Having a voice to express oneself and reach out to different audiences is essential in the music world. For the average musician, the only thing harder than finding an audience willing to hear them out is finding the right voice to express themselves. A musician may spend years and experiment with numerous different genres before they finally find the perfect groove to express their voice. Thanks to the production assistance from an underground Detroit record label called House on Fire Studios, Nauseous is able to express that voice as a rapper.
Prior to entering the rap game, Nauseous played for several bands and primarily stuck to the metalcore genre as a musician. However, over the past year, he decided to make a drastically daring leap into the rap genre as a solo artist. He quickly found himself signed to House on Fire Studios and has used the opportunity to provide a unique voice to the hip hop conversation. Ever since becoming the label’s relatively latest acquisition, Nauseous has been able to inject his perspective as a metalcore musician into the vessel of hip hop. As proven by his debut mixtape, Humanity in Me (which he released a day earlier than previously announced), the results have been startlingly impressive. Nauseous stops by Patchchord News to discuss his new mixtape, upcoming projects, and his come-up thus far.
Can you talk about your past as a musician prior to becoming a rapper? What bands/genres did you play?
I played in a few bands here and there when I was growing up. Bands called Boys Cry Blood, What Dreams May Come, Autumn at my Window. Genres ranging from, like, emo to post-hardcore to metalcore.
What made you want to make the transition from metalcore to rap?
So, I basically started rapping as a challenge to myself because I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always wrote poetry. Always intended the poetry to become lyrics for metal songs or just any music that I could do. I used to write poems and they used to be relatively short and, basically, I would see how much a rapper would write for a single verse and it would be, like, you know, triple times the amount for a single poem that I would write. So I was like “Well, damn, I wanna expand my writing, kind of, and sort of, you know, test myself to see if I could do it.” So I basically started a challenge to myself to see if I could possibly put out a mixtape and then, little did I know, I started liking it more and more and eventually, I sort of made it my main genre of music.
When was the point that you realized you could make this more of a challenge and actually make a career out of it?
Basically, one of my best friends, DJ–his rapper name is BlackLynk–he mixed all of the stuff for me on this first tape. I was bothering him like “Yo, man, you gonna mix this for me? I really need this.” And he hit me with a really hard question. He was pretty much just like “Why should I mix this for you if you’re not serious about it?” And that question hit me really hard and I pretty much was just like “You’re right. Why should you?” And basically, I was like “Oh, nah, I’m gonna be serious about it!” But in my mind, I was like “Yo, mix this shit so I can get it!” You know? [Laughs]. And so, somewhere in my heart subconsciously, I don’t know. It just clicked and I was like “Alright, OK, I’m going to be serious about this.” Metal’s not going anywhere. I was in a band at the time and it was just, like…[BlackLynk] was actually in the band, but me and him were the only ones that were serious about it. So I decided that I’m going to just do rap now.
Are you still working with that band?
We’re on an unannounced hiatus, unofficially, if that makes any sense. [Laughs]. But I’m still down to do music for it. I’m still down to do metal. I just haven’t been doing it lately.
Is the music making process for rap any different from making metalcore, or any of the other genres you worked in?
Absolutely. [Rap’s] so much easier and so much more freedom as an artist. The thing about being in a band versus being a solo artist or even a rapper is just that you don’t really have to depend on anybody. It’s just you. You can do whatever you want. Everybody doesn’t have to be on board with the idea. You don’t have to go up to people and be like “Did you write this riff? Did you write this part? Did you practice?” Like, it’s just only you so it’s everything that you do. It’s just so much easier.
These two genres seem like such polar opposites to each other that I have to ask: now that you’re Nauseous, who are you making music for? Hip hop heads, metalheads, or something in between?
I’m kind of just making music for me. I’m not really trying to appeal to…I mean, I want to appeal to the hip hop heads for sure. I think I bring something a little bit different. But I’m not really trying to appeal to anybody. I just want to make myself happy and make songs that I enjoy and that I just think are good songs. I’m not trying to appeal to any direct audience. I might pander to the quick wrestling fan for a few wrestling bars, [Laughs], but other than that, I’m not really pandering.
Speaking of being Nauseous, how did you come up with that name for yourself?
There’s a funny thing behind that. So, my first rap name was not Nauseous, obviously like every other artist unless they’re really lucky. My first name was pretty ridiculous and this was back when I wasn’t taking [rap] serious. My first original name was Foreplay, actually. [Laughs]. And then I quickly changed it to King Foreplay, to make it more appropriate. [Laughs]. But I was like “This isn’t gonna work. If I want to be serious, I have to change it.” So I thought of Nauseous. Believe it or not, Nauseous is like a double meaning, kind of. It’s kind of a commentary on mainstream rap. It literally makes me sick to my stomach. There’s some good gems in there and, don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for turn up music, but overall, it’s just really repetitive and brain deteriorating. And the second reason is because I’m sick as fuck! [Laughs].
The mixtape you just dropped is called Humanity in Me. Why? What’s the significance behind that name?
I thought of this name awhile ago. I actually pitched it to change the band name. The band that I was in with DJ and my other friend was called Birth a Legend. I was trying to switch it to Humanity in Me, but they didn’t go for it. I was still like “I really like that name.” It stood out to me and I just thought that it’s a real reflection of who I am as an artist and who I am as a person. So I just really ran with it and wanted the first tape to be that.
How long did it take for you to work on this mixtape?
This mixtape was like a year’s progress. I had most of it done in the beginning of the year, but I had to write one or two more songs because I wanted to do 10 songs, but then it got dropped down. Then I was anxious to release it so I just pretty much…I almost had it completely finished a few months ago because I added like one more song. Let’s just say a year.
Looking at how long you worked on this mixtape, I’m assuming you made new music on the side since then. If that’s the case, you’ve obviously evolved in some way since you first started working on this project a year ago. My question is looking at this mixtape in retrospect, are you proud of it as a whole, or do you look at the songs you made when you were less experienced and wish that you made them differently?
Absolutely. I can see how rough it was because when I first started doing this, I wasn’t trying to be a rapper. I was still in the mindset of “I’m doing this as a side project. I’m not putting 1000% into it. I’m literally just trying to see if I can do it; if I can make a rap song.” So, looking back on the album, I think it’s a good stepping stone. These songs needed to be released just to show people that I’m getting more serious about it and that I am getting better. So there’s definitely so much more music on the way.
What’s your connection to House on Fire Studios?
House on Fire has got my boy, Stanley–his rap name is MacheteSTAN–and Alex the Kid. There’s also one more guy, I’m just unfamiliar with him. I haven’t met him personally yet, but I’m pretty sure there’s one more guy on the label. But, yeah, Stanley produced a bunch of my stuff for the upcoming tape and he’s been a longtime friend. We’ve been friends for, like, over 10 years probably. I’ve been in bands with him. He’s basically my brother. He produced a lot of my stuff. He’s an artist and I’m apart of his label, House on Fire Studios. We’re trying to change the name right now to something else.
Since you mention that they’re helping you out with your upcoming mixtape, any news on that? Have you recorded music for it yet? Anything you can tell us so far?
I have a name–I don’t wanna tell the name yet–I have about 6-7 songs written, about six recorded, and I’m working on a bunch of other stuff. But the second tape probably won’t be out for maybe another year because I want it to be a masterpiece in comparison.
In addition to House on Fire Studios helping you on both your current and upcoming mixtape, you also seem to get help from BlackLynk, who actually rapped on the exact same beat that you used for Kill All Humans for a song he made years ago called “Quarantine.” You already mentioned that that’s your best friend, but how does he feel about you using his beat?
Well, when I first started, I really needed some beats. Since he’s a great producer, I wanted his beats. I was like “What’s some old school hip hop that you’ve got for me?” Because that’s kind of my roots. I grew up on that a little bit. So, I asked him and he sent me a revisioned version of what people know as “Quarantine.” So, I basically was like “I’m gonna do this” and then that was one of the first songs that I did being a rapper.
I’m not sure if you noticed this, but you’re a white rapper and unless your name is Eminem, white rappers don’t get a lot of respect in the rap industry. So, when you tell people that you rap, do you feel like people take one look at you and don’t take you seriously or give you the benefit of the doubt?
Honestly, I like to set myself up for that before anyone else does. I kind of prepare myself for whatever they think. So, I’ll kind of be like “I started rapping. I know that I’m white.” [Laughs]. It’s kind of like that. I really don’t show too many people that I don’t know. I haven’t branched out completely yet. I’m getting towards it, but they don’t really bat an eye, really. I feel like being a white rapper is kind of more accepted. You might say just Eminem, but there’s so much more. There’s G-Eazy, or there’s Asher Roth, or there’s MGK. There’s just so many more white rappers that are in the mainstream now that you can think of that are–Mac Miller–there’s just so many people out there that the whole idea of a white rapper is not quite as quote on quote “taboo” as it was, say, 10 years ago or, you know, 20. It’s more accepted now. Like I said, I’ll go in for the thing first. I’ll be like “I know I’m white, but I rap.” [Laughs].
Just the fact that you even have to give that explanation, do you feel like the fact that people have that perception of you based on skin color alone is flat out disrespectful, or does it work to your advantage because it gives you the opportunity to prove them wrong?
I think it’s borderline closer to proving them wrong, but it doesn’t discourage me and I don’t care. If they think like that, they can think like that. That’s fine, because like I said, there’s so many other white rappers out here that have been so influential to other rappers. I feel like rap is just…it’s just music. It sucks because people think “Oh, it’s more of a black-dominated genre of music,” but like, what does it really matter? It’s just music. There shouldn’t be these labels.
Your mixtape was initially announced to drop on August 18th. However, it dropped on August 17th. Why’d you leak it a day early?
Leak, that’s a pretty funny word. [Laughs]. I was gonna actually “leak” it a week prior because I was just so anxious. I’ve been sitting on these songs for so long and the songs that I’m working on now don’t even compare. It makes the stuff that I wrote [for Humanity in Me] look like kiddie material. I was super anxious and I needed to release it so I was like “Fuck it, why not? I’ll release it a day early.” I would’ve released it fucking six months ago if I could’ve. [Laughs]. Because I’m super excited to show everybody this music and this new music because [rubs hands together] I’ve got some fire in the works.
You seem really passionate about this whole music thing so I have to ask: is it more important to make music that’s better than your competition, or music that’s better than what you made before?
A little bit of both. Honestly, I want to be better than BlackLynk only. That’s my only competition because that guy’s a GOAT. Anybody else really can’t compare to him so I’m trying to be better than him, pretty much. But I also want to make music for me. I want to make music that’s better than my past work because you have to evolve. You have to get better. You can’t just stay making the same stuff over and over again. I just wanna keep making good material that everyone is gonna fuck with. But I’m better than BlackLynk.
Before we end this interview, is there anything you’d like to promote that’s coming up? Like events you’re working? New music on the horizons?
Like I said, I’m working on some new stuff right now. I’m not gonna drop a date or name or nothing [yet]. I might release a single in a few weeks, maybe. But I wanna shoutout BlackLynk, shoutout to Rhyme, shoutout Aller-G, shoutout to B-Free, I wanna shoutout the guy that’s doing this interview, shoutout to Jaylen, shoutout to Jones, Ak, Stef, Mujo, Chris, Marcus…all my day ones that’s been there supporting me, I just wanted to shout them out. I’m thankful and grateful. Yo, we out here.
Listen to Nauseous’s Humanity in Me here.