Sean Armstrong recently dropped his indie hip-hop project entitled The Marble Cake Diaries. The project features Khrysis, J. Ivy, Da Beatminerz, Roddy Rod, Dischoe, Marc Nfinit (True School), and J Soul, The Mowery Boys, Tajai of Souls of Mischief and singer pHoenix Pagliacci.” As a performing artist / dj “Sean has performed in London, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Germany, Aruba and more. He’s performed alongside artists like The Roots, Pete Rock, Little Brother, EPMD, and Kid Capri, and is a member of the True School Corporation, which is run by Grammy award-winning producer 9th Wonder.”
A short while ago Sean Armstrong’s latest video dropped. Let’s peep it…
Sean Armstrong took a little time out for a Q & A session with us. Check it out below…
BBoyTechReport (BTR): Tell us a bit more about Sean Armstrong for those that don’t yet know.
Sean Armstrong (SA): Sean Armstrong is my real name and I DJ, rhyme and produce. My older brother taught me how to DJ when I was very little and from there, I started freestyling, writing rhymes and making my own beats.
BTR: I noticed that you are a slasher “rapper/DJ/producer – Sean Armstrong” which do you identify with more and why? Or is it sort of a thing of all encompassing artist doing art no matter the form?
SA: I don’t really identify with one more than the other, they all go hand in hand for me. People ask me this question a lot, like why not just focus on one. The thing is with me, I’ve been doing them all for almost the same amount of time, and it’s all Hiphop, I never looked at them as separate things.
BTR: The DMV seems to have a thriving underground seen for hiphop is it tough stand out from the crowd as a native DMV cat?
SA: The DMV does have a thriving underground scene, but I don’t think it is that difficult to stand out as long as you are making music that is true to who you are. I think that’s the big difference. People in this area at least, seem to connect with artists they can relate to, and a lot of the artist here are not afraid to be themselves.
BTR: How would you classify (pardon the dirty word – classify) your music if you had to do so?
SA: I would have to say it’s just Hiphop. Hiphop to the core and nothing else. It’s hard trying to classify the music outside of that.
BTR: New project is entitled “The Marble Cake Diaries” tell us about the inspiration and concept for the project?
SA: Marble Cake Diaries is an album that has been a long time in the making but I really feel like it was worth the extra effort. Basically, if you look at a piece of marble cake and notice how the colors blend and swirl around with no real straight lines or “boundaries”, but it still looks appealing and tastes great, is kind of how my album is. These are stories of my life, raw rhymes, relationships, etc. that all kind of blend together like a marble cake. The Diaries part of the title kind of speaks for itself.
BTR: The project has an impressive set of features from Khrysis, J. Ivy, Da Beatminerz to Tajai of Souls of Mischief, how did these collabs come about?
SA: I’ll try to give you the short version of this answer, lol! J. Ivy I met while doing a project in Aruba called “Art Rules Aruba”. It’s a project that friends of mine put together where we go and teach kids different forms of art. I was there to teach kids how to DJ and J. Ivy was teaching poetry. We built on that trip and soon after he sent me the Intro to my album. Back in ’05 or ’06 I submitted a beat for Tajai’s Power Movement Remix album. My remix of “Quality, Equality” made the album. When Twitter came around, I found Tajai, reminded him who I was, and then worked it our for him to feature on my single “Took Control”, produced by !llmind. !llmind and Da Beatminerz I hit up through twitter and emails and conducted business that way. Soul Council producers, Khrysis, E. Jones and Amp where all guys I met through 9th Wonder and my True School family. I was able to meet with them face to face in NC and DC, to pick beats and conduct that business.
BTR: Who are 3 of your influences and why?
SA: DJ Premier. I’m a “boom bap” rap kind of guy and he’s the master of that sound. I studied him when I was learning how to make my own beats. Also because his scratching was so precise and sharp. Masta Ace, he’s my favorite emcee. When I first heard him I was blown away by the way he rhymed multiple words and his overall style and wordplay. Jam Master Jay always impressed me as a DJ and the way he would hold down RUN-DMC on the wheels, live. I never got a chance to see him live but watching him on recorded performances and knowing that he was manipulating the records and beats live was crazy to me.
BTR: Back to the production… Being that we are a gear and beatmaking focused blog, we tend to like to dig in on gear. So, what’s your favorite weapon of choice for making beats either software or hardware?
SA: My weapon of choice is the ASR-10. Mine is in great condition and I’ve made some jams on that thing. I’m starting to also work my way around the Maschine, I love the portability of it and it’s pretty easy to navigate.
BTR: You are a DJ… do you go digging? If so, what do you find yourself looking for when you go digging?
SA: I absolutely go digging. I use to start in the “soul” section but now I take a more random approach and start wherever I feel is calling me first. I usually look for artists I know, or I’ll look on the back to see if there are any familiar musicians on the record. I also look for records with interesting covers or titles. I don’t forget to look for classic popular music that may not have any mp3 versions available anywhere.
BTR: As an indie hip-hop artist myself I know the work that goes into making and releasing an indie album. What would you say was the most laborious part of making “The Marble Cake Diaries”?
SA: Man, I would have to say getting the sound right, my engineer and I went back and forth on songs and spent a lot of time mixing. I would also have to say deciding on which songs to keep and which songs to cut, that part was very difficult and took a lot of listening and sharing with trusted ears to help make that decision. In the end, it was all worth it because I feel like I have the right songs in place and they all “sound” good.
BTR: If you could work with anyone regardless of gener or geographical location who would it be and why?
SA: Sade. She’s my favorite artist of all time. To be able to say I worked with her would be incredible. She has an amazing voice and her music is real, it comes from the soul.
BTR: Future plans for Sean Armstrong are…
SA: Planning shows, promoting Marble Cake Diaries, DJ-ing and working on several EP’s to follow up this album release. It’s all about Marble Cake Diaries right now for me though.