INTERVIEW: Meet your new favorite local music duo, R.A.D.
There's very few pleasures greater than hearing music that absolutely floors you. One of those few pleasures is when you find out the music is coming from your own city.
Such is the case when we came across San Diego-based duo, R.A.D. Mixing hip hop, electronic production, and tinges of experimental R&B, R.A.D provides a refreshing sound that is impossible to ignore. With only a few releases under their belt, the duo exude the confidence of artists years their senior, with the production quality and aesthetic to match. It's hard to nail the full package as an artist, yet with only one year under their belt, R.A.D definitely make it seem wild effortless.
We recently hit the duo up for a little conversation to get some insight on their history, the evolution of their sound, and their future plans. Read up and listen below.
Can you introduce yourselves? How'd you two meet?
Ben: I'm Ben Yen, I rap. Michael Mack sings & produces all the music we put out. R.A.D. is a group we started in late 2017. We met in 2016 through the local radio station that we worked at, Michael and I started working the same day. Neither of us were seriously working on music before we met. It really just kind of happened. We would be working events together, playfully freestyling & singing over beats that Michael produced for fun. One day, he sent me a beat with him singing on it. I ended up doing a verse & we put it out on SoundCloud. We got a pretty good response from it, so we continued to work together but as separate artists. We started putting out like a song a month in 2016. Eventually, we decided to actually come together and form a group with a little more direction. In October of 2017, we started R.A.D. & began working on our first album.
How would you describe your sound to those who aren't familiar?
Michael: The sound came together very easily as we just made songs that served as a melting pot of everything we listen to. It was fun to challenge ourselves to rap and sing over tracks that stood out to us even if it didn’t quite fit into one type of hip hop or R&B. Ben, who raps, is a big rap / hip hop head, and I produce and sing but I listen to mostly R&B, pop and electronic music. When we come together, “R.A.D.” is the sound.
Ben: If I was describing our sound to someone who's never listened to us before, I would say that a majority of it falls under the category of pop-rap.
What do you think is the importance of maintaining that pop accessibility for audiences?
Michael: We have a lot of hip hop and R&B elements in our music, but we want to present it in a way that appeals to more than just that demographic. Pop music evolves just as much, if not more than any other genre due to the fact that it takes a little bit from each one. While we don’t aim to make a ‘pop’ track every time we write or produce, we do feel that it’s important to share it as something that blends more than one type of music. We like to be catchy and aren’t afraid to stay above the underground.
Having just recently come across you guys, I can just say I'm very impressed with the quality of sound, how cohesive you guys are a duo, and the overall presentation of the group. How do you guys think you've arrived to this level of maturity in presentation so early in your careers?
Michael: It took a lot of hours in a literal basement to learn how to record and mix everything ourselves. It was so important to make sure everything sounded like it could compete at the same level as a big artist so our music could be added to a playlist with the likes of everyone’s favorite artists. There is so much good music and talent out there that we had to do it in this way. As for the way we present ourselves, we just wanted to keep our sense of friendship at the forefront. We think it’s funny when people see us and they’re like, “You guys are the ones making this music?!”
What do y'all have in store for 2019?
Ben: We're sitting on a lot of unreleased music that we're really excited about. Michael & I have teamed up with artist/producer Mo Musiq on a couple tracks. R.A.D. is also getting ready to start our second full length album. We're looking forward to collaborating more, putting out more content, & doing more shows in 2019.