An Interview With Deadmall

By: Shamus Hill

Hailing from Western Massachusetts is Deadmall — an extraordinary duo composed of Gabe Gill and Honeyfitz that specializes in crafting starry eyed music that gracefully leaves the mind of the listener in perfect solace. While both Gabe and Honeyfitz are in possession of solo discographies, there’s something captivatingly unique about the music the pair have released alongside one another — with this sentiment only being reinforced on Deadmall’s latest project, Zach’s Mice, which was released this past Friday. To gain some more insight towards what went into the making of this project, I had a conversation with Deadmall where the duo touch upon the group’s origins, their transition to NYC, and how Western Massachusetts ties into their identity.


Shamus Hill: To start things off, I wanted to ask about what went into the making of ‘Zach’s Mice’. What were some of your early goals in terms of recording the project? And how did they change with time? 

Honeyfitz: We made it mostly last Fall and it definitely didn’t feel like we were starting an album.

Gabe Gill: I think we started it kind of half-heartedly because we still had to finish up parts of Bunny Rabbit and the Deadmall 1 EP at the time, but I think we wanted it to be bigger sounding and more polished from the start. I don’t know what our first thoughts on the sound of it were.

Honeyfitz: We were just making songs — doing whatever felt like the next step sonically from Bunny Rabbit and DM1, but there was no big plan. I think it’s the album where our production is most synced up. We were making beats in a super collaborative way where its hard to tell who’s contributing what. 

SH: I see where the both of you are coming from. This project in particular seems to combine a variety of sonic elements from the group’s prior releases, and the both of you also appear to be meshing sonically better than ever. Would you attribute this to anything in particular? Like was there something about living together in Hadley recording music that amplified things? Or would you say this is just the result of years of development alongside one another? 

GG: I think definitely because this was the first project we made when we lived together, a little of both. But living in the same space made it so much easier to be in the same space mentally and kind of be taking in the same influences at the same time.

H: We made a lot more songs because we were together all of the time, whereas Bunny Rabbit we made essentially in a week in December 2017 when Gabe was living in Boston. There was this urgency to make those songs before Gabe went back to Boston. Zach’s Mice feels like we could take our time and execute the things we learned on the first project.

GG: But still, most of the songs were made in one session. I think it honestly wasn’t until after ZM that we’ve started working on songs for much longer. They still have some of that urgency just in that we both were writing really fast and just putting all of our ideas down.

SH: That makes a ton of sense because you can quite literally hear how in sync the both of you are throughout ZM.  The bond the two of you have has really enabled your music to reach entirely different heights. While on the subject of Hadley, how would you say Western Massachusetts, and MA as a whole ties into who the both of you are? And subsequently how it ties into your music? 

GG: Really deep! I think a lot of the initial Deadmall aesthetic and idea was really around trying to make music that was inspired by growing up in Western MA and the landscape, community, feeling, etc. of being from there. A lot of [our] music has this contrast between like really dense, dark passages that feel like a house party or something where you might be crushed with 200 kids in a basement & then there’s parts that feel like just driving or walking on the bike path or a field where everything feels really huge and empty and beautiful.

H: WMass is the best place! Both Gabe and I have been really integrated into WMass music scenes for a long time, and that’s always been super helpful in terms of always having models for bands and musicians making shit happen for themselves, but I think musically the stuff i make has always been as much in opposition to the people around me as it was influenced by them. It’s funny now to be surrounded by people who are making similar music to me, cause I’m really not used to it.

GG: Same, which is funny because I think the music scene in WMass is also equal parts more like our music and less like our music than it was when we were teens. Like there are people doing stuff with autotune and like emo/hip-hop adjacent stuff but we were more hanging out with kids in rock bands and I think Deadmall ends up sounding mostly like neither of those things, or both of them.

H: Gabe and I used to book shows together before we were really friends because we knew that our music had more in common than other peoples’, but I don’t think we could have articulated that at the time. 

SH: It’s really interesting that you say that, because it seems as if Massachusetts as a whole has been birthing this exact type of artist. A lot of artists here are upset by the art (or lack thereof) that’s surrounding them, so they strive to create something unique to fill that void. In my eyes that’s the essence of what you two are accomplishing with Deadmall.

H: Yeah I think that’s it really. I would never want people to get the impression that WMass isn’t full of people making great music, but none of it was ever quite what I wanted to hear, and it’s taken me a long time to figure out what it was that I wanted to hear, but I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on it now. 

Honeyfitz & Gabe Gill – Photo by Carlos Semedo

SH: I wanted to ask about what went into the decision to move to NY, and how would you compare it with MA in terms of its effect on your music? 

GG: It’s definitely different in NY. I think it was a thing I always wanted to do when I was like in high school, but we moved kind of for no reason. I think meeting Rothstein and seeing how he was able to network and connect with a community of musicians here inspired me to just take that logical step. It’s ended up impacting me as a person way more than it’s really influenced my music though, because musically I’m always chasing a feeling of like riding a bike over a bridge.

H: I never wanted to move to NYC. It just kinda happened, like the cards fell into place and all of a sudden it seemed like the logical next step. I was seeing this community that Gabe had gotten to be involved in and was excited to be around people making similar stuff.

GG: In some ways being in NY has made me focus in on what I carried from WMass into my music and accentuated those elements. I think we would have gone a little crazy if we stayed in WMass, which has a big comfort but it feels like the time of our lives to try and get a little more out of things.

H: Yeah it was time. The last year there was incredible, but it also felt like the walls were closing in a little bit, like every knows each other and you just see the same faces over and over again like since high school.

SH: Change is both good, and inevitable, so it’s exciting to see how well this transition has been working for the two of you. Moving back to the subject of Zach’s Mice, how would you describe the project to someone who’s never heard it before?

GG: It’s for kids who are starting to feel a little anxious about how much time they’ve spent in their hometown. We made this big crazy list of influences on the Deadmall instagram but it kind of sounds like nothing. To me it sounds like the coolest, most smooth take on like “emo rap”, but it also has like an experimental folk song and a yacht rock song and a song that sounds like a T Minus beat so I don’t know. I guess I’d call it “noise pop”.

H: It’s funny because I think there are lots of specific influences and thru lines, but it’s hard to put my finger on the bigger genre or sound. I think it’s sort of stadium rock that we made in my bedroom.

SH: What can listeners expect next from Deadmall? 

GG: Our next album is way mellower, it’s like bigger and calmer. And we both have solo projects coming I guess.

SH: That’s another thing I meant to ask about as well, what would you say is different about the music you two make collectively under Deadmall than the solo stuff?

H: It used to feel like Deadmall was a blend of our solo stuff, but now it feels like our solo stuff is hugely influenced by Deadmall.

GG: Ya for my new solo stuff a lot of it was me trying to figure out what I couldn’t or wouldn’t do on a Deadmall song and use that to trace the sound of what I was going to do as a solo artist.

H: It takes me much longer to make honeyfitz songs, and it feels like much more of a cerebral process.

SH: Do you two have any parting words pertaining to Zach’s Mice for our readers?

GG: It’s the best album, I’m stupid excited about it honestly.

H: Just that we play the mice on the album, it is stupid good, and it feels so nice for it to be coming out because we’ve been listening to these songs for a year now.

SH: Thank you guys so much again for taking some time out of your weekend for this interview!

H: Of course! Anytime

GG: Of course, thank you!

CLICK HERE TO STREAM ‘ZACH’S MICE’

Honeyfitz – “4AM/Same Time Pt. 2” [Official Music Video]

By: Shamus Hill

In honor of his birthday this past Saturday, Honeyfitz unleashed the official music video for his brand new song “4AM/Same Time Pt. 2”.

The Western Massachusetts native has spent the majority of his last few months working alongside Gabe Gill in their group Deadmall — with this solo-release serving as Honeyfitz’s first of the year.

“4AM/Same Time Pt. 2” circulates around the closing of a lasting relationship. With the feeling of solidarity lurking around the corner, Honeyfitz speaks on the fear of fighting his sorrows by himself. While he may hold regrets with regard to past decision-making — he’s understanding of the fact that he can only control so much in this world, and utilizes this mentality to proceed forward with life.

Watch the official music video for “4AM/Same Time Pt. 2” below:

directed by hf & jared

drawings by gabe gill

jared pearson – director of photography

gary flugge – camera operator

adam mcclellan – gaffer

DEADMALL – “PROM NITE” [Official Music Video]

By: Shamus Hill

Deadmall are back on the Graduation Music site today, this time with a well-tooled visual for “Prom Nite”.

After finding out that honeyfitz never had a prom, Gabe Gill decided to throw one in their basement, which sets the scene for the entirety of the music video. Both Gabe and honeyfitz offer some of their best work here — showcasing just how much they’ve developed as artists since the formation of Deadmall. They compliment one another’s sound without flaw, and each of their releases comes packed with a plethora of raw emotion that you can literally feel with every listen. If you’ve never tuned into to Deadmall prior to today, then there’s no better time to start.

Watch the official music video for “PROM NITE” below:

song by deadmall

video by rat castle films

directed by zachariah suto

mixed & mastered by rafael moure

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:

DEADMALL – ‘Deadmall 1’ [EP]

By: Seamus Fay

Here at Graduation Music, we’ve been covering an artist by the name of Gabe Gill for quite some time now. Gill’s inimitably clear creative vision has made him a beacon of artistic progression in recent months, and in usual fashion, he’s always creating, unveiling his latest creative venture on our pages today: a group by the name DEADMALL alongside fellow artist honeyfitz. Making their presence as a group known, they’re here with a 3-track EP entitled Deadmall 1.

Intricate in its sonic direction and impulsively abstract, this trio of songs sheds light on a well-executed bout of emotional lyricism and gentle production from the group. Their chemistry as musicians is truly second to none, and even when the music seems to take on an off-kilter pattern of style, neither of them fall behind, instead using their energy to push forward their ideas and create some beautiful sounds along the way. Deadmall 1 shows great promise for future releases, so check this one out at the link below and keep your eyes peeled for more from Deadmall hopefully in the near future!

Mixed by Rafael Moure // Mastered by Kevin Butler
Cover Photography by Jacob Bridgman
Cover Illustration by Matthew Bonneau

Gabe Gill, Jxsh, BASEMENTPARTY – “Distant”

By: Seamus Fay

Gabe Gill is known around the Graduation Music pages for having an incredibly mature sense of artistry. Both his music and visuals hold quality above anything else, and naturally so, Gill has continuously risen throughout the ranks in the Massachusetts music scene as an artist to keep an eye on. Most recently, he visited us with some gorgeous cinematography in the video for “The Perseids“. Today, he’s here to keep fans attentive with a beautiful new song entitled “Distant” alongside buzzing talents Jxsh and basementparty.

Taking to an atmospheric, guitar-led sound, this song creates a warm sonic atmosphere and seemingly lets it wash over the listener, one chord and one lyric at a time. Gill, Jxsh, and basementparty exhibit a noticeably authentic level of chemistry alongside one another, and without forcing anything, “Distant” is able to find its identity as a wildly illustrative song — a characteristic which certainly seems to span over the entirety of the MA native’s catalog to date.

That said, show some love to this talent-filled collaboration and click play at the link provided below!

Written by Gabe Gill / Jxsh
Produced by basementparty
Mixed by Connor Barkhouse
Mastered by Falls

Gabe Gill – “The Perseids” [Music Video]

By: Seamus Fay

Quite frankly, looking at the current state of the music world, it can often feel as though the meaning and impact of a truly well-done music video is a lost art (with a few exceptions). Few and far in between are the videos that truly illustrate the feeling or mood of a song in its purest state, but when one does come around, it always deserves the highest of praise. Returning back to this rightful definition is Gabe Gill and his latest set of visuals for “The Perseids”.

Ranking amongst the most cinematic music videos I’ve seen in all of 2018, this release flawlessly takes hold of the illustrative capabilities of Gill’s music and puts it directly on the screen without losing any power in translation. The coloring is beautifully done, the scenery is near heavenly, and by using the beach as his canvas, Gabe Gill truly did his thing with this one. Not only does “The Perseids” act as a testament to the level of care that the rising talent puts into his visual work, but it also tells us just how dedicated he is to improvement and being the best artist he can possibly be. Gill is both a lesson and an inspiration, in this way.

That said, check out the video at the link below and keep an eye out for Carousel 2 soon!

Produced by GG and Tieren Costello
Mixed by Connor Barkhouse
Mastered by Rafael Moure
Video by Chase Buckley