How did you get started in music? Talk us through your journey
Before we start, I want to thank Rishma from I am Hip Hop Magazine for inviting me. I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to share my story. I was first introduced to music by my oldest brother. I remember whatever music he used to listen to, I also developed along the way.
My brother Jason used to play influences such as Mobb Deep, 2Pac, Biggie Smalls, Bone Thugs Harmony and Nas on the way to school. At one point his taste in music shifted to Trance for many years which ended up being the only genre I would listen to as well. Being only 8 years old I was pumping Tiesto, Cosmic Gate, Darren Styles, Styles and Breeze, the list goes on. I come from a musical background where both parents loved singing and my oldest brother who was DJing at events.
I guess making music happened after my parents divorced where I would have relatives from overseas (New Zealand) visit our family to keep us company during the summer holiday breaks. My nephew, Harrison who’s only a year younger than me, got me listening to HipHop again as he was writing raps and free styling over beats. He would send me 16’s which I was always excited to hear what he had created and since I’m competitive, I wanted to see if I could top his work. I began challenging him, sending my 16’s rapping over instrumentals too.
During one particular holiday he was over in Australia, we spent that summer searching for beats on soundclick and started writing raps together. My first raps were mainly disses but I remember coming across a wide range of beats where the instrumental resonated with my unspoken pain. I wrote a song when I was 14 which speaks to the experiences of watching my parents’ marriage collapse. A song dedicated to my mother, “Why did momma had to go now? She was the only one to hold me when I was feeling down” and “Raised 4 kids on her own whom we crowned, my ex dad was always out f***ing around”. My mum would go missing in the middle of the night because she was trying to find a way to commit suicide so we couldn’t see. I remember my brothers and I would go searching for her in the streets and begging her to come back home when we found her.
Writing songs became my voice in a silenced, traumatic home.
When I was at school, I was constantly fearful that if other students or teachers knew what was happening behind the scenes at home, the government would separate me and my brothers from our mother. So no one never knew, I kept it a secret which allowed the pain to grow and fester beneath the surface. I needed an outlet and that’s when I started to release these emotions lyrically. When I was 16, my mother noticed that I was taking Rap seriously as I had asked my oldest brother if he could gift me a microphone for my birthday.
My whole family was against my choice in music since they believed there was no future in that career. After graduating from high school I wanted to pursue a degree in Audio Engineering however I had pressure from my family, so I enrolled myself into Accounting. I was so miserable during my time at University and the only relief I felt was when I was writing raps. Instead of studying in the library or preparing for exams I devoted my time to working on my music. Eventually I got fed up, dropped out of university and found myself a job in order to afford studio time. This caused a lot of havoc in my family, so I persuaded them I would get into business with the hopes of opening my own café one day. With many years of experience I developed in the industry, I burnt out which led to my spinal injury when I was 21. For two years I was unable to walk and unable to work. My life was placed on hold. I felt lost and operated life with no purpose. However, time in recovery allowed me to realise that I had neglected my purpose, which is music.
Although your music does not focus on one genre, was there one particular genre that you started making music from? or got you into making music?
One of my earlier dreams was to become a DJ because I saw my brother Djing so I thought it was a cool thing to do. Although Rap for me, was like “Spoken Thoughts”, I used to listen to a lot of RnB music before venturing into the HipHop/ Rap genre.
How would you define your style?
I would define my sound as versatile as I don’t want to be trapped in one particular genre. The music I make is based on what inspires me to write and also what sounds I’m exposed to. I love discovering new / old music to listen to especially if it’s something I can relate to or others sharing their stories I’m all ears.
What have been your biggest challenges in the music industry?
Like any artist in this Industry you’re bound to encounter people who “Sell Dreams” to you and use it to take advantage of you. I used to be eager to get signed to a label but along the journey I’ve discovered there’s a lot to take into consideration like opportunities vs risks / fraud. Chances are if it sounds too good to be true, most likely that’s the case!
Where does your inspiration come from when you are making music? Is there a particular event, goal or person?
My inspiration starts with my personal experiences of struggle and pain, something I grew up with in my childhood days. I’m able to connect with J Cole, Nas, Prodigy of Mobb Deep as they guided me in how I wanted to deliver my music into the world.
In 2018 you were the top 2 finalists for the “All Access” competition hosted by Studios 301. Did this open doors for your music?
I believe that competition did serve me well since the opportunity shed light onto my music. I had the mindset of winning that competition so I’m not completely satisfied with the outcome although I’m grateful for it since it has only strengthened my purpose, my drive towards music. To know I had the mainstream artists many who I consider Idols on my page is pretty moving so it’s definitely an eye opener.
Who is your dream feature artist?
I would love to work with J Cole, Nas, Travis Scott and The Weeknd.
Tell us about your latest single “Simple”? Where did the inspiration come from?
I wanted to venture out of the trap scene and explore other genres. “Simple” was written in a way where I wanted people to feel good about their body, to feel sexy while listening. To be honest, “Simple” recalls when I used to go to strip clubs. My first experience was in Auckland, NZ where my cousins had taken me to.
I’ve always viewed “Dancing” as an art where the music directs how the body should move inspired by emotions.
Anyways I think the dancer knew it was my first- time because of how “Shy” I was and how I didn’t dare make complete eye contact. What ended up happening was she decided to take me on stage even though I kind of refused since I was shy however I went up and she began dancing for me. I remember laying flat on the floor looking up while she climbed up to the top of the pole reaching the ceiling and then suddenly dropping to floor level with so much control, it seemed so effortless to me. That night was a remarkable night for me since I remembered feeling good about myself and privileged because she had acknowledged me despite my shyness.
What other music have you got planned for the rest of the 2020?
There’s more of the unexpected, I guess you’ll have to wait and see but I have been working closely with my engineer Simon.
Finally, with the lockdown situation, how has it been for you and what advice can you give other creatives?
The lock down works out in my favour since I have the time to work on my music but most importantly connect with family, friends and also the listeners. One advice I would like to share with other creatives, is to stay true to your craft. Remind yourself of your purpose and understand this situation that’s occurring global is only a test of your resilience in life. Use the time to reconnect with yourself, keep yourself occupied through a routine schedule so you’re not just winging it and you actually have something to look forward to. “Setbacks are only preparations for what’s yet to come” and I know mental illness is a real thing so if you’re currently in hell, do not stop there! Keep moving, keeping working and fighting to get yourself out of there. You haven’t failed in life yet, you only fail if you’ve stopped trying. Life and Time is your advantage and your passion in music is your greatest asset.
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