Oblé Reed Seattle World Tour Interview

Oblé Reed Opens Up About Feeling Intimidated Coming Into the Seattle Music Scene

As I pulled up to the Retreat, located across the street from Green Lake, I spotted Oblé Reed dappin’ up some cafe-goers. As we went inside to grab something to drink, he continued to dap up a few more people in the spot. I thought to myself, this is exactly what it looks like to be a young artist who cares about building with their community. Oblé explained to me that the Retreat is where he and Ryker (his manager) hold a majority of their meetings. They also frequently collaborate with the locally-owned cafe to host events for the community to gather and socialize. This was the perfect place for us to meet and discuss his involvement in the community, as well as the third annual Seattle World Tour

As a North End kid, Oblé found it hard to fit in to his surroundings. “It was interesting, growing up as a mixed child in my area. My school was not diverse. I was battling my own internal identity crisis because I have my white mom and my African dad. I’m African American so I can’t relate to either of their experiences. Struggling with that and not seeing a lot of people around me who are also going through that, it felt pretty isolating. But it also gave me a lot of time to sit with myself and learn about me and who I am, get that self-identity and feel secure which I feel like comes across in a lot of my music. I feel like I know myself really well and I’m able to articulate how I feel, which was definitely not always the case.”

Oblé Reed Opens Up About Feeling Isolated and Intimidated Coming Into the Seattle Music Scene

Straight From School to the Studio

Considering Oblé Reed is only 22 years old, I assumed that he had started pursuing music right after high school. “I released my first song like two months before I graduated, I was working with this producer in Edmonds. He produced, mixed, and mastered all of my stuff. That was the first studio that I had ever been in, I had just been writing up to that point. When I started releasing music, I had no idea about the industry whatsoever. I just saw these people putting out their music, and they were getting people to listen. So, I would do that. I didn’t really go to any community events because I was in college still trying to go that route to be an epidemiologist, so I was pre-med and studying diseases.”

He went on to say, “But, then I dropped out during COVID. I built my own studio in a treehouse in my backyard, gutted it out, and got all of my equipment. That’s where I recorded “BLACKKIDS.” and a lot of the album [LINDENAVE!].

Fibonacci Production Studios and the Open Sessions

Having done all of that pretty much by yourself, have you since felt a sense of community within the scene now that you’ve been performing?

“Yeah, so summer of 2021- my goal for that year was to work at an actual studio. I was tired of being by myself and wanted to be around other people. So, this engineer from Fibonacci Production Studios hit me up and was like, you should come here for a session. I pulled up and the owner of the studio was my old tutor from high school. This was a crazy full circle moment.”

Oblé continued, “So I was like, hey do you have any opportunities for an internship, I’m willing to do whatever. I knew how to engineer because I taught myself during COVID. I told him, I don’t have to be an engineer; I can do merch, I’ll run whatever. They let me be an intern. I was there for three days, and when there were no more sessions I would just sit in there and work on my own stuff. He saw that and was like, okay you can work here. So, I started doing engineering sessions out of the studio.” 

“We started an event called open sessions,” Oblé went on, “Every Friday we’d invite any kind of creative and run free sessions. We had clothing brands, videographers, and we had a big lounge area so people could just sit and chop it up and plan stuff. Then we’d have people making music. I still have records in the cut from those moments. But that was actually the first big moment being a part of the community.” 

Oblé Reed Opens Up About Feeling Isolated and Intimidated Coming Into the Seattle Music Scene

I wanted to know if he had a standout memory from those sessions, “That special moment was on the last open sessions, before we had to stop for a little bit because everybody started getting really busy. We had like 40 people up in this… it’s not a big studio, but everybody was there to support and meet other people. We just had this idea, and I thought like 10 people were going to pull up, but to fill it out, pack it out, and have everybody be so positive was dope because all that I had heard was that it was clique-y. That was what made me fearful to try to reach out to people because I don’t want to get rejected by some people.”

In reflection, Oblé said, “I was watching the Complex Blueprint, one of the ones that I was watching, I think it was Pat “the Manager” Corcoran, he was saying, ‘if you don’t see something in your city, build it.’ I wanted that community place where I felt like I could pull up every week and consistently meet new people, and we made that happen.”

Reminiscing on a Night at Café Racer

Since he’s a young, upcoming artist in the scene, I was genuinely super curious to know if he had any memories from performing at any venues on the tour. “Yeah, so at Café Racer, I played this Halloween show.” Oblé Reed recalled just how pivotal that moment was for him, “That was when I was just getting into performing, that night was different. I had people in the room that I had met but had never seen me perform.”

He went on to explain that health-wise, it was a rough show for him. “That was one of my craziest shows because my throat hurt so bad the entire week leading up to it. I had just been cleared from COVID and I had no idea how the show was going to go but I was ready to go up there and rip it as hard as I could. The cardio and the running that I put in had paid off because I was going stupid. I was jumping around, rapping every word, the transitions went smoothly. I had never had a reaction like that.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/CkT2DC2jpX7/

Oblé went on to say, “To have those people in the room and give them an opportunity to experience the music was surreal. Then I got to talk to the staff which I had never done at a show and shake hands and connect. It affirmed what I was doing and that I was putting in work in the right direction. I also had my homie Yonny, who is on “SK[I]NCARE,” he performed one of his first shows there. Maybe his first show, I think? To experience that with someone I work with so closely, to have it all happen in one night. Also, I had, what is now, my photographer in the building, stylist, videographer, all of these people who weren’t my team that are now integral in everything you see, were there, and we ended up kicking it afterwards. When I went home, I put everybody in a big group chat and I sent a long paragraph basically saying, ‘this is our group now, nobody has a choice.’”

You were talking about being intimidated reaching out to other people but now that you have had a little bit more time in the scene, do you have any advice for other upcoming artists on what the best ways are to reach out to the community, to get to know people, to get booked more often locally? 

“In all honesty, be outside, be present. How are you going to expect love from a community that you’re not even a participant in? There are too many artists that feel like they’re too prideful to go to another artist’s show. Just off the love, not even expecting anything from it except to be like this is the scene that I want to see blow up and explode so I’m going to play my part, and my role to put as much effort in.” 

He continued to emphasize his point by saying, “You never know who’s in a room. There are so many opportunities that I’ve gotten just because it was 11 o’clock at night and I’d rather be in my bed, but I pop out to this event or I’ll go to this show, and I’ll meet somebody who could potentially change my life. You got to be a part of the community. Nobody is going to support you if they’ve never seen you and you’re asking a lot, you’re doing a lot of take, take, take, me, me, me and not a lot of give and not a lot of let me boost up other people. There are too many people that I see on the internet getting posted by these Seattle pages and I’ve never seen them at anything! I’ve never seen them support anybody else. I’ve never seen them comment on another person’s page and yet you ask the world of a scene. You know what I’m saying?”

As we were wrapping up our conversation, I asked what his future was looking like currently. Oblé went on to say, “For right now, I am working with my non-profit coordinator to be more involved in that lane and working with the youth. I used to be a high school counselor. I want to be able to build a space, similar to open sessions, that helps the younger artists and gives them a safe space, especially in the hip-hop industry, where they feel like they can experiment, find their voice and become who they are. As well as experience that life outside of school because I feel like when you’re growing up in the school system, they force your life to revolve around school completely.”

He explained how that was part of a bigger goal, but in the meantime, he talked about a summer club to get people out of the house and connecting on a more personal level. “I’m trying to start a running club this summer and get creatives out and run. I don’t want it to be like this is for the super runners who are trying to run 18 miles. I’d rather it be like a family affair and have that space outside of the music where people can still connect and build that community and feel like it’s non-transactional.”

In his final thoughts, Oblé Reed had this to say, “When you build out instead of building up, 10 years from now everybody who is running the game could be your homie. As much as I’m reaching up and want the OGs and the people already doing it, I also want to be on the come up with the people around me. I want to experience that person’s journey who I know is going to be up there with me.”

Oblé Reed will be performing at the Belltown Yacht Club as part of the 2023 Seattle World Tour. Experience this journey with him on Wednesday, June 7, 2023. Tickets can be purchased here.

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