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INTERVIEW WITH ERA - (Working with Lil Peep, joining Internet Money, etc.)

Q: Can you start by telling us about your come up and how you got to where you are right now.

A: It’s kind of a long one but I guess I could just start with, I started making music in middle school. I was, I think 14, and I remember just being in class with my friends and like listening to some trash ass music. I’m like bruh I can make music way better than this. And they’re like bet bet go ahead do it. So I’m like alright. I went home the next day. I think I found Audacity and I had this like $2 microphone that people use to do online school. Kid Cudi was one of my favorite artists at the time and I pulled up the Prayer instrumental and I literally wrote all my homies names down on a piece of paper and I just started recording and I literally just like freestyled and talked shit about all of them. I recorded it, whatever, like got the MP3 and the next day I brought it to school and I showed my friends thinking like yo this shit’s about to be funny like all this shit but they were like bruh like this shit kinda slaps like this shit’s hard, like your voice is dope on it. Like you could really do this shit for real. I was like alright that’s not the reaction I thought I was gonna get but the enjoyment that I got making the song and like doing all of that, like that kinda sparked what it is today. So, ever since then I kinda just started upgrading like doing whatever. I started recording on FL Studio and that’s kinda like the beginning of everything. My freshman year I started taking it more serious, and like writing and doing projects. At the end of my freshman year is when I did my first mixtape, and from then it was kinda just like upgrading until my senior year when it was really like serious, and I was a local artist and like I was doing shows and I was actually sponsored by one of the biggest clothing brands in town. So like it became a big thing. And that was more like the rap side of things. Cause I feel like everyone kinda starts as a rapper. When I moved to L.A. is when I really started to take more of the singing or like the more melodic approach on things. And it was a tough transition but overall I feel like I made the full transition. It’s like everything before that was kind of like preparing me for what I’m doing now, which is more melodic stuff. But it’s been crazy, like it feels like everything before L.A. was kind of like the ground work and foundation of everything. But as soon as I got to L.A., it’s like everything restarted. Like I had to like relearn a lot things and start pretty much from square one again. When I moved to L.A., I had learned how to engineer, just because like I got tired of trying to depend on other people to record me or just like find sounds that I wanted to sound like. I feel no one could ever get it 100%.

So I went to school for engineering, came to L.A., and did my internship. And during my internship, I was at Electric Film Management. Which is not like a huge label. But at the time they only had like Mike Stud. Instead of it being like a normal internship, where like they just like make you make cookies and like make you clean and just all kinds of bullshit, it was more of like an apprenticeship. The guy who was managing it at the time, Franni, really put me in a position to where I could learn and like not focus about all the other things that other internships would make you do. Like years before they even let you work on any music or be apart of anything. So, while I was there, they were already putting me in sessions to record with songwriters. And like in the beginning when they got Louis Bell, and Louis Bell started working with Post, Post started coming around and we would do sessions and thats where like he was doing Stoney. And that’s when I started working. I was assisting on the session when they did Congratulations and that was like my first big thing in the industry when we were working doing all of that. And from there, I got a job opportunity at this other studio, Legendary Music Group. It was like a producer who had worked with like Eminem back in the day and he had just got in like this whole situation. But with him, it was kinda weird. It was like the first time it was like kinda taking that chance like this is actually like a job to where things could get better. I was there for like 4 or 5 months and one random ass day he like changed the codes or some shit to the door. And kinda like pretty much saying like yo you’re not working here no more type shit. And i was just like what the fuck. So I kinda hit like a dead end. And at that point I was like fuck what am I gonna do. And like I have this whole thing in life that everything happens for a reason. Like nothing just happens just because. But at that time I was tryna figure shit out financially. Like my fucking car had just took a shit on me. Like everything bad that could happen, happened. But at the end of that week, I got a call from Val, one of the friends from the people from Electric Film. And he said like you ned a studio setup. Im like alright cool whatever, I gotchu. Went to this spot downtown, setup the studio whatever did my thing and like before I left I’m like yo if you ever need an engineer just let me know I gotchu. I’ll come through and do it. He’s like alright bet. I didn’t think much of it, but like two days later like 3 in the morning, he hit me up and he was like yo like can you come engineer. I’m like yeah sure. I came through and it was actually Makonnen who was the artist. I had no idea who it was gonna be. So it was Makonnen, we did the session.

Everything went well, and like from then on I just kept working with them. They would hit me up like everyday. And during this time is when him and Peep started linking. They started linking and we started working. And they had this idea of like let's do a whole mixtape, let’s do a whole project. But they wanted to record in London, and I was working at like, cause I was doing the studio shit but it was also not enough for me to not have a job, I think I was working at like Banana Republic at the time, like at the Grove. Like I was bitter as fuck bro. Every time I would clock in bro, like I was just in the worst, whatever whatever. But I was there and I got the call from the label and they’re like Hey peep really fucks with you and they’re gonna do this project in London and they wanna know if you can go out there and like work with them. It was 2 weeks or something. And I was like hell yeah like I’m going whatever. But I had to figure out my whole passport situation and I told them, I was like I need my passport and all this shit and they were like don't even worry about it. Like they literally got me a passport in like 2 or 3 days or some shit like that. And like I don’t know what the fuck some illuminati shit but they got it all set. I had a whole week of work and I didn't even tell them shit, I just left. I’m like fuck this shit, I'm gonna break at work and I just left. So went to London, we worked on this whole project. Like it was one of the dopest experiences I think of my career so far. Just because of like how organic everything was and like my time there is when we recorded Text Me which is a song that we have. It was pretty like, like I said everything was natural, nothing ever felt weird or anything. But like it was one of those things where like he had done the hook and before we left the studio I was like alright bro this song is fire do you think I can do something on it. He’s like bro fuck yeah I didn’t even know you were making music like that. Do it go ahead. I'm like alright, cool. They left, I stayed, and did my part to it. The next day I showed it to him and he was like amazed. Not that it's even like a crazy ass verse. But I think he was just more amazed like he thought I was just gonna do some dumb shit on it or do whatever. But he was like truly amazed, like bro I fucking love this. Just like leave it like that I’ll put a verse on it when we get back in the studio. Cause it was towards the end of our time in London. So it was kinda left alone for a really long tine. And from then, we got back to the states. All of the shit happened, he went on tour. Like everyone knows the rest. It was kind of a tough time I think. Like a lot of things that people don’t see like in the background. Like there was a lot of shit with like labels and like politics. It was just like a bunch of shit and to be honest with you I never in my life, like unless somebody like leaked it thought that song was ever gonna come out. Just for the simple fact that like who the fuck is Era. Like who’s this random ass dude that’s on a song with Peep, you know what I mean. A year and some change later, I was talking to Mezzy, Mezzy is a dude that did the girls video and did a lot of things for Peep. And he was just like really close as were all of us with the whole situation. And he was like bruh this song is fire like I feel like you need to contact Liza which is his mom and you need to just let her know that the song exists. And like just as simple as that. So I talked to her and I told her who I was and I hit her up and she was just really really appreciative to the fact that I would just reach out and tell her everything. We talked about everything, we talked for like 2 hours I think on the phone just about everything. At the end of the phone call, she told me that she wanted to find like a home for songs like these. Like songs that he worked on with other people where like a Peep album wouldn’t necessarily fit but like something where its just collaborators. That was like the early idea of the Everybody’s Everything album layout and how everything was put out.

But as all of this stuff is happening and like after everything, I went back to freelancing with just working with a bunch of artists. Like I’ve worked with everybody you can think of. My roomate was working at Atlantic and thats when Taz had just gotten signed to Atlantic, and they just meshed really well. Like Taz in the beginning was a really shy dude but once he got comfortable with you like, it was just like a really good friendship. Like if he got comfortable with you it means that he really fuck with you. If he would clown you that means he really fucks with you. That was like the situation with him and my roommate Frankie. Pretty much it got to the point where Taz was like look, I’m about to get this label deal where I can have my own label and once I get that I want you to quit your assistant job at Atlantic and I want you to be my like personal assistant. And he's like sure yeah whatever you say. Cause you know people out here will say shit and it’ll like never happen.That’s why you never count on shit until its happening, you know what I mean. So like a few months later, he got his deal. I think he signed to Alamo in the beginning. And sure enough he’s like fuck bruh I just got this shit like quit c’mon we got work to do. So he quit, did that. And like building a label, like obviously you need to have people you trust. You ned to have your engineer, your producers, your everything. He wanted to like have me around kinda like in the beginning I just had a bunch of shit going on like freelance on my own so I was kind of like in and out. But it kinda got to the point where I like had a decision to make, where I was like, I saw the potential of Internet Money for what it was . It was literally a bunch of friends making music and like just having a team of people to work, you know what I mean do things. Like when you’re freelance, you’re on your own. Like you literally figure out your own steps and you do like whatever. So at the time I was like bro there’s something about this situation that I just cant miss out on. So I joined the whole thing. And from then, we started working and signed Trevor Daniel. We had a few other artists who down the road wasn’t even a thing, but like Trevor was like the first big thing that we had which was our first official artist. We had done Falling the second day we all met. We did like his whole EP in this whole time period. With that so early, we all knew what it was. But obviously like fast forward know, like everyone knows what the fuck it is. I just remember like the whole time just being like doubted on the whole situation and like everyone was telling Taz no like yo Trevors not shit like Trevors not gonna do anything. But like obviously fast forward like. So that kinda was like the first glimpse I saw. Like alright, Taz knows what he’s doing like obviously we’re on to something good. So fast forward a bunch of politics and shit, we left Alamo just for a bunch other shit. That’s when we got our new situation with 10K Projects, and that like the whole Iann Dior, POORSTACY, working with Tecca, just doing all of that. So it’s only been more and more. And like I know we had talked about earlier how it started off. I’m gonna do this engineering shit to get my foot in the door and do this shit for myself but it ended up being I got in the door and stayed busy with it until it grew into something big. I'm like the go to engineer for a lot of these artists. So it kind of became like a main focus for awhile. And thats when i started realizing like yo like this is not my dream. My whole dream isn’t to be somebody’s engineer like somebody’s person who records or like whatever the case may be. My dream is to be more creative, like that's when I started doing more songwriting for Internet Money and like more vocal production. At the end of the day like, with Internet Money, my opinion is very trusted, its not like any situation with an engineer where you’re literally just paid to like shut the fuck up and record. Like its more of a situation where I have a say and my suggestions mean something and that's kind of like my median with that. But the benefit of being with Internet Money is I have a whole team of producers that I can work with and I can like build my own shit off of. So that’s where I’ve been this year . It’s been the year where like I’ve been really working on my own shit and put everything together the way I imagine it. I have been dropping singles trying to just water out. I feel like Im not necessarily ready for a project just for the simple fact that I wanna know exactly what sounds I wanna go for before I do something like that. But I’ve dropped I think 2 or 3 singles in the last year. Redbone was the last song that I dropped and what sucked about that is it dropped during literally right in the beginning of lockdown. So like nobody was really listening to music or even really cared about like that whole thing at the moment. And that was my first like fuck the world is going crazy type shit. So it was kinda like bad timing at the beginning, but now people caught onto it. Like people are listening more than ever than they were in the beginning. So the first week didn’t really matter too much because now its like overpassing a lot of my other songs in streams.

Q: The album that you dropped in 2018, Routine, is crazy. Can you tell us a little more about that.

A: With Routine, that was kinda like my last still keeping hip hop or like rap vibes but also keeping the melodic shit. Because I feel like that was my transition and that’s part of the reason why like I still keep projects like that up. Cause a lot of my old shit is like, I don’t really want people to know me as the raper I was at 16. It was reinventing myself and finding what I really wanna do. But with Routine, that was like that transition and that was me testing the waters. I think with the song Nena, that was the song that I was like yeah I’m going in this lane, like I wanna do shit like this. And then after Routine, I think my first drop was Pillie, oh no it was actually ’85 Blazer. But Pillie I was like I found my voice ,I found what I wanna do, like I love the acoustic shit. You even hear it in Text Me. Even though it was done so long ago, like the original beat on that was some trap shit. Like it wasn’t even like what it was. But everything was still in the process so nothing was ever finalized until the end. But like the acoustics, or the guitar shit, I really love how you can just be so free on it and worry about the rest of the production later. So that seemed to be the shit that I really liked doing. I did that, then Pillie, then Pinch You was a later one. That one’s really influenced by Kid Cudi, because Kid Cudi is one of my favorite artists as far as inspiration.

Q: How would you describe your genre of music? It’s super unique compared to other shit.

A: I feel like music, or like being an artist is always an art. So it’s like the same way that people are gonna direct a piece of artwork, like it can be a fucking painting of a chair, and some people will be like yeah its a fucking chair but there will be some people that are like, wow like this is the foundation in which like, you know what I mean. Just some artistic ass shit. For example, bringing back Nena like, Nena is a song that I made because my niece is my biggest fan. Like she loves me, she listens to me everyday. But I felt like the music she was listening to is not what a little girl should be listening to. So I made this whole song about her because I wanted her to have something to listen to that’s not me saying like, fuck that bitch or whatever or just some shit like that. So like I made it for her and when I dropped it people were hitting me up and they were like yo this shit like really just reminds me of my ex or like my situation when I was really depressed. People can interpret it whatever way they want as long as it makes you feel a type of way, like I did my job. It doesn’t have to be the same as what I’m telling you what it is, it doesn’t have to be about your means, it doesn’t have to be like that. So that’s how I feel about the whole type of artist you are. At the end of the day, I feel like my influence come from everywhere. Like I didn’t even listen to hip hop until my brother put me on in like 5th grade. And I was listening to like pop and country for a minute, so probably about a whole year. And I was like this shits hard, but I think to be honest with you I think it was like Drake, Best I Ever Had. Like that shit I remember my brother would play it and I’d kinda be like turn that shit off, turn that shit off, but at the end of the day I started bumping it and I was like yo this shit is crazy. And like Best I Ever Had, So Far Gone, was as far as artist and everything one of the most influential albums for me just because like Best I Ever Had and like Successful, those were just songs like the song and the tone and everything. These were songs that really inspired me to want to make music. So I would say the most inspirational artist to me are like Drake or Kid Cudi. And I wanna say more recently like Bad Bunny, like Bad Bunny’s fire. And I’m hispanic myself so I even went through the whole thing of like making music in Spanish. Like I'm still waiting to have a lane so I can do stuff like that. Like I have shit that’s in Spanish but it’s like how random would it be if i put out a Spanish song and people don’t even know who I am yet.

Q: How was it working in the studio with Peep and Makonnen and what did you learn from them that’s helped you develop your career?

A: They genuinely did not give a fuck about anything. Like a lot of people might speculate it or question it but Peep is like a real fucking rockstar bro . Like he did not give a fuck. Like if you would tell him some shit, it’s not like he was disrespectful or anything like how people would interpret it like a rockstar. Peep was like the nicest dude ever. Like if you guys watch the documentary, that shit is like right on the bullseye on how he was. He was very selfless. And even when I flew into London, because we were in a rush like yo they're gonna fly you in and drive you straight to the studio, and I was like alright cool. Soon as I got there, he didn’t even ask them to do anything, he was like bruh they got you like a hotel right? And I’m like yeah. They got you money, like they got your bread so you can walk around do whatever and all of this shit like your’e taken care of? I’m like yeah bro. And alright good shit. Like he didn’t even give a fuck about anything. He was like you’re good that’s all he cared about. And thats how he was with everybody. One thing I wanna say I learned from them is that it’s like not giving a fuck, cause there’s some songs where even me now are like what the fuck is this bruh like. And even while recording I was like yo I don’t know about this shit. But they didn’t give a fuck. They didn’t care. They would commit to it and do it and just like go with it. And that’s I feel like with a lot of people, they’ll start something and they’ll be like nah fuck it, nah fuck it. Like with them, it was like nah let’s do this shit, let’s finish it no matter how weird the beat was, no matter how weird the flow or lyrics were, let’s fucking do it. Makonnen, I think his work ethic, like I feel like Makonnen doesn’t get the credit he deserves on a lot of shit. And his work ethic bro, that shits crazy. Like he can literally knock out 30 songs in a session easy. It’s just as simple as load the beat up, he’ll freestyle and go back, and then you just go back and rearrange shit so you have a hook, so you have everything and that’s it. He’s really one of the first people that I was really like wow’d by his work ethic and we’re definitely linking up in the future. I feel that he had a lot of like political shit going on with his stuff. It’s just a matter of reconnecting and doing stuff like that.

Q: What advice do you have for young A+R’s, producers, engineers, music industry executives, etc.?

A: I think coming this far and everything that I’ve been through, the best advice I have is the simplest shit, and it’s literally just like, as fucked up as it sounds, like just shut the fuck up and like work. Cause a lot of people work, and then they work for a little bit and put their head down and then look up to see like where’s my accomplishments, like where’s my pat on the back. I can honestly say that’s like the best advice I can give anyone and if they take that advice and they truly follow it, you will get so far. Just because like I literally did that, I literally just shut the fuck up. I didn’t expect anything. Like honestly where I’m at right now is nowhere where I thought I would be 3 years ago. Like 3 years ago, I was just this kid trying to figure out like yo if I worked at a studio that’d be crazy. Like hell nah. Just do things without expecting things or don’t expect things from anyone and you’ll get so far. And that’s the simplest and shortest response I really have for that. I feel like so many people are just caught up, like damn when am I gonna get my shit or when am I gonna reach my goal. Like there’s no timeline for anything. You can literally wake up tomorrow and accomplish all of your goals you want, you just don’t know. It’s just a matter of are you going to be prepared for when that time comes. Producers, ya’ll are worried about like placements, ya’ll are worried about like damn I wish people would just listen to my beat. First off I’m gonna tell y’all this shit right now. Like nobody in Internet Money wakes up, looks at their message requests, and are like oh shit this dude has beats, like let me listen to it. Like nobody does that shit. So don’t do that, literally just like work and your work will speak for itself. Especially with artists, like even with artists that are trying to get signed or whatever. Like it’s cool that I’m an artist and I get to see this sids of it because all I do is literally just drop music and try to make the best stuff that I can make and let the rest figure itself out. So especially with artists, just make music, just drop it like normal. Don’t worry about anything else that comes with it. Like whatever’s gonna come with it is gonna find you, you don’t have to find anyone. That’s my best advice, just because I’ve seen what works the most. We’ve never signed an artist that’s been hitting us up or like spamming us or like whatever. We’ve never done that. We find them because of the quality of the work and the way that they present themselves on their own.

Q: Era, what’s next for you?

A: Right now, like I said I have my next 4 singles. I’ve been trying to drop my next single, it’s like a summer vibe. I was gonna drop it and then it was kind of like the tail end of this whole lockdown. I’m like fuck I’m gonna wait, so I rescheduled it and the riots happened and obviously that’s not a good time to drop anything. So I pushed it back even further. And the date that I had pushed it back, the distribution company like fucked up on something or it had like the old release date so they rejected it so I had to resubmit it. July 3rd should be my next single. And that’s gonna be the start of a lot. I’ve got a song with Lil Spirit and I’ve also got more people that I’m working with. I usually don’t work with people but these songs are just crazy. It’s the best stuff I’ve made and I’m just really excited to share to be honest.

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