So your father is a musician?
Yes, he was a pretty big musician in Ethiopia. He was like a Harari music legend, because he crossed boundaries. Maybe it runs in the family now that I think about it. He would play American covers in Ethiopia. That simple concept was so big there. He would play his own stuff, Ethiopian music, and then covers of the Bee Gees, Lionel Richie, things like that. So, my dad knew all these songs when I was growing up. When I state those things, in my head I’m thinking: "I was supposed to be a musician". But the funny thing is, I never thought that was going to be my path, never.
When did that side start to show itself?
I was about 20 years old. I had snippets of it when I was 17, 18, 19. Those were through rapping. I used to see myself as a rapper, not a musician. Late freshman year, early sophomore year of college, I moved in with Damien and Carson. That’s when I started to boom out more. That’s when I created WebsterX, I was 20 years old. Three years later, and I’m doing pretty well. I’m pretty happy. I started late, but still, its never too late to start.
It seems like KidX has been in the works for a while, when did the project start?
It was funny, Q The Sun and I were working on the debut album, which is coming out next year. He was playing general beats for me in his studio, and was just like “I’m telling you - KidA, KidX…” That was summer 2014, and then he told me the same thing again in winter of 2014. I was just like “that’s so genius”. It was right about the time I scrapped my album. At that time the album was finished, but I scrapped all 14 songs.
Yeah right? I scrapped them all because I just felt like it was a little rushed, and I was a little too excited. Summer, fall, and winter 2014 I was working so hard on new music, and writing a bunch of stuff, and conceptualizing.
So, Q said that, and later in the week we started KidX. He showed me the first beat, called “Everything”. The first three songs “Everything”, “KidX”, “New Age” were all showed to me in succession, and I just wrote to them individually. It was funny. I listened to the “Everything” beat and I think Q was trying to test me. He said “you need to write it right now”. So that’s what I did. I’d hear the beat, I’d put it on my computer, and he’d lock me in a little room, and just made me write. I wrote the entire EP in one night.
We recorded it that night, and then we sat on it for about two or three months. We knew we didn’t want to drop it for a long time. That was December, we thought we were going to drop the EP in March – did not happen. Ended up waiting a whole year.
With time, more concepts came through. We finally recorded it with Jason Samonik, who’s been my engineer for a long time. At that point the songs were a lot drier. Then Q found this new production style with really heavy 808s, and really crazy sounds. The EP sounds way crazier now than it used to.
Any plans to record with NAN (New Age Narcissism) as a whole?
We will, that’s been talked about a few times. There will be a NAN album, probably after I drop my debut. It’ll be like 2017. We all want to push each other individually right now. We’re all exploring individual avenues. We’re all still growing.
I’m doing a lot of the huge things, testing the waters. I push the hardest for it too. Lex is doing really well too. He’s starting to get that mentality of a greater push. He’s been killing it lately. He came up on Pandora when I was at Bel Air yesterday. Cam and Katie are about to put some new stuff out. It’s all about taking it slowly, but not moving too slow. This winter, we’re all about to put out a lot of content. KidX, then Lex's “Cream and Sugar” video is coming out at the end of the month.
You and NAN have a pretty good showing in the 88.9 Awards nominations. Koss is sponsoring the 'Solo Artist of the Year', I think you won the award last year?
Yes. Last year I got nominated for four awards and I tweaked out, like freaked out. This year, I kind of knew it was coming. I’m starting to learn a lot more about self-worth and all those types of things. I’m still humble, but I’m a little less humble… The solo artist award is really cool. I remember winning last year, and I felt like I didn’t deserve it. I felt like "I need to show why I deserve this". So, I feel like I’ve done even more this year because of that.
The thing I’m most stoked for this year are the two music videos. I love those videos. Those videos are my career, low key. The visuals made me stick out more. The music, yeah, but its how we translated it into that form. I think ‘Doomsday’ put me on the map, and then ‘Lately’ kinda sealed the deal, and showed that I won’t put out whack videos.
On the promo video for KidX you’re credited as a co-director, is directing something you want to pursue more?
Yes, I think I could. I just think its funny, I think of all this chopped stuff all the time. Like hilarious, weird things.
‘Lately’ was the first video that I felt like I helped direct. ‘Doomsday’ that was all Cody and Damien, for the most part, except for the running scene which was my idea. It was all about comfortability. I always knew I could do it, but it was more so being like "well I could probably help take the charge". The KidX video was a one-on-one collaboration. It’d be rad to do a video that isn’t mine. I’m still learning how things work. I watch what Cody and Damien do, and try and learn from that. I’m still searching for what ‘directing’ means.
“Doomsday” was just featured in the YouTube Music App’s launch video.
Me, Cody, and Damien were tweaking. That was wild. Of course the exposure was crazy. It was funny. People were posting about it, and I was surprised, like people watch this type of stuff? I feel like I would never have even stumbled across this... But, it’s in so many places because it’s their huge app launch. For me I was kind of like "why would YouTube need a music app"? But I guess they’ve got to keep up with what’s hip now. And streaming is the new thing.
Do you come down one way or another on physical vs. streaming?
I like physical. I hated Spotify when I fist saw it. Like "what is this"? Why don’t you a.) buy the album, or illegally download it? That makes me feel old, which is tight. I was like come on man, Limewire? I’m happy I’m an early 90’s baby. Cause the kids who are 17-18 all they know is streaming.
But I appreciate Spotify and streaming now. Even Apple Music is cool too. Three months free was pretty tight. But I have it still? So I must be paying for it without any knowledge… I should check my bank account and see if everything is still straight (laughs).
Any plans to do a physical release?
Yes. I want to have the debut album on physical for sure. I’ve been holding out for that. It’s either going to be tape or vinyl. Tape would be good, but probably vinyl. We'll just have to wait and see.
WebsterX's EP KidX is out November 17.