SIM: Thank you for taking the time to interview with us, Jonah! To start, can you tell our readers what “Proppa” stands for, what style you curate musically, and why we should be keeping an eye on you as an up-and-coming artist?
Proppa: Thanks for having me! “Proppa” is really just an extreme abbreviation of what I do. I guess you could relate it to the word “proper”. I kind of embraced the name Proppa before I even knew what it meant but as I started to see more emotional development in my music I claimed the tag #ProppaStateOfMind, shedding light on the idea that music can trigger an unthinkable amount of emotions. I’d say I make any kind of music that emphasizes melodic value. I’ve always been one to push boundaries and I think you’ll see a lot of that in the future.
SIM: Take us back a bit. When did you begin to dance with the idea of producing, and what series of events led you to start pursuing production seriously?
Proppa: My interest in producing electronic music was a result of a lot of events actually. Since I was 11 or 12 years old, I’ve been a self taught musician. I kind of figured out early in high school that I wanted to pursue a career in music, but I was more interested in being a drummer and later-on a hip-hop lyricist. I retained basic mixing and production knowledge, but I dove into it head-first when I discovered the rapidly growing influence of electronic music while DJing friends’ house parties.
SIM: You’ve spent the past few years navigating the Chicago music industry and networking with other artists. What are some of the most important things you’ve learned about both yourself and your vision for “Proppa”, as well as about the industry as a whole?
Proppa: A lot of people will fight me to the end of the world over this topic, but I truly believe that the worst thing an artist could have in his/her head is the “it’s all about who you know” theory. Networking is really important, but there’s a million ways to do it wrong and a few to do it right. On many occasions, a show, collaboration, label release, or business agreement of any sort can harm your career if you don’t time and plan your moves right. I like to tell new producers to spend as much time independently as possible. Once your production reaches a respectable level, the connections will come to you. It’s important to make friendships with other producers instead of “connections”, the input/influence that they could have on your work is exceptionally more beneficial than jumping on the collab train. My management handles all of the business connections and it helps me focus on the music.
Videography by Haley Lan
SIM: You’re known among your friends to have a high-production standard, and a relentless work-ethic; you don’t really stop to sleep. Yet, we all hit our walls, and need a way to re-charge and re-group. How do you move past your own “writer’s block”, and keep your creatively constantly flowing?
Proppa: I definitely experience writer’s block on a daily basis, it’s the most common symptom of being a music producer. Every producer has a gift, for some it just takes a lot more time and effort to express. I try to be involved in other activities that don’t involve the scene. I’m a gym rat, and I’m also a part-time bartender. It helps me take my mind out of the studio and puts me back in the real world. You definitely need to separate yourself at times.
SIM: You’ve got quite the collection of impressive Proppa remixes on Soundcloud. When can we expect a few Proppa originals to see the light of day?
Proppa: I can’t say much but I definitely have a few prospects for my first single. Just be on the lookout in 2018.
Make sure to catch Proppa open for San Holo tonight at Skyway Theater! Make sure to grab tickets here before it’s too late.