Hip-Hop Artist, Writer And Director, TMG FRE$H Discusses His Newest Single and Brand New Video for “Late Night” and More!
Get to know the multi-hyphenate artist, TMG FRE$H!
Today (4/23) he released his brand new single, “Late Night,” which will be featured on his forthcoming debut album, Margiela Language, due out on Friday, June 4th via TMG Records. Powered by nocturnal production, the song instantly hypnotizes with a hard-hitting hook brought to life on screen by a Fight Club inspired visual.
“Late Night” follows the debut of the first single from Margiela Language, “VLONE,” which Fresh released last month along with a self-directed companion music video that amassed nearly 500k YouTube views in the two weeks following its release. Over 808s wrapped in piano, Fresh recounts being robbed at gunpoint outside of his home. However, he offsets the intense subject matter with warm melodic delivery as he confesses, “It changed a part of me, I can’t move how I used to move. I can’t do what I used to do.” Striking a balance between airtight wordplay, hovering melodies, guitar-laden beats, and trap grit, Fresh has carefully crafted a signature style on Margiela Language that is defined by duality.
“The album encompasses different moods, emotions, and elements of my life,” Fresh explains. “It feels like my first real project, so I threw everything in there.” He elaborates, “Art has multiple sides to it, and as far as duality goes, Margiela is high fashion – so I’m speaking the language of that. It’s deeper than the surface level glamour though. You don’t know who you can trust. Betrayals, loneliness, and pain come from that vulnerability. That’s what Margiela Language is.”
Originally hailing from Oakland, CA, the LA-based hip-hop artist, writer, director and producer formally introduced himself last year with 2020’s single “Champagne Cry” featuring multiplatinum powerhouse Tee Grizzley. WorldStarHipHop debuted the video as it generated nearly five million views, while Flaunt Magazine claimed, “With FRE$H’s melodic vocals and Grizzley’s hard-hitting raps, the duo perfectly bounce their styles off each other.”
On the film side, Fresh’s latest project is an award-winning short film, Sins of the Father, which he wrote, directed and produced. The short continues to take the festival circuit by storm with official selections garnered from Toronto Independent Festival of CIFT and Paris Independent Film Festival, among others. A multitalented wordsmith, Fresh began cultivating his longstanding passion for storytelling after he was sidelined by a basketball injury in college. Inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s films, he taught himself how to write scripts, which led him to explore his musical voice. He also tirelessly participates in initiatives led by his mother’s charitable organization, The Akonadi Foundation, whose mission is to support the development of powerful social change movements to eliminate structural racism.
Learn more about TMG FRE$H in the following All Access interview:
So what has this past year been like for you and your music? How are/did you get through the pandemic?
This past year has actually been great for me in a lot of ways. It helped me to really lock in my work and just focus. I made so much great music this past year, and I have so much good stuff in the vault. I can’t wait to start unleashing it on the world.
I am curious to know how you got your artist name. Was it hard to find something that truly represented who you are as a musician?
Fresh is a nickname that people have been calling me since I was kid, so that part came naturally. TMG stands for Transcend Music Group, the name of my label. I wanted to throw the label on my back to represent and carry the brand.
Let’s talk about your forthcoming single, “Late Night.” What was the inspiration for this song? How does this song prepare listeners for your upcoming debut album, Margiela Language?
“Late Night” is really just a ‘vibe’ to me; it’s something you can throw on while you’re driving. My guy, Few, created the beat and when I heard it, I instantly knew I had to make a smash to it. I think the song gets people ready for what’s to come, with dope vibes and melodies over dope beats with smooth harmonies, and some hard bars.
Speaking of your album, what was it like making this collection? What surprised you about the overall process? Were there any unexpected challenges? What other songs are you excited to share with people?
The overall process of making of my debut album, Margiela Language, took place over the course of about a year and a half, and there have been many different versions of the project throughout that time. It was like every time I thought the project was complete and ready to go, I’d make a new song or get a new feature, and I’d be like, ‘damn this one has gotta go on the project.’ When I first started, Margiela Language was going to be a five or six song EP, but as time went on, it grew into an 11 song full-length album, which is great because it’s a good problem to have when you have so many songs that you’re in love with, that you can’t pick just five.
Overall, I’d say the biggest challenge has just been remaining patient, allowing the project the time it needed to develop and come together. You get to a point where you’re just so excited to share it with the world, but you have to stay patient and let it fall into place the way it’s supposed to. I can honestly say that I am excited about every single song on the album. Some of my favorites are “No Tears,” which is a very emotional song; “Fuck How U Feel” featuring my boy from back home, Symba; “Top Down” with Jeremih, which is ‘song of the summer’ type material; and “2010,” which is a super dope, nostalgic, guitar-driven song featuring the international legend, Sean Kingston. So yeah, I’m excited to share this body of work with the world, very excited
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician? What do you think motivates you day in and day out? How has that changed over the years?
I had previously been involved in music on the business side trying to help other artists. I had been working with Yung Pinch and had signed Solo Lucci to my label, TMG, around the time when I made my first song. I was just around music so much and knew a bunch of really talented musicians, so when I decided I wanted to jump in and try it myself, I called up my friend, Southside, and asked him if I could come record a song at his house. So the very first song I ever made was at Southside’s house on an 808 Mafia beat.
Also, it just so happened to be All-Star Weekend in LA the next weekend, and we were all out in the club one of those nights. I passed the DJ a little cash and told him to run my record a couple times. After turning up to my own song in a packed club like that, that was it. I decided I was going do this sh*t for real. Ever since then, I’ve gone hard at it and work every day to not only make the best music I possibly can, but to make sure I get it in front of as many people as possible.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? If you weren’t a musician today, could you see yourself doing anything else?
I always loved music growing up. It’s kind of funny; I’m half black and half white, and growing up my music interests were pretty much… half black and half white. I was listening to Dr. Dre, Lil Wayne and Jay-Z half the time, and blink-182, Green Day and The Offspring the other half of the time. I think that played a big part in forming my own sound today. I mix rapping with some rock melodies and guitars on top of heavy hitting 808s.
Aside from music, I also love film and have written and directed a short film, so that’s another interest of mine and something I would be fully invested in if I wasn’t doing music.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
I would say the biggest challenge for me has been becoming comfortable with opening up and putting myself out there. I’m naturally a very introverted person, so opening up and letting people into my life and my world has been the biggest struggle for me. I’m comfortable being open and vulnerable in my music, but opening up and showing people my real life is something I’m still trying to get better at.
I also understand that you are active in filming. What has it been like juggling like that with your music lately? Do you find that you prefer one over the other these days? How did one lead to the other?
I love film and 100% plan on jumping all the way in as a filmmaker at some point, but right now I would say I’ve been very much focused on the music, but I definitely try to incorporate and add elements of filmmaking into my videos and visual storytelling. I have a very strong love for both and keep both of those passions alive. I started out in film and I think that love for the creative process has carried over into my work as a musician.
When touring resumes hopefully later this year, where are you most excited to perform at? Where are you excited to see an artist perform?
I can’t wait to go back home to the Bay Area and do a show up there. It would mean a lot to me to have the opportunity to perform where I grew up at, especially since my journey as an artist started when I was already living in LA. So going home to the Bay as an artist and performing in front of a Bay Area crowd would feel like a real homecoming for me.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I want people to be able to experience their own lives and their own emotions through my music. I feel like we all deal with a lot of the same emotions and feelings as human beings, and I hope that through my music and through the stories I tell that people are able to see themselves in my work.