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Interview: Up-Close and Personal with Mike Stud Special

By Alexa Spieler     Jul 10, 2014 in Music
By now – everyone familiar with Mike Stud's music knows his story; his trademark: the former Duke University baseball player turned rapper, after his elbow never quite recovered from Tommy John surgery.
The Rhode Island-native anticipated entering the major league as a pitcher, growing up in the New England area as a Boston Red Sox fan. One surgery later, and his elbow never quite returned to how it used to be – never fully healed. Some may focus on the sorrow of his dream-crushing injury, but in an instance of serendipity, Stud found music, as not only a new outlet for expression and connection, but for his next dream to chase.
Earlier in his career, he found success simply messing around on Garageband, crafting pun-filled tracks that reverberated throughout the bars and at parties in the Duke University area.
As apparent as ever, Stud's grown from his previous instances solely putting out covers and pun-filled tracks, which has been emphasized by his sophomore release, Closer. A demanding, well-balanced album of his usual good-vibes, happiness-inducing tracks and songs of more graveness, emphasized by how personal he constructs his music, Stud is aiming to challenge the rap industry, demanding to make his mark.
24-hours following Closer's release, Stud spoke with Digital Journal and the interview can be read below.
AS: It’s been a crazy past couple of 24 hours – so congratulations on Closer. The album was #1 on iTunes, and of course you hope for that reaction, but were you really expecting it?
To be honest, I had pretty high expectations and I had a lot of confidence in the record. I just have a really, really passionate group of fans that were all really excited. I knew it would have a good amount of success. It’s great going into something knowing that you have support. But, that was pretty exceptional – getting to number one right away like that, which is awesome. I wouldn’t say I was expecting that, so it’s great.
AS: It must be pretty crazy seeing your name up there with people like Ariana Grande, Ed Sheeran – all these huge people in the industry.
Right – it’s always a little crazy, when you see it like that. Those are the people you want to be on the same list with, so it’s pretty surreal.
AS: Again – congratulations. Before the album released, though, you released the music video for “Closer,” which has a really interesting video. Could you talk about the concept behind it?
Thank you, thank you. Yeah! I just wanted to do something symbolic. The whole concept behind the album is that song. It came pretty effortlessly, in that sense. It was one of the concepts I had in my mind for a while. You know, the running up the hill, the mountains – that’s kind of how I look at life, in a lot of ways. I always feel like if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards – in a sense. So, I just feel like the symbol there was that we thought I got to the top, at the end with the beautiful view, but really there’s another mountain to climb. You never really make it; you’re just always “Closer.” That was what I was going for and I was pretty happy with how we executed it.
AS: Everyone, at this point, knows the whole story with how you were playing baseball and unfortunately the injury happened, and you see yourself still struggling with that in the video. Is that still something that’s on your mind, as in do you miss it?
Definitely, there are definitely times when I miss baseball. Playing it is probably the coolest, fun thing. I mean, to be completely honest, I really have moved on and I’m so excited for what’s going on right now and everything that’s happening. To be completely honest, I definitely have had closure in that sense. I have a lot of friends who play and it’s cool. Like, when I go to games, I get to go down on the field and I just get some nostalgia. But, overall, I’m really happy.
AS: But, you still link baseball in your music. You see it with the album titles and the promo video you did. Is it important for you to maintain that relationship with baseball?
Right, right. You know what? It’s not even really an effort on my end – it’s just who I am. Like, everything I write is from me and from my mind. It’s just a huge part of who I am. It just happened that way, when I started to write music. First, I just rapped and I was just a rapper. Everything was a punch line and everything was sports-oriented, because that’s just who I am and how I write. That’s how the transition went for me. I think now it’s clear that that’s a staple in what I do, in some way. So, I definitely try to think about that sometimes for certain records, but I want to make sure it sounds confident and coming with a symbolic statement. But yeah, it just happens organically since I follow sports.
AS: Could you talk to me a little bit about that promo video – the one with Mike Trout, Jay Bruce, etc? It’s really awesome.
I think a lot of the athletes connect with my story and they connect with the music because it’s so relatable to what they’ve been through. We share a certain comradery when you know someone and played and you can relate. I think a lot of them feel like I can relate to what they’re doing. I think a lot of them also love music and have an interest in hip-hop, so I’m sort of like their connector to that side of it. I met some of them through acquaintances or people I played with. But, a lot of them had reached out, whether it is Twitter or whatever, and reached out and we connected that way. I was in the studio a couple of weeks ago and I think I was talking to someone about having athletes show support and I kind of thought of the idea to do that promo video, ‘cause it’s just different. Most people will have other musicians in a promo video. I was just doing it the Mike Stud way, I guess [laughs].
AS: A little earlier you were talking about how personal your music is and I think you really see that through “Smile For Me.” Could you talk about that song a little and would you consider that the most personal?
I’d say the most personal song is “Closer” only because that’ me – what I’m talking about is me. But, “Smile For Me” is still talking about real things that I’ve encountered, whether it be a friend or a friend of a friend’s. I was inspired to write about it. I think I have a lot of fun music, but there’s a large part of my fan-base that goes to my music for the ones that are meaningful and on a personal level. A lot of people like that stuff, too. I always make an effort to make that stuff, too.
AS: Yeah, definitely. I noticed there’s a good range of your fun songs and then your more serious, personal ones throughout the album. Did you approach the album considering that?
I definitely approached it the whole time, keeping balance in mind. I wanted to not only balance content and what I’m talking about, but what instruments I’m using, what vibes; what sounds – you know what I mean? I really went into it trying to keep it as well rounded as possible. You know, I was really happy with how it came out and that it’s pretty balanced, for the most part. I think we leaned a little bit on the summer time, fun vibe, which for the time of the year is kind of how my life is, right now. Obviously, this album reflects me, right now. But, I’m happy overall.
AS: You also have some really awesome collaborations on it with Conrad and Micky Blue.
We made an effort to not do features in the sense where not do big rap features or big names. I really wanted to show what I can do, on this. Conrad and Micky Blue happened organically, at the studio I worked out of. They’re both just so talented.
AS: And then you start your tour in a couple of days from now. You ready to be back on the road?
To be honest? No, I’m not [laughs]. I wish we had a couple of weeks to let the album breathe a little bit and so I could unwind, but that’s just how the cards fell, and I’m ready and so excited to get on the road and play these new songs. I’m definitely gonna be ready, but it is really one big cluster right now. It’s exciting – I’m just happy to be busy.
AS: But, it'll all be worth it once you see the kids singing all the new songs back to you.
Of course, of course, of course. That's one of the coolest parts about it.
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