When you can make a crowd rowdy with epic call-and-reponses and witty one-liners, while also dropping introspective truth bombs, you know you’ve got something special. Myke Bogan plays shows with a passion that makes you introspective and get down at the same time. After a long run of shows at Treefort Music Festival, I learned to respect not only this artist’s lyrical versatility, but also his authentic and inviting stage presence. It was my pleasure to be able to talk with Myke in anticipation of his upcoming album, Joe Fontana, and understand more about the magic that marks his music as unique among an industry-saturated rap world.
Earthlings Entertainment: So I caught a couple sets of yours at Treefort and it was awesome. You actually played a ton of sets for Treefort Music Festival. What did you think of the festival?
Myke: Man it was amazing. The way that they took care of the artists. The turnout and the fact that I have an amazing fan base already in Boise is the shit. It was unforgettable. It was a great experience and I loved it. Hmm… my favorite set was…
EE: You played the Portland day party, you played at the skate park, at the Knitting Factory and at the all ages venue. What was your favorite set of the weekend?
Myke: The skate park was probably the dopest for me because I’ve never had the opportunity to play at a skate park. I grew up loving skate parks. It was super personal. You’re right up there with the crowd and it kind of reminded me of when I used to do house shows and stuff. That was tight for me. And after that, the Knitting Factory was epic. To be right before Rapsody was dope and the Boise Knitting Factory has definitely been on my hit list.
EE: When thinking about the West Coast rap scene people kind of gloss over everything from San Fran to Seattle but you hail from Portland, a city that I definitely love. How have you noticed the Portland hip-hop scene grow over the past couple years?
Myke: Oh man I feel like it’s definitely breaking through. It has definitely come up so much in the past couple years, there are so many great artists. Not to mention the whole Aminé situation, with him doing his thing and taking off. Shout out to him. There are so many great artists.
EE: I know EYRST is killing it for the Northwest.
Myke: Yeah, EYRST is blowing up. My boy ePP is there. You got Last Artful, Dodgr, and of course Blossom is amazing. Just a great scene man. I feel like we are finally starting to get our traction when it comes to making big moves. Definitely improving over the past couple years.
EE: I’ve heard you mention in other interviews that you think collaboration is key to helping the community grow and thrive. Portland has a couple unique subcultures that I think would mesh well with the local hip-hop and especially your style. Have you thought about collaborating with some of the electronic squads out of there for productions or shows, for example STYLSS or Sublimate?
Myke: Oh yeah I would love to. Right now, Hustle and Drone and I have been talking about doing some stuff together. This summer and going into the fall, I plan to expand and push myself as an artist. Bring everyone together and hopefully spread the word even more. After Joe Fontana drops, I definitely want to reach out to more more people.
EE: Speaking of Joe Fontana, I noticed how going from your album Casino Carpet into Pool Party there is this almost recognizable shift in your tone.. maybe turning your focus more inward, maybe a little more reflective. How do you think your style has changed going from Pool Party into Joe Fontana?
Myke: You know, it’s hard as an artist. You want to stay the same you because you want to give your fans what they want. But as a person, as an artist, you just naturally progress. Like you brought up before about having different features and collaborating with the electronic scene. You want to branch out, you want to grow. It’s very hard to tow that line between not changing too much and doing it the right way, still bringing your fan base with you.
Hopefully they still appreciate and love you just the same or even more. So I think with this album, in terms of progression, this will be my second sample free album. Pool Party was my first and it was hard for me. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It was the first time for me transitioning into sample free music and only live instrumentation. I struggle catching a vibe sometimes in the middle of a production. But this time I just had it figured out. I linked up with Carson who produced ‘Dashboard’ on Pool Party and we just had a vibe. Not just a musical connection, but also as friends and more personally. I just wanted to work with him through the whole project and he was down. That came together really well. This one is a little different, a little more jazzy a little more singing. There’s the single with Kid Indigo. Definitely including more features. Just trying to progress man… we will see how people take it and what they say.
EE: With regards to your most recent single, On My Way. The Kid Indigo vocals are a refreshing addition to your style of music. What other features are you going to have on the upcoming album?
Myke: Oh yeah, let me get a couple shout outs in here. So I have Kid Indigo on the project, of course. I have Ripley Snell, who’s amazing. He’s part of the EYRST family. He’s got some great work that’s about the drop. And I have Blossom all over the project. She just really brought my project to life. Without her, I don’t know what I would do. She just brought a whole other level to it. And I got a dope feature that you’ll see on the next single that drops.
EE: When can we expect that one?
Myke: Probably in the next few weeks!
EE: So, a lot of artists have different goals when they make music or play shows. What are some of the reasons you do what you do and what are you trying to accomplish?
Myke: I tell people I make music because I want to touch lives and I want to help people. I have always wanted to make music that basically me and my friends would listen to and enjoy. I always wanted to make music that was genuine. When people ask me why they should listen to my music, I don’t say it’s because it’s the hottest album or because I’m the next level shit. I say because it’s genuine and there will probably be something in there that you can really fuck with or relate to personally. I just want to continue to inspire people. I mean, I am blown away by fans and the fan mail I already get. That’s enough inspiration for me. I know I’m touching lives when I’m in places like Boise and Treefort cuz I’ll be talking to fans who have been down with me since some of my older projects, like So Long, South Dakota or Monkeys on the Beach.
I guess there’s different goals but in the long term man, I just want to be able to do this forever. Continue to see the world just doing music, and continuing to touch lives man and inspire people. That’s all I want to do.
EE: I know you have a family. How does that come into play when you’re trying to accomplish these goals?
Myke: Oh man I’m definitely getting better at it but you really don’t have a choice. I don’t want to say that I am a kind of chameleon but when I’m with my kids I am dad, you know? I’m not Myke Bogan or a rapper. For instance, today when I picked up my kids from school today at 2:15, I had to take one to a play date and take one home and work on multiplication and do homework, make food and stuff like that. I am full-blown dad when I’m not in rap mode and as soon as they’re sleeping or with their mom or away, then it’s back to that.
I definitely keep learning a lot of things, it’s crazy. I’m everywhere. I go to assemblies. I go to the choir concerts. My kids are in second grade and kindergarten and I’m at all the Valentines parades or whatever. I’m full blown dad and when they go to sleep, I’m smoking backwoods and drinking beer. I keep that stuff separate, if I’m being real man. And that goes back to just being genuine.
That’s a lot of peoples lives. Whether it be with work or school or whatever you do, I feel like a lot of people relate to that. If you got two kids under the age of eight you will want to have a drink at the end of the night, I promise. If you say you don’t, it’s probably a lie. I’m just trying to balance by being the best that I can be. I’m a father first and then music comes second.
EE: Mad respect. It seems a lot of people try to front when they become a rapper as if you have to pretend to have this gangster/rockstar life with constant intoxication, money, and ladies, and it’s nice to hear the realness. I think that’s one of the reasons your style and your music have taken off so much. You have this integrity of voice that a lot of other rap ignores playing this other game of fronted personalities that you don’t play. When you started rapping, when you started writing lyrics, did you always try and prioritize this authenticity?
Myke: Yeah man, it’s always been real. It’s crazy. People that have listened to my music from the beginning all the way to now will notice I have changed so much. My second project, one of the biggest singles on it was ‘Beers and Bars’. I was fresh out of college on a super bender. My oldest kid was like one or two. I was not doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was not focused and I was going through a lot. Me and my baby mama were going through a lot. Now there’s actually a song in Joe Fontana that talks about how I stopped doing Xanax and I don’t pop pills and I don’t really indulge in any of that anymore. I drink, I smoke pot, and I live a regular life. And if you listen from the beginning there’s so many changes. I’ve never fronted or never lied. Even the stories with women or any of the other stories in my rhymes, they are all true. I promise you that. I feel like I couldn’t do it any other way.
Sometimes I hear other rappers, like Action Bronson. He is like one of my favorite rappers, but the stuff he says sometimes, is like, oh yeah that stuff is completely imaginary. I don’t think that really happened. In some of those lyrics, he’s hilarious. For me, I couldn’t write like that if I wanted to. It wouldn’t come out right, it would just feel wrong.
EE: You’ve mentioned before, how important it is to maintain your audience, give them what they expect. Maybe that’s kind of the blessing with your ‘thing’, what makes your style unique, being that you are this authentic lyricist/artist. Your sound is very real, and no matter what you fuck with, as long as you keep that realness, you’re probably going to keep that crowd because that’s the sound they are looking for. So you could probably do some weiiiiird stuff and probably keep that strong crowd of people loving it as long as your voice rings true through it.
Myke: Fuck yeah dude. I was talking to my sister, she’s younger. She loves my music and she supports it and she listens. But she also loves Migos and what not. The other day she listened to Joe Fontana, she listens to all my music, and she’s like ‘I see you go through all your different emotions. I see you all happy and upbeat, sometimes your songs are down, sometimes you’re singing about being high. Sometimes you’re aggressive or angry.’ And I was like, well when you come from a genuine place that’s what you write about, that is what a regular person is going through. Sometimes you are happy, sometimes you are sad, sometimes you are mad or aggressive, sometimes you’re just smoking and that’s the mood you’re in.
Albums get made over a many month span or even longer and you have all these different emotions over 10, 12, 18 months, however long it takes to complete a project. If you have an artist that makes a fifteen song turn-up album there’s no way they feel like that all the time. It just doesn’t work like that. In the last year, me and you have probably been through some shit where you’ve probably felt sad or upset, or high or whatever. There’s no way I can just say I made this whole album about turning up, cuz that’s the only way I feel 24/7. No. There’s no way that is really happening. You know what I’m saying? That’s a genuine thing. That’s why it’s so funny to hear people diss the new J. Cole Album. It cracks me up.
EE: Speaking about that… More artists are using their platform, to express the difficult experiences in their lives, and the lives of others, to make powerful political statements, just like J. Cole, or like Seattle rapper, Sol- has spoken a lot about. Are there any global or political current events that light a fire under your art?
Myke: Ah this is so tough for me to talk about. But I love it, I love it.
EE: There’s some real shit going on in our world, and with your situation as an artist, as a father, are there any bigger societal issues that creep into your life and influence your music?
Myke: You know man, being honest, it doesn’t directly affect my music. I have friends that are super into politics and issues, current events. I have so many of those here, where that’s there thing.
EE: Portland represent.
Myke: Exactly, you have no idea. One of my buddies that I’m with all the time, all we do is drive around, smoke weed, and listen to NPR. Sometimes, when I speak about it, I feel like I don’t know enough to even talk about it, because it goes so deep. I guess what I could say is that I do worry about issues with the police, and I do worry about Trump and his decision making, because I have kids and the future is in his hands in a lot of different ways. All the way from small, small stuff to bigger issues I can’t even really dig into it. I worry a lot about a lot of shit man. We would need a bottle to get into it.
EE: So now that we’ve gotten out of the deep end. Let’s just do some name-dropping:
Favorite venue to play in Portland?
Myke: Ohh… The Roseland
EE: It’s Portland and I have to ask about food. What’s your favorite place to grub down?
Myke: Oh my god, Miss Delta. That is my favorite place. On Mississippi, Miss Delta is amazing. Departure happy hour. If you want something fast, Don Pedro’s. I’m always there. Ahh, it’s just so much good food. Any gyro in the food truck district is fire. Grab one of those.
A: If you could do a dream-collab with any other artist in the game right now, who would it be?
Myke: Oh man, it’d be Kid Cudi for sure. Kid Cudi changed my life for sure. I am a huge fan. I feel like that would be so dope.
A: If you were interviewing yourself right now, what would you ask yourself?
Myke: Are we going for a hard question or easy one? I would probably ask myself how good are you really at FIFA? That would be the one.
A: Well how good are you really at FIFA?
Myke: Oh I’m nice. I’m pretty damn nice at FIFA.
A: Alright, now that we know you rock virtual soccer, that pretty much covers everything. Any last shout-outs you want to throw in here before we conclude?
Myke: Oh my god, shout out to Tim Slew, Sean McDonald. Shout out to the whole EYRST family. I know I’m gonna miss a bunch of people. Shout out to my mom that hates the fact that I’m a rapper. Shout out to her and Shout out to my kids and my sister for always supporting and showing mad love. I appreciate it and love her to death.
A: So we can expect a new single in a couple weeks, and Joe Fontana later this summer?
Myke: Yeah, new single coming up, then On My Way video that’s gonna drop soon. Then I got another video we’re going to shoot, and that will also be coming this summer. Then of course, Joe Fontana, super soon. So be prepared. It’s coming.
EE: Looking forward to it man. Thanks for giving us your time.
Myke: Hell yes, thank you for asking real ass questions and being a real dude. I appreciate that.