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TrillPhonk (Underground Music Pioneer) – Interview

TrillPhonk

TrillPhonk

Being able to speak with someone as pioneering as TrillPhonk was one of the main reasons I launched this site. It should be quite obvious by now that I am a huge fan of music and I am an especially huge fan of the underground hip hop scene.

Starting very early in this 2010s decade I began to notice a change in the musical landscape. And this change was due heavily in part to the growing power of the internet and its practically limitless reach. It didn’t take long for me to see artists quickly rising through the ranks and a healthy amount eventually reached the coveted (for some at least) mainstream status.

Along with the internet, these artists have had help along the way thanks to the changing landscape of technology and the introduction of platforms like SoundCloud, Bandcamp, and one of the first and very best platforms available: YouTube. Mix these platforms with social media tools like Twitter and Facebook, musicians now have plenty and more then ever before in their arsenal to help get their work out there to the public. In my opinion, music is the most accessible art form and I love seeing new talent emerge on the regular. And now here is where TrillPhonk fits into the equation.

By focusing on a specific niche, mainly related to underground hip hop, I quickly gravitated and subscribed to TrillPhonk’s YouTube channel very early on. My YouTube searches back in 2012 and 2013 ranged from the likes of SpaceGhostPurrp, Denzel Curry, and Lil Ugly Mane amongst others in this music scene. I then found myself frequenting TrillPhonk’s channel seeing that he had uploads of these named artists plus so many others. It didn’t take long for me to say to myself, ‘Yes. This guy gets it!’ which soon lead to me subscribing.

His channel is an all-in-one for the best and the latest in underground hip hop for songs, music videos, albums, mixtapes, and other things similar. It is an excellent channel and a hub for the trillest of phonk.

So with all this being said, what follows now is my interview with TrillPhonk:

Sam:

What’s going on TrillPhonk? I am very glad to be interviewing you. Your YouTube channel has grown so well and I’m sure all the artists on your channel are thankful.

TP:

Hey, thanks for the opportunity, I’ve never really done anything like this before so I’m excited.

Sam:

Let’s get some of the basics out of the way since you haven’t been interviewed before. Where are you based?

TP:

I’m from a small Canadian province called New Brunswick, on the east coast.

Sam:

Canada, huh? Very interesting. And how old are you? If you don’t mind me asking.

TP:

No problem at all. I’m 19 and turn 20 in November (2016), which a lot of people seem surprised by.

Sam:

I’m kind of surprised too. But 19 going on 20 makes much more sense then you possibly being an old man like some have guessed you to be (I laugh).

But either way, I think it’s pretty obvious for me but for those that don’t know, can you define what TrillPhonk means exactly?

TP:

Well ‘trill’ is an old southern term that means real (and) true, which originates from UGK and Texas as far as I know. ‘Phonk’ is basically a music genre and a bit of an extension of g-funk, I got the name from an old SpaceGhostPurrp track from 2011.

Sam:

Yep. And very well defined if I do say so myself.

So When did you begin your YouTube channel and why did you decide to start one focusing specifically on underground internet hip hop?

TP:

I started in May 2012 when I was still really young. At this point I was really into Odd Future and a bit of A$AP (Mob). I was becoming familiar with a lot of their affiliates music as well and that’s how I found out about Vince Staples, SpaceGhostPurrp and a few others. Through those artists I discovered Denzel Curry, Key Nyata, Black Kray, Xavier Wulf and all of them throughout the following weeks (and) months.

There was a channel called ‘FvckSwag’ (who now goes by Wavriel aka MP3RackedUp on YouTube) that posted all of Odd Future’s stuff, including old / unreleased / leaked stuff which really planted the idea in my head, plus the fact that a lot of the music I was getting into wasn’t on YouTube and was really hard to find. My main source for a lot of the album ZIP (files), etc. was from a thread on some Odd Future forum, so I decided to start uploading a lot of this content to make it easier for people to find and enjoy.

Sam:

Damn. I love hearing your enthusiasm and your entrepreneurial spirit is very evident. Seeing that you saw an opportunity and quickly seized it for your own is great. I’m sure I’ve come across that ‘FvckSwag’ channel at some point but who knows (I laugh). And as a huge fan of Odd Future I’m sure I’ve come across that forum you mentioned.

But moving on… as a long time subscriber to your channel, I feel that 8 or 9 times out of 10 when you upload a video, single, or tape of an artist I’ve never heard of, the odds of me enjoying the artist are very high. Is there a screening process for those that submit music to you or do you look for the artists yourself in deciding what to upload to your channel? Because I imagine you must be bombarded by submissions all the time.

TP:

There isn’t really a process when it comes to submitting music to me. I get dozens of emails and Twitter (direct messages) a day and I’ll sort of listen to them randomly whenever I have some free time or whatever. I don’t listen to everything although I wish I could. There’s a lot of talent out there. I guess I’m more likely to listen to someone’s music if I’ve heard their name before or if they have a decent amount of mutual (friends) on Twitter as well.

Sam:

I can see that happening for sure. And using Twitter as a tell for the artist is a good idea. If they’re friends with some of the same people you are, the odds of you liking their stuff goes up.

And continuing here about the artists… this 2010s decade, in my opinion, has been very strong for the underground thanks to the power of the internet. How do you feel about this internet hip hop movement? Do you believe that this is now the new norm for the years ahead?

TP:

Oh yeah of course. A few years ago I never would’ve thought that it would be more than a phase or become this powerful. I think that SHWB (SESHOLLOWATERBOYZ), Buffet Boys and $UICIDEBOY$ already proved that the ‘internet rap’ scene can have an almost borderline mainstream level of popularity while still staying true to the roots of the whole underground scene. They’re really at the forefront of the movement and there’s no end in sight.

Sam:

I agree. And the speed that these three groups you mentioned are growing is insane too.

As of this interview, your channel is sitting at over 53,000 subscribers and counting. When did you start to see your views and subscribers start to grow in numbers?

TP:

Honestly I have no idea when things really started to grow. My channel’s kind of been growing at an exponential rate since I started. I never really noticed a huge spike in views (and) subs. Maybe after 2015 things started to speed up a bit but it’s been fairly consistent since 2013 I’d say.

Sam:

Were there any uploads, in particular, that really had a positive impact on your channel?

TP:

Yeah there’s a handful of videos that really exploded in views (and) comments. Back in the day there was the full stream of Lil Ugly Mane’s classic album Mista Thug Isolation which was the most popular video on my channel for years, as well as Uneven Compromise and Three Sided Tape sides A (and) B. “Ice Age” by Denzel Curry was one of my most popular videos for a while as well. More recently though, $UICIDEBOY$ have been generating an insane amount of views and traffic on my channel. South Side $uicide is currently at 1.7 million views on my channel in 11 months which is absolutely insane, it quickly overtook Mista Thug Isolation as the most popular video on my channel. Really happy to see $B and Pouya at the point they’re at. I’ve been watching and supporting these guys for years and they really put in the work and deserve their success.

Sam:

Very cool. And there’s so much about what you’ve said that I agree with (I laugh). For one, I’m sure I’ve come across that upload you had of Mista Thug Isolation cause I still jam it to this day and I happily own the limited reissue vinyl. I’ll stop bragging (I laugh). And secondly, I agree entirely about Pouya and $B. They’re moving on up real quick.

Are there any artists that owe some of their recognition thanks to you putting them on?

TP:

Not really. I never claim to put anyone ‘on’ or any of that shit. All I do is upload YouTube videos to help them grow what they’ve already established. I still get a lot of love though from a good amount of the bigger underground artists who continue to support me and appreciate what I do, which is all I ask for.

Sam:

Word. That’s good that your doing doing it all out of love.

I won’t name any names just to keep this interview unbiased, but I’ve seen some artists you’ve uploaded making serious headway out there but some seem to stay in the underground and seem to prefer it there. In your opinion, does an artist really have a choice when it comes to staying underground or going mainstream? Cause it seems to me that the fans are the ones who decide this if you know what I mean.

TP:

Yeah it’s kind of a tough call. I guess it depends if they’re willing to sign to a label and make their music marketable to an even bigger audience. There’s a few bigger underground artists that could’ve definitely went down that path if they wanted to yet they refuse to ‘sell out’ I guess. But on the other hand, there’s some that are extremely popular currently that seem like they can’t become mainstream even if they wanted to because of their name (and) image. There’s no physical line between the underground and mainstream so it’s all up to interpretation and opinion.

Sam:

Definitely.

Are there any artists on your channel that you are a fan of personally? Or would you rather not say? (I laugh).

TP:

Oh yeah of course. There’s tons that I bump on a daily basis, I’ll give you a few names off the top of my head: Ghostemane, Wavy Jone$, JGRXXN, OmenXIII, Craig Xen, $uicideboy$, Black Kray, Dari Loso, Bexey, Eden Ivy, Iceberg Black, Kold-Blooded, Mr. Sisco, SpookyLi, Wifigawd, Key Nyata, etc.

Sam:

That’s awesome. Great list too I might add.

And at least in my personal life, I really can’t seem to find people that enjoy the artists that you upload on your channel like I enjoy them even though most of these artists in question have growing fan bases. Do you feel there is a reason why this movement is so large yet still unnoticed by the general public?

TP:

I guess the main reason is because this scene really pushes the boundaries on what music is. I don’t even consider my channel strictly rap (and) hip hop anymore. There’s a ton of experimental stuff that I post that can’t even be categorized in a genre. A lot of these artists I work with are constantly pushing the envelope and creating new sounds, ideas, etc., which the average casual hip hop / rap fan can rarely appreciate or comprehend. Nothing against anyone who’s a casual music fan though, I personally enjoy some of the popular (and) trendy artists as well. Not gonna lie.

Sam:

I’m in that same boat too for sure. I enjoy the mainstream but not nearly as much as the underground since the underground continues to push the envelope just like you’ve said.

Nowadays its seems that everyone and their mother wants to start a YouTube channel or some kind of online movement. Do you have any advice or tips you can give to those people?

TP:

Yeah I noticed a huge increase in YouTube channels that upload underground music. A lot of them seem to have ‘Phonk’ in their names too which is kinda funny and flattering at the same time I guess. My tips would be: do not support artists just because they are popular, don’t make videos for views or money or subscribers or etc, and lastly, always go out of your way to look for new talent and upcoming artists. Create relationships with the artists you work with and use that to mutually benefit each other. Networking and building friendships with other YouTubers, artists or producers is key.

Sam:

Well, you know what they say, ‘Imitation is the highest form of flattery’. But yeah copycats are definitely annoying and inevitable sadly. And from what you’ve said, a person really needs to start a channel for the right reasons. Doing so only for the superficial rewards is the worst thing you can do. And as for the networking, you are speaking on the fundamentals of entrepreneurship that many starting out seem to overlook. I really hope people take heed of this advice!

And unrelated to your channel… are there any artists or albums that you are a fan of in hip hop? And I’m talking just in general here.

TP:

Yeah there’s tons of ’em. Lately I’ve been almost exclusively bumping underground shit but I have a huge appreciation for various time periods (and) sub-genres within hip hop (and) rap. My favorite stuff would have to be mid-late 2000s Atlanta trap, old school Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka, Slim Dunkin, Bankroll Fresh, all of that.

Sam:

Nice.

What other music genres do you enjoy other than hip hop?

TP:

Believe it or not, I was actually a huge metal head as a kid and up until I got into the underground hip hop community. My favorite genres, other than hip hop (and) rap plus any sub-genres, would have to be technical death metal, doom metal, sludge metal, stoner metal, djent and grunge.

Sam:

I can definitely believe it. You have great taste. And I’m a metal head too, mostly alternative metal and industrial metal. And since you said djent, I’m sure you’re a Meshuggah fan? Cause I am too (I laugh).

With you being from Canada, do you keep up with the hip hop or music scene over there in general?

TP:

Nah I was never really into local hip hop except for when I was younger. I enjoyed a couple artists like Swollen Members and that kinda stuff. The only Canadian artists I listen to nowadays are ones involved in the underground scene like WAVY JONE$, Sonkie, Noah23. There’s quite a few more, didn’t mean to leave anyone out but that’s all I could think of off the top of my head (he laughs).

Sam:

No worries, man (I laugh).

But wrapping up here, thanks for the interview TrillPhonk. I’m sure everyone will enjoy it. Where can people find you and is there anything else you’d like us to know?

TP:

No problem at all man. I appreciate the opportunity and I’m glad you had me on here.
My YouTube channel is TrillPhonk, my Twitter is @TrillPhonkPromo, I have a Facebook page as well just called ‘TrillPhonk’.

Feel free to check out my YouTube channel for the best and latest underground music, videos and albums from a large variety of extremely talented and groundbreaking artists.

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