B: “I’ve been friends with Yoni for years and years. We met in the early 2000’s back in the Anticon days. I was a fan of Yoni for years. I was touring with this group called Grand Buffet in 1999. He had come and watched me play with Astronautalis and through him Yoni asked me to come and play the show with both of them.”
N: When I saw you live it looked like you were setting up your beats on stage.
B: “On stage I use Ableton Live. I run the beats and use a controller to augment them. I can add effects to the beats and my vocals in real time as well.”
N: Do you use a booking agent or do you book your shows yourself?
B: “I actually just recently got a booking agent. At the time of that show I didn’t have one. I had been passed on by damn near every agent in the U.S. In general I’m touring for months at a time. It’s great to be able to take that weight of booking off of myself. Not that it’s a shitty thing to have to talk to people. But it’s nice to have someone who can schedule it and plan it all out. That’s a blessing right there.”
N: What record label do you currently work with?
B: “Right now I work with Fake Four Inc. They’ve released the last two Bleubird records. I also have a group in Japan with a Canadian producer named Scott DaRoss and a Japanese rapper named Sibbit. The group is called Triune Gods. We released with a label in Japan called Granma. They have also released records for me in the past. About a year ago now we did our last record as Triune Gods. It got released in Japan and we toured over there for it.”
N: Where else have you been able to tour that you never thought you’d end up?
B: “I’m from South Florida and I’ve literally been fortunate enough to travel all over the world with my music. Definitely tons of places I never thought I’d go. Mumbai, Jordan, Berlin (where I lived for a year), Montreal (where I lived for two years). I actually performed on July 4 with a bunch of Palestinian rap groups and I was the only American that had ever come to Aman to play a show. That was seven years ago and the tension in that area was extremely high because of the political climate.
I’ve played just about everywhere in Europe. Lately I’ve been in the East a lot more. A lot of Czech and Slovakia. For some reason rap music is huge there right now.
Honestly it was always easier to play overseas than in the U.S. I get a much better response over there. Ever since Sloppy Doctor came out in 2003. I believe my first tour in Europe was in 2002, before I even had an album out I was running merch and playing one song a night with Grand Buffet. I made connections there and ran with it. Europe has shown me so much support since the jump, whereas America was always a harder nut to crack.
I’m about to go on a U.S. tour for the first time in quite a while.”
N: When did you decide you wanted to choose rap music as a career?
B: “It took me a minute. In high school I wasn’t serious about anything, I was the class clown. I was running around during college just doing the typical things. My brain was firing on all pistons and in all directions. I thought I wanted to get into acting and photography. I’m really into building things so I thought I wanted to get into stage crafting partly because I’d always worked construction jobs.
When I went to Orlando to go to school that’s where I started rapping. I tried to go to UCF and I went to Valencia for a short time. I tried to go to Full Sail but they denied my loans, praise God.
My parents cut me off when I dropped out of Valencia. I moved in with a few dudes who went to Full Sail and I remember using their key card to go use their computer lab and eat lunch there.
I was in a group in 1999 promoting drum n bass, hip hop shows and open mic events around Orlando. I was doing a lot of battling at that time as well. I was working with a guy named Mor and we worked with a lot of acts who normally didn’t come through Florida.
I was in a rap rock band called Nature Kids and before I went off as a solo artist I was rapping at open mic nights. This one guy took me to see Das EFX at a pizza restaurant in Orlando. His name was Wesley Pentz. I’m sure that name sounds familiar. Wes would DJ for these guys called Nature Kids so my first solo show was opening for them with fucking Diplo as my DJ.
Wes turned me on to Company Flow and a lot of underground shit. I started working at a record store. I dropped out of school, broke up with my girlfriend, broke my lease, sold my car, all to go on tour with the Nature Kids.”
N: How long was the recording process for your album Lauderdale?
B: “When we started doing it it went pretty quickly. The writing process was weird for me. I wanted to sit down with the bare bones beats and write to them this time around. We got it all written and recorded within I’d say 5 or 6 months.
I was in the studio once or twice a week for hours hitting it hard. Once I know something and I have it down I hit it hard in the studio.”
N: How do each of your projects differ?
B: “Each project is a different process. When I did FTLiens I went into the studio to record having never heard the beats before. Writing to it and recording it that day for each song.
Lauderdale was a lot more personal to me. I was taking a step out from what people are used to hearing from me.
Every album from Sloppy Doctor on is always a different process with a different sound as a result. I don’t want to repeat the same shit over and over. That’s boring for everybody.
I have nothing bad to say about Cannonball, for instance, but I was definitely disheartened and even heartbroken with how much work I put into it and the little impact it really had on my career. That record was the production debut for Astronautalis. Radical Face who co produced it is busy selling out shows in Europe right now, the dude’s amazing.
Lauderdale was about finding a happy medium between the party/Miami Bass sound and a more personal/typical Bleubird type of sound that people are used to.“I did a project called FreeeBird where I basically got paid to drive around the country in an RV and do what I love. I was living the dream. When I was tasked with making an album of course that’s what it ended up sounding like. After that project I found myself stuck, basically back to square one. It forced me to remember humility and kind of come off of the cloud I was living on.
I was pretty disenchanted. I started doing a project with some homies here in Florida called Death Jam, which was like a Miami Bass kinda project. That’s where the Young Lauderdale monicker came from. The other dudes in the project were Jabrjaw and Protoman. We were all tired of the way things were going and wanted to do something different. We hooked up with some Miami Bass producers who were still around. People we were listening to in the 90’s. That’s the stuff I was raised on. When I was 14 I remember my brother taking me to see 2 Live Crew open up for Jodeci.”
They came to us and asked if we wanted to rap over some new type of production. I felt like it was time for me to step out of the box.
The other night I did an “Intimate Night With Bleubird” at the Fort Lauderdale Artwalk. They set me up in a little theatre. I was in front of a giant wall of speakers with this dude Streetrunner, which was crazy. He’s a Grammy Award winning producer for guys like Wayne and Eminem. He was doing all live vinyl DJs sets before and after my performance. They asked me to play a few songs and just tell stories in between.” N: You said you’ve gotten to live a lot of different places, where was your favorite?
B: “Montreal is one of my favorite places to live. It’s beautiful there but it’s very tough to live there illegally as an American. I did it for two years and it was not easy.
Berlin is another perfect city, it’s cheap and gritty. It’s so crazy alive and ecclectic.”
N: If you could work with anyone who would it be?
B: “I’ve always been a huge fan of Mike Patton. Actually, I was tying to shop a record to his label and one of my friends had sent an e mail to Mike. At the time I didn’t have the album finished I just had a 12” vinyl. I didn’t bring it with me because I thought ‘There’s no way Mike is going to want to carry this around.’ I was backstage and I introduced myself to him and he literally asked me “Where’s my record?”. When I told him why I didn’t bring it all he said was…”Stupid” and moved on to the next guy.
Of course he wasn’t being serious. He came back around and gave me his home address. So now every record I’ve done since 2006, I’ve mailed a physical copy to him. We don’t have any contact though so I don’t know how he feels about me. One day we’ll meet face to face and figure this out (he laughs).”
*Thumbnail photo by Digital Cypher Photography
Part 2 of my interview with Bleubird will be posted here within the next few weeks, so stay tuned to Teal Cheese for that!
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