Sunday, August 29, 2010


This is a great read and a very in depth look into the thought process and workmanship of Deej Storer AKA Status Reign!
NT-Who are you? Where are you from and where do you call home?

SR-The name Is Status Reign and I originally hail from Tampa Bay, Florida. After only a year and change my folks made their way across the country and I spent some of my formative years in San Diego, California. Moving on my parents followed Opportunity to Minnesota and here I stay... Its hard to say exactly where I'm "from" having lived in so many places, but I would say I call Minnesota "home". I've been here the longest, done the most good here, and when I go on the road for shows... Minnesota is the place I miss.

NT-How long have you been making music?
SR-I've been making music since I was in Jr. High. It started more as something to do in class, and just kept going that way until some people told me that the stuff I was writing was good. From there it just kept getting more involved, more serious, and took up more and more time until I decided to do something specific with it.

NT-You also play the guitar I've heard, are you using that in your songs or plan to?
SR-I've actually been playing the guitar for a long time now. However, being self taught I'm about the skill level of an apt 12 year old. I have plucked a few lines for some beats, and would really love to be more active with using the guitar for music in general, but without really spending the time to improve my technical skill I'm limited what I can do... which isn't a ton. A huge draw back is that I've been spoiled in getting guitar... without playing guitar, and I throw that largely at Phingaz's feet. For anyone that doesn't know Phingaz, he is a master wiz at anything music related. If it has strings, a horn, or a key he will find a way to make it sound good, so working with him has truly been a blessing, while at the same time keeping me too lazy to really learn how to play.
NT-What's one of your fondest memories of music as a kid?
SR-Back when B96 first started... All they did was play dope music with no commercials. Whats better than that? Maybe the fact that one of my favorite Cd's growing up was the soundtrack to the street fighter movie. Perhaps not. In all seriousness, some of my favorite moments are hearing a song that I still like today for the first time, or having a song be the theme song for a whole summer. I was just fortunate to grow up with all kinds of different music. My life has been filled with it.  I have too many good music memories to list them in their entirety here, but I'm sure a majority of them are common to many people.

NT-Are you picky when it comes to working with an(other) artist(s)?
SR-That kind of depends on what the project will be for. For example I'm always down to work with artists for mix tapes, EPs, side projects... whatever, but I'm extremely picky on artists that I will work with on something that is specifically for me. There's a lot that goes into picking people to work with for an album that most people don't think about. If I have an amazing singer do a chorus for me on the album, will I be able to find someone as good (or at least close) to perform that song with me on the tour? If I have another rapper on a song, is that person going to know what I'm after? Are they going to be on my same wave length? Also I think its important to stand on your own two legs. A lot of artists will have 18 tracks on an album, and 20 verses on the album will be from "featured" artists. There's nothing wrong with that... but I think an album should have something important to say, it should mean something, and its hard to find 15 some-odd people that understand your direction.

NT-Who are you working with at the moment?
SR-If I've had nothing else I've had people to work with! Being a member of Background Noise Crew I've spent a lot of time working with Analyrical. Me and him have a side project called "C.A.S.E." that people still seem to have a vested interest in, and one day I PROMISE were going to finish it. Phingaz is LITERALLY my go to guy with any idea that's weird, wild, or in general hard to pull off, and he has been a great help in throwing all kinds of dope stuff together. I've also done plenty of work with Tone Krusher Smith, TQD, and I've gotten hella loose on some Egypto Knuckles beats in my time. Other than people in "the crew" I've worked really close with a lot of talented musicians for this project and I plan to add several more people to the list before the album is completely finished. I'm doing all of my recording right now with J.L. Magee, who has been an invaluable extra set of hands, ears, and as a consultant on how the album is shaping up. I'm certain the album wouldn't sound as good as it does without him helping as much as he has. Legend Has It has also been instrumental with helping me shape the album, finding a definitive sound, and making sure that everything comes together down the home stretch, and pretty soon I'm hoping to add the lovely and talented Kalliah Jackson into the mix. An amazing singer, talented musician, and the most bad ass chick you'd ever be hesitant to bring home to momma (Congrats to Kalliah as well for landing a recording deal recently. Her album is going to be recorded shortly and I urge anyone with ears to keep an eye out for it).

NT-How did you meet?
SR-Meeting the BNC guys was a long and fabled journey that takes up the better part of two years to tell in real time. We were all around the same places around the same time, and long story short we finally started coming together to pool resources, and move towards a common destination. We've officially been a organized collective for over three years, and things seem to keep getting better. I originally met J.L. Magee and Legend Has It when we were all together in the group Azrael's Youth, a group that has since disbanded, morphed, and then come back together as something completely different. The new group "super Incredible" is gearing up for an album that is still in its infancy, but is certainly coming along nicely. Kalliah I guess you could say I "found"... Through a friend of a friend, who's sister used to date this one guy, who's cousin went to school with etc... Basically I heard her sing... and that was pretty much that. I wasn't sure how at the time, but I knew I wanted to get her involved, and me and her have been talking to get her a spot on my album for some months now.

NT-How did Background Noise Crew form and when?
SR-I suppose you could say BNC owes its current label of "a collective" to Egypto Knuckles. We as individuals had been grinding and working independently for a long time, and it wasn't until Egypto Knuckles organized what were called "building sessions" at the time that we all came together. The goal in mind was to move the same direction we all had been going separately and focus our collective energy into each individual person as needed, hopefully resulting in increased exposure, and opportunities while putting in the same amount of work. We've been together 3 years (officially) and things have come a long way from where they started. I care deeply for all those guys and I'm super excited to see where everything goes.

NT-What groups or bands are you really digging right now?
SR-Its really strange to think about what I've been listening to lately compared to what I was listening to just a few years ago. I used to think everything on the radio was the devil, and only stuff I discovered for myself was worth listening to. As it turns out... that was wrong. I've really been digging on B.O.B. lately. His album has a really awesome range and its good to listen to all the way through. Quite a few jazz musicians have also made their way into my regular rotation. To me jazz is really good cruising music because its easy to drift into your own thoughts on such passionate music. For anyone interested in getting into jazz but they're not sure where to start, check out Gregory Porter, or the New Jazz Composers Octet.

NT-Who were some of your inspirations in your early years? Who, after listening to it really made you decide to make music?
SR-Honestly I didn't really listen to a lot of hip hop growing up, or even much in my teens for that matter. I suppose I was more into classic rock (primarily my mom's influence) and the occasional rap song here and there. I think the whole hip hop thing sorta clicked for me when I started listening to Outkast. ATLiens was probably what I would call my FIRST hip hop album, and to this day perhaps one of my most influential. Since I was staying up too late before school my mom took my t.v. out of my room before going into Jr. high which left me with nothing but the CD player, and since I can't sleep without some kind of ambient noise in the background I would always listen to music (which kept me up just as late usually). Someone at school put me up on Outkast and BAM! hip hop was my new favorite. In the years to follow I developed something of an obsession with Andre3000. The way he rapped, the awkward, yet still perfectly deliberate delivery... I would say if I could be as good as any rapper of my choosing it would have to be him, and ultimately I think his unique abilities are what pushed me into making music the way I wanted.

NT-In your mind is there any one or two records that is absolutely perfect or damn near close?
SR-I've found that perfect, is more a matter of perception than a word you can use to describe something. I guess the cop out is NO album is perfect but two that are REALLY close in my opinion are "The Love Below" by Andre3000, and "Reflection Eternal" by Talib Kweli. Both of those albums have what I like to refer to as "the mix" factor. Meaning if you were to make your own CD for a road trip, what would you put on it? some highs, some lows, some hype, some chill... and in what order? these two albums stand out specifically to me because they both come with a pre-packaged all-in-one stance of "this whole album is all you're going to need". That's an extremely rare quality for an album to have, making these two near the top on my list of all time favorites

NT-Is there anything about those album(s) that you know they just "got it right"?
SR-Literally from beginning to end you don't have to do anything... You don't have to work to listen to them, you don't have to come back to something to try and "get it", you don't even need to hit skip or fast forward. Its not just good music, its good lyrics, beats, order, timing, etc. even the songs that aren't my favorite are still worth listening to and both of them have a concept that can be followed. Maybe not in content or topics, but in structure and quality these albums should be the model for anyone aiming to make a good album.
P.S. I know love below was part of a double disc...but...  fun fact... Speakerboxx was just ... O.K.

NT-Do you have any "desert island" records to share? (the only records you could listen to for the rest of your life?)
SR-Love Below would absolutely be on there. I come back to that one occasionally whenever my current interest fades and I need a refresher on the dopeness. Other than that, I would probably try and hold on tight to a lot of old music that I don't listen to much anymore. early Jay-z, Linken park, U2, its just too hard to say for sure, but I would hope to have access to music forever, so I'll just not answer specifically and hope that such a dark day never dawns on me.

NT-Where do you tend to write your lyrics? Bathroom, living room...on your lunch break?
SR-Usually I will work in my living room late at night. The quiet allows for concentration and lets be honest... Who isn't comfortable in their living room? It just has all the X-factors you need to come up with quality material.

NT-What equipment are you working with in the studio?
SR-I have been recording the album at J.L. Magee's studio, using some pretty top end stuff, doing our recording in Pro Tools and mixing with Waves Mercury. Its a home studio set up, but with a dedicated booth section, some of the dopest speaker monitors, computer equipment, and mics available. The equipment doesn't make the sound, but it does help, and I'm only encouraged by the tools I have the chance to work with.

NT-Could you describe your music-making process? 
SR-The writing process for me is really drawn out, and actually quite disjointed when compared to a lot of my peers. Most people I know will simply sit down when they feel like it and start writing... I do this too of course, but its not how I usually get started. I prefer to set aside and dedicate time to working on tunes. I think as a writer forcing yourself to write doesn't always yield good results, but when you're accustomed to sitting down and writing on a regular basis you get more relaxed, and more at ease... In  general the creative juices flow a lot better if I'm thinking "nothing different than last time... just let it happen". A calm of sorts hits me and I can look at emotional topics objectively. My current album "Brutally Honest" dives really deep into a lot of touchy subjects, and if I sat down looking at it as a big picture I'd probably get upset and wouldn't be able to write anything EVER!

NT-How have people responded to the music you've have been making?
SR-I'm extremely fortunate to be getting the feedback I have. Most people are really positive, and excited to hear the rest of the album, but even more so a lot of people have been really supportive. When I spread music out to try and get a gage of what people think of it, I've been getting a lot of people asking if there is anything they can do to help, or if there are any places they can talk to for me. it makes the whole process a lot easier knowing that there are so many people that are hoping right along with me. Some people however are nervous the album is coming out. As I've said before, there are a lot of personal issues and situations being brought up on the album, and while the people close to me are still being supportive, putting all my dirty laundry out for everyone to see affects them as well.

NT-Is there any surprises or a record in the works right now?
SR-Surprises are just ideas once you give them away... but the short answer is yes. I have something that I'm trying to organize with Phingaz, as a side project. Its fun, its simple, ultimately it will be free, and the best part is I can guarantee people are going to like it. without giving too much away its a secret for now, and once all the details get worked out and some things get under way it will probably be public info shortly there after. Other than the dungeon-esq secrets Super Incredible will be recording an album as soon as mine is finished, and at the same time I'm hoping to finally get the CASE album finished with my guy Analyrical. I just love making music and between now and the time this gets posted I'll have already come up with and discarded a dozen more ideas for projects, so its safe to say I'll try to always have something going on.

NT-Have you been getting good press recently?
SR-I've had a real influx of positive press lately... Some blogs, a few interviews, and some features on websites and radio stations. I've been making music for a long time, but this is the first time that I've tried to really get momentum for a serious project, so I'm not sure if I'm way ahead, way behind or somewhere in between. There are always bigger things to go after and bigger moves to make but things feel like they're headed the right direction and most if not all of my commercial feedback has been good thus far, so I'm optimistic, and hopeful for the future.

NT-What's the perfect crowd to you?
SR-Honestly, anyone interested in having a good time. when I get on stage I give all of myself to the crowd, and I just want people to let themselves get involved, let themselves have a good time, and let themselves feel good. A good crowd doesn't even have to listen to the words... if they do... awesome, but any fellas that come out to chill instead of mean mug, and any broads that will kick their heels to the side of the dance floor and get loose are OK by me.

NT-Do you have any shows coming up or tour dates?
SR-At the moment I'm focusing diligently on finishing the album, and tightening screws. So I'm purposefully abstaining from shows until the scheduled tour set to commence sometime in early April. Its going to be 12 cities in 14 days, and aside from being a grueling two weeks its going to be the beginning of a long stretch of shows promoting Brutally Honest, showcasing Super Incredible, and getting busy with my BNC boys. Stay tuned for things to come, and if you get the opportunity don't miss a chance to come party/hang out at whatever show hits near you.
NT-What's your take on the Internet, has it helped or hurt you in terms of reaching an audience or making your money?
SR-The Internet certainly is a fascinating monster. Its never been so easy to get discovered, but its also never been so easy to be shuffled into the masses and fade into obscurity. I'd say all and all, the interwebs are the most revolutionary change music has seen or ever will see, short of someone coming up with a way to beam music directly into people's heads, but its largely for good. Its hard to say exactly what role it will play, but the old days of buying your favorite artist's CD at (insert retail store name here) are winding to a close. The future for music, both in distribution and marketing are all going online, and I just think its important to tackle it as a priority front. If I can make a living selling music over iTunes or or whatever, that would be great... But I would certainly enjoy the occasional illegal download of my music too.

NT-Where can people go to hear and buy your music?
SR-Just like every musician halfway serious about their music I have a Myspace, Facebook, Bandcamp, and so on... some tunes are available on and my personal under construction site will be a main hub for all things "Status Reign" related. I love to give music away for free... but I have to get the money for my cigarettes and video games from somewhere... so for anyone who feels inclined my debut album will be available for sale anywhere humanly possible as soon as it is released in late March/ early April.

NT-last question...when you hit the venue, what drink is getting ordered first?
SR-My first drink is actually some-what ceremonial. Whether its covered by drink tickets, on the house, or out of pocket I always order a "bud in the bottle" to start. Take a few sips, and then judiciously remove all labels... all the while I like to stand up on the stage of whatever venue I'm about to perform at. I think of it as getting comfortable in my temporary home. After the first drink Its case by case, maybe a mix drink, maybe tap... but more likely whatever I can afford.

NT-Anything else to add for the readers? Any shout outs?
SR-I would just have everyone know that I love talking to people. I used to be really conservative, and shy, and when I turned 3... I said "efff that"! I'm basically a really simple laid-back kinda guy, that's down to have fun where possible. If you are like minded... Please, hit me up. I would love to talk with you. Having said that, huge shout out and love, to my friends and family, Kira, Dino and Jones, I couldn't do any of this without you... don't leave me... Or I will fall apart. My BNC family, thank you so much for the support and hopefully we have many more years of success, and fun to come. Congrats again to Kalliah, good look on the effort and support to my good friends DJ Ganzobean, and B Mc-C. For anyone I didn't mention personally its because you are too special to name... I just couldn't expose the awesomeness to the public yet.



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