Interviewed by Matt O @boardinogilvie
Start off by telling us who you are and where you are from. How long have you been making music?
I'm that guy with the mullet and crazy glasses! I grew up in a small town called Gardnerville, Nevada. It's right down the mountain from Lake Tahoe. I now live in Reno, NV. I used to play in a band when I was younger, from around age 12-15. I took a few years off from music because I was racing motocross a lot. I started making hip hop when I was 19. So, I have been Feeki for 5 years, but I've been around music for a long time.
How did you come up with the name Feeki?
My nickname growing up was 'Feeks,' so it comes from that and my last name. When I first started making hip hop, my name was Feeki Fresh for probably 2 years. Then I realized that was retarded and corny, so I dropped the fresh. Feeki is short and easy to remember. It also reminds me of something small. I was always the youngest in my class growing up because I started school early. I was never very good at sports and often felt like I was second best at things. Never 'the shit' like I wanted to be. That's why the small sounding name represents me well.
What motivates you to make music? What inspires you?
Most importantly, it's fun. Performing is so awesome. My DJ and I have a good thing going for us. I recently started collaborating with a local songwirter/enginner and a local producer. It's been a great time hanging, learning, and creating in the studio with them, rather than by myself at home like it's been for 5 years. The studio is a home studio inside a massive house that overlooks the city. I'm fucking motivated just driving up to the place. I see other people killing it and that keeps me going. Just striving to be like them. Most motivation comes from within. If you're not a motivated person, you don't have a shot at making it. I have something inside that is never satisfied no matter how many small wins I get. I always want more. The desire to just be 'that dude' and take care of my family and team like I promised myself I would.
Who are some of your idols?
For hip hop, a lot of them are artists who are so influential, anything they touch becomes gold. People like Em, Drake, Kendrick, J Cole, etc. People will always have opinions about you no matter how huge you become, but it is undeniable that these guys run hip hop.
Why did you choose hip hop to express yourself? Why not another genre?
Hip hop was something that I could initially do by myself. I'm an only child and very independent. I hate relying on other people for stuff, so it's a good fit. There's no coordinating band practice or anything, unless we are practicing for a show, but even then it's just with one other person and not a full band. I can force myself to work every single day and not use other people as an excuse to not get shit done. I am a lover of all music. I'm definitely not the type of dude saying 'its 90s hip hop or its not shit.' I listen to everything. I try to use that in my music. I get messages from people that predominately listen to country (everyone in Nevada) that like me because of my American look and different hip hop sound. Not just drugs, chicks, and party music. I don't want to limit myself and only make music for hard core hip hop heads or people that only listen to mainstream rap. Although lyricism is important, the overall sound is more important. Also, with hip hop, I think the genre has room for just expressing myself while writing and not actually 'songwriting' about some topic I don't know anything about. I'm a pretty shy, mellow dude, so writing is a way I can speak on whatever I'm thinking about, and playing shows is the only time I want to go out and turn up.
What is the hip hop scene like in Reno, NV?
I don’t know. I’ve never lived in another area to get a good comparison. I’m really not involved in the ‘scene’ too much. There is a lot of talent in the city, but I think people get too caught up trying to be ‘Mr. Reno’ and fail to realize Reno is a small marketplace. I try to focus more on my internet presence than my ‘Reno presence’. Maybe even too much at times, but I can spread my music much easier, much faster, and to more people through the internet than trying to get on every small show that comes to town. The city is tough for artists. Most of the shows are fairly small, with pay-to-play 10 minute sets for local openers. The few promoters in town have been burned in the past too many times by artists who promise to sell X amount of tickets, then end up only selling a few. I don’t blame them for the way things are. Now, you have to buy on to most shows. The bigger, touring artists that come to town almost never allow for local support on the bill. I take a lot of pride in our live set. 10 minutes is not enough time for me to put on the show I want. I will gladly pay-to-play for the right show. Performing is awesome. But often, it doesn’t seem worth it to me. That’s why I haven’t done all that many shows in the past year, while the other serious locals are performing every chance they get.
What is the core message of your music?
Work hard for what you want. Don’t let anyone dictate your life. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. Fuck what anyone has to say about how things are supposed to be done. Do what you want and be happy.
What do you want your fans to take from your music?
I want them to take everything from the core message, delivered through good tracks, musically and lyrically, along with a live show that is like no other hip hop show you’ve ever been to.
What do you hope to accomplish in your career?
I just want to do the damn thing! I think Em, Kendrick, and Cole are pretty good examples of what I want to be, without trying to be a clone of any of them. These guys are known for being the best lyricists in the world. On their solo stuff, it’s heartfelt, meaningful, and just flat out good music. On the other hand, these guys are all dope enough to have mainstream hip hop hits. They are likeable enough to be featured on pop records without a ‘sell out’ sound and being fully corny. That’s awesome.
2 Years ago you almost quit. What helped you keep pursuing music?
I guess it’s just my ambition. The feeling of ‘well I’ve made it this far, no point in stopping now.’ The little wins keep you going. Oh yeah, I don’t want to be one of the 10,000,000 dudes that ‘used to rap.’
What's next for Feeki? When can we expect a full-length project?
Right now, I’m just working on growing my fan base. In 2014, I put out three projects. 2 EP’s and one full length. Projects are a LOT of work for very little reward when you are small like me. It’s very discouraging to spend months on an EP or mixtape, spend all this money and countless hours for everything involved, and then have hardly anyone download the project that you put out for free. In 2015, I have only been shooting my live promo videos, dropping singles with a few official music videos here and there, and playing a few shows. I’ve had much more success with that. I’m reaching more people than ever before and I have more time to make good songs, rather than just rapping over beats for the sake of getting enough songs for a project. My time is limited. I still work a 9-5. What I’m doing now seems like a good medium for improving my sound and improving my fan base. Once I grow more, I will start doing projects again.