You’re getting ready to release your new album, Flagged Channel.
I can’t wait!
And this is your first album you’re releasing in about seven years?
Yeah, it’s been a while. I’m excited with this one. I feel like I’m new and improved.
Why has it been so long since you’ve released a new album?
Different changes, different management. Things like that. I kind of experimented with rap for a little bit. I kind of wanted to get that out of my system, learn my craft a little better. All of that just led us to this album now; I think this is going to be great! The stuff I got now is like on another level.
Well, the album does sound incredible!
I can’t wait for everybody to hear it. What songs have you heard already?
I’ve actually heard the entire album.
Oh yeah, so you know what’s coming!
Oh, I do! I love [the song] Devil in Disguise. I love Bullet too and Live Your Life – that’s a great one too.
Oh yeah. [laughs] That’s the new single that just dropped right now. Devil in Disguise features Munky from Korn. He came through and killed it! That right there, to have a legend like that on the track, that just makes it even more epic.
It does and that’s so amazing. I was going to ask, how does it make you feel to have Munky a part of your album?
It’s amazing.It’s like a dream come true, you know? Especially coming from rap. It’s incredible for me to have somebody that respects my craft in that way to come join me on the track, especially from the rap world– that’s insane! I grew up on them, I saw their name carved in desks in high school and stuff like that. So, that’s a dream come true.
Yeah. When I was researching you, you were talking about that.
[laughs] Yeah, you know, when I was younger I’d see that, I’d be like “Man, what about these people make them want to carve the name in the desk?!” [laughs] Even growing up on rap, we ain’t feel like carving Tupac’s name in the desk, you know? [laughs]
How do you feel you’ve grown as an artist over the last 7 years?
Oh, just so much. I know structures now, I know how to make a better chorus. I know how to kind of play with my voice and things like that a little better. On my last album, it was more-so screaming throughout the whole album. This one, I dropped down a bit on the verse; I learned how to build up– I kind of bring everything I learn from live shows and sprung it into this album because I want you to feel that energy that you would feel live.
How do you feel the energy on Flagged Channel represents you?
It represents my balance, both sides of me [from] the rap and the Rock world. It’s like, the voice thing, the changes in it, it’s so different because I learned when you performed Rap, it’s more “chill” and sometimes, you’re so chill in the studio and people love the chill rap sounds where your voice will be chill, but the beat will be going. But then when rappers get on stage and perform live, they start screaming a little bit more because the energy, you know, your adrenaline is rushing, so you aren’t as laid back as the track is. But in Rock music, you can build it up and scream and everything. So, that’s why I was learning those different parts of it, it was just helping the process of making this.
This next question is my favorite one to ask everyone I interview. In my perspective, music is alive, there is movement, certain dynamics, the incredible energy and it doesn’t matter which genre of music, there’s just an energy to it nothing else has. How do you feel that you brought Flagged Channel to life?
I just have a different process of making music because I know some people, they usually have the lyrics written already. That’s what I’ve learned is that some people have the lyrics written and then go in the studio and play those lyrics on a track. For me, I got to hear the music first, then I can write to it. I think that makes it more real for me because I made it within that moment. And in Rock, it’s easier for me to bring it to life when I’m coming through live and you can feel it when you hear it in the tracks in the studio because it’s just natural from that moment.
This is another question I love to ask. Watching Dimevision inspired it – there was this video where he was talking in the mirror about how music has an honesty to it, it’s real, but no so much now because you can go back and correct everything with Autotune, Pro-Tools, etc etc. There are guitar riffs and vocals that may make you cringe that are on your album because they’re out of tune or something, but for everyone listening to it, it could be their most favorite part of that song… What are some of your most honest and raw moments you’d say you had on Flagged Channel?
I’d say, my screaming at some points, those little small parts where I’m screaming, you can see my voice is like raspy and cracks a little bit. I think that’s the real part about it because you can hear the process from my 7 years off of me building back up my screaming voice. [laughs] Because when you rap, you’re chill when you rap, so my voice kind of lost that strength for a while. During this process of recording, I had to build that strength back up. When you hear those little cracks and everything, I think those are little honest moments that builds back up to getting where I am.
That’s what makes it so special.
Yeah. Some days I come with my voice raspy and I need me some honey and tea and all that. But yeah, that’s the honest stuff right there, I really like that.
What are some of your most meaningful and honest lyrics on your new album?
That track I got on my album, Do or Die, that one right there is basically straight lyrics from the heart because it represents that split I have, you know, like do I say too much or do I want to keep it real on hood stuff. But I feel conscious and I know what’s going on, so I want to be smart as well at the same time. You listen to Do Or Die, that represents a lot of me.
I feel like that’s just ‘me’ on record and everything I have inside on record. That just got me right there because all of those words, you really listen to them, it’s a description of a battle within myself, a battle within from where I’m from, my community, a battle for wanting to represent in a certain way, for also wanting to teach the people something, teach the people to think on a higher level and see what’s going on. That one right there is just a bunch of mixed emotions and everything on that. I really love that song.
How do you feel your lyrics have evolved since you first became an artist?
I think, along the way, just got more poetic. Especially nowadays, you listen to interviews and all of that and podcasts and videos; I think diving into that stuff and learning and listening, I just learned new topics, new phrases, new ways of going about things and have found new words. I can get my point across poetic, but still where people can understand it now better than I used to when I was younger. When I was younger, it was more straight-to-the-point. [laughs] I didn’t really put it in an artistic way. I learned to put it in an artistic way because you could say something regular, but it’s the way you say it. So I learned how to do that.
I was watching a documentary with Public Enemy a while back and they were talking about how they are all about the messages within the music. What would you say are some of your most profound messages you have within your music?
I think Bullet does a good job of that because we’re just basically telling people – “use your bullet” – it could be creativity, it could be graffiti, could be dancing, your art.. But anything you do can be something to stand up against the powers that be– something that you don’t like. You can use your “Bullet” to get it out there and make your voice known in any way that you can. So, I think Bullet’s lyrics are real deep in that sense about fighting back in your way, you don’t always have to fight back with violence or fists or anything, but you can fight back in a way with a pen, in a way that could really do damage.
How did everything start materializing for you when you were writing? You mentioned earlier that a lot of artists you know already have the lyrics for them, which is something different to hear, it must be different between Rap and Metal?
The best way I can explain it is that music creates moods. Like yesterday, we came from a little hookah spot and being with my little bro and everybody and my girl, we were upset a little bit because the music was so chill, we were like, “hey, this is a hookah spot, why aren’t ya’ll playing trap or something like that?” And they were like, “we used to play trap, but the place turned a little too crazy.” [laughs]
You get what I’m sayin’? Music can really change the mood and once they change the music in there, they got more of a chill atmosphere and it was more [inaudible] the situation, but when they had the trap music, people were in there going crazy and it was like a different energy that they didn’t want. So I think that’s what comes across in my music is when certain riffs get played, I already know what to do for that riff. I already know what moods to create to it. So whatever is coming out from my producer, my man Mitch [Marlow], he did a great job with that. Once I heard what he did, I could create that mood and if I tell something, he knew exactly what kind of way it should be played to match that, you know?
What was that moment in your life that really sparked your passion for Rap, for Metal, for Rock?
I was rapping and everything when I was young already, but I had an ex-girlfriend in high school who I broke up with and I wanted to rap, but I couldn’t express that emotion the same way, so I took a Rock song and I sampled it. I was able to scream and do everything I wanted to do. [laughs] And I realized then, “Yo, this is the thing right here! I can get my emotion out.” You listen to Tupac, he rapped his emotions, but I took that emotion he was rapping for screaming. So I used to get on songs and scream. And I took it a whole other way and sometimes I’d rap and people would be like, “this is a rock and roll song!” All of that turned into what it is, it’s like a big growing process that turned me into what I am.
What have been some of the most magical moments that really have impacted you and have defined you as not only a person, but an artist as well over the years?
With this album [Flagged Channel], just life experiences in general, from being on a high with my last album and coming down off of that and having to find my way throughout and survive and everything like that. But really, those moments, just regular life situations, like money not being the same, things like that. Having to find ways to get my way back into the game, be creative, deal with this social media and internet where everybody is a rapper and everybody is an artist, you know? Trying to find your way through that, get heard, try to get Instagram followers, even though I don’t really like it. That type of stuff, you’ve got to do it, you get what I’m saying? Like I’m in the process right now, trying to build that up. I think all of that in general, just life helps me make my music– not one specific moment I can say.
As we previously talked about, thank you for wanting to become a Guitars For Vets ambassador. We are honored to have you come on board. What do you feel the importance is of having a program like this?
I think it’s super important and it’s amazing. It basically shows the power of music and it’s healing powers and how it can bring things together that can help people in different situations. Music turned into something so huge, it’s a part of people’s lives, it helps people’s lives, it betters people’s lives and for me to be doing something creatively to even be asked to be a part of something that can help people, I’m happy for that.
We really thank you for wanting to be apart of it. What does it mean for you to be a part of Guitars For Vets?
It means a lot to me. I was asked to do it – that’s just crazy on my part! [laughs] Because my music from young to now, it’s going to be put to help somebody in a situation, help Vets, that’s huge right there. It’s hard to put it into words, so I’m just ecstatic about it.
What we’re all about is the healing power of music – would you share any experiences where creating music has really gotten you through a dark time?
Oh yeah. Being young and going through girl problems. [laughs] And [inaudible] through Usher – listening to Confessions has you all in your feelings. Stuff like that. [laughs] That was one right there, sitting there like a little punk listening to Usher and singing songs, so that’s one moment I could remember. When you’re angry, you blast Rock music, that helped me out.
Those are all of my questions, unless you would like to say anything else?
Check out my new album, Flagged Channel. The music video is out and thanks for having me be a part of this. Much love to the Vets, much love to everybody rocking with me and rocking with this program. Thanks for having me!