Machine Gun Kelly: A Quick-Fire Interview on His Rise to Fame

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MTV’s Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2011, and “Wild Boy” rapper, Machine Gun Kelly (MGK), has been firing out brutally honest lyrics at rapid speed. With one album under his ammo belt and a second to be released soon, MGK has his sights set on one day selling out arenas. While his rise to fame has been a slower one, he’s steadily making his way to the top by remaining true to himself and his music. “We chose to do something that connects with the people more, instead of just what people want to hear, like sing-a-long rhythms.” It’s impossible to not appreciate MGK’s dedication and commitment to himself in such a cutthroat industry as music.

We had the chance to talk to MGK about his biggest challenges and what to expect to hear on his sophomore album, along with his love of performing. Make sure to catch him doing just that at Livewire on July 9 in Scottsdale – a city he’s looking forward to returning to because he’s “had a lot of crazy nights” here. MGK, you’re in good company. We expect his show to be nothing short of wild and crazy. Tickets here.

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AFM: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
MGK: That’s a hard question. In my head, on one mind, is performing in front of 485,000 people at Wrestle Mania. But then on the other end of my mind is successfully putting out an album and getting a platinum single off that album. Also winning some of the MTV awards that were fan voted awards. There are just too many special highlights to me.

AFM: What did it feel like when you got news that your single “Wild Boy” went platinum?
MGK: Ours was a unique situation. Usually nowadays, when a song catches it will catch really quickly and blow up really quickly. “Wild Boys,” specifically is interesting because it took that song about 2 ½-3 years to go platinum. It was a very, very slow process with that song and a very slow grind because it just didn’t catch immediately. It took about 9 months for us to see any spike in that song. That just really came from years of performing that song and pitching the image and really living that lifestyle. When I finally got news that it went platinum it almost was too long and too tiring of a process that I don’t know if I’ve had time to appreciate it yet.

AFM: When things like that take awhile is it easy to get discouraged?
MGK: Big time. At the end of the day it’s just a weird process with us because it always seems like it’s always a slow path for our projects. That’s also because we chose to do a different type of music than what’s popular right now. We chose to do something that connects with the people more, instead of just what people want to hear, like sing-a-long rhythms.

AFM: What’s your favorite part of the music process?
MGK: Performing. It never gets old to me. At concerts people get psyched on your lyrics, screaming back at you, or cry through your lyrics. When you hit the right note and say that one part of the song that just reminds them of a great time or a bad time.

AFM: Where has been your favorite place to perform?
MGK: Any small town because they’re so excited and so grateful to get a concert.

AFM: Who would be your dream artist to collaborate with?
MGK: I don’t know about musically collaborate with but I would love to perform with the Chili Peppers.

AFM: What can fans expect to hear on your second album that’s coming out soon?
MGK: Expect to hear 3 years of growth since the last album. Expect to hear detailed journeys through my life that I’ve left untold up to this point or haven’t went into detail on. It’s just answering a lot of questions on things that I’ve talked about before that I thought I left unanswered. And a lot of live musicianship and a lot of feel good music.

AFM: What would you say has been one of the biggest challenges for you so far?
MGK: I think choosing to remain myself instead of conforming to the times and this whole new electronic age that’s upon us.

AFM: I know that your music has a lot of truth and honesty to it. What is it like breaking into the music industry and really putting your whole story out there?
MGK: Sometimes I think it backfired on me. People want you to be that person 24/7. When they see you or when they’re around you, they want you to personally help them. It’s difficult for me to fulfill that when I’m still trying to get my life together. Fame has kind of made me anti-social now. People treat you so weird. It’s rough to let people down if you’re not in that mode where you’re able to help as much as people want you to.

AFM: Has there been anything that really took you by surprise in this industry?
MGK: Probably signing to a record label. The process of being told things are going to work out one way and being promised all this stuff and then just realizing it’s all just a business. There’s not too much soul in any of it. You just realize it’s a bunch of false promises and you really just do it by yourself.

AFM: Where do you hope to be 5 years from now?
MGK: I would love to be selling out arenas and amphitheaters.

Photo by Richard Freeda

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