How'd you get started in music?
It’s hard to pinpoint a starting moment, considering music has always been a part of my life, but if I had to choose, it all started with my New Year's resolution to listen to 1000 albums. Before that, I’d been a casual music lover, but I felt like there was an entire world of sound I had been missing out on. In 2017 I listened to 1087 albums (or roughly 3-4 albums a day), and afterwards, music kinda just felt like a natural part of my life.
Fast forward to the Minnesota winter of 2018. After being assaulted by a roommate, I ended up homeless, frozen inside of my car during a -63 degree F night, grasping onto any little bit of heat I could find. It was a moment in my life where I felt my lowest, like every bit of me would freeze to the driver seat and they would find me in the morning, deceased. Needless to say it was a long night.
In the heat of the moment (ha), I turned to the only thing I felt I had left at the time. Spotify. I remembered my friend telling me how Man on the Moon by Kid Cudi had gotten him through his parents divorce, and so I turned it on, and it just changed me. I could feel my brain stirring, shaken by sudden thoughts of what could be. Nothing like a moment you’re supposed to be dying to make you feel more alive than ever.
All of my crying, hopelessness, and dread just turned off as the song Simple As… rang through my phone speakers. (My car didn’t have any way to get phone audio, so that's all I had.) It made me realize how much I really had missed, and how much of an impact music had in my life. In that moment, I learned that I didn’t want to die, but rather, pursue what I loved, music. It really was as simple as that for my simple ass.
3 years later, after tons of personal struggle, hardship, and time spent learning more and more about the craft that inspires me, I began publishing music. This leads us to today, where I work with tons of supportive and amazing people attempting to do the one thing I love more than anything else. Even balancing a job, I tend to aim at about 40-50 hours of music a week.
Who are your inspirations or influences?
Obviously Kid Cudi. His music had really breathed a hope into me that has been impenetrable since that long night. However, it’s definitely not just him.
The Beach Boys is a major influence of mine. The experimentation of hundreds of instruments to create songs that are blended almost too perfectly has really challenged my ideas of what’s possible with sound. Even their studio sessions that have been released are legendary. Truly some of the most impressive people to ever touch the craft, and especially with Brian Wilson.
Sticking with 60 psychedelic music, The Beatles are also a huge influence. All four of them had touched almost every popular genre at the time, not only mastering a sound of their own, but continuously expanding that genres sound. I especially love diving into Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
For my hip-hop production, Madlib, The Alchemist, MF Doom, and El-P are huge influences. All 4 have dedicated themselves to discovering a unique and personalized sound, executing their own visions. It really shows in all of their music. Each album that comes from them really hits me in a way that feels personal, even though (not including Doom and El-P’s rap, which is also spectacular) they just provide instrumentals.
The list goes on, but for honorable mentions, Marty Robbins, The Temptations, The Gorillaz, The Avalanches, Dr. Dre, Flying Lotus, Pink Floyd, The Clash, Weird Al, Green Day, Frank Zappa, Kendrick Lamar, Ween, Tame Impala, La Luz, Mac Miller, Tyler The Creator, Mac Demarco, and Phinneas would be just a few of the other inspirations. I try to pull from everywhere I can to find a perfect sound.
What advice would offer aspiring performers?
TAKE A CHANCE ON YOURSELF! I myself have faced self esteem issues for my entire life, and it wasn’t until I started trusting myself that others began to as well. People aren’t stupid, so trying to act like something you’re not isn’t going to get you far. Being genuine, honest, and believing in your work can get you a long way in anything you’re trying to do. This applies on stage, in the studio, while practicing at home, and everywhere else.
Otherwise, also expect rejection. It happens, especially in such a saturated business like music. It could be that people aren’t ready for your sound, and it could be that you aren’t as good as you think and you have to improve. When rejection happens, it’s ok to ask why and grow from the experience. Some people might be really rude about it, but that usually has less to do with you anyways. It’s always important to keep an eye out for the critics who actually care about the industry. They want to lead you to success, but only if you’re willing to follow their advice and grow from the experience.
How do you set yourselves apart from other bands or singers?
My belief system. I believe in the world of music, and it’s influence in the world around us. For example, during the LA riots of the 1990s, hip hop changed the way we looked at the “violence” happening. It brought the perspectives of hurt, angry, and marginalized minorities and told stories of death, success, frustration, friendship, hatred, and love, in a way nobody had seen before. And now more than ever, the world needs stories like this.
Everyday, across the world, people are awakening to horrifying truths, especially after the pandemic, and I’m tired of not being able to do anything about it.
As a producer, I seek artists who have something to tell the world. I want to carry these voices as far and as wide as I can. Even as broke as I am, money is no object. It’s about THE MUSIC for me, and that’s something I carry with myself as a symbol in any interaction I have. With the right people, I truly believe I could change the world with something that translates to all languages. That’s what sets me apart.
(I also have a super dope, unique sound, but we’ve all heard that before I’m sure)
Any new gigs or albums in the future?
Where do I even start?! I’ve been pushing for the last few months to help artists reach their visions, and because of it, I have about 30-40 songs dropping this Fall between 5-6 artists. As far as anything LIVE goes, I don’t really have the right connections to that scene after having moved from Portland, OR to Roanoke, VA after the West Coast wild-fires, so until I get something lined up, it’s time to CREATE CREATE CREATE!
Speaking of, I am always willing to work with artists who are willing to work with me. For any contact, you can reach me at email@example.com or @RatKingRap on both Instagram and Twitter. I’m also in your local sewer, always watching, so just give it a few taps and I’ll see what I can do to get in contact.
For any upcoming project, you can always stay informed by checking out www.ratkingrap.com, or otherwise following me on my socials and any available streaming platform, as I am on all of them. Just look up Rat King Faces and look for the green cover or Rat King Heavy Headed with the Red cover.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you! From the bottom of my heart, I believe in what I’m doing with music, and I hope you can too. Remember, you can change the world if you put your mind to it. To quote the great Gandhi, BE THE CHANGE IN THE WORLD YOU WANT TO SEE!