Los Angeles-based artist Roc-O-Star was born and raised in Anderson, Indiana by his biological parents before being sent into foster care. “Growing up on your own often meant you have to do what you have to do to survive, and I did – you either hustle or you don’t eat,” he says. “I’ve slept on many streets until I was finally able to save enough money to live a more settled life.” Over the years Roc-O-Star developed his sound, a mix of rock, soul and hip-hop which he calls ‘thought music’. “Driving” is the first installment of his forthcoming EP Face 2 Face, a story in five parts which will be told through sound and visuals. He produces all his own music, and currently has a catalog of 3,500 unreleased songs. His music has been placed with Puma Stage, FitBit, Xbox, Apple and Coca-Cola. He has toured in Germany, China & Japan. Furthermore, he was the lead singer for Black Steel Rose on the Bamboozled and Warped Tour.
How did you come up with your stage name?
Roc O Star represents a collective of meanings that wasn’t too hard of a task for me to conjure. Firstly, “Roc” is my etymology on the word Rock, which represents toughness and solidness. I realized early on in this business and game of entertainment, I had to maintain a certain measure of toughness. Not only to foster longevity in the business and creative sectors of the game, but also in order to have the ability to mentally endure the disappointments all artists encounter in this business. The “O” represents the word “Opportunity.” This is something I refuse to just squander away. I’m taking full advantage of my gifts and I’m using them for the betterment of my life and the lives of my loved ones. The surname ‘Star” represent the person I am…a star! And I mean this before the inclusion of music or Roc O Star the artist character. An example of what I’m saying would be; I’m a father, basically a beloved rock star and hero within my own household. So hopefully, the public will feel that and recognizes my fullest potential, and will love and support my creative efforts and stage performances and consider me a star as well!
What made you decide to get into music?
Music came natural to me. To be honest, music was passed down to me from my dad’s side of the family. Tragically, he died of alcohol abuse. Music, I think, was God’s way of creating a way out of chaos for me. My mom is still alive, but she is travelling down the same path as my late father. I never had a strong positive role model. I essentially raised myself. Growing up on your own means you do what you have to do to survive and I did…I hustled or I wouldn’t have been able to eat. I slept on many streets until I was finally able to save enough money to be settled. Growing up, everyone I knew was into rap music but I always wanted to be different. I loved rock with a mix of soul, and then I added a touch of hip-hop, which synergistically helped me with creating my own style. Rock Music, like rap, is a great medium in which I can express real life issues while inspiring others to make better choices and avoid the pitfalls that I’ve experienced.
What’s the first rap song you ever heard? Describe the moment.
The first rap song I was introduced to is a song called “Straight Outta Compton,” recorded by the L.A. based hip-hop group, NWA. I felt the intensity of the their music and it was exhilarating. My oldest brother was the one who turned me on to NWA. I really liked their music because I could relate to them through the experiences of my up bringing. Now the first artist I got into wasn’t a rap artist at all, it was Muddy Waters. I found an old Muddy Waters vinyl record in one of my dad’s cases full of records. That is what initially inspired me to want to do music. I utilized the love for those old records and just added the rough edge sensibilities of my up bringing, combined a twist of rock and soul, and now I’m trying to share it with the world!
How did “Driving” come together?
My first single is “Driving “ which is part 1 of a 5 part mini movie series about my life. Driving will take you down one of the many roads of my life where instead of going with my instincts, I let negative influences have sway which were the root cause to the many mistakes and foolish decisions I’ve made in life! And ultimately, I had to pay for them. In a nutshell, the video gives the viewer an inside look on many risks I’ve taken to feed my young daughter. Wrong or right, to me, at the time, it was all about survival.
What are your predictions for 2018?
Well it depends, for me, as an artist, I think 2018 will be a year of breakthroughs and trailblazing. I’ll be able to expand my fan base and brand myself even more through my music. I think a wider acceptance of the integrated genres that is used to create my sound will have less of distinct lines of separations. Its like gumbo soup…a little bit of rock, a little bit of soul, and little bit of hip hop. Heey, its tastes great and there are a lot of people that loves gumbo! Its like Roc O gumbo of the music world! Whatever happens in 2018, I just hope to be happy and satisfied doing what I love; creating music that I love and feel and inspiring someone to be a better them. For me, that will be an awesome year!