A while ago Maybach Music Group recording artist, Rockie Fresh, stopped by our office while in town for the New York leg of his “The Headquarters Tour.” The Chi-town native spoke about going overseas for the first time, eating foreign food, and the difference between fans in the U.K. and the U.S. He also discussed his experience in the studio with producer Lil Silva and how it opened up his mind musically.
Mass Appeal: When was your first international tour?
Rockie Fresh: My first international tour was last month with Mac Miller. We went to the U.K. and did 10 days out there. It was actually my first time leaving the country, period. It was a super dope experience.
MA: What was your most memorable moment being out there?
RF: I think it was the type of people who came to the shows. All the shows were sold out. Everybody knows Mac’s got a real strong fan base, but I think a lot of his fans are aware of the music I been putting out too. To see how far it reaches from Chicago was just the dopest thing.
MA: What is the difference between your U.S. fans and your U.K. fans?
RF: I’ve been blessed to have some real U.S. fans. But I guess in the U.S. sometimes people come to shows and certain events cause it’s the thing to do for the night. Not really for an actual show, but just to be in the building. In the U.K. everybody that was there was there for a good time, everybody appreciates in the music. I didn’t see a lot of people not putting their hands up and not participating. The participation was a lot better.
MA: Besides the music, what did you come across in the U.K. that made you say, ‘Okay, this is some dope shit. I wish we had back in the states?’
RF: A lot of the architecture, you know what I’m saying? Like the buildings they had were super dope. This one area I went to, I forgot the name of it, but just the energy and the type of people that were there, and how the restaurants were going for blocks and blocks and blocks. It was such a chill environment especially compared to where I’m from. You know in Chicago when you get something like that it gets a little ratchet. So for me, to have a peaceful time at a place like that, it was cool.
MA: Any good food finds over there?
RF: I found out about this place called Wagamama, which is in the US too. But I didn’t know it was in the U.S. until I had it in the U.K. I end up eating it a lot. It was a Japanese joint, it was super good.
MA: As a new comer to touring do you find it exhausting?
RF: Naw, I got real bad sleep habits anyway. I rarely sleep no matter if I’m touring or not. I’ve kind of gotten used to the touring thing; it works real well for me. I’m always down to get up early and make moves and yeah, it’s pretty cool.
MA: What is the post show life like? Like do you go clubbing or do you just take time off and chill?
RF: It’s mostly the studio you know what I’m saying. If I get some money to go to the club I pop out but that’s really it. I’m not a big club kind of guy. I love being in the studio, that’s like my club. So we are always trying find a nice studio in the city we are in, get in there and rock out.
MA: I saw some footage of you in the studio with Lil Silva. You definitely have an electronic sound in your music and the U.K. has a history when it comes to electronic music, like Drum N Bass and that kind of stuff. So how is the vibe with producers out there compared to dudes over here?
RF: It’s a lot more channeled by things that go on in the world that we really don’t have control over. Like how the wind may hit the trees or seeing the different colors of leaves. That’s what Lil Silva was getting inspired by for his music versus trying to stunt on somebody or take over the club. He really wanted to bring out certain parts of life that people don’t normally think about in the rap world when they listen to music. I think that was so cool about working with him, that it opened up my mind to more of the real things out here that we can appreciate. Just the beauty of certain aspects of life that we kind of take for granted and how sonically we can make people feel those emotions.
MA: That was an amazing fucking answer. When you first started talking about the wind hitting the trees I’m like, oh he’s getting on some philosophical shit. But then as you started breaking it down, I’m like okay that’s ill.
RF: (Laughs) Naw I was kind of tweaking too when he first told me and then I was like, man you got to explain that shit. So once he started explaining it I’m like, ok I totally get it. Then once he played the record afterwards it made it a lot easier to see it. I think when you hear the joints that we got together on my new project it’s going to give you a real fly emotion that isn’t no weirdo stuff. Just some real life type of music and it isn’t a sample, he uses his voice a lot, he samples himself a lot, it’s got a real good vibe, and I’m excited for people to hear it.
MA: When you say no weirdo stuff, I have an idea what you mean but can you elaborate on that a little more?
RF: I think being different should come from just being you and being natural. I feel like a lot of artist because of the pressure the Internet, they go out of their way to be extremely extra or they try to go too hard to prove their not like everybody else. I feel the “difference” comes when your comfortable with yourself to the point where other people can relate to you, for you just being natural. I think that’s what made the song so special. I didn’t take it as Lil Silva trying to be too deep. I understood that is who he is as a person, and how genuine it was. I think that is what takes it away from being some weirdo stuff. Like you said, when I first brought up the trees and the wind and all that stuff it sounded a little suspect because we are so familiar with artist trying to sell their music for something more than what it is. Throwing all those monkey wrenches in the situation to get you to think crazy. But with that the music really told the story and I feel like it’s going to relate to the hood, to the backpacker, to the hipster, or whoever else would be listening to it. It just makes sense, know what I’m saying so that’s what I meant by that.
MA: Besides Lil Silva did you work with any other producers out there?
RF: Naw, I was actually only working with him cause he sent me beats when I was in the States. I didn’t even know him and me were going to link up when he started sending me records. A lot of the joints were super dope, but I always like getting it in with producers and making things from scratch because I have a vision of how I want my projects to sound. I’m real big on things being cohesive and I take that seriously. So it was blessing to link up with him after the tour and I really wanted to lock in with him cause he had a better sound than anyone else I heard from there.
MA: Do you think they might be more receptive to your music out there compared to the States?
RF: They don’t have as many factors blocking them from appreciating dope stuff. We just let a lot of stuff get in the way of really seeing music for what it is in the States now. I’m a huge supporter of Instagram and Twitter like everybody else, but I also see its ills and how it can just cloud your vision for what you should be focusing on from an artist. I noticed they’re not as big on that stuff out there. They’re more about your songs, what you’re saying on your records, what your beats are telling them. That’s dope and that is why I make music to reach that kind of person.
MA: What are your favorite and least favorite things about the road?
RF: My favorite thing is getting to see new places. There are a lot of places I haven’t seen yet and my parents God bless them, you know they never left the country before. There were a lot of places we couldn’t afford to go see growing up. So just to see different states like, I’m going to Hawaii for the first time, I’m going to Amsterdam for the first time and being able to have those experiences at this age is probably the best part of it. The worst part is probably the food. Certain places, I can’t eat the food, but now that I make a little money at my shows I have been able to find better restaurants. When I first was touring it was straight McDonalds and Taco Bell everyday for like 30 plus days and that took a toll on me so now it’s not so bad.
MA: Did any of the MMG guys give you any advice or tips for life on the road?
RF: I actually learn by example from those guys. I was on Meek Mill’s Dreams and Nightmares tour and just the way he was doing it up. He had three tour buses, he had his bikes out there. He showed me love like, if you need a bus I got you, Just his energy, his comfort of having his own stuff, like it was something I always wanted for my own tours. For me to have my homies with me from back home, and to be touring with my homie, Lunice, who I’ve been working heavy with, it just makes it the more the merrier. But at the same time, it’s like a younger version of what I saw Meek and Wale doing when I was on tour with them.
MA: Any last words?
RF: I got this mixtape with Cassie Veggies coming out in December called Fresh Veggies and shortly after that, I will drop my next solo project that I’m really happy about. I feel like it’s going change music in a cool way so look out for both of those things.