AS A TRUTHSAYER HIS MUSIC IS FULL OF REFERENCES TO FLAWS IN OUR SOCIETIES AND TO HIS OWN PERSONAL JOURNEY. AS A RAPPER HE HAS SOME OF THE SMOOTHEST GROOVES I’VE HEARD IN RECENT YEARS, HE FLOWS EFFORTLESSLY THROUGH WHATEVER BEAT THE BAND THROWS AT HIM. HE’S AN ACTIVIST, A DJ, A PROLIFIC PRODUCER AND MUCH MORE.
I was first introduced to Stimulus’ music by my good friend and FRAMED’s former video producer AŸA in mid 2020. The first track I heard was ‘Good’ from his Colors show and I was hooked. I reached out and invited him to come play a livestream show (we were allowed about 35 audience members in the space at that point due to COVID restrictions) and he was quick to accept. Since that first contact Stimulus has collaborated with FRAMED several times including on our ‘2021’ vinyl compilation and most recently for a special night of FRAMED @ XJAZZ! festival (May 2022). In this interview he talks about his connection to the NYC jazz scene, his process of getting ready for a show and his experiences with FRAMED.
Q: The first time you performed at FRAMED was in September 2020 in the midst of the COVID pandemic. What was that first experience like?
When I arrived at the Framed studio, I instantly noticed the professionalism and felt the warm hospitality. I could tell I was amongst real music lovers. [You can see a video from that performance on our Youtube Channel]
Q: Your show at XJAZZ/FRAMED with a full band was a one-hit kind of event. How did you put it together musically and was that experience for you as the front man?
I actually didn’t put it together musically, that credit goes to Haggai Cohen-Milo. When he invited me to do the show, I decided to “let go” and trust him to choose band mates and favorite songs. This was how my career in jazz began. Eric Rivas, a member of Branford’s band, recommended the members of my first band. Every band I’ve had since was chosen by one of the musicians I played with. The experience was very freeing. Like many, the past 2 years have given me a lot of uncertainty. I’ve experienced some very rough patches. Concentrating mainly on my part of the show allowed me to not get overwhelmed. It also allowed me to experience the full band in the same moment as the audience since it was the first time we were all on stage together.
Q: How do you see the dancers’ part of the show, Slaunch & Freshca of To The Fullest crew from Hamburg?
Franklyn and Francesca did something that I like to do at all of my shows. They broke the 4th wall. The imaginary boundary between the performers and audience. They helped to make the audience part of the show.
Q: You are associated with some of the greatest jazz musicians of our time, can you tell us what’s your connection to the jazz scene, how it came to be? And what influence does jazz music have on your creative process, if any?
I began as a pure hip hop artist in a duo. We always loved the stage and performance. At a certain point, it became difficult creating the kinds of shows we wanted to do within the context of pre-recorded tracks. We decided to create a band after experiencing the freedom we had sitting in with other acts. One of those acts was Branford Marsalis. The 2-3 guest appearances we made with him introduced me to the world of jazz as a performer. I was already a fan and listener. But through the network of musicians we began meeting, jamming and touring with, jazz became an integral part of my journey as an artist. Jazz has influenced my ability to see my voice as an instrument. One that can play many different roles. Including “background” roles. It is in the nature of an MC to take “center stage.” Jazz taught me how the center doesn’t always have to be the front.
Q: What’s your next release, plans for the near/far future?
I am working on finalizing my new album that I would like to release in early 2023.