Scope Artist Catch Wreck sat down with Kevin Emile of Spare Change News to talk about his career in hip-hop, how he wound up where he is, what its like working with a band and what to expect down the road. You can purchase Catch’s albums from the Scope Music store.
Bohemian Beats: SCN Chops It Up with Boston’s Avant-Garde Hip Hop Artist, Catch Wreck
Q. Where in Boston are you currently residing?
A. Roxbury, MA
Q. How would you compare Boston to other cities you’ve been in or know about?
A. Boston has a very unique mind state I would say. The people are disconnected, their living in their own zone. The people don’t really travel outside of their own comfort zone. I think it’s racially divided and unequal. I think there are a lot of issues with racism that don’t get addressed properly. On the other hand there are many cities that have a pattern of racial profiling or a pattern of police brutality, but here in Boston I think it’s unique that we have the longest history of it given that we have the first police department in the nation and the primary function of it was to catch slaves and return them to their slave owners whether they were free or not. So we have the longest history of racial profiling and also inspired police departments across America.
Q. How would you explain Boston’s Hip-Hop scene currently?
A. Number one as a Hip-Hop scene I feel we should focus more on controlling our own things. Whether its a media source, an outlet to distribute music or promotions I feel we should have more control of our music and how we handle it. But we have a great Hip-Hop scene in terms of the talent, I think it’s unfortunate that some of the best artists receive the least attention and the less talented ones get the fill of it. But we definitely have a great diverse group of talented people here and whether or not they receive the recognition they deserve I think it’s great that we have that.
Q. how do you rise above the stereotype of being labeled just another Boston rapper?
A. I do way more than just Rap, that’s how I rise above that. In my free time I work with a lot of different kinds of grass roots organizing for the community. I work with teens during the day; I try to be a mentor or an older brother to the youth. So I have a lot more going on than just being a rapper. Even musically I do more than that. I’m also part of a Rock Band called Sweatshop because I enjoy expanding my craft and taking part of fun opportunities like that. I just rise above the overall stereotype that as a rapper all I do is just Rap. Even in my music, I don’t objectify woman, I don’t promote negativity, which some think Rap is all about, I avoid talking about those subjects and only paint the most realistic picture of life for the listener.
Q. How do you go about creating music to give to your fans?
A. It’s almost selfish sometimes because I’m driven by personal expression, how I feel and what I believe should be put out there. My creative process all depends on the moment because at the most random times I can come up with a few lines that I have to write down right then, come back to it later and zone out to it. Or some days I just throw a few beats on and write down how I’m feeling or I collect the bits and pieces scattered in my mind from the day and connect the pieces together into a song.
Q. You’re a solo artist, and also lead in a band, Sweatshop. Where did the fusion come from?
A. I had the concept of being in a rock band from a young age. I use to draw pictures of myself in a rock band. The fusion of the band began one night I was performing at a house party when I was introduced to my drummer Jonas Mayer through a mutual friend and we were discussing ideas about music, most importantly starting a band. He knew a bass player “Mark Vincent” who brought us to our recording space. From there we brought along a guitar player and then a singer. The whole process wasn’t easy. We dealt with complexities in choosing who to have with us and perform but the selection we chose is great and performing with a band is the greatest feeling ever. And I also love the fusion between Rock and Hip-Hop.
Q. Where do the name’s CatchWreck and Sweatshop come from?
A. The band name Sweatshop comes from our rehearsal space which is a curtain factory. When you enter the space it reminds you of a Sweatshop, which was my first comment from a joke I made about the space. My stage name CatchWreck took longer to come up with after going through different names when younger. My first name Conscious Young was given to me by Kyle Jason who at the time was a musical mentor to me and was also the producer for Public Enemy. Upon meeting Public Enemy I got flown out to the studio in Long Island which was at Chuck D’s home and inside I was given the name Conscious Young. After going by Conscious Young, I started going by Catch 22 until I came up with CatchWreck which is an acronym for “Creating Arts To Cause Havoc When Revolution Engages Conscious Knowledge”.
Q. What are some of your favorite songs to perform with the band?
A. We have a song called “Freaky Baby” which is fun to perform because it lets the audience get loose and have fun. “Fight back” is great because it’s a “get people going” kind of anthem because of the build ups in the song and people like unexpected surprises so that song is fun. In fact, there’s no song that I don’t really like performing. My band and I don’t stick to concepts so we enjoy playing every song on the set list we put together. “Revised” is a song we do which is deep and personal and I use it as a release and I think people in the crowd can relate to it.
Q. Are the songs you create for your solo work similar to what you do with the band?
A. Yes and no. When you’re working with a band everyone has to be on the same page with each other. It’s just a different type of energy but it all comes from the same place. A lot of the songs I’ve made as a solo artist creating Hip-Hop can be transferred to the music I produce with the band and vice versa. Its just the way its expressed, like I said it’s a different type of energy.
Q. How do you deal with difference in creativity when working with a band when you normally work by yourself?
A. We learn to trust each and the decisions we make in terms of overall helping the band. But it’s all about trust and compromise, especially learning how to compromise when you’re going to be working with people. It’s frustrating sometimes but it is what it is, there are times when we’re dealing with uncomfortable situations but at the end we worked out the issues and moved on to create music. You have to feel comfortable with what you’re putting out, don’t put it out if you’re not happy with it.
Q. What cd’s or songs should we be interested in purchasing or listening to from you and also Sweatshop?
A. Sweatshop has a new EP coming out called “Minimum Wage” soon on the way. For myself I have an album called “For the People” which is a collaboration with Raw Intelligence at that is coming out really soon. I’m also releasing a compilation of songs that I’ve put out and people have slept on and I hope to grab a few more people’s attention with that. I’m also working on a solo album called “Generation Wrecked” which I’m just dipping my toes into and hope to put out in the near future.
Q. Any upcoming gigs we should mark on our calendars?
A. November 6th Sweatshop will be at the Middle East In Cambridge. December 5th in Jamaica Plain. December 14th at the Midway. November 9th CatchWreck will be performing at a college In Worcester.
Q. Last question Wreck, what’s a life motto you live by?
A. If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. I believe that saying came from Malcolm X and it’s pretty self-explanatory, you just got to have a stance on something instead of floating in the wind with no opinion on things and not knowing who you are and your feelings on certain things.
—Kevin L. Emile