In the midst of the catastrophe that was the Summer of 2021, Recess Villains was formed. The Los-Angeles based hip hop group consists of “goth-pop” artist Swim from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and rapper Juice Judah from High Point, North Carolina.
The duo released their first single ‘Britney Spears’ in 2021. While their first single touts their international pop star aspirations, their second single ‘Ciao Bella’ confirms it.
Recorded in Cervia during the duo’s first trip to Italy, ‘Ciao Bella’ is a trap rock song with glitch-core and rage rap undertones. To produce the track, the duo teamed up with Italian artist Zo Vivaldi, an acclaimed Italian songwriter who has written for prominent Italian artists such as Fedez and Dark Polo Gang.
Vivaldi grew up between Milan, Shanghai, Los Angeles, and Cervia and currently resides in Milan. After recording the single, the trio went to Milan to shoot the music video for it with Italian Director Davide Papadia.
The track was co-produced by AMACWTHASAUCE, mixed by Vivaldi and the bourgeoning Italian Soul/R&B artist Moonet, and mastered by Grammy-nominated songwriter, producer, and engineer Rob Kleiner. ‘Ciao Bella’ synthesizes the rage of missed opportunity, with the fierceness of an urgent hustle, and smooth pop melodies into a blend and energy that is distinctly Recess Villains.
Juice Judah, is an American rapper from High Point North Carolina (Hiraq) based in Los Angeles California. After releasing several singles he’s now dropping his first EP, produced by Washington D.C. native Shoji and French producer G.A.D. The EP called IV consists of 4 songs that candidly address everything Juice Judah has dealt with since moving to Los Angeles, from street life to fatherhood.
Recess Villains: Recess Villains is a Los-Angeles based hip-hop group formed by “goth-pop” artist Swim and rapper Juice Judah. Born in Philadelphia, Swim is Co-Creative Director of the artwear collective Acrylic Matter. He’s been interviewed by tastemakers such as Shoutout LA and Recording Artists Guild who hailed his music as, “breaking boundaries”. As Music Link Up put it, “he [Swim] has created a genre-bending style that he describes as ‘Goth Pop’ or ‘songs for the dope and hopeless.’” The other half of Recess Villians, Juice Judah has likewise been interviewed on podcasts and publications such as Voyage LA where he discussed candidly everything he has dealt with since moving to Los Angeles from High Point, North Carolina, from street life to fatherhood. The duo has a forthcoming EP entitled ‘Three Peat’ expected to be released Spring of 2022, as well as their first self-titled album ‘Recess Villains’ expected to be released in the Winter of 2022.
For their latest single ‘Ciao Bella,’ the duo teamed up with Italian artist Zo Vivaldi, an acclaimed Italian songwriter who has written for prominent Italian artists such as Fedez and Dark Polo Gang. Vivaldi grew up between Milan, Shanghai, Los Angeles, and Cervia and currently resides in Milan, where he performs regularly at events such as Milan Music Week.
Swim. (also known as swim. soul) is a goth-pop band eponymously named after its songwriter Swim. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Swim. was raised just outside of Newark, Delaware before moving to Los Angeles to work on building his art. Swim.’s music is inspired by a diverse range of artists that were heard in his household and his community, artists ranging from Drake, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, T.I., and Kid Cudi (Hip Hop) to The Dangerous Summer, The Wonder Years, Jonny Craig, P.O.S and Lewis Watson (Indie/Punk/Alternative). Combining Indie, Punk, and Pop music with Hip Hop as his foundation, Swim.’s music is a movement about intimacy.
Zo Vivaldi, is an acclaimed Italian songwriter who has written for prominent Italian artists such as Fedez and Dark Polo Gang. Vivaldi grew up between Milan, Shanghai, Los Angeles, and Cervia and currently resides in Milan, where he performs regularly at events such as Milan Music Week.
All these individual artists are supper friendly and collaborate to achieve a goal in the music industry. Their zeal to work together brought the idea to bring them to Honk Magazine for this exclusive interview.
Here are the highlights of our interview…
- What first got you into music and how long have you been in the music industry?
Juice Judah: I got inspired with music since I could remember but what really got me into music was seeing my father pursue the music business at a young age. And I have been in the music industry for about 5 years seriously now.
Swim.: I also got inspired to get into music through watching my pops make music. He used to throw cyphers, produce beats and manage rappers when I was a kid, so I had always had music around the house and have been making music since I was in at least Kindergarten. I would say I got into music industry really seriously about 4 years ago.
Zo Vivaldi: I was 5-6 years old and my father came home with a Lion King soundtrack CD. I remember listening repeatedly, falling in and out of a state of bliss. I thought of it as magic and it seemed like a no brainer to pursue that feeling for as long as it would last. I continued developing my love for music independently through my teenage years, but only joined the industry when moving to LA age 18.
- Who inspired you to make music?
Juice Judah: Lil Wayne is my number one inspiration.
Swim.: My biggest inspirations in music are Kanye, Drake, Lil Wayne, The Weeknd, Kid Cudi, The Dangerous Summer, The Wonder Years, and everything Jonny Craig.
Zo Vivaldi: I believe I had 2 main moments that drove me towards pursuing music. My middle school years were the first, where loneliness and bullyism had me finding solace in guitar and singing. The second was my teenage years (14-18) when moving to China amplified my loneliness and therefore my passion for music.
- How would you describe the music that you typically create?
Juice Judah: Honest and versatile
Swim.: Passionate goth-pop rap songs for the dope and hopeless
Zo Vivaldi: I would describe it with my own artist name. Zo Vivaldi. Zo has an edgy and modern feel to it. Vivaldi is the last name of the Italian classical composer legend, Antonio Vivaldi. This dichotomy between cutting edge and old school represents my sounds.
- What is your creative process like? What are some of the most interesting projects you are working on now?
Juice Judah: For my creative process I just smoke weed and think about shit. Plus it’s a gift so it just comes naturally when I hear melodies and the beat. And 3 Peat is my newest joint project that I have coming out with my bro Swim. Also, I have something coming out for the ladies this summer.
Swim.: I write my songs by myself just smoking and listening to beats at home. Like, I’m always writing songs. Then, I go to the studio and whatever vibe I’m feeling I just pick from the collection of songs I already have written and record. As for interesting projects, we got the 3 Peat EP and the Recess Villains album coming out this year. I’m also working on my solo album called ‘Mumble Theory’ expected to be out in 2023.
Zo Vivaldi: I have a funny way of making music, I’ll lay down the whole song in 2/3 hours but will spend 2/3 months working on producing and mixing it to where I’m happy. And that’s not even touching the melody or the lyrics. I’m currently working on many up and coming project I’m super excited for. Collaborating internationally with swim. and Juice Judah, and locally in Italy with collective Loggia West Milano.
- Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Juice Judah: Lil Wayne
Swim.: Drake, Kanye or Pierre Bourne
Zo Vivaldi: I’d like to collaborate with Paul McCartney on one of his ‘’Paul McCartney Re-Imagined’’ projects.
- If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?
Juice Judah: Tory Lanez
Swim.: Honestly, fr… right now it’d be Playboi Carti, Pierre Bourne or Yeat
Zo Vivaldi: I think a lot of Post Malone fans would vibe with me so that’s who I’ll go with.
- What is one message you would give to your fans?
Juice Judah: To always stay true to yourself and never stop dreaming.
Swim.: Embrace your inner weirdo; don’t be afraid to be all of who you are and have the courage to explore yourself.
Zo Vivaldi: Better late than never, I believe in our ability to better our experience, and there’s a possibility to deal with regret. When we feel stuck in a rut it is important to break our negative patters, and push ourselves to step out of the comfort zone.
- What is the most useful talents you have?
Juice Judah: The way that I can use words and relate to people.
Swim.: How I write.
Zo Vivaldi: I think talents is plural for a reason in the question. Especially in music, It’s probably helpful to be aware of multiple aspects of the process. Whether it’s singing, rapping, improvising, playing an instrument, vocal producing, performing etc.… Being competent in each step is much more precious than being stellarly talented in just one.
- Do you sing in the shower? What songs?
Juice Judah: Yes. And I mostly sing rock songs in the shower like Paramour and Fallout Boy.
Swim.: Yes, I sing all the times. Anything. Lately, I’ve been singing a lot of Gus Dapperton in the shower lol.
Zo Vivaldi: Honestly I hate making noise when other people can hear them lol. Unless I have a microphones in my hands, in which case I feel allowed to, and really don’t hold back in the slightest way. But when under the shower… idk…. I just dislike the image of someone being in the other room and hearing some wired noises seeping through.
- What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career?
Juice Judah: Playing sports track or football
Swim.: Well, I’m currently getting my PhD in Comparative Literature at University of California, Irvine so I would still be getting my PhD if it wasn’t for my music career.
Zo Vivaldi: I think id probably be a fisherman, or if in that specific parallel universe I’m feeling extra brave, I’d probably be an adventure hitchhiker who travels across the world.
- Where have you performed? Please give details.
Juice Judah.: Last Year my biggest performance was in Milan, Italy I had three shows and by far my biggest and coolest crowd. And I did a few shows this year in LA.
Swim.: I’ve performed a couple house shows in LA – Glendale and Studio City. I also performed at the Weird N Awful Festival in Silver Lake one year at Tenants of the Trees. We had three shows in Italy last summer and I also recently performed at Los Globos Night Club in Hollywood.
Zo Vivaldi: The largest venues were definitively those I was a session guitarist for. I played with Italian star Fedez on national TV last summer which was exciting.
- What are your favorite and least favorite venues?
Juice Judah: I like them all. If it’s a crowd and good vibes.
Swim.: Yeah, the Recess Villains motto is to perform every show like it’s an arena so we do cool crowds and good vibes, not really a favorite or least favorite venue yet I think.
Zo Vivaldi: Favorite venues are those where there’s chemistry between the musicians, and the crowd is reactive to performer’s outputs. Least favorite is when this doesn’t occur.
- Do you have any upcoming shows or release?
Juice Judah: I have a show on the 2nd of April in Tyler, Texas. And I have a solo project I’m releasing this summer for the ladies.
Swim.: I’m going to be performing in Texas too and the first single for ‘Mumble Theory’ is supposed to drop in May.
Zo Vivaldi: I’m geeked for my friends Swim and Judah to re-visit me in Italy in July, we will go ahead and tour the Adriatic Sea Costal whereabouts, where my family is from, and Milan.
- How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
Juice Judah: I feel it’s good for artist now a days so that we’re not so dependent on the label anymore.
Swim.: I think it’s complex. The internet has made artist less dependent on record labels, but it has raised the level of audience expectation to the point where independent artist have to act and compete as if they are major record labels/artist without usually having the real resources of either. It’s like: marketing, promotion, social media, etc. are all real jobs and real careers that require real skill that many artist are learning to do for themselves, but would inevitably benefit from having some sort of machine behind them working alongside the tools that the internet has given us all (including major record labels). So, yeah, there’s a lot of benefits to the internet, but at the same time, I think, it is a bit misleading for up and coming artist when we assume that just because we can objectively do everything that a major record label/artist can do – because the internet – doesn’t mean you will actually have the team or the funds necessary to do that in the way that you want. I think internet or no internet – you’re going to need a good team (which is what a ‘good’ record label/deal would be) and you are going to want some good funding in order to be able to really create the fullest extent of your vision as an artist in the music business.
Zo Vivaldi: In an ever so evolving way. It’s hard to tell, Tik Tok arrived 2/3 years ago to shake things up, many streaming platforms are also recent and totally changed the rules. Earlier Instagram, Facebook and Youtube switched the cards in their own way. Equally Napster, Emule, MySpace and Soundcloud created their own glimmer of free musical sharing. If there is one thing I know, it’s that Internet had a golden period, where big majors, who are old and slow, had trouble keeping up with. In the past years a lot of control and freedom has been taken away from the people and handed back into the hands of the few rich. Spotify being one examples of this ‘’success gatekeeping’’ being handed back into the hands a selecta.
- Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Juice Judah: By far the most interesting story I have is when I went to Italy to tour and promote my music. And also bringing my mom out there with me.
Swim.: The most interesting story that happened to me in music so far is probably how I met Lorenzo. We met at a club in LA called Tenants of the Trees. He was chilling with his girlfriend at the time and I was chilling with mine at the back of the club. Zo Vivaldi lied and said he never smoked weed before but asked if he could hit my blunt. I let him hit the blunt. We started talking over the blunt about what we did music-wise. He invited me to his crib. Usually, shit like that happens in LA and you never hear from the person again. But he actually ended up reaching out to me again and inviting me over to a party at his spot in Glendale at the time and that was the first day I met Judah and the first time I kicked it with Zo Vivaldi .
Zo Vivaldi: I was invited to a songwriting camp, the publishing company had rented a house in the hills for the whole group. I ended up finding out that we were staying at the mansion of Italian rockstar, Vasco Rossi. I was assigned his bedroom and could see his family pictures from the bed side, open the window curtains with a vocal command and poop in his own extravagant toilet. It’s hilarious because I was the only Italian in the group, and therefore the only one who knew what was going on. What was a simple slipper for a colleague was instead, in my eyes, and in fact, BLOODY VASCO ROSSI’S SLIPPER.
- Which famous musicians do you admire?
Juice Judah: Aaliyah.
Swim.: Kanye and Drake are probably the two living musicians I admire most.
Zo Vivaldi: Modern musicians I admire are C. TANGANA, Jean Dawson, Silk Sonic. Older musicians ar Jeff Buckley, Prince and Jimi Hendrix.
- What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
Juice Judah: Some encounters with the law.
Swim.: An encounter with the law.
Zo Vivaldi: When I was staying in China I got into a lot of trouble. Marijuana, Shop lifting and accident hit and runs got me running from the police on multiple occasions.
- What is the best advice you’ve been given since you started?
Juice Judah: The best advice I was given since I came into the music industry was not to quit and stay focus. And keep going no matter what.
Swim.: The best advice I got was to always have a plan and to execute your plan and remember if you offer someone an opportunity and they don’t take your offer than its their loss. They loss an opportunity. And definitely, to never stop making music no matter what.
Zo Vivaldi: Put your music out. Seems obvious… but of 1000+ songs I’ve written in the past 10 years I’ve only put 4 out lol.
- If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
Juice Judah: How much the artist gets paid and having ownership.
Swim.: Definitely ownership of music by artist and more big money behind artist with different visions. People complain about artist always sounding the same, but there’s actually mad artist that don’t sound the same that just don’t get the funding necessary to be heard by wider audiences.
Zo Vivaldi: Really, some of the major labels have dogs and pigs working for them. Their money machine is really established, it’s got all the connections, money, and artists (slaves) it requires to maintain its empire running.
- What’s next for you?
Juice Judah: More money more shows no bullshit and a 30-million-dollar contract. For sure.
Swim.: Albums, EPs, continuing to build the Acrylic Matter artwear movement, and world tours. We hope to be back in Italy this July.
Zo Vivaldi: I’m working towards releasing a debut album with Zo Vivaldi, and developing an international rock band with a couple OG friends form my hometown.
- How can our readers follow you online?
Juice Judah: @JuiceJudah for every social platform.
Swim.: @iamswim_ on Instagram and tiktok + @iamswimsoul on Twitter
Zo Vivaldi: You can find me on instagram: @zo_vivaldi and YouTube ZoVivaldiTV
MEET THE ARTIST MEL THE PROPHET
Hello Mel The Prophet, Thanks for coming to Honk Magazine to talk about your career.
Tell us a little more about when you first got into music?
Mel the Prophet- I first got into music in 2016. I used to freestyle with my friends and I was becoming really good and around that time I went to a NIpsey Hussle concert and an epiphany and was inspired to speak about my truth over music to inspire people how I was inspired by Nipsey
If you could describe your sound/style in one word, what would it be and why?
Mel the Prophet- If I could describe my music in one word it would be, [ UNIQUE ] because , my music comes from real experiences while being witty and aggressive with intention to motivate the listener to view themselves and the world in a different perspective.
What would you say to any aspiring recording artists who look up to your work?
Mel the Prophet- What I would say to aspiring artists who look up to my work is always be a learner and humble but always be honest with who you are before doing music, no matter what!
What quote or mantra do you live by?
Mel the Prophet- The mantra I live by is, if no one existed on the earth but you, how would you feel and what would you do and who would you be? ,,, now feel, do and be that with everyone existing on earth!
What is your hobby outside of music?
Mel the Prophet- My hobby outside of music is working out, reading and learning new ways to help others become more self aware.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Mel the Prophet- Where I see myself in 5 years is living on a ranch with multiple acres being a household name in music and the mental health industry providing value in creative ways to those who need help.
Do you have anything new or upcoming we can expect to see from you?
Mel the Prophet- What I have upcoming is a musical project, “SELF HELP” the self awareness guide and I’m also working on a RnB album
What is the inspiration behind your latest song?
Mel the Prophet- The inspiration behind my latest song, “Help 1 Self” (Mental Health Anthem) was experiencing the pandemic when a lot of people became afraid and aware of the fact their mental health was at stake.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Mel the Prophet- The 5 things I wish someone told me when I first started:
Expect no support from the people you want or expect support from. I was always a good person and a person who was “friends” with many people, not just around me or in my community but all around and thought I was going to get support from them because I was doing something good.
INVEST IN YOURSELF: Even though I did invest in myself, I was expecting others to invest in me because of the ideas I had and how beneficial they would be for others.
FOCUS ON THE BIGGER PICTURE: As much as I thought I was focusing on the bigger picture, I actually wasn’t. I was rushing the process to become what I knew I am and I would attempt to force myself and my vision onto people without trusting the process of just doing the work day in and day out.
KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO!: Being a good person can be tiring when you’re attempting to help anyone and everyone. Some people do not align with your mission or purpose. I would give my hand out to anyone who asked for it and then be in a situation where the person or people would just attempt to take advantage of my kindness.
FULFILL YOUR PURPOSE and not your ego
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Mel the Prophet- Some tips for my colleagues not to burn out:
1: SOLITUDE (spend time with yourself and your own thoughts).
2: Spend time in nature without technology . Nature is the essence of our being, being able to breathe in the air and listen to the natural habit of nature is a key element to self awareness to redirect your energy.
3: SLEEP WELL + REST.
4: Spend time with family and people you love doing things that are fun and not just work all the time .. finding the balance.
How can our readers follow you online?
Mel the Prophet- Readers can find me on ALL social media platforms, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube,Tik Tok under @meltheprophet or Mel the Prophet my direct website is www.help1self.com
Exclusive Interview: Rising Artist Rasta Man Jay
Hello Rasta Man Jay, Thanks for coming to Honk Magazine to talk about your career.
What 3 things does anyone starting in your industry need to know?
Always stay focused and consistent on your goals,never give up no matter how hard life gets,also never let people bring you down.
What would you do differently if you were starting in your industry now?
I Would be dropping music constantly and making my fans happy with new music every week so my audience is always listening.
Which people or books have had the most influence on your growth and why?
When I was younger I always listened to great music from Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa,Young Jeezy and many other artists from the early 2000s.
What would you say is the #1 key to success in your music career?
I would say dropping different tracks constantly spitting lyrics from my struggle and pain in my life that is why I came a long way in the music industry.
Talk about the biggest failure you’ve had. What did you learn from it?
Getting criticized about my rap flow and will people accept it which eventually my fans started supporting me from out of town.
What has been your biggest success story and why do you think it was a success?
When I hit News Weekly, that was the best moment in my life. I started building my confidence again with my music.
What keeps you going when things get tough in the music industry?
Having 2 Daughters that count on me to win and I won’t let them down so they won’t have to struggle like I did.
What made you pursue being an artist full-time?
Wanting to prove people wrong that didn’t believe in me having a lot of non supporters and hate back in my hometown.
Would you sign to a label?
Yes but it has to be a label that lets me own my music and doesn’t control my music and all my royalties.
What projects are you working on for the rest of 2022?
I just dropped my album with Distro Kid called Don’t Try to Be No One You Not and also has multiple songs and projects dropping this year so stay tuned.
How can our readers follow you online?
Anyone can follow me from my instagram account @jholder051817 which already has an impressive following already from joining instagram within 1 year.
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