Photo Cred: yeasick.com
Trev Rich Gives Us The Real Deal About the music industry, Talks about his experience working with Joe Budden, and introduces us to E.D.M. aka Electronic DOPE Music.
Denver based MC, Trev Rich, formerly known as “Rockie” has been creating a name for himself in the Streets of Park Hill, Colorado. The scene in Denver is growing and is becoming one of those major hubs, thanks in part to Trev Rich who has been creating waves and epitomizing the term “hungry” while putting forth hard work and showing the newbies how it’s done.
We were honored to grab Colorado’s finest for an interview, which was actually supposed to be a written interview, but since we had such an awesome conversation with Trev, and we covered so many intriguing topics, we decided that we had to release the audio because only writing about it would do it a disservice. Think of it as an interview gone podcast.
During the interview we discussed everything from, what a #TASTECREATOR is and if he, himself is a TASTECREATOR; the current state of the industry/how its changed and it’s dark side; his “boot-camp” like experience with mainstream rapper Joe Budden; how he’s evolved into the artist he is today plus some extremely helpful tips for artists on the rise.
[To hear the full interview, press play (above)]
We started off our conversation discussing what it really means to be a #TasteCreator.
#TasteCreators: Do you consider yourself a TASTECREATOR and why? What is a TASTECREATOR to you?
“I do I consider myself one [a taste creator] because I don’t like to go with the times, I’m really an against the grain against the tide typa guy. When everyone is following the wave, I’m tryna create my own wave. I like to stay ahead of the curve.”
A TASTECREATOR to us is someone who isn’t afraid to step out of the box. Someone who’s not afraid to be the first one to do something or the first one to support. Being a TASTECREATOR is all about supporting true artistry and not following the wave.
This conversation lead us into a discussion about the current state of the music industry.
“Originality, It’s almost a lost art form. With the watering down of music and the watering down of blog sites it’s really like nobody cares about certain posts. Like you can pay the $5 racks but if nobody knows you or is checking for you already, nobody is gonna click on the blog and see what you about.”
“If they have money they can do what they want in this game and it wasn’t like that before. You had to have talent, you had to have lyrics, YOU had to have an edge, something that separates you from somebody else. Now it’s let me see if I can make a song like future and maybe it might get bigger than future.”
He states that when he’s creating music he hates to feel like he’s recreating something that’s already been done.
“My thing is from beat selection to lyrics to hooks, i don’t want anybody of this time or this era to say that it’s already been created. I hate feeling like i’m recreating something that’s already been made.”
[You’ll have to listen to the interview to hear his comments on Panda, Worldstar, and the rest of his stance on the current state of the industry.]
We wanted to get a better idea at where and how Trev was introduced to music. Before this interview we actually learned that Trev started off as a poet. So we asked Trev what came first, the poet or the MC? We found out that some of our favorite songs were poems that he transformed into songs. At the age of 12 was when he discovered his love for poetry, diving into book after book after book, developing his craft for writing. He used words to channel different energies that he was going through as a kid. Some of the songs that were originally in poem form were “Vapors” “The Way We Love,” the interlude on Heights, “Forever Young” and a few others.
At age 18 he began recording music in his home, mixing, and mastering his own music.
“When I first went & spent a lot of money on a microphone, like that’s when I started taking it serious.”
And take it serious is an understatement. Trev worked his way into becoming one of the leading rappers in Colorado.
#TasteCreators: How did you build your buzz in your area? What was your strategy (or did you have a strategy)?
“You have to shake hands and kiss babies. Like you can be a dope artist but if the people don’t see you then ‘out of site out of mind’ so making all of the music and making moves. My biggest thing that I felt like was an aid to my success was that I got in real good with the DJ’s early.”
In the beginning of his career, Trev Rich was actually known as “Rockie.” In an interview with WestWord, Trev described the transition by saying he went from “I gotta make a hit” to “I’m just being myself.” At one point in time it was unheard of for a rapper to assume their government, in today’s world Trev saw it as a way to be true and authentic, attributes that are valued by consumers. Transitioning into his true identity and name is a step he had to take for himself.
In our interview with Trev he says, “I was seeing so many different “Rockies” and that was a nickname that was given to me but that wasn’t who I was. People get nicknames all the time but at the end of the day, YOU know who you are, and that’s when I felt, after “Rocky diamonds,” “Rockie fresh,” and “Asap Rocky,” I said to myself “ok this is a sign to just be you and do your thing.”
We also brought up the fact that with the digital age, artists actually have to pay attention to their name now. It’s all about SEO. If you type in your name you want it to come up on google and that’s not something that anybody had to worry about before. Trev ended up giving us the exclusive on what really finalized his name change:
“The artists, they were a small piece of that [the name change]. This is something not a lot of people know so ya’ll got the exclusive [he laughs]. But when I changed my name, everybody was saying ‘yo your shit is dope, this shit is dope, i’m tryna find your shit online’ but when they would look for me online, it was Colorado Rockies everything. So it was hard for people to find me unless they had a direct link. Because when you googled ‘Rockie’ or ‘Rockie from Denver,’ it’s all Colorado Rockies that came up. So that was the bigger reason besides the rappers, but the rappers had a lot to do with it too because like, I don’t want to be like everybody.”
Being such a poetic rapper, we had to ask him what artists inspired him. And since were from Philly, we wanted to know if he has ever listened to any Philly based artists such as Peedi Crakk and State Property.
“I wasn’t really introduced to east coast music until I was like at the age where I can go get it myself. It was like growing up, the only east coast person my pops listened to was DMX, and outside of DMX it was all west coast. It was E-40, it was NWA and that was what I grew up on. And then as I got older and I started branching out musically and then came the Texas movement which was the Swisha house [the Lil Flip, Paul Wall, Mike Jones] and then after that is when east coast came for me. I say i fell in love with east coast music instantly. That came around in high school. That was more me being a junior and senior and mixing from people from different places. Cuz’ like here, you don’t hear state property on the radio in Denver. Growing up when everything is like moving, the Dipset movement, the only song that they played from Dipset was “Oh Boy” that was it, so I had to really grow and transition into my music IQ on my own. You know that’s why I feel like when I started doing my own research that’s when I found the different types of music but growing up I was listening to all west coast artists.”
Currently Trev has the new ‘VIEWS’ album, Kanye West new album and a wide variety of genres/indie music on his playlist right now. He mentioned taking an ear to an artist named Alina Baraz who is a dope eclectic artist with a huge independent following on SoundCloud.
“When records start having to go through label submissions it’s gonna get watered down so to see someone put out a record at their most creative state, and be able to just put the album out like that, that’s what i like. I don’t want an album put together by Def Jam, i don’t.”
He expressed his love for Kanye’s album as well as the artist himself. He feels like Kanye is one of the last cutting edge artists that we have, so he appreciates it while we can still get the music.
Trev Compares new Kanye to old Kanye by stating, “Everybody is always gonna compare him to old Kanye. But just being an artist and evolving, like I wanna hear what Kanye is going through now. When I get in the mood for old Kanye I got ‘College Drop Out’, I got all those to go back and listen to so I like hearing where he’s at now and just kinda having the gospel undertone to the album was really dope to me.”
He also expressed how he felt about Rihanna’s new album, Anti:
“I liked this Rihanna album because you kinda get into a robot form when you got hit after hit after hit after hit and its really like, when u have so many different writers and so many different producers bringing you songs and you just want something with all hits on it. Like “Good kid mad city.” I feel like “Good Kid Mad City” was dope. but when you have one producer and you really get down with em, that’s when you get “To Pimp A Butterfly,” and that’s what I like.”
Trev Rich is an independent artist by choice. So we wanted to see if he was looking to get signed by a major label in the near future. He has had multiple opportunities on the table but is taking the time to make the right choice by not rushing into anything.
We picked his brain a little on what it’s like being an independent artist;
“To be stable as an independent artist, that’s the dream. The labels aren’t really doing anything but adding to a flame that you already built. They’re not taking anybody and creating a flame, they’re just adding fuel. Like honestly Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, those are the real labels right now. Vine is making superstars every day. YouTube is making celebrities every day. All these labels do is “oh you have 2 million views on YouTube let’s add fuel to that fire,” they not building that fire for you though”.
We discussed radio and the reasoning behind its decline. Radio has been on a down-slope because of the internet and the ability to go and download a song whenever you want to, being able to listen to it 20 times in a row if you so please. As with radio, when it was in its prime, that was our source of music, we had to sit by the radio and wait for our favorite song, it was the excitement of it, the waiting, now songs get burnt out pretty quickly from the constant playback.
Trev adds by saying, “Yea cuz it’s so much easier to hit download. So it’s kinda like a lazy generation and it’s crazy because the smarter we get the weaker we get. You know it was a point in time where maybe we weren’t as smart to do the online technology and all that but we were strong like we hadda go through stuff we hadda get up and get out the house. And now like everything that I can do in a day I can do it sitting on the couch, everything is a gift and a curse.”
Trev’s buzz reached another plateau due in part to his debut moment with Joe Budden on the “Loose Quarter” album. So we talked to Trev about his relationship with Joe Budden and how that whole experience came about. He shares with us how he sent over some tracks to one of Joe’s friends who at the time was doing an unsigned mixtape, next thing he knew he woke up one morning and Joe was following him on social media. His hard work was starting to pay off when he was asked personally by Joe to “get to jersey.” Arriving in Jersey he was then thrown into a “bootcamp” with another buzzing MC named Tsu Surf. Being a young rapper around all of the veteran MC’s he began to feel small, inexperienced. In his hometown, being one of the front runners sometimes he gets the “yes man” effect;
“Everybody’s like “yea that’s dope that’s dope that’s dope” and then you get around someone who’s a veteran and he’s like “nah I don’t like that verse,” and that humbles the fuck outta you.So it was really Joe saying “nah I don’t like that verse” and he prolly did that like 5-6 times and meanwhile I’m thinkin I’m blazin, I’m thinking I’m killin it, and he’s like “nah that ain’t it.”[he laughs]
Sweat dripping down your forehead, nervousness, fear, are all things he felt at the “bootcamp.” Taking a chance on yourself and testing your abilities builds character, and that’s what he experienced in that moment. After he went back home Joe asked him to send him something to put on his new mixtape. That’s how “Dreams” came about, gaining him 6-7,000 followers on his social media handles, everyone knew then that he was headed straight for the top.
But aside from rapping, Trev is also a songwriter. He spent most of 2014 knee deep in songwriting for Atlantic Records, but when we asked about his experiences, although he has no hard feelings, the experience wasn’t as pleasant as we thought.
“Just really when it came down to the deals & stuff, if its not right it’s not right. My thing is, if I’m asking for something and somebody wonders why, then they don’t know my worth and they don’t know how I feel about myself, so i don’t need to be there.
“I’ve seen so many people get screwed over with so many deals it’s like, Igot a phobia of that. Like I’m 26 so me being in the wrong deal I can get out when I’m 30 and that can’t happen [he laughs] I cant take that route.”
#TasteCreators: We actually read in an interview that you were working on EDM music and you called it “Electronic Dope Music” (which i think is AWESOME). Can u tell us more about that? Because that makes us excited to hear it. Will we hear any of that soon? Are you planning to drop an EDM project?
“It’s really kinda up in the air right now. I think it’ll be so crazy because EDM has 1 tone right now so to give a songwriter undertone to an EDM song would be crazy. I’m working a little bit with DJ Green Lantern, and his whole wave is EDM. Originally that project was an idea me & DJ Hollywood Cook had, so when hes ready I’m ready.”
#TasteCreators: Are there any producers that you would like to work with?
“See that’s another thing with the whole “wave” thing because generally in my mind of of course I would wanna work with a Metro [boomin], somebody who’s really killing shit, that I can put my own twist to, but at the same time i wanna do what future did and find my own metro. So that’s where I’m at. I love my producers to death. When u have a certain bond with your producer, that’s when your best music comes out.”
Trev has been in the industry long enough to experience it a bit so we asked him if there were any advice he could give to aspiring artists out there, here he dropped some gems for indie artists on the rise;
“Keep your team that u come in with. You have to have a solid foundation and a solid team around you when you come into this industry because like I said before, everything is money driven so if you don’t have a solid team around you, you gonna be spending so much money as to where people are telling you “you need to spend money on this and you need to spend money on that” as to where it helps them more than its helping you so keep a team of people around you that you trust. People that would be around you if you never did music again – those are the people that’s gonna be like “ok this is what we doing and this is how we can do it” because once you get in it, like this industry is full of sharks, to the point where labels can go on SoundCloud and find the hottest underground song and remake that mother fucker. Where the game is right now, everybody likes money and the only thing that generates money is from billboards to shows to album sales, now that you got streaming they are kinda paying you, but for a long time album sales wasn’t helping an artist. From Kendrick to Big Sean to Drake. Like Drake always had a crazy feel because of the creative control and the percentages that he holds over his masters, but someone like Big Sean, Big Sean been doing this for a while and he said it wasn’t until this year that he can buy my mom a house and that doesn’t make sense to me.”
We discussed a bit about Nipsey Husstle and how he successfully put out albums for $1000/copy.
“The thing about that that I respect is that you’re targeting your core fan base. So you say ‘I have 100 copies for 1000,’ that’s better than having 10,000 copies for $10 and you dont have 10,000 fans. You gotta target your fan base. That’s what Nipsey did so where now he can maneuver how he wants to. He can go on tour when he wants to he can do all of that.”
Being independent is being in control of your career, your money, your creativity and art. You are able to touch your money first vs. having your label take their cut and giving you what’s left. He has seen several well-known artists get the short end of the stick from some of these labels and he doesn’t want that to happen to him.
It was a pleasure interviewing Trev Rich. We got a glimpse into who he really is which is a confident, aggressive, creative artist who will not sacrifice or compromise his art to satisfy anyone or any label. He stays true to who is he and reps his hometown to the fullest! He creatively engages with his audiences with his strategic wordplay, revealing personal experiences and telling stories through his music and poetry. It’s important for artists to keep evolving and experimenting with different sounds and emotions and that’s what we see in him, the progression of a legend in the making. He is very loyal to his team, with which he started with. We felt like we were talking to someone w knew for a long time, which shows how personable he is. Trev Rich is officially a TASTECREATOR.
Click here to listen to the full interview.
Be sure to follow @TrevRichHD and check out his music below.
This interview was brought to you by Brianna DeMayo (@breezyb215) and Alexis Couillard (@StayLacedUp_) from the #TasteCreators team.