Sean Anonymous has been tearing it up for 10+ years in the local rap scene. When his debut release Anonymo that came out three years ago, he hit that next level.
Sold out shows, bigger venues and one of the most talked about live acts in town.
Now on the cusp of a new release that was meticulously crafted by him and Dimitry Killstorm, it’s great to see this talent expand even more.
A week before the big release of Better Days, Sean Anonymous answered some questions for Rift. The new album, the process, the business and what it takes to get there.
RIFT: It’s been a few years since you released your last album, did the new album take longer than you thought or was it planned.
SEAN: Albums always take me longer than I expect, but it’s usually worth it in my opinion.
Originally, we were going to release Better Days as an e.p. There was a point a couple years ago where we were supposedly done recording, and I was like “Cool, let’s put it out”. But being the type of dudes that Dimitry & I are, we kept on making songs. Those new songs are some of my favorite tracks we’ve ever made, so we scrapped some older joints, added some newer ones, thus making Better Days the full length it is now.
RIFT: What is the songwriting process you and Dimitry use to create the songs.
SEAN: Dimitry and I have been making music together since we were teenagers… We’ve both been part of the group Wide Eyes for around ten years now, so we’re pretty used to each others production/writing styles. He’d send me a batch of beats (usually 3 or 4), and I’d choose the ones that stood out to me, and would start writing soon after. One of the benefits of working with the same producer for so long (especially on a album with a specific feel like this one), is that they already know the vibe that you’re trying to create. I ended up using most the beats Killstorm sent over.
Some folks like to get up in the studio and work on songs together, which I’m all for, but this album was so personal that I stayed away from it. I’d lock myself in my room or my garage, play the beats as loud as I could, and start writing whatever came to mind. As the album started to take shape, and we decided on the name Better Days and it guided the feel of the project into more of an introspective place. I wrote about all the hard topics I hadn’t had the courage to write about on previous projects. It was hard to write, but I imagine that some of my favorite songs by other artists were hard for them to write, and it gave me a little inspiration to write tracks like “Timeless” & “Je T’Aime’.
I also wrote a lot of the songs while walking around with my headphones on. That’s one of my favorite things to do now.
RIFT: You have gotten quite a positive reputation about your live show. When writing new songs do you think about how it will translate live?
SEAN: All the time! Performing live, in my opinion, is the best part of being a rapper. Don’t get me wrong, I love the creative process of being in the studio, writing, etc. But nothing compares to rapping those songs in front of a big crowd of people that want to hear you rapping at them.
I tend to daydream a lot. I’m not sure if I ever stopped daydreaming since I was a kid. And I tend to zone out while writing songs. What will I be doing? What will the crowd be doing? How bout the DJ? Those types of questions get played out over and over when I’m working on a track. One time I broke a pair of glasses while writing a song because I was getting a little too into it… That type of stuff.
RIFT: It looks like your pretty much a Do It Yourself artist. Any plans to hire booking agents, publicists or a manager or is that still down the line.
SEAN: For the past 10+ years of being a “professional rapper”, I’ve taken the DIY approach. I’ve always had help from my fellow Wide Eyes guys (Dimitry, DJ Name, Tony Phantom) and a few others, but when it comes to Sean Anonymous stuff, I usually knock most business-y things out myself.
I feel like I’ve done a pretty damn good job of doing something I knew little to nothing about a few years ago.
Very recently I found myself toe deep in a pool of emails… I looked in my notebook and realized I hadn’t written anything for a couple months, and I started wondering if this DIY approach had been hindering my creativity. Even though music business can be exciting/fascinating, I never wanted to be a businessman… I will be a rapper first and foremost, always and forever.
I decided I’d work towards getting the right representation to make the business side of things go more smoothly. (In an attempt to free up some more time for writing). So I went out and got myself a manager and a publicist. Then I realized having a manager, and publicist doesn’t stop the emails.
As we played more and more big shows and got more and more write ups about our music, the amount of people that wanted to talk just kept growing. I’ve been handling more biz than ever, but I’ve learned to set it aside if I’m in the mood for writing. That will always be the most important.
RIFT: What are your favorite things about the local hip-hop and rap community?
SEAN: Respect… I’ve rapped in almost every big city in the country, and I’ve never found a hip-hop scene that has the comradery I see in the Twin Cities.
Also, the talent. I could name at least 50 – 100 rappers off the top of my head who’s albums I would gladly listen to. And out of those 50 – 100 rappers, I’ve probably hung out/partied with most. Even the biggest rappers out of Minneapolis are down to earth, very real people. I appreciate that.
RIFT: What would be your advice for up and coming rappers?
SEAN: This is probably pretty obvious, but I’ll say it anyways: Don’t stop.
I’ve seen some folks try and take a break for a couple years, and it usually messes everything up.
Also, go hard as fuck. If you want to be a rapper, rap as much as possible. Write all the time, shoot music videos, make songs with people, tour a bunch. All that fun stuff.
RIFT: With social media, streaming services, etc. Does it seem easier to get the music out there? Have you had any problems adjusting to the new music business model?
SEAN: Getting music out there is easier than ever. You could make a beat, write/record a song, and have it on SoundCloud within a couple hours.
With that being said, there’re more folks putting music out than ever before, so it takes a little bit more to stand out.
I’ve never been worried about it tho. I just stay true to myself and the topics I feel the need to talk about, and people are still into it, so it’s all good.
RIFT: If you could give any advice about anything life, love, being creative, etc. What would it be?
SEAN: Don’t put too much emphasis on what others think of you. We live in a world where we’re surrounded by judgment/approval, especially when it comes to social media.
Do you, and if others don’t like it, that’s too bad for them. 🙂
Better Days official release is today – 7/23
Buy on Itunes – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/better-days/id1016669218