I recently spoke with G-Eazy at his sold out show in Portland. It seemed it wasn't that long ago that he sold out a freakishly large coffee shop with MOD SUN, and got into some shenanigans afterwards. I really believe he'll be one of the biggest things in 2014, and he'll be growing larger and larger as time goes by.
There’s been a lot of changes since I last saw you. You went from a sold out coffee shop across the street, then you were at the Hawthorne and that was sold out, and now you’ve sold out the largest club venue in Portland. How do you feel about that?
I’m fucking hyped dude! This is everything I used to close my eyes and dream about. We were supposed to do the Wonder Ballroom and that sold out, and they asked us “Do you want to bump up to the Roseland?” and I’ve always heard of the Roseland and heard it was a really special place, and I said “Fuck it, let’s do it. I don’t even care if we sell it out, I just want to do it”.
This was the first date of the tour to sell out before the tour even started. What do you love about Portland?
I think there’s a special connection and energy in Portland with the energy of the Bay Area – there’s similar vibes where people in Portland show love to a lot of bay area artists and vice versa. It always feels like a second home every time I’m here, in a weird way. It’s one of my favorite places to visit.
In your set, you use a live drummer and you don’t use a backing track – it feels like a rare live experience. Why did you choose to set up your live show this way?
We put a lot of care into the show. I see touring as the lifeline of every artist in today’s day and age; I mean, you’re not selling music, so how are you going to make a living? If you don’t put that much attention, detail or care into what you’re doing to make a living, then you’re losing. It just matters.
Do you feel like it’s dishonest for people to use backing tracks?
Everyone’s got their style, everyone’s got their own show, and their own approach. No disrespect to anybody else who does that, it’s just not the way I approach it.
Is that why you think Jamil thinks you’re one of the best performers in hip-hop, alongside Drake, Lil Wayne, and Chance The Rapper?
I don’t know, man. Jamil’s brought me to so many shows – getting to watch Drake so many times, getting to watch Wayne, getting to watch Chance…I’m learning from everybody. Every time I would watch their sets, I would take notes and learn what I could and put it back into mine.
You have Rockie Fresh out with you, signed to Maybach Music Group. You guys are both different in your own ways, but you’re also both getting ready to release your proper debut albums. What influenced the decision to bring him out on this tour?
Whenever you’re putting together a bill for a tour, you want to like who you’re working with - because you’re going to have to listen to them for two months and see them in green rooms everyday for two months. So it helps to be a fan of who it is you’re working with. And that’s the case, I’ve been fan of Rockie for a couple years now.
Was he confirmed on this tour before he did the guest spot on the “Been On” remix?
Who else would you have wanted to bring out on this tour if he wasn’t available?
I dunno, it might’ve just been me and Kyle…Kyle’s amazing.
Yeah, tell me more about Kyle.
I believe in him 1000%. He’s one of the best live performers I’ve ever seen, his energy on stage is unparalleled.
Is he on Soundcloud?
Yeah, he’s on there – it’s just “SuperDuperKyle”. He’s got great music, he’s got a great brand, and again, he’s really got a great live show.
You took off on Soundcloud. You put out a 3 track B-sides EP on there, and received over a million combined plays in a little under a week. What on your thoughts on that?
It’s just dope. I always hoped that I would eventually have an audience to share this music with, and when I finally got that audience I could hopefully give them some dope shit. Again, in today’s world the interaction between artist and fans is so direct and instant it’s not like you make this music and have it pressed and shipped to stores, and you only get to see their reaction when you get to tour and see them come to the shows. Now, it’s where I’ll put out a song, and I’ll see a tweet instantly.
These three tracks are solid, yet didn’t make the album. Can you explain why?
We wanted to this album to be a filet mignon – no fat, no filler, no bullshit. And it’s a tough practice to push yourself in this regard, because everything I make, I feel excited about – even the shitty songs in the moment is just this joy that comes from making music into the thin air.
If you had to pick one of the three to make the album, which one would it be?
Probably “Tumblr Girls”. But here’s the thing – when you challenge yourself to only cut away the good stuff and only have great, that’s when you have a filet mignon.
Was there one more B-side you might release before the album comes out?
Yeah. I’ve got 3-4 more B-sides I was thinking about releasing…we’ll see.
You’re inspired by the 50’s and 60’s era of music. Do you kind of wish you could take it back to that time and have a bit more privacy, where you don’t have to worry about social media, where you have a certain mystique to you?
Sometimes. I’m not naturally good at twitter. Some people are just really fucking good at twitter. I think privacy is important – “me time” and everything, in order to re-balance.
Since the last release came out (Must Be Nice), how have you grown as an artist?
The ability to push yourself to get better at your craft; it’s so easy to get comfortable and feel like “I don’t have anything else to learn”. You should learn your whole life, you should never be done learning. If you continue to push yourself and to soak up more game and put that into the music, naturally good things will happen.
Has there been anyone in particular you’ve sat down and worked with as far as production goes?
Christoph Andersson. I almost did an entire album with him, and he’s an unknown fucking genius…a gym who was living in New Orleans, and I met him in college, he’s a wiz-kid.
Will we see him throughout the year in various projects you’re doing?
Yeah, we’re going to start working on Devon’s album and he’s going to working with her a lot and producing. Also, he’s on stage with me tonight as well.
I saw you were on the phone with E-40 recently. Tell me about that.
It’s the day of my San Francisco show - we sold out the Filmore, I’m fucking hyped, and I wake up and see “5 minutes ago, missed call – E-40” so I call him right back, and he goes “Whassup nephew, you’ve got mail”. I check it, and he sent me a verse for proper album release of “Far Alone”.
Yeah, I’m so fucking hyped. To go from listening to E-40 to having him on your proper debut album is…there’s no other way to do it.
Speaking of your debut album, These Things Happen, it’s been in the works for a little over two years. It seems like a long time, but it’s really not.
That’s the thing, you can hate me now for the extra time I’m taking, and you can appreciate it when it finally lives in the world and you realize why I put the extra time in.
During this extra time, how did you push yourself outside of your comfort zone while writing or recording?
It was never easy, and every artist is eager for that gratification. You want to be appreciated for the work you put into the music, and you want the world to appreciate it. Every time I thought I was done with the record, it stung really bad my team said “Alright, this is good, but it’s not great yet” - and it doesn’t get any easier to hear…
It’s humbling, you know?
It’s SUPER humbling! And we would take trips, riding around listening to it from top to bottom and until we all knew that we were all the way done with the record, it wasn’t done.
Would you sit on a particular mix for a month and question if it holds up or not?
Yeah, and that’s the thing - if it doesn’t hold up for YOU for a month, it’s not going to hold up to the world for 10 years.
Now I hear that A$ap Ferg is on the record…
How’d you know that? Fucking Nardwuar over here…dude…I met those dudes early on their rise, and they’re just real genuine and cool people. They’re cool as fuck. Ferg would always ask Jamil “Yo, what’s G up to? How’s he been?” and he’d say “G’s fucking killing it”, and Ferg took notice and said “Let’s do a song”.
Who else is on the album? Is MOD SUN on the album? Hoodie?
Just Ferg and E-40 are the only rap features.
Are there any bonus tracks that you’re going to put out later?
Yeah, and that’s the thing, when you challenge yourself to go back and take that much longer, you have a ton of music. So we’ll service everything in due time.
I think what a lot of people don’t know about you that you self-produce mostly everything. Did you open yourself up to outside input on this album?
Yeah, I’m still co-producing and additionally producing on almost every song. I’m still very involved with picking synths and drum sounds and patterns. I’m very particular. Again, once you humble yourself, you’ll realize “Hey, maybe I’m not the best at this, maybe I don’t I know everything. Maybe other people know things that I don’t know and could bring stuff to the table”.
Who else did you work with on this album, production wise? Boi-1da? Blackbear?
The whole thing is Christoph and I. Other than that, I worked with Blackbear on a couple of songs, I also worked with Jay Ant. I wanted to go back to that sound that Jay and I grew up listening to and that he’s still making. I wanted to re-incorporate that into the soundscape of the music.
Tell me about “I Mean It”, you’ve been playing that on this tour.
Yeah, that’s probably going to be the single. It’s just like a “Fuck you” record – I’m here, and I fucking mean it, straight up.
What is your other favorite song off the album?
“Downtown Love”. I haven’t been playing that on this tour, I can’t wait to play that song. I’m probably most proud of that song as a creative achievement – it’s like a 7 minute song, it’s the darkest one on there. It’s going to make some people cry, but it’s impactful.
What were the last couple albums that you bought?
I just bought Pharrell’s new album, I bought ScHoolboy Q’s album...
Are there any albums you’re really looking forward to?
Dom Kennedy’s new album.
Spotify has been really huge for you as an artist. Front page features, listening parties, etc. How’s the revenue stream been with them?
Yeah, shout out to Spotify. The revenue has been great, but they know that they’re the new wave – the way that people experience music is changing and they’ve got their finger on the pulse, they get it.
Now with that being said, are you concerned on how something like Spotify or Rdio might affect album sales?
Nah, we just went to Pandora’s offices and met the guy who started it. They showed me the back-end, and how many plays we get on there and it’s just crazy how people are listening to music. To me, our biggest thing is that I don’t care how you get it, just listen to the record, because we didn’t put this much work into it for nothing, I want the world to hear this shit.
Now, because you’ve been so open about how fans get your music, do you think that’s helped you as an artist overall?
I think anyone who really knows who you are knows that The Beatles are really important to you. What songs have been most influential towards you as an artist?
“Happiness Is A Warm Gun”. I actually flipped those chords for the intro to Must Be Nice.
I know it’s a tough question, but for fans of your music, which Beatles album would suggest for them to check out first?
I think the obvious one would be Sgt. Pepper’s or Revolver.
Let’s pretend that it’s the end of 2014 – this tour finishes off really well, your album has come out, what else has happened to where you can say it was “your year”?
So big picture, grand scheme of things, when I first started making music I always had this vision of taking this all the way – let’s go to arenas, you know? But I’m also a big fan of things growing organically and to not stunt your growth, and let things happen naturally. So at the end of this year, I’m not going to say arenas – if we play the Fox Theater (in Oakland, CA), I’ll be stoked.
Yeah, but you’ve had that small taste of arenas, with stuff like the Lil Wayne tour.
But these shows on this tour, this is 1400 people tonight. If I just close my eyes and make noise, it sounds just as loud as anything. It’s crazy. Every step of the way is so much fun.
What else can we look forward to for the rest of the year? Are you on tour in the U.S. again this year?
I’ll probably go back out in the fall. And then just more music – now that stuff is done with this record, I’m ready to start working on the next one.
Do you feel like you’ll keep dropping stuff more often?
I think the key is consistently releasing good shit, never going too long without releasing stuff.