Painter Gregory J. Rose talks about his new musical endeavor, G-hop
While DJing the recent opening of Gregory's and his collaborator, Chris Heidman's, latest art show, "The Lines Between," at Rogue Buddha last month, I watched Rose bounce around the room the whole night, and it wasn't because of the music. It's that enthusiasm and vibrancy that comes through not only in his work as a painter but now in some new music Gregory, under his MC name, G-hop, is about to unveil.
Born in Pennsylvania, Gregory moved to the Twin Cities about 10 years ago, where he's had a long career not only as a visual artist and art educator but is about to blow up through a long collaboration with Heidman (known mostly for his own sonic work with Sukpatch and Ultrachorus) that is just finally just getting pressed up for a physical and digital release on Chris's label, Squirrel on the Moon, next month.
Not really resembling your typical Twin Cities backpack-and-tattoos hip-hop artist, Gregory's sound has a softer and less self conscious edge, more like the sunshiny vibe of your average '90s art school college DJ set. One would imagine Gregory grew up on a steady diet of Fishbone and Bone Thugs N Harmony right along with his study of the visual realms of the expressionists both urban and modern. In other words, it's what a record would sound like if Max Beckmann tried to make rhymes.
So like his visual surfaces, G-hop delivers an aural cut-and-paste canvass approach best exemplified in a new video he just dropped: In "Busted" we see G-hop's multi-abilities in full bloom. The track itself jumps between head-bobbing beats and casio electro lines, with Gregory's vocals blending in and out of the mix like voices at a party, making for a surprisingly fresh hook not totally unlike something you'd hear from Moby or Land of the Loops (does anybody remember them?).
Since it's a always a bit tricky trying to explain this type of stuff, I thought I'd send Gregory over some questions and see if he could break it all down for us. I'm not sure if he had any more luck than I would trying to do that, but you'll see what I mean about the teddy bear thing once you watch the video and see what G-hop has to say.
Download mp3: G-hop, "Busted"
Gimme Noise: You are more commonly known as a painter in these here parts but are now blowing up with your music. How long have you been working with music?
Gregory J. Rose: I've been working with music for a long time. I used to play a lot with my boys back at home. We used to make music in the punk realm more than anything. I started skateboarding in third grade and haven't stopped. So, thrash and punk were the choice of theme music for a long time. I enjoyed fooling around playing music most with my boy Rev. Matty Love -- from the band Insidious Rays. He's now playing bass with the band New Madrid Faults. So, much love to all the fellas back home who used to take the time to make noise with me! Oh, and I can't forget to thank my brothers (Cliff and Mike) and their friends for teaching a young knuckle-head how to make mixed tapes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
But, I started really getting into music or shall I say growing into my voice when Chris Heidman found me during some party we met at while I was in Graduate School at the U of M for my MFA in Drawing and Painting. Chris and I started recording together close to a decade ago, considering I got to Minneapolis in 2001. So, to be more to the point after rambling on here I would say about 10 years.
What are some of the inspirations for the G-hop sound? Do you see this stuff as hip hop or more like an electronic music project?
The G-hop sound is influenced by many things: Gospel, classical,rock, punk, soul, R&B, hip hop, trip hop, ambient, country, folk, tribal, reggae, electronica, techno and house...Whatever we can get our hands on and make work with the beats and other elements of the music. I'm not sure really what to call it? The best way I can put this sound is east coast meets midwest in a marriage of sounds, beats, rhythms and voices.
Do you think of G-hop as a different persona other than yourself, or is it just an extension of what you are about visually and a reflection of your everyday life?
G-hop is everyday life bro. I mean, I got this name when I was an Undergraduate at Penn State working on my BFA in drawing and painting. G-hop is what you might say is as close to a soundtrack or what one might hear if you could live in one of my paintings. If I or anyone in my audience had theme music and were traveling within one of my paintings or drawings. Yes, you are correct -- G-hop is just an extension of who I really am. I can remember to this day, singing my daughter to sleep every night I could because she was colic. From here I can reflect with you all on the fact that every-time I paint, like my video presents -- I sing, I talk to myself, I live what I make more than I actually realize I guess you can say.
The new video you just dropped, "Busted" is pretty sweet. How long did it take and how did it all come together?
The video was pretty quick I guess? It took about 4 to 5 hours total to make. Chris texted me a list of items the night before and we went to work the next day in the basement of my home. We gathered some old windows from my garage I had lying around from some home improvement projects.
Now, this is where things got hard for me and fun for Chris I guess. I had to of course sing my song and paint the images you see in the production. The hardest part was rigging up the window so that I could paint on them and so they wouldn't move everytime I touched the brush to the surface.
But this was very low budget, three windows, some of my painting and technique, singing, and Chris's ability to direct such a "personality" as myself.
The painting show you have up at Rogue Buddha with Chris Heidman seemed to get a good response. Do you and Chris work together musically as well?
Yeah, Chris and I work together musically, and within the fine arts. We share some of the writing in the songs. We are also both known to pass paintings back and forth to one another if we get bored and need a challenge. We are comrades in the best sense. We push each other and always have. Chris has enhanced my career by nurturing my musical talents. I felt that I had to have Chris show with me at the Rogue Buddha because I wanted folks to see his other side- the painter in him. Chris is more known for his music, I thought it was time everyone saw his art. The Rogue Buddha Exhibition was basically the stepping stone for the G-hop project to be launched!
What can people expect in the future from you musically, visually or whatever else it is you get yourself into?
Let me put it to you like this Danny. I plan to begin my move towards more regional shows, like an exhibition in Chicago. Not to mention I am trying to get a show internationally. I will also continue to exhibit locally. Framing, creating, writing about my art, I have established G Rose Studios LLC, my private music and art studio in Saint Paul. I have been teaching here in the Twin Cities since 2001 at the U of M, at Inver Hills Community College and now I am at Minneapolis Community and Technical College teaching drawing and painting as a full time faculty member.
I have done a lot here in the Twin Cities and would like to continue my work here moving in the direction of more venues like the MIA's local artist program. Not to forget I will also be continuing my work in the North Side Community. I recently finished a mural project at Unity High School last year as a service learning project with some of my Inver Hills Students.
As for the music, well, I hope people can dance, sing, get down. I'm hoping that G-hop grows, transforms and develops a sound that resonates world wide.
Gregory J. Rose and Chris Heidman's show The Lines Between will be up for one more week at the Rogue Buddha Gallery. G-hop's debut Pensyltucky drops March 28.