MCMI’s own Keith ‘WildChild’ Middleton (STOMP/HYDRA/ThePLAGUE) gives us an exclusive interview on the set of his video shoot for his song “Feels Good”!
Even though he is a my brother from another mother and fellow recording artist on MCMI Records, it is hard to catch up with Keith ‘WildChild’ Middleton these days!! When he is in New York, he is locked in the studio, creating, recording, mixing almost 24/7. Between back and forth trips to Japan to promote his album, video and photo shoots – the man stays busy! So at a recent video shoot for his song “Feels Good,” off of his upcoming album “TRANSITIONS“, I asked him some questions, to give the fans some info on his music, his life and his new project. Here is a snippet of it. Click “Read More” to go to the full interview.
GMS: Most people know you from STOMP, the musical, producing and rapping for HYDRA and The PLAGUE, but you are working on this incredible Spoken Word album now, that many people did not even know about. How did that come about?
Keith: I always kept my poetry on the low. It’s private. I had played with blending it with my original music for years with aspirations of completing an album but never went further than the thought. Jan 15th 2008 12:15pm was the car wreck that became the game changer. From my Hospital bed I vowed to complete my album and live my life to the fullest! Thank Goodness for the second chance.
GMS: This album is being simultaneously released in the US and overseas in Japan. You’ve been getting a lot of support from Japanese radio and been doing performances in Japan. How did you develop your Japanese audience?
Keith: A great friend of mine / manager in Japan, Ayumi Hoshikawa, has been instrumental in introducing me to radio stations, musicians, venues, festivals and just good people in general. She’s awesome.
GMS: Having been an MC and cast member of STOMP for many years, you are no stranger to the stage or the mic, but this time you are performing your poetry. Does it feel different? How does that compare with your past experiences?
Keith: It’s more frightening because in STOMP there are no words and it’s an ensemble. Now it’s just me sharing my truths. So I am literally exposed and leaving myself open.
GMS: Who directed and shot the video for “Feels Good” and tell us about that song and the video.
Keith: Brandon Polanco is an amazing young writer director. He wrote and directed a short film starring Brian Cranston from Breaking Bad. I was like “You got Heizenberg in yo Movie??!!!!” I was introduced to him by a mutual friend Penny Wentland . She’s a new Stomper. The video is my first and probably the most important one to me. I was in a crazy wreck a few years back and there was a moment when I just let go because I couldn’t move without feeling pain. I just knew things were bad and that I couldn’t do anything about it. So I just kind of smiled because I knew my people loved me and they knew I loved them and I let go. I woke up in the hospital and vowed to do this album. Trying to heal from broken ribs and head trauma entailed taking heavy duty pain meds that left me feeling really awful. I decided to not take them and focus on things that made me feel good. People, places, foods, memories. I compiled a list that list became a poem and when I merged it to a track i had originally written for my friend Liz Tuccilo’s short film “Claire” I had something special. I’m really glad Brandon thought so too. This video has my family my friends my Brooklyn, my fellow Stompers, and so much more in it. Everything that makes me smile. and Feel Good, Real Good.
GMS: What does the title “Transitions” mean? Why did you name your album that?
Keith: I needed a title and my brother LR Blitzkrieg asked me to run down the list of tunes on the album. I got down to “Transitions” and he said “DING!!!! Keith, dude you have been through so much and still are moving forward to other things, Transitions is PERFECT”! Gotta thank Blitz!
GMS: Spoken Word can be done over any musical backdrop, so how would you describe this album, musically? Is it Hip Hop? Jazz, Funk, RnB?
Keith: It’s hard to put in a box. I’ve been exposed and influenced by so many genres growing up. Your dad even took us to jazz clubs when we were kids and we listened to him playing with other straight ahead cats. My album is a celebration of all those many genres, an amalgamation of Jazz, Funk, Soul, Rock, Samba, AfroBeat, HipHop, and more…
GMS: What are some of the topics of the songs on your album Transitions?
Keith: I touch on relationships, theology, eroticism, family, love, loss, laughter and life.
GMS: I know in the past you have done a lot of music production (check the songs “Love Is …” or the song “Twelve”), but your approach to this project was different, a lot of live instrumentation. Can you explain to us the process?
Keith: I play a few instruments, not well but well enough to get the idea across. So I did the best I could and made demos. I wanted to give this album life by bringing in live instrumentation. So I called my friends. It was such an amazing experience and so different from anything else I’ve done. It was like a canvas and I drew the outline and gave everyone a brush and paint and we all just went for it. Amazing experience.
GMS: You got to work with a lot of world class singers and other musicians on the album, from what I hear, even the guy who mixed it is a grammy award winning engineer. Tell me about some of the artists and how it was working with them.
Keith: All of these cats are not only my friends but so amazing in their field Reuben Cainer, Kappa Tanabe, Christian Almiron, Miki Hirose, Mika Mimura, Lenny The Ox Reese, Chris Claremont, Erick Walls, Davi Vieria, Marivaldo Dos Santos,Dende Macedo, Francois Zayas, Latoya Kennedy, Camille Armstrong, Rushan Double RR Reede, Nabiyah Bashir, Priscila Ferrari, Fernanda Dos Santos, Jonathan Hoard, Ryan Pinkston, Dezmond Meeks, Eva Cortes, Keith Witty, Sangmin Lee, Jeremy Price, Mike Kammers, Joe Beaty, GC, Kan Hayashi, Lauren Molina, Jesiah Pringle. Dan Weiner, Mike Dominico, Brent McLachlan, Tariq Khan, Johhny Z. Mikkel Erickson of Stargate has been a seriously genuine friend to me. He helped fund my independent campaign and introduced me to his “go to” engineers, who have been so amazing and patient with this first timer. Shout out to Tim Friesen!
GMS: You are ranked #1 Spoken Word artist on Reverbnation right now. That’s pretty incredible after only being on it for a short period of time. To what do you attribute your popularity, before even dropping a single off the project?
Keith: Maaannnn i don’t eeven know. I am just as amazed at this as you are. I mean folks can’t even purchase the tunes yet let alone hear the full song. It’s all incredibly humbling and leaves me speechless and seriously beside myself. I thank all the listeners and i promise to keep bringing music from my heart to your soul.
GMS: Who are some of your influences, who inspired you, both musically and lyrically?
Keith: Everyone from Stevie Wonder to Led Zepplin. I have been exposed to all types of music. my mom and dad have crazzzzyyyy records… I have crazy records – incidentally you still have a crate of mine dude!!!! [laughs]
Steve Shaughency introduced me to Jaco Pastorious and Mike Stern when I was 15 and [Arrghhh] – I was blown away! Gill Scott and Fela Kuti showed me how to put social commentary and real thoughts to music. I hope people dig me a quarter as much as I dig those greats.
GMS: When your album drops this summer, will it be digital only or will their be physicals?
GMS: What advice would you give someone who is working on their music, trying to come out as an artist in these days and times?
Keith: Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. I have had naysayers try their best to discourage me all my life. Even to this day. I am living proof that if you believe it, you can be it. No matter where this part of my journey takes me, I am happiest now, because I went for it. I seized the day and the moment. Carpe Diem, Peace & Rhythm!
MCMI Report: Keith ‘WildChild’ Middleton – Transitions (Interview)