The doorways that join the Purple Zone to the Annex venue had been crowded by keen concertgoers as safety guards signaled the doorways are about to be opened. Followers chatted and laughed, carrying tie-dyed garments and neon attire.

Mod Solar — an acronym standing for “Motion on Desires, Stand beneath None” and the stage title of Minnesota native Derek Smith — has accrued a loyal fan base together with his free-spirited nature and “hippie-hop” music — a combination of hip hop and psychedelic rap.

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His present on the Annex in Madison is without doubt one of the first stops on his “Your Favourite Film Tour” working by means of spring and options assist from Pablo Dylan (Bob Dylan’s grandson), Aye B, Jimmy Bennett, Winter Havens and LostInVegas.

Mod Solar’s profession has spanned over a decade, although he’s nonetheless ready for his “breakout hit.” This previous yr, he introduced his sobriety after years of dependancy. He hopes that with out the dependancy holding him again, he can take his profession to the following stage.

In a small, red-walled room in The Annex, Mod Solar mentioned his Midwest background, the roots of his profession, and sobriety.

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The next interview has been edited for model and readability.

AW: We’re right here with Mod Solar tonight on the Annex in Madison!

MOD: Yaaaaaay! We made it to Madison!

AW: I really feel like I’m simply going to be laughing this entire interview.

MOD: Good, meaning I’m doing my job. I’m hastily an enormous comedy fan. I’m mad humorous. I’m attempting to indicate the world I’m humorous. I feel I’m gonna blow up on Tik Tok.

AW: So, you’re from Minnesota, are you excited to be again within the Midwest?

MOD: Very. I performed in Lacrosse yesterday, and I’ve actually performed in bands my entire life. I’ve been enjoying numerous these venues since I used to be like 15. The Midwest is my greatest assist, clearly. Most individuals wouldn’t wish to go on tour within the winter, however I’m identical to, I’m fucking sick of California, the climate is simply stunning. I don’t know if I’ve ever been to Madison. I’ve performed in Milwaukee, that’s the place the Rave is, and I’ve performed Lacrosse. I don’t suppose I’ve ever performed Madison. So hopefully, that is my new favourite place. Observe me on Tik Tok.

AW: What would you say your favourite half concerning the Midwest is?

MOD: I used to be bearing on climate. I feel that mom nature will educate you classes that your actual mother can’t. A part of the primary constructing of my constructive mindset was … I’ll always remember, standing at a bus cease and it was freezing chilly, and my sister was on the bus cease with me. She was making enjoyable of me as a result of I used to be identical to,“Florida. Standing on a seaside. It’s tremendous sizzling proper now. I’m on an island.” And he or she’s like, “What are you doing? It’s fucking freezing!” I’m like, “Nothing can get to me. I’m sizzling proper now. That is nice.”

Proper then, I sort of discovered — first off, it made her mad, so I used to be like, tight, I’m on to one thing — but additionally, I used to be like, oh, cool, I’m gonna learn to get pleasure from every part. That’s the Midwest perspective — yo, you won’t like doing this, however you’re doing it, so discover a method to fucking get pleasure from it. You recognize, the winter’s gonna be there tomorrow, the snow is gonna be there tomorrow. And ultimately, it received’t be there. And every part might be nice. And you then’ll in all probability miss the snow. And so simply get pleasure from it.

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AW: I do know there’s numerous college students at UW-Madison attempting to be musicians and attempting to return up from the Midwest. It’s fairly powerful generally to get out of the Midwest. You’re sort of fortunate your mother despatched you away. It’s arduous to get out of right here. What sort of knowledge do you’ve with regards to attempting to make it within the music business?

MOD: Have you ever seen the film “Sure Man?” It’s this dude who agrees, or possibly he’s cursed, I don’t know, however he has to say sure to every part, proper? That’s sort of what my mentality was at the start, like whether or not I used to be like ready to do it or not, if somebody was like, yo bounce onto this or do that, try this, zero {dollars} don’t give a fuck — like that is for my profession.

Each alternative is efficacious in the beginning. And leaving house is so essential. Go play a present in one other state. Don’t get on stage and be like, yo, I’ve no associates on this metropolis. I’m attempting to construct this shit up. You must take away the bone of embarrassment out of your physique to essentially make it, particularly at the start. You gotta imagine in your self earlier than anybody else. It’s a blessing when your folks don’t like your music. I couldn’t get my associates to return to my exhibits, and I couldn’t pay them to return. And now they’re like, please get me on the visitor listing! It’s a blessing when folks don’t imagine in you, so use that.

And like I used to be saying, take away that embarrassment feeling. That’s what it’s to be an entertainer, you bought to have the ability to carry out. On tour final evening, there was in all probability like 200 children there. Two nights earlier than, Minnesota was like 1,000 folks. I’m gonna carry out the very same method. There’s no distinction from getting onstage in entrance of this many or that many, it’s such as you received to grasp how precious every particular person is. Go and do the work. And the web’s not going to do every part for you. It’s positively modified, you may blow up on the fucking web now. I couldn’t once I was a child, like, MySpace had simply began. I used to be on, goddamnit. I used to be placing my music on Napster.

ND: You talked a bit about how Bob Dylan is considered one of your idols, and I imagine you’ve a tattoo of him. What’s it like touring together with his grandson [Pablo Dylan]?

MOD: I’m solely thinking about attention-grabbing folks. Like, that’s the reality. I simply bear in mind a narrative about assembly him. He was on the studio in California. I didn’t stay there but. He was identical to, yeah, pull up. Normally, whenever you go to the studio, you stroll within the studio, you attempt to make some music. He met me exterior and was like, let’s go on a stroll and discuss. And we simply turned such good associates. I used to be like, yo, we’re gonna tour sometime collectively.

I simply need one of the best for that child, I feel he’s gonna be probably the greatest on the market. I’m gonna inform you the reality, having him on my tour, you need to see me smiling when he’s enjoying. As a result of it makes me simply really feel like music is alive and in full wind once more. He performs with a full band, there’s no tracks, prefer it’s made this an unbelievable expertise, and it simply makes me joyful. My crowd loves him.

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ND: So I feel it’d be a bit remiss if I wasn’t to congratulate you in your sobriety.

MOD: I really like the usage of “remiss,” vocabulary is essential, children. Thanks very a lot, 301 days immediately.

ND: Congratulations, that’s superior. So how does it really feel? Do you are feeling prefer it has had any impression in your music?

MOD: At first, I believed it was gonna be impacted harshly. I believed I wasn’t gonna have the ability to be as prolific. I believed I wasn’t gonna be as productive as a result of I wasn’t on medication, up for days, manic. Being manic is usually nice.

Then after some time, I had eight new songs, and so they had been one of the best songs of my profession. “I Kinda Prefer it Now” — that’s one of many higher songs that I’ve launched. I’ve this entire new album, primarily from that, however my album is gonna be a dichotomy. There’s some songs that I used to be making once I was completely fucked up that I made two years in the past which might be gonna make it, after which there are songs that I used to be making completely clear-headed, and you’ll hear it.

There’s a story to every part happening in my life proper now, with out even attempting, and that’s why “Film” is so essential, as a result of I really feel such as you’re gonna watch your individual film whenever you guys hear it. I proceed to attempt to flip a caterpillar right into a butterfly. My music is unquestionably insane, whether or not or not it’s as a result of I’m not on medication or consuming. I’m simply so centered on going more durable than ever. I’ve tons extra free time. I’m not fucking out of it on a regular basis. So I’m placing all that into actually going to the following stage.

ND: You speak about sobriety and readability collectively. Do you suppose your course of of really sitting down and writing music has modified now that you’re sober?

MOD: With my music, if I hear one thing or do one thing that simply comes out of me, I attempt to not query it anymore. I feel that second-guessing your self is absolutely near the loss of life of fine artwork. Typically you suppose over a line and it turns into higher, however killing the entire thought of it’s so near killing every part good about it. If it doesn’t simply naturally occur for me, it’s often not one thing I wish to do. However being within the second is a blessing for certain. I’m positively capable of analyze what works greatest for me now, as a substitute of being so sporadic and altering up. Each time I dropped a track, it was like a unique style. I actually wish to create a sound for Mod Solar.

AW: What do you suppose that might be?

MOD: It’s similar to the final track that I launched referred to as “I Kinda Prefer it Now” — simply extra dynamics, extra selection. My music has been very primarily based round positivity and main chords, so happy-sounding music, happy-sounding lyrics. That may solely take you to date artistically, proper? Now, I’m utilizing a dichotomy, it’s like my favourite factor. I’m utilizing music that doesn’t sound pleased with joyful lyrics or music that sounds joyful with out placing joyful lyrics on it.

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ND: So that you speak about that distinction of joyful and unhappy enjoying in the identical track on the identical time. Do you suppose that displays something about your life, the thought of these two issues occurring directly and the way that distinction is essential?

MOD: Yeah, nice query. I’ve gone by means of numerous actually tragic shit in my life, and lots of people that hearken to my music for happiness are unhappy. That’s why you want happiness, since you’re unhappy, and also you gravitate to happiness. I used to be mainly attempting to eat everybody’s unhappiness, and solely return happiness. Now that I’ve accepted numerous the false issues that I used to be doing had been main me to a street of loss of life legitimately, it now performs a component within the steadiness. I’m simply attempting to be extra susceptible and sincere as attainable with my music. I believed I used to be gonna lose the assist of those who hearken to me by being sincere, however it’s been the alternative.

ND: Do you suppose as you grow to be extra sincere, your music has gotten higher?

MOD: Sure. I feel that we’re at some extent now in historical past the place now we have a lot music that the one stuff that lasts is stuff that’s sincere. My music was very unrelatable as a result of I used to be all positivity and happiness, however some persons are like, no, not immediately. I’ve grow to be extra relatable by speaking about actual issues.

AW: Do now we have a launch date to your album?

MOD: I wish to launch it proper as summer time kicks off, however we’ll see.

AW: After tonight’s present, what would you like everyone within the crowd to go residence and bear in mind about Mod Solar?

MOD: How versatile and the way a lot of a showman I’m. There’s moments of me singing, there’s moments the place I’m enjoying drums and piano. I wish to go to the following stage, so I’ve to convey a next-level present. So my aim is to be one of the best artist that steps on this specific stage in Madison. I wish to stand out.

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