Written Wednesday | Interview With Justice Hehir

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Justice Hehir is a second-year MFA Playwriting student at Hunter College under the direction of Annie Baker, Brighde Mullins, and Branden Jacobs Jenkins. She graduated from Rutgers in 2016 with a BA in English and Women’s and Gender Studies and a lot of debt. She’s from New Jersey and her plays tend to focus on the people who make up the pulp and substance of her life- working class, diverse individuals. She strives to write plays that reflect the multicultural, multiracial, multilingual society she’s grown up in. Her work has been presented by the Downtown Urban Arts Festival, The Secret Theater, The Magnet Theater, Torrent Theater Company, the Semicolon Theater Company, and the George Street Playhouse, among others.

 

As an intersectional feminist, what factors do you take into consideration when playwriting, especially in comedy?

The beauty, to me, of living your life as an intersectional feminist, is that it manifests in your work consistently. Because so much of my daily life has been and continues to be about unlearning prejudice, bias, heteronormativity, etc., the things that I find funny tend to be informed by those insights. That being said, I obviously am also a careful editor, because intent is irrelevant and you always need to be responsible for what you say, and unconcious bias is so important to address in the performing arts. When I write sketch comedy, in particular, it’s important for me to always understand why my audience is laughing; you can learn so much about people by what they laugh it, it’s ridiculous. What makes us uncomfortable (and a lot of comedy is about just that, discomfort) is a really intimate and powerful way to check in with ourselves and see where we are. The biggest victory in writing for comedy is watching people realize that they just saw a sketch that doesn’t rely on stereotypes, oppression, etc. and they laughed their asses off. I hate this idea that feminists can’t be funny… like I’m pretty fuckin’ funny. And the frustrating thing is, comedy itself is an underappreciated art form. There is so much power in laughter, at getting people to laugh at themselves and as society and its ills. Too often comedy is used to reinforce stereotypes and bias, and that kills me, because it can work so effectively to do the exact opposite. Not to claim all my comedic writing has a message; sometimes I’m writing sketches that are just weird, dirty, bizarre, farcical concoctions made to create laughter. Actually a lot of the time. But I like to think, especially in my plays, that my sense of humor is a means of connection with my audience.

You are a poet and a playwright. Do both mediums influence one another? Do you identify more as one than the other?

At the moment, I’m pretty much squarely planted in playwright land. I’m in my second year of a Playwriting MFA program at Hunter College in NYC, and that means I write a LOT of plays. Like all the time. Just for a single class this past semester, I had to write three Greek tragedy adaptations, and again, that was just one class. So much of my program has been to learn to treat writing like any other pursuit: something that you need to practice every day in order to be good at it. Writers tend to be precious about our craft and think we can only write when we are inspired. In fact, some of my best work has come from being pushed to write when I really didn’t feel like I had anything good zooming around in my head. When you write when you’re not feeling it, sometimes you hand the pen over to your subconcious, and they have so much to say. It’ll surprise you, for sure. That said, my poetry work absolutely influences my playwriting and vice versa; my forte tends to be group poems, and given the context of my work holistically, that’s not a big shock.

Describe your creative process when writing a play. How does that compare/contrast with your approach to writing poetry?

Every room I enter, every new space, I’m always asking, “what’s happened here? What does this room know?” I eavesdrop compulsively, I observe people often.

When I write poetry, it’s usually “me” speaking. I don’t do character pieces, it’s in the first person and that’s that. With plays, you have to open yourself up to all these characters you’re creating inside you and listen to them. It sounds self indulgent and bizarre, but I’m a channeler, as my professor has taught me to say. I channel the people in my plays and write down what they say. To be a playwright is to share your body and brain with all of these people you’ve thought up; you’re never alone. You spend your days in gestation, waiting to birth these characters, and while that might not be through labor, it can be painful in other ways. Letting another person out of you, I guess, is always painful. In a sense, I feel like I give birth through my fingers and chest. Characters are like babies in that you want what’s best for them, but then, at the same time, you can’t protect them. Protecting your characters makes for a boring story. You need to let them experience the world of your play for themselves, and that’s terrifying. Any kind of control I personally find terrifying. It’s a scary thing, to be in control of your own world, to create characters that you don’t like, to make people you feel are everything that’s wrong with the world. Sometimes, the only way to let our characters show how amazing they are is to let other characters shit all over them; sometimes the best way to change a bigot’s mind is by writing a bigot into your plays. Sometimes all it takes is an audience watching someone do something wrong to know what’s right. Theater, I think, like poetry, should make people uncomfortable. For me, whenever I feel discomfort, I know I have the opportunity in that moment to decide between two things: defensiveness and learning. I strive to write plays that encourage audiences to do the latter.

Describe a play you worked on and what you expected your audience to take away from it.

I wrote a short play a couple years ago with my friend that we performed together called “trash.” It’s about two women doing community service on the side of a highway, picking up, you guessed it, trash. To be frank, I don’t know exactly what I expected for people to take from it; I just knew I felt the piece was authentic and real to me, and so maybe it would feel that way for others too. Unlike in poetry, you really don’t get to show your hand; telling people what you think works so well in poetry, but in plays, not so much. No one wants to go watch a play where they’re told what they’re seeing, why it’s good/bad, and honestly, that would suck. That wouldn’t be interesting. With plays, you need to guide your audience to that water, that kernel of truth, that idea you had and got all excited over that made you write the play in the first place. In slam poetry, you can open the goddamn fire hose and go wild on them. I think there’s value to both, and I happen to love activist poetry that is explicit, honest, and direct. But in theater, you’re creating a story, not a message; there might be a message somewhere in the story, but if your audience knows exactly what it is, your play probably isn’t that good. That’s something so different than poetry, or at least, my slam poetry, which is up front and in your face. The other thing about these two mediums is the difference in time: in slam, you have three minutes. In the theater, you’ve got at least ninety. Obviously, if you’re trying to get a message across in three minutes, it’s going to have be more direct than a piece where you have ninety minutes. I live for all the little moments of connection and verisimilitude that make others feel less alone, and in that way, my plays absolutely mirror my poetry. On a lighter note, being in “trash” involved exposing my breasts and nipples to public audiences. This was the hardest part for me, not because I mind being naked, but because as a woman, we rarely get to control how others experience our bodies visually and physically. I knew every time we performed that to me, this act was celebratory and defiant, meant to normalize my body, but to some members of the audience, I was just showing them my tits. To some members of the audience, I was pitied, I was the sad young vulnerable girl so desperate for attention, so desperate to be edgy, that I took my shirt off. To some, I was about to become another disembodied, masturbatory image for the shower later. It’s so hard to not have control of that. I guess ultimately I wanted my play to make people think a little more critically about the complexity of women and women’s interactions. In that way, I think we were definitely successful.

Was not majoring in the arts a factor in applying for an MFA program?

Definitely. To be honest, if I had, I might not have felt I needed an MFA; but I studied Women’s and Gender Studies and English at Rutgers. I don’t regret that decision for a second; studying Women’s and Gender Studies was one of the best decisions I have ever made. My professors in that discipline gave me the tools I needed to better understand oppression, power, race, gender, and sexuality, and that is a huge part of who I am and the plays I write. But I know myself, and what I want to be, what I am, is a playwright. I was really hungry to hone my craft, and made the unusual decision to pursue my MFA straight after undergrad. I learned so much getting a BA about the world itself, but hadn’t learned much yet about how to write about it; after all, Rutgers has only one playwriting class and I took it my freshman year. My MFA program has been wonderfully vocational, in many ways, helping me write plays that are effective and powerful. Between the two, I finally feel like I have the education I need to move forward in creating work I feel is authentic and meaningful.

Tell us how you navigate advocating for others (POC, LGBTQ+ community, etc.) while you are in a largely white-claimed academic space.

I piss people off all the fucking time. I’ve chosen to live my life authentically and committed to intersectional feminism, and that’s not a part time job. When entering my program, I had to make the decision to be truthful to my values of inclusion or go with the flow (the arts can be VERY conservative), and I made my choice. I advocate by calling out any shit I see. That choice has made me wildly unpopular in certain settings. I’m either being reductive, a killjoy, “the real racist for talking about race,” mean, annoying, self righteous, a bitch, I’ve heard it all. And I don’t care. The only way the arts are going to change is if we continue to challenge institutionalized bias and power systems. I aim to use my privilege to disrupt Western/white/straight/male centric conversations. I have a seat at the table, and that’s a privilege, and I’m going to use it for good. I don’t mean that in a self aggrandizing way, nor do I mean to suggest I’m the only one doing this. I’ve been fortunate to be in a program that is an outlier in many ways because of its diversity of leadership and students, but that doesn’t make it immune from bias. Being in a rarefied space coming from a working class/ethnic white background can be very taxing. It’s hard to advocate for yourself in a world that feels like it wasn’t made for you. So I try to be truthful. I claim my difference and won’t let anyone forget it. I’ve worked really hard to feel comfortable saying, “No, I didn’t see any shows this week, I can’t afford it.” “No, I can’t go out, I have work tomorrow morning.” For a while, I was so scared to speak because I knew my class would slip out; now, I just let it happen. Being authentically me, I realized, was a radical act in and of itself. I’m not going to pretend to be a WASP or wealthier or classier than I am or less feminist than I am so I don’t make anyone uncomfortable. I’m just me, and I’m committed to helping make others feel they can do that too.

How do you feel being a woman in, what still is, a male dominated field?

Oppressed. But, you know, hopeful. I’ve been fortunate to have so many amazing women/WOC professors and mentors who have always made me feel that women have a place in this field. What’s hard is approaching an industry that still expects, in many ways, scripts by women to be unrelatable and too specific. I recently went to interview for a prominent writers group, and was shocked by how uncomfortable I was. I got there, and every other woman there was dressed up, like hipster dressed up. I was sitting there in my leggings, braless, with a messy, matted bun and realized I had not gotten the memo. There’s a pressure sometimes to be a Cool Artsy Girl. Every other woman was loudly expressing her style… which I am not trying to shit on. Everyone should do what makes them feel comfortable. But in that moment, in that space, that wasn’t the vibe I was getting, that everybody was just “being themselves.” Everybody was in full makeup, “quirky” clothes, laughing loudly, speaking about an octave higher than usual. I realized there is still an expectation, in this industry, to be interesting but nonthreatening, “fun,” and hot. Being a woman who writes well, in that moment, didn’t feel like enough. And being a young woman, too, just amplifies that in so many ways. People often assume you have no idea what you’re doing, and if you stick to your values and advocate intersectional feminism, you’re seen as being “too young to get it” or “still in that college phase.” It’s frustrating to be called naive just because other people are jaded as hell. But I lay low, I do my thing, and look to the amazing women before me who have broke through these barriers and follow their lead. My mom has always told me, since I was little, “Be your own girl.” Her refrain echoes in my head whenever I feel I don’t belong and gives me a gentle push to keep pursuing my truth.

What resources have you found most valuable during your time spent in higher education?

My most valuable resources have been my professors. I used to be so scared to connect with my them, and I felt for a while like I couldn’t ask for anything, like I was wasting people’s time. It’s actually really hard to have accomplished playwrights as professors, because so much of the time I was like, “But they’re amazing! What am I even doing here? How can I ask them to read my shitty draft when they are so perfect!?” As it turns out, most of the time, they are happy to help, and reaching out to them and asking questions has made a huge difference to me. They have challenged me, pushed me, and made me a better writer than any amount of praise ever would have. Also, financial aid… for real. I am enrolled in one of the most affordable MFA programs in the country, and I still needed help. It’s so important to advocate for yourself. Admitting you have financial difficulty does not diminish you as a writer or person. Don’t be embarrassed to ask. By being communicative, I was able to receive help paying my tuition, and that’s made a major difference for me.

If you were to encounter someone who was just embarking on a similar career path, what is one piece of advice you would offer them?  

As writers, its our responsibility to pull each other up, care for each other, and nourish each other. Find people who will do this for you. Kindness, compassion, and empathy can go a long way in competitive fields like theater in making people feel welcome and affirmed. Especially for women, we need to break down the myth that another woman’s success is our loss. Be authentic, be radical, and stake out your own path, knowing all the while this spark is inside you for a reason, and you owe it to the world to let it burn. It’s so important that the arts continue to evolve; the only way that will happen is that all of us who have felt marginalized by them start banging on their doors. And by the way, in case no one has told you recently: the arts are valid. Pursuing your art is valid. And look, I’m not saying it will be easy, because it won’t. Being an artist means just about always needing a survival job, which effectively means working two jobs: one that pays, and one that doesn’t, and both seem to demand all of your time. Remember that there are affordable MFA programs (check out CUNY schools) and some that are basically free if you get in (like Yale or Brown). Remember that even if an MFA isn’t an option for you, you are still a writer, and what you write is just as important and valid as someone with an MFA. Trust yourself.
Excerpt of “dear dashboard”

NELLA

I really wanna re-watch Fargo.
ALEX

Ok.
NELLA

Are you ok to hang out for a while?
ALEX

Yeah.
NELLA

And you’re ok re-watching it? Because you’ve already re-watched it with me.
ALEX

Slight pause. Yeah, of course/
NELLA

/You didn’t say yes right away though/
ALEX

/Yes! Yes. There are like very few circumstances under which I would say “no, I do not want to watch Fargo.
NELLA

Like what?
ALEX

Like….

Um. Like I guess if Steve Buscemi died? Like in real life. Like then I probably wouldn’t watch it for a little while just to like, be respectful. I just feel like it would almost be sacrilegious to watch the woodchipper scene.
A thoughtful pause.
NELLA

But wouldn’t he like… want people to remember him by watching the movie? I mean he’s fantastic in that movie. Like if I was Steve Buscemi in that movie, I would like insist people watch it to honor my life.
ALEX

Yeah.
A comfortable silence.
NELLA

Then maybe The Shining.
ALEX

Yeah! I’ve actually been meaning to do that for a while. Because of the pig-man giving the guy the blowjob. I have a new theory about that.
NELLA

Genuinely confused. What?
ALEX

You don’t remember that part?
NELLA

No.
ALEX

It’s at the end? Wendy is running through the hallway and she sees in the room at the end of the hallway this pig-man, like he’s in a full animal costume, going down on this guy in a tux, and then the pig-man looks up and makes like, direct eye-contact with Wendy.
NELLA

You’re fucking with me.

Read the rest of the play here

Read the rest of Dear Dashboard here

Written Wednesday| Interview With Jonathan Stamper

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Jonathan Stamper has been singing since he was 4 years old. He plays several instruments, writes and produces original music, raps, and acts. Jonathan has toured Portugal and Spain in addition to singing backup for superstar recording artist Sting. Jonathan is not only the Flagship Artist but is also the Vice President of Artist Relations for Block IV Entertainment and CEO of Dominant Collective, a networking and artist development company built for empowering young artists. He has performed at many local community events such as the city of Newark’s annual 24-Hours-of Peace event in which he wrote the song The Drug PSA. This song awarded members of Dominant Collective as the winners of the N.J. Shout Down Drugs competition.

If you are interested in hearing more of Jonathan Stamper, you can find his music on SoundCloud. Check out his album Summertime Vibes below. To find out more about him, continue reading! 

 

 

Tell us about your collective (Dominant Collective) and the role you play in it.

Well basically, Dominant operates as a community of creative people. We all bring different skills and styles together to collaborate on all kinds of projects. I’m the leader, the CEO. I’m also the artist that connects the rest of the artists to opportunities that will help them further their career.
What are the biggest factors that played a part in your growth as a musician?

Meeting my stepdad for sure. He opened me up to so many different genres of music. He’s also the person who got me to rapping and singing. I didn’t think it was possible before he told me it could work.

As a rapper and singer, how have you struggled with trying to balance and/or blend the two?

I always struggle, haha.. my goal has really been to blend them to the point where I’m so fluent in both that I flow seamlessly from one to the other, like Spanish and English. For a long time the balance was so hard to strike. But, I think there isn’t a perfect balance. You serve each song, album, and audience what they need at that given time. This makes every experience special.

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How does your faith connect with your music?

It’s really my foundation for everything. I try my best to tell honest stories and relate to everyone so everyone feels like they’re heard and understood. But, ultimately, I want them to know there’s hope at the end of every struggle we face. Jesus is that hope for me.

Tell us about your experience with connecting with the community in your hometown.

Honestly, I’ve always been about home. I want to travel the world, but the city that really shaped me is Newark. It made me who I am. I feel connected there forever so i want to represent them well. Not just that, but help to see the city thrive in any way possible.

How about outside of your hometown?

 I want to connect to the world. At the end of it all, I want to have a reach that is so much greater than me. So, if I can affect communities all over the globe and leave my mark in a positive way, that’s the best way to create a legacy that can stand the test of time.

You’ve performed at various venues across the country. How do you decide which venue is “worth” traveling out for?

It really depends on the kind of crowd, the influence of the event, and how much creative freedom i have. I just want to perform anywhere where true creativity is welcomed.

Your performances include a lot of high energy and crowd engagement. What is your advice to other artists in terms of being comfortable on stage and working a crowd?

If you’re not nervous, you’re in the wrong profession. But, know that once you start, you gotta be all in. Also, understand that every person won’t accept what you offer or match your energy. But, be unapologetically you no matter what and people will respond.

What your favorite record you ever recorded?

That’s hard man. All my songs are like my kids. But, if I had to choose one, it’d probably be a song called “Uptown”.  Even then, it would probably change if you asked me in a couple hours.

 

How important is it as an artist to have a manager and/or team behind you?

It’s crucial. No man is an island. Even the most talented people can’t see or perceive everything. We got to have people we trust to take on our vision and help us get to where we want to go. Otherwise, we won’t accomplish anything of significance.

Rate and explain the level of importance (in terms of crowd attraction) between singing/rapping a cover versus an original piece

I think putting your spin on someone else’s work is one of the most underrated forms of creativity. If you have a mind creative enough you can take anything and make it your own. Covers are one of the best ways to test those creative limits.

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How does sampling music/songs inspire you?

Sampling always challenges my creativity. I want to invoke a feeling of nostalgia with innovation whenever I sample an artist. I want to connect their story to mine and the audiences. So, the sonics of it are just as important in crafting a story as lyrics because music can take you to a place. That’s the beauty of sampling, taking you somewhere familiar and uncharted at the same time.

What should one look out for when doing something like this?

Be original. Don’t just copy what was done. Add your sound and your touch to what they did. Also, do the sample and the artist justice. If you’re going to take from their piece, make sure that it honors their work and is on par with it. That’s the best way to do it.

Do you have any advice for someone interested in pursuing the arts as a career? How can one know this is what they want/what is meant for them?

The best advice I could give someone in that position is to figure out if you really want it  or if you just want popularity and fame, because that’s not enough to sustain you. You have to have a deep love for your craft and a security about yourself to be successful.

The Other Side Of The Game: An Interview With Diya Drake

 

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Naadiya Drake

Age: 21

From: Willingboro, NJ

Singer, Writer, Rapper/Lyricist

Interviewed by Steven Ikegwu

How did you get the opportunity to become a radio host? How nerve wrecking was your first broadcast?

I was pretty anxious to get on the radio. I did some research on radio stations on the campus of Rutgers to see what their operating hours were, who I should call/email. When I found what I was looking for, I put on my shoes and headed to the Core’s location. From there, I got to speak to a couple of DJs who actually let me sit in on my show. After that, I made it my mission to complete all the necessary training for my own slot. I was pretty nervous for my own show, but it didn’t trump my excitement. I tried to make sure I was well prepared by familiarizing myself with the equipment/rules and putting my first playlist together the night before.

What factors do you consider when choosing to work with someone, both in music and in radio?

Pertaining to music, who I work and collab with has a lot to do with style. It’s all about the vibe and the sound. I believe music isn’t just something you hear, but something you feel. I want myself to feel it, the person/people I’m creating with to feel it, and the audience to feel it as well. In short, I like working with people who can use their art to create different atmospheres. As far as radio is concerned, I signed up in hopes of developing a platform that gives a voice to the unheard. While I like to play “what’s hot”, I also like to put the spotlight on artists who aren’t necessarily top 40. Whether they be local, independent or just working with a smaller audience, everybody deserves a platform to share their talent. A lot of my fellow DJs share a similar mindset and its nice to be apart of it. For both music and radio, there’s, of course, a certain level of professionalism and respect. I need to trust that you’ll respect what I’m doing (and I’ll do the same) in addition to respecting the physical, mental and emotional space.

Who are your musical influences?

TOO MANY to name but here’s a few off the top of my head: Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, India Arie, Lalah Hathaway, Queen Latifah, Sade, Solange, Kelela, Chance the Rapper, Chance the Rapper, Chance the Rapper, Chance the Rapper, Noname, Rapsody, The Roots, Kendrick Lamar (and many more but we’ll stop there)

 

You work in OSG and Divine Write. How do you express your individuality in collaborative projects?

I believe everyone plays a role in collaborative projects. You have to know that everyone is bringing something different. Whether it be my tone, choice of words or overall style, I just try to make sure that whatever I’m bringing meshes, but stands out at the same time.

What does OSG stand for and how did you and Naomi come together to form it

OSG stands for Other Side of the Game (like the song by Erykah Badu). Naomi and I were at TGI Friday’s after a performance with our friends and we were talking about how we always introduce ourselves as “Diya Drake and Naomi Jay” before we start. We still go by those names but if we were gonna continue to perform as a unit, it would be best to have a name that can be associated with both of us. We discussed possible names in the past but none of them really made us wanna jump on it. The idea of naming our group after a song by a huge musical influence seemed pretty cool. “Other Side of the Game” just fit. We hope that when people heard it, they would know off bat that we were trying to bring something different to the table.

What is your creative process like?

The creative process varies. I could be inspired by good conversation, an argument, or a crisis. I go for walks a lot and I often get ideas while doing so. I have a journal where I dump a lot of my thoughts. In some cases, I take what i’ve written and reflect on what I was feeling in that moment. From there I try to build off of those emotions. Other times, it’s not so structured. I like to free write as well. There are times where I just put on music and say whatever comes to my mind. It honestly depends.

Do you ever feel limited when it comes to performance venues because you and Naomi carry instruments along?

Yes! If it was possible, we’d have an entire ensemble everywhere we go, lol. Having our own equipment definitely makes travel a LOT harder but it’s an important part of what we do. I’ll always appreciate Naomi for bringing her keyboard along because it is definitely heavy. Hopefully as we expand, transportation of instruments and equipment will be easier, but right now we just make it happen the best way we know how. We always take location of the venue and spacing into account when it comes to our set.  

Did you ever receive any vocal training?

I’ve been apart of different choirs, but I’ve never had any private or one-on-one lessons. I am definitely looking into a vocal coach or taking lessons!

Interested to learn more? Check out OSG’s music on SoundCloud!

 

An Enigma in Entertainment: Interview With WeSingCin

Interviewed by SlayDaKing

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Photo taken by Marques Ruiz

Mr.y (mist(ə)rē), better known as WeSingCin, is a 22 year-old artist without a definite home. He was last seen drifting into the shadows after hearing the whispers of the Bad Magician.

To live one’s life as honest and true to one’s self is the mission behind WeSingCin’s music. It’s a direct line into the thinking process undergone throughout his day-to-day life. Growing up in a more than religious household, the foundation that was intended to be set forth was the distinction between a righteous or a sinful lifestyle. However, those two things are subjective. In choosing to speak on his own truths and being transparent within his work, WeSingCin hopes to challenge the belief of what, precisely, “living right” entails.

If any of you still have any concerns about Mr.y and where he disappeared off to, speak softly and listen closely.

soundcloud.com/wesingcin


What is your identity as an artist and how do you maintain it on social media platforms? Describe your creative process.

Id say my identity as an artist is that of a seeker who can’t let everyone in. This explains my social presence. I like to be unseen, at least, until I want you to see me. It’s very characteristic of myself, really. I don’t feel the need to document everything and upload daily updates because it takes away from the work. I know I should probably be trying to build more connections through social media but that’s just me again thinking my work will speak for itself when it all comes together in the end. But, we’re still in the process of working on this new project so I’m more focused on that at the moment.


Tell us how your style has grown over time.

I think my style has undergone a number of changes in the last 7-8 years. I remember when i first started rapping and recording I was sounding like some of my favorite artist at the time. J Cole had just released Friday Night Lights and I was really into Curren$y, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye, and Kid Cudi. So, of course, I wanted to make music that was on par with what they were doing. I was writing like real raps back then. And then, someone asked me “what’s the message you’re trying to convey”. At the time, I didn’t know. Being one of the best rappers wasn’t even on my mind either. I was just doing it cause I was having fun. From there you can kind of see that I went deep down that introspective rabbit hole trying to place as much meaning into my words.

As far as beat selection, I listen to a wide array of music from different genres so I think I pull sounds from that. I wanted to do something different and Kid Cudi is a huge influence in terms of being different. Seeing him collaborate with producers like Nosaj Thing and Ratatat put me on a different path where it wasn’t conventional Hip-Hop beats. Instead, TripHop, Chillwave, anything Downtempo and Lofi became what I found myself drawn too. So, overtime, the accumulation of these musical tastes helped blend together this sound.

How do you go about choosing who to collab with on a track?

In terms of choosing artists to collaborate with on my own content, I don’t often seek out features. I have this set idea in mind already, this image and moment I’m trying to recreate and it’s hard finding an artist to complement these ideas well. Not to sound as if I’m looking down on my contemporaries [Chuckles].  But, when I do get asked to feature on another’s work, I’m very open to that and connecting with other artist in that sense.

Your music has a heavy focus on lyricism. How important are the words you use in conveying complex imagery?

The words are the most important thing in my work. I’d want people to focus on that. Before writing, I had always been a visual person, seeing things in snapshots. I had to find a way to translate those images into something that might be understood differently. Each word is being used to describe the moment on a number of levels based off the senses. So, they are very important in properly capturing a moment.

Describe your aesthetic. How much does that factor into your artistic expression?

I’m unsure how I’d describe my aesthetic and it’s a factor into my music. I just try write what I feel. With visual representations of my music, I feel as though it’s bright on a surface level but the underlying feelings are darker when the music gets dissected.

As an artist, do you ever find yourself deciding whether a venue has the right vibe and platform for your art? How do you navigate this decision making?

In the past I think i just wanted to get my music heard. I’d be looking to perform anywhere any chance I got. But, gradually, I’ve sort of been taking a step back to be more calculated in terms of performances because the quality of music wasn’t at the level in which I wanted it. Being able to give the audience an experience rather than a show is what I’d want to be able to do. So understanding that aspect and how I can present myself as this artist within my performance is something that occupies my mind.

In a lot of your songs you are very emotionally vulnerable. How do you take care of yourself throughout the writing process and after?

I don’t think I do. I’ve got to learn to separate the writing process from actual life because I feel as though I’m never not in the writing process. I could be headed somewhere but in my mind are images and words swimming around, trying to piece themselves together. I have to always be open to these thoughts. I’m an over thinker so there’s no real way to turn it off. But being that I’m always in this state of thought, you become used to it -almost numb where these emotions don’t feel as real and you don’t seem as connected to them but can still recognize them.

What was the inspiration behind the single “Shadow Walker”? Tell us about the meaning behind the song.

When I first heard the beat, I instantly got this lurking feeling. But, the shadow’s a place of dissociation; where you can find peace. The shadow’s also where your darkest self gets revealed to you as a whisper. It’s that space of vulnerability.

Listen to Shadow Walker and more on WeSingCin’s Soundcloud

https://soundcloud.com/wesingcin/shadow-walker-prod-qase