Q: Emo rap/underground hip-hop has always been my favorite type of music, and “Rockstar!” is precisely the type of music I’d listen to. The hook is so catchy, along with your raspy vocals, and the melody is fantastic! What was your favorite part of creating this track?
RELLA: Thank you! The best part of creating this one was coming up with the transition from the first half of the hook to the second melody. I remember it coming to me relatively quickly but it was only when I laid it out and heard the potential that I got really hyped. Listening back to that and then getting all my friends out into the studio and seeing their reaction reaffirming that like, this song is good was just crazy exciting.
Q: Can you walk me through the production process on this track? It sounds so smooth and nicely produced!
RELLA: I recorded Rockstar the same as a lot of other tracks that I’m sitting on at the moment which is really just a process of listening to a wide variety of beats and then in the first few seconds identifying whether or not it has that special ‘feeling’ that I can draw from. If I think there might be enough inspiration in there to evoke an emotion or a particular experience I’ll just hit record and freestyle over it, cutting out and saving the melodies or lyrics that seem to have potential and trying to order them into a song structure. After the skeleton is there I’ll write the rest of the song out and then record section by section until I have my final takes all comped together.
Q: Did any real-life events occur in your life that inspired “Rockstar!”? From the lyrics, it seems to be about a girl who used you in some capacity.
RELLA: This song really drew from a variety of experiences from a range of different people rather than being about one particular person. I mainly identified with the notion of how some people will slowly watch your success and then try to say certain things to get in your good graces but only ever with the intention of serving themselves. I had one girl I was seeing for a while who was saying everything and anything but only wanted to be in a music video and then up and left after that. Another told me I was going to be huge and blow up only to steal my money and go back to her boyfriend a few days later. Others just try and use me for clout, self-esteem or somehow think that because I’m a rapper I’ll help fund some like, lazy, drug taking lifestyle.
Q: This is one of my favorite questions: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have three albums with you, what would they be?
RELLA: Really tough question, hmm, I think I’d have to distinguish between favorite albums and the albums I’d take in a desert-island-like situation but I’d have to go with Get Rich or Die Tryin by 50 Cent, Nevermind by Nirvana and Goodbye and Good Riddance by Juice Wrld.
Q: Your sound is unique as it blends different elements of genres, but you have your fresh take on it. In your own words, how would you describe the music that you typically create?
RELLA: I think my sound really grew out of a boredom of making traditional boom bap rap music and starting to feel one dimensional. I always wanted to be able to sing but have always just thought you were either born with it or not. It wasn’t until the 2017 soundcloud-era and all the artists that came with that, that made me start to realize just how important melody is when trying to make emotive songs. When I started actually breaking down how guys like Peep, Juice, Trippie and XXX connected so strongly to their audience I just kept coming back to their melody choice and vibe. I feel like those guys in particular made it super obvious to me the importance, or at least equality, of melody/vibe as well as lyrics. Since then I just began actively trying to include more singing in my songs, and learning how to do that really ignited a whole new passion for it and made me realize that melody and the overall ‘vibe’ is every bit as important as the lyrics. I guess I would describe my music as emotive hiphop that tries to connect with people and relate to them. Everything I talk about is true, either through symbolism or through genuine personal experiences so listeners can know that everything I’m saying I really felt, experienced or went through.
Q: What has been one of the highlights of your music career so far?
RELLA: Definitely when I hit my first million streams and my friends threw this big surprise party with a DJ and crazy decorations and stuff. That was crazy. I’d never had a surprise party before or anything and that paired with the actual realization of being like, damn, one million people listened to something I made? In my bedroom? That was just crazy. Definitely one of the biggest highlights no doubt.
Q: Looking forward to this release and all your future releases! Tell everyone what exciting things are coming up next for you.
RELLA: This year is going to be nuts, I finally feel like I’m able to actually lay out and create the music I’m hearing in my head with a lot more accuracy than before, so it’s super exciting. To be honest, I’ve never really liked my music too much before as I’ve always struggled with the difference between how I had visualized the song sounding, and how it sounded when finished. Now I feel like that gap is narrowing so it’s good to know I’m on the right path, and after so many years that feeling is really really relieving. A bit daunting, but exciting to know that all the hard work is really starting to pay off.
Interviewed by Melissa Cusano