Meet 6 Exciting Indie Artists on Macklemore’s New ‘Gemini’ Album

By | Posted September 19, 2017
The Seattle native's new album is an artist discovery tool. Let's dig in...
2017-09-19-macklemore-gemini-new-artists

This Friday, September 22, Macklemore will release Gemini, his first album without Ryan Lewis in 12 years. While heavy hitter guests like Offset, Lil Yachty, and Ke$ha grabbed all the headlines when the Seattle native unleashed the album's tracklist earlier this month, we were more intrigued by a host of indie up-and-comers spread across the LP's 16 tracks.

Ranging from local talent like Travis Thompson to South London singer Dan Caplen, Macklemore has assembled a suite of tragically overlooked, potential next level artists and producers.

Regardless of your opinion on Macklemore or his new music, his willingness to use his platform to garner attention for deserving artists in his local scene and beyond is admirable.

In that same vein, we reached out to a handful of the talented individuals Macklemore collaborated with on Gemini to find out how they connected with Mack, what it was like to work with the GRAMMY award winner, and what they hope prospective fans will take away from hearing their feature work on the record.   


ABIR (@xoabir)

Give us some quick background on yourself and your music.

I'm originally from Morocco but was raised in Virginia. I started singing at the age of six thanks to my pops who put me on to jazz and soul music. I'm 23 years old living in the Big Apple.

How did you connect with Macklemore?

He and my manager are childhood best friends, so he introduced him to my music when we started working together, and soon enough we got to link up and make a tune!

Describe the process of creating a record together.

The process was super dope and consisted of a lot of dry humor and Halls Breezers—just because they're delicious. He's super particular about all the details, as every great artist should be, so it was great digging and searching until we found the one that worked.

What are you most excited for fans to learn about you once the record drops?

That I exist!

What solo record would you recommend listeners stream in order to fully understand who you are as an artist?

My singles, "Girls" and "Playground."

Otieno Terry (@otienoterry)

Give us some quick background on yourself and your music.

I am a producer, singer, songwriter and teaching artist. My music is the birth-child of hip-hop, R&B, Japanese video games and Afrobeat.

How did you and Macklemore connect?

I got a text from this guy that knew a guy that knew a guy (one of the producers) to come over and try singing this hook. I went and tried it. They liked it.

Describe the process of creating a record together.

It was awesome. We talked. He made me tea with a perfect honey-to-water ratio. We talked some more. I recorded. Then I left.

What are you most excited for fans to learn about you once the record drops?

I am most excited for fans to learn that I can do anything I put my mind and heart to when it comes to music. Genres are just more rules that were meant to be broken, and I feel as though I am an example of that.

What solo record would you recommend listeners stream in order to fully understand who you are as an artist?

Listeners should check out the single I recently released called “Lake Washington Blvd.” It is the first of a few singles leading up to my debut album, The Woods, which will be released sometime this fall.

Dan Caplen (@dancaplen)

Give us some quick background on yourself and your music.

I'm a classically trained R&B/soul musician based in South London.

How did you connect with Macklemore?

Macklemore (Ben) got in touch with me after hearing a song I was featured on. He sent over a track he had been working on and I sent it back with a chorus idea and vocal. He flew me out to Seattle soon after, and we spent two days in the studio. It was a crazy couple of weeks!

Describe the process of creating a record together.

Ben is super creative, it was amazing working alongside him. It was such a chilled vibe when I got to Seattle, we worked on the original idea and then we ended up writing another song as well. Both made it onto the album, which is wicked!

What are you most excited for fans to learn about you once the record drops?

Man, I'm so excited for people to check my music and come see my live shows. I play the keyboard and cello so a lot my music is based around that.

What solo record would you recommend listeners stream in order to fully understand who you are as an artist?

There's new music coming soon, but in the meantime check out my Badman EP and my latest single, “Flat Champagne.”

Saint Claire (@TheSaintClaire)

Give us some quick background on yourself and your music.

I’m a 21-year-old songwriter, producer, and performer, from Twisp, Washington, and I’ve been making music since the age of eight.

How did you connect with Macklemore?

The first time I met Macklemore (Ben) and his team, I opened up for his Unruly Mess Tour, alongside Raz Simone. A couple of months after the tour, Ben called me into the studio to work on the string parts for his single, “Drug Dealer.”

Describe the process of creating a record together.

Ben is super relaxed in the studio. Even when the record is due in 24 hours, he doesn’t sweat it one bit. Just gently nudges the creative process along. He’s so hands-off, it actually helps promote creativity. I’m pretty straightforward in the studio with what I think is best for the song and Ben was great about letting the creative ball roll.

What are you most excited for fans to learn about you once the record drops?

I sing a sort of breathy falsetto for most of the track (“Excavate”), which has it’s own weird texture to it. I’m excited for people to hear that part of my voice.

What solo record would you recommend listeners stream in order to fully understand who you are as an artist?

Go listen to LO. Jake Crocker and I worked ourselves to the bone on that cut. It’s a four-track EP that we wrote, produced and mixed ourselves. I get pretty weird with my music—I’m a firm believer that the best songs have interesting, uneven edges to them that make them stand out of the crowd, a lot like people. This EP is an interesting crowd.

Tyler Dopps (@tylerdopps)

Give us some quick background on yourself and your music.

My name is Tyler Dopps, I'm a 23-year-old music producer/engineer from a very small town called Port Orchard, Washington, and I have perfect pitch.

How did you connect with Macklemore?

I was first introduced to the Macklemore (Ben) camp through Ryan in 2014. He heard a song I had worked on and invited me to help him dig through crates and find samples for what would eventually become This Unruly Mess I've Made. One thing led to another, and I ended up being with them through the entire production of that album in a producer's/engineer's assistant role. After taking most of last year off to work on some other projects, I ran into Ben last summer, and he mentioned he was getting back in the studio. I offered to come onboard as the engineer, and the rest kind of fell into place.

Describe the process of creating a record together.

The process for this record was particularly special. Before we even knew that we were making an album, it started with a month-long campout in Ben's basement, in which the goal was to make one piece of music a day. There were no expectations, and the goal was open creativity. It was essentially just Ben, Budo, and myself, who were all good friends before this album started. There was an energy to the process that was pretty undeniable, and that energy carried through the entire process of making the record. It was basically just the three of us working in Ben's basement for about 85% of the record, and I think that getting back to the basics like that influenced the process in a really positive way.

What are you most excited for fans to learn about you once the record drops?

Probably that I exist.

What solo record would you recommend listeners stream in order to fully understand who you are as an artist?

That's an interesting question for me. I actually don't have a ton of music out in the world. The last project I produced was a Shelton Harris EP entitled Awake, that would be a good place to start.

Travis Thompson (@travisxthompson)

Give us some quick background on yourself and your music.

I'm Travis Thompson. I'm a 21-year-old rapper from Seattle, Washington. I make music and direct videos with my friends.

How did you connect with Macklemore?

Well, one of the main producers on the album, and Macklemore’s (Ben) engineer, Tyler Dopps, is one of my closest friends. Tyler was one of the first people to ever give me a beat and has been a hella key part of my music since pretty much the beginning. I think Tyler had been putting my music in his ear during the process of the new album. Then one day I saw Ben backstage at a show, and he told me he liked my song “Need You,” and that I should come by the studio some time. Been the homie since.

Describe the process of creating a record together.

I was smoking at the beach with my manager, Shelton, and Tyler texted us a Dropbox link and asked, “How fast can you write a verse to this?” We put the blunt out, stopped what we were doing, and immediately went to Ben’s studio to track a verse. It wasn't even a song yet, but the sample says “2 AM!” so I worked off that. Ben and Dave laid the hook the next day based off my verse.

What are you most excited for fans to learn about you once the record drops?

I'm most excited for people to find the music, in general. We've been working hella hard and going broke to make our videos a cool experience for people that show you who I am—as an artist and a person. So when you find my music, you've got a bunch of shit to listen to and watch. And we don't plan on stopping.

What solo record would you recommend listeners stream in order to fully understand who you are as an artist?

I released my first mixtape (Ambaum) last year and I've dropped a grip of singles and videos since. “Father Forgive Me” seems to be the one people know when we play shows, though. So, start there!

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