You can now say you’ve worked with Pharell Williams, collaborated with Pitbull and toured with Bruno Mars but what do you remember about your move from Ann Arbor to L.A. back in 2006?
Coming to L.A. was the easiest thing ever for me. We grew up in Detroit —[manager opens door and walks in]— Oh my God, can you hear how loud my fuckin’ crew is? [Laughs]
Sounds like you guys like to have a good time!
We don’t need anybody else. The party is right here. They are so loud. It sounds like there are 100 people in the green room partying and it’s really just like my two sound guys. Okay, sorry, where were we?
Was it hard to adjust to the new music scene and industry in L.A.?
I grew up in a very hardworking blue-collar Midwest family and my dad told me, “Son, if you want something, you better work your ass off for it.” And this is not a dis to L.A. or California, I absolutely love living in California, but people are lazy in L.A. because they grew up with 75 degree sunshine everyday and the beach. If I grew up there I’d be lazy as hell too. You know what I’m saying? I came in and I worked really hard because that is what I was used to and it was super easy for me to just come in and kill everybody because nobody worked as hard as I did.
You call yourself a “smooth dude with a gangster groove.” When was a time you weren’t so smooth?
[Laughs] The least smooth moment? I feel like I have them all of the time. I’ve fallen on my face on stage before. I have so many unsmooth moments that I could go on forever on that.
A lot of your musical influences come from Detroit soul music. Are you also a Kid Rock fan?
I love Kid Rock. That is my homie right there. Kid Rock is the shit. He’s one of the hardest working dudes ever. And he’s just such a cool guy. I remember Kid Rock would come to my early rap shows when we sucked! And he would come by himself and just post up on the wall and check it out and nobody does that. I mean nobody does that. He would come in and say, “What up!” He’s the coolest dude ever.
Where were you performing in those early days?
We used to do shows all of the time at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor and then we would do shows at Saint Andrew’s Hall or The Shelter in the basement of Saint Andrew’s Hall. We did shows at Alvin’s, Harpos and some really grimy spots. I mean we’d do shows at The Heidelberg before we were even old enough. I remember we used to have to sneak into The Heidelberg, we’d have to have somebody open the back door for us so that we could even get in because we were all under 21. We would do a rap show in there and we weren’t even allowed to get in the club. It was pretty funny.
Are you in a relationship?
I don’t like to talk about that.
What makes a person sexy?
Will we find you on Tinder?
I did go on Tinder. I had to see what all of the fuss was about. I had to try it out because everyone in my band and my tour manager was on it. He’s probably on Tinder right now! Look at him. He’s over there swiping! They were on Tinder all day long, all of them. I was like, “Alright, fine. I’m going to try it.” I was trying so hard not to get on there. I signed up and put my whole picture up and within the first 10 minutes of swiping through people I came up on a girl whose Tinder profile picture was a photo with me in it. I was like, “That’s it! Time to get off.”
You performed at the 2014 NHL Winter Classic in front of more than 100,000 Red Wings and Maple Leafs fans at the Big House. Do you see yourself settling down and raising a family in your hometown one day?
I really love L.A. I don’t know. I think if I ever moved back to Michigan I’d probably move to the city, I’d probably be in Detroit somewhere. Not that I don’t love Ann Arbor, I do.
When selecting people to work with you’ve made it a point to work with those who have a good attitude. How does positivity play a role in your life?
Yeah, absolutely. I always try to surround myself with positive people. I just don’t understand anyone who has a negative attitude about things. Everybody has their bad days, for sure, I have my times where I’m like, “Man, this is not the time right now.” It sounds so corny but I always try to look at the glass half full. If you’re not living like that then what’s the point? It’s no fun.
Best party you’ve been to?
I was living in L.A. and since we were on the road so much I felt like even when I was at home I rarely ever saw any of my friends because I was just always doing something in the studio or doing a show somewhere so I started doing this thing with my homie DJ Kurse called Big Baby Wednesdays. We’d have a party at my house every Wednesday and it was just the homies. Those are some of my favorite times.
Has it been hard to maintain relationships as your career has grown?
It’s tough. It’s very hard being on the road all of the time and a lot of people just don’t understand that and people think you are an asshole because they don’t hear from you. It’s tough but wah wah wah, I don’t need a sob story.
Why did you make it a priority to come to Chicago to headline School Rocks, the benefit concert providing scholarships and community support to inner-city students at San Miguel School Chicago?
School is number one for me; education has always been number one. I think pretty much every problem that we have in the world can stem back to education. I just think it’s the most important thing in the world. I try to do everything I can. I have a t-shirt line that I do called FBC and all of the proceeds go to after school music programs for students in Detroit as well. Education is everything.
Does your family still call you by your birth name Andrew?
My family calls me Haircut.
Your DJ name?
Yeah, that is the nickname that I’ve had for a long time. I hated to get my hair cut when I was a kid. Whenever they would take me I would have a temper tantrum because I was a little shit and the only way they could get me to sit there and behave was by buying me records to keep me occupied. I had my little Fisher Price as my first record player and that was all I ever wanted. I don’t mind getting haircuts anymore. I have very few tempter tantrums. I’ve mellowed out a lot. Luckily.
Do you have any opinions on the DJ scene today?
I still completely enjoy it. I’m DJing the after party tonight. I started DJing 18 years ago so it was completely different. I think it is incredibly easy for anybody to start DJing today, it was a lot more difficult back in the day. But, I think it’s still really difficult to be a great DJ.
How would you rank Calvin Harris, Tiesto and Avicii?
I actually really like some of their music but I wouldn’t really call them DJs. This is not to dis them. A-Trak is a DJ. He was a DMC turntable champion and he still does scratch routines every time he DJs. All of the kids go, “What is this shit?”And he’s like, “I’m teaching you all what real DJing is.” I do try so hard not to be that crotchety old dude that’s complaining. I feel like if you’re complaining about it you should just shut up, get out of the way and let it evolve. It’s going to change and grow just like everything. You gotta roll with it and figure out new ways to make it dope.
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
Golly, this is the first person that comes to my head right now, I think maybe Warren Buffett. Hopefully we’d be drinking some kind of cognac because that’s just me but I’m assuming the Oracle of Omaha doesn’t drink cognac. He’s probably more of a scotch guy … This wine is really good though.
We drink Gia Coppola’s wine only with creators like yourself.
Send me some bottles!
KIRSTEN MICCOLI PHOTOGRAPHY / A DRINK WITH
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