Making his return to the Graduation Music pages today is Brookline’s Chase Murphy with “Interview” — the second single off of his upcoming EP, Long Winters.
Equipped with buttery vocals and lyricism that’s both undeniably catchy and full of depth – “Interview” is only the most recent release from Chase Murphy that maintains solid sonic structure and substance. This track serves as the fourth official single that he’s put out up through this point in 2019, and with each new release he seemingly unlocks an additional layer of his artistry that had been previously untapped. Chase’s ability to break down his life experience through his musical catalog is truly marvelous, and with that we’re very excited to hear what Long Winters will have to offer.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
The transformation of Boston, Massachusetts into a hub of musical culture has given local media outlets a plethora of skilled lyricists, dedicated rappers, and impressive vocalists to both write about and enjoy. As the city continues to flourish, the appreciation for the artists present within the local scene has soared to new heights.
One relatively new artist from the city that has been doing his best to push the 617 area code forward is Mosa. This Boston-bred artist has kept his foot on the gas for the majority of his life, and has been on a continuous pursuit towards evolution within his discography. In a recent conversation with Graduation Music, Mosa revealed that his attraction to music began when he was very young. At just 9 years old, he started to write verses and experiment with rhymes. With time, Mosa explained, his love for music only grew stronger, which eventually led to him recording his first track at the age of 14. Mosa began to develop an ambitious mindset towards music at a very early stage in his life, and it truly helped to shape the career that he’s in possession of today. Some of his past achievements include opening for both PNB Rock and ABoogie, growing a devoted fan base via social media, and receiving countless cosigns from many of Massachusetts’ most talented artists.
In 2018, his main focus circulated around feeding his audience a consistent stream of high quality singles, while intentionally straying away from features. By remaining relatively independent, Mosa created a solid foundation for himself, and thus attracted more exposure to his music. One single that truly kick-started his success was a song titled “Adrenaline”. This track was released by Mosa in the Summer of 2018, and is a perfect example of the versatility he provides as an artist. The mellow production style of the “Adrenaline” beat presents Mosa with an opportunity to deliver laid-back bars and speak honestly to his listeners. The hook of the track is incredibly catchy, and assists in showcasing the vocal capabilities Mosa has present within his musical arsenal. The content of this chorus is mainly focused on the many different realizations that Mosa has arrived at in life, specifically regarding both his work ethic and the fact that he can never imagine himself becoming “irrelevant”. In each of the verses on “Adrenaline”, Mosa uses soft vocals to thoughtfully spit bars which cover various subjects.
For many of our followers, this article is less of introduction to Mosa, and more of a reminder of how skilled he really is. It’s only right that we show our respect to such an extremely talented musician out of Boston. Some things that we can expect to see from Mosa this year include the release of his debut album, as well as the sale of personal merchandise.
Be sure to check out “Adrenaline” and some of Mosa’s other tracks below. We hope you enjoyed this week’s Weekly Discovery, and we’ll see you again next week!
NliteN returns to the Graduation Music pages today alongside both his uncle and sister, DJ Chuck and jakilace, with a record that circulates itself around being both brave and free. A very fitting theme for Juneteenth, NLITEN, whose music grows more versatile and thorough by the day, has delivered once again. I spoke with NLITEN about making music with his family, the significance of Juneteenth, and what he’s been up to as of late. Read the conversation, and listen to “Brave” below:
What have you been up to since graduating from UMass Amherst?
That’s a loaded question haha. In the 5 months since graduating college…I’ve really just been networking and learning how to become a better musician, son/brother/family man, and person. I was both John Legend’s and Bryan Stevenson’s personal assistant for a few hours, and that was pretty dope. Otherwise, just creating the best art that I can make, and rubbing pennies together to feed myself.
What was the driving factor behind leaving Massachusetts? Was it entirely based in music? How has it been adapting to such a dramatic change?
Do you believe in destiny? lol, jkjk. But really, since I was 3 years old my biggest dream was to move to California. Once I was free from university, I really didn’t give myself a choice besides to follow my dream. It just kinda happened that, at that time, I was in the heat of trying to become the best rapper I could become. Dramatic? Kindaaa…yeah. I’m still kind of walking the line between homeless and pro couch surfer, because whenever I have a few bucks I’m calculating risks to invest in my dream. I’ve paid no less in total rent than $950 every month, which equals a meal or less a day at times. That dramatic enough?
Your first release of 2018 was “Mother’s Day”, an ode to your mother who played a highly impactful role in your life. What did it mean to you, personally, to put that record out there? Has she always influenced your music?
My mother means everything to me. I’m a momma’s boy and I’ll admit it! But growing up she never told us what we were going through, she just went through it for me and my older brother and sister. So when it comes to paying it back…it’s legit impossible. There’s a line where I say “Imma make it so you get that lil pad with the garden in the back / know we good now so you’d never let me pay you back / but I have to” and that basically saying….she bossed up! And although I owe her my world, she’s such a powerful woman that she went out and got it her damn self! My mother and family in general have been the biggest musical influencers that I have. Father and aunt are traveling musicians. My sister, @jakilace, is a recording artist as of 5 days ago. Brother has been singing and acting for as long as I can remember. Its all love, family, and music.
Your latest release, “Brave”, features both your Uncle and your sister, making the track a true family affair. For how long now have the two of them been making music? Does your creative process remain the same when your family is brought into the equation? Do you plan on continuing this effort to produce records with your own family members?
They have both been making music since before I was born. It’s in our nature to make records. My uncle (DJ Chuck) has DJ’d all over the world and has fans internationally. When we were kids he used to DJ for Hot 97 in NY and when we visited, we would drive around the city in the HOT 97 van (which of course had no AC) and just bump the station live around the city. The creative process with my sister (Jakilace) and uncle was actually an experiment…that went near flawlessly. We came back from this lit karaoke event, I sat down and made the beat. My sister lead me with the concept because she was reading about a positive pre-sleep meditation practice, which is to list your decisions made from Fear in one column and the decisions made from Bravery in another. I embedded that in the beat. My uncle came upstairs to the stu and I was singing the hook. He goes “Lets record it!” puts on the headphones and goes in! He mixed that…I wrote my verse…recorded that, While I recorded, my sister fleshed out her verse. I put down a rough mix and changed some arrangement pieces. Then we went to sleep, woke up. My uncle put some final touches on the mix and boom! I would love to continue making music with my family. I believe if you can find peace with your family you can learn to find peace anywhere in the world. And I know we touched that in the making of this track. I’m no one to say it will always run smoothly…because family is family, but damn it feels good to be in sync like that!
The message that rings most prominent throughout “Brave” is “I don’t wanna be a slave”. In 2018, what’s the significance of this line? Are there any personal experiences that helped to shape this message, or does it speak more to the current state of the world in which we live in?
It is what it is. Slavery is systemic. There’s a narrative of color and inferiority that we continue to perpetuate in our culture. We are enslaved physically, having to work minimum wage jobs that are typically heavy on the manual labor. We are enslaved mentally. Check this: just yesterday I realized that I have been the token black guy my whole life. Brought up in Boston, I was one of, if not, the only black person in my classes growing up (K1-through college). Without realizing it, that mentality became so engraved in my mind and person that everywhere I went, I felt like the only black person. It’s the “House Nigga” complex. But it’s 2018. Black people learn to hate you because you’re as black as them but seem to be benefitting more. White people make you their servant. Also the while… “I don’t want to be a slave!!” just….like…you.
Historically speaking, Juneteenth, is representative of the day in which the slaves present in Texas learned of their freedom from slavery. How does it feel to release such an important, meaningful song on such a significant day?
It was an accident. I believe that god has a plan. And we may not always know that it’s happening, but there are instances like this where you make a song, and then check the calendar for release dates and boom: The most historic day of liberation for a region of people is coming up! It feels like being in the right place at the right time.
How has traveling around the world helped to shape your perception of the Boston music scene? Comparatively speaking, where would you say Boston ranks amongst the other “big” players such as Los Angeles and New York?
In all honesty, it’s shown me how entitled Boston artists are. Everyone thinks that their lil clique is the one that’s gonna “put the city on”. Everyone feels like their the hottest in the city (myself included). But niggas rarely LEAVE the city. RAMS made a post on Twitter yesterday saying “niggas act like the world isn’t bigger than your city” and it’s a fact. I commented “is not” (with a bunch of shamrocks) as a joke, but it’s for real. If you never leave, you will always feel like that! Boston….Massachusetts…New England…its a non-factor. We can claim Cousin Stizz, and there are a bunch of independent artists making moves, but there’s no infrastructure for a scene. No agents. No label A&Rs finding and developing new raw talent. It’s crabs in a barrel. New York and LA are, geographically, just way bigger.
What advice would you give to any readers out there working on ventures of their own?
You have to be willing to take risks. And start early. A lot of us are still looking for our passions, but if you are blessed to know at any point, pursue it relentlessly! I was already on stage performing with Wale over a year ago. I took a risk to move to LA where I had no traction. Why take this risk? In my head, opportunities are not a limited resource. At some point, if you stay focused and hone your craft, you will get a chance to take the stage…then it’s just a question of how prepared you are. Put your faith in something: God, self, love…and RUN WITH IT!
If there’s a single piece of advice you could give to a younger version of yourself, what would that advice be?
Give less fucks! Speak your mind. Have more fun. Don’t stop listening to people. Don’t overthink. You are going to make it…but you have to want it more than anything. No one said it was gonna be easy.
What can we expect next from NliteN?
100K followers. Platinum & gold records. A few Grammys. A lot of pictures of family and people of color being fabulously successful and happy.