INTERVIEW: Yoshi Flower chats current projects, his first headlining run and his experience with Interscope
This year has been a wild one. In fact, this year following an unprecedented 2018 has seen so many young acts getting their chance to hit the road, release music and truly make a name for themselves. One of those new acts? Yoshi Flower, who recently came off some solid touring with his first headlining run and opening up for Korean hip hop act Epik High on their sold-out US run.
Lucky for us, I got the opportunity to sit down with Yoshi Flower just an hour or so before he took the stage at the iconic Paradise Rock Club. He spoke to me about his headlining tour experience, the preparations that went into it and what he’s currently been writing about. Find my chat with this talented guy below!
You’ve obviously been really busy over this last year and a half or so, but it’s been a big journey. You’ve been touring a lot. You’re doing this shows with Epik High, obviously a dedicated crowd, sold out show. How has this been for you so far?
It’s been splendid. I’ve been very pleased.
How have these sets been going? You’re coming off these headlining dates where you definitely had more time on stage. How are you preparing for these opening slots in comparison?
With this, it’s more just a free flow kind of. Just trying to show people my personality a bit and kind of just going with the moment. I don’t have a set list or anything. I have someone come and scream at me when there’s like five minutes left. And it’s cool because my headline shows, I really wanted my fans to feel like they were part of a really special night. I would be in the green room and be like to my brother, ‘Yo, did it sell out?’ I wanted my fans just to really have a real, real memory that lived up to their expectations and surpassed it. With this show, it’s more just me playing the songs as best as I can and not worrying about anything other than just being of service to Epik High really. Because this a testament to how true they’ve been throughout their career. I’m just kind of a supplement to them at this point so I’m just grateful to be playing in front of their crowd because they’ve worked so hard. Now that I’m in it, I realize how much work and how much love it takes to cultivate a family across the world like they do. So, I’m just trying to be my service involved in that group.
From having such a dedicated fan base, I’m sure their fans are a good room of listeners, enjoying your set and becoming new fans of you. I know you’re still early in these shows.
Yeah but it’s been crazy. The first show was last night and immediately after, I could feel the love every night. Their fans are unbelievable.
Then maybe speaking of, now you’re doing these shows opening for Epik High but you just came off your first headlining run. You have the debut album out, you’re with Interscope, obviously you have a good family, you have the new song “Dirty Water”. Maybe preparations for that headlining run?
Yeah that was my first time ever being the catalyst for the night. It was the first time I had responsibility really, to give kids a safe space to just be themselves and fucking go crazy. I had a good month of figuring out what I wanted the stage to look like, what I wanted the room to sound like in between sets, and I brought one of my best friends out with me on tour, this dude Kenny Hoopla who opened. So it was really one of those things where the people who were supposed to be there were there. I’m not like a massive artist that’s promoting. It’s still a word of mouth thing. Interscope has given me a lot of room to grow. They kind of just help me craft what I do rather then have them try to make me something they think they can market. So, the tour was really definitely in keeping with that.
It was special. It was like a first drug experience or losing your virginity or some shit. And it went well, so it wasn’t like your virginity. It was different versions of those things.
Then just from seeing it, I know Interscope does have a lot of imprints. Signed artists include X Ambassadors, YUNGBLUD, The 1975. A great variety of artists. Maybe the story of you signing to Interscope, choosing Interscope, how did that come about? You talked about it how they’ve given you room to grow.
Basically, I put out these two songs on the same day, “Movies” and “Panic Attacks”, and that was about a year ago today, or a couple weeks ago. Pretty much right after that, like every single record label hit me up. I mean a lot of this shit, they show you a contract and you’re like ‘yo fuck that, I’m not doing that’. Even though it’s an honor because you work your whole life to try and get validated like that. I kept putting music out, independently, a few more releases and they were the label that was the most supportive. When I was independently releasing music, they were stoked on it and the other labels were like, ‘Yo, why are you putting new music out? We offered you this deal.’ Honestly, they were just the only people that weren’t fucking creepy. There were a few other labels that were ill, like 300, this record label in New York City, that are super artist friendly. There’s good people at a lot of them but at the end of the day, they’re huge corporations. I come from Detroit where we fucking boycott Taco Bell’s because they were doing some weird cow testing. I’m not like a hippy or that informed on issues, but I’m getting into art and commerce. Just the vibe. Trying to build a family. I could call the CEO of Interscope right now during this interview and he would probably answer, or he’d be like, ‘Call me two minutes later’, and that’s just unique. Because these record labels don’t just act like they’re The Wizard of Oz. It’s the kids that decide what’s important and what isn’t. It was really just a matter of figuring out a home really, and they just reminded me of people that I grew up with.
And clearly you matter to them, in this situation where he runs a huge record label and he would be there for you.
Yeah, it’s fire because I don’t have any followers or sales or anything like that. But at the end of the day, they already got Gaga, they’ve got Selena Gomez, they’ve got whoever they need to make their money, but at the end of the day they don’t need to sign people who are just fucking chumps. Just because they have a following. Because you could have five million followers and still be a wreck. I’m not against any of that stuff, I have no disdain for the metrics that our society has created but I just think it’s not to be taken lightly because the whole industry is based off art. And a lot of art is based off of honest expressions, so I think there’s a delicate balance. I’m a small artist on my label but at the same time, I’m a fucking Goliath when it comes to honesty and making raw shit that I like.
And you’re right, they do have the people that are moneymakers like Gaga and Selena, but just from speaking to a lot of the newer artists on the label. Nurturing you and letting do your own thing, it will be a natural progression.
Yeah, I’m just grateful pretty much. Because I don’t have to worry about how if I break my arm, how I can get a cast, pay for it and shit. Those things are real life issues. Everyone’s like, ‘Oh, fuck labels. Be independent.’ But at the end of the day, I’m not able to be healthy and I’m not able to be comfortable. How am I even going to be of service to people?’ Kids come from all different situations. Even Billie Eilish, she’s not going to be able to pay for her fucking studio time. My parents fucking worked their asses off and they’re old as hell. It’s real life. As much as people want to say, ‘Fuck the label’, at the end of the day it’s like I don’t have anyone else that’s going to be there for me if I can’t get a ride across town to record a vocal on someone’s song.
It helps to be able to let you have a career at your age, be able to do this. Then coming to the music obviously, you released ‘Dirty Water’ this year, the debut mixtape came out last year. We’re still early in the year, you’re starting this run with Epik High, I know you probably can’t talk about it too much, but currently writing, maybe something really new you’ve tried recently?
Yeah, I’ve been writing about just how hyper comparison has become such an insane thing. I feel like I’m a pretty healthy individual but mentally as far as comparing myself to other people, I’m like prefacing what I’ve been writing about, I feel like a) I’m moderate with how I feel about comparing myself and how I fit in, b) I feel like comparison can prompt amazing growth in all humanities. You look at your favorite writer. Now it’s gotten to a point where we are so easy to compare ourselves to external things and other people, that it’s almost stacked against you really going to find intrinsic values in things. I’m just writing about my experience observing how it’s easy to try and fix inside problems with outside solutions right now. Like I go on my phone, and I’m like oh shit that person has that many followers because they’re wearing that or because of the color of their hair, but all I can see is that they’re further and further away from our soul. I was thinking about it. Even in the fifties, when consumer culture began marketing in a modern sense of it, the things that you wanted to obtain still had incredible value. You were like oh I need that laundry machine. It’s illegal to not wear clothes and if you smell, people will be like what the fuck? And you’d be like oh, ‘Keeping Up With The Jones’, that’s crazy, why do people compare? But that was valid, and it’s like oh that car or that ford, I bet it won’t break down ever. It’s illegal to be late to work and if you’re late to work, you get fired and you can’t feed your kids. But now, you’re like oh they have ten thousand followers, they could be a fucking chump. You don’t know anything so it’s pushing people to try and solve these internal growth ebb and flow with external things. That’s just kind of what I’ve been confronting with my past couple songs I’ve been writing. I’ll probably put something out soon, like soon, because when I feel that type of way usually, I speed write. Like when I was flipping out about what to do as an American, I was like I’ll put out “American Raver”. That’s my little contribution to the pot luck so to speak. I’ll probably put out something soon about that but otherwise I’m just working on an album always.
The album is more introspective, it’s going to be the essence of me. With the mixtape, it’s whatever is just oozing out. I can’t close the top on it and I can’t just keep talking to my homies. I’ll probably put out another mixtape in the next couple months.
I’m sure you’ve been working on an album a long time.
Yeah, I’m working on an album but I don’t even focus on music to be honest. I just fucking try to be a person and I try to be somebody who makes the people around them feel safer to express themselves. And I try to be a reliable person. I signed to Interscope, I have a fucking car, I pick people up and I take them to places they need to be now. And I’ll take two hours out of my day and help somebody who needs something where I once was in the exact same position. And that’s more of what I focus on. The music thing is just what I love. So, I don’t want to ever stop it but I’m not like sitting here and thinking, the world needs this! Because then at the end of the day, people don’t really need it. You see somebody and they’re not with headphones on, you don’t think yo what the fuck is wrong with them, you think oh they’re not listening to music today.