I had heard the name often, from DJ Low Key’s mixtapes, to popping up on both of the excellent Tanya Morgan albums, but I wasn’t familiar with this cat called Jermiside. I even heard the name when my man Cee from the land down under had mentioned him to me a couple times. Then he appeared as part of Red Giants and dropped the EP “Chain Reaction”, which caught my attention. Then out of “nowhere”, he drops a solo mixtape with my man DJ Low Key. Anxious to hear it, I came home after work and proceeded to jam it while chillin’ on the couch in the WYDU offices (read: my spare bedroom). Filled with that soulful type sound, that laces Jerm’s deep in intricate lyrics, “Die Jerm Die” might just be on of the best mixtapes of the year.
WYDU: While some might just have caught onto you, you’ve been doing your thing for awhile. Can you give some early history, such as your group, Red Giants, and how you came together for that one?
Jermiside: Well I started out doing my thing, performing and putting out projects in Cincinnati around 2003. I had released a 7 inch and an album (The Biology Of Kingship) in 2003 that got a lot of local recognition. Shortly after that I heard a track that Brickbeats had done for Donwill and I hit him up, oddly enough I think it was “Haha” that ended up on Tanya Morgans “Moonlighting”. We were all pretty much just locals on the scene trying to make a name for ourselves at the time. Anyways, Me and Brick linked up and started recording songs together here and there and about the time I moved to Atlanta is when we officially decided to put music out as a group. The self titled debut came out in 2006 and got a decent amount of love.
W: You guys dropped an EP earlier this year that seemed to get a lot of love on the internets, can you describe it’s sound and what you were going for with it?
J: The Chain Reaction EP is more energetic and in your face than The Red Giants (album). It’s also packed with the fam, its like a Lessondary party. Its been 3 years since the first project came out so we just wanted to do something to get people amped and interested again. There’s a lot of versatility in the production and I think because of that it keeps people guessing as to what we are going to come with next.
W: Coming from the south and being different from the “typical” southern artist, how do you think you fit into your region? Do you find any challenges being a non-traditional southern artist or being from the south and trying to get plays elsewhere? Or have we (hip hop listeners) finally moved pass all that?
J: Well I’m originally from the Midwest but I’ve been in Atlanta for about 5 years now and with that being said I think there’s a lane for everybody and you just have to do your job at identifying where it is and get your ass in it. Nowadays I would like to think it’s not so much where you’re from, especially with the internet. I mean, there is a small pocket of the population in every major city that has a respect for the type of music I do so I’m chillin’. I don’t see any real challenges in that department. I think more than anything people mentally create those challenges for themselves.
W: You come off as an MC’s MC, a sort of lyrical cat that your genuine love for hip hop comes through in your music. What would you consider the most important “tool” for an aspiring MC to have?
J: I remember this guy named Holm Skillet a.k.a. BG Digby telling me that the most important thing for any MC is to have knowledge, not necessarily about politics or religion or some shit but just general knowledge. He was like “how can you be an MC if you don’t know anything or have anything to rap about?” and that kinda stuck with me. So knowledge. Dude probably doesn’t even remember that convo lol.
W: You’ve appeared on both of the Tanya Morgan releases, how did you hook up with those cats?
J: Just running around Cincinnati. Me and Ilyas first met when I was selling CD’s out of the trunk of my homeboys car. After that we kept running into each other at different functions. One day I was recording at Brickbeats’ crib and Ilyas comes through with Donwill and we recorded a banger of a track. From there it was basically like a brotherhood kinda thing. I think Tanya Morgan had just started recording stuff at this time because I remember Brick saying “yeah, they forming a group with some weird name like Lucy Pearl and its with some dude from New York, LOL.
W: Coming on the solo creep, you recently dropped the excellent “Die Jerm Die” mixtape. First off before we dive into that, which do you prefer, working solo or as a group? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
J: Working solo allows you to move at your own pace whether that be fast or slow. You don’t have to answer to nan nigga. If I wake up and wanna rap about dirty socks one day, I can do that and nobody will have anything to say. On the other side Sometimes you can get drained really easy working solo so it’s good to have someone to feed you ideas from time to time or bounce things off of you.
W: How would you describe your sound on “Die Jerm Die”, for someone who hasn’t heard it yet?
J: Very deep and heart felt, lyrically driven and dark at times yet musically versatile.
W: Any significance to the title?
J: If this was a movie I would say it’s a hour long tour into the mind of a man trying to make sense of life…with some rappity raps in between lol. There is actually multiple layers to the meaning. 1) This was originally supposed to be my last project at a time where I felt I didn’t wanna make music anymore. 2) A series of tragic events happened around me during that time that had me questioning life in general. 3) When its all said and done, a germicide kills germs, in my case a germ could be a social ill or problem, basically anything negative.
W: I can’t get enough of “It Iz What It Iz”, do you have a track from the mixtape that is your fav or one that means more?
J: I would say “Heaven”, to me it’s the perfect mix of everything. You’ve got 808 drums, samples/chops, singing, rapping all twisted up into a song with meaning. It’s probably one of my best songs to date.
W: You hook up with one of my favorite DJs from my old stomping grounds of Denver, DJ Low Key. How did you hook up with Low Key?
J: Low Key hit me up for a freestyle for his “Mixing In Action” Mixtape a couple years back and we kinda kept in touch from there. He ended up being the tour DJ for Tanya Morgan so he’s basically like family. It was basically a no brainer getting him to do the tape plus he’s extra nice with his craft. I basically sent him a bunch of joints like “here, do what you do” and he made the loose storyline of the tape flow like it did.
W: What is in the future for Jermiside? Are we going to get a full album? How about another Red Giant LP?
J: Yeah, a solo album with me on production is definitely in the works but until then I have an album with a producer named Danny Diggs called “Middle Classic” which is due out March/April 2010 and a new Red Giants full length late next year.
W: Anything else for those out in blog land?
J: Download “Die Jerm Die” at jermiside.bandcamp.com and watch for the Lessondary next year.