By Nicholas Jason Lopez
On July 10, 2020, Staten Island, N.Y.-based indie-pop/bedroom-pop musician Rocky Billop recently released his first official single entitled “The Curb,” available on all streaming platforms.
Influences by artists like The Voids, Mac Demarco, Kendrick Lamar and Tina Drima, Billop has used the time away from live open-mic performances due to the COVID-19 pandemic to truly make his mark and create an organic social media following on Instagram and Soundcloud.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with him about “The Curb” and more.
Music Bugle – What was your reaction to getting 2,000 views on your Soundcloud page?
Rocky Billop – My reaction to seeing that was insane. Just put yourself in my shoes – there would be weeks where I would get 10 views on a song. Some months, I’d get 45 views on my entire Soundcloud. Then, all of a sudden, after really applying things I’ve learned about marketing and really investing my time and effort into growing as a person, these views start to skyrocket and as I’m lost in the noise of it all, I realized I hit this milestone and that’s also what really pushed me to continue this musical journey, upon learning that.
Music Bugle – It seems pretty self-explanatory, but we’d figure to ask anyways – where did you get the idea for the artwork for “The Curb”? Was it a random street or one that has significance to you?
Rocky Billop – (Laughs) Well, the original idea for the artwork was to have myself sitting on the curb, kind of how Drake sat on The Needle in Toronto on one of his album covers. The angle I took this picture in was significant. The curb wasn’t, except for the fact it was completely destroyed, like the rest of my block! (Laughs) I do love how the cover came out though. It felt super professional and definitely was a change from my usual album covers before.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Rocky Billop – COVID has impacted everyone so much, some much worse than others. The worst scare I’ve had was when my Grandma had a heart attack and the scariest part wasn’t that, but rather if we should send her to the hospital or not. Eventually, we called the ambulance and they took her. Thank god, she miraculously ended up with her own room and she never contracted the disease, but that was definitely a scare. Personally for me, COVID has become a situation where my time is wide-open now and I have learned piano, sound mixing, vocal techniques and soon, guitar during this whole thing.
Music Bugle – What do you miss the most about performing in front of live crowds?
Rocky Billop – I’ve only performed in front of large crowds twice and it was surreal for me. My favorite thing is the amount of support they really give. Being in a basement for hours making music, it’s rare I get people to give me feedback on my music, so to be able to do that and live, is so amazing.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your particular genre?
Rocky Billop – What excites me about my genre is that I don’t have one, while it’s so annoying to enter playlists because my music is so unique. I find it super fascinating that I can make hip-hop out of techno and indie out of hip-hop. I do, however, try to associate myself with indie and their scene, just because I feel it’s so inclusive and the people who are into indie are a lot more involved with the artist than other genres.
Music Bugle – How would you describe Staten Island to someone who has never been there before?
Rocky Billop – Staten Island to someone who hasn’t been here is honestly really fascinating. People here either rep Staten Island like it’s a gang or they refuse to call themselves Staten Islanders. One thing I can tell you though, is that the people on the South Shore – where I’m from – and honestly the rest of Staten Island are all a product of gentrification. We are essentially the people who have been locked out of our neighborhoods like Downtown Brooklyn and came here to grab what we can afford, so essentially, when you come to Staten Island, it’s like coming to Brooklyn 40 years ago – or whatever is left of that generation.
Music Bugle – What song was the hardest for you to write or compose?
Rocky Billop – The hardest song to compose is a hard question. Every new song I make takes a mental toll on me in terms of how hard it is to create it. “The Curb” was the hardest thing for me so far, but my newest song “The Void” is now the hardest thing that I’ve done and that’s not even talking about features I’m working on, so it is a constantly fluid answer and I’d have to say it’s all my songs at some points. (Laughs)
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder for a musician to stand out these days?
Rocky Billop – Social media is the reason I’m talking to you. Sure, people are uniform on social media and because of that, I decided to stand out in a few ways, by being what no one else can truly be – myself – and with that, I feel social media doesn’t have many obstacles, besides consistency and engagement.
Music Bugle – Are you working on any new music?
Rocky Billop – I’m currently working on five songs. Most are features, but music nonetheless. I hate that when I made music, I never had any to show off, but as I’m growing my portfolio, I’m looking forward to showing everyone what my inner voice says and feels.
Music Bugle – What’s the most productive thing you’ve done while in quarantine?
Rocky Billop – Most productive thing I’ve done all quarantine was keep a routine, because you can build on it. I hate setting myself apart from other people in quarantine because the mental tolls this has are astronomical to some people and minimal to others. I’m used to being stuck inside, because I was quarantined with my sister when she had chemo, so I understand the gravity of the situation, but keeping a routine helps your sanity and helps you grow through each day to add to the routine.