IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What city and state are you from?
SKAZ ONE: I was born in San Francisco, CA in 1988, but I currently live in Oakland, CA across the bay from my hometown. Oakland has just as rich of a cultural heritage as San Francisco, which includes music, so I thought of it as a transition into a new jumping off point for my career. A lot of my musical influences and associates are located in Oakland, so the move just made sense.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What is your music background?
SKAZ ONE: My background in music started as a child with my father teaching me how to play the piano and my uncle teaching me the guitar. In high school I was in a few different bands, playing guitar as well as bass and doing some singing. I was introduced to hip hop at a young age, but didn’t attempt to record any hip hop music until I was 16 years old. I was living in a group home in Idaho at the time and some of my roommates were making beats and recording them on an old school synthesizer and microphone set up. A lot of what I recorded in high school was straight to tape, but mostly I did live music and covers. I released my first solo rap album in 2009 at the age of 21 after spending 2 years recording the CD. My first CD was the process by which I learned how to successfully create a project that sounded professional. My next 3 releases took considerably less time to record, mix, master and release to the public, because I knew the process and had the connections. In my early twenties is when I started collaborating with bigger name artists such as Berner, Messy Marv, Celph Titled and this summer I’m releasing a track with Necro. My latest EP, due to drop summer 2016, is the culmination of everything I’ve learned over the course of about a decade in hip hop.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your songs about?
SKAZ ONE: My songs are mainly about the way I live and the experiences I have had over the course of my life. In high school I moved around a lot and my father died when I was 23 years old and both of those things have influenced what I write about when I write songs. I also enjoy rapping about smoking weed and my more loyal fans know me for my weed ballads, I try to include one on each album I put out. I sprinkle in tracks about hustling, though these days I try to do legitimate business and have grown out of the street life. I’ve never been big into wearing a ton of jewelry, putting rims on my cars or pimping hoes, so listeners wont find much of that in my music. I also have a few political songs and try to include some social commentary as well as pop culture references in my music, but mostly I just rap what I live.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What is your favorite song to perform and why?
SKAZ ONE: My favorite song to perform is called “Armani Code & Trees.” It is a fan favorite at shows, so the crowd reaction is always satisfying when the track comes on. I personally think it’s one of the most clever songs I have ever recorded, and I wrote it for my very first album, so it has a sentimental value for me as well. Not to mention, I have been performing Armani Code & Trees in my sets for about 7 years now and people still love to hear it and I still love performing it. We have a video for the song that we can play over the projector in the background at shows and it is just an overall fun song. And the subject matter has a tendency to make the crowd fire up their respective joints, which is always a party.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What has surprised you the most in the pursuit of a career in music?
SKAZ ONE: The most surprising thing I’ve encountered over the course of my career is that raw talent can only take a person so far in the music industry. As a kid, I figured that all the musicians I saw on TV were simply the best of the best in the world and that is why they had record contracts. But there is a business side to the world of music that you don’t see unless you are directly involved in it. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes of a project or a performance that the audience is completely unaware of. And it makes sense, what the audience doesn’t see is what makes the show entertaining in the first place. The rehearsals, the funding, the producing, recording and choreography. I never knew exactly how much thought went into producing a hit record or a hit song. It is good to be talented, but one has to be smart as well and know when and how to invest their money. Not everybody in the industry is trustworthy and it is good to use discretion, but when a good opportunity presents itself, it doesn’t hurt go for it. The more you take advantage of in your career and the more you invest in yourself, the better your results will eventually be.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: Who are your musical influences?
SKAZ ONE: My musical influences started with my dad and my uncle, and they introduced me to Billy Joel, Huey Louis, Cat Stevens, BB King and Neal Young as well as many others. My father also showed me a lot of classical music on the piano. As I got older, a cousin of a friend of mine introduced me to hip hop and I was immediately drawn to the music of Eminem. Eminem was my main influence in rap for many years and to this day the best show I’ve ever seen was still when I saw Eminem perform at Austin City Limits in 2014. I’ve also been influenced by a lot of artists local to the Bay Area, CA. Artists such as Berner, Mistah Fab, Telli Prego, Equipto, Mantis and Dregs One. These people all directly influenced me as I have recorded with them and spent time discussing music with them. It is not simply I heard their songs, but I know these guys and the way they think and do business. And a lot of what I know about the business came simply from watching the moves that Equipto and Berner were making for their own careers over the past decade or so. Those influences are just as important as what influenced me musically. I also took a lot from rap coming out on the east coast. I have always enjoyed the super lyrical styles of the east coast underground and have emulated that in my lyrics over the years. My mom was from Brooklyn and my family still lives out there and they introduced me to the music of Biggie Smalls, Big L, Jadakiss and the like. All of these influences have had an effect on the way I make music in one way or another.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How would you describe your music to people?
SKAZ ONE: I would describe my music as falling in the genre of hip hop or rap, mainly underground. Mostly melodic production with a super lyrical style of rap to back it up. Lately I have been experimenting with Trap music, and I try to find out what people are listening to in the street and then see if I can add my own personal flavor to the mix. Take what everyone else is doing successfully, but do it differently, just as successful, but different. Nobody wants to be a biter and straight up copy the style of another rapper. I would definitely say that my stuff is original, you won’t find much else like it as far as music goes.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What makes you stand out from other artists?
SKAZ ONE: I think my knowledge of the industry and the business side of entertainment makes me stand out from a lot of artists. Most rappers don’t think about the business side of entertaining or they have a manager or agent who deals with all of the details. I have been doing all of my own promoting for years now as well as executive producing all of my own albums and videos. I have connections and resources that other artists simply don’t have as well as being aware of resources that all artists have at their finger tips, but just are not aware of. Awareness and an educated background make me stand out, lyrically and professionally. It allows me to leave people with a lasting impression rather than just blending in with the rest of the crowd. It is easy to go unnoticed nowadays because there are so many rappers, producers and DJs and the only way to be noticed is to stand out. The way to stand out is to be original and be smart about how and where you promote yourself and your music.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What would you like to see changed in today’s music industry?
SKAZ ONE: If I could change today’s music industry, I would make it more talent based rather than being based on money or audience reaction. I would also encourage artists to come up with their own original music in their own way. Labels should let people hold on to their style and their way of making music. Especially if it has been working for that person, I don’t like that the current industry encourages conformity and a general dumbing down of the lyrics in mainstream music. It’s too bad that one can no longer turn on the radio, because all of the music on the radio is awful and repetitive. This is a feeling I know many of my friends and fellow artists share because we have had conversations about how the industry has gone downhill over the past 5 years or so. How artists are not being held to the standard of music that they used to be held to. I would keep an overall higher standard, that’s what I would change about the music industry. Stop lowering the bar, so to speak.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are some upcoming projects that you are currently working on?
SKAZ ONE: I’m currently working on my upcoming EP, entitled “REVOLT!NG,” which is scheduled to drop this summer. It features a powerhouse of talent including Necro, Beeda Weeda, Mike Marshall, Matlock and Hugo Monster. I am also working on multiple mixtapes with Mississippi’s own J-Money, the peanut butter jelly man. The mixtape series, entitled “The Sipp to the Bay,” will feature 3 total mixtapes. I will also be doing shows this summer in Atlanta, Oakland, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Colombus and possibly Dallas. So if you are from those areas look out for Skaz One in you town sooner than later. I’m also hoping to do a project with Mistah Fab this coming fall, but the details are still being worked out as far as that project is concerned. Nothing has yet been recorded. My priority is the release of REVOLT!NG and the promotion of that project over the course of my summer tour. Again, mostly all self promoted and executive produced by me.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: What are your career goals? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
SKAZ ONE: Like many artists, one of my main career goals is to get signed as I’m currently doing everything independently. I’d like to grow my fan base from local to national and then on to global. There are people who have heard of me all over the world, but that audience could be so much bigger. I want mainly to be able to make all of my ends meet just by making music. If I don’t become a super famous rap industry mogul, then so be it, but I know a lot of musicians who live a more than satisfying life and are making it from music alone. No more jobs in retail or fast food and no more coming out of pocket to back all of my projects. In ten years I’d like to be well known in music, I want my career to have longevity. I do not want to be seen as a one hit wonder. I’m confident that if people hear my tracks that they will enjoy my music, buy my CDs and come out to my concerts. In ten years I want to be recording hit songs and playing sold out arenas.
IAA INDUSTRY NEWS: How can your fans access your music and contact you?
SKAZ ONE: If my fans want more information on me, the easiest thing to do is simply type “Skaz One” into a google search. But more specifically, I have a blog at skazonehiphop.blogspot.com and my music is currently available on Itunes, Spotify, Zune, Rhapsody, Youtube, Facebook, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and Amazon Mp3. To contact me, email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a message to my Twitter account @SkazOne or direct message me on my Instagram account @Skaz1official. Really fans can currently use any social media platform they can find me on in order to contact me and find more of my music. For booking email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org and that would be for photoshoots, performances, features or any other type of in-person appearance. I try to make myself available for my fans and for other independent artists as much as my schedule will allow for. There are people who have helped and supported me and my music over the years and I like to pay it forward as much as possible. And to the fans I would say to continue to support underground music, because me and other artists work hard to get the fans what they want to hear. I would also say thanks for the support, because without the fans it would be a thankless job.
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