Study Abroad: Edition #4

Study Abroad: Edition #4

By: Seamus Fay

As you may have noticed throughout the past few weeks, Graduation Music’s latest venture is a weekly playlist series entitled Study Abroad. Featuring 12 songs by artists beyond the borders of Massachusetts that we’ve been listening to, the aim of this series is to shed light on music from all over the country, expanding our reach and also hipping our readers to the artists that we believe are up next.

Click play on edition #4 of Study Abroad below and peep the tracklist under the link!

Tracklist

Broox – i hope you aint going nowhere tonight
Jazz Ingram – Curfew
Lil Ooh – Sicario
Karsen – 18
Eryn Allen Kane – Feel The Need
Maxwell Young – Daydreamer
Mia Gladstone – LONELYASFCK
Ivy Sole – Lovely Fiction
Spooky Marvin – Como Siempre
Olive Collins – Peach Rose
Spooky Marvin – Cry-Baby
Fades – Down

Catching Up With WHYTRI

Catching Up With WHYTRI

By: Seamus Fay

When I first started conducting interviews for Graduation Music, the hardest part was discovering artists that were actually willing to take a chance on a small website and spend the time to answer a few questions. Not many people were reading the blog, the social media accounts had little to no following, and quite frankly, there wasn’t much reason for an artist to be excited about being featured on Graduation Music in the first place. However, an artist by the name of WHYTRI decided to take this chance early on, becoming the subject of our second ever interview (which you can read here).

Looking back at that moment, now nearly a year and a half later, I can’t help but be thankful for the growth that both WHYTRI and Graduation Music have undergone over time. TRI is making some of the best music he’s ever made, and now ready to unleash his newest project, ABP (A BAD PORNO) on September 30th, we decided that it would make perfect sense to catch up with our old friend and speak about things such as performing, creative process, inspiration, and much, much more.

Read the full conversation below.


WHYTRI! It’s been a minute since we last talked. How has life been? What has been going on lately?

DAWWWGG IT’S REALLY BEEN A GRIP! SMOOTH YEAR AND SOME CHANGE!!!

Life’s been weird, man, I won’t front – it’s been good, though. I’m very happy for all the blessings that came my way from shows to records I’ve been writing to the inspiration level-up from watching my friends and team grow. This 2018 was a WILD ride for me man. A bunch of valleys and peaks but we here, so I’m happy about that. I’m hoping to end this year as strong as I entered it, you feel me?

Thank you for also watching me throughout the time and keeping notice, man. That’s love for real. Lately, I’ve just been working on figuring out how I can level up music-wise and brand-wise. Looking at how WHYTRI can develop more of the fans and give them both the expected and the unexpected of where my head has been at.

ABP ALBUM COVER.jpg

You’ve been fairly active with performing this past year. How important is live performance to you as an artist? Especially with the energetic nature of your music, I feel as though it definitely adds another dimension to the image. Can you expand on this?

Performing is VERY important to me man. I want to be like the new Bobby Brown. All the energy the crowd gives off helps push my music because I get excited to see how all my songs will do live — especially the ones I make with live performance in mind. Going down the line, the goal is to become a very strong touring act.

The WHYTRI image is definitely backed behind strong energy and live shows, so I’m definitely going to continue building on it by crafting better shows and making sure the music continues to hit HARD.

Musically, we’ve seen a lot of growth from you over the past few months. How would you describe the progress that you’ve made as an artist?

I appreciate that a lot man, I started this year kind of in my own head when it came to my music. I felt like I had to figure out what people wanted from me as an artist. So after KAHUNA I just focused on writing and cutting records, really absorbed into the craft. I eventually got to a point where my team was like don’t worry about what people want, just worry about what I want to say and what I  want to do and people will gravitate towards it.

I feel like I developed my own style of rapping very well and figured out my way of attacking records and crafting my best work every time. I’m less afraid to put out records, because now it’s like if I drop and it HITS, then word, let’s keep it moving. If it drops and it MISSES, then word, let’s keep it moving. I feel I have a great potential and I’m just focused on hitting that mark then surpassing it.

We need to talk about the new project. What has been your creative process throughout its making?

Well, this new project is actually a Digital Cassette tape, making it two sides. Sonically, I wanted to do something a bit different from KAHUNA but I also wanted to distribute it in a different way, as well. The first half of ABP holds fun, obnoxious, out-of-the-box energy all in your face. I love everything about it.

A lot of this inspiration came from watching old Bobby Brown videos while listening to records. I’m a huge Bobby Brown/James Brown fan because of their unapologetic attitudes and in-your-face approach to entertainment. It’s a level I aspire to meet. 

A lot of that touched this project. Also, the vibes of the late 70s/early 80s were so fire. I wanted to make something fun, bouncy and unapologetically myself while still being raw and loud. However, I also wanted to give it a little back-in-the-day type of vibe because so many people are focused on being “rockstars”. Just be yourself and you’ll be okay.

How did the idea for the tape originally come to mind?

ABP started from me being in the studio just cutting records and listening back. The project didn’t really coming into fruition till my sessions with C-SPRING. We made TIPTOEJOE & YERRR and I immediately wanted to turn it into a project. After that, I just continued cutting records and looking at other ones that could fit the energy. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my friend Dexter who told me that records such as “SNORKEL” and “BITCHRUDUMB” were super raunchy and sexual but still funny and grimy that I really got the idea for the project. From there, the title punched me in the mouth and just felt like nothing I had ever heard of before, so I worked around it and created everything!

Sound-wise, what were your main inspirations for the project?

Bobby Brown and James Brown, bouncy melodies, and neck-breaking drums. I LOVE my drums bro — if the drums don’t punch you in the mouth, it’s not for me man. My focus for ABP was to just make a project full of bops. Something you can break your neck to, especially on the hooks. I actually did a lot more rapping on this project more than I expected to which was tight.  I also feel like ABP was my first attempt at trying to craft an album. I feel like each song flows into the next and sonically, it’s super cohesive — every idea has a solid start and finish. I’m working on treating my smaller projects like albums so that when I get to that album level it’ll be some great work.

What do you want listeners to get out of the tape? What does it tell us about WHYTRI and the direction that you’re headed?

I just want listeners to have fun. This is something to bump when your down and want to feel good again — get your spirits in a happy order, you feel me? This is me showcasing a lot of my personality and being real with myself while also telling some real stories. We live in a time where many aspects of life feel super serious, so I just want to put out some amusement and entertainment for everyone. Just know that when the B-Side hits it’ll be a completely different vibe from this one.

When you sit down and write a song, to what degree is personal experience of importance to the process? Your lyrics seem to dig quite deep, emotionally. How do you go about translating your emotion and life into lines on a song?

A big thing I wanted to work on this year was becoming more honest with myself.  With records like VOMITBWOY I feel like I’m starting to understand the importance of saying how you really feel because people truly appreciate that. Personal experience is very important to me because I don’t want to put out or write about experiences that aren’t me. I want to be as honest and genuine as possible in my records. My music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so I don’t expect everyone to like it, but I at least want to know that they will respect it which matters even more.

Lastly, what’s your personal favorite song on the project? Which song was the most fun to create and why?

GUESSWHOIDK  for SUUUUREEE! It was the first time me and my dawg BEATO got to do something together that wasn’t a show because he’s usually my DJ. That song came so organically — I was driving around and he FaceTimed me saying he had some heat. Played it over facetime I was like “oh yeah we need that”, drove up to Providence the next day, made the song, and laid it down. Me Beato and Nino, who helped bring the visual portions of ABP to life, looked at each other like “yeah, this is the one”. We ended up making it the single for the project. That record is just so tight. It reminds me of my version of Bobby Brown’s “Humpin Around”.


Get ready for the forthcoming release of ABP on 9/30 and connect with WHYTRI on:

SoundCloud

Instagram

Twitter

Lil Cxxp – “Pull Up To My Funeral”

Lil Cxxp – “Pull Up To My Funeral”

By: Seamus Fay

Intersecting the energy and sonic direction of rock with rap-influenced pace and drums, Lil Cxxp is an artist of extreme versatility that you’re going to be hearing all about quite soon. By developing a unique sound for himself, the Massachusetts native is on a straight shot to the top, and only improving with each successive release, it’s been quite the honor to watch his success so far. Today, we welcome Cxxp back onto Graduation Music with an unbelievable new single entitled “Pull Up To My Funeral”.

Denoted by the title, this track contemplates many themes of life and death including the way to make the most of our time while we can. The constant, energy-infused strum of rock guitars lights up the background with an equal supply of excitement and passion, and Cxxp’s bellowing vocals remind us why he holds so much potential in the first place. “Pull Up To My Funeral” soars to new heights for the young talent, so much so that I would mark that is one of his finest releases to date. That said, be sure not to sleep.

Click play on “Pull Up To My Funeral” at the link provided below:

Prod by ForeignGotEm
Cover by Nic Violets
Mix/Master by Lil Cxxp

Cousin Stizz – ‘Cold Times’ [EP]

Cousin Stizz – ‘Cold Times’ [EP]

By: Seamus Fay

Representing Boston with an endless supply of hits, Cousin Stizz has been applying some serious full-court pressure in all of 2018. Just a few weeks back, he blessed us with a three-track EP entitled All Adds Up, and today, he’s here to drop off yet another trio of heaters with Cold Times, housing the songs “Made”, “Butterfly”, and “Brain Freeze”. At the core of the project, Stizz reflects on his rise from the mud to the mountaintops, grateful and energetic as ever. He translates his determination to keep working hard into a collection of anthems that any listener can find inspiration from, and in doing so, reminds us all why he’s starting to realize his full potential as a bona fide star in the world of rap.

That said, sonically, Cold Times represents an important moment for Stizz. As it seems, looking at the last 6 tracks that he has dropped, the Fields Corner native has truly found the sonic direction in which his talents are best applicable. Doused in ethereal, ice-cold melodies and crisp drum patterns, he navigates his way through booming 808s, doing so on his own terms with a diamond-flashing grin to light the way. Stizz really made it, and Cold Times tells listeners that they can do it, too. Especially in rap today, it can feel as though artists are flexing at you rather than doing anything to inspire you, but with our favorite cousin, he always takes listeners right by his side and shows them the way that things can be if we just believe and put in the work.

This is a stellar release to keep the stocks on an insuppressible rise, so show some love to Boston’s own and listen to Cold Times at the link below!

Garrett Merk – “GTR” [Music Video]

Garrett Merk – “GTR” [Music Video]

By: Seamus Fay

It seems as though every new week I find a new artist from the Massachusetts area that I end up loving. Naturally, with so much music going in and out of my headphones, I don’t end up revisiting every single one, but one act that has always stuck with me is Garrett Merk. For Merk, longevity comes naturally. His music effortlessly communicates universal themes in ways that are equally as infectious as they are understandable, not to mention the fact that he holds an unreal amount of talent and sky-high potential. Today, we see these aspects of his artistry in the context of a brand new release, “GTR”.

Led by one of the most illustrative instrumentals that I’ve ever heard Merk take on, “GTR” is the kind of song that you can listen to throughout an entire range of emotions. It’s easy to find comfort in the addictive sound, and with a video that perfectly represents the rising talent’s energetic presence whenever he steps near a mic, this feels like a remarkably true-to-self release. Garrett Merk is the kind of artist that’s going to be around for quite a while, and he’s only just getting started. That said, this wonderfully cinematic set of visuals will surely impress anyone that they come across, so be sure not to sleep.

Click play on “GTR” at the link provided below!

Produced by Frace
Shot/Edited by Frace Media
Mixed and Mastered by Spare Monkey Studios

Cam Meekins – ‘Yellow’ [EP]

Cam Meekins – ‘Yellow’ [EP]

By: Seamus Fay

Turning some heads and providing an undeniable anthem with the release of his new song, “Big Joints”, Cam Meekins has been in heavy rotation as of late. Quite apparently, he’s making some of the best music of his life and having ample amounts of fun doing it, so much so that this infectious joy translates right into the Boston-bred artist’s new EP, Yellow. If there’s any project that symbolizes a moment of pure, heart-led artistry, it has to be this one, as Meekins so passionately shows a love for what he does with his latest project. “Big Joints” was a heater in and of itself, but listening to the full EP, it clearly shows that he has even more heat to keep the hot streak coming.

With this, over the span of just 4 tracks, Yellow is able to paint a clear picture of the life that Meekins has been living as of late. What the EP lacks in length it makes up for in soul, offering up hearty deliveries and bellowing vocals that show vivid accounts of what life consists of for the rising talent — and quite frankly, it seems like a great time. Communicating these themes by way of addictive runs and unforgettable lyrics, each and every track on this one is destined to get stuck in your head with ease, even with all of the major rap releases that came out this Friday (at the moment, “Crazy” is stuck on the brain).

Needless to say, Cam Meekins is ready to do some serious numbers with this project, so be sure to show some love and click play on Yellow at the link below!

An Interview With Isaac Dunbar

An Interview With Isaac Dunbar

By: Seamus Fay

In the era of the internet, due to the vast availability of resources that we can all gain access to with a few clicks of the mouse, it never fails to blow my mind just how able we all are, regardless of seniority. Artists in 2018 are blowing up at remarkably younger ages as compared to artists, say, in the early 2000s, and in all truth, it only makes the level of talent more impressive — but that’s not to say that the bar is lower. In fact, it’s probably the opposite, as many younger artists need to fight even harder to be taken seriously at times.

Easily one of the most talented individuals in MA, Graduation Music favorite Isaac Dunbar is the perfect example of this. The Barnstable native is just starting high school, but with a level of artistry far beyond his years, it goes without saying that Dunbar is ready to take on the spotlight, one song at a time. His addictive, heart-led cadences mix with incredibly mature songwriting abilities in ways that few artists are capable of doing, subsequently allowing for the creation of a catalog that holds its own against any artist out there right now, regardless of age.

We had to make sure we spoke to Isaac Dunbar about his background, inspirations, age, and much, much more, because the truth is, talents like this only come around once in a long while. Read our full conversation below.


Hey Isaac! To start, when and how did you first get into music?

Hello Seamus! I got into creating music when I was nine years old! When I was younger, I was a Lady Gaga superfan. She just announced her album ARTPOP and some of the producers she was working with. One of the producers she announced was this French artist named Madeon, and I decided to listen to his stuff. I remember hearing his song “Technicolor”, and I fell in love with dance music. I remember going to my local Barnes & Nobles and illegally torrenting Fl Studio 10 — at the time that was what Madeon used. I taught myself how to produce through various YouTube tutorials and trying to recreate my favorite songs. I eventually branched off of electro music when I was 11 and started to write lyrics and develop my own sound.

What are three albums or artists that you would cite as the inspirations for you deciding to make your own music?

  1. Worlds – Porter Robinson
  2. ARTPOP – Lady Gaga
  3. Clarity – Zedd

If you directed your own movie, what would it be about and why? What actors/actresses might be in it?

If I were to direct my own movie, I’d want it to be about something kinda scary, but not too scary to the point where it becomes concerning. I know I’d want it to be like a claymation movie, like Coraline. Coraline has been my favorite movie since I was like, 6 or 7. But I’ve always wanted to make a Coraline sequel, so maybe the movie I would direct would be about her life after the events in the previous movie. I’d love to have someone really random to be a voice actor, like Nicki Minaj or something. I think it would be kinda funny.

You tend to hold back on dropping a lot of music. Even now, you only have a few songs out and yet you’ve already come so far in terms of finding an audience and a fanbase. What does “quality over quantity” mean to you and how do you operate as an artist when it comes to deciding when to drop music?

Something that can be a good or bad quality about me is that I am an extreme perfectionist. Ever since I was a young kid, for example in art class, I had to make sure my project was exactly how I envisioned it in my head, and that takes time! If I were to drop a song that I was not 110% proud of, it would be very hard for me to expect the possible millions of people listening to it to also be proud of my work, and that is very important to me and how I want to present myself.

How does it feel to think that even at such a young age, you’ve been able to grow into an artist with tens of thousands of people paying attention to you? Does that ever affect the music you release or the way you move on social media?

It feels terrifying, but in the best way. I definitely have to be more careful about what I say and how I want to people to perceive me. It’s not like I can just have my socials be like public spam accounts where I rant and post memes and indirects like most other 15-year-olds can do. I have to choose what I say wisely so nothing can haunt me in the future. The person you see me as on social media is 100% myself though. There are many artists who sometimes have to hold themselves back on social media to preserve their image, and I agree with doing that to a certain extent, but it’s also very important to show the world a little bit of who you are.

Based on your Instagram, you definitely seem very interested in fashion. Who are some of your favorite designers and in your mind, how does music go hand in hand with fashion?

Some of my favorite designers are Joyrich, Chanel, Opening Ceremony, and Balenciaga. Fashion can play an extreme roll in music. For example, Billie Eilish wears the most baggiest clothing in the world and looks like a 90’s rapper (in the coolest way possible), yet she has the most mature, feminine, and refined voice. Having that contrast is honestly the coolest thing in the world to me. It kinda psychs people out, seeing the 90’s rapper clothing with such a beautiful voice. When that contrast is there, it makes the listener more drawn into the artist.

Especially in the age of the internet, it seems like the artists that are popping off are only getting younger and younger. Do you think about your age at all in the way that people perceive your music or even you as an artist? Or does it not really affect what you make or how it’s received?

Something that I’ve noticed about people, especially workers in the music industry like A&R’s and stuff, they are more impressed with someone young (15-16 years old) making something really cool, than like a 20-year-old making something really cool. I think that’s so weird. Being my age, this generation has been exposed to a lot more than the generation back in the 80’s, for example.

Look, I literally illegally downloaded a music production program when I was nine years old, and now I’m kind of an artist at fifteen! Now if that doesn’t say something about the world changing, not only in music, then I don’t know what will. This whole age dilemma kind of affects what I make, because I want to be taken seriously. I don’t want to end up like some teenage heartbreaker with an audience that only consists of 12-year-old fangirls, you know?

What inspires you when making music? How do concepts for new songs pop into your head? Is there one main source, or multiple sources that spark creativity for you?

Sometimes I can be watching a show and a word might be said that can inspire me. I remember watching American Horror Story a few years ago, and writing a song based on the episode I watched. Some of the best songs that I’ve written are written after I pray for inspiration, believe it or not! Sometimes it’s the chords that I might be playing that will conjure up a mood. Oh! I remember around January 2018, I was wearing this sick outfit, and I remember that outfit literally inspiring me to write a song. Inspiration can source from anything, if you open up your mind enough.

Lastly, what can fans expect from you in the near future?

I just filmed my first music video for my first *official* single that will be coming out very soon. It’s gonna be on every music platform, so be ready for that!


Connect with Isaac Dunbar on:

SoundCloud

Twitter

Instagram