Tomorrow, September 17th, sees the release of his SeaCal Drive EP which chronicles his journey transplanting here. We spoke to Scribes about making the leap.
You do the MC thing as well as R&B. What makes you determine what you want to do over a beat?
A lot depends on the beat and the production, as to whether I take it in a rap direction or an R&B direction. It also depends on if I already have concept in mind and I'm looking for the production side. It really depends, but usually I'll start with the hook first. It gives me a goal from a writing perspective with what I'm trying to say, and I'll build the verses around it.
You're from Seattle originally, but then moved to Los Angeles last year. What prompted your relocation?
Personal and professional reasons. From a professional standpoint, there's certain opportunities out here I didn't see in Seattle. I love my hometown and my city and it's a huge part of my identity as an artist, but I feel there's a certain feeling I couldn't accomplish [certain things] out there so I took the risk from a professional standpoint to come out here. From a personal standpoint though, I never went to college and never traveled much outside of my city so I felt, if it doesn't work out professionally, at least I have to go out just see what it's like living some place that's not my comfort zone or safety net.
Have you found the opportunities you've sought in Los Angeles?
Some of them. I guess, when I got here, I realized I wanted to work on a different sound, a different style of music. This project I'm about is what I want to push around the scene and network off of. The last project I dropped, What Was Lost, I stand behind it, but it got stolen from the studio and so the concept behind the album was trying to re-record it. When I dropped it I was 23-years-old, but when I had written it I was 19. As an artist I feel I've evolved more. With this project I wanted to come correct and show people my development and my evolution.
Was it challenging transplanting into the L.A. hip-hop scene?
I'm flying by the seat of my pants and learning as I go. There's definitely differences in the Seattle scene and the L.A. scene for sure. I'm trying to figure out those differences while trying to develop a new style. I don't want to say I have an identity crisis, but I'm definitely developing a style of sound and the entire package changes, including the live performance. It's figuring out how I'm going to push that in a scene I'm not entirely accustomed to.
Has Los Angeles changed the way you write?
I think I try to stay more consistent writing every day and not let the overall grind [overtake] what I'm writing about. When I was in Seattle, I was going through hard times, difficulties and issues with the scene, so I felt all I was writing about was struggling as a rapper. It was time to have more life experiences to give me content that was more relatable, more broad than that.
Your 2007 debut Sleepwalk was engineered by Macklemore. How did you two first link-up?
My stepmom is best friends with his Uncle John, the uncle that "Same Love" is written about. When my dad married my step-mom, I went to a few parties at their house and met them a few times growing up. Really, I never hung out with them or anything. I remember his mom had given me his first CD when he was Professor Macklemore when I was in sixth grade. When I was rapper for three years, by the end of high school, I needed a new spot to record at. I reached out to him and did the whole project at his spot.