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Origin: Massillon, Ohio
This week we had the pleasure of speaking with one of MMG’s standout artists Stalley. The Blue Collar Gang general is wasting no time getting his year started with his Saving Yousef project dropping Monday (January 25th) and his From Me To You tour kicking off Tuesday (January 26th). For tour tickets go to Stalley330.com/Tour for available dates and cities. Check out the interview below.
A&R Report: How’s everything going sir?
Stalley: I’m good. I’m Blessed. How are you?
A&R Report: I’m pretty good. Can’t complain. For those who aren’t familiar with Stalley, could you please tell us a little about yourself?
Stalley: I’m Stalley from a small town in Ohio. An artist signed to MMG/Atlantic Records. I have my own label called Blue Collar Gang. Its for all of the small town people out here grinding and putting in hard work to living out there dreams that may get over looked because they’re not in the big city lights. I’m just a man trying find my way through the world.
A&R Report: How would you describe your sound and how would you say it has progressed since the release of your first mixtape?
Stalley: Progression has been amazing. Thats one thing that I pride myself in is getting better each time out. the songwriter always gets better. The lyricism is always growing and getting better as well. musically the sound just evolves. I got my own sound I like to say “intelligent trunk music” because the music is conceptually brilliant. Its a lot of musicality and instrumentation to the music but its also enjoyable to ride in the car or to play in the clubs and to have fun to. Its a great blend of good lessons and a good party you know.
A&R Report: Now anyone who listens to your music will hear a lot of car references. When did you first develop a love for cars?
Stalley: At an early age. I would probably say the age of eight. Just being around my grandfather, my uncles, and my cousins. They were always working on cars and getting cars to restore, mainly Chevys. Anything from a Corvette to a Chevelle to a Monte Carlo. That was one of those things where I got to hang out with the older guys and kinda listen to their stories and learn a lot about life by just being up under the hood with them or sitting in the car with them while they fix up stereos and different things in the car. It was one of those peaceful things. You could also take rides to enjoy the scenery and sounds.
A&R Report: You released The Laughing Introvert back in the summer of 2015. What was the vision behind that project?
Stalley: That was like me shedding some skin and shedding some weight. It was just kind of like me coming off of my debut album. It was one of things where I just wanted to go back to me. What people don’t understand is when you’re in the industry, when you’re signed to a label and you’re putting out a studio album; Theres a lot of politics and a lot of things that you might do in the music that you might not want to do but you’re trying to please other people. Laughing Introvert was just me pleasing myself and giving back to my fans that good music and that good sound that i started with. Thats what Laughing Introvert was about. If you look at the cover art you see the two birds on it. you see the smile. You see the flipping of the bird. It was really just me being the introvert that i am and kind of giving a deeper, more introspective look into my life and into my sound. Again just shedding off that stress and that dead weight of being so engulfed in a studio album.
A&R Report: Going back to the whole label situation and everything that that entails; Have you ever felt the pressure to change your sound and to accommodate based on whats hot and whats trendy at the moment? How did you work around that?
Stalley: I had to really just stay gung ho on my beliefs, with what I really wanted to do, the message i wanted to convey and the music. Theres definitely always pressure because its a business. In business you have to please others sometimes. You have to do things that you don’t want to do to keep that business runnings and to stay in business with people. As far as me staying myself and being the artist that i am, I just had to stay focused and kinda peal my ears back and block out the people that were trying to sway me one way.
A&R Report: On your project Laughing Introvert, you have a song called “Voila.” In that song you stated that “you’re life should be a painting.” How would you describe that painting?
Stalley: “My life should be a painting hung inside the Louvre.” if you know me or if you listen to my music, you know the journey. You know i’ve been through a lot. I have a unique story of a small town kid coming from Massillon, Ohio. Not only being from a city were there’s 30,000 people, but being from a state where Hip Hop isn’t very prominent and its not a huge market. For me to leave that place and go to New York and Philly. To go through everything from going to school, from trying to play basketball to getting injured, to being homeless and sleeping on couches, to ended up to the point where i’m at now. It’s been a lot of ups and downs. Many blessings and trials and tribulations. I feel like if someone was to take my life story and put it in one piece and one painting, it would be something similar to something of Van Gogh. It was just be something that i think people would stare and look at at get a lot different perceptions from it. They would also draw from pieces of that painting and put it into their life or apply it to their own self. thats what i meant by that.
A&R Report: How do you feel about the current state of hip hop/rap music?
Stalley: I’m happy with it because I’m happy with where iIm going with music. I feel that there’s other artist like myself that are going in that direction too. I think Hip Hop is changing. It’s evolving and twist back into the good things in Hip Hop that we fell in love with. The art of story telling and lyricism. I’m happy with where its going because I’m happy with where I’m going with it. I feel great. I got a new project dropping this Monday called “Saving Yousef.” its incredible music. some of my best music I’ve done to date. I’m excited.
A&R Report: I’m sure fans will definitely be looking out for that and ready for it.
Who are you currently listening to at the moment?
Stalley: I don’t listen to a lot of hip Hop besides myself because I’m always working. I’m always in the studio working on my own music and listening to my own music to critique it on ways that i can do better or get better. Usually when I’m zoning out, I will listening to some Luther Vandross. I will listening to some Bobby Womack. I’ve been listening to a band called The Japanese House. I’ve been listening to Blood Orange. Different things like that. As far as Hip Hop goes, I haven’t been checking out too much lately.
A&R Report: Its sounds like you have a pretty diverse ear for music.
Going back to your Blue Collar Gang imprint. Can we expect other artist to be releasing off of there? Could you tell us a little bit more about that?
Stalley: This year I have a lot of artists. I’ve had artist that we’ve been developing. A lot of producers that you can actually hear on the new music. A guy by the name of Black Diamond and another producer by the name of Ceez. I have an artist name Zeta. We have a lot of artists, rappers, singers, and producers that were definitely releasing music from this year. Thats one big focus for Blue Collar Gang; to launch the label and to launch the brand. We also do clothing like hats, t shirts and sweatshirts. We want to develop into a full line and not just be a t shirt and hat line but have everything like shorts, pants, and sweat-suits and things as well. We have a lot of artists coming and a lot of producers coming. This year be on the look out for that.
A&R Report: As stated before. You’re an artist on MMG. Whats some advice you’ve received in music or life in general from within that camp that has stuck with you.
Stalley: I can’t say I haven’t gained a lot of stuff or advice beside just putting in hard work. Everyone works hard over at that label. Everyone does them. We do us as individuals. One thing I can take from being signed to MMG, being around those guys and just being signed to a label period is just staying head strong, staying yourself, staying creative and keep working. Don’t be afraid to be the artist that you want to be. Thats just my personal take that I’ve gotten from it. Earlier we said that sometimes you get people that try to change you, change your sound, want you to do different things or want you to do things to the way that they feel would make you successful. Sometimes you just have to do you and stay true to what you feel is the best way to get you successful that you’ll be able to sleep at night if that makes sense.
A&R Report: Absolutely. Thats actually some sounds advice right there. For those reading that are pursuing music, you should take notes.
Stalley: No matter where you’re at. If you’re reading this out there. No matter if you’re signed to an artist, if you’re signed to a label, signed to an indie, or whatever you’re doing: Just stay true to you. Stay persistent. Stay consistent and just make sure that whatever you do and put out in the world you can sleep at night. You can wake up comfortably and know that you’re putting your all in it and your giving your true self. It’s better to be YOU than to be someone fake. Its sounds simple and easy but trust me, a lot of people don’t live that way.
A&R Report: No not at all. Thats something that people learn over time. Some people unfortunately don’t learn that lesson at all.
You’re getting ready to hit the road on your From Me To You tour. What would you say is your favorite and least favorite part of touring.
Stalley: I don’t have a least favorite. My favorite is just connecting with the fans. I love going to the cities. I love doing in-stores, meet and greets, radio interviews. Really just meeting the people and putting faces to the people who support me and my music. Being able to talk to them, take pictures with them, high-five them. That was one thing with the From Me To You tour that I wanted to do. I’ll be in Toronto February 1st at Revival. I wanted to pick smaller venues. I wanted to pick venues that fit anywhere from 300-600 people. I wanted to pack it in and really get an intimate setting so that we can touch and feel the energy from each other. We can sweat, cry and laugh together. All of those things I want to just give that connection where I’m performing just for that person in the room. Even though it will be hundreds of people, I want every person to feel that personal connection with me while I’m up on stage. Thats important for me. Thats what I enjoy the most, just connecting with the fans.
A&R Report: With this tour it sounds like fans are going to have a more intimate experience with you. I’m think they’ll definitely appreciate that.
Stalley: Its going to be an experience. Get your tickets now before they sell out because this is going to be an experience that you wont forget. Its going to be a performance. Im gonna stick around to take pictures, hang out with the people and just enjoy it. Its really going to be like a party. Were gonna have a good time. I know a lot of my fans and people that support me and Blue Collar Gang have been asking about the hats and where they can purchase them. Were gonna have a limited selection of hats in every city for people to purchase. I want people to leave and feel like man we just hung out with Stalley. Thats what its gonna be like. Its more of a hang out session than a tour.
A&R Report: Where can fans go to purchase tickets as well as find out the different stops for the tour?
Stalley: You can go on Stalley330.com. Under the tour section you’ll get all of the dates, all of the cities, and all of the ticket links. If you’re in Toronto you can go to revival or go to revivals website to purchase tickets as well. Make sure you all get your tickets now. It’s going to be a great time. We’re gonna hang out and have a blast. It’s gonna be some laughs. There’s gonna be some hugs, There’s gonna be some dancing. We’re gonna party.
A&R Report: Before we let you go, what do you have in store for your 2016?
Stalley: A lot. Its all about reconnecting with the fans. Getting back to the basic. I’m gonna be on the road. I have new music coming. Just expect a lot of music from me. Alot of content period.Music videos, vlogs, tons of pictures. For me 2016 is just connecting with the people who’ve supported me and giving back to them. Becoming that artist that they want me to be. For a while theres been some distance so its about reconnecting with the fans and providing them with good music so they don’t have to wait. usually i release one or two projects a year. this year i plan on dropping a lot of music, a lot of project, a lot of videos, a lot of show and things like that.
A&R Report: The project that’s coming out on Monday (Saving Yousef), where will fans be able to find that?
Stalley: Thats gonna be on Datpiff. Right now Datpiff has the countdown up. It will be on my website. If you follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@Stalley) I’ll be posting it on there. it will be available everywhere you can download music. That’ll be Monday.