Anyone at the Union at the start of the semester knows that it was extremely packed, thanks, in large part, to the closing acts of Refreshers and start of Rag Week: Mr Narstie, Chuck Inglish, and St. Michael. Chuck Inglish and St. Michael traveled from the US to grace the stage of Club 601 and were met with resounding applause. I was lucky enough to sit down with them for a few minutes on Sunday to talk about their respective careers.
For those of you who don’t know, Chuck Inglish is known for being part of The Cool Kids, the hip-hop duo. He has also released a solo album entitled Convertibles. St. Michael is a Seattle born rapper who has worked both in groups and as a solo artist. Throughout his career, he has been inspired by Hendrix and Nirvana but attributes most of his rap inspiration to Mos Def and Redman because of their innovative sound. He loves the feeling of release he gets when performing a show. He compared it to playing basketball: you practice so that during games you can show off. His shows are a chance for him to show off what he has been working on. He mentioned that he counts down the days to his show like Christmas. Chuck Inglish has played festival shows, college shows, bar shows, and arena shows. Though they are incomparable, he says that arena shows can be redundant. They are restrictive in that there is little to no room for deviation or improvisation because rehearsals manage everything down to a t. However, he loves small venues. Often he finds that, at big shows, fans seem to be watching him perform through whatever device on which they are recording him. He prefers people to put their phones away and really enjoy the music/performance. For this reason, he loved performing in St Andrews. The energy of the crowd and respect for the performance was top notch. Though they did not spend much time in St Andrews, having to travel from the US, they both agree that they loved the energy of the crowd and the experience was an amazing one.
When asked about whether drinking and/or smoking before a show alters their interaction with the audience, Inglish mentioned that one should not drink or smoke to create an alter ego. If you happen to want to drink or smoke, then do so, but do not do so just to become something else. Inglish claims that he acts the same on stage as he does in person. He happens to drink before shows because he enjoys doing so and not to give him the motivation to get through a performance.
We moved the conversation to talk about the creative process of making their respective sounds. St. Michael finds inspiration from books, movies, walks on the beach. He says that his music is about “telling a story or speaking into existence.” Inglish finds that the creative process provides endless possibilities. He sometimes hears drums and wants to write lyrics. He says that “everybody can do one thing really, really well” and it’s about finding that thing. He mentions that a fisherman would not have to look for inspiration to go fishing, he just does it. Music and beats come to him. To illustrate, he says he could “hear a cab go by and want to use the sound in a song,” within the next few minutes he has a beat. You should not have to search for passion or inspiration, he says.
When asked about collaborating with other artists, Inglish says that all projects are a collaboration. It is the nature of the beast that is music production. One must be willing and able to work with others. St. Michael loves the excitement of working with producers and artists. He finds inspiration in others’ opinions and suggestions. He has spent some of his career in groups, as well.
We asked Inglish and St. Michael for any advice they would give to aspiring artists. Inglish says that volunteered advice is bad advice, and he only enjoys giving advice when asked for it. He mentions that just because he did something one particular way and was successful does not mean that it will work for others. Inglish mentions that rap is about understanding the culture and respecting the music. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, as long as you understand the roots. St. Michael encourages people to stop spending so much time calculating a strategic plan and just go for it. He says that you will inevitably fail, but you have to keep going. He also suggests to stop trying to emulate the careers of others and do something different. His Black Swan Theory “is a business term that represents a boom in the industry that is later rationalized.” This is his approach to music with his formula that “adaptability plus versatility equals longevity.” Therefore, he dives into various genres to create something different and suggests that in order to be successful, you must be willing to be different.
Up next, Inglish is releasing several videos and a collaborative album. He enjoys tours when things are planned smoothly and acknowledges how physically tolling it can be to travel such distances for a one-off performance (though he enjoys the performing.) It was so exciting to hear a few words from them, and it will, undoubtedly, be exciting to see what they come up with next!