In the lab with mvstermind
Q: What’s next in your journey ?
A: I’m getting back in my tour bag. We are doing the Foot-On-Neck Tour because it’s Foot-On-Neck season out here. Foot-On-Neck is a vibe, a mood, its putting your Foot-On-The-Neck of defeat, on your own limitations, on trash ass thoughts of yourself (whether its competition or anything), but putting that approach to your art. We also have a slew of shows getting back on the road. To be honest, after I hit up each city and make new additions to Mvster Co. (that’s what it really is about) and adding more people to my team/collective; I want to clock my butt in this studio and finish the rest of this music...I miss being in the studio.
Q: Closing out this interview, what is your Mvster Class all about ?
A: We’ve been doing these Mvster classes breaking down the philosophy of how I’ve been creating my music. For me it took x-amount of years to crank out the music I do make. It doesn’t have to take that long amount of a time. It’s literally a series of choices and once you break them down if you explain them to someone in the right process they’ll be able to pick up just as quick. I want to make sure I can always spread the word to individuals. In reality, I was given a really good formula by G-Eazy. It was a simple ass formula he gave me and now just passing on formulas, tips, and tricks that speeds up the journey...Mvster Co. has actually teamed up with KDHX and Red Bull. We’ll be doing a Mvster Camp at KDHX coming up soon. It is offered to artists of all disciplines (have to check on the age limit) and applications are coming out in March. Mvster Camp will be a series of working on tips and tricks for music production and creating music it self. There will also be music business and music performance tips and tricks for 3 hours a week over the course of 4 weeks.
By Alexei Shaun
Hailing from Saint Louis, MO the multi-faceted, hit the ground running, and all-around musical genius Mvstermind gets deep into discussing the ins-and-outs of his musical process, diving into fatherhood, starting up a sneaker line, and other exciting endeavors. Mvstermind truly is one of a kind and has locked-in to the sweet spot of creating formulas towards what works and doesn't work well musically, as well as within everyday life. As we both settled in at his unique, chill, and blue lit home studio; he began to share more in-depth thoughts on everything.
Q:How are you feeling about music right now and the process?
A:Man! I'm really really really learning to continue to appreciate the process and I mean the process of how sometimes I have to apply a lot of patience, and sometimes I have to apply pressure. Its really been a mixture of the two because, in reality, I live in the studio. My studio is in my home. I'm always surrounded by my studio, but do I get a chance to fully craft in my studio like I want 24/7? No. In reality, what that allows me to do is live life and be around things to influence my art. It actually brings me to more things that inspire me. I've been doing lots of things outside of music to take care of the fact I can have time eventually to record and do my own stuff from being self-employed. As we all know the journey of making funds in today's societal world is some real shit in general, especially in this transition stage we are in; with a lot of us in the midst of picking our career(s) and coming out of school (whatever that it may be). As of right now, I've been focusing on a lot of business endeavors to keep my brand afloat, so that soon enough I can carve out x-amount of time I need to make this Grammy type of album! I know that I can do it, but I need x-amount of time. I don't necessarily have that time, so I'm working on getting that time (carving it out). When I get inspired I jot down every single thing, sometimes I will only do a demo of a track and conceptualize all the rest of it in my head and just be ready for when it's time to get back in the lab. So that's how things have been going. The music I've been creating sounds great and sounds amazing.
Alexei:No kidding! Yes! It's super incredible. I can definitely hear and see the growth through each little nuance throughout the sounds. You know I get pretty detailed on that side of music, so I literally hear all that hard work you've put in.
Mvstermind:Thank you! Yes! A lot of real nights, some nights where I'm like what the fuck is going on or where is it going to come from you know. It happens in a way as to where I had to get comfortable, given how we are trying to make some amazing ass shit. It may be a few nights where you're sitting and think to yourself like *F am I stuck... Let me take a breather. Let me come back. But it's all good. It's not like you don't have it. It's not like you suck. It's just the natural process of creating and getting comfortable with it.
Q:When you hit those spots of where you're not sure at the moment and thinking to yourself let me come back to this; do you listen to anything else? Do you play on your drum pad to get a different feel? I know some artists have different methods of how they get out of that stuck zone.
A:To be honest it sounds like I need to be taking notes from you all... I have a few methods. From time to time, one of my biggest methods is playing some transcendental jazz. This individual named Alice Coltrane is phenomenal. I play her music and clear my brain, clear my palette. It's almost the extent of meditation which is getting my brain right. Getting my chakras right, ya know what I'm saying (laughing). Depending on what mood I'm trying to write, I may play some music that fits that area like if I'm trying to write something hype right quick I'll play Jay Rock (Jay Rock will have you amped). I'll say to myself let me play him, so I can get back amped and then get back to work. I'll try little things like that and some nights I will sleep it off. For me, I know that it's a process of curation and I know I'm so picky, but I'm just trying to appreciate my process. Whether or not I'm like damn the precious time I had in the studio (I had 3 hours) and I only got x-amount done, but the whole time I exed out everything that didn't work. So it's like in reality, I actually got much further than I expected of getting a really great product. Especially through focusing on minute things like I don't want to sing it this way, that way, this way, or that way! And then it's like AH this way, but now I have to go to sleep. Now I have to go change a diaper, so now that I have this way I will come back to it in the next 3-4 days. It's a really weird process.
Q:Did you sample any of your older songs in 'Fvck A Blinker'? Because I'm pretty sure I recognized a sample from your older tunes (which if you did is extremely genius)?
A:It was actually a sample of 'More'. I've had Oren (another talented artist/musician from Saint Louis) playing the keys for me. He's phenomenal and we do a lot of co-production. We were in the studio messing around with different ideas. I told him to wait wait wait, what you're doing right there (do that) keep that up! And I was like yo can you change this last chord progression? We came up with this funky little phrase that was probably about a minute long. I was sitting on it for a nice little minute like what, how am I going to piece this together and then the 1st piece became what is 'Fvck A Blinker'. If you reverse 'Fvck A Blinker', the 1st two bars is from 'More' and then further became the 2nd piece.
Alexei:It's definitely a great song and amazing how it doesn't feel 6-minutes long. When I listened to it the 1st time I was like wow I instantly wanted to repeat this again and again. You came up with the perfect formula for that song and where music is at right now it seems a lot of people tend to like shorter songs from what I've observed. The fact that people are receiving your song well and shows that maybe people are ready to get back in-depth with the longer tunes.
Mvstermind:I appreciate you actually liking the fact that this is a long ass song.
Alexei:I appreciate when artists create long songs. I want to get deep into something. Sometimes it's nice when songs are short and sweet depending on the style, but other times it'd be nice for artists to give a couple of songs that are a little bit longer ya know.
Mvstermind:I fully agree. I'm a big art guy and a lot of people were like yo the song sounds great, but you need to cut the two pieces. I'm like no fuck that I'm not cutting a single thing. I wanted to present the art that way. I know the 1st song is a single and it can sound like a single, but I really wanted to present them together as one piece of art. Kind of stuck to my guns on that and also made sure it would be digestible enough for the listener. Also, this song was really close to being shelved because of how our artistic process is really nuts, in general as artists with how we can be sensitive towards our work. I wasn't able to release this song when I wanted to and I got stuck. I caught myself in the same type of obsessive thinking and music hoarding Muhammad of who I use to be. Finally was like Mo release this song!
Q:What is your favorite part of 'Fvck A Blinker' lyrically?
A:If I come through then the Lou come too, then my crew come too, then my boo come 1st... I'ma keep it real. I'ma put my lady 1st. Its facts, that's my life step, that's my wife, and we have a child (that's where I'm at). I'ma take care of my city, and of course, I'ma take care of my team, and the people around me. Kind of just setting that in stone for anyone who wants to know or has any questions.
Q:How are you feeling towards Fatherhood?
A:It's funny I was talking to another Father who happens to be an artist as well. We both get asked to describe the feeling a lot and to be honest, it's hard to describe the feeling itself because it's something truly innate. The shift has happened and the pressure of just being is here! At the same time its been a huge transcendental shift for me. I didn't know there was a higher level of how I could be working. I'm like I'm operating at 100% when in reality I was probably operating at 20% or 15%. Now I think about my legacy and x-amount of generations I'm about to take care of, so when you move that way and when you see a little bitty-baby-boy who look just like you and who looks just like the woman you love, he acts just like the both of you; he needs you to hold his head and needs you so much. When you see those things it really sets everything in stone for me. Not to the standpoint where it's too much, but it was like everything else started to click and sped up to an extent because it was necessary. There's so much going on, got to hurry up and change a diaper, got to do that and do that, and still have to keep the meeting going, and so on. Whether or not more shit popped up, well it just means go faster, but you can still carve out time to be there mentally. All of that is all possible, or you can think from a whole other level of compressing all of these things here in this day and be present in each one. It definitely leveled me up as a human being almost to the max because my living standards as Muhammad the beat maker is low. Ya know like I'll sleep in the studio bro, but now I have a family I'm not about to sleep in a studio or ever potentially allow some shit like that happen. I have to make sure I stay healthy because when I get sick the family is down (the responsibilities kick in).
Q:Have you ever brought your son Moon in the studio with you and how is he when he's in that setting?
A:When I bring him down here in the studio I may have him in the little baby carrier. Sometimes he'll sleep and I'll have my headphones on rapping. Other times I have him in the cradle carrier and he'll be kicking and moving, watching Pops clocked-in at work because this my job.
Q:Where did the ideas/detail of creating your shoes stem from?
A:When I was little, before the music, I used to design shoes. I would have notebooks full of shoes and shoes. To be 100 back in the day we really couldn’t afford the coldest shoes. You go to school and you would probably get flamed at your feet and at your shoes 24/7 like “what are thoooose!” To be honest I got my love for shoes from all of the hand-me-down sneakers from my cousins and that's where my sneaker-fascination came from. I'd always be drawing shoes and I had the partnership with Dr. Scholls, where I was moving okay as a business partner, but trying to find my space better as a rapper in how do I want to work with particular businesses to translate and work with one another. I was like let me step this up as a business partner and reciprocate more to their brand, so I started 1st on the mission of making better posts and doing things to bring in more of a following and bringing more attention to their brand...In reality, that's how any business relationship works upon reciprocation; whether somebody gives you a check, they'll be giving you a check because you'll be bringing x, y, and z back to the company. It's a big ole' system of give and take. One day I went up to Dr. Scholls to let them know I wanted to have a meeting and one of my personal goals was that by 2020 I want to have my own shoe line with Dr. Scholls, and while we were in that meeting it sped up incredibly fast.
Got to give a huge shout out to the designer Claude Leco! He really brought my vision to life tremendously. Growing up my cousin would always have these gum bottom shoes. He would have the Jordan's with the gum bottom and it’s always so fascinating to see gum bottom because it's a see-through sole. You don't see that much, but maybe on some Timbaland's, but you see it on tennis shoes; so I wanted to have the gum bottom on the sole (they've always been my favorite). There's also the see-through bottom part with Finesse and Bless on each shoe. Anything that I do as Mvstermind I love to think outside of the box and do non-conventional stuff like yo let's put a piece of the sole on the side of the shoe...For me whenever I get an opportunity to put anything in the universe, I try to attach as much meaning as possible; whether it's a song title, whether I'm releasing a shirt, or releasing some cover artwork...There was this prayer rug I grew up with that has the red and blue color I put into the design, so we had that element. Also my Mom is a fashion designer and we spent a lot of time on the road as kids. And when she had her sewing machine, I would love when she use a zig-zag. I was like I want to throw some zig-zag stitching on here, but on the outside instead of the inside. I’m a big fan of the off-white collection and how they would put a tag on the outside of the shoe. I like things that are not meant to be shown and show them. For instance, let’s put some stitching on here, let's put different elements that wouldn’t necessarily naturally be on there; and yet, we ended up coming up with two color waves...It’s pretty much like this is a song on a foot, but this time Dr. Scholls produced it for me. Plus, there’s a lot of different meanings behind them because we have Finesse and Bless at the bottom of the feet and also above the feet (keeping you above the feet). I put a lot of hidden meanings for myself within the shoes and then people can catch it.
When I was little, before the music, I used to design shoes