An Interview with $ean Wire + Gibson

By: Eden Bekele

Neither $ean Wire or Gibson (formerly known as Tropicana Bwoy) are strangers to the Boston music scene, as the pair have spent years cultivating their unique sound alongside numerous talents throughout the Boston area. Some may recognize Gibson for his multiple producer placements or even from his former days as a party thrower in his parents Allston garage, whilst others may recognize $ean from his deep discography and collaborations. No matter how it’s framed, it’s safe to say that the two are heavily involved in the local scene.

It’s already been an incredible year for the pair, with $ean having been nominated in multiple categories for this year’s Boston Music Awards, and for the both of them gaining major exposure with a Cousin Stizz placement. It’s without a doubt that they’re both on the path towards great accomplishments.

Possessing a unique and natural bond, it was only right to capture the duo together. I was lucky enough to sit down with these old friends of mine — huddled intimately in their home studio space — to talk about their process, intention, and outlook towards the future.


Where are you from?

$ean: I was born in Newton, and I moved to Dorchester when I was 2. I’ve been a Dorchester baby ever since. 

Gibson: The hospital was in Stoneham, but I’ve been in Allston all my life. 

How did the two of you meet?

$ean: I met you (Gib) through Najee.

Najee’s like the key to a lot of things. He linked a lot of people together.

Gib: It’s so weird how it all happened. I liked to wear — you know my collared shirts tucked into the khakis — you know that’s just what I did. That’s what I liked to do — with the stripes and the flowers and everything.  I’m in the bathroom at school and while I was p*ssing this guy is like “Hey I like your style” 

I turn around — I didn’t know him and it’s Najee and I’m like “Oh thank you man.” And he’s wearing a snapback and a hoodie. 

Then one whole year later he stops me at the bus stop and he’s like “Listen man can I just hug you. I gotta hug you man you’re great” and I was kinda shy but I was touched. No one told me that before. 

And then one day in the hallway he was like “I bet you make music” and I was like “Yeah I kinda do” and I showed him this really weird beat. I was trying to be like Hudson Mohawk at the time and I showed him this beat in that period and he was like “Yo this was the best beat I’ve ever heard” and I was like, “Okay, you’re crazy — that’s mad dramatic, but thank you.” and he asked me to come to his house and we just started hanging out. 

You know a few months later he went to Seans school. 

$ean: When you dapped me up your hand was mad wet. The dap you gave me was mad off. After that dap I was just like iight..you cool. I remember you had the Dark World hoodie on. That was like Super Saiyan 1 Gibby.

Gib: Yeah, and after that we were just coming here every week to make music. 

$ean: Yup, we would be here everyday. It would be hot as sh*t in here. No fan. We would just be going back to back to back. 

Gib: This is like 10th/11th grade and it really picked up senior year. 

I love how organic that is and it even leads into my next question about the music — how was it creating the DEAR project and how was the process similar to or different than working on HIM$?

$ean: The process with HIM$ was really fun. Like I said before, it was really just us having fun in the room. Making beats, jumping around, and acting a fool. Versus

DEAR was done in like two months. It was really like “let’s bang this out”. At the time I hadn’t released music in a while because I had been in a management situation where it was just like they wanted us to write and build. I spent some time ghostwriting and Gib was producing for some other artists.

DEAR was really a sweet process. I was going through a real dark time from 2017 into 2018. I feel like DEAR was the conclusion of a heavy mindset. I lost my uncle, I got hit by a car, I lost mad memory and was forgetting song lyrics. 

I met my girlfriend — well I knew her for a grip, but I got with her and she inspired a lot of the records too. It was just a lot of life changing moments in DEAR and in that whole process. I found out a lot about myself and I just expressed it as much as I could in the music. 

So the difference between HIM$ and DEAR is that HIM$ was just like me having fun versus DEAR I was having fun but I was also giving a real message of who I am to myself. 

Gib: There was a reason for making it. HIM$ was kind of like “huh we don’t have like an album yet”.

How was it being apart of the Stizz project, Trying To Find My Next Thrill?

$ean: That experience was so stressful but so fun. Let me give you the whole story.

Gib: You got the story?

$ean: I got the story. This is what happened. Sebastian Mikael had a tour date in New York at Baby’s All Right and I had to get to New York. At the time it was snowing like crazy and I had to record a Stizz verse and send it to Tim. 

Gibson: No no no you started too late. 

So I was in Atlanta working for Jeezy — I was hanging out with Jeezy and some of his people & making music. 

$ean: Let em know!

Gibson: I was there for 14 days, and I felt I wasn’t meeting a lot of people. I felt like I could get more — so I took a chance. 

I had heard of this guy Tim, Tim Larew, who manages Stizz and I reached out to him just off the cuff completely.  I was like maybe he can help me out I want to meet people. So I DM’d him like “Yo who do you know in Atlanta that I could f*ck with — I’m here for a little while and I’m tryna make it happen”. And he was like “Yo I love you and Sean’s music so much — Stizz is working on an album, please send anything that has an open verse thats you and Sean. Please send it right now.” That was the end of the DM, nothing to do with Atlanta. I was like word I got you. And then like right then I sent him ($ean) a few beats, I told him what it was and he was like okay let’s go. 

$ean: He sent me like three or four beats. I was kind of stressed out because I was having like the illest writers block and that is the worst thing when it’s crunch time and an opportunity comes. Still, I was in my room and I wrote at least eight verses. 

Gib: What?!

$ean: You know how I be. 

Gib: There was a deleted verse for Soso?

$ean: Plenty. So I did that & Gib came back and we recorded it with Christian Yoon. and the next day I had to go to New York. 

Gib: It happened mad organic. 

$ean: Tim and Stizz are just cool and genuine dudes and they’re about the culture, making good music, having fun with it and being smart with your decisions. 

How does it feel being in Boston — in your hometown, after putting out two full projects and having this Stizz placement?

$ean: It feels good. It’s definitely a boost of confidence. It was so many days we would be in here like what are we doing. We would get frustrated. 

Gibson: I was frustrated,  but I would fake try to hype you up. 

$ean: We’ve had multiple conversations where its just like damn sh*ts not moving cuz Gib was in school at McGill and I don’t blame you because shit wasn’t moving and we weren’t getting exposure like that.

So that’s really the difference now.  It’s a lot of love, people are seeing the growth in the music and me as a person and Gib as a person. It just feels more welcoming — the love is immaculate. 

Gib: Everyone says congratulations. I’m mad humbled. I get emotional. A stranger will be like “Ohh you’re gib I heard you got that shit on Stizz’s album.”

$ean: My cheekbones are hurting. 

It was dope for me to see really. I saw Stizz’s story and there was a billboard in my neighborhood. Me and my boy Nick went to go see it. So being part of that has just been an amazing experience. 

Have y’all been doing music full time or are you planning on it?

$ean: I’ve been doing music full time since 2016. I’ve only had two jobs in my whole life. 

I was really trying to force myself to be great at what I do. I didn’t want to come in second place, I don’t want to ask for handouts — I just wanted my work to speak for itself. If I walk in any door and they ask me to play them three songs, I know I have three songs they could f*ck with. And I never want to be a miss, ever, ever, ever. That’s definitely the mission.

Gib: I’m not in school anymore — I left, but I do some teaching and lecturing at the ICA for music, and some catering. 

The lecturing is fun, and teaching. It’s just like these free classes for the teens who want to learn music, and want to make beats. It’s pretty fun. Teenagers are hard to engage but I think I might’ve got it. You know you can learn sh*t from anybody and I learned sh*t from these kids. 

So whats next? It’s already been disclosed to me that yall are working on a new album is that safe to share?

$ean: I’m so proud of this upcoming project. I’ve never channeled this much energy into a tape before. It’s just great, great music. I’m very confident about this one. Both the delivery and timing are perfect. Now we’re just trying to get some videos out and get shit going. It’s an exciting chapter right now.

What impact are yall looking to leave? If any?

$ean: My whole end goal is to inspire the world — not even just the city but the world. I want to reach as many people as possible and for them to be like “Remember when Sean and Gib did that?”  I just want to inspire because there’s a cycle of love in that. 

Gib: I want to inspire people too.

If I can leave an impact I would say… patience is boring, but if you’re not thinking about it being boring — it’s fun. 


Stream $ean Wire’s music and Gibson’s production below:

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An Interview with CHI

By: Eden Bekele

While authenticity in an industry that is seemingly over saturated with disingenuous players is a novelty these days, no one stands more true to themselves in the Boston scene, as CHI. She is an artist, DJ and creative from the city who is a great example of how realness will only elevate your work and spirit.

It has been half a year since CHI dropped her LP titled B.O.M.B. short for “Back On My Bullsh*t”, and listeners have been fiending for more content since. The project was a successful 11 tracks, filled with an all-star roster of Boston artists, all contributing to the power that is B.O.M.B. Prior to releasing her LP, CHI had collaborated with Gin Mason and SuperSmashBroz, to release their joint project Code Name: Girls Next Door,  which included the catchy Girls Night single, as well as releasing her own series of singles and DJ mixes.

We had the privilege to sit down and speak candidly with CHI on being a veteran in the Boston scene, her creative influences, and what the future holds.


Where are you from?

I’m from Dorchester by ways of Nigeria. If I wanna be real specific I’m a young Igbo person- woman.

So you’re Nigerian, and you’re Igbo, how does that influence you?

That’s like my whole origin right there. I’m big on origins, I’m big on my roots. I grew up in a household that was very African, like very African. Something my dad used to say when I was growing up, he would be like: “When you come into my house, you’re not in America anymore, you’re in Owerri. So treat it like that.” My dad used to say that to me all the time, so that’s how I grew up.

Who or what are your biggest musical influences?

Sh*t, I was talking to somebody about this the other day. I have a lot of influences, because I listen to a lot of music and I grew up in a very musical house. Off the rip- singing wise, I get a lot of my influences from falceto males, like D’Angelo, Maxwell, Prince, that’s where I learned how to riff, Rudy Currence, sh*t like that. Obviously Lauryn Hill is a big influence on me. I don’t like to say her immediately though, because i feel like people assume that’s my main influence and its actually not. People always givin’ me the Lauryn and the Tracy Chapman, another one of my influences is Brandy, notice how I haven’t named any rappers. Before, KRS was one of my main rappers, but before I was really into rap I was into RnB, I was into Jazz. I was into a lot of African music growing up. Dancehall. I wasn’t really into rap music until I rediscovered 90s rap on my own, when I was about 11/12. I was kinda like ‘yeah i like rap music’.

Going back to Lauryn Hill, she talks a lot about the Israelites how do you see yourself fitting into that narrative because I know you have a song (titled Israelite: God Bless Amerikkka) about it as well?

I know that that’s my truth and that’s my history, even though growing up as black people we don’t learn too much about our true history. I think for me I fit into that because it’s like a coming of age- more like a going back home.

People think life is about turning into a new person, but it’s really about turning into your actual self. So when I think about being an israelite and being part of like a lost group of people, I see myself fitting into that- I see all of us fit into that though. I think the difference is some people own it and some people don’t.

So getting into the music, Boston and your home, how do you feel like the scene has changed since you’ve been coming up?

You know what’s funny about that? I grew up in Boston, like actually, actually. We are in my neighborhood where I went to school. I feel like automatically, off the rip, I have a whole different view of the scene than everyone else does. Because before the scene, there was the young ethnic community in Boston. I wasn’t really one of those kids going downtown and doing all the crazy stuff, but I was family friends with people who were doing that- or like I had history with people who were doing that. And you know I was never really like that going downtown to go jerk and stuff, I wasn’t like that, but those people are pioneers of the scene.

A lot of people came up like that. So when I think about the scene I don’t really think of it- like not to say there isn’t a scene, because there is, but my place in the scene is a little different because I have real roots in the scene.

So having said that last part do you feel people are just entering the scene to fit in?

Absolutely, I think some people see it as a way to get internet famous. And Im like n*gga whats your talent though? What are you doing to progress the scene? Confuses me.

So I see that you have a lot of relationships like you said and I’ve noticed you have some hits with SuperSmashBroz and Gin Mason, what are those relationships like and how was putting together ‘Girls Night’?

Everybody loves that song. That song is great. It’s just what I was just saying, those are my friends. I been friends with Gin before music and the reason why those songs came out was because it was really authentic. We friends, we vibe, we understand that we wanted to make a certain thing so we executed it.

That’s just the homies getting together, but a lot of my music is like. If were homies and you want to make music, or if we click on a level outside of music, it just makes me want to collab even more.

What motivates you?

D*mn, I don’t like thinking about big questions sometimes. I talk a lot.

I’m motivated by seemingly being an underdog. Definitely feel like a lot of people in the city sleep on me. Is it not true? I’m saying in general, sometimes when I see certain things and I wont see my name there, I’m like “hm.”

I also just feel like I wasn’t always as proud of the music, now I’m a lot more confident. I believe in myself. That’s another one of my motivations. I’m motivated by me, not my ego, I’m motivated by my real self.

That reminds me of your song Vanity, I like the message of that song, can you talk about what feelings brought that song on? Did you always love yourself this much? Or is this something that you’ve more recently been like “Oh okay, I’m owning my sh*t”?

Good question. Vanity, is, well in all of my music I like irony, and I like satire and I like contradictions because it plays into irony.

I believe life is about duality and dichotomy. So when I think about saying something that leaves an impression on people, I think about kind of confusing them. So when I made Vanity I was like n*gga Im so happy that I’m all of these bad things- d*mn, that makes me extremely vain. It’s more like when you realize that you’re happy about doing things that don’t serve you, you kinda have to step back and think about “hm why am I happy about that?” I think that’s what BOMB is really about. Being back on your bullsh*t is about having to destroy pieces of yourself now so that you can actually be free and be who you really are.

How do you feel about the difference between lyrical rap and other kinds of rap that’s being put out? Do you think you’ll continue going this route?

I think it goes back to being an underdog. I’m doing a lot that people in Boston aren’t doing right now. The reason that Lyrical rap will always stand out is because that is the foundation of Hip-Hop and that’s the foundation of music in general, lyrics are profound. I remember when i was a kid I used to listen to Jill Scott interviews and she used to say “It doesn’t matter how you said it, it matters what you said. You could say it however you want, but if you didn’t say anything worth saying then- what are you saying?” You know that made so much sense to me. I like to carry that into my music.  

So if you had to pick a top 3 in the game today, who would you pick?

Kendrick Lamar. Hmm who’s as good as K.Dot? Honestly, y’all are going to hate me but… Drake. Drake is different. You know who I’m lowkey throwing in there? Saba. I’m like d*mn why am I throwing Saba up there? But Care For Me is like my favorite album that’s come out in the last 5 years.

What do you have planned for the future?

I got a project coming out in the colder months, it’s called Clairvoyance. I’m working on getting some women in Boston on that thang. I’m going to have my producer debut on that. I recently just started mixing and mastering. I’m going to start going in-cognegro as a producer. Get ready I’m about to run these placements up, look out.

So I’m working on that and I’m working on some visuals for B.O.M.B. I’m directing my videos these videos as well, y’all will be seeing a lot of my ideas come through. Probably by mid summer all of them will be out.


Connect with CHI on:

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

SOUNDCLOUD

SPOTIFY

APPLE MUSIC

An Interview With Rothstein

By: Shamus Hill

Hailing from Cambridge, Massachusetts — Rothstein is an exhilarating force within the Bay State’s music scene. Over the past few years, he’s been busy filling-up his discography with passionate, heart-wrenching music that encapsulates the essence of some of the most prominent moments of his life.

Graduation Music recently spoke with the exceptional artist in order to gain some insight into what makes him the individual that he is. Check out the interview below:


ORIGINS


To begin, when did you start making music? 

I started in high school with my best friend Raf. He used to chop samples & mix vocals in ACID; he’d been toying with it since we were in middle school. Raf is actually still my engineer.

Who were some of your early inspirations, both musically and non-musically speaking? 

50 Cent, Craig David, Phonte, Andre, Joni Mitchell, Jadakiss, Donald Fagen, Steve Winwood, Usher, Alison Krauss, Max B, Paul Simon, Sade, Stephen Sondheim, Paul Rogers, Stevie Wonder, Backstreet Boys… Most of my heroes were and are musicians.

What kind of music did you grow up on?

My dad is a drummer & he plays mostly jazz so it was mostly that from him. My mom always played me this gorgeously wimpy singer / songwriter folk-pop stuff from the 70s. My cousin always put me on with the heady indie shit the cool, artsy older kids were listening to. All of my friends listened to hip hop — that’s my first love, the lens through which I view all of my music — even the stuff that sounds nothing like it.


CAMBRIDGE 


How has Cambridge molded you as a person? 

Growing up in Cambridge didn’t make me weird, but it helped. Diversity is a fact of life there — of race, of sexual orientation, of class, of taste, of cuisine, of culture. It also engendered in me a special hatred for a certain kind of New England prep school frat boy WASPism, a love for a certain shitty brand of iced coffee and an unshakeable coldness of demeanor.

Why is being from Cambridge important to you? 

It is and it isn’t — I’m very proud to be from a city as progressive, as strange and as undeniably good at ball as Cambridge. On the other hand, I’ve always lived in my own little world. That’s where most of my music takes place. I love Cambridge mostly for the people. Many of them have since dispersed, but I made lifelong friendships there with some of the weirdest and brightest people you could hope to meet.

Can you speak on your decision to move away from Cambridge to further your career? 

I didn’t leave Cambridge to further my career — I left Cambridge to start it. I was 20 when I moved to New York; I had dropped out of college after a year of absolute fuckery and was living in my mom’s apartment in Cambridge, writing songs and moping. My friend Taylor had just opened a tiny little menswear boutique in Williamsburg and he offered me a bed upstairs if I’d run the shop with him, leave MA and attempt to make a career of my music instead of remaining a sad sack of shit. It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Cambridge is a wonderful place but it’s where I grew up, and growing up is hell. When I came back after dropping out, all it represented to me was failure.

Describe Cambridge in one word.

Collage.


MUSIC


What do you want listeners to take-away from your music?

I want them to be moved. I want them to hear, articulated in simple terms, the things they could never quite put into words. I want them to be awash in imagery. I want them to feel something.

In your opinion, why is self-expression important? 

Expression is important to me because we’ve turned this innately selfish thing into a means to relate to one another — to alleviate the sorrow and loneliness and apathy and guilt and pain that come with being human. It’s given me purpose and joy, and the fact that I get to live off it is still fucking surreal to me. 

How was your journey towards becoming comfortable enough to put your real life experiences into your music? Was this something that felt natural to you or did it take time to develop?

Writing was always therapy so I’ve always been more open in song than I am in real life. I’ve always been a storyteller, and I’ve always felt like an outsider, so I think I’m particularly conscious of what experiences of mine people relate to. I’m lucky to be dating a woman who can listen to scathing songs about her or wistful songs about exes without batting an eye. I’m lucky to be the child of a mother who can listen to my war stories without judgement and tell me what she likes about the songwriting. Even if it made everyone uncomfortable though, I’d still write this shit. It’s for me.

What was the process of obtaining your stylistic elements like? 

I think it went for me the way it goes for most — imitate your idols until you learn all their tricks, then put said tricks (and whatever tricks you got of your own) to use to make something truly your own. I used to try and rap like Ka over dusty lo-fi beats. I heard House of Balloons and did my best Abel impression for like a year. I always had a very distinctive way of writing lyrics, but it all came together just over 2 years ago when I wrote a song that changed my life and helped me define my voice for good. I’ve been on autopilot ever since.

When making a song, what’s the setting typically like? Are there any specific people that help facilitate a better music-making experience?

When I work on music, it’s in one of 5 places:

  • The desk in my windowless little room in Queens
  • Fallen Atom’s living room
  • Candid, the studio in Brooklyn where 3 of my closest producers- Gabe Monro, DOC and Elijah Fox- reside
  • Raf’s home studio all the way uptown
  • Ricky Sour’s bedroom

These guys make the experience what it is. Raf and I have been doing this forever and his patience knows no limits. He’s a phenomenal engineer and without him there’s no Rothstein. Fallen is the best guitar player in the world — this dude has played for J Balvin, Liam Payne, Rita Ora, just tons of fucking people. He’s my secret weapon. Gabe is the only guy down to stay up and work till the morning with me. He executive produced my upcoming album PARADISE, and I think he’s one of the best producers working right now. DOC is a hit machine, probably the purest producer I’ve ever met. Elijah is someone whose affable genius inspires awe in everyone he meets. He’s the one who wanders into the room, lays keys or backing vocals and completely transforms a song, then he’s gone in 15 minutes. Ricky is going to be the greatest producer out of Cambridge ever. With these guys all within 15 minutes of home, I can’t lose.

How would you describe your music? 

My music is like if Raymond Carver wrote R&B songs. It’s like if James Blake and Future raised a depressive child who painted his nails black and started using early in life. I have so much fun making these comparisons but it’s hard to know exactly what to say because my music sounds exactly like me, and it really doesn’t sound enough like anyone else to warrant comparison. I’m making my favorite shit in the world right now.

In your opinion, what’s the ideal setting for listening to your music? 

If you are listening to Rothstein you should be wiping frozen tears from your face with a designer handkerchief while you speed down the Mass Pike, heartbroken and desperate, driven only by the desire to dispatch your remaining enemies. 

Who are your favorite artists from Massachusetts? 

Gabe Gill is my favorite artist in MA. Gabe is a boy genius future pop star from Northampton; his music sounds like Matchbox 20 on acid and his writing is some of the best there is. He’s got so much to say, such beautiful ways of saying it, such vision and passion and empathy, such effervescent swag. I can’t say enough about that kid.

I’ve been listening to a number of acts from home — Maka is a unicorn in a scene overpopulated with clones, a well of originality and joyful escapism. I listen to his music all the time. Connis is the best rapper in the state and it’s not even really all that close. His upcoming album is very special. TeaMarrr is making really cool, personal R&B and she owns any stage she touches. Dutchy DoBad, Jiggz and 7891 Kal are making high quality street music. Honeyfitz is like a badass Conor Oberst. Stizz inspired me (and everyone else) a great deal and made an album that I think of as our First Classic Record (I got Maka down for the second one with Waterworld). Gogo is a problem. Los Elk have been going crazy… I know I’m missing plenty of names here but MA has a lot going on man, I’m excited to see what the future holds.


2018 


Which 2018 release of yours was your favorite? 

It’s either “A Million” or “Endless Winter Freestyle”. They’re very different songs but they’re both kind of State of the Union moments for me — whereas most of my music is story driven and imagery driven and very much wrapped up in relationships with other people, those 2 are moments where I break the fourth wall and just talk my shit for a minute. 

Can you describe the feelings you experienced surrounding the release of your debut album, HIGH WATER

I made most of HIGH WATER in 2016 so it was a massive relief to finally get it off. I make a whole lot of music so I’d already moved all the way on by the time it was released but watching fans hear it for the first time renewed my excitement for it and hearing “High Tide” play in an episode of network TV was totally surreal. The release show was a moment for me too; it was my first New York headliner at a venue I actually really wanted to play at. That shit was beautiful man. My band is superb and these guys helped me give the kind of show you can’t get just from listening to the record and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.

Last year was an incredibly successful one for you, racking in over a million plays and 126K+ monthly listeners on Spotify. Do you feel like this has changed your perspective at all, or do you still feel the same as you always have? 

I’m very grateful but nowhere near satisfied.

For the younger artists out there, do you have any tips pertaining to how they too can grow their listenership? 

First, you have to be yourself. Then you have be good, but that matters a lot less. Don’t get into this to make money; get a job, reinvest your earnings, pay the people you work with fairly, surround yourself with good art, be persistent. Understand that nobody owes you anything and everyone wants something from you- be useful, be quiet, work hard, make something beautiful.

What was your biggest lesson from last year? 

I used to internally justify my pain / isolation / bad habits / depression / drug use / antisocial behavior with the “it’s all part of Being An Artist, man” thing and I gave that up this past year. I don’t need to suffer to be great. I don’t need to be lonely to be great.


2019 & ON


What’s next for Rothstein? 

If this year were an episode of Friends it would be The One Where Roth Drops All The Music. I’ve been writing a lot of music for other artists, and it’ll be exciting to see that all finally exist outside of my head. With any luck you might hear some of those on the radio this year; these guys are heavy hitters and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to help them fulfill their visions. I’ve got a lot of my own on the way this year too- next up is LET ME DOWN EASY, a short EP with Fallen on production. Then it’s DEADMALL + ROTHSTEIN, with Gabe Gill & Honeyfitz. After that, I got 2 singles Ricky Sour & I produced (one of which features Radamiz, who, aside from being one of my only true Artist Friends in this shit, is very possibly the best rapper alive). Then it’s finally time for PARADISE, my album, my best work yet. When I drop these, they’ll tell you more than I could ever hope to say here. I hope you dance.


Listen to some of Rothstein’s music down below:

An Interview With YOUNGFACE

By: Seamus Fay

YOUNGFACE is an artist best defined by his wide palette of sonic abilities. Whether orchestrating energy by way of hard-nosed deliveries and trunk-rattling production or looking toward a more cathartic direction with a heart-led, acoustic offering, the Massachusetts representative can do it all.

But these talents range far beyond just the diversity showcased in his musical catalog. Whether it be through visuals or in live performance, YOUNGFACE is paving his own lane, one fan at a time, all without compromising the quality or authenticity of his output. He’s charismatic and light-hearted in demeanor yet obsessive when working on his craft, and as a result, this budding act is on his way toward notoriety far beyond his home state of Massachusetts.

He exemplifies versatility in a way that few artists are able to achieve, and by working tirelessly toward his goals and constantly challenging his creative ambitions, it should come as no surprise that 2018 has a been quite the prosperous year for YOUNGFACE.

In order to better understand such a captivating talent, we here at Graduation Music spoke to YOUNGFACE about his upbringing, creative process, ideal first date, and much, much more. Read the full conversation below.


To start off, where are you originally from? What was your childhood like and how did music play a part in your life growing up?

I’m from Woburn, MA. It’s a small city outside Boston. I had a solid childhood. When I was younger, I lived pretty comfortably. My mom and dad were together for a good part of my childhood and had jobs, so we could go out to restaurants, go to the movies, and things like that. It wasn’t until later on when I was 12 or so that things got iffy and I was feeling the effects of being a lil broke boi.

My mom had a car accident when I was 9 and got a TBI (traumatic brain injury), and the next 4 years were just one thing after another. She got diagnosed with breast cancer, lost her mom, got separated for my dad, and some other shit. She handled it so well though — I’ve learned a ton from her. She managed her money well so we never went homeless or anything, but we definitely started budgeting hard and got on food stamps and all that.

When that shit was going down, I had to find hobbies that didn’t require much cause my mom had a ton on her plate. So, I skated a lot and learned to play the guitar. I used to write a bunch of songs that were just rearranged chords from Green Day songs because that was all I knew how to play. When I got older, I started riding BMX and I’d always be listening to music through earbuds. Dubstep was the wave around that time and the BMX kids were always posting new songs on FaceBook, so I started to fuck with it heavy. It was super high energy, and as someone who initially liked older punk stuff, I got drawn in. Soon, I started messing around on FL studio and that was when I started producing. I got chubby as hell because every day I’d get Dunks, come home, and sit on Fruity Loops for like, 5 hours making super ass EDM stuff. It paid off, though, because now I’m nice with the mixing.

You also used to be in a band, right? What’s the story there?

Yeah, I had always wanted to be in a band since I was a kid. In 3rd grade, I’d always try and get my friends to learn instruments so we could get that shit going but it’s hard to get people on your wave. Once I got to college, I tried to start something up with some musicians around here, and I got a lil band going.

We did a few shows, but in doing so, I realized that I don’t really work well with others. I like my art to be a certain way and I don’t really budge on it too often, lol. I take shit way seriously, too. I mean, I’m always having fun when I’m making music, but when someone starts to impede on my shit, I definitely get annoyed. That’s why I barely collaborate with anyone. Not cause I don’t like their music or whatever, I just need everything to be legit.

One aspect of your music that has especially stuck out to me has been its ability to evoke very strong emotion. What is your creative process like when writing songs?

My creative process is all over the place. I don’t really have a set way of working on stuff. Sometimes a dope record will come together in 20 minutes, and sometimes I hold songs for a year before I can get it right; it depends on how I’m feeling.

This year I was in a super low point in my life and I became very detached from everything, so I started to hate myself for a while — definitely the wrong move. I ended up losing a ton of weight and I didn’t really sleep at all. But, I was able to write, especially at like 3AM when the world is completely silent — going on walks at that time can put you into a weird state of mind where you observe everything more and think more. I don’t know if it’s the sleep deprivation or the silence, but it gets you thinking differently. When you go back to write, you have a bunch to work off of.

Do you make a conscious effort to expand your versatility and make songs out of your comfort zone? Or does the heavy variance in your catalog come naturally based on whatever you’re feeling?

It’s definitely based on what I’m feeling. Everyone who tries to help guide me in the music world is like, “ok try to focus in on your sound,” which is definitely good advice, but I can’t. I’ve never been able to. I’m just not a focused person. If something is dope and I want to put it out, it’s probably going out. I love making turn up music, but if I have bars to throw around, I’m going to do it. There are definitely records that made me tap into darker parts that mean a lot to me, though.

Where do you want to be in five years?

In my bag.

As an artist, do you think about the future ahead often? Or are you more of a “one day at a time” kind of person?

Definitely a future person, but I’m trying to change that. It causes way too much anxiety and depression for me. My head is almost always elsewhere, dwelling on the past or thinking too much about the future. Nowadays, I’ve been better. But from a creative standpoint, I want to put out so many projects and I’m always scheming and plotting. I have a ton of records that I don’t know when will see the light of day or what the best way to release them will be, but Imma figure it out. It’s good to have a plan, but sometimes, like with “Jump In The Beam”, I just decide to put it out.

What has been your proudest moment as an artist so far? 

My proudest moments are probably anytime someone shares what I’m doing. I’ve been making music in some way or another for my whole life practically, and this is the first time anything is kind of coming from it. I’ve never had labels reach out to me before, I’ve never had articles written about me, or anything even similar to that. To see people I’ve never met, as well as all my friends, sharing my stuff is the fucking craziest feeling. It’s so rewarding. I’m grateful, for real. It’s nuts to think I even have one fan.

What is one thing about YOUNGFACE that all fans, both new and old, need to know?

I could live off of burritos my whole life and I don’t think I’d ever get sick of them.

What does your dream first date look like?

Not sure, really. The last first date I went on, I took a girl to get burritos then went to the beach. It was pretty late, and maybe an hour in, this older couple was aggressively making out with their feet in the water in the distance. This really set the mood for me to kiss the girl. Then, when I looked back, the older man was getting some ignorant slop. I didn’t have the same luck. Sometimes old people have all the fun.

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

They can expect me to be rich and cute forever.


Follow YOUNGFACE on:

SoundCloud

Twitter

Instagram

What IV Boston’s New Commercial Means For Boston

By: Seamus Fay

Boston is a city majorly defined by its success in sports. Surely, this reputation is not without merit, as years and years of championships and dynasties are sure to do this to one’s identity. But in 2018, during a time of flourishing art communities and more than enough creativity coming out of Boston, it’s time that a connection is bridged between these two worlds, allowing the city to prosper as a whole rather than in just one area of entertainment.

Here to accept this challenge is Sean Milliken of IV Boston. By presenting the city’s lesser-known history (by this, I mean the figures outside of your Tom Bradys and Larry Birds) in the context of fashion, Sean has been tirelessly working to pay tribute to the numerous legends that have made their mark in the city’s history over the years. 

His latest act — the first ever IV Boston commercial, equipped equally with scenes of Boston sports culture as it is with Boston arts culture.

Originally aired during the Celtics vs. Cavaliers game on November 30th, this commercial offers cement proof of bridging the aforementioned gap that so many have worked toward bridging over the years. Milliken and his IV Boston team are on the cutting edge of bringing their city’s abundant talent together, and as a witness of this history, we couldn’t be more proud.

We spoke to Milliken about the commercial and the direction of his brand in a brief interview. Read the conversation below.


When did the idea for this commercial come about? How were you able to get so many important figures from the city involved?

I had the idea for the commercial since I started the brand — it’s something I envisioned since the beginning. I still have the notes in my phone dated back to March 4, 2016. Fast forward to this past April/May, I reached out to my friend Gilad (Shadow Lion) who does video work asking him if he would be interested in doing some video/mini-docs for the throwback jerseys I was releasing over the summer. He was down and wanted to get involved. A couple days passed and I was planning the shoot for the Patrick Ewing CRLS throwback kit with Millyz and Patrick’s nephew, Terrance, when Gilad called me. He said he was talking with Tom Brady, whom he shoots a lot of content for, about the brand and said, “we want to make this a bigger thing and shoot a commercial”. As soon as I heard Gilad say those words I was off and running with the idea I always had for a commercial.

We had the camera and crew available for a couple days in May, so I hit up some friends and tried to work out a schedule for the two days we had the equipment, all while knocking out the Ewing stuff, as well. We shot a few more times in the following months when we were able to get everything together at once.

Shoutout to everyone who was involved, it means a lot. And big thanks to Chris Herren for doing the voice over.

How does this commercial communicate the vision of IV Boston?

I feel like Boston has always had this divide between sports and the arts. We have the best sports teams/athletes in the world and it has always baffled me why no one in these high positions, or positions of influence in the city, have ever combined the two or made a connection for local artists with some of the high profile athletes. I’m happy to see it starting to get better, with Stizz voicing Celtics commercials and things like that. I want to see more of that.

So yea, the vision is showing [Jefe] Replay in Dudley alongside Charlie McAvoy taking slap shots, if that makes sense.

I imagine this commercial has to be a dream come true for you, in some ways. Explain the feeling of watching your commercial play during the Celtics game on live TV and what it meant for you. 

It’s crazy, very humbling. Wouldn’t have been possible without Gilad, everyone involved, and the people who support the brand and see what we are trying to do for the city.

Lastly, what can supporters expect from IV Boston in 2019?

The second collection of “Boston Legends” with the throwback kits. We’re releasing four kits in summer 19, telling that history, and giving the city more stories of the local legends while educating the youth on the basketball culture of Boston and Mass as a whole. Definitely some special things in the works.

Cousin Stizz Talks His Sound, Boston, Social Media, & More With Power 106 LA

By: Seamus Fay

Fresh off of the release of the stellar new 3-pack EP, Cold Times, Cousin Stizz is the subject of every headline right now. He’s a star in the making and an undeniably captivating personality, so much so that it’s always a blessing when we receive a new interview with the Fields Corner native. Today, Stizz hits the Graduation Music pages alongside Power 106 Los Angeles, offering a question-and-answer video all about Boston, his influences, daily life, and much, much more.

Stizz has been quite active over the past month or so in terms of dropping music, so be sure to keep an eye out for more possibly on the way. And if you haven’t already, listen to Cold Times here and All Adds Up here!

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