1) Tell us something about yourself that your fans may not know.
A: There are probably 1,000 unreleased songs left on my cutting room floor the last few years. I bet that no one has any idea how often I write and how many ideas I actually record, because I only release a big conceptual album every couple of years and tend to set aside the rest. We’re going to change that in 2020. I’m going to be releasing the songs I record in between my conceptual projects for the first time in my life. We Were Only Kids Then sets off the beginning of this new era.
2) How did you start making music?
A: Starting in probably the fifth grade, I wrote lyrics without any music in my drawing pads. I would just hear words that would pop into my head and would have a certain meter and rhythm. I wanted to be a sketchbook artist back then, that was my dream, so naturally I just filled those notepads with half drawings and half lyrics. Eventually that transitioned to writing poetry, then transitioned into an older brother figure of sorts recommending I go buy a hip-hop album by a group called Black Star, which then turned into me writing raps over beats, battling for fun locally, and eventually to me working hard to document my life in song form as it happens.
3) Who are some of your musical influences?
A: The rapper Eyedea is one of the all time greats in my book. I grew up on everything from Talib Kweli and Kanye to Bob Dylan and the Beastie Boys, and even contemporary poets like Buddy Wakefield. I always look for inspiration more in great writers then I do within the confines of any genre. I think great writing is why I fell in love with music to begin with. Some newer artists that have been inspiring me especially through their lyrics are Lucy Dacus, Watsky, Phoebe Bridgers, Brother Ali, J. Cole, Chance. So many more.
4) How would you describe your music style?
A: It’s all about the words for me. I want to tell the stories of my life experiences in a way that can hopefully help other people who go through the same things I experience. I think the genre of my music is a little hard to pin down. Let’s call it alternative rap for now.
5) How did you come up with the idea for your new song 'We Were Only Kids Then?'
A: My old friends are all on different life paths, and it’s pretty surreal how those identities clash with who we were in the past. There is a girl who I used to climb on rooftops in Ithaca NY with and took wild, adventure-filled road trips with who is now becoming a doctor. My buddy who I used to recklessly sneak through backyards with every Halloween in our small town now has a serious job managing people’s finances. I know a guy who used to play in hardcore bands and chainsmoke cigarettes in wood-paneled basements who is now a corporate lawyer. The list goes on. I feel like I’m still largely the same, still rapping and performing my songs the way I was at the beginning of my young life, and I want to remind everybody that we’re just kids posing as adults. ‘We Were Only Kids Then’ is meant to be a reminder that growing up is an ongoing process, there’s no arrival point, and we’re just as wide-eyed and incomplete now as we ever were.
6) What was it like sharing a stage with Mac Miller?
A: Sharing a stage with Mac Miller before he passed away is one of my fondest musical memories. Mac’s career was reaching a new level at the time; the venue was sold out to the point that they called the fire marshal because Mac Miller packed the place so hard. Unforgettable. All of my New York friends were there, it’s one of the biggest venues I’ve ever been lucky enough to play, and that was the first show of mine where strangers knew the lyrics to my songs so I’ll genuinely always remember it. I remember meeting Mac backstage behind the giant Ithaca State Theatre curtains before he went on and performed his set. He seemed humble and cool, though I wish we got the chance to speak longer and on a deeper level. His art inspires me. I’m looking forward to listening to Circles, and Good News is a beautiful track. Mac Miller was a real luminary for any regular kid who wants to make music or art. Rest in peace.
7) How do you plan to expand your fanbase in 2020?
A: I want to meet and get coffee with everybody who listens to my music someday. I’m starting to make that official this year with a series of listening parties, either in coffee shops or small venues, where I can shake my fans’ hands and put on a small performance. I’d love to make this a recurring tradition for each single and throw a live show celebration with every new song I drop, as there’s a whole stack of new music about to come out. Let’s make these shows and listening parties happen outside of New York, too. It’s my longtime dream to do a full tour of the US and eventually travel overseas and up to Canada for shows. Some places I definitely have on my list and hope I can pull off later this year: Seattle, Nashville, Boston, Michigan, Chicago, Florida, Oregon, and California.
8) Where do you see yourself at the end of the year?
A: At the end of 2020, I’d be super pumped if my fans know the lyrics to the new songs that I’m going to release this year, and I’d love to be happy with the amount of music that I put out in the previous 12 months when looking back. I hope I’m energized but exhausted at the end of the year, because I want to get out there a lot more, share more, post more, play more tour dates this year, finish more rough drafts, and I want to launch the next big conceptual project right after this series of singles wraps up. Maybe it’ll be an EP or maybe it’ll go straight into an album, but I’ll keep that announcement on hold for now. Let’s grow this family throughout 2020 so that 2021 can be even crazier.
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