It's been a good year for Mouse Powell.
The Tempe-based rapper's late-fall release Where It's Cloudy made big waves, landing on music editor Jason P. Woodbury's Top Local Releases of the year list, and Powell finished out the year performing with The Grouch and Eli.
The record signs a deserved spotlight not just on Powell, but on his collaborators, some of Phoenix's hip-hop finest, like Brad B, Kira Best, LES 375, and more. Bearing the Avenue of the Arts crew name, the record is a great example of what's happening in Phoenix's underground scene.
We caught up with Powell to talk up the record, his plans for the future, and why he goes by the rather timid sounding name "Mouse."
Mouse Powell is scheduled to perform Friday, January 13, at the Hidden House.
Up on the Sun: What's the story behind your name?
Mouse Powell: My real name is Bill [and] my family has a few other Bills, so we got nick names. As a kid I had pointy ears, buck teeth, and an mean older sister. She called me a mouse in front of some friends when I was younger, and they wouldn't let it die. [When] I started rapping I always referenced that and then it became a nickname.
How long have you been making music?
I started making music when I was 11. I don't remember what it was that inspired me to, but one day I told my family I was gonna learn to play guitar at lunch. They all thought I was just going through a phase, but I stuck with it and got really heavy into punk rock music and reggae. When I was 15 my best friend was trying to rap, and I jokingly told him that I could write something better than he could. I wrote some stupid lines for him then I just couldn't turn it off. Six years later, I'm still hooked.
What influenced Where It's Cloudy?
Where It's Cloudy is pretty heavily influenced by the growth and things Ive gone through in the time while I was writing it. Its Kind of a documentation of the path I chose. It covers a lot of ground, everything from relationship squabbles to moving from your home to another, to dropping out of college to pursue a career as a musician. Its a story with the end unwritten. I think that's cool.
Are there any specific artists that influenced you'd like to note?
As far as local artists go a few of the main ones made the album. ILL AL the Anglo-Saxon actually is a featured rapper and the engineer behind the whole record. That's a trip because I grew up bumping his album Unplug. Also, I was huge on Brad B and his work with Drunken Immortals and as The Insects. I was extremely pleased to have those two in particular on the project. Everyone involved added something to the mix though. Big ups to Kira Best, Andres Rodriguez, LES, Jimmy Nelson, Milo, Make Sense, and Buenobeats.
You don't have the typical "rapper" look, is that for a reason?
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I don't think that its a premeditated decision to look differently from other rappers. I think I just wear what I like and think is comfortable. If the day comes that I think overalls are comfortable the world better watch out.
What's next for Mouse Powell?
Tour. At least that's the plan! We're also working on a follow up to Where It's Cloudy and maybe a resurgence of the #mousemonday series.