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Interview: Upgrade Preps For Hip Hop Album Release

New York-based hip hop artist Upgrade is no stranger to the music business. He’s getting ready to release a brand new album that was written and largely produced by himself. He found the process to be empowering and we’re excited to hear the results.

Tired and My Back Hurts is due on 2/22/22 and we’re here for it. You can stream or purchase in a variety of places, we’d recommend Bandcamp. But, we’re not here to tell you what to do, so it’s your call.

We had a chance to catch up with Upgrade as he preps the release, check out the interview below. For additional updates and tour announcements check out his website and social media channels. Here’s a little something to tide you over, from his previously released EP Eye For An Eye, here’s “Atonement”.

1. How long has music been a big part of your life, when did you start writing and performing?

Music has always been a huge part of my life. I even have traces of my first written raps going all the way back to 3rd-grade journal entries with “Tommy’s first rap”. I loved how honest I could be when writing, getting emotions out and how I could challenge myself with multi-syllable rhymes and metaphors. Whether I was writing about the darkest days of my life to the most humorous, nothing was off-limits as long as I was being myself. Besides rapping in front of the bathroom mirror, I probably started performing around high school doing random contests or open mics, and just went on from there. Performing has become my favorite part of the process whether it’s 10 or 10,000 people.  I love the connection with the crowd and how unhinged and free I can be. As long as I make an impression, I’m not worried about who likes me or not, I just want to leave everything I have on that stage. 

2. Tired and My Back Hurts is the new album, I identify with that album title. Can you tell us a little bit about the recording process?

I wrote, recorded, mixed, and produced the whole album with the exception of “Grandmas Boy” which is produced by a good friend of mine, Icerocks. I kind of made my “studio” portable. A laptop and mic are really all I need and can be set up anywhere. I wanted to teach myself how to do all of these things so I wasn’t held back by someone else’s schedule. If an idea comes to mind, I want to be able to get that out before I lose it. (And it also costs a lot of money which I don’t have haha)  I was never a big fan of having multiple people socializing in a studio. I’d occasionally have a couple of close friends that knew we were there to work and could give constructed criticism whether I end up taking it or not. And it’s fun to keep learning new tricks, experimenting with new ways to record/produce/mix/write myself cause I never feel there is a ceiling there. 

3. Tell us a little bit about your creative process, where do you find inspiration? 

I find inspiration from anything really. It could be personal experiences, stories, books, movies, what happened that specific day, hour, minute, anything.  If you go down the rabbit hole and listen to all of my projects from the past to recent ones, you’ll find a wide variety of topics, feelings, and song structure. I have written about everything from struggling with mental health, thoughts on death, relationships, going on diets, loving dogs more than humans, attraction to older women, driving beat-up cars, and everything in between. I do my best to not think about the response the song will get, but go in and record what’s honest and real to me with no other expectations. 

4. This question is not all that original but we’d love for you to name three artists who have had an influence on you:

So this could change every 5 mins and I’ll think of another 3 by the time the interview is over, but in no particular order, I’ll go with:  1) MF DOOM 2) Prince 3) Larry David 

5. You’ve shared the stage with some talented artists, if you to pick one to do all over again, which would you choose?

Most recently I performed on a Coheed and Cambria-themed cruise alongside Weerd Science and it was truly the best time of my life. I would love to do that again for sure. There have been so many amazing experiences and I’ve met some lifelong friends through touring that I’m close with to this day.

6. We’ve been following along on Tik Tok, can we expect any more rap duets? 

Until they ban me! At the moment I’m working on some other promo videos for “tired and my back hurts”, but there will be more in the near future for sure! They are super fun but I’m running out of hats to wear! 

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