Apollo is an independent hip hop artist hailing from York, Pa. His new album “Falling Becomes Great,” is set to release this Friday. His previous works include two ep’s, “The Happy Masochist (2006),” and “Rust (2007).” We had a chance to sit down and talk with him about his new album, up coming shows, and the up’s and down’s of being an independent artist…
Tri State: So how do you feel about the new album?
A S: Very, very……worried about it.
Tri State: You’re worried about it? For what reason?
A S: I’m worried that it’s either the best thing that I’ve done, on a whole new level….or I’m just way off.
Tri State: So it’s different then your other albums? In what way?
A S: I think it’s like a progression of the other albums.
Tri State: It’s your first LP.
A S: I normally write until I’m done and if it’s an ep it’s an ep. I write in creative blasts of thoughts. I’ll write a whole shitload and then just stop. And then I’m done. It’s like I have to live a little bit to build up more stuff. I store up a lot of things. I’m not one of the types that let it out as I go.
At any rate, I’m worried about the album because it’s like a child that I harbored for a long time.
Tri State: How long have you been working on it?
A S: Two and a half years.
Tri State: So you definitely spent a lot of time on it.
A S: I recorded 30 songs for it.
Tri State: How many songs are on the final album?
A S: 15.
Tri State: Were there some tough decisions as far as what songs to cut?
A S: There were a couple, but some of them had to do with more sample based music. I’m trying to get to a point where I can clear my samples because I don’t want to get in trouble. But I do my best to cut up samples the way you’re supposed to do it so it isn’t recognizable and you make it yours. I’m really happy with the album, but it’s nerve racking. Everyone I let hear the album said that it’s steps beyond my other work and I’m like “okay, that’s cool”. But then I send it to press outlets and a couple people will say they really like it and others that have liked my previous work aren’t giving a response.
Tri State: See that’s the problem with being labeled with a certain genre or sound, the acceptance of progression, as opposed to someone who is more established, it’s maybe not accepted as much.
A S: I just let it happen. With my first album I did all the beats, the second one I did half the beats and this last one I did 2 or 3 beats and just left it up to producers. It gets tiring because I do all the recording and mixing. This is the first time that I had beats submitted.
Tri State: So you have a show coming up soon, a cd release party?
A S: Yeah, it’s Friday August 27th. It’s in Harrisburg at the Midtown Tavern. I was on tristateindie.com today and saw that you covered Snipe’s Farm. I did the Muddy River Jam there last year. That’s the new thing that I’m trying to get into.
Tri State: You’re playing a festival coming up soon where’s that being held?
A S: It’s in Lisbon, NY. It’s wayyyy north of Buffalo, right along the Canadian border.
Tri State: How many bands are going to be at that?
A S: Oh man, I think they said at least 20 to 25. Apparently they’re getting a a fairly large jam band “Giant Panda Gorilla Dub Squad”. Also a bunch of other jam bands that tour that kind of scene.
Tri State: So you’re one of the only hip hop acts?
A S: I think so. I’m headlining it actually. It’s my first time headlining a festival. There is supposed to be 1 to 2,000 people
Tri State: Are you received well at festivals that are normally jam band oriented?
A S: Yeah man. Whenever you go to do festivals people are really open. People will listen to bluegrass, country, they just wanna hear good music. It doesn’t matter. Last year when we did it, people were really into it. We were in the dj tent, not even on the main stage. Now this year we will be in the main stage area. They gave me an hour and a half headlining set. I’m being paid really well. I was thinking, if I could do one festival a month I could almost make a living.
Tri State: So you’re doing all this yourself (organizing shows and events)
A S: Yeah, no manager. I’ve had people offer to manage me and stuff, but I don’t really trust anybody. Everyone who has tried in the past has lied or they don’t communicate with the people that I want them to communicate with. Basically the reason you get a manager is because you don’t want to deal with that stuff. You know what I mean?
Tri State: Sure, because it is time consuming. Especially if you’re working full time.
A S: I’ve been doing radio campaigns. And when I hit the college radio scene it takes me…well, I’ll say this, I’m going to be doing it again in September and I’m not looking forward to it. Just to ship the cd’s it will cost me probably 500 bucks. Plus you’re not guaranteed airplay.
Tri State: Especially college radio, those places are like a revolving door.
A S: When all is said and done, with all the shipping and money you put into this. Are you able to recoup anything? No. But this album I’m doing differently. I’m writing everything down and I’m making sure everything’s paid for, because before I would just do it. But now I’m trying to be smarter about it because I’m getting older and I have to think about those things.
Tri State: No doubt.
A S: I’m trying to make a living. Obviously when you treat something like a business you want to break even at the very least.
Tri State: Because you want to do it again?
A S: Yep. I only got 100 pressed up at the door, before I would get a thousand. So I cut about800$ of cost off that.
Tri State: So hopefully you get rid of the hundred pretty quick and can work on moving more.
A S: Really, I wanna gauge if cds are even wanted anymore.
Tri State: That’s another question that’s burning right now, the future of album sales.
A S: Rarely do I recoup, but this time I will.
Tri State: Do you use internet outlets to sell music also? Like digital downloads. And do you see a return from that? More so than cds?
A S: I use cdbaby, the sell a lot of indie stuff. They send my stuff itunes and actually my digital sales are a lot higher than physical copy sales. That’s why I only got a hundred. They’re just downloading. People want music and they want it now.
Tri State: They don’t even wanna leave their house.
Do you think because of album sales not being what they used to, that it will lead to more creativity in underground hip hop? Now that artists probably aren’t going to get rich off of music. Or do you think it will become more watered down with everyone trying to squeeze every drop out of it?
A S: I think it already has become watered down. If you look at myspace which dying heavily because of that watered down aspect. When I first started putting stuff up on myspace I would look at how many rappers were on there. When I first started there were about 200,000. Now there are 10 million. Anyone can pay to get their stuff on itunes. There’s no filter anymore.
Tri State: Which is the downside to digital, but an upside as far as getting your music heard. Forpeople who are good and don’t have the resources.
A S: But it makes it harder for those who are doing it well.
Tri State: In a time when music sometimes lacks honesty, do you feel the need to be overly honest? Is it an essential outlet for you to do so?
A S: Yeah man. It’s like a diary for a fifteen year old. But instead of putting it in a box under your bed, I like to shout it from a rooftop. Because I think a lot of people share similar feelings and people need that stuff to relate to because normally 95% of us walk around feeling like we’re crazy. And it feels good to relate to someone even if you don’t know them. That’s why I listen to the artists that I listen to. Because I’m looking for that connection. That’s why I don’t understand why music is where it is.
Do yourself a favor and check out Apollo’s Sun…
And live, free this Friday @ the Midtown Tavern, Harrisburg, 1101 N.2nd St.