A&R Report: Today we have the pleasure of speaking with a talented artist by the name of Meech. Welcome to The A&R Report and thank you for your time sir. How are you doing?
Meech: I’m good!
A&R Report: Perfect. Could you tell fans a little about yourself?
Meech: My name is Demetrius. My mom and everybody else calls me Meech. Regardless of anything I have to tell them. I’m from the east side of Chicago. It’s the Lakeshore area. It’s not one of those highly publicized parts of Chicago. You usually hear about the south side. I’m a rapper, producer and soul singer. I’m apart of this collective called Sober Gold which I started with some friends while I was in college. That’s just a general synopsis.
A&R Report: Dope. I know you’re from Chicago and you guys have been making a lot of noise. It’s been a hotspot for music lately. How do you feel about the arts scene in Chicago?
Meech: There’s a lot of talent here. Only a few really make it going through the Chicago route if that makes any sense. When you come from Chicago or if you’re trying to blow up in Chicago; I don’t want to say there’s a glass ceiling but sometimes it feels that way. Chicago is just now bubbling. We don’t have a rich Hip Hop history or music industry history like Los Angeles, New York or even Atlanta now. It’s starting with artists like Chance, Mick, No Name and the rest of them. It’s just now starting for us. So yes, while on the outside people are like Chicago has a lot of talent and it’s bubbling (which is true) but there is a glass ceiling for those that are actually here and trying to get exposure.
We are still very new to having a rampant and bubbling scene. Is that to say we don’t have the talent? No, we definitely have the talent. I meet people daily who grind. Singers, rappers, songwriters and producers that come out of here. It’s a very interesting thing. We are in the beginning stages. It’s a new born baby and it’s growing. You don’t know how you fit in just yet. It’s kind of hard to figure out where you fit in. People are trying to maneuver and find out where you fit in. It’s interesting to see it grow and unfold. Chance was the beginning. Then that opened doors for Mick, No Name, and Save Money. We’re just now getting a taste of what’s emerging from Chicago. It’s fun but nerve racking. We don’t always have the connects. Sometimes we feel like we have to go elsewhere to get on or to get moving. Then there’s a select few like myself and my friends who are like no. We gotta do it through the city. We gotta make it here. Its home. You make it here, you can make it anywhere.
A&R Report: That makes sense. I mean being an up and comer in a new market could be scary but it also means that it’s fair game. You and other artists can pave the way and set the tone. There’s not that pressure of following in the footsteps of all these other artists that come from your area. You get to create the sound and set the tone that’s coming from your city.
Aside from the names that you already mentioned, who are some other artists from Chicago that you think should be on our radar?
Meech: I like my homie Jon Walt who is apart of Pivot Gang with Saba. My homie Melo who’s also apart of Pivot Gang. I collaborated with those guys. They’re really cool people. I don’t know if I’d be putting this person on your radar but my homie Monte Booker collaborate heavily with Smino. He’s very talented. I met him a few years ago. So to see him progress is dope. I would say my collective. Sober Gold. that’s not to hype myself up or anything [shameless plug] but I think it’s a lot that people haven’t heard from us. People have really only heard me. I don’t wanna give away too much but there’s people in Sober Gold that come really hard. You guys are gonna be like hold one wait, what?! To sum it up. Sober Gold. Pivot Gang. My homie Bebe O’hare. She’s really dope. I hear she’s about to release some new shit. That should be dope. I really can only name friends because I’ve collaborate with these people. I’ve seen how hard they work.I see them doing their shows. I see them out here working. I guess I can relate to them a little more closely. Those are the people on my radar.
A&R Report: Now going back to Sober Gold. I know you don’t want to give too much information away about that. If you could tell me, what’s the vision behind Sober Gold and are you willing to disclose other artists on there right now? What are you guys working on?
Meech: I’ll give away as much as possible. Sober Gold is a collective that I started with some friends back when I was in college when I was about 19. The way we meet was kind of random. There was this little organization on campus. I walk in and I run into this guy name Brandon. A mutual friend name Brian introduced us. He told us there’s a whole studio here on campus and that this dude Brandon is really good. I’m like oh ok fa sho. We go there, and this dude Brandon was super good. We link up and become super close then started getting acquainted with each others friends. It turns out that we had some mutual connections that were made through social media. One of those connects was Mike Lee. If you guys listen to my music, then you know that Mike Lee produces everything. We instantly became best friends. We all just kind of cliqued up. It’s going on 6 years we’ve been collaborating and growing.
Essentially I started my own record label at 19. We looked up and we were doing everything ourselves. We’re talking about financial backing, in-house producers, in-house management, in-house videographers and doing our own PR. We realized we were actually moving like a record label. As far as people in it. Mike Lee, he’s a producer. The thing is that people don’t know that he’s a better rapper than he is producer. You guys haven’t seen it yet. There also Brandon. He’s a producer/singer/songwriter. Theres Von, thats my manager/brother. I’ve known him since high school. My other bro Sterling, he’s a songwriter. Who knows, you might see a project from him someday. He’s thrown in a couple hooks and bridges on my songs. I’m happy that I can allow him the platform to practice and hone his craft. Oh and our homie Ernie. He’s a character. That’s the big bro. That’s the squad. It’s gonna be something when you guys see what we’re cooking. Meech is not the only one.
As far as what we’re working on. Right now we’re just releasing singles. We want to be consistent. Just pushing music and content for people to enjoy. People are liking what we’re doing. They like Saints. They like Tango. Im working on a new EP. I’ll keep the title under wraps right now. That will come out when we feel the time is right. I’m releasing music every month or so. The website is going to go up. Music is going up. It’s all culminating towards a project. That’s what Sober Gold is. A family turned record label.
A&R Report: Much respect to you guys for doing it on your own. Its cool how you guys are coming up together and figuring out how to make it work and develop a legitimate business. A Lot of people will start a “label” but it’s really just a crew putting out music. It seems like you guys are taking it serious and operating an actual business. You guys are learning the business side and producing great content. I’m looking forward to what you guys have coming.
Meech: Thank you thank you.
A&R Report: I know you said you met a lot of your team in high school When is it that you first started doing music?
Meech: I started doing music when I was about 13. I was a producer and didn’t think about picking up a pen. I just wanted to make beats and produce. To backtrack a little bit; my whole life up until 13, I wasn’t really raise on Hip Hop. That wasn’t in my household. It was 60s-80s music. We’re talking Prince. Were talking Temptations. Were talking the O’Jays. That and Gospel music is all that was playing. That’s all I knew up until 13. The first rap song that I knew word for word was Nelly “ Hot In Here”. My mom finally loosened up the reins and let me listen to more music. She didn’t want to expose us to vulgarness but then was like do you.
In 8th grade I dabbled with writing. We would freestyle and write our rhymes. There were people that were always better than me. I decided I was going to be a producer and I would rap later. My dad got me this drum machine. I had a microphone, cassette tapes and a stereo. Somehow I rigged this to be able to record. Mind you, it’s 2007. Things like Fruityloops and Reason existed. Why I was doing it like I was in Hustle and Flow? I don’t know. Really, I didn’t know anything. I was smart enough to know how to rig this equipment and record. It’s so funny now that I look back. I was genius enough to do that but not genius enough to google how to record. By 15, “College Graduation” came out. That’s my favorite album. After school, I had my mom’s friend drive me to Target to pick up the album. I played that album so much on repeat, my mom knew every word to “Good Morning”. Kanye goes on the Glow In The Dark Tour and on my 15th birthday my mom got me tickets to go. At that moment, I decided I need to rap. I also needed to produce because I was too cheap to pay for beats, but I needed to rap. That’s when I decided that this is what I wanted to do. I knew I had to get better.
A&R Report: That’s pretty dope. We can thank Kanye West for you picking up the mic.
Meech: You can thank Ye’ and all of the people that were flossing on me in 7th and 8th grade that could rap. You can thank those guys.
A&R Report: Haha. You can include that in your grammy speech. I know that you weren’t raised on Hip Hop. It was more Gospel and Soul. How would you say your musical influences as a child translated into your music and sound?
Meech: I think it’s the primary factor contributing to the way I create and what I feel is important in music. I think all those things play a factor. What I mean by that is I grew up with gospel and soul music. When I think music, I automatically think melody. The last thing I do on a song is write raps. The first thing i’m thinking is we need some chords on here, we gotta get the sound like this. Me and Mike Lee will go back and forth. Mike lee is a legit genius so I rarely have to ask him for anything. I naturally have a ear for diminished and augmented chords because those are the chords that are really used in gospel. That’s what gives it that dreary, down-tempo type soulful sounds. Mike lee has picked up on that. He knows what type of chords I like and the riffs that I like. I gear myself towards production first. I watch a lot of interview and I see some artists that write first and have the producer build around it. That’s not how I work. I guess I work backwards. This isn’t for everyone. A Lot of the time I freestyle my hooks. My homie Sterling got me into recording mumbles. I fill in words later. I relate that back to gospel music. There’s times when you’re in church and people aren’t saying words. They are caught up in the spirit and rejoicing. You don’t heard audible words. You hear melodies and that feeling. Thats what I’m geared towards. Other artists are like I gotta get these bars. I gotta get these punch lines. That’s great. My process is probably different than a lot of people. Melody is one of those things that’s ingrained in me. That might be the biggest influence. I know for a fact that people are like Meech, this is so soulful. How did you come up with this? It’s a feeling.
On top of that, I’m really into songwriting. Something that I recently picked up in the last year or so is actually sitting down and writing songs. Saying things that people can actually feel in their heart. My approach to music isn’t necessarily bars or raps. If you need me to or if people ever question it, I will bar you up. I’ll have you know that that’s not my primary motive. What naturally comes to me is songwriting. Saying things that people can damn near caption on instagram. That’s the carefulness and consideration I take when I’m writing my music. You gotta think, that’s the same thing that Smokey did when he was writing for the Temptations. He wrote “My Girl” for them. Diana ross and all these songwriter. Hell let’s think about Frank Ocean. I think he’s one of the best songwriters of our generation. The way he tells stories. Hov is another one. Vivid imagery. Drake is another one. The things they say puts you in that moment. It put you in the mind frame and in the consciousness. That’s what I attempt to do with my music. That’s what makes Ye, Hov, Drake, Cole and Kendrick a little bit above everyone. They think in a way a lot of rappers don’t think. We gotta understand that hip hop originally came from a place of story telling, consciousness and telling people what rap did. Don’t get it twisted when i say hip hop isn’t the first thing on my mind. A Lot of it started out as story telling.
A&R Report: Absolutely. That’s what it was. I will say that it has shied away from that. That’s one of the things I enjoy about you. “Saved” is actually one of the first songs I heard from you and I instantly loved it. I realized you are a very soulful person and very melodious. Speaking with you now, I understand why you have that. You were kind of deprived of rap at a young age and you grew up with oldies. You were listening to music where songwriting was important and melodies were an important factor. I think that helped shaped you into the artist that you’ve become and I absolutely love what you’re doing. Much respect to you for that.
Meech: Most definitely. I really appreciate it.
A&R Report: Violets. That’s the first project that we see on Soundcloud. Going from Violets to Saints, how would you say that you’ve grown as an artists and your sound has progressed?
Meech: The progression was succinct. I think that Real life morphed “Saints”. “Violet” was from a place of nostalgia. It came from a place of fun and being experimental. I think with “Saints”, it’s drastically different because it was very real. “Saints” conceptually is about frustration and confusion about where I was at at that point in life. When I was writing “Saints” I was just graduating from college and I didn’t if I was gonna have a job. I got a call from my sister talking about she has an illness and it’s looking bad. I’m getting calls that family members are passing away. I don’t have any money in my pocket. I get a call from school saying I’m a couple credits short and might have to go to summer school. It was a bunch of frustration. It leaves you wondering why did things get difficult at a time where it’s supposed to be good like oh i’m done, real life starts. We all know life is hard in general. But it was supposed to be that excitement like oh i finished my four year degree! I can put it to use. I’ll have more time for music. At that time, life came at me fast.
“Violet” was more so at a time were I was in college. I got this financial aid. Moms is sending me bread. I got this work-study. I’m chilling, just having fun and living in the moment. That’s what inspired “Violet. There’s a lot of feel good and motivational joints. There’s moments where things get real. That summer in Chicago was kinda hot and you got people dying. 200 and something murders in the city that summer. I was just waking up and making music. I was with my friends and doing shows. It was dope and “Violet” reflects that. “Saints” is a little more heavy and darker. It talks about real issues. It talks about this situation I had with this girl. She kind of played me. There’s “Understatement” where it talks about how these kids live and die in Chicago. How they live and die on the east, south and west side I’m like ya’ll gotta make it out. You got “Can’t go” where you feel like you’re getting shunned or stunted on by rappers. You feel like you can go toe-to-toe but you’re not given the chance. Theres “Saved “where you’re anxious and frustrated. I’ve been working and trying to do this but it’s not poppin off like I want it to. I think that’s the difference. Just real life hits you. I think every song I’ve been making after that has that real life element. The stuff you guys will hear has this real life element.
A&R Report: What has been the most rewarding and most challenging aspect of your musical journey.
Meech: Most challenging is for sure finance because a brotha is always broke! hahaha. I guess connections and networking. It’s a little harder in Chicago as I mentioned earlier. I get it. You gotta weed out the weak from the strong, the good from the bad. That’s kinda the state Chicago is in. I respect that. It’s just finding those connections, doing your own PR. and getting to those blogs knowing they don’t check their submissions all the time. Hoping certain people stumble across your music, doing the groundwork and building your fan base. That’s the most challenging part. When you feel like your music is really good, but you have a hard time touching those outlets you need. I’m not gonna lie, God does my PR. How I get myself on these blogs, I don’t know. We literally do everything in house. How I’ve made these connections and maintained these connections, I just try to be a good person and try to interact with people. I treat people as friends once we connect. That’s just naturally how i am.
The most reward? Me personally, the most rewarding is when my songs get a bunch of plays. I don’t know if thats vain or not. I’ve gone through the 50 plays a song and 500 plays a song. So when I’m seeing my songs get 10,000 or 30,00 in a month. I’m like yo, people are listening. That’s always been my thing. I want people to listen. I want to change people’s lives, I want to help them through situations and I want to inspire people. When people are listening and I see those plays racking up, I’m like yo I could be helping someone. Then having people hit me up on twitter like “bro that song changed everything”. For someone random to come to you and say that’s my favorite song or your my favorite artist, that’s the most rewards thing about this music. It’s worth all the money you put into it. All the hours you put into it, it’s worth it. Mind you, I only got like 100,000 plays on Soundcloud. I’m not big by any means. I’m not doing crazy numbers.
A&R Report: That means people are listening. The fact that it’s growing organically is a testament to your talent. People are naturally gravitating towards it and finding your music. They are reaching out and giving you that feedback. That’s just straight up talent. It’s going to continue to grow from here.
Meech: Exactly. That has to be the most rewarding thing for me. The fame and clout and stuff like that is cool, but if I want to touch people. You see the way people stand and love Kid Cudi? I understand why they stand and go so hard for him. Cudi spoke to a very real things like depression, anxiety, feeling lost and lonely. He touches people’s lives. He changes people’s lives and has got people though really hard times. If I can do that for people, that’s the most rewards thing that I could possibly get. That’s why I do it. When I make music it’s my own personal therapy, but if I write and do it in a way so that it could also be other people’s therapy, I’m like yo, that’s it. That’s the magnum opus.
A&R Report: I think you having that objective, wanting to change live and touch people; that’s going to be the drive and the determining factor for the longevity in your career. Im seeing alot of kids coming up just wanting to pursue music, be a rapper, turn up and just make not necessarily meaningless, but empty music. It’s just catchy. They’re trying to get the praise, trying to make the money and trying to floss. It’s not going to last. They are going to be here one day and gone the next. The fact that your objectives and motives are different are going to contribute to your longevity, growth and success in your career.
Meech: Thank you. I hope so!
A&R Report: you gotta claim it. You know so! Haha
Meech: You’re right. My home Elton, he’s like “you are going to be the next out of Chicago. Stop saying try. Do it!” I’m like alright. I gotta start saying imma do it.
A&R Report: If you had the opportunity to collaborate with any 5 people (dead or alive) who would it be?
Meech: Ye number one for a fact. I really want to collab with James Blake. Hov. I hope I’m not being stereotypical with these choices but Ye and Hov. Also J.Cole. I need to do a song with Cole. Then I would say Childish Gambino.
A&R Report: Gambino is dope. I love what he’s doing in art overall.
Meech: With Gambino, if he didn’t spread himself so thin with all of his projects and just did music, he would easily be Top 5 in our generation.
A&R Report: I can definitely agree with him being top 5 but not that he’s spreading himself too thin. I think that his other endeavours have added to his musical abilities. He’s an intelligent dude. Writing for television has enhanced his story telling abilities in his music.
What is it you are looking to accomplish in this coming year?
Meech: I would like to do a set or something at SXSW this coming year. I don’t care if it’s a 1 or 2 song set, I just want to go to SXSW and perform. I would like to build a larger fan base. I’m highly against pay-for-play situations. I know for a fact that all of my plays are legit. If I could see that at least double, triple or even quadruple in a year’s time, that would be crazy. I want to do a mini tour run or open for someone. Those are three things I would like to do. I just want to be on bigger platforms touching more people.
A&R Report: I hear that. I don’t see you having an issues meeting those goals. I’m expecting some major moves from you in the coming year.
Meech: I’m going to live up to those expectation.
A&R Report: Before I let you go, where can fans go to find you online and listen to your music?
Meech: they can find me at @ovaeastmeech on twitter and soundcloud. Its @ovaeastmeech_ on instagram. You’ll find me on all of those platforms talking about anime, sports, music, and all that stuff. I’ll keep you informed on what’s coming. In the coming weeks you’ll have something really cool to look at. Weeks after that you’ll have new music.
A&R Report: Thank you so much for your time. I’ve enjoyed talking with you, getting some insight into your background, influences, inspirations and goals.
Meech: No thank you for taking the time out and considering me. That is a blessing and that’s love. I really appreciate it.