Back in January 2016, Chester added Past Cloaks to his discography but, it wasn’t an album per say. It was, rather, a compilation of tracks channeled from the curious narratives of a teenager. It’s a constant and striking introspection. With Chester occasionally rapping at half his average speed, he streamlines verses rigorously throughout Past Cloaks and experiments with witty clips and rhymes so dense you’re forced to listen with little space to draw back.
“Recording every track was natural because each song is basically just a timestamp of what was going on around me either that month for that day,” Chester told us via e-mail. “My mind was always wondering so I needed a place to concentrate my thoughts and confusions after high school.”
The distinction is psychedelic hip-hop music; a self-proclaimed and limitless genre Chester Watson uses to convey a sound curated from ballet, Odd Future influences, and lessons confronted during his adolescence. The Florida resident exhibits a stunning level of technical and tone control and if Past Cloaks, in all its dreamlike complexity was Chester finding himself as a musician, imagine what is to come at an even more self-aware.
First off, could you introduce yourself?
I’m Chester Watson. I’m 20 years old and I’m from St. Louis, Missouri but I live in North Miami with my homie Nikola. I’m in a group called Nü Age, nuage meaning “cloud” in French.
I aim to be King of Halloween.
Where do you draw the most influence especially when you first started creating music?
Odd Future was my first real introduction to rap music. Before that, I was a ballet dancer and my musical influence was classical music and whatever played on the radio. Michael Jackson was my favorite artist before rap. I listened to Owl City too.
Do you hear a distinct style of rap coming out of Florida? Is it even possible to isolate the state because of the growing influences coming from the south?
There is definitely a signature style for a select few people but that’s really the only thing in Florida. I make more avant-garde hip hop type stuff but my influences from the Floridian lifestyle are more or less the same as theirs. We just interpreted our experiences in a different way. Atlanta has a completely different sound than Florida but they could both be played at the same party if that makes sense.
What was the motive behind Past Cloaks? How long did it take to record?
The motive for Past Cloaks was basically to shed light on all of the work that I’d done as a teenager 14-18 and give it a proper release and home. Those were all really good tracks and they shaped who I am musically so we wanted to put it out into the world physically forever.
Those were some great years of my life. Recording every track was natural because each song is basically just a time stamp of what was going on around me either that month or that day. My mind was always wondering so I needed a place to concentrate my thoughts and confusions after high school. That’s what music became. Past Cloaks isn’t really an album it’s more of a compilation.
My first official Album I’m planning on releasing this Winter the help of a Valentin and a clothing brand based in New Zealand called “I Love Ugly” and my managers at P.O.W Recordings.
I see now more than ever a rising distinction between the title of “a rapper” and true “lyricist.” What is your opinion on the current trends in rap that’s kind of deteriorating the art of lyricism but ironically has been so successful?
I feel there is always a need for a balance. People aren’t singular so music shouldn’t be that way. Most don’t ever want to be introspective and reflect on their own issues and so one style of music may suit them more. I like both because I’ve been exposed to both creative processes with the people that I’ve worked with. Nü Age brother Kent Loon mainly.
As far as lyricism goes, they say some pretty witty things [laughs] You just have to understand where they are coming from with what they say and it’ll make sense. Some people can’t or don’t want to relate and that’s a harsh truth, but it sucks because they discredit an entire art form and work ethic in a way.
Are there any collaborations in music you’ve done in the past that you wish to take a bit further in the future?
Working with Glass Animals was pretty cool. I’d love to work with them on something again.
How would you describe your music to a new listener and the message you hope to convey?
Psychedelic Hip Hop Music. It’s vague but that’s kind of what I’ve concluded with my lifestyle and how I portray it.
Could you tell us a little bit about your next steps career wise and artistically speaking?
I started playing guitar and bass on my birthday in March thanks to the homies Jason and Psymun. The next album is really string heavy and for the most part, so far I’ve made the majority of the instrumentals. That’s how it usually goes for my releases. Psymun always has a couple of pieces of production on them though. I love that guy.
I want to start making more merch and releasing more art like I did when I had my old place. We’re still getting settled so everything is slowly but surely taking its course.
Is there a project coming soon?
There is but I can’t release any details other than that I’m planning on releasing during the winter, hopefully, the beginning of winter during 2017 but maybe 2018 if things take a little longer than expected. I like to give myself space… more than likely 2017 though, and the merch and stuff in 2018.
I wanna thank my moms, Tulsi, Nü Age, Valentin and I Love Ugly, Psymun, and Jeff Weiss and Haley Potiker for everything. I love you.