“The level playing field that I have benefited from has also resulted in an over saturation of the scene. The most challenging thing as an artist becomes saying something worth listening to and saying it in a way that grabs peoples’ attention. The most effective way of doing this, that I’ve found, is by just being genuine.”

Check out the interview with The Last Wordbender exclusively on Skilly Magazine Online.

Skilly: How were you able to start your journey in the entertainment business? Where did this all start?
The Last Wordbender: My journey into the entertainment business and performance art started pretty humbly at open mics in my hometown of Rockford, IL. I had been writing raps and poems since I was young and at a certain point I recognized that my art was getting pretty good and I wanted to share it with other people.

I would hit a couple open mics a week, at bars and cafes, developing my skills and making as many connections as I could. From there I connected with other artists and began organizing local events and rap cyphers. I began to branch out of my city to perform and I continued to build my skills and my uncatalogued.

What are some of the creative ways you use to promote your music?
Performing is by far the best way I have found to promote my music. The internet is a great tool and can allow you to reach a lot of people; however, there is nothing like being able to connect to people through a live performance. I also run a lot of workshops that allow me to pass on knowledge of hip hop culture and art form that I love. They also provide me with another avenue to make some money off my passion.

What is the greatest challenge you face in today’s entertainment business? How do you overcome them?
The quality of home studios tools available to the average artists have changed everything. The level playing field that I have benefited from has also resulted in an over saturation of the scene. The most challenging thing as an artist becomes saying something worth listening to and saying it in a way that grabs peoples’ attention. The most effective way of doing this, that I’ve found, is by just being genuine.

How is the music scene like in your hometown? What do you like about it and what don’t you like?
My city only has a population of 150,000, with about 300,000 in the metropolitan area. But the scene is creative and ambitious. We have a diverse mix of people, genres, and styles. The size of the city makes it possible to form some real connections with other artists and form genuine connections with fans. The downside is that the Midwest, as a region, is hurting economically. My city is short on opportunities and high on risk and crime

Where do you think the future of music is going to be? How do you feel artists can be more a part of it?
I feel like the internet is the new frontier. The artist who can master and maximize their use of the internet is going to have the upper hand in the modern music scene. The potential in that is that major labels will have less of a strangle hold on the industry and the artist. Artists have to stay active on the internet and in real life. Make yourself visible in both arenas and make your music easy to find and listen to.

What advice can you give to other upcoming artists and musicians trying to achieve success?
The art is the most important thing. The image and marketing don’t mean anything if, once you have a person’s attention, your music isn’t worth listening to. Focus on developing your skills and craft. Keep that at the forefront. Always be willing to learn and grow. If you have something interesting to say, and you have and interesting way to say it, people will listen.

What inspires you to write your next song?
Consistently pursuing your passion is not always easy especially because I am not yet at the point where I can support myself and my family solely with my music. I get ideas for songs from everywhere: life experiences, things I see other people go through, movies, songs, comic books, food, documentaries, literally anywhere. Once I get that idea for a song or a project, it’s like I’m not complete until I finish it.

What are the steps you take to make a song?
I really take my time with my work. I’m not one of those improvisational “let’s knock this out in one take” type artists. Once I get an idea, I generally sit with it for a while. I may record some ideas, write some thoughts or lines, and really try to wrap my mind around the concept and the way that I’m going to approach it. Sometimes I get the lyrics first and then I look for a beat to fit them, or sometimes I get the beat and craft the lyrics from there. I’ve had success both ways, it just depends on the particular song.

What do you think makes a great song?
Genuine emotion. People are surprised by the diversity of my music collection. I generally stick to hip hop because that’s always been the genre that I’ve been drawn to, but within that I listen to a wide variety of artists with all different styles and approaches. But the music that I think is great is the music that conveys genuine emotion from the artist. The best artists find a way to convey their own experience in a way that the whole world can relate to.

Where can we connect with you? Can you give us your social media links and where we can contact you?
Official website: www.thelastwordbender.com
Facebook: thelastwordbender
Instagram: @djustinmcfly
Twitter: @DjustinMcFly
Soundcloud: thelastwordbender
Audiomack: the-last-wordbender