Born Robert Raimon Roy, Rob Roy, as he’s known to the music community, is Dim Mak’s latest signee. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, he has already released 2 full length projects and is working on his third album to be released by Dim Mak Records. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Rob last week to discuss everything from his early influences to his dream of being a college professor one day.
What’s the biggest difference between your hometown and LA?
Huge difference. I think that the world that is LA is one that is far removed from the rest of society. I’ve never experienced anything like Los Angeles before. And I’ve traveled before, prior to moving out here. This is where everything, all the images, all the mythology, and all the stories that are told are manufactured here, in Hollywood. [Jacksonville] is a lot slower paced, and peoples concerns and priorities are drastically different than what they are here. In Jacksonville the sense of living is more about living, more about the experience of life.
Why LA? Why not NY, CHI, etc. or why not FL where you are from?
The most important reason was my producer Luke Walker signed a publishing deal and began his career as a songwriter/producer. I co-produce all my music with him and I have since 04’. I’ve been making music with him for some time and there are certain things that I don’t like to deviate from. Pretty much in all other aspects of my life I tend to reinvent or switch things up but there’s certain things, like me working with Luke on my music, that are nice to have as constants.
Who is your celebrity crush?
When did you decide to begin to make music? Have you ever questioned that decision?
I decided to make music when I developed a sense of purpose. I’ve questioned that [decision] a lot of times and I think there’s something wrong with you if you don’t have those moments when you question yourself. However, I know what it is I’m trying to accomplish with my musical endeavors, and that leaves no room for quitting.
I’ve heard you say that you believe your purpose is served better in the present time as a musician to spread positive messages to the youth. What exactly is the message you want to get across to your listeners and fans?
That it’s vital to have a knowledge/understanding of themselves and the world around them. Those are things I try to put in my music. If you package/tailor these messages right, if you make it cool, then it becomes a lot more digestible to kids who would not give a shit otherwise. I’m basically an educator operating under the guise of a rapper/singer.
What did you first rap about?
My raps began as a search for truth, as self-therapy. And I know that sounds cliché. I’m trying to build myself into a better person so that I can affect other people in a positive way.
Any artist/group that you seek inspiration from or who heavily influenced you when you first began to make music?
Souls of Mischief, Outkast, Geto Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, early Nas, Biggie, Tupac. But that’s just rap. Serge Gainsbourg, The Beatles, Mars Volta, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, even old girl groups like The Shangri-Las, Sam Cook, Otis Redding, Nina Simone, and Michael Jackson who was probably the biggest influence. When I was a little kid he was the absolute coolest person on the planet.
What would you label your music as? What genre is your music?
My music is a hybrid of genres, with heavy leanings toward rap and R&B. I’m not classically trained, nor would I pretend to be, but at this point I would consider myself equal parts rapper and singer. A lot of the new material is half singing, half rapping. A little more mature and refined as far as the technique is concerned, compared to my last album.
Your flow and voice is quite unique, how did you develop your style?
It’s from studying a lot. If you want to be good at something you have to be a good student. For example athletes sit and watch footage of other athletes to emulate their moves. As with everything, that’s how we learn, imitation. I’ve always been a student of different types of music.
Who is an artist you would like to work with one day?
Serge Gainsbourg would have been a really interesting person to work with. He was a French musician who had an amazing sense of cool about him. I don’t understand a word he’s saying but there’s a subtlety to it all that is fantastic. As far as new artists? There’s no one off the top of my head that I can name right now but that’s just because I’ve conditioned myself to work solo for so long. I feel like if I need someone to rap on the track, I’m going to rap, if I need someone to sing, I’m going to sing. I like the way I rap, why would I need someone else? But you never know, interesting things come from collaborations so we’ll see.
What’s the name of your new album?
The name of the album is It’s a Poor Sort of Memory That Only Works Backwards. It’s a quest to discover my true nature. If it is truly that of a god, what sort of implications does that have? What is this thing called consciousness?
Do you feel you’ve kept the same musical style as your first album or have you changed?
I’m always going to be experimenting, always going to be changing. But if there is one consistency that runs through it all I guess it would be that I like to keep things minimal, production-wise. I want to achieve a great design using the least amount of elements possible. What can I get rid of? That’s always a question I ask myself. What can people expect from me? A sense of minimalism, the use of negative space, and also constant innovation. I always got my ears open to the old and the new. If I’m out somewhere it’s usually not to be social, it’s to conduct research.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
In 5 years? Oh man this is going to be a really bold statement to make. In 5 years I’d like to be where Kanye [West] is, in terms of that type of success. I don’t want all the negative aspects of celebrity, but I believe that boils down to the choices the artist makes. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being that successful. I believe there is a way to accomplish things and provoke social change in a strategic way, with a certain sense of tact though.
What about 10 years from now?
I still want to be an artist of some sort. That might be the end of my music career though. I will still be an artist, if you are born an artist you are always an artist, but I don’t know what form, it might not be recording. I would also like to be a university professor one day.
Any New Years Resolutions?
Routine is very important. I think I’ve gotten away from that and I’m trying to reintroduce that into my life. I’m trying to be the best artist I can be. When you start testing your inner strength, that’s when you really begin to push your limits.
Any shout outs?
Shout out to Steve [Aoki], Luke [Walker] my producer, Tim my homie back home in Jacksonville, Jesse Lee from Dub Frequency… There’s more, but that sums it up.
Check out Rob’s latest single “Carmencita” which was released on Tuesday. You can buy it HERE.