There are plenty of cats around town that can make a case for being at the top of the game when it comes to repping the rap scene in Arizona. But few can contest that they work harder than 8-bit beat guru Random a.k.a Mega Ran.
This month alone he's already released a 17-song release requested and funded by Kickstarter donations, dropped a collab track addressing self-esteem issues brought on by sneaker lovers, and is already gearing up for a 14-city tour kicking off on Friday, February 1. The "NES in the West Tour" hits Phoenix on Wednesday, February 6, at the Trunk Space.
Through his full schedule, Mega also found time to pen a tribute track along with Phill Harmonix to Reddit co-creator Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide on January 11. The 26-year-old Internet activist was under investigation for allegedly stealing documents from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and scientific journal archive, Jstor.
Up on the Sun: What's the good word on the "NES in the West Tour?"
Mega Ran: This is a special tour because of course, I love and am inspired by 8-bit music, but this time I'll be backed by a very dope band, Urizen, from Texas. They're a very conceptual and theatrical band. Also joining us is Doc Awk from San Diego, who is probably the most commercially accessible guy to fall under the "nerdcore" banner. It's his first tour and I'm positive he'll do well.
How do you manage to keep things fresh and not burn out from being on the road? What surprises do you have in store for this leg?
It's true, being on the road a lot, it's important to keep it fresh to prevent burnout from you or the fans' perspective. I do different songs based on fan request, and add new acts each time. But, this time most importantly, I'll be able to do some of music with a band behind me, they'll be helping me do some of my songs in ways they've never been heard before. Tracks that are fan favorites like "Avalanche" and "Splash Woman" will be even bigger and better than I even imagined when I wrote them.
I get asked a lot, what the differences in my lifestyle are now that I'm a full-time musician and whether or not I miss the classroom. The biggest difference is the need to treat music like a job: a fun job nonetheless, but a job. I have to schedule my writing sessions, my studio sessions, my rehearsal times, and shows a lot more strategically now. I can't waste any hours, but at the same time without a bell ringing every 90 minutes, It's so hard to keep track of time. I do miss the structure of school life, and I miss the students like crazy, but I definitely don't miss the bureaucracy and red tape that I spent a lot of time fighting through. I try to spend my free time mentoring youth when I can.
I feel like my story can be inspirational to someone, youth or adult, and coming from my background, not a lot of people make it out, at any level, so though I'm nowhere near where I want to be, I'm not where I was, and that makes it a success story in my eyes.
You're always lighting up the web with new music or projects. You talked about being able to create so much content when you dropped Time and Space earlier this month, can you expand more on that concept?
Those tracks were in the works since last spring when our amazing Kickstarter campaign ended. The most popular reward level was offering backers a chance to suggest any game or topic we should cover. So with my producer friends DN3, K-Murdock and Lost Perception, we got to work. Those tracks became Time and Space.
After seeing those tracks through, I talked to DN3 about trying something like that monthly, by request, as both a challenge and as a means of additional income opportunities for us, to find tours, merch and equipment upgrades. So now, the Time and Space albums will drop on the 1st of each month, provided we hit our donation goals. Fans can donate here.
Beyond this upcoming tour, what else do you have in the works? What are you most excited about in 2013?
I have these monthly EPs to do, and if I can make this happen I'll be super excited. But I'm planning at least three more incredible tours for the year, one with Louis Logic this spring, and then a UK tour, then another trip back to Japan.
Musically, I have a new mixtape planned, an EP based on one of my favorite Playstation games ever -- not telling the title yet-- and a much more seriously themed title for later this year.