An Interview With The Cast of Warner Bros Digital Network’s Latest Series, Stage 13 INDEPENDENT- FUTURISTIC, REVERIE, SEAN BROWN AND TRINIDAD JAMES!
Posted On 19 Oct 2017
The newest show, Stage 13’s INDEPENDENT (Warner Bros Digital Networks) follows four of hip hop’s most exciting independent artists – Futuristic, Reverie, Sean Brown and Trinidad James – as they work to take over the music scene without the ties of a major record label. Stage 13 follows these bold artists as they grow their fan base, tour internationally and deal with the harsh realities that come when chasing the dream. This series is about the hustle, the vision and the American hip-hop dream. More info HERE.
“Independent” – Premiering on October 19th – It’s about the hustle, the vision and the American hip hop dream. This unscripted series follows four of hip hop’s most exciting independent artists, Futuristic, Reverie, Sean Brown, and Trinidad James, as they work to take over the music scene without the ties of a major record label. Stage 13 follows these bold artists as they grow their fan base, tour internationally and deal with the harsh realities that come when chasing the dream. The series was in the digital shorts episodic competition at SeriesFest and screened at the UrbanWorld Film Festival on September 23. The series was produced by Adrian Guillemet and Joshua Evan Greenberg for We Are Famous Productions and Stage 13’s VP/Head of Unscripted Content Shari Scorca.
To view the trailer, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyZ1HkBMX3c
Learn more about the show and these 4 promising artists in the following All Access interview with them:
Where does this interview find you? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What music gets you instantly out of a bad mood? What is a song you are loving these days?
Futuristic: In the Stage 13 office at Warner Brothers. I’m going to go with the John trifecta – John Mayer, Jon Bellion and John Legend. There is a song called Jennifer by Trinidad Cardona, it’s super fire. He’s from Arizona too.
Reverie: I actually have a Spotify playlist called “Feel Good Shit” so when I feel like shit, I put it on. The #1 is Too $hort – Gettin’ It and the rest is inspirational songs. Feel good rap stuff. In general I listen to hip hop when I want to feel good.
Sean Brown: Anything old school, like what my mother would to listen to when she was cleaning the house – Earth Wind and Fire, Isley Brothers. And newer music – I like Travis Scott. Kendrick Lamar – he takes me out of the zone and gets me thinking about lyricism, substance and his storytelling is on another level. Anything with substance and that has a feel-good vibe to it does the job. Rockstar by Post Malone feat. 21 Savage, I like listening to that at the gym especially, it pumps me up.
Trinidad: I read this question with no music, just an air conditioner and people talking. Bob Marley is always gonna be a smile on my heart. These days I’m enjoying my new music mostly but “Selfish” by PnB. Rock is the SHIt!
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time where you thought of doing something completely different?
Futuristic: I always knew I wanted to do music since I was about six years old. The first time I really knew I wanted to do it (and this might sound super corny), I was watching the VMA’s and saw N’SYNC perform, and I immediately went downstairs and starting writing raps. Not that they rap, but I knew I wanted to be on that stage one day.
As far as doing anything else, I always knew music was it, but I told my mom if I didn’t make it by 25, I would go back to school to be a math teacher and a basketball coach.
Reverie: I always wanted to do music. I wanted to sing, dance and in be movies since I was small. My family makes fun of me because they have memories of when I was little girl singing in the garage, but I didn’t really take it seriously at that age. But I really realized I wanted to do something with music when I was in high school, when I started writing raps and recording music. That was when I thought this really could be a possibility.
Sean Brown: Of course, I was about 5 years old and remember watching Kriss Kross when they had the backwards jeans and backwards jersey. The record “Jump” was playing on MTV and me and my cousin put on the backwards jeans and shirts, and we would reenact the whole dance they did in the video. And Michael Jackson, “Do you Remember,” I would watch it on repeat all day long. That what was sparked a music interest in me early on. That was the beginning of it.
In high school, I thought I was going to play basketball for the rest of my life, but then I tore my ACL twine in college – once during tryouts and the second during a game. Music was always part of my life, but sports was too, so after the second time I tore my ACL, was when I decided to focus 100% on music.
Trinidad: Growing up I didn’t want to at all. Sports was more my thing. Fashion more than music also. I remember buying “The Blueprint” bootleg. I remember Young Jeezy dropping the “Trap or Die” mixtape. But music wasn’t a true thought till I was 24.
Musically, did you approach this year any differently then you did last year? How has 2017 been treating you and your career? What are you most excited about for in 2018?
Futuristic: 2017 has been great. I feel like I’ve been living a real life and I feel like I haven’t lived a real life in the last four years. It’s changed my music because I’ve had time to reflect on everything, count my blessing and realize how much music influences people. I try to be a positive influence in my community and in the world, to be honest.
Reverie: This year has been completely different than any other year. This year has been so explosive, I can barely keep track of things. I’ve added more people to my team, I’ve traveled so much this year. I barely have any time for myself, but everything is going well. Over the past couple years I’ve finally been able to see all the results of my hard work. I sacrificed so much to get where I am and this year I have been the most disciplined, open minded and the most faithful. I doubted myself for or so long and now I know this is what I’m going to do for my life and there is no turning back.
For 2018, I’m excited to make more music. The last three years I’ve been gone six months out of the year and it takes away from my music, videos and content in general. Next year I’m going to sacrifice what I love, which is being on the road, and I’m going to focus on the music. And that’s really exciting to me because I love making music, that’s how all this started, that’s how I started. Over the past few years, I haven’t been making as much music because I’ve been traveling. Music is my passion and it’s therapeutic to me, so I’m excited to share more with my fans and document my life.
Sean Brown: I learned a lot from 2015 and 2016. I learned to work smarter, not harder and I learned how to not burn myself out creatively. I held onto certain songs and stories, until it was the right time to get that out to my fans.
This year, I did a lot of behind the scenes moves. I’ve done a lot but it’s been planting, watering, planting and watering and now we’re getting closer to the end of the year where everything is coming together at the same time.
For 2018, I’m excited about everything coming up. I have a couple placements I’ve gotten on the production side of things, I’ve produced for some artists that will drop next year, “Independent” is dropping on October 17th, which will carry over to next year. And I’m dropping an album either before the year is over or the first quarter of 2018, and based off that I want to possibly pick up a tour for the album. I have a lot of things planned and I’m really excited about it.
Trinidad: This year was special because I did everything independently. My own money and ideas and networking. I have done these things in years prior but I was usually in a deal, where someone else’s money is involved. This year, though, it was no one else’s money. Just mine. 2018 is gonna be awesome. I’m making the best music to date and landed the Christmas movie this year going into the new movie with “Pitch Perfect 3.” So 2018 is starting off right. Doing some charity work in Kenya very soon also which is way overdue for me, so I’m very excited for that trip.
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your hometown has affected you and your music today?
Futuristic: Yea, I think both my hometowns. I was born in Illinois and started making music there in the Midwest. My family and my hometown helped mold me. Arizona wise, my sound was always way different than everyone in Arizona, but where you live shapes you, including the people you work with. I worked with this guy named Aktion and he made my sound with me for a couple years, production wise.
Reverie: Oh man, my hometown Highland Park, has made me who I am today. That’s where I was born and raised. That’s where I wrote my first rap, wrote on my first wall, where I got in my first fight. That’s where I ruined my life and that’s also where I re-grew it and blossomed it into the person I am now.
My neighborhood has changed a lot. It’s gotten pretty gentrified over the past few years, but the culture is still there, my friends are still there and I’m still there. I love it, I’m there every day, I can’t stay away.
Sean Brown: It played a big role for me. I grew up in Azusa and was one of the few black kids growing up there, so I dealt with a lot of racism. The blacks and the browns rarely got along and would have blacks verse browns fights in high school, but it made me a stronger person and taught me how to deal with racism issues, which transferred into my music and gave me another story to tell. It added substance to my music catalogue.
Trinidad: I lived in numerous places. Trinidad, Canada , NYC, Florida, Atlanta, South Carolina. Living in all these places growing up allowed me to be who I am today. Understanding culture more than money and being able to adapt to these same places when I do shows and interviews.
How excited are you that they show, Independent is premiering this week? While it’s brand new to viewers, how long have you been in this world?
Futuristic: The show was shot over a year ago. I’m excited for people to finally see it and to see how much hard work and dedication goes into being an independent artist. It will also give people a glimpse into my personal life, behind-the-scenes when touring and such. I think people will like it a lot.
Reverie: We’ve been working on the show for about a year now and I’m really excited to share it with my fans. My fans love everything about me and this will give them another perspective. It’s on film rather than just audio, so it’s exciting for them…and really exciting for me because I worked on this for a while and put a lot into it. The We Are Famous and Stage 13 crew worked really hard on this and did a great job. I’m excited to see it all come together and excited to show it off.
Sean Brown: It took a year and some change to do the whole thing and shoot it. I’m really excited it’s finally coming to fruition and we’re about to see the outcome of all the hard work we put into it. Knowing that it’s launching on October 17th and it’s here, it means a lot. I’m ready for the fans and anyone else who loves music to see it. You get to see behind-the- scenes and what it’s truly like to be an independent artist with no backing and artists who are truly doing this on their own.
I’ve only seen the first three episodes and there are twelve, so I’m ready just like everyone else.
Trinidad: With Independent premiering soon I’m mostly proud of the network for sticking with it and getting out cause shooting a show is one thing but getting the clearance is a whole other ball game. I’m also proud of myself because basically everything I said I was gonna do a year ago – I’m doing IT!
Can you talk about how you got involved with the Stage 13’s music series Independent? What has your experience been like on it so far? Has anything surprised you about it?
Futuristic: They reached out to me over a year ago and it made sense at the time to do it, to give people that sneak peek and behind the scenes look. It was easy because it wasn’t scripted, it was real life. It was a no brainer to do this.
Reverie: They contacted me through an email and proposed a show they wanted to do and I basically said yes. We started filming and it became a journey that we all went through together. I learned a lot about production. It’s probably one of the biggest productions I’ve done and biggest crews I’ve worked with. It was really cool to see a well organized and committed team come together and work with my team. It’s always cool to network with other people who take their job as seriously as you take yours.
Sean Brown: The experience has been great. At first I had to get use to the cameras. They were coming into my home, following me around to shows, at the studio, etc. At first, it’s kind of awkward, it’s just something you have to warm up to if you’re not used to that. This was my first time doing something like that, outside of shooting a music video, which is a different type of on-camera experience.
It was a dope experience. If anyone else had the opportunity to do it, I would advise them to do it. For me, it’s one of those things I can check off the bucket list. I’m excited for it.
Trinidad: The company reached out through my old manager and I was down. No big surprises really. It’s edited really well to give you that true emotion of four talented hungry independent artists. Once again very proud of the network.
Have you become friends with each other or has that been hard since you are all so busy?
Futuristic: We’re all busy but we’re all cool. Everyone is real nice, humble and smart. I talk to Trinidad on the regular now, I’ve known Sean Brown since before the series and every time I See Reverie, it’s all love.
Reverie: We’ve definitely gotten close. The artists they chose – Sean Brown, Trinidad James, Futuristic – are really cool. We’re all busy and haven’t hung out, but we get to interact during the filming and screenings, and everyone vibes really well. I think that’s part of the reason why they chose us as the artists to work with. There’s a lot of artists out there and they can be hard to work with. Everyone ending up vibing so well, it was really nice.
Sean Brown: We’ve all been pretty busy but we were together at the Stage 13 office at Warner Bothers recently shooting promos and doing some work for the show. Futuristic I’ve known for a while. He was on one of my tracks a couple years back called “Going Through It.” Trinidad James is super humble, super dope individual. He was recently doing a radio interview with Sway and he spoke highly of me, and he didn’t have to do that. A lot of artists in this industry are selfish and don’t want shed light on anyone but themselves. He didn’t have to do that, but he did without even knowing me. When I saw him after that, first thing I did was thank him. He’s dope, he’s a good person. Reverie is sweet. Dope artist, hard-working, down to earth and humble. I like everyone on the squad.
Trinidad: Friends is a touchy word. You don’t make friends in the industry. You show respect and demand it in return.
With the summer over now, what was something fun or new that you tried this summer?
Futuristic: I traveled a lot. I went to Hawaii twice, Cabo, and I did some crazy hiking in Sedona, AZ.
Reverie: This summer I tried calf cheeks in Bulgaria for the first time. I’m not a big meat eater, so it was kinda hard for me, but it was really really good.
Sean Brown: This summer I went down to Cabo in Mexico with my girl to get away and take a small vacation. We had some fun in the sun. Caught a different vibe.
Trinidad: Seoul Korea. Period !!
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these hard times?
Futuristic: Music brings me joy because it’s a way to express myself, to connect with people and it gives me freedom in life to do what I want to do. It allows me to provide to my friend, family and myself. As far as music being reflected, I think there is a little of both. There are some artists who don’t care about what’s going on and there are Some that focus on it, talk about and bring issues to life. As long as there are musicians in the world, people will talk about what’s going on and hopefully influence people to be more woke to situations and inspire them to make a change.
Reverie: I think everything that’s being put out right now reflects what’s happening. And I think that’s always has its been and how it’s always going to be. Art is a reflection of what’s happening and whoever is creating it, and whoever is creating it is this current generation. My music will be a reflection of what I’m going through right now and I think it will also be applicable to everyone.
Sean Brown: Music is a form of entertainment. I always compare music to movies. No one wants to go and see action movies all the time. Sometimes you want to see a dram or a comedy. Anything that can take your mind off a situation and is entertaining, then it’s doing its job. In the 90’s I think music had more substance and storytelling, and the music that you hear right now on mainstream radio is fun and lit, which is cool too. If you want music that’s deep, it’s out there, you just need to search for it.
Trinidad: Music will always be the soundtrack to life. So you will hear pain. You will hear joy. Every artist’s job is to try and match the emotion for the world to stay sane.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Futuristic: Early days it was Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Ludacris, Nelly and Will Smith. Those are my early loves. Childish Gambino – he’s super fire, everything he does is amazing. Jon Bellion – He’s really unique. If I could have a three verse song, it would be Jon Bellion on the chorus and he produces the beat, me on the first verse, Andre 3000 on the second verse and Eminem on the third verse. That would be nuts.
Reverie: Currently listening to a lot of Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, ASAP Mob, 21 Savage. And I’ve been listening to a lot of deep house. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music and I get inspired by everyone. Even if I don’t like their music and they are grinding and making money, I respect that. My dream collab would be with Atmosphere.
Sean Brown: Pharrell, Kid Cudi, Andre 3000, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Eminem and of course Tupac and Biggy. Pharrell is still doing his thing, he’s always ahead of his time – clothing, production, music. He’s at the top of the list for me. Being from the west coast, I would love to work with Snoop one day. Kanye and Pharrell, of course. There’s a new artist named Kali Uchis, she just did a song with Tyler the Creator. She’s dope, her voice is crazy, she’s amazing. Other than that, I feel like doors are going to start opening and I’ll have more opportunities to work with a lot of artists that are bigger than me right now, but I’m getting there and I think it’s going to happen.
Trinidad: I love everybody’s contribution to the game. I listen to a lot of music to keep my palette sharp. Kanye is always pushing the envelope. We should work. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie is the male Mary J. Blige. I saw that online and that made so much sense to me. I wanna work with a band overseas called Jungle. Those are the goals for me. André 3000 too.
What do you hope fans take away from your music? Do you think that your music has an overall message at all?
Futuristic: My new project that’s coming out this year is all about being a good person. It’s about being yourself. It’s okay to be you. You don’t have to conform or try to fit in type of crowd. Realize we are all very blessed and you can do anything you set your mind to. My new project really focus on those things and being a good human being.
Reverie: I think my music definitely has a message and what I’m trying to portrait is that life is hard and it’s all about balance. Life is not the way you think it is growing up. You think everything is perfect and your family is the only dysfunctional one. Then you grow up and realize everyone has challenges. I just want to help people feel comfortable in their own skin and help them realize that everyone has a past. I want them to realize anything is possible as long as you believe in yourself. And that you need to take action to make things happen. People are waiting for something to happen, but you need to make it happen.
Sean Brown: I feel like I’m the underdog and for people that feel like they’ve been doubted or overlooked, they can turn to me and my story to realized there’s hope and to not give up on their dreams if they are passionate about it. I know it sounds cliché, but I feel strongly about it. So for any underdog out there, if you feel like you can’t follow through on your dreams anymore, I hope when you listen to my music it gives you a spark of hope or inspiration.
Trinidad: I want fans to know that I only speak for motivational reasons. I wouldn’t waste my time to make it if I didn’t care about people. Not just fans. I’m giving you game for under $10. Jay Z told us that.
How active are you on social media? How important has it all been to your career so far?
Futuristic: Social media is an everyday thing, I post on social media every day. It’s gotten me to where I am today, through YouTube and keeping those fans on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. It what’s gotten to me to where I am. Social media is everything for an independent artists coming up, you have to be active on all of it, it’s how you keep the people with you.
Reverie: Omg, I’m so active on social media, it’s crazy. I’m one of the most active people I know on social media and it’s because it’s my job and I take my job very seriously. The more content I put out, more the more fans I’m going to get. The goal is to take it all the way to the top, so I take full advantage of these resources we didn’t have 20 years. As an independent artist, social media is my life, it’s how I pay my bills.
Sean Brown: 2017 especially, social media is everything. It plays a significant role in music and entertainment across the board. People aren’t watching TV the traditional way anymore, they are on their cell phones or laptops. If you can get direct access to your favorite artist as a fan, that’s everything and that’s what social media is – it’s direct access. People want to know more about you, they want to see behind the scenes, they don’t just want to see the finished product, and social media is the platform to do that. It’s made money for me and helped me out tremendously. Anyone can be their own boss for their career, all they need to do it be consistent and give the fans what they want.
Trinidad: I am Mr On Instagram Straight Flexin. So social media is my shit. It’s been amazing for me, my whole career and also kicked my ass. But it’s a learning game so it’s cool.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about becoming a musician one day?
Futuristic: I would take it back to the message from my album. Being yourself is probably the most important thing. Not trying to blend in or change your sound to fit in with whatever is popular. You obviously should be aware of what other people are doing, but still be yourself. Just do you. No matter what you do, you will be happy being yourself.
Reverie: Don’t expect immediate results. Don’t listen to people when they tell you it’s not possible. Don’t be afraid of failure. Make investments with your money. Use every social platform. Stop waiting for something to happen. Everyone thinks they are going to be that one-in-a-million, but it takes work, it doesn’t just happen. Go make something happen.
Sean Brown: It’s not easy. There are times when you’re going to want to quit. Don’t quit. Take a break, take a couple days off and then get right back to it. Don’t trust anyone, loyalty is rare in this industry. Know your place as an artist and know that you can do it. Believe in yourself as an artist, because If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. You need to be persistent and that’s what it comes down to. I think a lot of people shy away from it when they don’t see progress after 6 or 7 months, or they dot see their fan base growing. But the thing is, it only takes one song or the right person to see that video or hear that song and you never know when that’s going to happen. If you’re good at what you do and stay on top of it, it can happen.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself, your music or the show?
Futuristic: Be happy. Live life. Be yourself. Work hard.
Reverie: I came from a really crazy past and to be honest with you, I thought I would be dead by now. For me to be sitting here in the Warner Brothers building doing an interview is a miracle. I just want to spread the message that anything is possible and no matter where you came from, you can make tomorrow the best day of your life.
Sean Brown: Follow me on social @mrseanbrown. I’ll be sharing info on where and when I’ll be releasing my album. Shout out to the Stage 13 team. October 17th, Independent comes out. Be ready.
Trinidad: Believe in what you got. It could be great or it could be mediocre. But the business you put behind your talent will determine a lot of your success. Make it count. Build a good team.