This week at FreeInstrumentals.com we are blessed to interview up and coming artist Ultra L-Oh. His music speaks for itself but as soon as we heard it, we knew we had to share the news about this man and his many talents! He will be making his mark on this industry, but don’t just take our word for it, listen to his music, the instrumentals, the lyricism, the production, its all there! We are featuring his track “I Remember”, this is a WILD song! We LOVE it! Our necks hurt and its on constant repeat here at Free Instrumentals! Its a blend of deep south, funk, and a little bit of Louisiana! The man gives it soul! We could rant and rave all day, but go ahead, click the play button, you know you want to!
And without further adieu…. The Interview:
Stage Name: Ultra L-Oh
Name: James Robinson
Where are you from?: Compton, California
Have you lived outside of your hometown?: No
Family size: Three sisters, three brothers.
Does your family have a musical or performing background? What has their influence been on beginning in your career? I don’t know. In fact, prior to this interview, I had never given the question much thought. In my immediate family, my youngest brothers are performers. My youngest brother is a DJ (DJ Poppy Chulo), and my second youngest brother is an MC (Young Rock). As far as my lineage, I’d have to research.
What made you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in music? How did you family and closest friends take the news? Were they supportive? When I was sixteen, a good friend of mine introduced me to the Slim Shady LP. It blew my mind that Hip-Hop could be so perverse, intricate, and controversial. I was definitely a fan of Hip-Hop prior to that. But I was inundate with gangster rap. So it was refreshing to hear something new in the way Eminem rapped and the subject matter to which he rapped about. I was inspired. My friend said, “You’re a smart guy. I’m certain you could do that.” I didn’t think much of it. But during class time, we would try our hand at free styling. As it turned out, I was good at it. The more people praised me for it, the more I thought, “Wow. Maybe I should give this a serious go.” Over the next couple of years I actively sought to improve my skill. I began to battle rap. When I thought I was good enough to be a pro, I began recording. I spent what little money I had to buy recording gear. That’s when my mother found out I was rapping. She was supportive, in the sense I wasn’t in the streets. Her philosophy was, if it kept me safe, she’d support me. Her full support came in the form of allowing me and a group of my friends to take over her garage. But that was it.
What instrument(s) have you played? What is your favorite? What do you play now? In high school I had a brief stint in the school band. I sucked at snare drum (everyone wanted to be a snare drum post Drum line). So they moved me to tenor and bass drum. Unfortunately, band wasn’t my thing. However, when I became a producer and writer for APT6, I felt the need to improve my knowledge and abilities, as I was around extremely talented musicians. I will not say I play any one instrument. However, I dabble in all, and play to the best of my ability. As a child growing up, music surrounds us; what type of music did you hear the most back then? What song do you remember most from your childhood?: We’ll there are two distinct phases I remember. Growing up in such a profound city like Compton, you can’t help but be a fan of funk, West coast, and gangster rap. It is truly a cultural experience. However, around the time I began to take music serious, the sonic landscape for Hip-Hop turned Southern. Crunk became popular. The music changed. A song that brings me back to that moment is “Bia Bia” by Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz.
How did that music shape your music today? It didn’t, TRL did. Being exposed to all genres of music through what was happening on TRL inspired me to reach as many people as possible. How can I make a rap song that the little white girl crying over the Backstreet Boys in Time Square would like? It became an internal challenge. That challenge made me approach the process of crafting a song differently. At that time, I was in a group that was making crap-music. I left because it wasn’t artistically fulfilling.
Do you have a favorite type of music? Is it different from what you play now? I am a fan of music that can be played in an art depot, or at a Hip-Hop shop, or at The Association in Los Angeles; music that feels like it belongs in a high-end, visually stunning, independent film. I can’t explain it. But some music just feels amazing. And don’t think for a minute I am referring to the pretentious underground stuff. Drake’s “0 to 100” sounds like what Daniel Day Lewis did in “There Will Be Blood”. I am into music that inspires a feeling, an action.
What was the first song you ever sang? How did it make you feel? I, honestly, don’t remember. But my gut tells me it was a Michael Jackson record. How could it not be?
How long have you been making art/recording music/performing live? Again, I was inspired at 16. But I didn’t begin recording and performing till around 18 or 19.
How do you spend your time relaxing when not writing/recording/performing? Do you have any other interest or hobbies outside of music? How does your downtime influence your songwriting? I love business. So when I’m not writing, I am deep in study, as I am pursuing a degree in Marketing. I am also a retail manager. So I am usually spending time with my sales consultants and my clients. I am a regular person. We all are. I’m not into pretending I’m something else. That’s for the well off artist. So when I write, I write from the prospective of the blue collar guy or gal trying carve out their slice of the American dream. What/Who has been your biggest influence to continue making music and pursuing your career?: Eminem, Jay-Z, and Kanye West. You can hear their influence in my music. When I want to improve, I study them. Whenever Kanye does something innovative, I get upset. I think, “I could have done that. Won’t happen again. I will beat him to the punch.”
We’ve all heard the term “Starving Artist”, how do you cope with major obstacles like these? Get an education and find a career. I cannot tell you how upsetting it is to hear other artist say it’s one or the other. That’s ignorance. You can do all of the above. For awhile, I stopped making music. I needed a job. What good was making great music if I didn’t have the resources needed to deliver the music to the end-user? Prioritize. No one wants to be forty and broke. To prevent that, you have to diversify. Music & Art have an impact on people of all ages, everyone loves a celebrity!
What advice would you give to the youth of today? Challenge everything and believe nothing without substantial evidence. Celebrities are like politicians, they work for corporations that funnel their influence through them.
How much control do you have over your own music? 100%. I am a free man.
If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be and why? The industry is in a great position, in that, it’s consumer’s market. If you don’t like what’s on the radio, you can browse the web to find MC Joe from America’s heartland and see what he has to offer. You are in control.
What can people expect to see at a live performance? Straight-forward and high energy. Sometimes a band, most times a turntable and a mic . What are your up-to-date performance plans? New releases? Tours? News? I enjoy being a nobody who makes music he likes. I am excited about my first commercial release called “Ethan”. It’s a seven track EP that has various sound concepts. It was produced in-house by my APT6 brothers. In fact, Daye, of APT6, and I are going through mastering as we speak. I am aiming for November. After that, I hope to tour California, focusing on home, while writing for other APT6 projects and clients. I don’t know, honestly. I’m experiencing life right now.
If you only had 5 minutes left on earth to perform one song and leave a lasting impression on the world, what would it be and why? Do you feel this song represents your life journey or how you’d like to be remembered? I would perform my favorite song from “Ethan” called “Riot”. It is a politically conscious record that touches on many topics, like war, homosexuality, Citizens United, etc. I feel it is one of my best performances. If I only had five minutes left…that would be the song I want to represent my legacy. I can’t wait for people to hear it, like it, hate it, whatever. I just feel it’s something that has to be heard.