The Six Degrees of ProbCause
As someone who primarily covers electronic music, it’s nice to get to know an artist from a genre in which I know little about. While talking to Colin aka ProbCause at Reaction NYE, I found that while coming from different backgrounds and influences, we found more in common than expected.
Are you part of the EDM culture at all, or do you steer towards hip-hop only?
I think I’m embraced a little bit by them. Some EDM cats f*ck with me and I’ll play at electronic festivals sometimes. I think I’m dabbling and then I’ve got my own hip-hop world.
They’ve been mixing with each other a lot.
Totally, and jam bands go into funk and electronic material there, too. I feel like it’s all in one now.
Have you ever thought about doing something like that? Collaborating with an electronic artist?
I’ve definitely worked with a few – I wouldn’t call them EDM but I’ve worked with GRiZ and Gramatik before, so they’re kind of closer to that world. My drummer plays an electronic kit, kind of half and half with a real kit, and then runs our setup with Ableton. So I’m somewhat involved in it, but I haven’t gone all the way one side or the other. I want to keep it semi organic.
I like that you separate GRiZ from “EDM” because there is a distinct difference between “EDM” and electronic music, just like there’s a difference between R&B and Rhythm and Blues. You wouldn’t consider R.Kelly to be Rhythm and Blues the same as you wouldn’t consider B.B. King to be R&B.
Exactly and I feel like they put this broad thing on electronic music. Everything is semi electronic. It’s a very broad thing. You wouldn’t call a band just a rock band, you would say they’re a hard rock band or a punk band or an indie rock band.
So what is your type of hip-hop?
Oh, I don’t even know what to call it. I just play shit that I like really. If I hear music that I like I’ll incorporate it into my sound in some way, but I don’t know how you would label it. That’s for people like you. Journalists and whatnot to determine what that is.
Where do your influences? Beyond the cookie cutter answers you usually give, what inspires you to write what you write?
A number of things. I think when I was coming up a lot of the hip hop I listened to were the lyricists. Talib and Mos Def, Q-Tip, people like that, just their lyrics inspired me to start doing it. And then I think as I get older and grew up a little bit it became more about my experiences in the world and shit that I’ve seen, shit that my friends have gone through. Literally everything around me I draw inspiration from in some capacity.
You grew up in Chicago, right?
Yeah, I actually grew up in Evanston.
I know Evanston! A college friend of mine grew up there.
ETHS and after that I’ve been pretty much in the city.
What year did you graduate?
My friend was a year after that. Did you happen to make music when you were in high school?
Yeah, I rapped in high school.
Did you have a big song?
I had a song called “The Evanston Song”
I heard that! My friend showed it to us in 2008.
Yup, I wrote the Evanston song, which I love and hate. It’s not something I play anymore, but it definitely showed me that I can make music.
It got big enough for someone in Evanston to show it to me and now we’ve come full circle.
I’ve had people come up to me and say “I’ve heard your Evanston song, but I haven’t heard anything else,” and that sucks because I’m way more than that. I mean I wrote that song when I was like 14 years old. Have you ever watched Friday Night Lights?
I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t seen it.
One of the lead characters is from Evanston and he came back to do the commencement speech and he calls me up and says, “Hey, can I quote your Evanston song?” I said he could go for it if he wants. I think the line he used was “If your dad’s a CEO or he works at Gigio’s.” – Which is a shitty pizza place in Evanston, so he was talking about the social divide in Evanston. Super random fun fact about the Evanston song.
Do you still live in Chicago?
Yes, I do. In Rogers Park.
Do you like it there?
I love it.
Ever thought about leaving the Midwest?
I thought about it many times. Never did it.
What keeps you?
For me? A bunch of things. My family is here, my parents are a lot older so I help a lot with them, spend a lot of time with them. Being close to them is important, all my siblings are here, too, so that’s important to me. There are definitely times where California is calling my name, and then New York is calling my name, and then other places. But I travel a good amount, so I get to spend time in other places without living there.
If you were to go anywhere one day where would it be?
I think New York.
Why New York?
I love the energy there in New York, I have a lot of friends there. The vibes out there, lot of music friends, too. So I feel like that would be a good place for me. I haven’t ruled it out. At some point I might do it.
Where in NYC?
Probably in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn is getting pretty huge.
Park Slope, that place is cool.
Excited for Reaction?
What are you most excited for at this particular festival?
Some of my friends are playing, so I’m looking forward to seeing Cherub who I’ve toured with and have a good relationship with. I love Thundercat, he’s one of my favorite artists ever, so I’m looking forward to seeing him. Our sets overlap a little bit but I’m going to check him out right after, and Run the Jewels. So getting to see all of them and play in the same night that’s great.
Are you sticking around tomorrow?
I’m not. I’m going to be playing a show with Lettuce, sitting in with them.
Any New Year’s Resolutions?
I have fake resolutions that I probably won’t keep.
Name a real one.
I’ve got a couple. First, I want to have an Adult Swim show. I make animations, cartoons and stuff. So, my goal for 2016 is to get a 15 minute slot on Adult Swim. Make the music for it and make the cartoons and drawings and everything, so that’s my big one. Second one is that I’d like to quit smoking cigarettes, I think I can do it but I’ve got some problems with self control, you know how it is. But, I don’t necessarily make resolutions at the beginning of the year, I try to make them when they hit me.
As an artist, what are you most excited about for 2016?
I have a lot of projects in the works that I’m super geek’d about. I don’t know if I’m even allowed to say this but I just will ’cause I don’t care, I’m working on an EP with GRiZ which is going to be sweet, we’re like halfway through writing it. That’s kind of the big project that I’m putting a lot of my energy into. And, me and Gramatik have a bunch of unreleased shit, so that’ll be really dope. Working on some music videos, more animated music videos. I also give a lot of “motivational speeches.” I went to the art institute, so I give talks at the school now and again about how to make a living off your art and shit like that. OH! I have a children’s book. It’s called Roger’s Park, it’s about a boy named Roger who discovers a magic jungle…It’s pretty cool. I do all types of shit. I designed these shoes, I’m trying to make more shoes.
When is this stuff all supposed to come out?
Oh, these shoes are already out! They’re available on Bucketfeet‘s website. I just like to make cool shit and try to figure out a way to continue to make things that I’m passionate about, as cliché an answer that is. ♦
No matter what he’s working on, it’s clear that ProbCause is bound to continue making some cool shit.