For many fans, it’s been a long time coming: Prozak becomes an official artist on Strange Music. The ever-pressing question for everyone watching has been a resounding: “what took so long?” We were able to sit down with Prozak and get him to address his signing and much more including: his directorial finesse behind the movie camera, his obsession with the paranormal and what to expect from his next album. From the interview it’s apparent that the sharply intelligent and well-spoken emcee has a lot in store for the fans to look forward to in 2012.
In this segment of our three-part interview, Prozak gives us the history of his interactions with Strange Music and how his relationship formed with the independent powerhouse along with his thoughts on another Project: Deadman album.
When did you first encounter Strange Music and how did that lead to you releasing Project Deadman through Strange?
It was a long time ago, like 2002 or maybe the very beginning of 2003. I was bumping Anghellic and really into Tech’s music. It was refreshing to me. It was something completely different and I mean completely different–from lyrical content and style to the whole Fuck The Industry campaign. I loved it and so I reached out to Strange Music and said “Hey I support what you guys are doing and I support this artist and I would like to help him grow in my area”: Michigan, the midwest and a little bit on the east coast. At the time I was doing my underground thing and told them I made a lot of runs slanging CDs and promoting and that I would like to bring Strange music material along with me to help promote Tech. They were very receptive to it. Travis has always been super on-point. I want to say within ten business days I had UPS trucks dropping off massive amounts of material at my house: samplers, fliers and they were starting to push Absolute Power at the time. I just did a lot of work for the guys. I think Travis recognized it because he started seeing the results of what I was doing. I was running into the guys at shows and just really promoting hard. At one point I got myself a Tech N9ne feature for my album. At one point I was calling Travis about some more promotional goods and he asked “What ever happened with that feature? How did that turn out?” Because I never pushed myself as an artist on these guys, in fact I never even sent them any music and never asked them to listen to it, but he inquired and I said “Yeah it’s done and it came out really good” and he said “Let me hear it!” So I sent him a CD of what I had done at the time. I want to say it was 12 tracks, maybe 14. It was crazy man. He called me and said “Tech and I listened to the music, what do you think of being on Strange Music?” and I was just like “Where do I sign?” He asked “Can you be in LA in two days?” I said “Hell yeah” and so I called Mike Clarke up and asked “What do you think about this?” He jumped on line. We got ourselves a couple of plane tickets, flew out to LA and signed a deal with Strange Music.
You later returned with Tales From The Sick. How integral do you think your work was towards exposing the Strange Music fans to that kind of horror core scene?
Yes. First of all I wouldn’t necessarily call what I do “horror core” but I see what you’re saying. I think Tech N9ne has always had some dark imagery, first of all referencing Anghellic: you look at the artwork and listen to songs like “Psycho Bitch”. Tech’s done a lot of really dark songs so I think they were kind of already predisposed to the dark and melodic type stuff. I think that this took it a little bit further in that direction. I think Tech and Travis knew what they were getting into when they brought an artist like me to the table and I think they already felt that the Strange Music scene and fan base were going to dig it–and sure enough they did. We’ve done a lot of tours with those guys and it’s always gone over really well. I do think though that it was the first time a lot of the Strange Music followers were kind of brought face to face with this kind of scene.
A lot of people would say that your current signing has been a long time coming. Looking back on all the work you’ve done on the underground and all your past work with Strange, how does it feel to be where you’re at now? Do you feel that you’re at home?
It does feel great and honestly yeah it does [feel like I’m at home]. I don’t know how else to word that but truly it feels like it’s the right thing and I don’t have any desire to be anywhere else. This is exactly where i want to be. Strange Music did sign Project Dedman but this is the first time that I’ve been signed to Strange as a full-fledged solo artist. I’ve put a lot of my time and career and efforts towards helping Strange Music so it feels good to be here.
What do you think of Strange Music as a label?
I’ll just throw a collage of random thoughts. I think it’s a breath of fresh air in the industry. I think it’s incredible because Travis and Tech, a decade ago, knew that his day was coming. Travis was smart enough as a business man to look around and see that the conventional ways were dying: A&R raps, major labels, over-inflated budgets, gold and platinum records, the grimy Hollywood slash New York record industry–it was all dying. The age of internet slaughtering album sales. He recognized that it was changing and evolving and he was looking 30 steps ahead, knowing that touring was where you were going to bring in some money and that the game was going to change. Travis just stuck to his guns and it continued to work in his direction despite people in LA and New York saying “What the hell are these guys doing? How are you going to say ‘Fuck the Industry’? Career suicide!” But sure enough…it’s kind of funny because now you have all of these majors looking at Strange saying “How are they doing this? We need to start going towards what they’re doing.” Now you have the underground becoming king of the hill.
Now that you’re a part of the whole, what do you think you bring that nobody else does?
I think I bring a lot of things that nobody else does. I think I bring awareness to a lot of different things that are a little more worldly. I’m not one not one of those artists that talks about myself so much. I’m more into talking about things that affect everybody. Everyone’s a little bit different. What I love about Tech is that when you listen to his records you’re looking right into his head. You follow his life throughout his albums and I love that personally, that’s why he’s one of my favorite artists. I think what I do is a lot different in the fact that I’m talking about the world in a lot of my songs. I’m talking about issues that effect everybody and I’m bringing a really heavy side to music to the label. If you’ve ever seen any of my shows, you’ll see people moshing and there’s pandemonium going on. I bring a lot of heavy rock element into it. I bring storytelling into it. I bring political and dark themes into it. I think I differ from the rest but it’s part of an overall flavor. You know shit…why not do something different? That’s the beauty of Strange Music. You’ve got Krizz Kaliko, you’ve got Kutty Calhoun, Stevie Stone, ¡Mayday!–you’ve got all these artists that are vastly different from each other but it’s all incredible flavor to be under one hat.
What’s the glue that you think brings all the artists that you mentioned into one label?
I think that every one of us has something unique in us, perhaps you could say something Strange in us. A) they were all recognized by Travis O’Guin and Tech N9ne. All of us have surfaced from the underground enough to be seen by these people at Strange Music and be recognized for our talents. None of us fit the mold and we’re all extremely creative in our own ways. If you’re creative and original, if you work hard, if you make enough noise, and if you’re good people, you’re going to get recognized by whoever your’e trying to get recognized by.
There have been a lot of fans online that discuss your status on the label and how you were never included on anything past a certain point. Did it ever bother you to see people so concerned as to why you weren’t on anything past a certain point?
Yeah. It’s a great feeling though to know that there’s people out there that do care about you as a person and an artist to say “I wish this guy were here” on a particular tour or album. That just lets me know that I do have some love out there. At the same time, people have to understand that there’s always reasons for things. Sometimes you can look at something and say “This would make perfect sense, why isn’t this person included?” but there are reasons for everything. I appreciate everyone out there that kept me in their mind this whole time and continued to support me, absolutely.
Tales From The Sick is one of the most successful Strange-released albums. What do you think it is about your music that the fans of Strange Music appreciate so much?
Well I think it’s a combination of things. Once again, it’s different. People really dig what I do because I keep them in mind. Every time I sit down to write a song–this is personally what I do–every beat to me is a blank canvas. When I sit down to write the first thing I think about is the people, the people I’m making this music for. Obviously I have to entertain them but what can they get out of it? What can I bring to their life or bring to their thoughts that this could help them or bring awareness to something that they should think about? What are their frustrations? What are these people’s daily lives like? How could I help them vent out some aggression? That’s kind of what I do and when of course when I’m touring I’m well-known as the guy who’s out there in the crowd. That’s just what I do, every show, every tour, always have. After my performance you’ll me out at the table. I’m signing everything. Not just my records–I sign ticket stubs, every piece of paper, cigarette packs, tennis shoes…whatever. I’m talking to every single person that wants to talk to me–give them all the time that I’m capable of giving them. I’m known for being one of the people.
There’s certainly that fan-centered ethic that you share with Strange Music with the great live performances and fan interaction. How much of that did you already have going for you and how much did you pick up from Strange Music?
I’ve always done it. I’ve done it well before Strange and always will. I don’t even look at them as fans of mine but as like-minded people. I do this because I love it. That’s the difference. Truthfully I do music because I love doing it. I do tours because I fucking love doing it. That’s what I do, that’s what I love. It’s not a job to me. It’s not work to me. Fans aren’t fans to me, they’re amazing people that I’m lucky enough to have reached, that I’m honored that care enough to come to my shows and listen to my music. Every time a kid hands me a CD to sign it still gives me that same feeling like “Wow this dude just bought my album” or “This guy just brought my album into the concert!” because it’s three-years-old and it’s all cracked up and he still has it. It’s a great feeling and I think that people recognize that it’s genuine when they encounter me or listen to what I have to say.
Following the release of Tales From The Sick it was suggested that there would be a new PDM record and another solo from Prozak. What happened in that time?
Well the thing is with Project: Deadman, I get asked about it quite a bit–and that’s pretty fucking awesome too because PDM came out in 2004 and we’re going into 2012, that’s 8 years ago and it’s amazing that I still get asked pretty regularly about Project: Deadman. After PDM came out we went on the Hosile Takeover Tour with Tech N9ne and did a whole bunch of shows. After that time had gone, Mike E Clark went on to do full-time production for Psychopathic Records and ICP. First of all I was extremely happy about that because I love ICP and Psychopathic Records has always been an influence and great friends and when Mike went over there producing he’s busy. ICP works so much: they’re recording and touring all the time. Mike E. Clark is always so busy on these projects. It’s hard for us to get together and both be on the same page. I’m always grinding on tracks and films so me and Mike just haven’t found that right groove yet where both of us have this X amount of time to create another record and commit to seeing it all the way through and possibly touring it. Another thing that’s dope is that we’re not putting any limits on it: I’m not saying and I never will that there will never be another Project: Deadman. We both wholeheartedly believe we’ll do it again, it’s just a matter of when it will happen.
Stay tuned for the following installments of our three-part interview with Prozak!
Interview by Jeff Nelson: @JeffreyPNelson
Follow Prozak @THEREALPROZAK