What inspired the verses of “Ready to Fall”, song released from your album “Michael”?
Well, the opening line, “Learn to get fake at the ringing of a bell,” is a reference to Pavlov, the sociologist who trained dogs to salivate at the ringing of a bell because he would ring a bell every time he fed them.
The verses mainly reflect that opinion, that we (including myself sometimes) are willing to change and jump onto any trend if we think it will help.
Same with the line “the wi-fi and white guys defined by the distance.” Seems like every white guy with a laptop is now a musician, which is cool, but not when they’re stealing flows and rhymes from people of color.
How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
For Hotel Books, it’s mostly journaling, but I wrote most of the Camp Hope lyrics while we built the instrumentals.
The music was mostly written by Nick Ingram and Jonathan Sheerer. I would step in for small moments, but they mostly wrote it all, and I would listen to it and scribble down the feelings the track brought out of me.
What the last song you wrote was about?
The last song I’ve written was actually “Don’t Crash Yet” from the Camp Hope album. It’s a song about begging people to keep working hard, even if the pay off seems far away.
Too many times, I have looked for “get rich quick schemes,” never waiting for the long haul.
Is passion for music something that runs in your family or you are the first one?
Absolutely. My cousin, Michael, who I named the album after, was the guy who taught me discipline with music.
He is an incredible violinist, and plays mariachi and orchestra music. My dad used to take me to concerts every chance we got. I grew up listening to POD, Linkin Park, dcTalk, Jars of Clay, and a ton of The Beatles. Somehow, I thought Skillet and The Beatles were the two big “rock god” bands.
Rap music entered my life in the form of dcTalk, then Grits, then Run-DMC, then The Chronic, then Kendrick Lamar’s section.80, then Kid Cudi and Kanye West’s pop-centric tunes. That all came from MTV, not my family, but it still flowed the same way.
What are you planning for 2018?
I would love to release a Hotel Books EP that connects Camp Hope and Hotel Books together. Other than that, I just want to play Camp Hope live soon. I want to tour with POD, so that’s become the main goal. Also, would love to get on a Pax217 reunion show.
Can you tell us about the lyrics of “Forever Stay”?
I wrote that song to the girl of whom I am in love.
Recording Camp Hope’s album “MICHAEL” was the first time her and I were apart. It was really hectic and weird, so it eventually turned into twelve songs about how much I miss her.
Do you remember the day you wrote “ Lovers Death”?
Yeah, I wrote that song with Nick Ingram. Originally, the beat was a very Gospel-driven beat, and we couldn’t find a way to make it sound original.
With anything rap oriented, I always want to make sure I’m not stealing from my influences. No one needs another white guy stealing beats and sounds from other cultures.
We basically chopped up the other beat until we found something we loved, then we bounced around lyrical ideas until we landed on the final product.
What is the best lyric ever written for a song?
Modest Mouse has some powerful lines, mewithoutYou, Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, SZA, Gogol Bordello, Sorority Noise, Mount Eerie, Paul Simon, Chuck Berry, and I’m a recent fan of Rich Brian’s newest album “Amen.”
Are you ever scared of revealing, aspects of your personal experience, to strangers through your music?
I used to be, and then when it happened, I was devastated.
I lost some friends over revealing too much, and now I’ve learned where the line needs to be drawn.
Every day is a new experience, and sometimes those experience find their way into my lyrics. I just try to keep it as real as I can.
What is the best verse you ever wrote?
In my opinion, the Hotel Books song “Changes Consume Me” will always hold a place in my heart, but I love the verses on “Don’t Crash Yet.”
If you had to use only one word to define your album, which one would it be?