20 year-old Minnesota native Karizma has garnered much attention in the scene over the past year or two. From touring with Mod Sun, to collaborating with blackbear, Riz has a lot on his plate for the future. He sat down with (@megberb) before his show in Des Moines to talk about his latest album, his dream collaboration and how he tries to help fans in need.
MB: Introduce yourself.
Riz: My name is Karizma, I’m from a small town in Minnesota, 30 miles south of Minneapolis. I make music, I don’t really give it a genre because that boxes you in. So i’d say it’s like hip-hop influenced by punk, pop music. My favorite bands are Wheezer, My Chemical Romance, it’s for sure not rappers.
MB: Even though you have that sound?
Karizma: Yeah, it’s for sure rap-sounding.
MB: Did you ever try to sound more like your fave bands or sing more?
Riz: I don’t know I’ve been singing more lately. I feel like hip hop has an age on it and singing can go longer. But, no. I mean we tried to make a band fifth grade, but it never got started.
MB: From pictures I’ve seen it looks like a lot of people go to your shows.
Riz: Ah.. I don’t know about this one, because we’ve never played a show in Iowa so there’s probably going to be 20 people. But, a lot of other shows like Denver and Texas are really good to us. And the whole West Coast.
MB: Talk about what people can expect when they come to one of your shows.
Riz: You’re going to go home sweating a lot. Yeah, I lose my voice every night. We went on tour in April and played shows every night. I’d wake up and think, shit, I hope I can talk. I wake up and think, here we go. It’s just a really good time. My favorite part is when people say they come to my show and didn’t know my songs and they left having fun. Usually, people think they won’t have fun if they don’t know the words to songs at a concert but we try to make it fun regardless. People get involved, we do a lot of dancing, dance-offs. The less people, sometimes the better.
MB: Looking at your social media, it looks like you have a very loyal fan base. Can you talk about that?
Riz: I’ve always tried to be very close to my fans. Because I feel like a lot of artists think they’re above the people that support them. Which makes no sense to me. If anything, I think artists should put their fans first because without them, I’d just be in my basement making songs for myself.
MB: Do you think there’s a line between friend/fan?
Riz: It sucks because it’s so thin and not even there sometimes that you can hurt kid’s feelings. Don’t always have time to respond to everyone and I feel like some kid’s take that personally. Twitter and the Internet has really changed the way we interact with artists. 10-15 years ago we couldn’t just direct message our favorite artist. Now you can, for better or worse. It’s hard to separate the personal from the music.
MB: Speaking of fan/friends, it looks like you’ve worked with and are friends with Mod Sun. Is that someone you look up to?
Riz: Yeah, Mod is from Minnesota so I’ve looked up to Mod since 9th/10th grade when he put out some of his earlier projects. I got to tour with him, which was the craziest thing of my life. always said one day I’ll tour with Mod Sun and then that was my first full tour. We did 35 shows. That was last February to April. I’ve worked with artists like blackbear. I’d love to work with Mike Posner, I think the music he’s making is so real. It’s not just pop stuff. I don’t work with too many people. I’m going on tour with this band called the Summer Set. I mean, I didn’t announce that yet, so now you know. But we’re going on tour and we’ve been producing my album. I was in LA yesterday.
MB: I was reading that you were suppose to record your record in LA with a bunch of different people and it didn’t work out?
Riz: Yeah, that was messed up. We had 10 shows on the west coast then we ended in LA.
We lived in LA from Sept. 1-30. We were supposed to work on the album with a few other people but we got like one song done in the whole month. That’s not like me. I wasn’t used to making beats myself but after two weeks of wasting our time I just decided to make beats and now the whole album is produced by me. But now we’re working with Jon and Stepen of the Summer Set.
MB: What did you learn from that situation? Something that could be seen as a shitty situation, but now you have this whole album?
RiZ: That’s true, I never thought about it that way. Yeah, I was stressed. I’m an anxiety freak. We were spending 2000 a month on rent and we were no were close to producing this album. I was thinking, “What are we going to do?” Nothing was working. Then I started doing it myself. It was good, I problem solved, took some time, learned how to do it and just did it. I think the kid’s responded well so I definitely took a shitty situation into a good one.
MB: Hindsight really is 20/20 sometimes.
Riz: Yeah! I was like dude, my career is over.
Riz: Yeah because, no one was working with me. I didn’t know what to do and I was freaking out because music is all I have. But I thought, well if it’s all I have, I have to make it work. So, that’s what we’re doing right now.
MB: Can you talk about how your sound has evolved over time?
Riz: It changes everyday. That’s my problem. I have a bittersweet relationships with genres. I feel like it puts you in a box. But at the same time, kids aren’t open to change. I’ve noticed I have kids, that hate the change they hear every time I release something that has a new sound and they won’t mess with it at all. It’s funny because I listen to those old songs and think, ‘Dude, those old songs, suck!” Maybe those songs didn’t suck to those kids, but to me I’m not going to go back and make songs just for a couple of kids tweeting it. Not that I don’t appreciate their opinion but I can’t make music I don’t feel.
MB: So, the video you just put out .45, that’s an intense video.
Riz: Yeah, it’s deep, pretty heavy.
MB: What kind of place in your life were you in when you wrote that?
Riz: I was on tour with Mod Sun and we had two shows left and I already knew that my summer job was going to be shitty. It was April and I was thinking, “I don’t know what I’m going to do.” Every night is just a party, gaining a thousand new fans a week and then I know that feeling when you get home and it’s like, ‘Now what do I do?’ You sit home and are like, “Fuck this.’ I was feeling like that before the tour even got over.
I was just depressed. I was stuck in the dumps and like it says in the song, ‘went on a tour with my idols, made it back home and feeling suicidal.’ That’s just how it was. It was the worst feeling ever. I didn’t release it on the Youth EP because it was softer kind of music so I saved it for another eight months and put it on this project. I felt like it felt right.
MB: A lot of artists don’t talk openly about these topics.
Riz: Yeah, that’s the thing. I fight with depression and anxiety just like a lot of other people and I make music to help kids not to that I’m sorry for myself. I’ve already felt sorry for myself. That’s why I make music to get it out. I’m not saying it’s cool to be sad, I just make music about how I feel at that time. You can’t just not put that song out because some people aren’t going to like it. That’s totally against being an artist.
MB: And there are a lot of kids who aren’t able to talk about this issue.
Riz: And I’m trying to talk for them. That’s why I respond to kids on Twitter. Dude, you’re not alone. I totally know what it’s like. High School sucks. I’m just trying to do what I can.
MB: Do you think you’ve been able to help people?
Riz: Oh yeah. I get letters and messages on Twitter all of them time about how I helped them (from like self harm). Yeah, I do my best. It sucks sometimes because you feel like you have so much weight on your shoulders. I don’t even know these kids but I feel like I’m responsible. Which, I’ll help as much as I can.
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