Before Mod Sun physically enters the room, his boisterous personality precedes him as he makes his way through the Rostrum Records office in Hollywood, cheerfully greeting the faces that have become so familiar to him over the past months with thunderous exclamations. He’s excited — and rightfully so — after years of hard work and determination, his diligence has finally paid off in the form of Movie, his biggest album release to date.
“How close would you like me to get?” he asks, ultimately electing to sit cross-legged on the conference table. His humor and grin are contagious, as laughter soon spreads throughout the empty work space. The eclectic musician and self-described “hippy hop” artist has been toying with the concept of one’s life flashing before their eyes before they depart from this world. Though the notion is nothing new, Mod Sun’s interpretation and call to action take a more proactive and lighthearted approach.
“That’s my whole point of the album: trying to spread that idea of ‘Yes, I believe you are going to look back on your life,’” Mod Sun says. “But deeper than that, make sure that you’re going to have some fucking fun scenes involved in that movie and not just sitting there and letting life pass you by.”
Working closely with producers who brought new perspectives to the table, Mod Sun was able to whittle away at the 300 tracks he had originally prepared for the project down to 11, tossing aside his own levels of comfort and transcending into a new musical territory. After shying away from the sunny melodies he had become accustomed to in favor of unfamiliar, edgier beats, he discovered that he possessed the key to his own progression — a more grown-up sound. But don’t be fooled; the rapper’s newfound lyrical maturity will never incorporate misogyny, drug abuse or violence. The message is still the same, just with a slicker delivery.
The March 10 release of Movie was married with an accompanying short film, aptly titled Album. The attention-grabbing, 15-minute flick uses the tracks from Movie to contribute a visual narrative to the story, rounding out his thought process and tying it all together. As the published author and poetry aficionado recalls the successful reviews that the film received following its exclusive premiere two days prior, he uses the cactus blossom that he’s been twirling for some time to brush his long, blonde curls off of his brow and under his red, wide-brimmed hat.
“This is totally objective and this may not be the truth, but I believe anyone can rap,” Mod Sun says. “I don’t want to say you’ll be good, but right now we’re rapping. When I talk to my mom on the phone, we’re rapping — we’re just not rhyming. I thought that was inspiring and used that to catapult my first song as a rapper. For five years, every single song I made I put out. You can literally hear me go from being not good to being good. How fucking great is that? It’s inspiring as hell!”
But Mod Sun’s trials were far from easy. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, the former Bloomfield, Minnesota native drummed for rock bands Scary Kids Scaring Kids and Four Letter Lie. The transition from post-hardcore and emo to positive hip-hop proved to be unwelcome, as he was often booed off stage when opening for the very bands that he would return to play drums for later the same evening.
“You’ve got to understand that I had three hours every night when I was feeling like the biggest loser in the world, and then three hours after that I was feeling like the biggest winner in the world,” the rapper says. “It was fucking crazy. It was a huge challenge, but again, all part of the giant picture, the movie that I want the world to watch which is an inspiring, happy movie.”
The perseverance that Mod Sun possessed back in his early days got him where he is today, in warmer weather and seated on a tabletop and excitedly engaging in an interview in anticipation for the release of both Movie and Album just in time for his 30th birthday, which also falls on March 10. As he enters the next decade of his life, Mod Sun has already set his sights plenty high, but his positivity and genuine happiness are to be admired and hopefully emulated.
“I want to come for everyone this year, for real,” Mod Sun says. “I want to make sure that I’m not trying to put out the best song or the best album, I’m trying to do the best art or the best project. I want to put out the best vision that I can give out to the world and be on that level of artistry. This is really the first time that I feel 100 percent proud of my music.”