Author: Scarlett Pham
Clonefluence had the opportunity to speak with John Deaf to understand more about him as an Alternative artist. Stick around to learn more about his influences and style.
Where are you from? Have your surroundings shaped you in a creative sense, and in what way?
I'm from Long Island, New York. Environmentally, Long Island played no influence on my creativity than, more so, my household. In my upbringing, I heard Sound Garden, Sonic Youth, The Prodigy, The Jungle Brothers, Destiny's Child, The Cardigans, Crystal Waters, Nirvana, Lil Bow Wow, Aaliyah, Timbaland, Missy Elliot, and much more. This influenced my creativity to become mutable and versatile, being able to draw upon various sounds, creating something original.
What's your background like? Where do you stand on the music scene in your area?
Pretty electric. Like I've mentioned before, I've heard a lot of music. It was prominently House, Rock, and R&B based. I'm pretty sure there were a lot more genres that came into play in my formative years. As of now, I don't really stand anywhere in my area's music scene. Long Island is musically a melting pot, so there's no particular figure you can pinpoint that'll represent it. You can more to see it as a progenitor of novelty and I'm just its progeny.
What did you start doing first, producing or raping? How did you get started?
I started rapping first. I've always had an affinity for words and speaking, so my passion more so started me. I wrote and spoke little raps here and there in my middle and high school years situationally, recreationally, and, sometimes, unintentionally. I didn't start taking it seriously until senior year when I was around more rappers whom were my peers. Because of the confidence, fun, and clout they were gaining, and me being somewhat jealous of such, it prompted me to pick up a composition book and write my "first" rap. After that, I made it habitual to write whenever I can.
Do you have anyone that you consider your mentor? How haas their help or advice shaped you?
My only mentor is me and the music. Every song that I listen to is advice on how to approach music, if listened deeply enough. I'm responsible to be as open minded as possible to optimize my receptivity to what's being told.
What is one experience in life that, without it, you wouldn't be the artist you are today?
Being Born, Seriously. Everything is just additive.
What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Releasing 3 projects; a mixtape, an album and an EP, and to release a music video for each. Finally being known on a moderate scale. Performing in front of 1,000 people. Becoming closer to making music my livelihood.
What does your work aim to say?
That we need quality change and settling for less is no longer acceptable. In the kind of music I do, in my opinion, there's a dire need of creative evolution in order to further the art to new heights that's not incentivized by money, sex, drugs, and overall, decadence. Those short and empty goals only create short and empty music.
Who are your biggest influences and what do you like about them the most?
Eyedea, who, in my opinion, was one of the greatest rappers that ever lived. If you want proof then watch their freestyle on the sway and tech show on YouTube and listen to "Grand Sixth Sense" from his earlier work with DJ Abilities when he was just 13 years old. Nirvana, being that I was raised with their music. Their experimental punk background yet poppy approach is something I refer to frequently, especially Kurt Cobain when it comes to writing, melodies, and harmonizations. Death Grips when it comes to their industrial sound and energy.
How would you describe your own style?
My style is diverse to say the least. But, my true style, exhibited on songs such as "Drown," "In Cells," "Dr. Needs," etc., is something that's electronic, experimental, and generally speaking, different. It would be categorized along the lines of "Alternative" but, assuming there's not a particular qualifying genre for reference, it's honestly me.
In what ways has your newest music changed from when you first started?
Honestly, nothing has really changed besides the fact I've gotten better at making music; being able to create both quality conventional and unconventional songs. I've always had an idea how I should sound, so for me to be stagnant would be for me to change.
What are the main inspirations for the lyrics to write?
Life. More specifically, identity, money struggles, relationships, isolation, and perseverance. I could go on but I'd just be talking about my entire life at that point. I also find inspiration from reading other artist's writings, whether that being Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, Yeet, EL-P, Ecco2k, or whoever I find what they are saying intriguing.
What would be your dream venue in which to perform?
I'm too ignorant of venues to know which one I'd like to perform at. At this point in my life, if I were to perform in a house filled with people, it'll probably suffice just as much as me performing at Nassau Coliseum.
What's a song you have stuck in your head these days?
Ecco2k's "In The Flesh," JPEGMAFIA's "Garbage Pale Kids," Camu Tao's "Be A Big Girl."
Be sure to check out John Deaf's music below and stay tuned for more of his content.