Introducing // Yoshwa

by AdamTait
AdamTait
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on 25 November 2015 in Features

As you're probably aware, not much grows in the desert. Unless, that is, we're talking about Palm Desert in the Coachella Vallery. It gave us Kyuss nearly 30 years ago, Queens Of The Stone Age nearly 20 years ago, and now is home to rapper Yoshwa.

Perhaps the region makes for particularly avid imaginations. Yoshwa's lyrics avoid hip hop cliches and boldly consider vast philosophical topics. His music is vibrant and absorbing. And despite the apparent lack of a local scene in the area, Yoshwa's rapidly building a following, in no small part thanks to Tradiio.

But a brief internet search will yield limited results. There's not a great deal out there to tell you about who this guy is, what he's doing or why he's doing it.

Until now.

Read on to find out about our man Yoshwa, and then show him some support over on Tradiio here.



Ok, first of all, who are you, what do you do where are you from?
My name is Joshua but most people call or know me by my stage name "Yoshwa" which is pronounced like Yo as in whats up? and Shwa, as it looks. I'm from the Coachella Valley just east of Palm Springs in Southern California. I live in Palm Desert which is in Coachella Valley. And yes it IS a desert out here.

What's your earliest musical memory?
Not sure what my earliest is but my favorite was listening to Westside Connection in my dad's whip. Drove my mom crazy but if my mom wasn't in the car, then it meant for some 50 Cent, Westside Connection and things like that, all uncensored. Sorry mom

What was the made you decide that music was what you wanted to do with your life?
Probably started with my dad. Growing up he was always bumpin all types of shit. From Led Zeppelin to Dr. Dre. I idolized these guys to the point where everyday I was looking up interviews of my favorite artists. At first I wanted to be a writer and I've always been creative. While writing was on and off, music seemed to always be there. So one day I mixed them together and here I am.


Tell us a bit about your creative process. How does a track start for you?
It starts with a color, and a feel. Every song has a different color or a flavor. But usually if I hear a beat my mind will automatically start muttering random things. To others it sounds like gibberish and it will to me too! Until I put words to it. The feel and the subject matter come in contrast with the sound. I plan to start producing some of my own shit soon, this way the feel & the sound would come directly from me. But there's nothing wrong with building off an idea or a beat. Most of your favorite songs were bounced off a couple heads before they landed on your phone or iPod.

Do you work with regular production partners? If so, tell us a bit about them and how you came together.
Most of the production on my first project was my homie from high school Ckeelay, and my friend in Houston, Pajama Sam a.k.a Da Grant. I recorded most of Sweet Solar System out of Ckeelay's closet. Ckeelay met Da Grant on Hype Beast back when he first started making beats and now he's killing it. They both are.

Your lyrics seem pretty wide reaching in terms of subject matter, touching on some fairly significant philosophical thought in places. What are your lyrical inspirations? Where do the ideas start?
Some of my past songs to me are like those pictures you look back at a year later and you're like "damn that's embarrassing (delete)" because I remember the space in time where they were created. The lyrics in my songs all come from me and when I made Sweet Solar System I was still in high school; confused, curious, and rebellious. So that really came out in the subject matter. I felt like everyone felt like they had all their shit figured out. What colleges they're going to, what they wanted in life and things like that. I had no clue what I was going to do after high school and that shows in some of my past music. I had a lot of questions and a story to tell.



Large swathes of rap music often leans towards what many see as stereotypical or negative topics. Do you think this hurts rap music in general, or do you think most people look past it?
It depends on the trend at that time. At the end of the day artists are wanting to make good music and sometimes that leads to following a trend. How a type of music affects the people is up to them. But I believe that the artists that make their own trends are the true stars. Yeah I might not be into fancy cars and yeah I ain't rich or wanna be a gangsta. But Dr. Dre's 2001 was a killer album. And at the end of the day rap was invented in the club and to have a good time. Whatever makes you feel good is what matters.

Tell us a bit about your local scene. Who or where has been particularly supportive in your development?
Sadly there isn't much of a local scene here. And sadly there's only a few musicians out here who are really serious about a career in music. And as far as rap goes I've been one of the most recognized and I ain't even close to where I want to be. No one has made it out of here since Queens of the Stone Age. I hope to be the next.

Which musician is setting the best example to the world right now?
I know a lot people be saying this but Kendrick man. Look at his track record. He brought the hits and killed every verse he could get to us. He appealed to the trend in Good Kid m.A.A.d City where he made trap-like songs but with his own feel. And then nobody expected Too Pimp A Butterfly to sound so out there like the way it does and STILL sell records. And people really listen to what he has to say. That's very rare these days. He killed it.



What's been the biggest challenge in your musical career to date?
I'm just starting out to really be able to pursue music as a career. So I haven't really experienced something as challenging as I expect to face in the future. But definitely the most challenging part was going to NYC for the first time and recording a song over and over in front of people who've seen great artists in my same position. Also not letting the people who believe in me down. It can be a lot of pressure. But at the end of the day it's my dream so you gotta do it somehow. My plan B is to try Plan A again until it works.

There's quite a difference between the UK and US hip hop scene, are you aware of much of what's going on in the UK? If so, what are you into?
I'm not familiar with a lot of the UK artists. I do know Rejjie Snow though. And a lot of people in the UK listen and support my music so y'all are awesome. I would definitely like to travel to the UK and meet some artists and see what the UK scene is about.

What's going on in American music that Brits probably don't know about yet, but should look into?
I'll let the music answer that haha.

Beyond your own work, what in music are you most excited about at the moment?
I'm excited to see what's next. What is the next trend? If you go back a few decades you can really see how much music has evolved. Like shit we went from a simple sample and some drums to entire string sections and layers and layers of things into one track. Pop songs and EDM songs become more and more complex as audiences crave something new. It makes me wonder what my kids are gonna hear in MY car from my time in contrast to the things they will be listening to. It's a trip.

What about music is frustrating you the most at the moment?
Definitely the process. I live about 2 hours away from LA which is where I have to be in order to make music. So it's hard to get stuff done. And in July my manager flew me out to NYC on my first plane ever and it was amazing and you get a taste of your dream and then I come home and I gotta go back to my normal job and the same routine. But thankfully I just got my home studio set up and a new MacBook and I definitely have a lot of work to do and plan to drop an EP in 2016 titled Mojave in reference to where I live being the desert. Although the the process can be frustrating it's definitely worth it. But like I said I'm just starting out I'm still here writing this from my parent's house. I'm only 18 there's a lot to the world I haven't seen yet and have a long ways to go. But I'm ready and I hope the world is ready for me too.

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