Thanks goes out to Marni from Sneak Attack Media, Ruth from L.A., and Chris the badest manager on tour, for coordinating an interview with rising star Mike NOTAR, who will be opening and performing with Augustana and the Counting Crows this Sunday at the Snagajob (Innsbrook) Pavillion. You can listen to his song “Matador” or […]
Thanks goes out to Marni from Sneak Attack Media, Ruth from L.A., and Chris the badest manager on tour, for coordinating an interview with rising star Mike NOTAR, who will be opening and performing with Augustana and the Counting Crows this Sunday at the Snagajob (Innsbrook) Pavillion.
You can listen to his song “Matador” or you can check out his page.
Mike NOTAR called in from Canada to talk a bit with me about his experience on the road and getting into the music scene. He’s a talented hip hop MC, but even that seems too limited to describe his talent. He grew up in a family of musicians, but lost his parents all too soon. Spending time watching his father play music, he later went on to study jazz. From the streets to the stage, NOTAR is an example of a man with a “will to win” and a determination to be successful.
SR: You have a unique style that’s influenced by hip hop, jazz, rock, and other influences which reminds me of Aesop Rock, Eminem, Atmosphere, and others, do you draw on some of those artists, or did you come to your sound independently?
NOTAR: “I used to watch my father play in the basement as a kid and other family members, so I was always around music. I try not to listen to rap so I don’t allow it to affect my personal style. I think a lot of rock hip hop sound is generic, but I really like all of the guys you mentioned and I have a lot of respect for them.”
SR: How did you and Adam (Duritz front man and band leader for the Counting Crows) meet and when did you realize something big was gonna happen between the two of you?
NOTAR: “I met Adam through a mutual friend who shared a demo with him… at the time I was still trying to develop my own sound, but by the time Adam and I finished collaborating on the song I wrote called “Stranger,” a song about troops in Iraq, I knew we were going to do something amazing. This song really set the tone for our collaboration.”
SR: There is obviously a very different vibe in your music than the Counting Crows, but after listening to “Stranger” with Adam’s contribution, the blending of your sounds is really pleasant. Most MCs don’t seem to be able to crossover into other types of music as well as you do, how does this work for you?
NOTAR: “It’s taken a lot of time to write great songs … the rest takes care of itself at the end of the day music is music and if you’re making great music everyone can get into it regardless of their musical background.”
SR: If I’m not mistaken, this is your first major road tour, what’s it like for you being on the road bouncing from Canada to Virginia, and everywhere else?
NOTAR: “The routing is beastly and brutal and I thank Chris Tschupp, the tour manager, for keeping it all together. We’re touring in a van and if they told me they need me in France, Italy, or Istanbul, I’d go!
SR: What were some challenges so far being on tour? Successes?
NOTAR: “Well, the first rehearsal with Adam, he handed me a cowbell.” SR: Did you tell him this song needs more cowbell? NOTAR: “No! I had visions of Will Farrell and that’s not how I wanted to start my reputation. I strive on live performances to put on the best show I can. But I’m loving the challenge of being out of my element. We do a lot of cross-over work, for example, during an encore, Adam through me a tambourine and said to just go with it, and we all started jamming out. That’s what’s been great about this tour is the feeling of togetherness and cooperation.”
SR: Richmond has a lot of young people who dream of being famous MCs or hip hop artists in some fashion, what advice can you offer them?
NOTAR: “The will to win kept me motivated … perseverance and persistence . . . If you have a talent and you believe in yourself, you can do it. Like my grandfather used to say, it doesn’t matter what you do, If you’re selling clothes, sell clothes; If you pick up trash; do that and be the best at it. If you show you’re dedicated, success will be around. SR: How much did working the local scene impact your success? NOTAR: Playing out in the scene was hugely important. I used to go and grab mics anywhere I could; breathing it and living it.
Although we didn’t have more time to chat, I have known, met, and worked for enough musicians to say that Mike NOTAR is one of the most down-to-earth and sincere musicians I have ever met. A lot of people let a little fame go to their heads, and Adam Duritz knows well the joys and pitfalls of success so under Adam’s tutelage and given NOTAR’s optimism and committed heart I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from NOTAR in the future.
Finally, I’ve known a lot of teens in Southside Richmond who have either told me or demonstrated their passion for becoming a hip hop artist or MC; NOTAR is an example that to be successful it doesn’t matter what color you are, who your parents are or even if they can’t be there, but what it takes to make it is the heart and spirit of a warrior with unending determination.