Interview: Royce 5’9″

By Jonathan Matthews

We were lucky enough to have the chance to speak with American rapper and producer, Royce 5’9”. We chatted about his new album ‘Book Of Ryan’, his musical history, and his upcoming, first ever, headline tour of Australia.

SR. You’ve got your Australian tour coming up very soon, how are you feeling about that?

I’ve been flat out getting ready man. I’ve been making sure that I come up with the best show possible. I’m not necessarily looking forward to the long flight, but I’m super excited to be there. I’m not that good with long flights, but the reward of finally getting down there will pull me through. I’ll probably just be sleeping and watching some movies to pass the time.

SR. Your new album ‘Book of Ryan’ came out earlier this year, how is that being received?

It’s been going good, I feel really good. I’ve been focusing on my tours, but I’ve still been writing a little bit and producing a little bit on the side, I’ve gotta keep it going.

SR. Are you going to be playing some songs of of that album on the Australian tour?

Definitely. I know there are some songs that people really wanna hear, I always like to give them a good mixture. A lot of people like to hear a bit of everything from my catalogue, so I’m gonna go out there and give them what they want.

SR. Do you have a favourite track from the new album?

No, I love the whole album. It’s a really passionate album, it’s my most personal one so far. I made up my mind before I recorded anything that I wanted it to be that way, I’ve wanted to do this type of album for a while. I put so much passion and emotion into every song, I’m proud of the entire project as a whole. I couldn’t pick a favourite.

SR. What did you do differently on this album, compared to previous releases?

Yeah, I actually did everything different.I kind of let the music take me away, and just let it flow, I didn’t force anything. Everything I was doing was recalling and reminiscing, and letting it happen naturally. I was focused on painting pictures with my music that people can relate to. It’s my first album where I’ve felt really free, and not worried about putting any pressure on the project. I didn’t put too much thought into it, I just let it happen.

SR. Are you going to be doing anything else while you’re over in Australia, or are you just doing the shows and heading home?

I don’t have a lot of time, so unfortunately I’ll just be doing the shows and heading back. It’s a full on tour, I’m sure by the time it’s over I’ll be ready to head home, I don’t like spending too much time away from my studio. My studio is my happy place, my home, I miss it when I go away.

SR. You’ll be playing at HQ Complex in my hometown of Adelaide, when was the last time you were in South Australia?

It’s been years, I think it was about 2014 or 2015 that I was there last. I can’t remember the name of the venue I played at last time, but I’d know it if I saw it. I’ve got some pretty awesome memories from that show, I’m not good with names though. The first thing I remember is how nice the people were, and also how high they were. I felt so high playing to them, I was soaking in the vibes.

“I kind of let the music take me away, and just let it flow, I didn’t force anything”

SR. What kind of music did you grow up listening to, and how has that influenced the way you create music?

It’s hard to pinpoint any specific influences, I’m always hearing new stuff and developing my skills and my style.No matter what influences are around you, it’s what you choose to hold in your mind that matters. Lucky for me, I always listened to a lot of different kinds of music, I was a bit of a fly on the wall. I spent a lot of time listening to stuff like Janet Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and my dad would play me country music. My granddad showed me really old country and blues with no vocals, I learned a lot about composition from that. My dad played the piano and th eguitar, and I just took everything in. I learned a lot of what I know just by listening and observing, and then when I started to develop more I had an urge to try making music myself. I’m a sucker for playing around with crazy sounds from all over the world, I could play and experiment all night. That’s always the fun part of making music, right now I’m trying to match certain things up.When I find things that fit together, I don’t have to force it or be some master beat maker. I know some people who can do that and make anything fit together, but that’s not me, I have more of a talent for hearing what will work naturally.

SR. What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened during a live performance?

One time I was performing and I got hit in the head with a water bottle, somebody threw it on stage and it smacked me right in the head. Normally when people throw stuff it doesn’t hit me, they usually miss, but it hit me straight in the head while I was mid rap, I had to stop for a second, it shocked me a bit. I don’t know why somebody would do that, I would have thought people in the crowd are my fans, I dunno why they’d throw stuff at me *laughs*.

SR. Have you got any more music videos in the works?

I’m always working on new stuff. As soon as an idea hits me I start working on it, it just depends on the day as to what my focus is.

SR. If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?

That’s a good question, I think it’d have to be Stevie Wonder. I feel like he’s probably the best artist ever, in my opinion. It’s not that I think we could necessarily make great music together, but I’d love to work with him and learn from him, I would feel privileged just to watch him work and see his process. I’d love to be a fly on the wall while he’s working in the studio, I’d love to watch him make music from scratch.

SR. Have you got any messages for your fans down in Australia?

I just want to thank everybody for their support, I always get a lot of love from Australia and I really appreciate it, I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone at my shows.

You can see Royce 5’9” on his upcoming Australian tour in all major cities. Keep up to date with what he is up to by following him on social media or via his website, and you can listen to his new album Book of Ryan on iTunes or Spotify. Make sure you grab some tickets to your nearest show, before they sell out!

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