He puts himself in a box when he calls his music indie rock alternative, but we think he's something along the lines of refreshingly stimulating (yea..we just made that up). Taking a listen to his new EP, "The Vital", he doesn't seem to fit securely into any genre. He shares his stories, personal feelings, and rejuvenating music with us in an exclusive one-on-one interview. We started off with how he hand-picks his tracks.
You've recorded over 30 songs, but chose to only release a selected few. Of the 5 tracks on your EP, what were you looking for when choosing which ones to use?
I was looking for songs that represents me with the artist that I am. I think I'm very original, and I'm not about the cliche stuff. I love life! I love living! And I love making music. I breathe, eat, and sleep music. I don't know what I would be doing if it wasn't for music.
Your videos all seem to have an outer space / galactic theme going on. Is there a underlying meaning behind this "space" theme and your music?
As far as the visuals, we try to match it with the music. When the director was listening to the music, it took him to the outer limits. The music was literally out of this world.
We also noticed that you don't appear too much in these videos at all. Explain.
Well I wanted to be respected for my music, and not my appearance. I don't want people to see me and say "Oh look he has tattoos and dread locks."
Was there a specific instance that made you feel that way?
I get it all the time. When I go to open mics, and when I walk inside, people automatically think I'm a rapper. But when I go on stage and start performing, people have that "Wow! Where did you come from?!". I hit them with the unexpected.
You're track "Going Back" reflects directly on your childhood days. What is your fondest memory that you have as a child?
I have a bunch of cousins, with a big family. I guess the fondest memory would be playing tag, red-light green-light. It was all about those warm summer nights.
When you first started creating music you were very into the hip hop realm. Hip-hop to you went hand-in-hand with your rough upbringing. Taking a listen to your music now it's clear that you've done a 180. Why have you decided to switch your style?
I decided to switch my style because of all the music that's coming out right now. Hip-hop to me doesn't seem to hold that much depth anymore. I'm not saying it's dead, it just doesn't excite me as much anymore. The music I'm making right now is real, it gives me a different type of feeling that I used to get when I was creating hip-hop. Some of the people that are keeping it real and still influence me include Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, Kanye West, and Drake every now and then.
You participated in a project titled "Sing For Hope" where a non-profit organization placed 60 pianos around NYC. You managed to play on all 60 of them. What motivated you travel to all five boroughs to play all 60 pianos?
Just the fact that somebody put the time in to place 60 piano's all throughout New York City amazed me. Performing at all those pianos was fun and adventurous. The performances I did in Manhattan were pretty significant. The one that stood out the most was the one that I did at a children's museum. There was this woman crying after my performance. I chased her down, and she told me that she never heard anything so beautiful. That was definitely one of the highlights of my indie rock career.
You believe your music is indie rock?
I call it indie rock because I don't know what else to call it! Every bit and piece of my music is done directly in front of me. Usually a person gets a beat, and they go off and write the whole song. I write while it's being made. There's no format that we use, some people don't get it. I'm mostly influenced by alternative rock. The new bands I listen to includes Local Natives, Manchester Orchestra, and Arcade Fire. Some ones that you might be familiar with include Coldplay, Radiohead, and I also listen to European bands as well.
Would you do it all over again?
Yes actually, the people who run that campaign loved the idea so much that they made me a large part of their organization now. Instead of 60 pianos, they are now dropping 88! They are doing 88 to match the keys on the piano. It's going to be huge this year! Plus I'll also be performing at most of their shows, I'm really looking forward to it!
From your experiences of playing the piano and singing candidly on the street, how has that helped you develop your live performance?
It's really easy for me to perform because I've overcome my fears. Ever since I was a little boy, I would go from school to school during lunch time and just sing with my other band member that had a mohawk. At the age of fifteen we would already go around and sign autographs after performing our song. Me being able to sing in front of people like that was practice for me.
Do you close your eyes so you dont see the audience?
Yes I actually do! It's not because I'm trying to tune everybody out, it's because what I'm singing is what I'm feeling. I remember performing at one of the piano's with my eyes closed, and when I looked up there was a crowd surrounding me.