Q: Congrats on your second full length release, Death Games! Tell us about it. What’s the story?
A: First off, thank you for the praise. I’m excited to talk about this because this project means a lot to me. Death Games is a story of love and loss with Inno¢ent, my artist persona, as the main character. Each song throughout the album represents a different chapter of my past, written as a way to show the balance of good and bad in everything we experience. Which is why I chose to use life and death as the main theme throughout this story.
Q: Could you tell us more about who this character is, his persona and what he represents?
A: Inno¢ent, as a character in this context, is meant to represent the imperfection of humanity as a whole. That is why I chose to not focus so much on who this character is specifically but rather on what they experienced. I wanted people to listen to this record and be able to see themselves as the main character going through these stories. After all, we all have our own struggles and our own stories to tell.
Q: How would you describe the writing process for this record?
A: You know, a lot of it was spontaneous really. I had a lot I wanted to say, and when my thoughts matched up with one of the instrumentals that Toph sent to me, I started freestyling immediately. And that’s how I would come up with a hook, and once I had that down the verses would come naturally. It truly just felt nice to be able to translate my experiences into songs, which motivated me to finish writing this record.
Q: Was this record also created with Toph Beats? Did you incorporate any other producers?
A: Oh yeah, Toph and I work very closely together so I knew he was the one to go to, yet again, to produce this project in its entirety. But for him, that was light work.
Q: You went from an album titled Sunshine to Death Games, singing “I really wanna go to sleep/Like go to sleep,” in your track “Away.” Who hurt Inno¢ent?
A: Well, pain comes in many different forms. I’ve been hurt by all kinds of people, in small ways and in big ways. But I think my shift in tone from my first project to Death Games, is more so me expressing my pain as a way of releasing it and being able to move on with my life.
Q: Besides the title, how else does this release differ from your previous EP and Album releases?
A: I would say the biggest differences between my past projects and this one is how Toph and I built it from the bottom up to fit how I was feeling. For my previous releases, most of the instrumentals were sent to me and I would just choose, start writing and then compile the ones that worked. But for this album I knew I wanted to take my time and make sure the music really captured what I needed to express.
Q: You also incorporated collabs on this release. What made you want to collaborate and work with Flu5h and Kaeleigh Spreen?
A: Well from the beginning of my writing process, I knew I wanted to have someone featured and as Toph created these instrumentals both Flu5h and Kaeleigh came to mind pretty quickly. I knew both of their vocal styles and knew that they would both bring something great to add to the record, and sure enough they killed their parts.
Q: Let’s dive into the tracks. My personal favorite on the album is “A Loan,” which kind of reminds me of DRAM and Lil Yachty’s ‘Broccoli’ with the high piano part which alludes to a more upbeat vibe while covering deeper topics. The addition of Kaeleigh Spreen tied it all together painting a complete picture for the listener. Tell us about the creation of this track.
A: Honestly, this song’s creation really started when we were looking for reference tracks by Cordae and once we found one that I connected with we tried to recapture it in our own way. That’s how Toph came up with the chords and rhythm to the song. After that, I started writing on the spot and had the hook finished before the beat was even finished. I really wanted to have something that had layers to it so I reflected that in the rest of my writing. When it came to the outro, I had Kaeleigh come to my own recording space and lay down her vocals. Her part, along with the orchestral background, really tied together the song exactly how I wanted it to.
Q: After listening to your last two albums one after another, you can hear the evolution and development in your sound. The beats and production are now surrounding and enveloping. Especially on your track ‘Thinking On It,” the vocals swirl around you.
A: Toph and I have definitely been putting a lot more time and effort into improving the overall sound to our tracks. For this album, that meant working to have a fuller mix with extra layers to the vocals and instrumentals to really make each track stand out. With “Thinking On It”, we felt that the raw vocals needed a bit more energy to match the music, so we made sure that the end product sounded wide and enveloping, like you said.
Q: Your track “All The Time,” is just fun. You integrate these video-gamesque sounds with catchy lyrics but also feature your own singing, which we love. This record is so much more of a melodic piece and encapsulates more musicality and depth. Is that what you went in looking to achieve?
A: For sure, I wanted to try something new by using my voice in different ways. For this song in particular, since it’s about daydreaming of my girlfriend, I wanted to incorporate singing to capture an upbeat energy while, lyrically, still showing vulnerability to love. But since I am not the best singer, I used heavy auto tune to both smoothen out my vocals and also add to the electronic sound of the track.
Q: “Game Over” is a slow mo bassy beast. It’s got it all, layers and effects. How is the keyboard played on this track? Analog or plug-in? Did you write that part?
A: “Game Over” is definitely a wonderfully layered track and I love how Toph put it together. All the instruments played are digital and were tweaked in certain ways to sound more human and less robotic. The instrumental itself was fully written and produced by Toph.
Q: What’s your favorite track and lyric and why?
A: My favorite track is definitely “A Loan” because of how personal the lyrics are and how it all ties together from beginning to end. In terms of lyrics my favorite line is, “but i can’t save myself and save you too, I made this bed so I can prove that sleeping well gives more to do, and one day I’ll have room for two…” I chose this lyric in particular because, to me, it perfectly sums up how I was feeling going into writing this record. I was in a place where I needed to focus on myself rather than the problems of others and I believe these words captured that emotion.
Q: So, COVID’s still a thing. Were you able to record fully remote or how did that affect your recording and writing process?
A: COVID was definitely a hindrance at first, but in terms of writing, was a blessing in disguise. Due to quarantine I was able to have a lot more time to write songs to put some real thought into what I wanted to be said. Luckily, for recording my vocals I was able to do a lot of it remotely with my own equipment. However, I did bite the bullet and traveled to a nearby recording studio to do some finishing touches to the tracks.
Q: Has COVID’s damper on the ability to perform live stripped you from any vital aspects of creating an album? Was performing live something you were actively conscious about while creating this or any of your albums/EPs?
A: COVID definitely took performing out of the question for me, unfortunately. However, that never stopped me from creating and writing music, if anything, it pushed me to put more of myself into an album, so that I could have great content to perform once COVID is farther in the past. I always feel that it’s important to think about the listener/ audience perspective whenever I write.
Q: What were your biggest challenges for this album?
A: The biggest challenge for “Death Games” was the marketing and promotion of the album. Being an independent artist truly means putting every aspect of a project into consideration from how it’s created to how it’s pushed out to the public. Honestly, I found writing/ recording the album to be the easiest obstacle to overcome. But once I had the content then I needed to figure out which song gets a music video, what the album art is going to be, and how I can find interesting ways to promote the album, which eventually led the merch giveaway I did earlier this year. So, I’d say the hardest part of putting this album together was figuring how to roll it out.
Q: What’s next for Inno¢ent?
A: To keep getting bigger and better as a musician and producer. With every project, I feel my abilities as a rapper/ vocalist improve and I want to keep honing in on those skills. However, I want to expand in other ways too. Currently, I’m working to start up my own recording studio with the producer of “Death Games”, Chris Stephenson aka Toph Beats. So, to me, this album is only a taste of the music that is to come.
Big shoutout to Inno¢ent for sitting down with The MIC. Listen to Death Games, out NOW!