It has been a while since I featured any rap music on The State Of Music. Every effort was made but I really struggled to find anything that really hit the mark. Then out of the blue I got a message from "friend of CMM" Geoff Owen which simply said "Have you heard F.Stokes?" I hadn't, but Geoff is always spot on with this type of thing.
I instantly fired off an email to his management company (Inherent Artists) not actually expecting to hear anything. From the little I knew about F.Stokes, he was clearly a busy guy, out on tour with DOOMTREE and getting a lot of well deserved interest thanks to his wonderful "My Simple" single. This was enough to convince me that any involvement in The State Of Music just wouldn't happen.
Obviously I was very very wrong, and struggled to contain my excitement when an email came flying back with the words "We are interested" - so huge thanks to Liza at Inherent and of course F.Stokes for taking some time out to be part of my fascinating journey.
And now - without dragging out my overly long preamble, the only sad thing for me is that my impending trip to New York actually coincides with F.Stokes heading in the opposite direction over the Atlantic Ocean. But never mind that; get ready to listen to your new favourite song.....
CMM: Welcome to Choose My Music, lets start with the basics. Who is F.Stokes and where in this world would we find you?
F.Stokes is a black man born and raised on the South-side of Chicago, by way of Madison, WI. With dreams as big as the sky. You can find me in you. Just look in the mirror.
CMM: How long have you been recording and performing and when did you get bug to become a solo artist?
I've been recording for about 15 years, and performing since I was 5 or 6. Even at that young of a age I saw the world as my stage. I thought I was Michael Jackson. Seriously. So I would dance for my mother and her friends... Those moments conditioned me for times like now, when I'm playing on a consistant basis in front of different demographics. I live for the stage. The crowd. To me, the actual record is only half the story, you have to back it up with a great stage show, unless you're Sade. Her voice is so soothing she could perform sitting in a rocking chair.
CMM: Of the little I know about you I was aware that you were born in Illinois, grew up in Wisconsin and now residing in New York. Has you time in all three states had an influence on your writing and your music?
Absolutely. The moves enhanced my sound big time. At this point I can effectively write or record anywhere. I have a nomadic soul so traveling is a big part of my life. I often say 'Chicago raised me, Madison molded me, and New York made me a man.' 'Love, Always.' was recorded in Minneapolis, Chicago, Paris, LA, New York, and Madison, and you can literally hear the difference in sound. For instance, the song 'Love, Warriors' sounds like it was made in Paris. A true love song.
CMM: I read an article about an up and coming US indie band the other week. They were complaining that the music industrty dictated to them that they had to live in New York. Is the city the be all and end all for a lot of bands and musicians? Is location that important in the general scheme of things?
Well, it depends on the movement/person. I view New York as the epicenter of creativity, so for me, this is the place to be. New York provides me that canvas to paint my strokes as long and colorful as I want. Not many places stimulate me like this Island. Now I'm not saying its for everyone, but it works for me.
CMM: You have a few US dates coming up in February, where are your favourite places to play in and out of state?
Hmm... For sure, my hometowns, Madison, Wisconsin and Chicago. Typically, I just like performing, so anytime I'm able to touch a stage is a good day to me. Don't matter where, we're gonna have a ball.
CMM: It is without doubt that New York has a vibrant music scene. Do you get out and see live shows of any other artists or bands much? Is there anyone out there that has caught your attention?
Absolutely. Gary Clark Jr is phenomenal live, Patti Smith is excellent live... I was just on tour with DOOMTREE, and their live show is phenomenal as well. All of these artist influence me.
CMM: Are you currently associated with a label or are you happy doing your own thing to this point?
Well, I have a team, not so much a label but the F.Stokes brand. Of course theres label interest, but its always been my goal to be a operational artist regardless of support from a label, and I think we've done a great job in that regard. I'm happy as a man, being signed doesn't dictate that.
CMM: Do you feel having a label is important in this digital world where people have so much access to unsigned music?
No, not at all. The right label support can make you a star, true, but if the objective is to simply release music, the platform is there for practically anyone. It also depends on your situation, if you're a successful indie, and value having complete business related control over your projects, then thats the route for you. So it goes both ways, just depends on the artist.
CMM: Could you give us a run down of what music you have released up to this point?
Death of A Handsome Bride EP - 2008
Remnants of a Broken Soul EP - 2009
Baked Goods Mixtape - 2010
All of these can found at www.FDOTSTOKES.com
CMM: What is next in the pipeline for you?
To continue to spread my wings around the world, as a man, and as a artist. I have so many things on the horizon, including an album using just live instrumentation.
CMM:And finally, where can people reach out to you On-line?
You can listen at: http://www.fdotstokes.com/ Watch at: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheRealFStokes Speak to me at: https://twitter.com/#!/FdotStokes. Also I have a tumblr that we're starting to develop surrounding my goal of performing 'My Simple' on The Ellen Degeneres Show: http://mysimplejourneytoellen.tumblr.com/
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