Exclusive: G-Eazy talks Downtown Love
James Dean, hitchhiking on the highway, the wind rippling his perfectly coiffured hair, his collar propped up sheltering his cigarette from the same unfair and premature death. But wait, it’s 2015. He’s wearing Nike high tops, has a midi controller strapped to his back, and the wind isn’t so much the roar of disaffected youth that the American Dream is leaving behind. Instead the crowd applauds the promise of modern hip hop realized.
And that pretty much sums up G-Eazy, the 25-year old Bay Area rapper, with classic looks and melodies that sound even smoother than silk. Today young G-Eazy just so happens to be releasing his newest music video for the track ‘Downtown Love’, off of the These Things Happen album.
Amidst a tight tour schedule, we managed to catch G-Eazy for a quick chat about the dangerous love story behind his new video and finding an unlikely muse in Edie Sedgwick.
Where are you working out of right now?
I’m kind of just working out of wherever I am. I just set up shop on the tour bus, or in the hotel room, or at home which is kind of rare, home doesn’t really exist like that.
When did you know that music was going to be your driving force?
I got hooked really early on, around when I was thirteen or fourteen. The idea that you could record a song at home—it was around that time when equipment was accessible, it didn’t cost a fortune. You could get a condenser mic for a hundred bucks and the software was starting to become available too. MySpace had just popped up so there was even a way to share with people, you know what I mean? All that was brand new.
What inspired the noir backdrop for the "Downtown Love" video?
My good friend Bobby Bruderle directed it and has documented almost my whole career. He comes on tour and shoots photos and he directed the “Been On” video as well. It’s kind of his signature aesthetic to do everything in that film-noir, black and white, classic style.
The video itself portrays a relationship literally going downtown, it’s decaying, what’s that all about?
Haha, well you know different experiences in life, and the different people you meet inspire the story and makes its way into the music. It’s loosely based of an Edie Sedgwick kind of character, the socialite party girl who likes to have fun, but there’s this dark undertone to the fun. The fun is kind of fleeting and this lifestyle won’t last forever. What we basically wanted to do was show this downward spiral through the passing of time, by literally passing by this one bedroom studio apartment. It takes you from this happy summer place to this really dark place of winter where everything’s gone out of control, and she’s lost herself to the party scene and to consumerism. It finally ends on this really dark note where we see each other in an alleyway and can barely recognize one another.
That’s actually a pretty scary concept.
Yeah, we wanted to do something really dark.
You aim for timelessness when it comes to your look and your music, with a strong desire avoid being a fad that burns out. How do you plan to make this vision a continued success?
I don’t think you can plan for that or strategize, you just have to be genuine when you create, write from an honest place, and hope that people react to your music.
What’s your method to making music?
It usually starts with the music, not the lyrics. I react to that. I feel like there’s two sides of me, there’s Gerald and there’s G-Eazy. Gerald likes to tell stories. He’s more vulnerable, more honest and open. G-Eazy is the invincible super villain, who doesn’t give a fuck, does whatever he wants to, and parades around the world.
Sounds a lot like Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde. How do you balance the two?
It’s very much like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think it’s about coming to know both sides and appreciating them.
Your latest album is titled These Things Happen, what’s the reference?
You can interpret however you want, but I’ve always seen it two different ways. One is that you work so hard for something for so many years without anything happening, playing shows and being happy that 50 people showed up, or releasing music online and being happy that you got a couple thousand hits. But then all of a sudden then you start selling out shows, and millions of people are listening. Then you realize that if you grind for long enough then eventually these things start happening. The other way is the reaction to it happening, and enjoying everything that comes with that and the lifestyle, living life the way I want to and just having a nonchalant reaction to it all.
So you’ve been on tour and are playing Webster Hall this weekend. What’s been your favorite place so far?
As farm as performing, New York definitely has a special place in my heart. I’ve admired New York from a distance my entire life, growing up in the Bay Area listening to east coast hip-hop and just imagining what it would be like to live in New York. I always felt if music ever took me to New York that would be the serious benchmark of my career, a big achievement. I remember the first time I played Webster Hall I was opening up in the small room, in the studio, so to have two sold out shows in the big room is a really big deal to me.
How do you spend your time in New York when you’re not performing?
I usually hang out in Soho or the Lower East Side, I’ve got friends over there, we go out and rage.
For more info on G-Eazy’s tour dates check out his website.