A Conversation With Sage The Gemini On Marrying The Music, The Power Of Social Media & Artists Taking A Stand
Yohance Kyles (@HUEYmixwitRILEY)
(AllHipHop Features) In the Information Age, music artists continue to devise new ways to connect directly with the public. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat offer entertainers the opportunity for viral challenges, memes, and live video to elevate them to positions of widespread popularity.
Sage The Gemini is one of the contemporary acts that effectively uses social media to bring attention to his artistry. The California-bred songwriter and producer turned what may seem to be just a silly Snapchat filter into a genius marketing move for his 2016 song.
“Now and Later” was released as a single in mid-October and was added as the soundtrack for a sunglasses feature on Snapchat. The track quickly spread across cyberspace when A-list celebrities like Kevin Hart, Snoop Dogg, and Khloe Kardashian were seen rocking the colored-tinted virtual eyewear on the social network.
The video for “Now and Later” has also collected over 11 million views on YouTube and the Soundcloud version of the song currently sits at over 2.7 million plays. Sage followed the noteworthy buzz for the record by heading out on the “West For The Winter Tour.”
A video diary from the 13-city trek is now available, with more content from The HBK Gang affiliate in the works. It has been three years since his Remember Me album was released, but Sage insists he's still coming with a sophomore set titled Bachelor Party in the near future.
After dealing with a public breakup from singer Jordan Sparks and other unsubstantiated tabloid rumors, Sage The Gemini is ready for fans to focus on his music and not his personal matters. I spoke with the man born Dominic Woods by phone last week, and our conversation delved into his creative direction, his command of social media, and more.
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How’s the tour going?
Everything has been amazing.
Right now you’re on the West Coast. Do you plan on extending the tour to other regions?
That’s a bridge we’ll cross when we get to it. Right now, we’re securing the West Coast. I’m going to wait until I put out some more music so I can go out there with more material.
You recorded a recap for the tour. What can your fans expect to see in that video?
It’s showing the personalities of the people who I’m working with. It’s a lot of fun stuff. It shows how I interact with my fans. Honestly, I haven’t even seen it yet. It’s just stuff I’ve been doing.
So you’ve just been living and the cameras were just following you?
You mentioned being interactive with your fans. You’re someone that’s pretty open about your life on social media. Not all artists choose to do that. Why do you choose to be so active on social media?
Just so people can realize I’m an actual human being, that the stuff that I go through is exactly what they go through, and I’m no different from them. It lets people know the difference between a situation that’s normal and one that has been exaggerated because they are a lot of trolls on the internet. I’m just letting people see what reality is.
You’ve been able to harness social media and turn it into a hit record with “Now and Later.” How did the Snapchat filter for that song come together?
The song came out and we wanted to do a great marketing strategy. Two great minds came together with this plan, and they brought it to Snapchat. My great marketing team at Atlantic and my management brought it to Snapchat. Snapchat believed in it. Shout out to Snapchat. They used my shades I usually wear. They put it to use as a Snapchat filter, so everyone could look like me while still rapping my song. [laughs]
A lot of celebrities have used the filter. What was your reaction to seeing the Kardashians and Kevin Hart using it?
My heart, as well as my mouth, just dropped to the floor. I was like, “What the…” Kevin Hart used it like six times.
Have you seen an increase in the numbers?
Yes! A lot. It’s crazy. “Gas Pedal” has been out for like five years and it has like 63 million plays on Spotify. That record came out [last fall] and it has 75 million plays.
Is this intended to be the lead single to the album? Is the rollout process beginning?I don’t know yet. I’m just doing what I do. I’m honestly just releasing music. I’m just creating the music in my thought process. I’m leaving it up to the label to do all that.Are you still sticking with the title Bachelor Party?Most definitely. You know the concept of going through trial-and-error, just trying to find yourself before you get married - it’s basically like I’m done playing games. Things are about to get real. I’m about to marry this music and show what commitment looks like when doing this music. Just to let people know - he’s a grown up in the music now, he’s going to start showing talent.It’s been a while since you put out an album. What’s the sound that you find yourself attracted to at the moment?All of them. It doesn’t matter. I’m just attracted to music, period. I’m just making music. I don’t want to be “Bay Area famous.” I don’t want to be “California famous.” I want to be a worldwide, international Pop, Hip Hop artist. So I’m doing everything right now. I’m not sticking to one thing. So you’ll be hearing a lot of different stuff out of me - rapping fast, being lyrical, being not so lyrical, being more melodic. All that stuff.You want to go for the Pop icon status. As you know, the more famous you become, the more stuff you have to deal with as far as the media, especially with social media. You talked about trolls before. How do you manage to brush off the negativity that comes at you online?I let go and let God. I just worry about music and I don’t talk about none of that. I just do music. That’s what I came here to do. If they’re talking about me on social media, then I must be famous. I must be doing something right with my music for people to feel like every time something is going on they got to mention it to the world. They do that to famous people. So for me to be mentioned at a place where people always mention famous people, I must be doing something right with the music.So you embrace the fame? Some artists don’t. They try to avoid the spotlight.It’s annoying. But like I said, I look at the positive in it. I don’t keep talking about it. I don’t acknowledge it. I just do what I do. Because at the end of the day, if people don’t love me, God will love me. I’m sure you get a lot of positive feedback from your fans as well.Most definitely. The positive always outweighs the negative.You have the single out now that’s buzzing. You're touring. Then Kehlani just dropped her album. What’s the vibe like among the HBK collective at the moment?Everybody's just working. Everybody’s congratulating everyone and working on ourselves as people. We’re still having fun. Everybody’s good. We’re stronger than ever. The young Wu-Tang. [laughs]So are you guys planning on coming together and doing projects as a unit?I’m pretty sure. Everybody has their own life. We all didn’t come out the same mother, so everyone has a different thought process. So when we come to that [point], then we’ll do that most definitely.There’s a lot happening in the world right now. There’s been a discussion in the Hip Hop community about whether or not artists should take a stand on issues that are affecting people’s lives. What are your thoughts about that?Of course, I can see where people are coming from when they say artists should speak out more. But honestly, just because we sell records, ain’t nobody going to listen to us. Just like they don’t listen to other people. We’re just people just like them. If you feel like you’re intelligent enough to say some stuff that can get people to open their eyes, then most definitely. But you can’t ask an artist to speak out when you have a voice too. Don’t spend your time asking me to speak when you should be speaking out as well.We’re going to do what we have to do. Just because we’re not saying it in the media and trying to get likes, doesn’t mean we’re not trying to speak out in real life. You don’t know what we got going on. Don’t worry about us. You got to worry about what you’re saying, what you’re contributing. We're going to do what we need to do in private.I’m about to sit my ass down and think about what the hell I’m about to say. I don’t need no pressure from you because all that’s going to do is f-ck up what the hell I got going on because I’m trying to please you instead of trying to make the situation better.I don’t need to please you. I need to be able to sound intelligent when making a damn point instead of trying to get likes on Facebook and Instagram. We don’t need to do that. Don’t worry about me. You need to worry about yourself, period.There’s definitely a good and bad side to social media.There is. I feel like people should just pray on situations. There’s a lot of horrible stuff happening in the world and there are a lot of great things that’s happening in the world. If you’re intelligent enough to go out there and speak or lend a helping hand, by all means, if that’s what you want to do, go ahead. We all have voices, but that doesn’t mean that you should speak. Not everybody is meant to be a spokesperson. You show a lot of your personality to your fans. Is there any interest in going into other areas of entertainment like comedy or acting?Most definitely. When the time is right, I’m going to go for some movie roles if the role is right.You have to jump on one of these biopics. [laughs] That’s the wave right now. Look at The New Edition Story and Straight Outta Compton. That would be crazy. [laughs] My partner Keith Powers from Sacramento was in New Edition. Shout out to him. That was tight.
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Stream Remember Me below via Spotify.
PHOTO CREDIT: Julian Edward Tongol