I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Ohio’s Joey Aich perform live a couple times over the last decade, one of the most passionate artists I’ve met, the standout just released his album “If Money Grew On Trees”. Today we sit down with him to talk about his journey in music so far, what spawned the idea of “IMGOT” and much more. Take a read.
Dead End Hip Hop: For those who don’t know who is Joey Aich?
Joey Aich: Joey Aich is a 24 year old hip-hop artists from a small town Woodmere Village, Cleveland, OH. I’m currently based in Columbus, OH after moving down here last spring. I’m a pretty low key guy. I smile a lot, drink ginger ales, and rock with sports and stuff.
DEHH: Now I actually met you way back in 2010 I believe for OUHipHopalooza, can you give just an inkling on where you were with music then?
JA: I believe it was 2015 my junior year at Denison University. At the time I was still outside of the pool, but I was sticking my legs in to test the waters of the music game if that makes sense. I had just released a project “College D.egree” the previous spring and started getting shows and showing up on blogs and what not. I had two songs “40oz” and “Smooth Hardcore” that people knew me for and I was selling out of my highly sought out “40oz” tees around campus. I was working on AichFiles but I didn’t have a clear concept yet just a few songs written that eventually made the project.
That show was actually hella cool. It was one of my first times actually at OU besides numbers fest and stuff. I was super close to going to OU for school and it was always a place that I wanted (and still want) to perform at. I met some cool people like you, Dj Smit, and Jean P the MC.
DEHH: Fast forward eight years and released a number of projects, performed & headlined for a number of acts and festivals, how did you get here?
JA: Honestly as cliche as it sounds a lot of hard work and consistency. I was always curious to learn and educate myself on the music industry and how to stand out. I spent hours on hours researching bloggers and their emails and then another few hours sending out press releases for singles, videos, and projects.
One thing that I did to seperate myself from others was selling a tremendous amount of tickets and proving to the venues I could bring a crowd. At the time I was getting played financially because it was the whole “sell x amount of $10 – $15 tickets and make 20% (sometimes less if the show didn’t do well) of each. I used to hustle them. I would gas my car up and make rounds. I would travel from the eastside of Cleveland to the westside just to get tickets off and create a bond with the people who bought them. Sometimes selling a ticket would turn into a 20 – 30 minute conversation about anything and I think people enjoyed that personal interaction. Sometimes I would do my own promotion days like buy a ticket today and get one for free. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t but it opened people’s eyes that I was a hustler and I was going to make sure it was bigger than a local showcase. As far as performing I always bet on myself so I knew once I got the people in there and the venues heard 100 people chanting “Joey Aich” along with a energetic set they had to book me for the next one or when a big name came into town.
DEHH: We’re definitely going to get into the music, but I feel like Ohio is an underrated hip hop hub, tell me a bit about Ohio Hip Hop and what you bring to the table as an artist?
JA: I love Ohio hip-hop and we are absolutely underrated. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before people realize how important Ohio is to not only hip-hop but music in general. One thing I will say and I’ve said it before but I think Ohio listenership has to improve. Not to say people are sleeping or whatever but if you support someone don’t just say it scream that shit. There has always been talk that Ohio artists don’t support each other and all that but we really do and we don’t always have to hop on each other’s songs to show that. I think once listeners in Ohio realize what we have in the backyard and embrace being fans we can show the world what we have.
I feel like I’m in my own lane as an artist. As far as content I tell my story and my story isn’t like anyone else. I’m very comfortable being myself and rarely compromise for others. I know people laugh cause I show up to a venue or in a music video with Crocs on but its me and it’s authentic and that how I write and promote myself. I bring a new age of traditional hip-hop (Storytelling, bars, boom-bap) and above it all I’m charismatic and strive to inspire people every time I rap and perform.
DEHH: “If Money Grew On Trees” is your latest release what was the motivation behind the album and the theme of money?
JA: I had just graduated from Denison University (2016) and I told everyone that I was going to do music and just music. That was my aim, but I found out it was a lot harder and I kept trying to find the root to my struggles but I couldn’t. I was getting booked and I inspiring people but I wasn’t financially secure or able to create more with a minut budget. I was asking my Mom (God bless her) for loans and telling her this loan is going to be the one that propels me. I finally realized money was my issue. I’m not a materialistic person so I never pay close attention to money, but as I was sitting in bed one night I just thought how easy this would be or how many cool things could I do if money was just there. However, on the other side of things I found myself doing weird shit just to get money. I was a part-time uber driver and at one point I asked one of my homies who his plug was cause I was about to sell a little dope to fund the rest of my project instead of just getting a job. So I started asking myself the same question but what would I do. Would I sacrifice my integrity for it? Would I do the things I say in my raps if my circumstances were different. I don’t know what I would do, but I hope to find out. Last, I just wanted to propose that question to the people. Before they even hear my album they ask themselves If Money Grew on Trees I would do blank.
DEHH: There’s a myriad of different sounds on here, lofi, trunk bangers and more. But I feel you match and fit every sound and beat on here to perfect…how are you able to chameleon yourself into these different moods and sounds?
JA: I feel as though I am versatile and different production pull different strings for me. My guy Alzeus (met through Soundcloud) from California makes me wanna rap everytime he either posts or sends me something. When Arkutec sent me a packet of beats I immediately thought these sounds like anthems and that how I got Rope Break. More times than not the production drives where I want to go. I listen to a lot of music and I’m not always inspired by one style/genre so I’m able to adapt to the production and float with it.
DEHH: When people are done listening to “If Money Grew On Trees” what do you want them to take from the project?
JA: First, I want them to embrace their story. Something I really wanted to make clear is that this is my story. Metaphorically, each song is a branch or an experience that makes up my “tree.” I want people to realize and embrace their branches. I feel like its important in finding self satisfaction.
Like I said earlier I want people to ask themselves what they value. What’s important to them. For me, it’s inspiring people, specifically the youth, through telling my narrative and loving myself and sharing my light with others.
Last, I wrote an essay that I posted on my website with the album but to sum it all up I want people to grow like trees. I want people to have and notice these experiences. Be a home for their goals, dreams, and wildest aspirations. Them ultimately be the the inspiration for the next generation.
DEHH: I’ve had the blessing of seeing you live twice and your energy on stage is unmatched, what goes into your live show and passion you bring to your performances?
JA: Thank you. I’ve been an entertainer my entire life without really noticing it. Besides being in the choir, school musicals, or even sports I’ve always been a character and enjoyed the spotlight. I’ve wanted to make people feel some type of emotion whether its laugh or be astonished. When I started performing it was just like doing everything in my life except I have a microphone and instead of getting everyone’s attention I have their attention already. Anyone that knows me is fully aware of my high motor and rarely off.
Something that motivates me is personal interaction. When I’m on stage I want people to leave feeling like they can do whatever they put their mind to. Its like anything I guess. When a good teacher is executing their lesson plan they should inspire their student to WANT to learn ya know. I just want to light that match in someones life to help them get to where they want to be. It’s important to me and that’s why I’m super passionate every time I have the honor to be on stage.
DEHH: 2018 is just getting started and I know you just put out your new full length but what can we expect from you this summer and for the rest of 2018?
JA: First, you can expect an daily improving Joey Aich. I want every day for me to be a better day and a more improved version of me than the previous. Next, expand and travel to different places. We have some plans to take the Joey Aich show on the road and meet some new people this year. Last, more features and new material. I feel really good about where we are headed and what the next few years has in store.