Life on the road can be tough for a new artist, but Jordy Towers is loving every minute of it. When BET.com spoke with the LA native, he was riding cross country, goofing off with his band between stops on his nationwide promo tour alongside The Knux. With two singles buzzing online (“Money, Money” and “Don’t Say It’s Over”) and one of the most powerful record labels in the world, Interscope Records, behind him, the rapper/singer is feeling good about his plans for 2012. BET.com talked to the rising star about being on the road, his relationship with Lupe Fiasco and why getting a deal doesn’t automatically mean you’ve made it.
BET.com: You’re on the road right now, how do you find inspiration sitting on a tour bus everyday?
Jordy Towers: Life inspires me, meeting new people inspires me. My band, they inspire me. These guys made an amazing track in sound check in New Orleans. My band members, I call them the Future Ex-Husbands — I give them a new name every night. They made a track and they recorded it and then we listened to it in the car and I was coming up with melodies. Or I get tracks sent to me from producers, you know, put the headphones on and just zone.
How does having those guys behind you help you on stage?
I think it helps the sound of it. I like the feeling of having guys on stage with me. They give energy, I feed off it, they feed off me, the crowd feeds off our camaraderie together. It’s more of a spectacle like that. I think every live performer, if you’re making music, you should have a band behind you. You either have a band or you have a DJ. It’s cool to just stand up there but — the only time it ever works is with Kanye [West]. When I saw him at Coachella with the ballet dancers, that sh-- was awesome. That’s pretty much the only exception.
During your days as an underground rapper you toured with Lupe Fiasco under the name Optimus. What did Lupe see in you back then that made him take you on the road?
I don’t know, I’m a freak. We’re different. He’s different; he’s got the odds stacked against him ‘cause he’s not like everybody else. And he saw that in me. That’s our mutual respect for each other is that we’re both kind of freaks. We’re outcasts ... He picked me up off the streets and took me on tour with him.
Lupe has had some struggles being such a different artist on a major label. What’s it like being a “freak” on Interscope?
They love me. It’s great. We f---in’ love each other. I came into this knowing who I was before I signed my deal and they actually got it. They got me. They got it off the bat and it’s been amazing ever since. I’m so happy to be on the best label on the planet.
Is the major label life easier than when you were underground? You have a lot more opportunities now, right?
It’s all the same sh--, you gotta fend for yourself. Just ‘cause you’re on a major label doesn’t mean that sh-- just opens for you. You gotta earn everything. You gotta earn every spot you get. They’re not just gonna put you on the radio just ‘cause f---ing Jimmy Iovine signed you. You gotta earn that sh--. You gotta have hits, you gotta know how to perform those hits, you gotta know how to look, you gotta know how to do an interview — this sh-- is hard work. It’s not just you get a record deal and they bring you a cake like, “You’re a f---in’ star.” I got signed almost two years ago and they’re finally releasing my sh--. So to all the little boys and girls out there that want to do this sh--, just because you got signed, that’s just the beginning. This is a f---in' hard process. I’m still on step six of 1,090 to where I’m trying to go.
What’s the ultimate goal? Where will step #1,090 take you?
I want a number one record. The Grammy nominations just came out, I want one of those. I want 10 of those. I want 20 of those. I want to speak to the masses. I don’t know, I wanna be a star, man. That’s why we do this sh--. We do this shit so we can be heard. I toiled in the underground and did my thing and got respect and all that stuff. I didn’t make a dime and it was a lot of fun and learned a lot about myself and met some amazing people, but it’s time to do what I came here to do. I came here to touch peoples’ lives and I want to touch as many people as I can.
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(Photo: Blackground Records)