Pink Navel is a hard hitting hip hop hellraiser from the Boston area who is going to be onstage this Friday November 10th at Hassle Fest 9. Their new album “Raw Navel” released through Happy Dog Records, explores empty space and heavy beats with some of the best new lyrical work to come from Massachusetts since the galaxy was a twinkle in its parent’s eye. This busy performer took some time out of their busy schedule to answer some questions about the creative process on their new record, as well as an ongoing series called “BESTMORNING”.
Boston Hassle: What was a point of recording this album where you wrote a beat that made you go, holy shit I leveled up with this.
Pink Navel: When I was working on Raw Navel and made the beat for “college-fireman.dev,” It was the first track I had used that particular synth patch that ended up shaping the record, truly love that cut.
BH: You sometimes make beats on the side in a sort of marketplace for other artists to buy, is that validating? How does it allow you to grow as a performer yourself with your own music?
PN: Selling beats is fun! Working with other rappers that I might’ve not worked with otherwise is a big plus. It all feels like a big exercise, working with someone who may have a different vision or motive than you artistically. I like changing up process so it’s definitely enjoyable.
BH: Are there any kind of rituals you partake in when you start writing a new album? Or during the recording process? Do you take a bunch of random songs and throw them together or is there a linear narrative where you fill in the blanks?
PN: This definitely is different with each project. For example, my “BESTMORNING” series has always been collections of tracks or b-sides from other records. But for Raw Navel, I was very much in the same mindset while creating the whole thing, and made sure I was in the same physical space while recording each track. I think that’s the closest thing I have to a ritual when producing at home.
BH: Your gig schedule has been getting more and more frequent this year, it seems like a lot more people are hopping on board with paying attention and listening to what you do. Is there anyone you really enjoyed touring with?
PN: Oh Two Knights without a doubt, it was an honor and a privilege to tour with them. It was my first time playing in most of the states we visited, traveling from Ohio to Virginia. The band has been such a huge influence on my creativity since I was in highschool, and one of their songs ended up being my senior quote. Haha, real fanbaby status. Bonding with people who you feel like you already vibe with on an artistic level is a great thing.
BH: Your top three video games of all time: is there a common thread that ties them together?
PN: Portal 2, Shovel Knight, and Overwatch — I think the only common trait being really fleshed out, entertaining characters. I think these games, even Overwatch, give one a great sense of agency within their worlds. Character and context plays a big role in that.
BH: Your live show is incredibly technical, with messing with all those knobs on your sampler and triggering patterns at the exact right time while rapping. There must be an immense amount of rehearsal that goes into it. This isn’t so much a question, more a polite invitation to elaborate on how often you are a science wizard of getting ready for the gig.
PN: I take my performance structure after who I’ve learned most of my techniques from. Freakin’ on the SP has became sort of an artform in itself these days and I love what the machine has done for all sorts of artists. I’m always playing with mine, whether its rehearsing a song or making beats with it. Every interaction is an opportunity to learn how to better use it.
BH: You don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to, but having been a fan of you for a bit, I remember during your earlier incarnations there was this whole deal about getting possessed by an alien who did your performances for you. I feel like you dropped the outward presentation of this, but can still feel bits and pieces of it come through in your current live set. Is there still a little bit of invoking going on, of an other self (shadow/higher/saiyan/whatever) that is part of how you connect to a performance?
PN: Oh man, yeah! I definitely did a lot of serious lore/concept album stuff back in the day. I think you’re right to say I haven’t abandoned the physicalities of that performance structure entirely, and that’s because the way I perform is very natural for me and always has been. I think my abandonment of it was part of becoming more comfortable in my own skin. I stopped feeling an obligation to explain through metaphors or straight forwardness why I act differently in conversation versus on stage.
(photo credit: Nicole Carrier of Squarepop) http://squarepop.com/