New Reb is reggae touching Hawaii and Minneapolis
New Reb| Triple Rock Social Club| Friday, August 15
For Drew Misik, the artist behind New Reb, the choice to pursue a particular path in music was easy. "I was asking myself, if I could make any music that I wanted to make, what would I make?" he recalls. He found himself identifying most with reggae. "I had always listened to a lot of Bob Marley, and identified with his message and what he was saying. I realized that that was the kind of music that I wanted to make: reggae music."
Misik is sitting with Gimme Noise at Muddy Waters, over coffee. He is currently preparing for the Minneapolis release party of his new album, this Friday at the Triple Rock. After enjoying the rest of the year here with his wife and son in Minneapolis, Misik will head with them back to Hawaii, where New Reb also has a loyal fan base and where he spends the other half of his time. "Now we're being played on Hawaiian Radio," Misik says. New Reb's new album features a song with a member of Natural Vibrations, and another with a member of Seedless, both popular bands in Hawaii.
Drew Misik of New Reb
Misik plays with a different group of musicians in each place. In Hawaii, his producer Hoku plays drums or keys, and other friends join the band. "It's a lot easier to try to put together a band in Hawaii, because everybody already plays reggae," he says. "In Minnesota, it's almost impossible. The people that are playing reggae are already involved in so many things."
He's had quite a different experience in each place. "It's definitely more flooded here," he says. "At the same time, though, everybody in Hawaii plays music. Most people play the ukulele. A lot of people do it for fun. There aren't as many bands or competition. There is just less competition in general between people. Bands are more apt to support each other. That's just the whole attitude in Hawaii in general."
New Reb's sound certainly feels more relevant to Hawaii's climate. Their music is a unique blend of reggae and hip-hop tinged with a funk-soul vibe that make it perfect to blast loudly on a summer afternoon, with a joint in hand. Misik's laid-back vocals bring a message of positivity, one he has finally come to in his own life. For Misik, reggae isn't just music. It carries spiritual connotations. And New Reb isn't just music either -- he says it's a movement.
"The whole thing is spiritual for me. I'm definitely a spiritual person," he says. "I was raised Catholic, and I went to church every Sunday. I always felt the presence of God within myself. I always knew that if God was as powerful as you say he is, then I don't need to listen to you tell me what God is -- I can figure that out for myself." From the beginning, he chose his own spiritual path. "Spirituality and gratitude are one and the same. The basis of my spirituality is just realizing that I can connect with God. To me, God is an energy, it's not some other person that looks like us that created everything. It's an energy, and I feel it can be used for good and bad. It's a power. It's connection."
He hopes that his music will encourage people to realize their connections with one another, and for the message of positivity to promote a greater consciousness.
Friend Sam Ravanna will join Misik on stage for the CD release show. The two met in Hawaii, through a mutual friend Tubby Love. It has been four years since New Reb's last album release. "I feel like this album is thorough," Misik says. The four years making this album where a whirlwind between Minneapolis, California and Hawaii.
"I'm my worst critic," he says. "Four years is a long time. I definitely feel like I've changed a lot, especially musically, from hearing more music and evolving, and honing my craft. This whole winter I was in my studio, just trying to hone my stuff."
It is interesting for Misik to think back to his younger days, when he wasn't so focused on his art and spiritual well-being. "I was a wanna-be gangster. I just wanted to be a thug," he says. "I was selling drugs. I tried to kill somebody. I went to jail... I jacked somebody, and then he and his friends were threatening to kill me. A couple of my other friends arranged a fight between me and this kid, and brought us to this park. I had a knife on me..." He served several months in jail for the assault, and was fined a large restitution fee. The 18-year-old Misik is nothing like the man we're sharing lunch with today.
"It's really tough being an independent artist, and I don't really have much help," Misik says. "I'm doing this all on my own. It gets frustrating, because I'll have a list of shit to do and won't get to all of it, and will feel guilty that I'm not getting everything done." With music as his focus, though, he seems to have found a truer sense of happiness in his personal life. "I've been through some real shit that I want people to know. I'm learning to explain myself, so that I can help people understand me."
New Reb is a testament to Misik's newfound sense of confidence in his artistry. "I'm feeling like I'm at a place where I don't care what people think. I'm just going to put myself out there," he says.
"People that don't necessarily listen to reggae or hip-hop or the type of music that my music can still listen to my music. I don't really follow formulas or trends, I just make music that feels good and comes out and it's real, and I feel like everybody can relate to that kind of music."
New Reb's album release show is this Friday at the Triple Rock with DJ Elsewhere, Aitas, WHALE/S, and FREE (w)ILL. 8 PM, $10, 18+
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