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John Reuben

Ohio native rapper John Reuben may have five full-length studio albums under his belt, but the artist isn't slowing down yet. On the first interview day of GMA Music Week 2008, we caught up with John early in the morning for a most candid (and groggy) Monday morning chat about what he's working on next...
This interview took place on: 4/21/08.

  • Jesus freak Hideout (John DiBiase): So what've you been up to?
    John Reuben: Ahh…nothing.

  • JFH (John): Alright! Awesome! That's a wrap, we can go.
    John Reuben: *Laughs*

  • JFH (John): I know you're working on new music…
    John Reuben: Yeah, working on new music and playing shows.

  • JFH (John): How's the new music shaping up?
    John Reuben: Good.... My goal is to make this the most boring interview ever. *laughs*

  • JFH (John): So you're working with Seth (your drummer) more on this record to bring in some jazz influences?
    John Reuben: Oh yeah, I think he'll naturally bring that in. It's not developed enough yet… I don't have an album ready yet.

  • JFH (John): But you've started writing lyrics and stuff?
    John Reuben: Yeah, there are probably about four tunes that are written and a bunch of other ones that are kind of half to three-fourths of the way there, so I think we'll probably have an album in a month or two.

  • JFH (John): What kind of lyrical themes are you doing at this point?
    John Reuben: It's tough. Well, you know how scattered I am. I probably couldn't tell you what my other songs are about. *laughs* Other people seem to understand my songs better than I do. You know what's funny is that I actually wrote a couple of songs about my wife…

  • JFH (John): So it's a love song record.
    John Reuben: Who knows dude? It could go there. But yeah, for whatever reason, a couple of tunes came out like that. I just write about whatever's going on… write it, and put it away.

  • JFH (John): Are you self-producing it again?
    John Reuben: Yeah, me and Seth are producing it.

  • JFH (John): Is there anything about the new music that you're super excited about?
    John Reuben: Yeah, well, you know what? My expectations are high, which is making it rough. I was really happy with the last album [Word Of Mouth]. And with every album, I've really enjoyed what we've been doing. But even at this point, there's no goal at beating the last record. Whether this record is better or not, I don't think I could beat the last record.

  • JFH (John): So it's all downhill from here?
    John Reuben: Yeah, it's all downhill from here. It's gonna be horrible. You're not gonna like it! *laughter* But I don't think that's the mentality this time, to top it, because I was really happy with how the last one turned out and there were just so many contributors to the last record that it would be hard to say that I'm gonna outdo myself. I'm trying to get back to where I actually enjoy writing instead of trying so hard to write a good song, or even something that's thought provoking. I'm just trying to enjoy what I do again and make it creative and fun. Sometimes I over think it and I just have to set it aside. Because over thinking, you lose a lot of that carefree-ness that needs to be in the music to allow people to take it in. So we'll see.

  • JFH (John): I think back in December we talked about you possibly releasing an EP or releasing something digitally...
    John Reuben: Yeah, we're still working that out. Gotee Records is in a new phase, so we're working out whether we'd be doing singles or EPs or if we'd just put out a whole album.

  • JFH (John): What do you think about the whole digital age? Do you find that inspiring or terrifying?
    John Reuben: Neither. I am not terrified of the digital revolution, but it does not excite me either. I like albums. There are people who are older than me who would say "I like vinyl," and I like vinyl too, but for me it was opening up the CD… the art, the lyrics. So it's a bummer to me, because that's how I know to make music. I don't know how to make music one song at a time. That's not how I've ever written. The way I write is by taking thoughts from this tune and putting it over here, and combining them until the song is exactly where I want it to be. It's hard to get into that headspace. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do it. So I'm writing this one like a record. But I have to write it like I'm making an album, because that's the only way I know how to make music, with a whole section or summary of your life, I guess.

  • JFH (John): Do you see any significant tours in the near future?
    John Reuben: Yeah, I think after the record. After the record, hopefully we'll try to get on something. I don't wanna headline any tours, but I do want to get on something bigger. It's just a lot of pressure to headline a tour. It's just so much work. I've actually somewhat slowed things down intentionally. You know, you tour so much and you can not only wear yourself out, but the people who listen to your music.

  • JFH (John): Have you pursued getting your web series Professional Rapper on TV again?
    John Reuben: No, there's probably no hope in that. But there's hope that I could somehow maybe morph that character into something else. I'm pretty optimistic about all that stuff. I'm a dreamer enough to the point that I'll go out and take risks and try it, but I think part of the fun is just trying it, because you've gotta be prepared that a lot of that stuff is just never going to work. I never want to make any bold claims that "I'm gonna do this and this," but maybe "I'm gonna try this and this." And hopefully something will stick. It's been fun. I just love having that outlet and hopefully we'll get into some more sketches like that. I'm still working. There have been some things that have kind of been put into motion, but nothing's panned out. We will see. I don't think that it's so far out of reach… somehow it may lead into another opportunity, maybe.

  • JFH (John): What has God been teaching you lately?
    John Reuben: Well, over the last three years, I've been reading a lot of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs and stuff and I think one of the hardest things as an artist is to figure out how to make sense of keeping your mouth shut and listening more than you talk. But then there's also what I'm doing right now, doing interviews and making records, and especially what I do right now. I think the nature of hip-hop music is to say a lot and say what you mean, but to a certain degree, we're really taught as believers to be quiet and just listen. It's a tough thing. There's a transition where what I do as an artist, you really don't have as much authority on things that you might think you do. That was a healthy thing to learn. I really need to be cautious about what I say and how I approach certain things. So I've just been learning a lot about that, which has been good. Just learning to be quiet…it's tough. Silence can be pretty creepy sometimes. You kind of get to know yourself, and know your need. It's nice to fill that up with voices or some sort of distraction, because it can be kind of painful sometimes. So that's what I'm learning. I've been learning that for awhile now, so I'm ready to stop learning that. I would like to learn now how to make money. *laughs* I want God to show me how to make more money. Let's stop learning about quiet time.




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