Prof on Summer Set and his pre-show ritual
Photo by Erik Hess
One of the Twin Cities' favorite homegrown talents, Prof is gearing up to end his summer with a bang. With his new Yelawolf-assisted single "New Kid" already a mainstay on summer playlists, Prof's bringing his acclaimed live show to the inaugural Summer Set festival this Friday.
Gimme Noise had the chance to speak with Prof about what goes into his performances, as well as how he brings that same energy to his upcoming Kaiser Von Powderhorn 3 release on September 25.
You've become synonymous with an incredible live show. What makes for a great set?
I think it changes with every person. There's some of my favorite rappers who fall apart live. It's kind of surprising to me, seeing rappers I've felt growing up and seeing them live makes me lose all appreciation for them, seeing they don't really feel their own music.
What makes a good live show is someone who's really focused and really in the moment with every word, every chorus. The connection between an MC and the crowd has to be there. I've performed for big crowds who don't know me at all, so the connection can be "what's up?" a friendly handshake. When you got that going and people are just looking to say "hi" and be genuine with who I am, I can win over a new crowd. With a crowd in Minneapolis, the connection's going to be a lot more geeked. Everybody knows every word. People who come are as much a part of the show as I am.
Do you do anything different prepping for a show like Summer Set as opposed to your own shows?
Yeah, a lot changes at a festival. It's not my show. At my next show at First Ave, I'm going to have the whole day to set up tons of weird things. I can get the light man on board, we can run through some stuff. I can do anything I want, whereas at a festival, I can't change my space so much as ruin shit. I can't have confetti fall from the sky or balloons come out or change the whole outdoor aspect.
What is your pre-show ritual like?
Ha! I'm backstage, I usually like to be alone. People come back there partying, look at me, and are like "Dude, what's wrong with you?" I give my all live. When I get done performing, I feel like I'm going to throw up, like I just ran a marathon. If I'm back there, I'm not drinking, I'm not partying, this is my warm-up ritual. I don't talk, I save my voice, I drink a lot of tea and water, I have a big meal of vegetables about an hour before. I do some weird vocal warm-ups. Sometimes I'll have a shot or a beer, but nothing much. I'm not getting blowjobs or taking hits, I save that for after the show.
Kaiser Von Powderhorn 3 comes out September 25, did you make any of it with the live show in mind?
Yeah, I do with some aspects like call-and-answer, and sometimes I'll hear something live when the crowd takes over and I'll make that part of the song. Other times, like this new song I'm going to perform at Summer Set that I'll probably open with, it's got some of the hardest vocals I've ever sang. I recorded it at the studio thinking I could barely hit it. Then, when we're bouncing it down, I'm thinking "Oh shit, if I go on tour I'll have to hit this every night." Sometimes I'll push myself in the studio to as capable as I am physically of doing, and then I'll have to learn that and do it everyday on the road.
Do you find it a challenge to capture the energy of your live performances on record?
No. If you were to see my face while I'm recording live, I make some really intense faces. I have to put myself really in that spot and feel what I'm saying or talking about, or else it's not happening. It could be a perfect performance, but if I don't get goosebumps or whatever, I'll be like "do it again." For party songs I'll be dancing around to get my energy up to act like I'm at a party or feel like I'm at a live show to make sure I'm in the right zone to record it.
This summer, you've turned heads (and pregnant bellies) with "New Kid." This wasn't your first collaboration with Yelawolf, how did you two originally link up?
I used to go down to Atlanta a lot. My first album, Project Gampo, was made by the Beat Chefs, a beatmaking group out of Atlanta, and at that time they were fucking with Yelawolf and Killer Mike and had a whole bunch of shit going down. I met Yelawolf doing shows down there. He's been the homie and we've kept in touch along the way.
Who are you most looking forward to rocking with at Summer Set?
Oh man, I'm actually bad at funky jam band stuff, I want stick around and see what that's all about. I haven't really been to the festival-type-deal, so I'm just gonna walk around see some new bands and shit. Obviously, I'll get up with Yelawolf. Walk around, have fun.
Prof performs Friday at the Summer Set Festival in Somerset, Wisconsin.
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