excited to birth our EP baby into the world.

4. I don’t know anything about Victoria, BC. What’s the music scene like there?

Felicia: Victoria is the beautiful capitol city of BC! Actually it’s great here and the music scene is booming!  We have so many music festivals it’s hard to keep track!  Rifflandia, Tall Tree Festival, Rock The Shores and many more.
Ariel: It’s really amazing because the city is big enough that there are so many festivals and great events and no shortage of talent, but small enough that the music scene is really a community.

5. What has been the coolest moment of your music career so far?

Photo by Sean Behnsen
Photo by Sean Behnsen
Felicia: So far this year (young as it may be) has been our busiest and we’re thrilled with the momentum we’re gaining.  If I had to pinpoint it to a moment, I’d have to say hearing our songs on a major radio station (The Zone 91.3) has got to be the highlight. The coolest DAY was when we found out that we were Zone Band of the Month, playing Tall Tree and the Royal Theater, all on the same day.
Ariel: On that day I cried and had to be put in an isolation chamber. Then I was ready to rock.
Felicia: *Some facts may be exaggerated #dramaqueen

6. Hot Hot Heat or The New Pornographers and why?

Ariel: Hot Hot Heat duh because they’re from Victoria!
Felicia: Hot Hot Heat!  Because they’re also from Victoria and they really know how to bring it live.  Not that The New Pornographers don’t, but we’ve got a soft spot for the Heat’s quirk-rock ways and Steve Bays with his awesome fro and big energy.
hot hot heat brings back so many 11th grade memories
hot hot heat brings back so many 11th grade memories

7. Which pop star has had the most influence over your sound?

Felicia: Currently I would have to say our “band favorite band” is Metric.  We just think they’re the coolest and even though we all have different musical influences, when it comes to picking an album to listen to on road trips together, Metric gets the winning vote.
Ariel: Does Metric count as a “pop star” though? I’m going to have to go ahead and say Justin Timberlake for this one, since I think that N*Sync are the bomb, and I think that we are really in sync with each other.
Felicia: *facepalm … but JT is my hero, can’t lie.

7 Questions in Heaven with Illab

7 Questions Illab

I first met Illab (government name Jake Stone)  in 2007. I was living with four other people in a complete shithole apartment in the Marcy Park neighborhood during my sophomore year of college. We threw parties three nights a week and let people ash their cigarettes wherever because it didn’t matter/fuck the man/19 year olds are disgusting excuses for human beings. Anyways, two of the people I shared rent with were high school friends of Illab’s. Many a cold winter night we found ourselves drunk off of Karkov and kitchen dancing to the musical stylings of Britney Spears’ “Blackout”. It was fuckin’ magical.

I still remember standing in the kitchen and talking to Illab about what I think was his first ever EP The Ramen Cookbook. My first thought was “that title makes me hungry, what’s 4 dinner” and my second thought was “that’s really cool he makes music”. Years later, Illab has still been stomping ground at rap battles and on his own releases Spare Change and It’s All Been Said Beforethe latter of which was produced by Dimitry Killstorm, who’s album Whittier Alliance with Hapduzn was a huge hit in 2013. Illab’s latest album, Good Life, Life’s Good, Worth Living is coming out this year, so I decided I better ask him some fun questions before he gets so famous that Kanye offers to watch his cute ass dog while he’s on a world tour.

1. How long have you been spittin’ mad game and sonically blowin’ up minds?

First of all the way you word these questions amazing. I started rapping when I was 15. It started with just dumb freestyles, and evolved into recording. I actually still record with the first person I ever worked with, my friend Tim Rodine. We recorded on a five dollar mic, and a program my friend stole from a juvenile work house. Over the years we’ve built quite the studio. I also came up in the wake of 8 Mile.  My friends still text me to this day when they are watching it. For the record I think Eminem lost to Lotto in the 2nd round.  At that time everywhere I would go people wanted to battle. I just happened to be better at it than most of them.
Without getting too off topic I feel I had a very “traditional” introduction to hip hop.  Nowadays I feel it’s straight to making videos, and recording which is also making the younger generation more talented, they have access to a lot more outlets.  These kids coming out are  so damn polished. This will make me feel old but back then it was more [about] who could freestyle, and we would shut whole house parties up while battling.
Long story short, [it’s been] a little over ten years. I’ve only been decent for the past 3 years. Kind of got sidetracked.

2. If a rainforest animal could describe the spirit of your music, which animal would it be and why?

I think 90 percent of rappers would be like “I’m a tiger yo,” then do one of those cute lil rapper noises that makes them appear tough. I’m going to have to go with a Howler Monkey.  They are known for their deep calls that they do. I’ve been told that my voice is my strongest attribute musically. I would agree with that. Some people will say I’m dope, some will say average,  some may even say I’m weak. One thing thats for sure is you can definitely tell it’s me on a song by my voice. My spirit animal is a Howler monkey. Repping it.

ILLAB OF THA JUNGLE

3. You have a new album coming out. Take us on a short stroll through the album.

I do have a album coming out. Fun fact: I actually finished this album a year and a half ago. Then I moved my friend out to LA. We had lunch on the Santa Monica pier where I saw Lenny Hoops, a street corner performer who seemed to be scaring the tourists. But damn, dude was putting his soul into it.  No audience, just belting original songs about random topics. Here I was acting bitter about music; it wasn’t fun anymore. I made the decision to scrap my whole album at that moment. Music needs to be something I enjoy otherwise I have no business rapping.  Started over [and] Good Life, Life’s Good, Worth Living came from that. In my opinion it’s my best work by far. It’s a taste of projects to come. I got a lot of my friends on the album so that makes me happy.

4. If  you were struck by lightning, what song would you want playing during the ambulance ride?

MGMT-Electric Feel.

First off when something bad happens I try to make light of it. I wanted to keep it modern, otherwise it would be that one song where they chant “it’s electric”. I dig this song alot though. Good vibes, flashing lights, drugs, and surrounded by strangers.  Sounds like plenty of parties I’ve been to.

5. Your dog is so fucking cute. Do you have any plans to sample his bark? If not, can we collab on a song where we sample dog barks and become the coolest people alive?

Can I start this out by saying my dog is the shit. I love that dude, my whole day is planned around making sure he is good. Up until our recent twitter conversation I had no plans to sample his bark. I definitely want to be one of the coolest people on earth. If sampling his bark and doing a song with you will make that happen, let’s run game.  We could even ask Existing Trend to get in the mix with his dogs as well. The sky’s the limit really.

dog

6. We met because you used to party at my house in 2007 when all I played was Britney’s “Blackout” album. Who is your favorite female pop star and why?

And for the rest of my life I will always associate Britney and iPod boomboxes with you. I’d give anything to live one of those weekends again. So much fun. Right now I’m really digging Lana Del Rey. That’s probably the cool thing to say, but I love her voice and her slight hint of sarcasm in the songs she writes. If I have to pick from the elite female pop singers it would be Beyonce or Rihanna. They are both amazing performers. It says something about a artist when you can feel their energy through a tv screen. Locally my favorite pop group is yours, DENNIS. Over the years I feel like I’ve watched you find your identity when it comes to music, and it will be fun to watch where it takes you. (editor’s note: thank u and BRB blushing 4 ever)

7. Who is your greatest non-musical inspiration to your art and why?

I can’t pick one so all of my friends and family. By far. I consider myself very fortunate to be surrounded by these people in my life. My siblings all have beautiful familes, I have a wide variety of friends that come from all walks of life. I’ve watched people battle cancer, poverty, troubled childhoods, and still smile. They are a bunch of goddamn soldiers to be honest. Most of these people have no clue how amazing they are. 90 percent of what I write is inspired by them in some way, shape or form. I strive to mirror the company that I keep when speaking about being a good human.

7 Questions in Heaven with Christopher Michael Jensen

7 Questions CMJ

Meet Christopher Michael Jensen, a Twin Cities rapper here to tell you about his favorite three male-named actor, his musical evolution and the grossest thing that’s ever happened to him on a stage.

1. Why did you start making music?

I started really getting into hip hop when I was 13 back in 2000 around the time Napster first came out and my 17-year-old brother was playing a lot of hip hop around me. He was kind of doing some silly rap stuff with his friends, and then I just kind of started writing silly rap stuff, too, just for fun, I guess. Then my brother installed this music program on our family’s computer called ACID that his friend had where you could make beats with pre-existing loop packages. Once I started messing around with that, I started recording songs with our home computer mic. I rapped in front of people for the first time live when I was in 8th grade at my brother’s SnoDaze high school talent show with him and his friends. I just sort of stuck with it, and after a couple years started taking it more seriously. I made a handful of homemade albums. This whole time, too, I just kept digging more and more into hip hop with my brother, buying and downloading all of the classic albums, exploring the underground, going to shows, and learning about the history of the culture. I just became obsessed with it more and more as time went on, so it only made sense that that would become my main thing. It allowed me to express anything I wanted to, so that was really big for me. It seemed like you could do anything with the sound of the music and beats, too, which felt really freeing and exciting to me. The possibilities with hip hop I thought were limitless.

2. If you could be any other three male named celebrity (Johnathan Taylor Thomas, Neil Patrick Harris, etc.), who would it be and why?

Hmmm. I actually Googled three-named male celebrities because I couldn’t think of a lot off the top of my head. Then I came across James Earl Jones and Billy Dee Williams. Star Wars is probably my favorite movie series of all time, so it seems only fitting that I should probably be one of them. Lando Calrissian’s cool, but Darth Vader is sort of the most epic villain of all time, so maybe James Earl Jones. On the other hand, Lando ended up being the one responsible for destroying the second Death Star, which in turn saved most of the main iconic characters from getting blown up on Endor’s second moon, so I would be a pretty big hero in the mythology of Star Wars if I was Billy Dee Williams. Then again, Vader killed Emperor Palpatine, which ended the Galactic Empire, so maybe that was a bigger deal. Alright, James Earl Jones. Yeah, let’s go with him.

james earl jones

3. Describe the music scene where you live.

There’s constantly something going on in the music scene in the Twin Cities. If you want to, you can almost always go to a show somewhere every night of the week. The amount of rappers and artists here is ridiculous, too. It’s crazy, because I just happened to be from the same city that has such a rich hip hop history and is really, really renowned all over the country, and even the world, for it’s great hip hop. Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Eyedea, Doomtree, and others really blazed a trail for independent hip hop, and so now this town is sort of a mecca for it. What’s interesting is I think a lot of people who do rap in the scene kind of got into hip hop because of discovering sort of this “alternative” hip hop that Minneapolis is so known for kind of putting on the map, but I was already rapping before I even knew who Atmosphere and Rhymesayers were, so I already had it in my mind that I wanted to be a rapper. Where I was geographically was just lucky. I worked on music and performed at like talent shows and school events throughout high school, but it wasn’t until I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2009 that I was really like “okay, now I can focus all of my attention on really getting out there in the actual scene and doing music full time.” By that point, I was 22 so I knew I had to start busting my ass to make as many connections as possible and really figure out what networking and doing shows in the scene was all about. The first few people I met in the local scene I learned a lot from in terms of kind of how a show is put together, how promotion works, etc. I used to go to a lot of open mics, too. Once I sort of got plugged in a little bit, I spent as much time trying to put all the pieces together. At the end of the summer of 2011 is when I really fell in with a group of people that were extremely passionate about just living hip hop 24/7, hanging out and freestyling, partying with other artists, going to shows together, and it was that family dynamic I found in the music scene that literally changed my whole life. The community in this scene, or at least pockets of it, are really like a family. I’ve seen some ugliness in the scene, too, but any negative experiences I have come across are far outweighed by the tremendous energy that exists in the Twin Cities hip hop scene to just have fun, connect, and make amazing things happen – there’s truly nothing like it. Virtually all of my friends these days are in this community and that has made a tremendous difference in my day to day life. Not to sound pretentious, but I actually have a hard time explaining it to people who are on the outside and don’t live in this world. It’s very, very unique. Hip hop and just music and art in general are like the core of what bind us all together, so we all share that common factor. It’s beautiful.

4. Who is the one artist dead or alive you would want to feature on a track?

eminem

There’s a lot of people I love and admire in not just hip hop, but all genres of music. But if I had to pick just one, it would probably be Eminem because he’s my favorite emcee of all time, starting way back from when I first started rapping. I spent years scouring the Internet to literally get MP3’s of every song he ever made or did a guest appearance on, and there’s a LOT of those. I dissected his lyricism and rhymes more than any other rapper growing up, and that’s saying something since I pride myself on the expansiveness of my music library. He is a master rap technician with just an unbelievable ability with words, rhyme patterns, and flows. Plus there’s just so many angles of him as an artist that I love: the darkness, the sense of humor, the ability to make songs with so many different kinds of emotions, the anger, the weirdness…I just adore Eminem. For him to leave the kind of mark he has on hip hop and culture in general is something that I really aspire to do myself in my own way.

5. I know as an artist your favorite song probably changes a lot. But if you had to pick, which of your songs is your favorite right in this moment and why?

We’re talking about my own songs, right? Probably “Tie-Dye Sky.” That’s the one that’s gotten the most attention from people it seems like, and the one that’s been the most visible. That track has a really interesting beat produced by Megan Hamilton that speeds up as it progresses, and then sort of slows down again later, and that’s actually pretty uncommon for a rap song to change tempo like that, so it’s unique in that way. Lyrically, I was able to do a lot of cool things with it in terms of flows and rhyming, and it covers a lot of different feelings and emotions, so it sort of encapsulates a bunch of things about me and my life. It also has a chorus I really like where I get to sing, which is something I like to do a lot in my music in addition to just rapping all the time. I know a lot of people who have been really moved and inspired by that track and its message, too, so that’s really touching to me. I couldn’t be prouder of that whole song honestly, and the video I made for it with Elliot Malcolm blew me away when I first saw the final cut of it. Very dear to me, indeed.

6. What is one common theme throughout your lyrical content?

Trying to find happiness in life when faced with so much depression and feelings of loneliness. Being your own person and really trying to follow your dreams and making them a reality despite the odds and not settling for less than that. That’s something that’s been in my raps pretty much since the beginning, mainly because I try to infuse my own feelings and life experiences into my music a lot of the time, and that’s something I’ve had to wrestle with internally for years and years.

7. What’s the grossest thing that’s ever happened during a live show?

I can’t think of anything TOO gross, but you know what’s just gross in general? Tonsil rocks. You know, those white particles that form in the back of your throat that sometimes you cough up? If you smear them they have like THE most putrid smell, too. There’s been a few times where I’ve been rapping during shows and I get kind of dehydrated and those things get spit up in my mouth and it’s nasty. So there you go. 🙂