In July, rhyme slinger Odd Metrist joined forces with fellow Coloradan, producer andrewfeg, and the pair released their new album, Dreams Don’t Seem To Make Much Sense. The collection of ten songs is a swirly, hazy exploration of dreams, both fantasies and nightmares, and the angst associated with life, as currently lived on this planet. On the record, Odd Metrist spits inscrutable, introspective lyrics, over andrewfeg’s dense, lush beats. Metrist possesses a deep voice, and he rides the complex beats with patience and dexterity, even when music takes an abrupt break and scoots off in a different direction, or changes tempo. Metrist can rap with emotion when he needs to, but he generally keeps his delivery declarative and conversational, his pace unrushed and sturdy.
andrewfeg chops up samples of R & B and Soul chestnuts, adding layers of strings, and looped pianos and horns deepen the sonics. On each track, he builds a wall of sound that blends well with the subject matter and Metrist’s flow. ZekeUltra drops in to drop science on two tracks, and he fits in well with his two collaborators. Dreams is a beautiful album, well worth the repeated listens to uncover its many nuances and pleasures.
Backseat Mafia caught up with Odd Metrist and andrewfeg and spoke to the two artists about the making of their album, their creative processes, which Odd Metrist calls an oxymoron, and their influences and inspirations.
This interview has been lightly edited for publication. Photos are courtesy of Odd Metrist and andrewfeg.
Backseat Mafia: Tell our readers something about yourselves. Where are you from/ Where did you grow up?/Where do you live?
andrewfeg: I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Parker, Colorado at the age of 5 and have lived here ever since. I love both cities and rep them hard for sure.
Odd Metrist: I’ve lived in Parker, CO my whole life, just outside Denver.
BSM: How long have you been making music?
AF: I started dipping my toes into making beats around 2014/2015, but I’d say I started to get good and really realize my talent around 2017.
OM: February, 2018, I recorded my first song, but I’ve been writing for a while now.
BSM: When do you first recall hearing music around you? What did you hear?
AF: I don’t really remember the first time I heard music. I’ve grown up going to church, with my mom in the choir, so I was around that a lot early in my life. As far as developing my own music tastes, I started getting into rock music at an early age, and when I was 7 years old, I discovered Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreaks, and that is what started my journey into hip-hop.
OM: I would just catch Lil Wayne or Eminem on the radio every once in a while, but my mom would change the station, so I would go spend hours on YouTube trying to find more. That was like 2009-2010. I heard other music too, but none of it stood out like rap did.
BSM: When did you become active listeners of music? Who are some of the artists you listened to, and were passionate about? Who were your favorite artists when you started to pay attention to music? Who are the artists who influenced your development as musicians?
AF: I became an active listener probably in 2011, when I was 9-10 years old. My half-brother, who still lived in Cleveland, was visiting around that time and told me about “this rapper who performs free shows in Cleveland,” Kid Cudi. He also introduced me to Kendrick Lamar’s Section .80. Those two are probably my favorite artists of all time, along with Ye, and have really shaped my taste. As far as my development as a musician, I think producers like Kanye West, Knxwledge, Metro Boomin, Pi’erre Bourne, Madlib and Kenny Beats have really influenced the sound I go for. I’m not a one dimensional producer. I make any kind of beats, from dance, to minimal beats, to boom bap beats, to trap beats. I do it all and I think it shows in my influences.
OM: When I was like 12, I was pretty deep into Christian Hip-Hop (Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Sho Baraka, John Givez) because that’s what my mom was cool with me listening to, when I was young. Then I started branching out into the mainstream stuff like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky. The first artists I remember being obsessed with were Nas and Common. I thought all the “mumble rap” going up in 2016 was supid because I was pretentious about lyricism so I just went as far away from all that as I could. I was really into the 90’s East Coast shit, so I was listening to Nas, Wu-Tang, Big L, Big Pun, Mobb Deep, guys like that. I’m big into rhyme schemes, so I would just dissect their verses and look at where they were placing rhymes and syllables to make it sound smooth. That was the foundation.
BSM: Name some of your favorite artists right now.
AF: There are so many. Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, Isaiah Rashad, Travis Scott, Frank Ocean, Young Thug, Baby Keem, Joey Badass, JID, A$AP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt, Freddie Gibbs… I could go on forever.
OM: MF DOOM, Madlib, Earl Sweatshirt, Future, Frank Sinatra and Burial are always in rotation.
BSM: Did anyone outside of your family influence your creative development?
AF: Aside from celebrities and artists, nobody really has. I kind of developed the love for production and beat-making naturally by just loving the vibes and sounds that I hear behind the artist’s voice.
OM: It was pretty autonomous, honestly.
BSM: Let’s talk about your creative process. OM, generally, how do you create lyrics? Do you keep a notebook and write down ideas? Do you freestyle over beats? Walk us through your creative process when you are writing the lyrics for a song.
OM: “Creative process” is weird to me; it’s like an oxymoron. It just happens. Writing usually takes a while and I’m always meticulous about it but it’s always organic. It’s all over the place but it all ends up in a notebook.
BSM: For OM, how did you develop your voice? When did you first hear it and how did you feel? Your flow? Did it come naturally? Were you trying to get a certain sound when you spit? Explain a little bit about that process of discovering your unique voice.
OM: I’ve been emulating Earl’s delivery pretty blatantly since I started rapping. My voice still bugs me. It’s like how everyone hates hearing their own voice in videos. I just try to focus on what I’m saying instead of how I’m saying it. If I try to hit every beat and emphasize all the rhymes, and lower my tone, it might sound a little cooler but it doesn’t sound genuine. All that shit is just a filter between your heart and your lips.
BSM: Your new album is entitled Dreams Don’t Seem to Make Much Sense. The dream world is a concept running through the LP, nightmares and fantasies. Why/how did you come up with that title and theme?
OM: I could write a whole essay on this but it would just be a very boring elaboration on the album. There are hella layers, but essentially, you give meaning and purpose to your life. Dreams don’t always make sense and they can be weird or scary or boring, but you explore them and ponder and figure out for yourself what makes them significant. A lot of that is in the Intro.
BSM: How did the collaboration between the two of you come about? Andrew, did you send beats to OM? Did you work together in the same room? Tell us about your collaboration and how you found each other.
AF: We have actually known each other personally for a while. We went to the same high school and played basketball for the school at the same time (on different teams). Through social media, I kind of found out that we listened to similar artists and both were into the abstract style (MAVI, Mike, Earl, Maxo, etc.) I knew that he liked to rap and he knew that I made beats so we started working through that. As far as the album collaboration, the whole process, for the most part, was done separately. I sent him some beats, and he decided that he wanted me to produce his next album. I love concept albums with a theme, and I LOVE transitions, so I knew I wanted to do something like that. I made a pack of about 6 beats and sent them to him, and he kept a couple, and asked me to make more in a certain style, and the process continued on. We only met up in person once or twice. Everything was mainly done through email.
OM: It was cool because we have pretty different styles/vibes but we’re on the same wavelength. I’m more abstract and downbeat and messy and Andrew is more melodic and clean and composed, so the album is like a rolling storm of those two aesthetics mingling. It’s probably heavier on my end because Andrew can do it all and I’m kind of in a lane.
BSM: OM, how did you create the lyrics for your new album, Dreams Don’t Seem To Make Much Sense? What kinds of things do you address in your lyrics? Your subject matter? What was going on in your life at the time? Did that influence your writing?
OM: It’s just me whining about life, nothing too deep.
BSM: ZekeUltra does two features on the album. Explain the process for getting Zeke as a guest on the album.
AF: Odd introduced me to Zeke’s music, and told me that he was probably his favorite artist at the moment. As soon as I heard his music, I liked him a lot, and the first thing I thought is that his voice/rapping style would fit in perfectly with the second half of the track “Days/Nights.” He had a feature price that fit what OM could afford and decided to pull the trigger to get him on the two feature spots we had on the record.
OM: I just emailed him the tracks and he said he was down. I hit up a few people about doing features, but Zeke was by far the realest one I spoke to. He didn’t treat that shit like a business transaction; he really lent his heart to the music and treated me with respect. A lot of these people making music are weird, but Zeke is a true artist and a great person. Big thanks to him.
BSM: AF, explain a little bit about your creative process. Are your beats sample based? If so, from where? What type of music creating software do you use? What are the other tools of your creative process?
AF: Like I mentioned earlier, I take pride in the fact that I’m very versatile when it comes to making beats. As far as on this album, almost every beat contains a sample for the melody with my own played in drums/added sounds on top. I like to find samples digging through YouTube playlists. My process with finding samples for this album was essentially trying to find very soulful and relaxed samples and turn them into some minimal beats. I use Logic Pro X, and I really don’t have too many special tools/plugins that I use. I truly believe that you don’t have to spend much money to make good, quality beats. I don’t have speakers, I don’t use headphones, I don’t buy plugins, and I have a midi keyboard, but I haven’t used it in years. I use my keyboard as my midi controller, download free plugins/sound packs, and listen to the beats I make through my laptop, phone and car speakers, and I’d say it comes out pretty nice if you ask me.
OM: I was not aware he doesn’t even have headphones; bro is insane.
BSM: What is the song “Control” about? Is it about suicide? Depression? Trauma? It’s pretty intense. Tell me about the background for that song/what was the inspiration for the song?
AF: For the beat for this song, I made the first part with the sample spontaneously, with no basis behind it, and sent it to him. OM immediately loved the sad sound that it brought. He sent me back a version and asked that I add another section to make the song longer, and said that he wanted it to be his “Runaway” (Kanye West song from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy). He added that vocal sample in between, and used another beat I sent him as the interlude. That beat was actually inspired by Medhane’s “albany2vernon,” which is a song I was absolutely in love with at the time. I made the beat completely separate from the “Control” beat, but he heard the contrast between the two and added it into the song, and it worked perfectly.
OM: I don’t like analyzing and breaking down my verses but it’s about people hurting without a clear remedy or resolution. Pain without procedure.
BSM: How long did it take to create the album? Where/how was it mixed/mastered? Explain a little bit about the physical process of getting the album ready for release.
AF: The mixing and mastering was a very interesting process. OM mainly mixed the vocals and arranged the sections within the songs, and I was in charge of the loudness and the arranging of the album (transitions and such).
OM: Huge shoutout to Rumin8! He’s an artist in Denver with a crazy home studio who invited me over a few times. We sat down for hours and he taught me about different equipment and mixing/mastering and everything. Unfortunately, I very quickly lost interest and patience. I honestly didn’t really care about how it sounded; I just wanted to get it off. He taught me a few very important things so the album didn’t sound totally disjointed, but ultimately there wasn’t really a process, we just made music. Go listen to Rumin8 though he’s guided me a lot. Andrew sent me the first beats in December 2018 and the album was ready to go in May 2020.
BSM: Do other types of art influence you or inspire you? Films, painting, sculpture?
AF: Video games and TV shows have a good amount of influence on my beats. The different types of sounds that are within video games and certain cartoons and TV shows are phenomenal and things that I have sampled and been inspired by plenty of times. I’m sure I’ll be doing some Minecraft and Super Mario Bros. soundtrack sampling sometime soon.
OM: I haven’t gotten too deep into film yet, but I love [Martin] Scorsese and a lot of A24 [the independent film company] stuff. Painting is my second favorite medium behind music (although poetry/writing is sneaking up). Francis Bacon inspires me a lot. As well as Dali, Caravaggio, Arshile Gorky, Basquiat, Edward Hopper, and others. I love art. All of it. Expand your horizons.
BSM: Are you readers? Are there writers who you admire and influence your art? Poets? Novelists? Writers who have influenced your lyrical content?
AF: Honestly, I’m the opposite of a reader. I always liked English class, but that’s because I liked to write. I don’t think I’ve read a book all the way through in years. I get a lot of my imagination/creativity from music and TV mainly.
OM: I just started reading. I’ve always loved poetry but I just read too slowly and scrupulously to enjoy a whole book. I’m getting there though. I love John Updike; my favorite book from high school was Rabbit, Run. He just has the smoothest imagery ever because his diction and figurative language are always so specific. He’ll spend a whole page describing a cliffside without using the same word twice, and it’s engaging. And of course there’s the underlying metaphor and symbolism and it’s all just there, seamlessly. That’s where I’m trying to get the raps. A few of my favorite poems are “When one has lived a long time alone” by Galway Kinnell, “Poem About Morning” by William Meredith, and “Homage: Doo-Wap” by Joseph Stroud. Actually, around the time that I was wrapping up the album I read “Elegy X: The Dream” by John Donne. That poem encapsulates almost the entire concept of the album within the equivalent of 26 bars. It was both humiliating and inspiring. Ever since I read that I’ve been writing differently.
BSM: When you blow up and you tour the world, what is the place you’d like to visit the most and why?
AF: Damn, blow up and tour the world? That’d be wild. I love tropical places, so I think Hawaii, Bora Bora, and places like that would be dope to see.
OM: Florence. I’m a renaissance man.
BSM: Anything else you would like fans and readers to know about your music? Shout-outs? New projects coming? What else can we look forward to from you two?
AF: Shoot, go listen to the album. Expect more beats soon. Follow my instagram @andrewfeg
OM: Stay tuned @oddmetrist.
And we outta here!
Purchase Dreams on Bandcamp: https://oddmetrist.bandcamp.com/album/dreams-dont-seem-to-make-much-sense