An Interview With: Myke Bogan

 

Myke Bogan is “The Everyman MC.” I interviewed the Portland spitter a week back or so, and right from the first minute I noticed how refreshingly open and relatable the man was. No topic was off limit, but the tone was always friendly. The conversation felt like one’d you’d have with a new acquaintance at a party. It was natural. It was real.

We talked about the Northwest, his recording process, early freestyling stories and much more. All in all, my convo with Myke Bogan reminded me of an important fact we often forget in the hip hop community: rappers are people too. Hit the jump and I bet you’ll think the very same. – Benny P

 

“What is your first memory of hip hop?”

“Definitely the ‘Fu-Gee-La’ video. My dad is from New Orleans, moved to L.A. I was born in L.A. but Lancaster was the base. Most kids out here listened to Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Westside Connection…my dad was more so based on East Coast rap. He was a big Wu-Tang fan, a big Biggie fan. Big Fugees fan. So that was one of my first memories. It’s a moment that you’ll never forget.”

“Growing up in Lancaster – what are your biggest takeaways?”

“One of my biggest takeaways is…being from both sides. I grew up in a low-income area but my family used my babysitter’s address so we could go to a white elementary school. I grew up on both sides of it. For the first half of the day I was with a bunch of white kids, getting my education. But for the second half of the day I was with all blacks and Mexicans. What I experienced with that was like, during the day, I’d be listening to Guns n Roses, Nirvana, Green Day. You know – shit like that. For the second half of the day I was listening to hip hop. I was listening to Wu-Tang, listening to Biggie – I was all over the place (laughs).

I have a younger sister, and my mom has a very younger brother. And he lived with us growing up. So it was like me being 6 or 7 and I had a 14, 15 year old brother. So that was a huge influence on me. Watching MTV and BET and watching music videos and shit like that, and him being so into hip hop. That was a big thing on my youth.

My dad was a drummer in this church band. My mom was in the choir. Everyone was into music. So, I was constantly around music. Good music constantly influenced me.”

“I was doing my research on you and saw you ended up getting a football scholarship at South Dakota. Was it music, sports and typical youth shit growing up for you mostly?”

“Oh man that’s exactly what it was bro. Music, sports, academics – for my mom. Cause she was pushing academics super hard. When you fucking with music, and fucking with athletics – athletes fuck with music. That’s the thing. I was always a music lover. Always brought the CDs, brought the good hip hop. Always that nigga with a bunch of CDs in my car. I was that. I was always the guy where people would be like: ‘what’re you listening to?’ And I’d go: ‘this person – this person – this person’ – you know what I’m saying? I was always kind of an influencer.

So when I got to high school – I went to an inner city high school – I remember hanging around rap battles. And I remember watching people rap. And watching people who wanted to rap. I was watching and listening to everybody – but I was an athlete. I couldn’t really get all the way into it.”

“When did your primary focus switch from football to music then?”

“It honestly came with football. After high school I redshirted at South Dakota, and my freshmen year I played a lot of special teams. Going into my sophomore year I was competing for a starting position. When you play Division I and you’re competing for a starting job, they only let you go home for two weeks. Cause they want to monitor your training, monitor your progression. Make sure you’re at the school constantly working on your game. My sophomore year was the first year you’re allowed out of the dorms, and me and my two best friends got an apartment. We had a three bedroom apartment with nothing in it. One couch, one flatscreen, couple beds on the ground and an Xbox. All we did was work out, get our football shit, and the come home with the little money we had and bought weed, King Cobra 40s and we would play NCAA Football and bang 9th Wonder instrumentals.”

“You mention 9th Wonder…we’re there any other producers or beats you started to craft your skills through?”

“9th Wonder/Little Brother, Oddisee instrumentals. I’d spit over any Mos Def instrumentals. Anything he had. DJ Premier. That’s how that started.”

 

 

“When did it change from playing Xbox and listening to 9th instrumentals, to actually releasing your first project?”

“So what happened was, that first Summer I stayed in South Dakota competing for a starting job, we would all freestyle. We would rap and I started noticing that towards the end of the summer when I would rap, people would always be like: ‘keep going. Go again.’ Shit like that. I started to be like: ‘oh shit.’ Cause, football players, athletes – when a jock or athlete cosigns you…that’s a cocky motherfucker. Like, I remember the end of the summer, one of my closet homies who gives props to nobody (laughs) – it was probably 3 or 4 in the morning and we’re talking like: ‘after all this football shit, if it don’t work out, what you wanna do?’ I was like: “I don’t even know man….I wanna be a firefighter. I remember telling him and he was like – ”

“A firefighter!?”

“Yeah, I was going to be a firefighter bro! That was my thing. But he was like: ‘yo, you should rap.’ And I was like: ‘really?’ And he’s like: ‘nah bro. You really need to rap. Everybody talks about it. People in the locker room talk about it. Your voice is cool and the way you flow is cool. It’s just so chill and so, so effortless.’

I’m like: ‘really?’ And he’s like: ‘yeah, but don’t tell nobody I ever told you that.’ I’ll never forget that. In my head I had secretly already thought about it, but that set it off.”

“That’s some real shit.”

“Yeah, some real shit. After that – that was kinda the push.”

“Did you end up putting out So Long, South Dakota right as you were graduating pretty much then?”

“Yeah, for So Long, South Dakota I was writing as I was graduating. And then six months after I graduated I put it out. In 2012. Recorded it in my closet, on a Macbook. It was straight rough.”

“It’s still a pretty clean project though.”

“Thank you dude, thank you. That’s the thing, a lot of people can be like: ‘it’s my first project – I hate it.’ But I really appreciate my first project. People really fuck with it and it was completely new at that time. South Dakota is the foundation of people really believing in me and fucking with me.”

“When did Portland come into play? How did you get from South Dakota to Oregon?”

“So, I met one of my closest friends who wanted to manage me, through my baby mama in South Dakota. Who introduced to my other best friend Tim who shoots all my videos. We met in 2011 and Tim was like: ‘yo you gotta be in this full-fledged. You gotta dive into it. You gotta be around me all the time. We gotta video shit. We gotta do shit.’

And his mom and him allowed me to come stay with them in Portland. I graduated from college, moved to Portland and that’s when I started to do all my music and drop stuff. I was bouncing between Portland and Billings, Montana, where my producer is from. One of my main producers. I was going back and forth from there to Portland, which is a twelve hour drive. Doing that all the time. Every two or three weeks. So, I did that, we shot videos and we kept moving and moving and moving forward. That’s how it all happened. Just bouncing around doing my thing. While doing shows in Boise, Seattle, Portland, Montana, little bit of Northern California. Just trying to attack the Pacific Northwest.”

“What is it about Portland you think that made you fall in love with it? You could front and say you’re from L.A. if you wanted to, what makes you call Portland your base?”

“Lancaster made me the man I am. Know what I mean? Gave me my morals, my values. Everything I learned came from Lancaster, CA. I found myself in music in South Dakota. But when I moved to Portland, Portland is who embraced me and gave me a music career.”

“You’ve said before that your soul has ‘always been in Portland.’ That’s kind how you feel right?”

“Exactly. The creativity in Portland. The artistry, the rain, the bridges, the tunnels – everything about that place says ‘be creative.’ And that’s why I love Portland so much and I give Portland my heart. Because without Portland I wouldn’t have made it in music. They gave me a fanbase. Hell – South Dakota, Lancaster, Billings.,.they all gave me a fanbase to build to where I’m at now. Without them I wouldn’t have been shit. Those were the cities that rocked with me…but Portland, Portland is what gave me the creative side to keep going. This shit is working enough for me to keep going. Make another project, keep selling out shows – people showing up. They buying merch and they rock with me, bro. They behind me. Portland is huge.”

 

 

“Let’s talk about the community. Can you talk about how important it is to have a community presence and a support system within the city?”

“Oh for sure. Bro, it’s a huge thing. You want your city to be this, you want your city to be that. The thing is this – you can build your foundation. With your city. With your people. But, the thing that somebody told me a long time ago bro – one of the most important things that stuck with me throughout everything, man – you can’t put on for your city…from your city. Let’s say you build a fanbase in Boston with your friends for example. You went to high school in Boston, got a couple homies, x y z. But what the people in Boston really wanna see is, they wanna see you in L.A. See you in Atlanta. They wanna see you in Houston. They wanna see you in Madison, WI.”

“Representing.”

“Exactly. Then when you come back, you got three, four, five hundred mafuckas that wanna ride yo dick. Folks don’t wanna see you bounce around the city doing the same four shows a week. No! It should be special when I come back to Portland.”

“I just wanna shoutout some names real quick I saw in my research. Donte Thomas, Fountaine, Vinnie Dewayne, Stewart Villain….there’s a strong collection of rappers, singers and producers in Portland.”

“Bruh – it’s the most underestimated city. It just hasn’t got the recognition yet. And when it does bro, I promise you gonna be shocked. You’re gonna be like: ‘yo, there’s so many talented motherfuckers outta there.’ I’m thankful that I’m one of the ones that stands out, one of the ones that gets to speak out. But, Portland, bro, Portland is filllled with talent.”

“What’s your process when you’re thinking about getting into the studio? Your voice is always so fucking dope man. Does that take any effort? Or are you just spitting from the heart when you hear the beat?”

“Ah, nah bruh it’s honestly super easy. I smoke a lot of weed and I play a lot of FIFA. I smoke weed and play the game and put on the beat. Sometimes it takes me four to five days to write a song. Sometimes it takes me four, five months. I take every word seriously. Every bar seriously. I feel like you shouldn’t be wasting no bars. Cause it’s your chance to connect. Don’t rush it. I just want to write genuine words. But really bro, all I do is smoke weed and play FIFA. And I bang the beat and that’s what I do. Or, I drive around and listen to the beat. I don’t write nothing til I’m like 8, 12 bars deep. I don’t write it down. Cause you don’t say it how you feel it. So it’s basically like freestyling on top of it.

So, when I get some beats from someone and they’re like, ‘ah yo, you didn’t like them?’ I’m like: ‘it’s not that I didn’t like them. I gotta love them.’ Because I have to listen to them thousands of times. That’s literary the process bro. Weed, FIFA, driving is how I write rhymes.”

“The Myke Bogan rap camp is kush, FIFA and whipping around.”

“Kush, FIFA, whipping around – and on the shitter before you get in the shower. That’s that.”

 

 

“Let’s switch to the music that you listen to. I saw in some of your past interviews you were dropping bands like Tennis, Washed Out – the lead singer of Wild Ones (Danielle Sullivan) is on your album. Can you talk about how that music – dreampop, alternative, indie – influences you?”

“Yeah, easy bro. I listen to music cause, A- I’m a smoker. I like to chill. Or, B – I’m with my kids a lot. But also I listen to music I fuck with, I vibe with and can relate to. And to be honest, the new age of rap I don’t relate to a lot. I’m very selective just cause a lot of it isn’t relevant to me. It doesn’t inspire me. If it doesn’t inspire me I don’t like it. So, I listen to a lot of indie. A lot of pop punk. Like I said, I grew up around both cultures. I got white friends, I got black friends, I got hood friends, I got not hood friends. You know, there were times I would go to the bus stop and I’m listening to Wu-Tang Clan, but then I’m also listening to Blink-182.”

“Your discography, to me, is pretty underrated. Partly from the fact that you drop a project almost every year. These past three projects especially impressed me.”

On Pool Party though – you’ve talked about how parts of recording Pool Party weren’t enjoyable. Looking back now, what’s it like to be done with that project?”

“Bro, honestly, it’s super bitter sweet. We knew it was going to be a challenge going into it – making sample free music. You know, trying to attract licensing, publishing. I knew it was going to be a challenge. I conquered the challenged, but truth be told, I missed being independent. I missed doing what the fuck I wanted to do. Whether the money comes or not. Cause I’m not in it for the money. You know what I mean? I got in it for the love of music. As an artist, I wanted to progress. Being with a label was perfect for these last two projects. I wanted to learn how to progress, learn live instrumentation. I wanted to learn how to do a live show with a live band. I wanted to learn how to progress the music. And I learned that as an artist and musician.

But the truthfully – now that I knocked that out – I’m ready to go back to doing what I do. ‘Yo nigga, send me a sample beat. Send me whatever I can snap on.’ Let’s give the people back what they really fuck with. Like I said, it’s a bittersweet situation. It’s fun to be done, but at the same time it’s such relief to be back doing what I wanna do. I wanna make music that people connect with.”

“So are you off the label now? Are you done working with EYRST?”

“Yeah, now I’m done with the label. The label had a two project deal.”

“How’d it all play out? Good terms?”

“To be honest, it was amazing. They helped me do a lot of things I wouldn’t been able to do. I got to press vinyl, I got to tour more. I got mad love on Spotify being apart of a label. I got to extend my fan base. It was beautiful. That’s what I wanted to do. Now I’m ready to go back doing what I do. And you know, you filled with new knowledge. New knowledge of what’s right, what’s wrong. You know a little more about the business so I appreciate EYRST and everything they did. But I’m ready man. I’m ready to figure out how to make shit profitable doing nothing but music and reach as many people as possible.”

“Hell yeah man. We’ve talked about the past, but let’s focus on the now. I want to talk about the new project. I wanna talk about Joe Fontana. I really fuck with the project. 2thirty5 must’ve been a big factor behind it. What’s that chemistry like between y’all?”

“I never hit it off with any group or individual that do music like this before. I found 2thirty5 and Carson – Carson Weekly was the one I found first, and he was part of the group. Cause he produced ‘Tangerine Dream’ by Alex Wiley. And I’m a huge fan of Alex Wiley. So I reached out to him and he was like ‘I fuck with you. Let’s chop.’ So I went and rolled up with him. Met 2thirty5, which is Sebastian, Carson and Andy. Bruh we kicked it for about an hour. Three Backwoods. And we just hit it off like brothers yo. It’s a blessing. To meet people and just vibe like that, it’s meant to be.

On Pool Party, they had e-mailed the song ‘Dashboard.’ And then we linked up like two dozen times after that and I was like ‘yo bro. I’m vibing right now.’ And they sent me four beats. And then I was like ‘why don’t y’all just do the whole project? They were like ‘really?’ I’m like: ‘yes bro – let’s just do the whole project. Let’s knock it out.’

“Did you record it both in L.A. and in Portland together?”

“Yup, we recorded it in L.A. at Rose Studios in Hollywood and the other half in Portland. We’re like brothers. We punch each other. We eat off the same plate. It was just crazy. We all vibe. We all kick it. They like my brothers. You have no idea. The chemistry between 2thirty5 and myself – I don’t plan on straying too far from them. It’s forever. They my guys.”

 

 

“Now that Joe Fontana is fully out, how does it feel to see it getting played – being shared on people’s stories. How does it all feel?”

“It’s amazing. I feel like it’s doing exactly what I wanted it to do. Like a lot of the stories – the stories and response I get are like: ‘yo, we’re up at 4 in the morning listening to Joe Fontana….hey we driving to the beach listening to Joe Fontana….I’m smoking a blunt listening to Joe Fontana.’ And that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be. It’s a summer vibe. That’s what the intention was. That’s what the release date was for. The funny thing about Joe Fontana was that it was originally named After Bar. But my buddy, we made a bet and he played me in FIFA. And his name is Joe Fontana. And he was like: ‘if I beat you, you gotta name the next project after me.’ And that’s what happened.”

“No wayyy. So the album is titled after a FIFA bet?”

“Yeah. Best 3 out of 5.”

“That’s awesome yo. Almost makes it more iconic. I got some rapid fire questions. Answer them as short as you want. Favorite high munchies?”

“Snickers…Hot Fries….anddddd Sour Patch Kids.

“Spirit animal?”

“Ummm – Danny Brown.”

(Laughs) Anyone you wanna collab with?”

“Danny Brown, Denzel Curry, ANoyd – that’s about it.”

“Curry’s new shit is gonna be fire when that drops.”

“He’s an animal bro.”

“A monster. Hardest part of being a parent?”

“Oooo – making sure you raise better people than you.”

“That’s a fucking good answer. They should put that on a plaque somewhere. Favorite 90s hip hop album?”

“Fugees – The Score.”

“Last rapid fire – but you answered this early on I think. 2K…or FIFA?”

“Oh it’s FIFA all day – every time.”

“Wrapping up here, any plans for touring? When do you wanna hit these cities?”

“Oh man – for touring it’s all Northeast. Portland, ME – Brooklyn – Pittsburgh – Syracuse – Jersey City again. I hit Jersey City and it was amazing. D.C. – just Northeast man. I’m ready for the Northeast.”

“Hell yeah man. You know I gotchu in Portland. Is there a timeline for the tour?”

“This year – before the snow hits. Before the snow hits.”

“Dope! I want to end on some meaningful notes. Break it down – how important is it to be authentic with your lyrics? Is that the most important thing at the end of the day?”

“At the end of the day, it’s all about being real and genuine. Because, money, cars, clothes – only 5% of people can relate to that. 95% are going to work, dealing with a baby mom, smoking weed – getting by. That’s the big thing. Give people something they can connect to.

I ain’t trying to be famous. I ain’t trying to be a millionaire. I’m trying to make music that connects with the most people as possible. I wanna make music that if you had a good day, bad day, a breakup or you wanna party – you can find a Myke Bogan song you fuck with. That’s the goal.”

“The future is looking quite exciting…how pumped are you to be independent again? What is independent Myke Bogan gonna be like?”

“I feel like independent Myke Bogan is going to be more efficient. More ready. More ready to progress and give people more so we can all continue to grow together.”

 

 

“Where is Myke Bogan going to be a year from now?”

“A year from now Myke Bogan will be touring worldwide. Not nationwide – worldwide. And hopefully getting ready to start his own label.”

“What would your dream label look like?”

“The foundation would be Portland artists – but looking for talent all across the world. You know what I mean, giving people a shot that I didn’t get. People that I know are grinding. People that I know are sleeping on people’s couches. Touring in 15 passenger vans. Fully on the grind – trying to sell merch to pay for their next meal. Those are the people I wanna give a chance to.”

“That’s respect man.”

“One last message is this – love the people that love you. Stay the fuck out the way. And no matter what….be a good person. That’s my last message. My last quote. Everything.”

 
 
 
 
 
 

Joe Fontana is available everywhere. Stay updated on Bogan through his Instagram, SoundCloud, Bandcamp and Twitter pages. And y’all better be playing that album!! 🙂

 
 
 
 

images and content via Myke Bogan and all rightful photographers/videographers

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Whatchu think? Sign in and comment below, friends!  #SupportHipHop #SpreadLove #RhymeBeat

 
 
 
 
 
 

– Benny P

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply