Interview with Botzy | By Tony Shrum

Botzy has thrown down eight solid introspective tracks on his new EP, Past Tense. With a disbanded Culture Cry Wolf, it seems more time has been cleared for working on solo projects, and there’s no shortcomings on Botzy’s part. He’s been a part of multiple porjects this past year and seems to be picking up speed heading into 2014.

Ah, the beauty of free music. You just released Past Tense as a free download. Why’d you go this route versus having people pay for it?

Past Tense as an EP, is a follow up to Buck Fotzy. I heard over and over again that 8 tracks were not enough. Considering my forward motion and growth, I felt it fitting to release an EP that captured a similar vibe… songs that put my voice over samples and more traditional methods. So, Past Tense was a way of listening to my fans, and giving them a gift for their support of Buck Fotzy.

It seems like the norm nowadays, like 10 maybe even 5 years ago, people would think you were crazy for giving music away for free! Do you agree?

Absolutely. Every situation is different, but in general it’s difficult to actually profit off your material. I think releasing free music is a great way to connect with new audiences. The fewer the barriers, the better.

Not even a Bandcamp “Name Your Own Price” for Past Tense? How do people send you money if they want to?

If people are interested in supporting myself and my friends, it would mean more to me that they share our music, videos, and shows with their friends. That and stay connected as we continue to grow. Not too soon in the future I’ll end up releasing a full length. At that point, and ask for $10. Until then, everything is free. Buck Fotzy was intended to be free, but the situation with Fake Four was too good to pass up on.

Past Tense is a great release; how long did you spend on this project?

I wrote the first track, “Keep it 100!” in the beginning of July, right after getting home from the Thrill is Gone Tour, and the same week as Buck Fotzy was released. Past Tense was mixed, mastered, with artwork and promotional materials ready by the second week in September. It was by far the fastest turnaround achieved by myself and the team that surrounds me. *pats self on the back*

Who produced the tracks?

Every track on Past Tense was produced by Nu Vintage. I recorded with Wesley Opus, and he handled the mix down and mastering.

I like the Minnesota/Minneapolis love shown in “Vibe Out.” There’s always one of these tracks on a Minnesota artist’s record. Where does all this love stem from?

Myself, and the people I surround myself with, as well as many others in the Minneapolis music scene…this is our life, day in and day out. That sounds extremely dramatic, but it’s also the truth to a shocking degree. I spend almost every day, devoted to myself, my craft, and the community I’m privileged enough to be part of. At this point in my career, and the past 6 years, that community has been Minneapolis. Artists tend to write about what surrounds them, so the community being a subject matter makes a lot of sense in my eyes. Even more so for a release like Past Tense, which was intended to be an introspective mirror to the summer of 2013.

I was about to say, there’s a introspective look on your songs, taking the listeners into your head, whether it’s riding with friends and bandmates or dealing with relationships. Is this how writing comes naturally to you?

It does come naturally, and I couldn’t exactly tell you why. In fact, I don’t think I was aware of it until people started to review my music…making the same observation you just did [read review]. I enjoy that particular writing style, I believe it’s something that isn’t achieved often enough.

Writing from an introspective standpoint, projecting a genuine vibe, and still making consumable hip-hop music can be a task…most people are not self aware and/or comfortable enough to achieve it. A lot of times, even if genuinely achieved, it can come across as preachy or unentertaining.

Past Tense will be the last project that I completely exercise the intent of introspective writing. Although, I’m sure it will always sneak it’s way into my style and some songs.

An example of this is on your song “Ride The Beat,” which deals with relationships. The lines, “Got me in a corner, and you talking bout’ problems / All I gotta do, is figure out how to solve them / Pen to pad how I deal with what we doing / You stay so mad, but I stay so fluid” comes to mind. Do you often find it easier to deal with issues by writing about it more so than being vocal on the spot? Like, you internalize and analyze everything before you verbally react.

Ha…wish I could say I hold my tongue, but alas, I’m well known for speaking first, thinking hardly. That doesn’t mean my music and writing isn’t an outlet. Each thing I work on has it’s own identity – sometimes I learn things from my writing; sometimes my writing is about things I recently learned.

Then on the next track (“Boom-A-Rang, Baby”) you’re wanting to makes amends in the relationship. Is this a fictional person, real person, same person from “Ride The Beat” and “One Of Those Days”?

Oh, it’s all 100% real. Past Tense was intended to be introspective and authentic. I’ll most likely get in trouble for saying this publicly, but whatever. All three of those songs are in fact about the same girl. It was never made official, but myself and Melissa Joan Hart had a fun 8 month fling. Sure, it didn’t work out, but it made for some great writing material. Hit her up; she’ll explain it all.

Past Tense is a six-song EP. Is a full-length in the works?

I am indeed working towards a full-length, and already have songs set aside for it. Those few songs, the songs already set aside, oh man. It’s very exciting. It’s material that no one would ever expect. I have worked with Wesley Opus and Cecil Otter to achieve what I have to date, but I refuse to pressure myself with something as important as my full-length. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort to hit that milestone.

In 2013, I was a part of 4 releases: The Best Love is Free 4, Culture Cry Wolf – The Sapient Sessions, Buck Fotzy, and Past Tense. With Culture Cry Wolf disbanded, it’s only safe to assume the amount of solo material will continue to increase.

There is a lot planned for 2014. There is a new group called VAYNS. That’s myself and MunQ’s smashing our creative worlds together. VAYNS is set to release a free EP in January. Shortly after that I’ll be releasing another free EP, produced entirely by 2% Muck.

It’s safe to assume I’ll continue to give crap loads of free music between now and my full length. I’ll be around, always and often. Maybe even to the point where it’s annoying. Polkadot Mayhem, baby. Pinky promise.

Download Past Tense here.

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