‘Rip‘ is a Madison-based musician, DJ, producer, and filmmaker who seems to thrive when he’s hard at work. As a five-time winner at the Madison Hip Hop Awards, Rip has gained both local and national recognition for the music he makes, including his many followers on YouTube who love his danceable pop tunes. Rip has some exciting movie and music-related projects to share with us, along with insights about hip-hop in Madison, Facebook craziness, and connecting with fans.
Here’s a transcript of our interview, along with the Soundcloud link below for your listening pleasure.
Who: Rip; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
What: Rip talks about his projects, the Madison scene, his Facebook break, and wild cinematography
Where: Murfie HQ, Madison, WI
When: Thursday, August 20th, 2015
How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
K: So right now I have DJ Rip here at the Murfie office, big welcome Rip.
R: I appreciate you having me, I always love doing interviews with you, it’s always a fun time.
K: Yes, and me and Rip, we go way back, just to fill everyone in. Like maybe six years?
R: Has it been that long?
K: Well I worked at Blue Velvet for five years, during college and a little bit after, which is a martini place in downtown Madison. Are you still DJing there?
R: Yeah I am, but you’re making me sound old now! Oh man, seriously time has been flying by since I came to Madison, it’s crazy.
K: You’re from Chicago area originally, right?
R: I grew up in the Chicagoland area, mainly Waukegan the majority of my childhood. I moved to Madison about, maybe if you wanna be technical, I made the official move in 2010, but I was hanging out here a few years before that.
K: How has the past year or so been for you in Madison? It’s finally summer now, maybe you get to go outside a bit more?
R: You know what, especially coming into today, it’s starting to get into fall now. I feel like the summer flew by. Honestly I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to enjoy the summer to be honest. It’s kind of sad, but…
K: Those creative types. So you recently produced a song for the Latin singer Rochelle, tell me a bit about that—it seemed like your career has gone full circle, since you used to listen to her.
R: Yeah, I don’t know how many people are familiar with Rochelle, but she was big in the 90s, especially in Chicago where I’m from. She had a song in the 90s called “Prayin’ for an Angel”, and I was a huge fan. She actually has a manger from Waukegan, where I’m from. So kind of just being intertwined from the same inner circle, he reached out to me. He’s been trying to get me to produce things for a while. And I just produced a song for her on her new album, so that was kind of crazy because I grew up being a fan of hers, and then producing something for her was cool.
K: And you’re also a director, and have made really great-looking videos. Tell me a bit about the feature length movie you’re working on.
R: I’m actually working on two movies right now. I just started a new one, and it’s still in the pre-production phase. I’m actually going to go work on it tonight after we’re done here. I teamed up with a local writer and director, because I’m not sure if a lot of people know I produce and direct all my music videos for my music. So I kind of got into this love and passion for filmmaking, and I’m working on a feature length film now with a local writer/director. And we just teamed up. He’s a great writer, great storyteller, and a great director. And he kind of brings something to the table that I lack, or don’t really have a burning desire for, which is the writing aspect of things. And I bring the creative aspect to the table that he lacks, which is the cinematography and the camerawork, and filmmaking process and everything. It’s crazy because he and I are like one in the same almost, you know what I mean? We have the same drive, same determination, same passion, same views, outlooks and beliefs on a lot of things, and it’s just kind of crazy that we’re two similar guys and we just teamed up. We’ve been working on this movie for two months now, and it’s all locally filmed, directed, produced right here in Madison. And we’ve had a lot of hurdles, but we’re still dealing with it, and the driven people we are, we’re not going to let it stop us or slow us down.
K: That’s awesome, so you’re staying busy. And it seems like you’re always churning out fresh video content. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for a video, cinematically?
R: I’d have to say, when we were right on King Street in front of the courthouse, in my “Supernatural” music video. It’s probably my most notable piece of work. There was a 3D modeled rendered car that was coming at me, and I smash it, and it goes flying over my head. So it’s like this visual effect that I think was pretty dope. The best thing I’ve done so far, music video wise.
K: Well the videos are great and you have your online presence, your fanbase that you really communicate with, and interact with, which I love to see artists do.
R: Yeah, you have to.
K: You talked to me a while back and said you were taking a break from your personal Facebook account. So what was the reason for that, and what have you learned from it?
R: I just reached a point in my life where I needed to do a lot of—I guess you could say “soul-searching”. I just needed time for myself. I needed to unplug. Facebook became a problem where I would literally wake up and go to bed, and I would be on an hour before bed and when I woke up, and I was just scrolling. And it got to the point where there was so much negativity, and so much stupidity, and people lacking common sense and posting all this ignorant stuff. And I’m just like…”Seriously?” I just needed to unplug for a little bit. I knew I was going to have a busy summer, I knew I was taking on this film, and I just wanted to get back to real life, real connections. If someone couldn’t reach out to me via a phone call or text, I didn’t want to deal with it. It just became a burden to the point where I needed to unplug to take some time to myself, figure some things out and focus on work. I’m working on two movies right now, and a new—I didn’t know if this was gonna come up, if I’m gonna ruin anything—but I’m working on a new album too. So I’m just staying really really busy and I couldn’t have those distractions.
K: Right, Facebook is such a time-sucker. It’s dangerous. You just say you’re gonna go on for a little bit, and I’ve caught myself too doing the same thing, and I’m like “Stop! Just stop.”
R: I highly suggest people do it. I unplugged for two months. I actually just reactivated Facebook a few days ago, because I needed to actually conduct business. Don’t get me wrong, I’m able to do business without it, but I’m at the point towards the end of this movie where we’re ready to promote it and get the ball rolling. I kinda had to. And I had my two months off in the summer, and I highly suggest that anyone try it. It’s awesome, it’s great.
K: I totally think that’s a great idea, and good for you for doing that. And I communicated with you via Twitter because I wanted to tell you about the DJ Pain 1 Podcast that we recently did for Murfie. In that podcast, he was saying how hip-hop—and things under that umbrella of music—that artists and fans have it hard in Madison because there’s not a lot of shows. There’s pressure on venues not to book hip-hop. So is that something that you’ve seen and experienced in Madison?
R: I’ve definitely seen it, I’ve definitely experienced it, I’ve definitely witnessed it and seen a lot of other people in the hip-hop community deal with it too. That’s just kind of the way Madison is. I know when I was trying to do—not even a “hip-hop” show—but a screening of my Making of a Sellout film, my documentary that I released a couple years ago. I was reaching out to different venues, and I couldn’t get a place to screen my movie, just because of what they associate it with. And technically I don’t even put myself in a hip-hop box either. I don’t even brand myself or market myself as a hip-hop artist. And still, I don’t know if it was my image, or if it as an image they drew up and perceived themselves by going to my website or what, but it was very hard. And I actually had to reach out to a friend and we ended up doing it at a local restaurant, which was very kind of them.
K: Maybe there’s hope for it to get better in Madison. Maybe.
R: I don’t know. To be honest it’s kind of crazy because I haven’t released an album in three years, two if you want to count the re-release of my last album I was telling you about, Sellout, the documentary with a couple bonus tracks. Technically I released that in 2012. So I haven’t really been deep in the scene for three years. I’ve been taking time to do my own thing and do some of this film stuff on the side. So the last three years I haven’t dealt with it that much. It’s been a very prevalent situation that’s been going on in the hip-hop community around Madison.
K: What about traveling? Is there anywhere you like to go that has a better reception for hip-hop? Or “not hip-hop”, whatever.
R: I want to travel the world. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to travel the world and make a living, and see the world doing what I love, which is performing music. I mean, there’s no place I wouldn’t want to go. I want to see the rest of the world. But I don’t know, every music scene in every market has its ups and downs. I’m not saying they’re all the same, but they definitely are all different in their own right. But I don’t really have a place where I’m like, “I want to go here, I think I can make it here.” I’m a firm believer, especially in this day and age, with technology the way it is and YouTube taking over, that if you can’t make it in your hometown, I don’t think there’s one place you can go to make it better. Right now the place to make it is online. On YouTube. You’re already exposed to the world on YouTube, so if you can’t make it there, you’re not gonna make it anywhere. So, that’s how I view it.
K: Well I’m glad your music is now on Murfie, and if there’s anything we can do to help get you out there, I mean, keep in touch. It’s always great sharing these ideas with you and catching up, so thanks for coming in.
R: Absolutely, thanks for having me, I appreciate it. Always a good time. Love it.
Music by Rip
File: mp3 version
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Kayla manages social media and customer support at Murfie. You can hear her on the radio hosting U DUB, the reggae show, Wednesdays on WSUM. She enjoys hosting the Murfie podcast, cooking, traveling, going to concerts, and snuggling with kittycats.