Photo: Haley Pippins, Electrick-Kiss

Interview: ‘Extraterrestrial’ artist jopippins discusses his unique style, imagery and new song “24/7 THOT”

Although he already has a couple of albums to his name, as well as a bunch of eye-popping videos, collaborations and more, jopippins is still on the up. The Raleigh, NC-based genre-agnostic musician and multi-talent reveals a new facet of his artistry with each new release. With a past studying information technology, an eye for visual flair, and a desire to express vulnerability and honesty, he is an outlier in the world of modern hip-hop/R&B.

Although, he’d rather not be caged within those fences – he describes his sound in our interview below as “extraterrestrial”. It’s an apt and telling descriptor for his personality as well as the warped, dizzying sound worlds he creates – which are made even more alien through the bright and shifting imagery attached to them.

Having loved his recent hallucinogenic banger “otw”, and with his new song, “24/7 THOT” out this week (“a story about hyper sexualization in the digital age”), we caught up with jopippins to learn more about the exciting artist and where he – and his DOTWAV crew – could be headed next.

For those who are new to your music, how would you describe it?

I would describe my music as extraterrestrial. Everything about it checks the box of ‘other’. Musically, my sound falls in between the genres of alternative rock, hip hop, and r&b. Visually, the purpose of my art is to accompany the sounds in the most eye-catching, mesmerizing way I can.

What’s your method for writing? Where do you begin?

Every song of mine begins with a chord progression. Whether it’s on guitar or piano, there’s always a foundation for a song that I hold on to for a while, and once I feel like it’s been a good bit of time, I start going from there and building lyrics or a beat around it.

Lately I’ve been coming up with entire video concepts before a song is even done, which I feel like has been really refreshing for my process.

You’ve been compared to artists like JPEGMAFIA and Thundercat – how does that make you feel?

I have tons of respect for artists like JPEG and Thundercat, so to hear that makes me feel good on one hand, but on the other hand it places a chip on my shoulder to separate myself from comparisons and remain in my own lane.

How are you different to those artists?

Every artist inserts their real life and personal experiences into their music in some way. I feel like how that makes me differ from others is that I spent four years just learning the ins and outs of digital technology and the internet while in college, and that experience has permeated into every aspect of my art.

Are there any other influences that are less obvious?

Pharrell, Childish Gambino, Tyler, the Creator, Santana, and King Krule. 100%.

Do you take influence from things other than music?

Technology, film, and visual art are the driving forces behind my inspiration outside of music. I’ve always tried to learn lessons from those I admire, which can span all the way from Steve Jobs to Basquiat.

Your last album, Digital Native, was interwoven with Siri narration, how did that tie into the themes? How did you write the scripts for Siri?

I wrote everything Siri said, a lot of it I chose because at the time I felt it was too vulnerable for me to say personally. I think Siri helped me overcome that, as well as provided a refreshing aspect to the album’s soundscape while furthering the idea of cyberspace.

Your recent track “otw” was a celebration of your crew – have you bumped it with them yet? How did it go down?

It’s funny because the second I made the track I went straight to my friends to play it for them. We all felt the vibe of the track immediately and it has remained during every performance of the song, as well as the videos we’ve worked on for it. Even off the job, we like listening to it when we’re just biking or skating. The goal is always to make art reflect my real life and I don’t think any song does that more than “otw”.

You released an ‘8D’ version of “otw” – explain what that is and why you like doing it? Will you do it for more of your songs?

8D is a more immersive version of the record, with some added reverb and change of environment in order to make the listener feel present during the performance of the song. I’d like to experiment with that on more records in the future. It helps solidify the “cyberspace” imagery while also giving people more music to listen to.

You’ve been releasing music through the pandemic – have you found it a creative time?

Yes for sure. Something about the extra time we gained during lockdown in 2020 made me really buckle down and create as much as possible. It’s now a year later and that same idea has stuck with me. I’m just releasing what is fun for me to perform and make videos about.

This week you’ve released the new song “24/7 THOT”, what inspired it?

This song had no lyrics for the longest time. For months, it was just a beat I made that I knew I wanted to do something with. Everything about it’s process was very slow, however cathartic in the way it made me take a good look at myself and how I’d like to be perceived. After spending months with just a beat, I finally laid down some verses. A couple months later I finally came up with a hook, and a good bit of time after that came the title. Everything here was about me confronting the truth and learning to love myself.

It seems like there is a sex-positive message to “24/7 THOT”, is that right? Do you try to have important messages behind all your songs?

Not every song has a deliberately important message, however the message of this song really came about on its own. The song had been finished for so long before I finally came up with the title. I needed something that would encompass what I wrote about, and I think it really took some inner- convincing to give the song such a provocative yet truthful title. I think “24/7 THOT” sounds fun, but also forces you to face the subject head on.

Your visuals are popping and eye-catching, who do you work with on those?

My brother Haley and I work on all my videos. He’s a director and cinematographer, so we bounce ideas off each other and try to come up with something that honors our favorite movies.

North Carolina seems to be a hotbed of talent at the moment. Are you part of a scene? Who should we keep an ear/eye out for?

The Raleigh music scene has grown tremendously since I moved here and it’s been great to watch. I’d say keep an eye out for my DOTWAV Media bandmates Renzo Suburbn, Mike Moon, and Wes Monterey. I’m also loving the music Juno Hill and Kenny Wavinson are putting out!

What is Dotwav and how are you involved?

DOTWAV Media is my band. It has four members that all bring a different genre to the table, making the final mix a nice combination of our sounds. I sing, play guitar, and direct videos amongst a host of other things. We really are just having fun for the sake of entertainment.

What does the near future hold for jopippins?

Lots of videos, more music before the year is out, and definitely live shows. It’s felt so good getting back to performing for a crowd and that’s where my talent shines the most. Bigger venues, better music.

Follow jopippins on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.