Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Transgressionzz: Interview with Akillezz

Akillezz, the son of a self-made successful
immigrant, was raised in a Greek-American family. His father, a restaurateur, immigrated to the United States from Greece in 1974 with $75 in his pocket.

During his formative years, Akillezz was raised by his grandparents while both of his parents were focused on their business interests.

After graduating from the Horace Mann School, Akillezz concentrated on his music career in collaboration with producer John Jayd Daniels. In 2012, to more fully protect his creative endeavors, he founded the Akillezz Records label[1] and quickly leaped near the top of the charts with singles from his first album, "Transgressionzz". Singles from the album reached as high as #3[4] on Billboard Hot Singles Sales Chart.

His first two singles off the Transgressionzz album, "One Level" and "Anything" became regional hits in Los Angeles and Vegas clubs and radio in early 2015. His most successful record off the Transgressionzz album, "Punching Bag" was released on April 8, 2015 featuring model and actress Charlotte McKinney and directed by Ben Griffin of Prime Zero Productions.

His first single "One Level" broke at Power 105.1, WWPR-FM, spun by both DJ Self and DJ Suss One and later picked up by DJ Spynfo at Hot 97(WQHT New York).

"Punching Bag" directed by Ben Griffin[5] has been the most virally successful music video, although not necessarily the most successful single in terms of sales. While he asked Griffin to bring "Punching Bag" to life in a video, Akillezz was the sole author of the film treatment and retains intellectual property rights in it.

Interview with Akillezz

Earlier this year, your song “Anything” was sitting 3rd on Billboard for Hot Single Sales. How does it feel to beat out some of the top names in music?

Akillezz: I’m not certain that the ultimate measure of an artist can be determined by assessing sales, however, charting on Billboard at the independent level indexes a certain competitiveness and it affirms faith in one’s self. You can have great ability and even be masterful at your craft but until you can make some income from that craft, you’re not actually a professional. Charting as high as number three was definitely an early milestone in my career as a rap artist.

Speaking of “Anything”. Can you share some background about the song? What is it about and what does it mean to you personally?

Akillezz: “Anything” is a personal song which was intended for a particular recipient. It documents a relationship with a tormented past that would be, as most things are, subject to the vicissitudes and mutable discourses of life and circumstance. At the time when I wrote it, I thought the person in my life was finally back and maybe might have been permanently back. It was an on again off again relationship and I just wanted to express my preparedness to do whatever it would have required in order to make it work. It didn’t.

What song of yours best represents Akillezz?

Akillezz:“End of Dayzz,” is a song which is part of a collective, Transgressionzz, my debut album, that emotes, quite theatrically, my formative development. It’s almost become, in my mind, my own leitmotif. It’s crucial to know the child inside the adult and this is a composition so scrupulously honest in the way it captures the essence of who Akillezz is before he ever was.

Tell us what inspires Akillezz. What made you decide to make music your career?

Akillezz: I don’t usually arbitrarily stumble on inspiration which prompts me to then go create something. Instead, I wake up with a ceaseless compulsion or creative anxiety which requires that I birth works and labors, that I harvest them, so that I’ll leave something behind in the wake of death. So that what I do today, might be appreciated by tomorrow’s mankind; that I might inform posterity. Perhaps even posthumously the reexamination of my work will contribute to the human experience.

As a writer and as a songwriter, music allows me to give room to the logos which pervades and animates the universe. I understood this as a child before music and so I began to write poetry. Today, I still consider my work poetical in it’s nature.

Who did you look up to as a kid and who has helped you become who you are today?

Akillezz: As a kid, I very much looked up to fictional character, Howard Roark, especially while reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. Eminem was a hero of mine for his tenacious use of language. 50 Cent was a pillar of strength for me, both his music and what he represents in literary terms. More recently, I enjoyed the pleasure of getting to meet 50 and even speak with him at a charity event. He’s an artist I’d like to work with.

How would you describe your music?

Akillezz: Dense, syncopated, lyrical.

What music artists influenced your style of music?

Akillezz: Dr. Dre shaped the landscape of hip-hop that ultimately inspired my wanting to rap. Sonically, he’s created works which accomplish such a visceral quality – you feel his music in your gut. Eminem, Tupac, 50 Cent, Nas, Biggie and Jay Z were all inspirations growing up. They continue to be inspirations today.

You’re currently living most independent artist’s dream of gaining notoriety by getting worldwide recognition on Billboard magazine. What are some of your other goals you’d like to attain as a recording artist?

Akillezz: I suppose there are many milestones that I look forward to in my career. A Grammy Award for Best Rap Album or Best New Artist might be among those things. Being recognized at the AMAs or having an RIAA certified platinum album. The definitive thing is to be ranked on Billboard’s 100 Greatest Artist’s of All Time.

If you could collaborate with any artist, living or dead, whom would you like to work with?

Akillezz: Working with either Michael Jackson or Tupac would have been experiences to say the least. It’s a shame to imagine I’ll never be able to have the honor of working with either of them. In terms of current artists, I’d really like to work with Eminem, 50 Cent, and Jay Z. Another dream of mine would be to get in the studio with Dr. Dre, or work on a project with him.

As a solo artist, what are some of your biggest challenges you’ve faced and do these challenges ever discourage you? How do you stay focused and what keeps you on course?

Akillezz: Being independent and managing my own record label, Akillezz Records, while being an artist has inherit challenges. It’s creative entrepreneurship so there are at least two parts, sometimes there is appropriate overlap, but other times I’m forced to distinguish, sharply, the CEO from the artist.

When you’re not performing or writing music, what are some of your favorite pass-times?

Akillezz: Reading, painting, or writing (things other than music). Spending quality time with my family is also crucially important to me. I’m very invested in being a brother to my two siblings and a son to my parents, and fortunately still a grandson to my grandmother. I lost my grandfather in 2012 but he occupies a good deal of space in my mind and in my heart and so, I do my best to honor his memory.

You chose your name based upon Greek heritage, were you born there?

Akillezz: I did, in part, select the name because of my Greek heritage, although, my domicile of origin is in the United States. I’m from Astoria, Queens, which was once a predominately Greek neighborhood but today is more diversified.

What’s next for Akillezz over the next 6 months to a year? What can fans expect from you?

Akillezz: I’ll be performing at SXSW this March, early 2016, and there’s possibility for continued touring before and after that time. I’m working on releasing new music in the interim and most likely another music video as well.

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