He’s the vocalist and producer whose musical reinvention has seen him go from the hip-hop streets of New York to the rather more polished sidewalks of LA, with a shift in music style to match a greater commercialisation of his sound.
While various other artists have softened their tone at the behest of a record company directive, Post Malone’s progression is very much of his own doing.
Firstly, he resisted the urge to collaborate at every turn, something some of his peers have failed to do. And when he did link up with other artists, the directive has always been geared towards utilising someone else’s sound, not just their social media following.
That Post Malone will mix princely pop anthems with a lyrical levelling of spoken word rap proves that the freedom to express himself remains very much a priority, and one he is seizing…
RSNG Musical freedom means a lot to you, doesn’t it? POST MALONE, MUSICIAN “Of course – it’s all any artist really wants. There are so many horror stories out there of great songwriters, bands, even rappers, who find the power ripped away from them when they sign their deal. I was determined that wasn’t going to happen to me, and Republic have always had the same vision as me, and it’s one that’s paying off.”
RSNG How long have you been making music? POST MALONE “Since I was 13 really, that's half my lifetime, I guess. Obviously the type of music I was making back in the early days has evolved a fair bit now and I’m looking to keep on pushing and expecting more of myself.”
RSNG From White Iverson to Bieber, Nicky Minaj to Circles, and whatever new music is to come, it feels like a long journey already. POST MALONE “It does, and sometimes I struggle to define myself because of the variety that has emerged; but I would rather have that freedom.”
“I couldn’t ever be that artist who picked up a guitar and strummed a new tune 12 times for every album, every year. Man, that’s not who I am. Instead I’m giving myself total freedom over what I make and how that sounds.”
I started in rock and folk bands – it’s crazy to think of it like that but that music was musical foundation and I built everything on the melody
RSNG What do you mean? POST MALONE “Well the genres all cross over. I’ve never liked the tag of ‘rapper’; I’ve never liked ‘underground’ and ‘mainstream’ – I’m not even sure what that means anymore because the lines are so blurred.”
“All I know is it's always important to know who you are; it’s vital you be just the version of yourself that you want to be, and you shouldn’t be influenced by people trying to massage or style you in a certain way.”
“I’m at the point now where I just want to do what I like, you know? I’m not trying to follow anybody's trends, or pursue whatever fashion is going on, you know. I feel like that's important.”
RSNG How did your music journey start? POST MALONE “I started in rock and folk bands – it’s crazy to think of it like that but that music was musical foundation and I built everything on that… I built everything on the melody, essentially.”
“So that's where all my songwriting energy comes from too – it’s quite a tight format and by mastering that from a young age I was able to start having fun with songwriting concepts – expanding them and doing things differently. Sometimes you stick to a rigid formula, other times you can be more versatile; but it comes down to having confidence in what you do.”
“Essentially though, each time I pick up a guitar I am relating everything back to those early days strumming folk tunes with my band. And most genres will be able to push it back to folk and country - there's rock and hip hop today but it’s all folk melodies if you listen closely enough. We really haven’t come as far as we think we have, haha!”
RSNG Do you want to start a label at some point? POST MALONE “Yeah it’s something I have thought about a lot – really getting into the other side of the industry.”
“I feel like I have something to offer now – a voice, experience. I know it’s a trend to start a label to begin to blood new artists, but it’s more than that for me – it’s wanting to get all that bedroom talent into the world… it’s to give back.”
I don’t feel pressure, not really – everything I produce comes from a very pure place so I have total faith in the music
RSNG And in doing so create a Post Malone legacy? POST MALONE “Well I’m less keen on that, haha! I don’t think I need a legacy created in my name – I’m happy enough for that to just be me; I don’t really want the plaudits for other people’s talent.”
“I'm not trying to be nothing I’m not, but I do want to show other people how to be the best people they can be. It’s magical when you meet with people who have a vision and a connection, and you just know there is so much of that talent out there. It’s special, man.”
RSNG What’s your process for releasing and creating records? POST MALONE “I just get in there. I do the melody and then I write whatever is on my mind, you know, and then just release it.”
“I’ve kinda made that sound easy but it is a long process. I will usually write by singing over beats and percussion and see what resonates. I had a habit for a while of laying two tracks over each other as a method of seeing what sounds and effects were coming through. It was an interesting collaboration of sounds and genres. I think as a creative you’ve got to look at new ways of making music and it doesn’t always have to come from within.”
RSNG No pressure? POST MALONE “I don’t feel pressure, not really. If I release something it's going to get attention. I trust in the feedback I have and I listen, but everything I produce comes from a very pure place so I have total faith in the music.”
“I know I am very lucky that I have a medium to get my ideas in my music. It’s quality over quantity. I’m a perfectionist.”
I want to keep pushing music that has a meaning, and not every meaning is in playing out in front of 50,000 or 100,000 people
RSNG Who do you make music for? Yourself, or others? POST MALONE “I think the music comes from myself but there is always a target, or an inspiration, so you could kinda say every track is for other people.”
“Do I ever write something purely for myself? It’s rare. Music is collaborative; not just in terms of artists but also as an experience, as an emotion. I think it would feel very strange to write music from purely a personal perspective. A bit crude.”
RSNG You’ve never wanted to get above your station? POST MALONE “No, never. You can’t afford to do that these days. It’s the reason I will play a big stadiums then a dive bar – it’s the reason I’ll switch between street rap and commercial, harmonious, fresh tunes that have a different effect on the listener. I just want to keep pushing music that has a meaning, and not every meaning is in playing out in front of 50,000 or 100,000 people.”
“To the vast majority of music listeners, it is a very personal experience, and that means when they go to a concert it’s actually an unusual and sometimes uncomfortable experience for them to find they are having to share this whole experience with so many other people.”
“And that’s the same as a songwriter too. Something that begins with you alone and a guitar, or a keyboard, or a computer, gets transported and accelerated into this big thing where it’s out of control. It’s like the genie is out of the bottle and no-one is going to put it back in there.”
RSNG More new music on the way then? POST MALONE “Sure, you’ll hear it; you’ll like it. I’m going soul, I’m going bass, I’m going old-school, man. I’m excited. That’s all I’m saying.”
WHAT NEXT? Read the RSNG interview with rock’s soundest bloke, Dave Grohl.