Now a Junior at University of Vermont, Callan Clarke AKA CAL, has been making music throughout his whole childhood and is now in the works of producing and releasing his debut “3”- with plans to take his solo career into flight and shine as another emcee on the mic. Myself, P-Rice, was able to catch up with the inspiring emcee and deliver you all the details of the un-known gem who plans to be making his rounds in hip-hop music.
Interview was done: 1/6/2014
Questions asked by P-Rice:
P-Rice: For those that don’t know who you are, introduce yourself & where you’ve derived your stage name from…
Cal: Hey peoples, my name’s Callan Roberts, but you can call me CAL. I’ve always gone by Callan my whole life, but always thought of going by Cal. This just seemed like the moment to finally try that out. Hopefully people will be able to pronounce/spell my name now.
P-Rice: Where did you grow up?
Cal: I grew up for my first 11 in Georgia in kinda upper middle class neighborhoods, then moved to Vermont and have lived here since, hopping around towns all in the state. Been in Burlington a while and it’s kinda my home base at this point.
P-Rice: At what age did you get into hip-hop music?
Cal: I got into it when I was 11. All my classmates were really into hip-hop and frankly the only music I’d ever been into was what my sister and mom played. So lots of Barenaked Ladies and Good Charlotte. They showed me Eminem, 50, Lil’ Jon, Snoop, and all of those guys who were big in 2003 or so. So even though doing rap is newer to me I’ve always been into hip-hop.
P-Rice: When did you start writing your own lyrics?
Cal: I started writing lyrics altogether when I was 14 when I was into rock and played way more guitar. As for hip-hop lyrics, those started when I was 16 and wrote joke hip-hop with my friends. Even then I wrote some stuff for myself, but didn’t take it seriously at all.
P-Rice: What and who would you say are some if your biggest inspirations?
Cal: Em for sure, been listening to him as long as I’ve known what hip-hop is. Tyler the Creator and Earl are also huge, showed me how flow can define the tone of a song and an artist, plus their beats are fuckin ill. Biggy has some of the craziest rhyme schemes ever too. Chance The Rapper has been such an influence lately, he’s changing the game of what flow can be. Kanye is also deep in there along with Common. Others are Talib, Gambino, Wu Tang, and plenty of others I can’t think of.
P-Rice: What was the local hip-hop scene like in your area?
Cal: Non-existent honestly lol. Someone in a drug rug gets on a stage and will do one or two songs and people will cheer because “holy shit, someone is trying rapping and not terrible.” But not too much. So it’ll be interesting. I figure if I do it well enough people will like it.
P-Rice: As an artist what are some of the messages you would like to get across in your music?
Cal: I mean, my main goal as a writer is to just write what I know. My life is always moving and it’s challenging me constantly, so I have a lot of things to write about in my life. It isn’t gangsta, it isn’t “Black” or whatever people wanna think hip-hop has to be. I’m a kinda nerdy white guy, but it doesn’t mean I can’t hype myself or write about what I know. People will either connect with what I say or respect what I do as long as I lay good rhymes.
P-Rice: What do you prefer- original production or sampling?
Cal: I don’t know if I prefer one in general, but for writing myself I like original production. It comes from playin rock before hip-hop. I kinda take pride in writing melodies and rhythms and other shit like that.
P-Rice: Now you are in the works of recording your debut “3”, what is the meaning behind the title? What does the number “3” stand for?
Cal: “3” comes from a weird place. I mean, I kinda still figuring it out hahaha. The song “3” from the album is kinda about pride about who you are because that shit’s way more complicated than just an income or a race or anything. We all have different sides, and each one is real. I’m not one stereotype. I honestly feel like I have weird perspective to a lot of people. But fuck it, some people will like it. So here it is, who I am. Lead by example.
P-Rice: Who are some of the producers your working for/with on this album?
Cal: Just me, myself, and I. I got a friend from Boston who is into beatmaking too, so he always gives a look over and offers advice, but I handle all the production myself.
P-Rice: Oh damn man, a jack of all trades, self-producing your debut- would you say you have your own sound as a producer?
Cal: I like to think so. I mean, I’d hate my music if I didn’t feel that. I’m a sucker for bass, so all my songs always start with catchy basslines or things to make the song groove. I’m also really into jazz, so a lot of the music itself is very jazz influenced, but the drums usually keep the song together.
P-Rice: Are you dealing with any samples within your production for the album?
Cal: Yeah, one of the songs is a feature of an old song by this guy named Mark Curry. I’m still not really sure how my mom found this guy, but she had it ever since I was young, and it’s impossible to find anything more than an album of his music. I did have one sample from a Jethro Tull song, but it’s still not quite 100% makin it on the album. Oh, there is a sample on “3”, the song from Cowboy Bebop. That was fun to add.
P-Rice: What kind of equipment and programs do you use to produce your beats?
Cal: I use reason rewired into Ableton. Hooked up with an ASIO Omega and a cheap condenser. That’s it. Everything is entered into the software. I’m poor, so I gotta pirate shit and use it on my shitty laptop. But hey, I can make music, and that’s what’s important to me.
P-Rice: What producer or which producers would you say influence you the most when it comes to producing?
Cal: Tyler is my hero for production. That guy is just so tight but so original with his beats. They all just have such distinct emotion while being a good support for lyrics. I also am obsessed with Kraftwerk, the old electronic German group cause they just make such sonic swirls of sounds that just hypnotize you. I wanna just take a whole album of theirs and rap over that sometime. Also some Earl, Daft Punk, James Blake, Kanye, Dr. Dre, and a few others that once again would take forever to remember.
P-Rice: Now what kind of topics or stories do you plan to tell on your debut?
Cal: I mean, it ranges a bit. I make references towards things that I know, and if you know it, awesome, if you don’t, google it. Sometimes I’m writing about Karl Marx, sometimes I’m talking about Pokemon, sometimes I’m ripping some shit about my life, my friends, and the shit I love. It’s only limited to what I know and wanna talk about. I’ll have some personal stuff, but it’s also I think a fun album. I guess it’s me trying to draw out the lessons and feel empowered because of that knowledge. At least I can present what I’ve learned to people and maybe they can build off of that. Hey, if everyone disagreed with my music and it made the world a better place because of it, I’d feel successful.
P-Rice: When writing hip-hop music, what do you think is the most important part? The message? the story? or the flows? and the platinum production?
Cal: I think the listener is the most important part. I want someone to listen to my shit and be like “holy fuck, this is amazing… but I have no clue why.” I want to make people think outside their comfort zone, and to blast some sweet beats with tight flow while doing so. It all comes together, so if one part is weak, it’ll be what people notice. I love giving everything it’s own little touch, giving things life, because so much production just lacks life to me. It’s important to me for no matter the sounds, all of the instruments can feel at least somewhat real. Not just a wash of blargh.
P-Rice: How would you describe your writing style? (ex. free written, wordplay, brainstorming etc)
Cal: I usually just write what I’m feeling at the moment. I take my own emotions from the day and try to push that onto paper. Sometimes that asshole from work pisses you off for the last time, sometimes you’re too high to do anything, sometimes you meet someone who inspires you, and sometimes you just have an awesome time with friends. I just take the moments, write some shit that makes me laugh and I love, and find a beat that supports that.
P-Rice: How do you feel about the rap/hip-hop industry now a days?
Cal: I think we’re going through a big revolution. I think hip-hop is starting to really break through the stereotypes of having to be for gangsters and thugs only. More people are listening, more complex stories are being told, and more ideas are being made. It’s a good time for hip-hop, but we wouldn’t be here without where it came from back in the 80‘s and 90‘s.
P-Rice: What are your future plans and visions as an artist?
Cal: Rap, be awesome, have a monument named after me, be the first rapper to the moon.
P-Rice: If and have you perform live, when and where? and do you plan to do so more in the future?
Cal: I haven’t, but anywhere all around Burlington, Vermont you’re gonna start seein me.
P-Rice: When your debut “3” is released, where can listeners/fans find the album?
Cal: www.soundcloud.com/crobert5. I also have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/calthecom. Any likes, listens, or anything is greatly appreciated. More music will be going up soon, so keep your eyes peeled.
P-Rice: Do you have any last words for any future producers/emcees and or last words in general?
Cal: The best music comes from real life experience, and the best way to get that is… to live. Don’t just do drugs all day and get nothing done, and also don’t just lock yourself in your room and only make beats. Be a person, and write about it.
P-Rice: Thanks for taking your time out for this interview, keep up with the hustle and never stop elevating & we are sure to be seeing you soon brotha- One Love.
Keep an eye out for upcoming emcee Cal as he plans to rock his local scene if not furthermore with his debut in underground hip-hop! Stay tuned for more interviews by P-Rice and if your an artist or talent looking for some exposure, please feel free to email us (serious inquires only) at: Price_29@comcast.net