Last week, Brooklyn-based DJ/producer and True Laurels alumni, Neuport dropped a three-song, interactive EP called Lil Tobacco. The project is a collaboration with digital-collage studio to.be in which Neuport brings his Bushwick neighborhood to life with pictures and videos he's taken on his iPhone. Each track is a speedy, juke-infused club jam as he gives his own take on DJ Mustard & Dorrough's collabs ("After Party" and "Drugs In Da Club") and adds more drowned out elements to Coco Brown's "Fuck My Face". I got to chat with Neuport about his process in making Lil Tobacco, how the Midwest influences his sound and how NYC changed his perspective on his work. Read it below:
True Laurels: Growing up in the Midwest, what music did you get your hands on and does it differ from the material you use now?
Neuport: I grew up all over the midwest. I was officially born in Madison, Wisconsin. Before i moved to Brooklyn I was living in Minneapolis for about three years. Growing up, I was a little skater kid. I listened to 90's hip hop/rap mostly. Artists like Wu-Tang, Tribe Called Quest, Nas, & Mobb Deep were some of my favorites. So i guess a lot of artists from NYC! As I got older i was turned on to a lot of other stuff. Things from the past, lots of reggae/dancehall, soul music, psychedelic rock, punk, and 80s new wave. I was also into Nirvana, Sonic Youth, things like that. Oh and MF DOOM as well! Always loved hip hop.
Describe what its like there. How did you express yourself artistically before moving to NYC?
Neuport: I was always into art growing up. I loved drawing and music. Somewhere along the way, though, i got very distracted. It took a real big lifestyle change to get serious again. The Midwest was a great place to grow up, though. My mother and my family have always been very supportive. I still have really great friends from Madison, Minneapolis and Chicago.
In your diary from True Laurels Vol. 3, you detailed how you bounced back from a heroin overdose. Was getting through that what drove your full-time pursuit of making music?
Neuport: Yes, absolutely! I was always into music and DJ'd various places. After that episode though i got very serious about it. I put a lot of my time into producing and becoming a better DJ. I feel like i had to. I wasn't happy. Music literally became my drug and I think it shows; I like to make very "drugged out" music. Something you can feel. I was lucky to get linked up with people going though similar experiences as i was. We all encouraged and inspired each other.
Your neighborhood in Bushwick is the basis of your project Lil Tobacco’s imagery. What was your vision behind creating an interactive, visual component to the EP?
Neuport: I got linked up with this amazing new site, to.be. I wanted to incorporate visual art into each song and they had a great platform to do so. When thinking of what to do artistically, I was inspired by just walking though my new neighborhood. I wanted to do something different from your typical "net-art". I started snapping pictures and videos on my iPhone as i walked around. I decided to create a version of the world I live in here; my world from my eyes. Everything was pretty much shot within blocks of my apartment. to.be also has a great way to print costume t-shirts so i ended up incorporating myself into the worlds, wearing the t-shirts i designed.
How has your perspective--on music and otherwise--changed since moving there?
Neuport: I'm still very influenced by the music I loved from the midwest, especially Chicago. I still keep up on the newest drill, footwork, and bop tunes and play them in my dj sets. My perspective has changed dramatically, though. Other amazing artists are much more accessible here and there is so much going on everyday and night. Im inspired by new artists coming up and people who have been making waves for a while. There is just so much opportunity to do art here and actually make a little money doing what you love with a little hard work. I've fallen in with a good group here. Everyone is very driven and we all support each other.
Two out of the three tracks on Lil Tobacco sample collaborations between Dorrough and DJ Mustard. What about each of their music appeals to you specifically?
Neuport: I just think it's fun! Sometimes you just want to to turn up and act dumb with your friends! There is so much drug reference in rap music today. I think it's shifted from selling drugs to doing drugs. This could be a bad or good but like i said before, I like music that feels like drugs. I think music about sex and drugs captures peoples attention. It does with mine anyways.
How does your approach to producing music differ from DJ’ing? Do you have a preference between the two?
Neuport: Producing music is a personal thing for me in the sense that it's something I usually do by myself. DJ'ing on the other hand is more about the people around me. When I DJ, I try to portray my likes with the likes of the people around me. I love them both. Dj'ing has really inspired me to produce types of music you can dance to, no doubt!
What’s been your most trying time since you began making music?
Working as a freelance artist can be very stressful at times. You don't always know exactly how you're gonna make money month-to-month. That can be very trying mentally. I just try to do my best and take it day-by-day. Try my best to stay positive. I feel like this city can eat you alive if you let it.
Are there any full-length projects or collaborations you’ve been working on in addition to Lil Tobacco? What can be expected?
I'm working on another EP for Chicago's Lo Motion Label run by The-Drum. Dre Green and I are working on an EP together as well. I have more stuff coming out on Auda Rec and Im working with artists here in NY such as A N M L, Chapman, Cakes Da Killa, and Abdu Ali to name a few.
Describe your top five places to be in Bushwick.
2. The bodegas by my apartment
3. Friends places around the way (S/O Dem $craper Boys and Brian Whatever)
4. Wherever the team is playing
5. Wherever I am Djing
Follow Neuport on Twitter: @MIKEYDLANE