I recently spoke to Macklemore & Ryan Lewis before they headlined a local music festival that Oregon State University put on. When it was time to step on stage, a crowd of approximately 10,000 people turned up, ready to check out one of the Northwest's finest rappers. Look for a debut full length album from Macklemore, and definitely turn up when he comes to your city, as his high energy performance is something not to be missed.
First off, what are your thoughts on making the XXL Freshman cover? What opportunities have come your way since making that cover?
Macklemore: Thoughts on it are, it was awesome; I was very excited, and it was a great honor, it was something I've wanted to be a part of since it first came out. How has it changed our lives? I think it's gotten more eyes on what we're doing. There's more interest on the label/industry side, I think a lot of people that didn't know who we were are at least familiar, at least know the name. I think it made our fans proud.
With the label interest, would you consider staying independent for your future projects, or would you consider signing to a label?
Macklemore: I think for this project, we will remain independent. I think for future projects, we'll see how big it gets and what we can handle ourselves. But for right now, we'll stay independent.
You worked with one of my favorite Indie artists, Fences, on the "Otherside" remix. How was that experience working with him, and what stories can you share from that recording process?
Macklemore: Fences is a really good friend of mine, we text a couple times a week at least. I can't remember how we met, but we've known each other for a couple of years...
Ryan Lewis: Songs for Eating And Drinking...
Macklemore: No, I didn't meet him there, that was the rock version...but that collaboration, I knew I wanted to work with him, we sent him the track, and he wrote to it, and then he sung it over the phone or did a rough take, and we loved it. He's one of the most hilarious people I know, he's fucking hilarious, I love that guy.
Ryan Lewis: He's great in the studio too. I think now that we're closing up our album, we have a variety of indie collaborations. I think working with Fences was one of the first times we were getting into collaborating with an indie vocalist, right around the VS Redux. It was just a great experience, he was awesome to have, it felt like a really natural song, as opposed to do an "indie" rap. I think it ended up really natural, it was a great fit.
Macklemore: And there was a friendship between him and I beforehand, so it just made sense. Sometimes you meet the person, and you start working, and then you hit it off and become friends, which is great. But he was someone I knew beforehand, so that's always cool.
So can we look forward to you guys working with Fences again in the future?
Macklemore: Yeah, I think we'll do another song with Fences in the future, atleast one or two more.
What other artists you work with and why?
Macklemore: We work with a series of musicians, a lot of them; Owour Arunga (Trumpet), who does all our shows with us; Ray Dalton (Vocalist); Josh Rollins (Piano); Noah Goldberg (Piano)...
Ryan Lewis: The list goes on and on...as for why? which is something that nobody's ever asked, which is interesting...it's not like I had a stockpile of "My Oh My" and "Otherside Remix" beats when we first decided to do the VS. EP, we totally didn't. I think the records we started making, particularly after we started sampling stuff that was Indie, they would rise and fall, and go through a variety of emotions, and hit a certain bar and be very aggressive, and hit another bar and be very subtle. I think that I was very attracted to the opportunity of being able to go through that roller-coaster instrumentally. And I think over time, I ended up meeting different types of instruments, but also great composers and great writers, to be able to take a 16-bar verse or 3 16-bar verses, and really build stuff up and make stuff die, and have a variety of sounds...which a lot of people just weren't doing. I think that I'm working with an MC that allows you to do that well, and have it not have it feel forced, as opposed to just matching that up with a very cut and dry 16 bar verse.
You have a new album out in the fall. First off, do you have a title for it yet?
Lyrically, where do you go with this album?
Macklemore: All over the place, but it's just my life. It's what the last couple of years have been; it's personal, it's vulnerable, and it's more of what I've always written, which is that type of music.
So it's more of a continuation of what you've written in the past?
Macklemore: Yeah, I don't see myself...
Ryan Lewis: I'd say yes and no. I think it's a lot of covering that, but we've done a lot of fun songs, we did a song about thrift shops. There's a lot of different types of stuff on the album, all of which were very honest approaches, but I think there's a variety of styles.
Macklemore: I think that it's different than the VS. EP. I think if you look at my body of work, it's more of what I've always done, it's all different concepts and subject matter, but in terms of the array of who I am, it's just a continuation of where I'm at and what I've been doing the last couple of years.
You mentioned earlier that you have more indie collaborations on this new album. Can you tell us who you worked with and why?
Ryan Lewis: We can't say right now.
When do you think we'll find out about that?
Ryan Lewis: Soon
What's the one song you're looking forward to playing the most on your setlist tonight?
Macklemore: Thrift Shop, I think we're going to do tonight. It's our newest song, we've only played it twice, it's always exciting to do new stuff.
Warped Tour kicks off in a little bit, and they usually try to have a rap artist on there. Yelawolf was on last year, and this year they have Machine Gun Kelly and MOD SUN on the tour. Would you consider joining the tour next summer if the opportunity presented itself?
Macklemore: I would be open to it, it would just have to be right, you know, If my manager and my booking agent thought that was the move. I think Warped Tour is a grind, I've had a lot of friends who've done the tour, and it's something that takes a lot out of you. But If it was the right move and it made sense, then I think we're open to anything.
What's something that you've never mentioned before in an interview?
Macklemore: When I first started writing raps, I went in the back of The Source, and I went to the back called "Hip Hop Quotables", where there's a 16 from some rapper. I went and I had a bunch of Source magazines, I was probably 13 or 14 years old, and went to the computer and copied and pasted bars that I liked from like, 6 different issues and made a 16, and went to my friends house...with my rap. And I started spitting it, and he goes "That's Erick Sermon!", and "That's Rahkim!", so it didn't last long, but that's my introduction to writing raps, stealing raps from the back of The Source.
What's one artist that you'd recommend to anyone that listens to your music?
Macklemore: Kendrick Lamar
Would you just recommend him, or his entire camp?
Macklemore: Yeah, him and ScHoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul. Those guys make very high quality art, they have a great mixture of style and charisma, and delivery and content, they're a crew that I'm definitely inspired by for sure.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Ryan Lewis: Thank you so much for this interview, appreciate it.