sameflannel has been on my interview radar for about a month now, ever since I discovered his excellent music and featured it in one of my playlists. He is an extremely hard worker, a supportive member of the rap community and and in general a really nice guy. I enjoyed chopping it up with him about what his music means to him, and how he’s become the MC he is today.
1. Where do you hail from? And what is the scene like there for
I’m from Minnesota. I grew up in the suburbs outside of the Twin Cities but I live and operate in Minneapolis now. There’s an enormous amount of talent out here, and they’re all actively working and putting on shows. In the 90s and early 2000s, Rhymesayers laid the groundwork for Minnesota rappers and cultivated a legendary underground presence here. There was a window of time between then and now where it seemed like the scene was a bit disconnected but I feel like The Stand4rd opened the doors for this generation and put a spotlight on Minnesota that was needed. That’s not to say that people weren’t putting in work during that period, I just feel like I recognized a change in the mood of the music scene here after their project dropped.
2. How did you come up with ‘sameflannel’? It’s actually a surprisingly effective moniker.
For the longest time, I was working as John Daniel, which is just my first and middle name. Unfortunately, I was impossible to Google or even search Soundcloud for and it eventually felt like it was holding me back. I put out a project in 2015 and introduced it as a side alias. At the time I was wearing the same flannel shirt a lot, and I felt like it was a cool way to kind of build up a grungy aesthetic and identity. A rapper I really look up to, AJ Suede, told me to use that name instead of the one I was working under. It took me 3 years to take his advice, but ever since I did it’s like things took a really positive trajectory.
3. How long have you been rapping? I was pleasantly surprised by how nice some of your Soundcloud stuff from 2 years ago was, you’ve come a long way but that stuff really holds up I think.
Thank you so much, man. I’ve been writing “raps” since I was in third grade, but I started taking it seriously in 2008. My style has experienced a lot of changes over the years but I think every rapper shares that sentiment. I’m glad that I’ve been doing it as long as I have because it’s a cool time capsule of personal growth and memories. You can also tell who I was listening to at the time with a lot of the earlier stuff, which is funny. The version of me that I’ve been working for this whole time is where I’m at now, and while there’s always room for improvement I’ve never felt more comfortable with my abilities and vision as I am now. The most important year of my music so far was definitely 2014 when I put out the LEFTGODS project with my best friend Widikus. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2016, but making that project and working with someone as talented as him really molded my ambition and drive. He was the greatest, period.
4. A few days ago you said that you thought ‘Y2K / Keep Watch’ is the best song you’ve done, and I totally agree as that track is something special for sure. Was your creative process for that song any different?
It just felt like the stars aligned on that one (pardon the fake deepness). At first, the flow was not working and I was discouraged but I kept at it instead of trashing it and starting something new. But as soon as I got in my pocket, I felt like the mood and content matched the sound and made for a really cohesive, haunting song. I got a lot off my chest with that one, and that track alone unlocked a whole new template I’ve been using for songs in vein. My process was just more diligent with that one, without forcing anything. I’m really glad you like it, I’m doing a visual for it in the near future.
5. Who are your inspirations? I know you said you were really into Atmosphere, are there any others?
Widikus is my favorite rapper of all time, and the moments I spent with him, in life and in the studio, will influence me forever. Lil Wayne is huge. His run from 2006 to 2009 still inspires me. I put on videos of him recording when I need inspiration. Lil B is another big one. An underrated part of his style is how he pays homage to so many different facets of hip-hop, whether it’s thru the production he uses or variety of styles. Being versatile is my biggest goal and he embodies that. He created his own universe and that’s what I plan to do, as well. Finally, “Blackenedwhite” by MellowHype changed my approach to music. I never knew you could make a project like that. The range of sounds and the mood of just having fun with the music switched my whole perception. I thought I had to take myself incredibly seriously and be overly lyrical and sacrifice fun in the process. I wish I made that album, Odd Future had a huge impact on me. Some of my other influences are Prodigy, Nas, Robb Bank$, Metro Zu, Aesop Rock, Danny Brown, Tyler the Creator, Roc Marciano and MF DOOM of course.
6. You’ve worked with a lot of different producers, who has been your favourite to collaborate with?
My great friend @902fre, hands down. He used to go by Lasik. I’ve been working with him since the jump, and formed a collective a few years back (Left Life never dies). We have a certain chemistry that doesn’t match other producers, and he mixes most of my music. We’ve grown with each other and I think that shows in the music. He’s a rapper as well, we’ve got a few songs in the vault and probably will release an EP or something in the near future. He deserves way more recognition, for sure. Some other producers that I’ve befriended and worked with are Cleexshay @cleexshay, DEA @deanxanderson, MNBeats @MNBeats and Trowa Barton @TrowaBarton90. They’re all incredible at what they do and I plan to use their beats for as long as they let me!
7. I see a lot of EPs on your Soundcloud, but are we getting a full length from you and if so, when?
I have enough songs to put out a few tapes, to be honest. But, I think I’m going to hold off on anything over 10 songs for a little bit. Expect a lot of EP’s this fall, they won’t be few and far between. I really want this current batch of songs to be heard, so I’m going to put them out in small doses and generate some buzz before I release a lengthy body of work. My next project, Heart Piece One, is about 9 songs long and the sequel is of a similar length. Basically, there’s a wild amount of music coming and it’ll drop back to back to back. I’m extremely excited!
8. You are extremely supportive of those in the underground community, it’s nice to see people showing each other love. Who else deserves more attention than they’re getting at the moment?
I really love the underground and I think an egalitarian approach to it is what keeps it alive. We’re all we got, really. I think competition between rappers is cool but when it starts creating negativity, I’m not into it.
My brother Port @Port100s is an incredible rapper and, in my opinion, the best in Minnesota. The same goes for my family Akru and zachjohnson @lastletterzj. The homies Luchini @Shakeyd0gg, Fresco @fullspeedfresco and the whole Bullet Club are my family. Jakwayy @whoisjakeknight is a super talent and someone I’ve been working with heavy the past few weeks, same with Akagod @shabbajaylen. I also just got hip to Suede Jetson @SuedeJetson, he’s out of Texas and is one of my new favorites for sure. Shouts out to Underworld Dust Funk, they’ve been my favorite rap group for a minute. Before I forget, I haven’t heard a song I don’t like out of the Soulless camp.
9. Do you have any goals for your music? What would be the ultimate achievement for you as an artist?
My goal is to make a solid living off my music and have a loyal following. A lot of fans are super fickle and I’ve always admired the type of support that doesn’t go overnight. I’m trying to build something like that. I don’t have to be the biggest rapper in the world, I just want my music heard. If I ever get the opportunity or platform, I want Widi’s music to be a huge part of it. It’s a goal of mine to tell the masses about him and for them to hear his raps. The intro to my first studio album will be an unreleased verse by him, for sure. Wherever I go, he’s coming with.
10. Finally, is there anyone or anything you’d like to shout out? It’s been great talking to you.
Shouts out to you, man! Thank you for the opportunity. Of course I got to say that without my friends, family and the love of my life Meaghan, I wouldn’t be able to function, let alone make music. My biggest inspiration by far is to make my best friend Widikus proud, and even though he isn’t here anymore, it gets me out of bed and in the booth. Every last producer who has given me a beat or put a free one out to download, you’re the backbone to my pride and joy and for that, I love you! Last but not least, anyone who has shared my music – it means the absolute world to me!
Photo by Meaghan Murray