Interview: Mister (Passalacqua)
A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to shoot the breeze with Mister, of the dynamic duo, Passalacqua. The project review was so well received by the readership here that I thought I would delve a little deeper into one of the minds of the project and was really glad that I did. Mister is a very accessible person, who lets you know exactly how he feels. That, coupled with the fact he is an excellent artist should hold your attention for the next five minutes. Be sure to check the review and the project if you have not as of yet.
HHD: I wanted to let you know that the Passalacqua post has been extremely popular on the blog. Actually the most popular post on the site to date.
Mister: That’s great, man! When the EP came out, Brent (blaksmith) and I were both surprised as to how well it was received.
HHD: I think because it’s unique and has so much artistry involved in it. It really differentiated itself.
People always say that it’s “good hip hop” or “he dropped a good verse” but rarely when it comes to hip hop do fans and critics alike refer to it as “good music”, but enough of me ranting.
So tell the people exactly where you hail from?
Mister: I was born about 30 miles north of Detroit, now living a bit closer to the city. “Metro Detroit”. If you’re within a 50-mile radius of the city and you’re out of state, you just say you’re from Detroit. “I’m from Royal Oak.” “Royal what? Where’s that?” “Oh, uh…Detroit. I’m from Detroit.”
HHD: Gotcha. Ha. We do the same thing in the DC area too. (I’m from DC) So how did you first get into hip hop? Was their a specific influence in your life that brought you into the scene?
Mister: Ah, DC! I lived in Maryland for a few years. (Gaithersburg)
That move to Maryland is when I started writing raps. At the time, it was emulating a lot of the stuff I was listening to, and for whatever reason, I didn’t stop. When I started, I was writing some foul shit. That was my teen angst, I suppose.
Never got into drugs, wasn’t a fighter, I was the dude that wore black band t-shirts and sat in the corner with my notebook.
I thought shock value was everything when I was 15. And then I started getting into the culture, and realizing, “Oh wow, I can do a lot more than just bullshit.”, so gradually the rhymes went from an entity outside of myself to an extension of my being.
So yeah, Level Jumpers were a big influence…and then I started getting into Jurassic 5, De La, Tribe, Ultramagnetic, and on and on.
HHD: So how did you make the jump from a guy who wrote rhymes in the corner to an artist who was going to perform shows and make albums?
Mister: In high school, I wrote constantly. Did some freestyling in the hallways and whatever. I didn’t really start performing until after high school with a friend’s band (Anonymous, who are now The Big Something). Most of my time, I spent writing and recording.
The recording didn’t really go anywhere, though…it was just a slew of songs with no direction. I changed aliases in eh, ’07? I wrote down “Mister” one day and thought it fit. Once “Mister” became a thing, that’s when I started considering doing live shows and such
Got a cdj to run my beats off of, and started performing wherever I could. Basements, dive bars, wherever. After a few shows is when I linked up w/ Brent.
Brent (Blaksmith) and I met in junior high. I left for Maryland when I was 13, he stayed in Michigan. 10 years later, he finds out I’m rapping, I find out he is, and we’re both pleasantly surprised.
And also (backtracking a bit) while I wasn’t performing yet, I would go to shows constantly. I’ve been going to concerts since I was 8, and I always took mental notes (still do, actually). That helped the performances I do now a great deal…’cause hey, you’re PERFORMING, give the people a performance! If they only wanted the songs, they’d buy the cd and go home.
I throw confetti, and we engage in (what we feel to be) humorous banter. Rap’s so goddamn serious. It’s nauseating.
HHD: So if people want to hear Mister on the mic, what projects can they check you on?
Mister: Hmm.. I have a few free songs on my bandcamp (http://mister.bandcamp.com), as well as Dr. B’s bandcamp (http://dr-b.bandcamp.com/album/bs-prescription-2)
HHD: So how did Passalacqua come about?
Mister: Brent’s been my hypeman for close to a year now…I played the Metro Times Blowout last March, which is one of the bigger local music fests in the country (200+ bands in a dozen bars over the course of 4 days)…I knew I needed extra energy, so I asked Brent, and the dynamic on stage seemed to work well.
I had a lot of beats from Dr. B that were just laying around, and I showed Brent some, and we started putting together the songs. We decided, “Here’s our deadline. Let’s get this done.” and we did. Passalacqua relates to when we met in junior high. I was saying during the writing process that “Passalacqua is a way of life”, sort of as a joke, but that’s the best way to put it I suppose.
It’s a deviation for both of us. Cold Men Young is high-energy, and my stuff (or at least my live show) is high-energy, so putting out a fairly chill, introspective EP of songs was cool. A refreshing break from our separate endeavors.
That, and we both dug what Dr. B had given us, and we did our best to convey the emotions of the music in our lyrics.
I think we did an okay job of that. I just hate the idea of rapping the same on every song. I sort of pride myself on being consistently inconsistent, and I think Brent’s the same way. Whatever the music gives us, that’s what we give back.
HHD: Elaborate on the process of making something ‘different’ from the norm? How would you describe the project to someone before they heard it?
Mister: From my standpoint, it was different as far as going about the songwriting…I’ve always done solo stuff, so to bounce ideas off of Brent and vice versa, was a good experience.
I’m always leery of describing the music to people…I always try to describe it in as few words as possible, but that often does a disservice to the project.
I usually say, “Well, it’s hiphop. UK production.” And then beyond that, it’s, “Give it a listen! You tell me.”
People really dig it! We had listened to those songs dozens of times. It gets to a point where you have no idea what people are gonna think of it… I’d tell Brent, “Y’know, I’ve listened to this a bunch, but I haven’t gotten sick of it yet.” – we felt that was a good sign.
Every so often you’ll get someone that REALLY likes it, and that’s an incredible feeling. I read a comment on Reddit, “This EP changed my life!”, which is a weird thing to read.
It’s cool to know that people enjoy what you’re doing. Anytime we perform, so long as one person dug it, we win. You can’t please everyone — you just do what you do and hope for the best.
HHD: So in the end, what’s going to define success for you as an artist?
Mister: Ideally, live off of the craft. To be able to live comfortably on what you love to do, I think that’s the ultimate success…we’re a long way from it right now, but Passalacqua gave us some momentum for the future.
And by comfortably, I don’t mean, “Get mad rich and and have a mansion or several”. A nice apartment would suffice.
HHD: So what do you have in store for the masses?
Mister: For the masses…
Dr. B put out an album, By The People, For The People over at http://vivarepublik.com, and he has another project on the way with a guy from New Jersey, Joe The Monmouth.
Brent is working on the new Cold Men Young album, which – from the snippets I’ve heard – it’s gonna be pretty ridiculous.
I have the “Cooking With” EP trilogy, the first of which should be out in March. It’s in the early stages, but Brent and I are looking at releasing a follow-up in the Summer.
HHD: Any other thoughts you might have for the readership of the blog?
Mister: I’m grateful for any/everyone that checks it out…and hey, spread it! We encourage it. Leak it everywhere – torrent the shit out of it, give copies to your little brother so he can hand ’em out at his middle school, leave it in the tip jar at your local coffee shop, wherever.
And if they liked Passalacqua, we feel they’ll like all of our individual efforts too, so keep the eyes and ears peeled.