You know when kids freak out on Masked Gorilla on Twitter because we don't cover their favorite artist? And I inevitably end up going back and fourth with them, explaining that there's a process to the madness and their time will eventually come? OmenXIII has been the subject of one or two of those Twitter-tirades. Today, his time has come.
Omen has rapped, produced, and lived alongside a ton of your favorite artists. But while he's stacked up 20,000 followers on Soundcloud along the way, you may not have heard his name as much as those artists he's worked and lived with. He's well on his way to changing that.
Today we're premiering his new Morgoth Beatz & Lophiile produced song "Vampire" for his Masked Gorilla debut. We also chopped it up with Omen, for what turned out to be a really honest and insightful interview into the process of carving out your own piece of the underground.
You can listen to "Vampire" via Soudncloud, and read the interview, below.
– How old are you/ where are you from?
"I don't really speak of my origins, too trivial."
– Interesting. I guess it really doesn’t matter. So, when did you start rapping?
"I started rapping as OmenXIII around mid 2015. I’ve always been around rap music since my childhood though, I picked up on how to rap around the same time I started to learn how to talk. I did my first karaoke when I was about 4, before my first year of attending school. I was always somewhat into rap but was never really into the glitz and glam of the 2000's, I've never understood the concept of listening to music about a lifestyle that you don't have. It's just not relatable to me. I spent most of my youth listening to alternative, metal, death-core, beatdown, etc."
– You also produce a lot of your music. When did you start producing/ how did you teach yourself to do that?
"I started producing instrumentals in December of 2014 as ‘Dream Walker’ after being heavily inspired by the rise of SHWB. I have been producing and recording my own music in general since 2007, for my own personal guitar endeavors as a kid… I started playing guitar when I was about 9. I also did a LOT of recording for my old band after we got finessed at a studio for mediocre quality. We used to use programmed drums like SD2 since we couldn't afford a good mic set up for our kit and that [program] has a very similar structure to making beats in FL Studio. So making beats came naturally to me. I learned how to mix and master my own vocals, guitars, and bass, knowing how to do all those things gave me a good head start when I decided to get into this side of music."
– Who are some of your all time musical influences?
"All time influences is always are hard question. I make many styles of music and I am honestly inspired in ways by almost everybody that I come in contact with, whether negative or positive. I'm into a lot of types of music, artists, tons of different bands, etc. This question has too many answers, I honestly feel like I could find one song to genuinely appreciate from any artist or any genre."
– Your sound definitely fits in the current darker/ Soundcloud underground scene. What current artists have inspired you/ do you think you fit in with?
"SHWB is single-handedly the reason I got into ‘Soundcloud Rap’ or whatever people like to call it. I heard about Chris, then Bones, then Wulf, then Eddy and really fucked with their approach, not just to the music, but the whole game. I still go to pretty much every show."
– You've produced for and rapped with a ton of other underground artists. How do you link up with them and collaborate? What's the process behind that?
"It depends on which artists your talking about, some artists I simply send an email or get in touch with them online somehow. Other artists I've lived with and made music in person with them. Most of my work I do from home though, I really don't go out much, nor do I have any friends in the music scene currently that I see or hang out with on a regular basis."
– You mentioned you've lived with artists before. You actually told me that I (unknowingly) met you at Brennan Savage/ Lil Peep's Pasadena house last year in 2016. How did you end up there? How long were you there? What was it like living in that insanity? Any crazy stories from your time there?
"Yeah, we didn't speak much, I don't really go out of my way to be recognized. That is a long story of connecting the dots, but, I met Craig online near the end of 2015. When he moved from Texas to Los Angeles via an opportunity we met at his first, if I'm not mistaken, LA show where we shot the old "Solitude" video. Shortly after that living condition went south he somehow wound up living with Brennan and all of them at that house in Pasadena. We used to hang out and stuff. We got along well so when I quit my warehouse job, my last job, I used to just go over there and chill with everybody for a few days/ weeks at a time sleeping on the floor/ couch. I would set my studio up in the garage and just create. So that's how I wound up meeting and hanging out with all those guys. I had known Peep for about a year at that point, so he was the one that introduced me to his friend Brennan, I met J, Ghoste, and Wavy, just by association, and I had known Ned from a previous Oakland show where I had met him. Thinking back Ned's probably one the most chill/ approachable guys I've met in the scene as a one on one person. He's a funny guy. I'm not exactly sure how so many people wound up at that place at that time, but It was a pretty natural chemistry when we all met at that time. When they moved to their new place Craig and Brennan invited me to live with them there in the sun room so I blacked out the room with curtains and started paying rent for that room. It was dope hanging out with like-minded individuals, in terms of the music grind, and there are a lot of "crazy stories," but I digress."
– What's your current living situation?
"I'm currently staying with my family from time to time, but I take 2/ 3 week trips out of the state/ city every month, so nowhere really feels like home. I'm constantly on the move. Fortunately as a full-time musician it's very easy for me to work from anywhere. I’m excited because when I get back from tour I should be able to move into my own spot without anybody's help, so it will be nice to have my own space soon."
– How do you balance producing your own music with working with other producers?
"I honestly get bored of producing my own music from time to time. I find myself and my habits semi-predictable. I like to collaborate with other producers because it gives me that feeling of being in a band again. There's something special about taking somebody's ideas out of their mind, ideas you've never thought of before, and then trying to create something out of that by inputting your ideas."
– Morgoth Beatz & Lophiile produced "Vampire". Is this a song they sent you and you vibe’d with, or did you tell them what kind of sound you were looking for? How does that process work?
"Morgoth Beatz is a producer that I recently came in contact with, he is from Goliath, the band I sampled for my song "Massacre", he's also a member of Winds of Plague, these are two bands that I looked up to when I was younger. Lophiile is a member of Issues, and was the drummer from A Memoria Brooded, these two met through the hardcore and metal scene. They collaborated on this instrumental before it was sent to me and I just so happened to take a liking to it. I'm really into the dark theatrical sounds that Morgoth and his friends can put together, the music sounds a lot more progressive and "band-like" in my opinion."
– Where does the influence for the hook on "Vampire" come from? It's really tight.
"I don't know, that's a "boyband type" hook I guess, so Justin Timberlake and other styles under that net I suppose. I just like to experiment, honestly probably would have never made a hook like this if it weren't for this instrumental. I definitely enjoyed messing with the style though. Morgoth and I have a very unique retro song coming up on my next album "MOONLIGHT" as well, which drops on June 20th. featuring production from: Purpdogg, foxwedding, Dave Marino, Smitty The BG, notmorgn, and a lot of other talented artists. I have yet to actually finish the album but it will be done in time."
– What're your current thoughts on the underground music scene? What would you change about it if you could?
"I think the current underground music scene is getting industrialized, it's kinda disappointing to see so much potential in artists that can do it themselves that are beginning to hand over those responsibilities to people that aren't artists and bringing in a lot of mainstream aspects (in my opinion) into the underground. It's also disappointing to see how certain established artists are struggling to stay relevant by "putting on" artists that are on the come-up. I don't really care to change the underground too much, for what it is right now in 2017 ‘The Underground’ is honestly not a concept that I want to be considered a part of as a whole. But it is what it is, I'm just gonna keep putting out music and fuckin’ with my fans. I just wish more people would spread a positive message within their fanbase at least. It's embarrassing to see some of these negative messages preached towards the ones that support you. If you do not empower your foundation, you will fall. So if there's anything I could change, it's going to be that. I want the underground supporters to know how valuable they are, to feel better about themselves every day. It's all love, you know?"
– So, what’re your goals for the rest of 2017? What do you want to accomplish before the year is over?
"I don't really ever have many specific goals besides "Grow" as long as I'm doing that I am satisfied. I will be touring next month with JGRXXN, Free Will, and a few others starting July 20th, then another tour in the fall. I have no management, I am the "team", so the process of getting that together has been long and tedious alongside writing and recording the music, filming the videos, and constantly ordering and shipping new merch. It really is a full time job and I work basically 7 days a week throughout the days. Fortunately everybody involved is doing a good job of making things happen right now. On a side note I just got a new sound system in my car a couple weeks ago, and before the year is over I want to get a motorcycle."
– Oh that’s tight. What kind of car do you have?
"I have a 2008 Honda Civic right now, good on gas mileage helps me get around when and where I need to, nothing crazy."
– I feel you, that’s real. What kind of bike are you looking at?
"Right now for bikes, I'm looking into a 2016 Honda CBR 500r, or possibly a 2016 Kawasaki Ninja 650, I honestly dont know too much about motorcycles yet, still doing my research, but those two are definitely my top choices so far."
– What do you think has propelled you to this certain level of success where you do have 20k Soundcloud followers and you are selling a bunch of merchandise with a dedicated fanbase? You seem resistant to building a management/ agent/ etc. team around you, so how do you plan on elevating yourself to the next step?
"Seeing the way Elliott and his boys grind to where they are at impressed me a lot and inspired me even more. And to be honest it's a lot easier to do now, now that they've done it. I don't think people really begin to understand how hard this shit was 4/ 5 years ago and even before then. So I am appreciative of that. If they didn't do what they did as a team I couldn't have come as far as I have solo. It was a long journey but I dropped almost 200 songs last year, and am very persistent so I feel like it’s well deserved. Quitting my job and just risking literally every form of stability in my life was a necessary step, but look at how far it's gotten me. There were a lot of artists and people that saw or have seen potential in me over the last year, so I appreciate all of them. Finally being at 20k is cool and all but I'm still not where I want to be obviously, hunger is eternal.
I am pretty resistant to building management, but that is just because I haven't met someone with a vision similar to mine that's also dedicated enough to see it through. I've had a few labels hit me up… I’m not planning on doing anything special to come up, still just on my own shit, still no cosign, etc. Music, videos, shows, merch, it's simple. You will grow as long as you work, that's how I feel. So as long as I keep doing what I'm doing, I'm gonna be alright."
Keep Up With OmenXIII: Soundcloud | Twitter | Instagram