Hey, You’re Cool! Blue, The Misfit

Blue, The Misfit grew up in both Los Angeles and Dallas, but his unique sound is one that makes pigeonholing him to a regional scene a tricky task. Out of nowhere, often on his Perfect Night for a Funeral album, you can hear guitar riffs echoing throughout a drum pattern, or staccato piano work accentuating another genre-fluid instrumental. He’s a music lover, and thanks to fairly recent career developments, he’s able to fully express himself for the first time.

Blue began his career as a producer, working with the likes of Kendrick Lamar (“P&P”) and ScHoolboy Q (“To Tha Beat”) in the early days of the Top Dawg Entertainment empire, as well as Mac Miller (“Down The Rabbit Hole”) and others. While that sounds like the type of production gig that comfortably keeps someone behind the boards as their career progresses, Blue wanted more. “It put me in a pocket,” says Blue of those days. In 2014, he took the leap with Child in the Wild, a rambunctious collection of party-igniters and club hits. This past fall, he opted for the more experimental Perfect Night for a Funeral, finally unleashing those artistic urges on wax.

Pretty cool, no?

Having grown up in Dallas, what’s it like seeing the city take on some of Houston’s burden in dealing with Hurricane Harvey?

It’s good to see everybody come together to raise money and help out—even the gig I’m playing tonight, it’s over 100 bars coming together to donate tonight’s profits to Houston—so it’s crazy to see us come together when people need us most. But it’s unfortunate that it’s due to a hurricane.

You were born in L.A., and there’s a definite hint of L.A. indie rock on your Perfect Night for a Funeral album.

I don’t know if L.A. directly influences what I do. I lived there as an adult as well, I was raised there and I moved back in my early 20s. But what it did allow was for me to be myself. In Texas, everybody is super conservative and personality is more celebrated out here. So I can say that L..A is certainly a place that I can be myself. I can express myself through music and fashion. I picked up on a lot just from how free-spirited musicians and producers were, and I just embraced all the music that I loved. A lot of alt-rock, a lot of British pop. Stuff like that. This album I really wanted to let every single one of my influences shine through the hip hop that was already part of the equation.

Speaking of that album, in reference to “Died Last Night,” one of its more popular songs, are you ready to die?

I’m not afraid to. Am I ready? No. I don’t think anybody’s ready. I’m not afraid to. I think that I live my life the way I want to, and I’m pretty happy. So if I was to die tomorrow at least I did what I love.

I feel like the irony in that song is in that the title toys with mortality, but the song itself gives you a certain sense of euphoria.

I try not to overthink the morbid side—it puts me in a dark place. But yeah, it’s a sense of urgency. Like, just live the way that you want to live. Because you just never know. Especially considering the life that I live. There’s a lot of night life. Things get wild. There’s a lot of drunk people around at all times, a lot of crazy people in general. Times are crazy. You just never know. At least, if I go out, I just want to go out knowing that I lived it the way I wanted to live. That could be a perfect night.

You began your career doing production work for Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q and TDE. What was the moment that made you want to shift your craft from primarily producing to also advancing on the artist front?

Mainly because I got tired of making music that other people wanted me to make. And as much as I respected and loved what Kendrick and Q and all those guys were doing…

It didn’t feel like you.

Yeah—it put me in a pocket. I was too busy getting their ideas out instead of my own. After a while I got tired of it and said, “I’m just going to focus on me for a while,” and I don’t regret it.

What has been the hardest or most unexpected part of that transition? What have you had to change about yourself, if anything?

I think the hardest part about it was trying to get over the public perception that I’m strictly a producer.

Do you think that’s still considered taboo—coming into the game as a producer and then making that switch? I feel like it’s glorified when it happens the other way around—21 Savage producing his “Bank Account” record, for example—but when producers transition into that artist mode, there’s this notion that they won’t know what they’re doing.

That’s exactly it. Everybody wants the producer to just sit back and play their role. And I think producers are some of the most visionary people. Most of the things they create are looked at as crazy. At least from my personal experience. Sometimes you’re like, ‘I’ve got this great idea, I would love to hear you make a song on it.’ And some people will look at you like, ‘I don’t know what to do with this.’ And the producers are looking at it like, “Man, I know all the things you could do with this.” It’s admirable for producers to go out there and do it.

But you’re right. When rappers turn around and say anything they get glorified for it.

I think the theme there is that there’s a general disregard—or maybe a too-casual approach—to the work of the producer. And that’s a paradigm shift, because hip hop didn’t start out like that.

Right. We’re just too far in the background. The artist is always in the spotlight. Most people don’t know what the producer looks like. They’re not as much of a household name. So it’s like, “Who are you?’ ‘Do I trust you?’ ‘Do I trust your brand?” People don’t give producers as much of a shot because of that. That’s definitely the hardest challenge.

Your album is part sung, part rapped. As a new artist, do you worry about the criticism surrounding part-time rappers? Like say, Uzi and Travis.

No, and I think what I’m doing is a little different from the acts you mentioned. There’s an extra rock and electronic influence in my music that makes it more of a Kid Cudi kind of thing than an Uzi Vert kind of thing. What I’m worried about success-wise is that it’s not so trappy, and I know everybody just loves trap music right now. If anything, that’s my worry. But I love musical pieces. I love hearing guitars and extra pianos and strings. I love that. So, I know that’s not the norm, but that’s what I love and that’s what I decided to create. And hopefully true music listeners appreciate it.

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