5 Stupid Questions With Fuck The Facts

Melanie Mongeon does vocals for Ottawa’s Fuck The Facts, one of the world’s premiere Grindcore bands. Check out our 5 stupid questions interview down below!

Gene: I gotta ask, what is with the name? What did the facts ever do to you? Why are you angry at them? LMAO BET YOU’VE NEVER BEEN ASKED THIS BEFORE!
Melanie: Topon is the one that picked the band name when the band was still only his solo project. It is a song title from a John Zorn recording. For him, the name reflected a certain freedom in music styles he wanted to have with that new project. As for the facts in general, i like them and we need them. With the general overload of information and disinformation we are surrounded by in the various media forms, they are sometimes hard to find!  
 
Gene: Your band’s early material used Mullets as one of it’s central thematic devices. If you had to make your next album about a particular haircut, which one would it be?
Melanie: Still a mullet. Seriously, it is hard to beat. But if really have to pick another one, i guess it could be faux hawk. Someone needs to start a band called faux hawk. I googled quicky and found a Fauxhawk band.. too late for me I guess!

 
Gene:
You guys have free health care in Canada. Do you find that this makes you more reckless with your personal health? Do you get on a motorcycle and are just like “I don’t need a fuckin’ helmet, I got socialized health coverage, HIGH FIVE!”?I
Melanie: I can only speak for myself, I will keep on my helmet when on my bike. Free healthcare, I don't think it makes us more or less reckless and I personally prefer being safe. On the other hand I have always wondered, why are some people not wearing helmets on motorcycles in certain US states. As a Canadian, it blows my mind.
 
Gene: Full Disclosure: Fuck The Facts is one of my favorite bands and “Disgorge Mexico” is one of my all time favorite albums. What was the inspiration for that album, both musically and lyrically?
Melanie: Thanks! For the music, Topon and Vil wrote it together, and I added lyrics after it. It was just the 3 of us from the writing process to the studio. The artwork relates the tale of a travel from the canadian border to the mexican border.  
 
Gene: The only time I went to Canada I went to the Perkins in Niagra (Perkins is the Canadien version of Dennys). Have you been to that Perkins? If so, what is your favorite dish?
Melanie: Never been to Perkins, but we also have Denny's here. I went once to Denny's when i was younger and could barely speak english (i'm francophone). Back then, I figured that it was what the English Canadians liked to eat : just alright overpriced food. I haven't been since. But i have been to Waffle House in the US... nothing memorable there, but price was more in my touring budget then at Denny's.

Fuck The Facts: Bandcamp // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

5 Stupid Questions With Downtrodder

Downtrodder are a 4-piece from Philadelphia that play post-hardcore, but not that stupid mallcore crap. Check out our 5 Stupid questions interview with them down below!

Gene: First of all, as a band, as a group of musicians playing music with such passion and vigor, I have to ask: who let the dogs out? What is the prevailing theory you all have? 
Downtrodder: Our sense, based on a vivid remembering of a book we read in middle school, George Orwell's Animal Farm (the literal bible for folks who want to force an argument about politics in crowded basements while a band is playing), is that the dogs were actually enforcers of an illegitimate authoritarian regime and that the Baha Men were trying to warn any farm animals in the area that a raid was in effect. The idea that the dogs themselves were some sort of metaphor for authoritarian communist rule is incorrect however, as these dogs were literal cop-dogs. The fact the the song was such a hit speaks to the scientific value of  the Top 40 radio chart as a barometer for increasing "woke-ness" among the teenage population in the new millennium years (consider as well the contribution of Eiffel 65's "I'm Blue" to the advent of neoliberal disdain for green party candidates). Had memes been popular back then, we may well have experienced a full-on political revolution. 

Gene: Ketchup, mustard or mayo? No, you can’t be edgy and say “relish”. These are the only three possible answers. And don’t ask what you’re putting it on, that’s irrelevant.
DT: We don't eat food, sorry.

Gene: What was your favorite Playstation 1 video game? And why was it Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater?
DT: This is nonsense, Gene. The greatest game for the system you mentioned was, and always will be Toby Hank's Pro Blader 2. 8 wheels were always better than four in the scientific community we were all raised in. We constantly fought over who would get to play as Campbell Cream, and groaned whenever we had to settle for Bam Bam Marinara or Ryan NyQuil. 

Gene: I feel like you guys have gotten both heavier and more melodic since I last saw you guys in 2016. Has this been a conscious artistic decision or just something that came about naturally?
DT: I think it is a little of both. With our lyrical message becoming more and more direct and deliberate with every song, it seemed fitting to add a bit of depth and grace to the sound rather than stick to a kind of sonic assault. We try to make our songs more textured and pensive than the last and we're really happy with what we've been developing. Thanks for noticing!

Gene: When you buy a movie ticket and they say “Enjoy the movie,” do you ever say “You too!” and feel like an idiot?
DT: Yeah. All the time, and in many different scenarios. Especially when the woman at the front desk shouts that the Star Wars young adult novels I checked out are overdue as I woefully drag myself out of the public library after using their free internet connection to google all the nice things Pitchfork and Noisey are saying about our band. So embarrassing.

Downtrodder: Bandcamp // Facebook

5 Stupid Questions With Cosmic Bong Destroyer

Ian Carlucci plays bass for Boston’s Cosmic Bong Destroyer and is an active member in booking Metal and Hardcore shows up and down the East Coast, check out our 5 stupid questions interview with him below!
 
Gene: Your last name is Carlucci, which is very Italian. I gotta ask, which do you prefer A MOOZARELLA OR A PROVOLONA? EH, GABAGOOL, IM WALKIN OVER HERE! VINNI VIDI VICCI, OH!
Ian: Mozzarella, all the way, and I'm not familiar with the rest of what you're trying to say, I'm not fluent in South Philly 

Gene: Your band has the word “Cosmic” in it. Have you ever been to space? What was it like? Did you meet George Clooney there?
Ian: Yes, all three of us have been to space. Myself, our drummer Billy Smith, and guitarist Erik Ameden. It used to be cool until all the hipsters started moving in and gentrification kind of screwed it all up. $5 for a coffee at Starbucks? Fuggetaboutit. I did, briefly run into George Clooney and was dying for an autograph, but seeing as that he was in a frolicking threesome with LeVar Burton and that guy who plays bass for Hoobastank, I chose to leave him be. 

Gene: I’ve noticed in photos that your guitar only has four strings. What up wit dat?
Ian: I had six strings at one point, but two were borrowed from Hannibal Burress so that he could fix the Brooklyn Bridge. It was all over the news. 

Gene: What is the general concept behind Cosmic Bong Destroyer both musically and lyrically?
Ian: The lyrics behind our music vary between the three of us, as we all contribute vocals and write lyrics for different songs. Erik and Billy are both very into the lighthearted lyrical qualities of crossover thrash bands such as Municipal Waste, and often write about smoking marijuana, in very over-the-top and crazy mannerisms, such as "Weedwacked" and "Bubonic Chronic." I have always been a diehard of really extreme bands and have penned lyrics for songs such as "Burial Cult" and "Cosmic Shock," where I take to exploring themes related to the occult, horror, sci-fi and use this as an avenue to vent my frustrations. 

Musically, at our heart we're a thrash metal band, but all of us have different tastes in music and it comes together in a really fun and dynamic way. If there ever was a textbook photo of what a real deal thrash metal kid looks like, you would probably see a photo of Erik. He's way into bands like Iron Reagan, Ghoul, but he also really loves bands like Acid Bath, Stoned Jesus and Alice In Chains (whom we probably listen to the most when all three of us are together). Billy is way into progressive metal and math rock type shit, like Car Bomb, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Periphery, and stuff of the like. Myself, I'm a blast beat fiend at heart and my favorite bands are Ulver, Spazz, Exhumed, Assuck, but I'm also way into weird shit like Lightning Bolt. 
 
The way this all comes together translates into really punchy music that takes on a gross, extreme vibe, however we don't tend to pigeonhole ourselves because the three of us are all the best of friends and we're all pretty willing to take off in whatever direction feels fun for us. Demo 2017: Live at Ratsnest has served as a decent showcase of old material in a pretty raw format, and we have a ton more material to be released that's pushing our sound in all kinds of different directions. 

Gene: Do u like me? Y/N/Angery React
Ian: It's a love/hate sort of thing. Depends on the day, what phase the moon is in, whether or not those idiot college kids at the cafe down the street get my coffee the way I like it. 

Cosmic Bong Destroyer: Bandcamp

5 Stupid Questions With Pig Destroyer

Below is an interview with Blake Harrison from Pig Destroyer, as our new interview series gets underway, check out these 5 stupid questions below! Blake Harrison does sampling and power electronics for legendary Grindcore band Pig Destroyer. He also used to play in Hatebeak, a Death Metal band with a parrot lead singer.
 
Gene: First of all, what’s the deal with airline food? Like, seriously, what is the deal?
Blake: This is a tough one. United just made Bobby Flay their caterer, so they decided to punish their travelers in a different way.
 
Gene: A few weeks ago I logged onto Facebook and saw that you were selling your beanie baby collection and noticed you said that “most of them still had the tags on.” My question is, why do those things still have the tags? Aren’t you too Metal for the tags?
Blake: By "Beanie Babies" I meant heroin, and by tags I meant "kilos."
 
Gene: Do you ever get so relaxed in public that you unwillingly let a fart loose, and then desperately try to ignore the smell, even though it’s very obvious that it has hit the nostrils of the people around you?
Blake: Doesn't everyone?

Gene: On the Pig D albums, how much input do you personally have over the noise and effects interludes? Do you have any influence over the actual songs or overall “arc” of each album?
Blake: All of the input, on the new one, I should have a more noticeable role. The arc of the record is kind of its own thing, it influences you, not the other way around, but I try to cater my stuff to fit the lyrics or the vibe
 
Gene: What ever happened to Fergie? She was so talented! How does someone disappear like that? Didn’t the Black Eyed Peas play the Superbowl halftime show a few years ago? Damn, time just flies.
Blake: The real question here, is has anyone ever seems Fergie and Guy Fieri in the same room?
 
Blake: Also, I'm still in Hatebeak.

Pig Destroyer: Bandcamp // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

5 Stupid Questions with YOUR ENEMY

5 Stupid Questions for Samantha Hernandez of Your Enemy. Samantha plays guitar in Your Enemy and also does vocals for Antagonizer, both devastating Grindcore bands from Oakland. Check it out below!
 
Gene: So I know you probably get asked this a lot but, why don’t you go by “Ur Enemy”? What do you all have against breevs?
Samantha: Tbh we couldnt agree on the breev. When there were four of us we were at a deadlock between "Ur Enemy" and "yr nme" the case was eventually dismissed because we couldn't come to a consensus.
 
Gene: I don’t want to get political here but I do feel like I need to ask this: cats or dogs? And why?
Samantha: My politics are very complicated when it comes to this subject. First, and foremost, I've been on the radical cat side for as long as I was old enough to have a stance. However recently I've been finding myself leaning more toward the small dogs. Weiner dogs and Chihuahuas to be specific. Not to say I'm necessarily against the big dogs of the world, the smaller ones are just more identifiable with me. Plus, I'm really little so they fit on my lap better, which is a key issue for me in a debate of such nature.
 
Gene: Is it true all that stuff that happened in “Moneyball” actually happen? Did Brad Pitt actually come up and coach the Athletics with the help of Jonah Hill?
Samantha: I have no idea what you're talking about, but I want to say it's true because the Raiders just dipped, and I can only imagine it was out of fear of having to watch Jonah Hill play the same stale character during the entire off-season.
 
Gene: Northern California and the Pacific Northwest have, in my opinion, the best Grindcore scene in the world right now. So many bands are coming out of there: Fiend, Your Enemy, Antagonizer, Acid Feast, Endorphins Lost, etc. What’s the scene like up there? Where do your bands fit in?
Samantha: We all complain about other places having way better scenes because I've found that Grindcore people love to complain, which is how I found my place in grind. Seattle has been crackin' whenever I've been there, and Anti-border Fest was one of my favorite festivals that I've ever played. California is where it's at, tbh. LA is like the PV (power violence) capital of the world and more of my favorite bands just keep coming outta there. Oakland has been kinda quiet recently, but Tom from Haggus does an awesome job working with what we got. We have a lot of shows at a DIY cement skatepark anti-hero built.

Samantha Continued: I'm not really sure where either of my bands fit in at this point. Your Enemy is pretty straight forward grind so we'll play some metal shows here and there along with the Grind/PV shows. Antagonizer plays exclusively crusty/grind shows. Mostly because we never play. I think we've only played like 6 shows in the past 2+ years we've been a band. We were initially a side project while tom was out traveling and Haggus wasn't doing anything. We had hella fun at every show except the first one cuz we were blackout drunk and don't remember it.
 
Gene: Ok, you’re trapped on a desert island and can only be three albums to listen to for the rest of your life, which ‪Phil Collins albums would they be and why?
Samantha: American Bad Ass, The Great Milenko, and Human Clay.

YOUR ENEMY: Bandcamp // Facebook

Artist Interview - Nam Wayne

Interview With Nam Wayne
by Christoph Brinkbaeumer
*originally in the German magazine Die Erfindung, used with permission

Die Erfindung: Your new LP has a vintage DIY sound and you mentioned that you recorded it on cassette. Was that a matter of necessity or choice? 
Nam Wayne: It was an aesthetic choice. In 2017 clean digital recordings are far cheaper and easier to do than even low-fi analog so nobody makes a record that sounds like this by default or by accident. 

DE: Just to be clear, when you talk about digital versus analog what are you referring to? 
NW: I’m referring exclusively to the use of tape as the initial capture medium as opposed to, say, the playback medium which could be vinyl, mp3, etc. 

DE: Why spend so much time and energy getting a sound that was the default of another time? Weren’t the artists back then just using the technology that was readily available to them? 
NW: I’m sure they were and it could be that the clean digital recordings of our time will come to sound ageless to listeners of the future, but the important thing to me is to have my recordings sound ageless to my own ears right now. I don’t think there’s anything particularly authentic about going with the default technology of a given time or forgoing intentionality. I love the sound of tape saturation and that hedonism is the only reliable compass I’m aware of for making coherent aesthetic decisions. 

DE: How did you learn to record in this way? 
NW: In the early 2000s I heard the album Suburban Light by The Clientele. It was the most evocative and deliberate-sounding record production I had ever heard so I reached out to the band and convinced them to let me travel with them and film them for a few days. During the shoot the singer, Alasdair MacLean, taught me their recording techniques and since then I’ve come up with my own aggressive rock variation of those techniques. 

DE: What other artists have a similar production style? 
NW: Sheer Mag, Honey Radar, Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall to name a few. 

DE: Why do you think your music has caught on so well among the youth in Berlin? 
NW: Maybe because people are more able to see the authenticity in things that are far away, like the middle class regarding the lives of rich TV characters as more real and legitimate than their own, or the wealthy seeing poverty as a prerequisite for authenticity. 

DE: What makes a piece of music authentic? 
NW: In music the main type of authenticity I’m concerned with is whether it’s emotionally convincing. Take your coffee cup with the words Nutella-chino on it or my cup that says Leitsplein Cafe. They are fiction but they’re fairly convincing so I like that. 

DE: Could you clarify what you mean when you say the coffee cups are fiction? 
NW: There are literally no coffee cups on this table. I fabricated them for this piece of writing...the table too and even this magazine, Die Erfindung. It sounds real but if you google it you’ll find that it’s an invention. 

DE: And yet we’re still sitting here in Leitspein Cafe. 
NW: I made that up too just now and you’re part of this fiction also. 

DE: Is anything in this interview real? 
NW: Everything is real except the fact of you interviewing me for this magazine. That and the thing about me being famous in Berlin. 

This fictional interview was written entirely by Nam Wayne, for more on Nam Wayne, check out their social media below!

Nam Wayne: Bandcamp // Facebook // SoundCloud // Twitter

Artist Interview - Alex Di Leo

Alex Di Leo - 70s car.JPG

The Hook recently had the opportunity to talk with singer/songwriter Alex Di Leo! Check out our interview with him below!

Dylan: Hey Alex, my name’s Dylan Young, I’m an artist myself who previously had gone the band route for a while, but since then, has recently transitioned into being a solo artist. With that in mind, I’m interested to hear your take on it.

Alex: Hey Dylan, So nice to meet you! Thanks so much for reaching out to me. 
Great to be talking to another artist.

Tell me about your writing process. As a solo artist, do you write alone? Do you collaborate with other writers or musicians? Do you write a song, then when you feel it’s ready to be recorded, bring it to a certain go-to producer you gel with? What’s your process?
    
Most of the time my songs are inspired through an idea/melody that randomly pops in my head. The best is when a great lyric comes with that random melo-dy. If that does not happen, I write the lyrics as I work on the song more. Most of the time I try to create the melodies for each part of the song before really focusing on the lyrics.

Most of this EP I wrote by myself with the exception of a few songs. I love collaborating with other artists, producers, and writers because I think each time you work with someone you learn something new.

 After I have all the melody, lyric, and arrangement I take it to the producer who I’m currently working with, which at the moment is Josh Diaz. From there we make scratch tracks if I haven't already done so. We make sure we like everything about it before we move onto any part of the production and after that..the magic begins.

Apparently your old band, Wyld Fly, was fairly successful. What happened to the group and why did you decide to go the solo artist route? What about it appeals to you? Is there anything you don’t like about going solo?

Wyld Fly definitely did some cool things in south Florida. The reason the group ended was because of the disagreements in musical direction we were going. I was the lead singer/frontman in the band and at most times I felt like I didn’t have a say in many of the band’s decisions. This led to me becoming a solo artist. It appealed to me because I’d have much more of a say in what I’d want to do. The only trouble I found going into this was trying to put a committed group of musicians together. It took me a while, but  things have changed and I have got an amazing group of musicians backing me up now and ready to go.

Do you miss being involved in a full band? How was making the transition from that world into being a solo artist?

I don’t really miss being involved in a full band. I think this was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my music career. It’s really helped me move along and find the sound and image that I had envisioned.

What can listeners expect for So We Go?

‘So We Go’ is about falling in love, the first time you laid eyes on your partner. Continu-ously wanting to feel that way you did when the "stars first collided”, that magical spark. That is a feeling only the two of you share together. Both taking the chance on possibly one of the greatest adventures of your lifetime. 

What’s the inspiration for your songs? Are you inspired by personal events? Do you just write to write? Is there an ex out there that kinda just messed you up? Where would you draw your creativity from? Sadness? Anger? Happiness? Etc.
 
Most of the songs on the EP lean towards a positive side and were inspired by a relationship that I’m currently in. There’s a couple songs that talk about the frustrations of being in a relationship, but they are in an encouraging way. I also find that when I travel, inspiration strikes and melodies and song ideas come easier to me. Maybe, it’s because I tend to be more relaxed and music and ideas seems to flow . 

How would you describe your sound in 5 words?

Melodic Alternative/Indie/Rock/Pop

I read that you went through 4 previous production sessions in making So We Go, which as anyone who’s made a record before can consider a grueling process. Why don’t you talk about that a bit? What went “wrong” the first four times? Was each time with a different producer? Were there any mistakes you might have made that in hindsight, now know to avoid? etc.

In mid 2014 I recorded a few songs Saigon Kick lead singer, Matt Kramer. This production sounded more like American/folk and was coming out a little too much in the bluegrass style then what I was imagining.

I didn’t record anything again until the beginning of 2015. I went up to the House of Blues in Nashville with a local producer,  Mike Puwal from Insane Clown Possy and Phil Richiardi. We went in aiming for an alternative pop, The Fray, Coldplay sound. But they ended up leaning a little more towards mainstream country which wasn’t the direction I was aiming for either. Not saying I don’t like country. 

I started another recording production with another a local singer-songwriter from     Miami Jim Camacho and a producer, Jodi Marr from Nashville. Still aiming for a similar sound I decided to go for another three songs and they sounded a little closer but still, not there. They were more of an Adult/Contemporary sound.

Towards the end of 2015 I did another few recordings with StreetRunner, a Pop/R&B producer who’s worked with Eminem, Lil Wayne, and a few other well known rappers. We spent around  4-5 months in the studio. After all that time I realized the direction was a little closer to what I’d been looking for, but since most of the instrumentation was coming from within the computer and the way it was done, it sounded too..stiff and like it was lacking feeling. 

Throughout that same time I had started an alternative dance side project with my close friend, lead guitarist from my previous band, called Cold Summer. When I’d take a break from my solo stuff we’d meet up during late nights to work on this one song which we also called “Cold Summer.” We actually released the single in April of this year, 2016. We were in the midst of recording another but haven’t gotten back to it since..

 Finally, in January of 2016 I started another recording production with Joshua Diaz, lead singer of Kids and now guitar player for Further Seems Forever, who I’d met November of the previous year. I felt that we had really clicked. I showed him a few of the things I’d recorded throughout the last couple years and told him what I was going for. He said he knew exactly what it was. So I decided to shoot for three more. But these felt different from all the others from the very             beginning. All the other productions I’d done were in high end top of the line studios, even though Josh’s studio was a small quaint wooden cabin with a vintage board, I felt different about these. Throughout that time I’d asked Josh to join the project and he’s been the bass player since. In mid April we had finished the first three, they turned out so great we decided to do another three which were finished in early June which complete the first EP, “So We Go”

There were definitely some mistakes made a long the way through this process. But to be honest, I think making mistakes is one of the best things anyone can do,  especially as an artist. I think it really helps you identify yourself even more.


What do you wish to achieve? Like, what are your goals with pursuing music? Your dreams. What motivates you to wake up in the morning and go after this? Was there some sort of a-ha! moment or experience that led to this pursuit?

My goal is to share my music with as many people as possible and hope to make them feel something in some sort of way. Soon I’ll play festivals and climb the ladder in that aspect and eventually grow to the arenas. This has always been my mind set and is constantly reinforced every time I create a melody and get goosebumps from it.

What’s your musical background? 

No one in my family has a musical background. The way I got into music was through my Grandma. For my 10th birthday, my Grandma  gave me an acoustic guitar. At the time, she had started dating a guy who was involved in music and I think he was a great influence on the idea. 
    
Shortly after I started taking lessons and found out my friend also played. We decided to put a little group together around the age of 13 and this really inspired something greater.

What’s your current top 5 bands/artists you’ve been into?

Coldplay, Ben Rector, Walk The Moon, Vance Joy, One Republic

Do you have any advice for people considering going into music?

Truly make sure this is something that feeds your soul and gives you a high.

Anything you want to say about So We Go?

Releasing my debut EP is definitely the highlight of the last 3 years. I’m beyond excited to share the positive vibes and stories that relate to a period in my life. I think because I’ve done 4 other recording productions to get to this sound I was looking for, I’ve truly come to appreciate the journey and outcome even more. I’m constantly thinking of how short our lives are and how important it is to experience new things, take risks, and to not be afraid of what could go wrong, but what could go right, and that’s what helped evolve the concept of So We Go.

My new single "I've Been Waiting" is now on Spotify, Apple Music, and all other streaming services! Follow me there!

A huge thanks to writer Dylan Young & Alex Di Leo for this really awesome interview. Check out Di Leo's track "Make It Easier" above! For more, check out Alex Di Leo's social media links below!

Alex Di Leo: AlexDiLeo.com // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // YouTube // Soundcloud

Artist Interview - DaZay Burnett

The Hook had the opportunity to sit down with DaZay Burnett recently, and get some really good info on The Vagabondz, growing up in Harlem, his perception of the role of women and drugs in music, and student debt. 

Check it out below!

I like to build up to personal questions, have the conversations accelerate sort of, so I’ll start with the basics: How are you? How was the Asap Ferg concert?
I'm doing great and you? The ferg concert was TOO LIT everyone was moshin’ goin crazy, I loved it. Shoutouts to Asap and Tory Lanez!

Did you guys happen to start as spoken word poets? The interlude “LESSons” leads me to think that. The poem/song/interlude is great by the way. 
I personally didn’t get into rap through spoken word, my homie Tye did, he’s the one doing the LESSons interlude on the album. I’ve always wanted to try my hand in spoken word, haven’t quite got around to it yet.

What is the role of poetry in hip-hop or rap?
The culture seems to be being swept under the rug by new artists partially because of trap artists  (Not saying all. Just saying a lot of them are more entertainers than rappers/poets). I feel like poetry plays a huge role in rap and lyricism in general. Some of your favorite rappers started out as poets and it really helps getting your ideas out and transferring it over to a beat ya know? For example, my verse on the song “Exceptions” on LESSONS was actually a beat poem I had to write for homework back in high school in my senior poetry class (shoutouts Mr. Leon/ Beacon High)

What is your definition of a poem or poetry?
For me poetry is just the flow of words someone uses to convey an idea or how they’re feeling. Anyone can be a poet. It’s just telling stories.

Do you have a strategy when you rap or do you write freely or freestyle?
Well I started out in hip hop freestyling. I started rapping freshman year of high school and when I was 16 did something called “The Rapathon” back in my hometown of Harlem, which was basically a day long rap cypher which was broken into sets of rap teams, and I was the youngest member my year. I didn’t start writing actual songs till my senior year though, so It just depends on the day to be honest. I’ll hear a beat that’s so cold the first line comes to me automatically and i’ll be done with my verse in less than a hour. Other beats I gotta kinda sit on and take things in from my day to day to use as material, or I’ll freestyle over it until something comes together. I don’t have a solid strategy I just write.

Your music seems to more conscious or complex than just “bitches & drugs.” Now, of course, drugs are arguably great (disregarding anyone’s opinion) and women are a drug enough which is definitely enough cause for creating art, but what motivated you to focus on different things? What inspires your music?
Yeah we definitely get the conscious rap label a lot, which I’m always kinda boosted by because if you peep our earlier tracks on soundcloud (Leopard Interior EP), it’s all sex, drugs, light and dark songs. But that’s just the life we were living at the time growing up in NYC, beefin with other public schools, turnin up at brooklyn free’s (frees= house parties), so the music is like a piece of that moment in time. I feel like we matured fast from that route though, especially with LESSONS, the subject matter is more focused on issues that a lot of people don’t know youth go through in this city, and just our day to day life lessons. Whether that be through songs talking about guns, not being able to afford college, police brutality, or even a lovey dovey song like “Come Tru”. I don’t really think I’m conscious though, when I think of conscious I think of Common and Lupe. I just write about how I perceive the world, and I’m inspired by life experiences and stories I hear from teens from Harlem who feel they don’t really have a voice in society just because where we are and how black youth are perceived. Regardless of how the media tries to make it seem, we’re not all the same and I feel like I have a duty to talk about what I see in my hood on the daily so I just tell my side of the story as honestly as I can. Not every song is pretty and light because it can’t be like that, that’s not how life is for us. We got the turn up songs too don’t get me wrong, but if you have a voice that people want to listen to why not let them know what’s going on out here? That’s just my take, I just want to unify everybody.

What is the role of drugs and alcohol in music? Why do you think it’s a major topic of discussion in rap music? 
Well for one it’s a major topic of discussion because it sells music like crazy.  Alcohol  is so marketable, every major artists is sponsored by at least one liquor brand nowadays. People get high and drink for a variety of reasons whether you agree with the use or not, it’s not stopping anytime soon, but I feel like hip hop gets unfairly labeled the “drug” genre when drug references have been tossed in songs way before hip hop was invented. People rap about what they know so if you smoke and drink all day, your music is most likely gonna reflect that.

What is the role of women in hip-hop culture? You guys seem to talk about women and romance, but sometimes, in unconventional, and I should add refreshing, ways. For example, “Come Tru” sort of resembles a raw rap love song, but mirrors something more sincere than the new love songs rappers are coming out. It’s raw in an honest way and not in a vulgar way that degrades the woman subject being discussed. It sounds hopeful, sort of reminds me of older rap love songs like Ja Rule’s “Put it on Me” or 50 Cents “21 Questions,” perhaps not the same tempo, but definitely a similar tone and vibe. Could you talk a little about your take on love and romance?
I’m not really the romantic type to be honest, but at the end of the day no one really wants to be alone no matter how hard they think they are. It’s weird talking about love for me because I never really had the chance to see what it looks like in my life, and I’ve never personally been in love, but “Come Tru” is about choosing to take  a chance on someone. If they’re worth it. 
From my understanding, a vagabond is someone who wanders from place to place with no particular destination to go to.


What was the incentive behind naming your group that?
Tye came up with the name our sophomore year and we played with the idea for a while, but it didn’t really stick at first. We went nameless for awhile and it wasn’t until senior year that we settled on it because we went through things by that point that really had me and Tye feeling like modern day Vagabondz, and we could relate to the idea of it a lot more by then. Also, my mom (who was once homeless herself as a teen) always used to have me serve food at homeless shelters on Thanksgiving and Christmas when I was younger,  so I’ve always been a strong advocate for helping out those in need. I get tight when people disrespect the homeless or look down on them, no one has the right to do that because you don’t know what leads up to different circumstances, everybody’s story is unique one way or the other. I wanted to take the negative stigma out of the word “vagabond,” because we’re all vagabondz really, wandering place to place at the end of the day with the same destination; 6 feet under.

If I’m recalling correctly, you’re the manager of Vagabondz. How long have you guys been together? 
Yeah for now! And we’ve been a solid group for a little over a year now.

Why did you start the collective? How did you or do you curate your members? 
I started it with Tye, we used to always freestyle together during recess, in class, lunchroom cyphers, everybody at my school lowkey had bars. We just kept trying to find beats that matched our style and it wasn’t working out so we waited, and by senior year a couple of our close friends at school started making beats at different times so we knew we had to do something with that. With the exception of DJ ForTunes, everybody in the group went to Beacon, but now we got new additions to the squad and a whole visual art section so the movement is definitely expanding.

Tell me about the Beast Coast Bondz  Bash experience. How was it on the opposite side of the stage?
Well the whole day was a stressful as fuck because I’ve never thrown a show before so I was shook at first, but it ended up being a beautiful experience. Everyone really pitched in to make it a dope night and to see so many people pull up from different areas was crazy. I couldn’t have done it without the help of my UArts fam they definitely held it down! It was definitely a humbling experience too I saw people rapping along with me it was kinda scary. To see your words and thoughts go from the notes on your ipod to a bunch of people shouting them back at you is indescribable. 

How do you usually prepare for your shows? 
At this point I can’t even listen to my own songs to prepare, like I’ll rehearse the set once a couple days before, but the day of I’m blasting Fabolous “Ima do it,” Bone Thugz, Future. I have a sequence of songs that just get me amped up. I do a lot of pre-gaming before our shows, but I also gotta make sure to do breathing exercises and hydrate heavy so I don’t pass out on stage. 

Tell me about Harlem and growing up in New York. 
I love Harlem. It’s all I know really, I’ve lived in different parts 111th st, 143rd, 125th, 140th.. There’s so much culture that people don’t know about a lot of artists got their start up here. It’s gentrifying like crazy though, every time I come home from school for a show or break I notice a building is missing or a frozen yogurt spot pops up. There’s 7/11’s in Harlem now where bodegas used to be, that blew [my mind] when I came back and saw that shit. Growing up in New York City is a blessing and a curse though I always tell people because there’s so much to do and it’s the city that never sleeps, but that can get old fast. If you not from here and you come here trying to make it big and whatnot with no heart, the city will destroy you. I don’t know why New Yorkers just have a different attitude, I didn’t realize it until I started going to other cities, everyone stays in their own lane here and minds their own business. Saying hi to people you don’t know out of courtesy is weird if you’re from NYC. I’ve lived here my whole life and seen a lot of crazy shit, you never know when the city will surprise you. I’ve been caught in the middle of multiple shootouts, seen people stabbed, beat up by cops etc.. You  get used to it after a certain point. You pick up on which blocks are too hot to walk through at a certain time, who might be looking to rob you if they’re eyeing you a certain way.. the city will definitely keep you on your toes not being street smart will get you hurt here, and if you can’t fight it might be hard for you. Beautiful city though nonetheless with some of the realest people you’ll ever meet.

Are there any artists from there or artists in general, dead or alive, that influence or inspire you?
Harlem legend Big L, listen to a lot of him, I love the stories in his rhymes. From the new school, I would have to say Dave East, he’s definitely putting Harlem on the map in a big way his bars are crazy. I listen to anything though, my tastes in music is all over the place a lot of my favorite artists are overseas, Tom Misch, Little Simz, Jay Prince to name a few. Alina Baraz & Galimatias is certified heat definitely check them out.

Tell me about up upcoming projects and collaborations?
First off my bro Zymoon Merkury dropped a tape that’s smooth listen through called “Seamount” everyone should definitely check that out. I have a solo EP that’s on the way “HEAR:ThereN’BacK” that’s getting the finishing touches worked out as we speak, that’s due before the summer is over, plus I’m in the process of a debut video! The tape has collabs with MOBTOWN out of Baltimore (bump that new track “Every Corner” on soundcloud) and my bro DJ ForTunes crew The Last Call out of Flatbush. Lot of cool stuff in the works I’m hype to get it all out there for y'all.

What about upcoming shows? 
July 22nd “Beast Bondz Bash II” [played] in Hoboken NJ Paul Vincent Studios! Then we [had] another show in Philadelphia July 31st at a venue called “The Dungeon," the name sounds cool as fuck so I’m real hype for that one. Also, just got news Vagabondz will be performing at Coda on Sept 18th for Battle of the Bands.. I’m just happy that people are supporting it’s a dream come true.

How do you feel about your stage presence and performance art? Do you put as much into performing as you do into recording and writing? 
It’s all connected for me. I write with a performance view, meaning when I’m writing I’m already envisioning in my head how I’m going to spit each line on stage. I love performing though. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, I’ve been on Amateur Night at the Apollo three times and even won once, so to be able to sing and rap on stage is exhilarating for me. I’m not religious but when I get on stage it’s like church for me, I always rock every show like it’s my last.

Are there any new members coming to the group soon? 
We already have some new members, Kyle Barrett is helping manage the group/does our photography. [We've] got photographers Wes Knoll, Annacela Cordova, and vocalist Noah Elijah who’s performing at BCBB II. Still recruiting for second wave bondz so the list will most likely keep going on as time passes.

What’s your major at UArts? 
I was originally musical theater but switched to music business entrepreneurship & technology second semester, I had to. I want to do movies and TV later on in life but I gotta focus on one thing at a time.

Do you see yourself hitting the road to stardom early or would you like to finish your years out here first (Or perhaps do it at the same time)?
I don’t really know at this point I’m just focused on furthering our music, school, and doing shows. It’s so hard to make it in America without a degree so I definitely want to continue my education to have that under my belt, but I don’t see why I can’t do everything at the same time. If we stay focused, continue doing shows and making dope music we’ll be alright, everything happens when the time is right.

This is random, but how do you feel about student loans? 
Fuck student loans they’re literally the devil. College is too damn expensive in general though, it shouldn’t cost an arm and leg for a decent education.

Do you think national student debt is a systematic plot of scheme?
Absolutely. Sallie Mae is the biggest pimp in the game right now with hoes all over. I’m about to start an outreach program for people trying to get out of the debt game.

Where do you see the Vagabondz in the next ten years? 
I see our movement expanding globally and I want our collective to have at least a hundred enlightened individuals from all walks of life.. We’re a collective first and foremost, so our artists are constantly creating and collab-ing with other artists, and we’re solidifying ourselves as not just a group, but an actual brand. With time I want to branch out into all different forms of entertainment and media, so in ten years you’ll be seeing Vagabondz everywhere

Thanks so much to DaZay for this interview, and for more on DaZay, check out the links below!

DaZay Burnett: Facebook // Soundcloud // Datpiff