Exclusive Artist Interview: John Debt

John Debt is a persona who is worn down, out of luck and somewhat rugged. Raised in Cincinnati and lived in NYC’s Brooklyn borough for ten years, John now lives in Berlin and has hit the ground running since his inception into the industry. Signed with Glowrize Entertainment and known for his very distinctive and stylistic signature sound, he is a self-deprecating savant trying to understand the world around him and blabber to anyone who is willing to listen to his problems and inability to improve himself. The entire concept is about feeling indebted, never being able to pay no matter how much he works. John Debt owes people money from bad decisions but his true debt is the weight of the guilt he feels. He attempts to pay this debt with endless confessions and productivity even though this will never relieve what he believes is owed. With that in mind, we got the chance to do a comprehensive interview with John to further get to know the rising artist and find out what the future holds for him.


•You’ve been active for a decade right now. What got you into music in the first place?

When I was four or five my brother brought home the Biz Markie single “Pickin’ Boogers”. The cover was a cartoon of Biz picking his nose while sitting on the toilet and the song was about playing booger pranks as well as the idea that everyone does it in private and it shouldn’t be a shameful thing. I was a booger picking kid and for me this song was a permanent revelation. I all at once understood the power of artistic expression and in the same moment fell in love with my first hero and artist. Hip Hop culture had already completely consumed my neighborhood by this time, and it was normal to be called upon publicly at random to spit a rhyme. So everybody kind of had to have at least a simple rhyme they could throw out to avoid social disaster. This naturally evolved into freestyle cyphers on the playground or bus stop or wherever. A lot of diss battles started to merge into rhyme form at school. Music has always been important to me, and Hip Hop has always been a lot more than that.

•Writers are usually very personal. What topics or views do you center around your songwriting?

I try to use humor and wit to describe the parts of myself and my experience I like the least. During my dark moments I have been saved time and time again by songs about sadness or anger or loneliness and this makes one feel less crazy, less alone. I have found that the more specific one can be about their actual life the more universal it is.

•Tell me about your worst show and best show.

Worst show… well. There was a really early show I did when I first went solo in a little venue in Brooklyn. The mic kept cutting out. I stopped the first song and restarted like three times. The sound guy said he fixed it, so I went on. It kept cutting. And not like little gaps either; it would cut out for like 30 seconds, come back on for half a bar and then turn off again. I did my entire set this way, mostly spitting into a dead mic, while the audience just heard a beat and a silent emcee whose lips moved without making sound. When it was over I was so upset I threw the mic onto the stage and hopped off the stage and just started walking through the crowd to the exit, when one of my only fans at the time, just a guy who showed up at every show I did, approached me and said “you know John if I could just give some notes, it just didn’t seem like you had the energy you normally bring” and this pushed me over the edge. How could the audience not understand what had happened to me? I cussed him out like a young idiot. This poor guy who showed up to support me, and then even tried to give me criticism to attempt to help me. I was in a tank uniform as YAWWN started the first beat. I rapped about doing the dishes, and then we did maybe 30 minutes of classics after that. The crowd grew and by the end I completely had ‘em. Sort of the opposite of the worst show in that this time I wasn’t prepared at all and everything went perfectly right. I felt like a champion that night.

•How is the Berlin scene compared to Brooklyn’s?

I can only speak to my experience regarding comparing Brooklyn to Berlin. I mean comparisons are super hard and kind of problematic. I played a bunch of shows in Brooklyn and Manhattan and Queens. The thing about New York is, there are so many endless bars, small venues, and tucked away stages. So I can’t tell you how many shows I did to mostly empty rooms there. Those were just kind of, you know stripe earning moments. The times I actually played to full crowds could be rough because well, New York is rap’s birthplace. It’s a very important part of the culture. I feel like it’s a hyper critical scene because they know their hip hop well. I’ve never fit into any genre well and sometimes that’s hard for people to accept. If something hasn’t already been established and accepted by the people then you are under a more severe scrutiny I think, a weirdo. I got some boos, I got stuff thrown at me sometimes. On the other hand it felt really great when someone would come up to me after, albeit secretly, and tell me they really felt my lyrics. There’s many options, and New York is huge and takes forever to get around, so it can be hard to fill a room on a Wednesday or whatever, especially when you are just starting out. Berlin is kind of the opposite. If there’s a show at all, no matter what it is, the people come, they stay, and they actually watch or experience whatever work is on display before finalizing an opinion. People walk into concerts off the street and stay, and this never happens in NY (in my experience) because people are super busy and don’t have time to just check random shit out. Berlin is not a rap town at all. However they are really open minded. In fact, most people I ask say they don’t like rap, but also don’t seem to know of any from the past 20 years. So they, like the New Yorkers, have a pre-judgement I have to overcome. But they listen. Every concert I’ve ever done in Berlin has ended with someone coming up to me saying they had no idea they liked hip hop but they love my music, and now they want to investigate to see if there are other artists they like. So in Brooklyn I was breaking expectations by not fitting in and in Berlin I break them by not being Gangster Rap from 1995.

•What’re your plans for 2021? Give us the goods.

Plans for 2021? Well I’m working on a sequel to me and YAWWN’s 2018 release Nevemrind, although this time it will be two 5 song EP’s instead of a full length. Hooking back up w YAWWN aka Paid Holidays, we decided to start doing live online mini concerts for everybody stuck at home. Since there’s a deadly airborne virus the world still hasn’t overcome, spraying DNA loudly towards a group of people standing close together just isn’t possible. I’m really excited to be working with my new manager Mr. Olu of Glowrize Management. We’ve got some great ideas regarding merchandise and all the other things that come along with a musicians job outside of concerts. We’ll also be releasing several John Debt solo EP’s this year. A lot of writing and a lot of recording. Also, I can’t say who yet, but I have a couple exciting collaborations coming this year as well.


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Exclusive Artist Review: Earleybird & Maria – “Everything Is Imaginary” Album/LP

Kevin “Earleybird” Earley’s love for hip-hop goes back decades, as he wrote and performed his first raps in elementary school at the age of seven years old. His rap name was given to him by a childhood friend, a pun based on his last name. Now, several decades later in the game, Earleybird has teamed up with female pop starlet Maria to put out a breed of melodic Rap and R&B that diligently combines a duet of perfectly balanced blend of old school sensibilities and today’s modern aura on his newest record Everything Is Imaginary.

This ten-track juggernaut meshes a signature sound that touches on equal parts originality and familiarity; giving the listener a dose of old school Hip Hop countless Rap fans still yearn for along with today’s more modern calibre. Earleybird‘s meaningful, wholesome and undeniably real lyrics are cleverly executed with a mid-range approach with poetic justice often at the helm of his witty lyrical punchlines. Meanwhile, after some straightforward verses, in comes feature artist Maria with her higher-range vocal approach that is blissful and beautifully crafted. Each artist compliments the other, and ultimately resonates into a full-on duet album with a formulaic and multifaceted nature. Each track is supercharged with powerful vocals and versatile melodies rarely heard in a combination comprised in this way. It has a futuristic overtone with every old school component from the past that made Rap the genre we’ve come to know and love today.

Everything Is Imaginary is an absolute gem that deserves all the impact it can muster. It’s an album that invites you into a world that is nostalgically identifiable but also freshly crafted with top notch production and performance value doused with more versatility than one could ever expect between a duo like Earleybird and Maria. This album is a true soundscape of atmosphere and will be held in high regard by anyone who comes into contact with it.


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Exclusive Review: In Your Grave – “Enemy Lines” EP

When it comes to an in-your-face hard hitting rhythm section, blistering guitars and brutal vocals reminiscent of Phil Bozeman similarities, that’s when you know you have something truly special. And that my friends, is Utah County ball busters In Your Grave. A band that not only formed throughout many other members from their respective scene, but a perfect one at that. As far as we see it – these guys are an absolute all star lineup. And amazingly, have only been active for just a year. That’s why our ears couldn’t quite believe what we were hearing.

Looking for heavy? Check. Looking for crushing drum grooves? Check. Blend in some seriously high gained, crisp guitar tones, bone crushing bass parts and fire breathing screams, and In Your Grave is in your radar. Enemy Lines, which just recently released on December 20th, is comprised of five strongly put-together tracks from ridiculously talented band members that delve into heavy territories that draw the perfect line between metal radio rock stations and a stylization that just might make it too brutal. And trust me, that’s a compliment. Intro tracks like “Mushroom Cloud” instantly give you that goosebumpy vibe of just where this track is gonna lead. Its drawn out build up is ominous, visceral and truly encompasses an aura of both curiosity and anticipation at the same time. And by the time the vocals burst in, both ends provide that satisfactory – we are going for a ride and it’s one that is not going to be slowing down anytime soon.

Subsequent tracks like “MKultra” and title track “Enemy Lines” use similar formulas but actually do more in solidifying their signature sound than anything. The pounding rhythm section really carries the band forward and assists with providing that brutality a band like In Your Grave has manifested into; except this time a lot more versatility, multifaceted vocal deliveries and guitar chord techniques have been implemented, adding to the ingredients that have already given this band their own calibre among other bands with a similar aura. But make no mistake – these guys have something going just for them, and will be a very tough act to follow after shows.

Last two tracks “Foundations” and “Establishment” are personal favorites for sure. From anvil-hitting tempo changes, synth parallels and all around additional elements, these two hit just as hard and also add levels of intrigue we hoped to hear at some point. First of all, everyone loves a furious breakdown, and these closing tracks have plenty of that. Secondly, guitar intros on tracks like closer “Establishment” is the kind of garnishment that could easily throw this record into whole new levels; and it does. What begins may end differently but everything in between ties it all together – just like this entire EP does. It’s a brutal set of 5 tracks that grab you by the throat and refuse to let go.

It’s been quite some time since we have actually run into an album like Enemy Lines, but once you take a listen yourself, that same blown-away feeling will commence. It may not be heavy enough for White Chapel, but definitely surpasses Killswitch Engage easily; even though I love both of those bands. You will not be disappointed with In Your Grave and you’ll be kicking yourself in the ass for not discovering them earlier. You can pick up a copy of the EP on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, and any other digital music streaming platforms.


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