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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Steelo
Monday, June 02, 2008

Seattle is a city most known for rainy days, flannel t-shirts and grunge rock. Believe it or not there’s a Hip-Hop scene tucked away in the city, as well, and Steelo is one of the groups on the verge of making a name for themselves there. Steelo is the duo of A.Uno and Bobby K (left to right in picture). According to A.Uno the two met through interesting circumstances. “When we decided to go in the studio to work on a track together neither one of us had heard the other person,” he remembers, “we were just looking for the chance to make a song and split studio time. We didn't realize what we had created until our song caught on at the local club and people encouraged us to stick with it.” The song became a local hit and their latest single, “Let It Roll,” is getting national radio airplay. In addition to their performance work, Steelo also makes public speaking appearances at local schools to help inspire students to find and follow their passions. This week A.Uno and Bobby K took some time out of their busy schedules to sit down with me to discuss their music, their work with the youth, and how a clothing ad they did affected one of their speaking gigs in the most ironic of ways.

Adam Bernard: Start this interview off by taking a few seconds to describe your partner.
A.Uno: With one listen you can tell that Bobby K’s a very talented singer, but what people should know is that he's a very talented writer, as well, and has a great ear for melodies. He's a perfectionist and always strives to put his best foot forward in all that he does. His family and friends are most important to him and he's the type of guy to do whatever it takes when he believes in something. The other thing about Bobby is that he's a realist and always keeps a level head. He's the type of dude you need in your crew because he makes you think things through rather than act on instinct. Just a classy dude all around.
Bobby K: The biggest reason I do music with A.Uno, aside from talent, is that he is a dude you can let your grandmother meet and know he's gonna impress her. It's important to have a guy who you know you can count on in every situation, both musically and socially. He puts respect and integrity at the forefront of his personality and is always willing to do what it takes to succeed. We always struggle to get over the stigma of being a "rap group," where a lot of people are quick to want to write us off, but he breaks down barriers that have been set by those before. A true professional and my best friend.

Adam Bernard: We don’t see a lot of duos where one artist is a singer and the other is an MC. What led you two to explore this musical idea and what do you feel is gained by having both a singer and an MC?
Bobby K: The idea was really built on our situation at the time, being that each of us just wanted to create good music, but couldn't financially handle it without one and other. We were blessed in the fact that our sounds meshed together the way they did. When we did our first show we didn't even have a full set of music. We had one original song and for the rest of the set we had the DJ spin instrumentals and we freestyled and made songs up on the fly. The people loved it.
A.Uno: We actually thrive on the fact that there is no singer/rapper duo in the mainstream right now. While most rappers seek out singers, and visa versa, we keep it in house and always strive for different musical concepts, not just your average verse - hook - verse - hook song. We're never afraid to take chances and it shows through in our music. Also, while rappers out there have rap fans, and R&B singers have R&B fans, we're able to reach a bigger audience because we have rap and R&B throughout our songs. We pull from a variety of people, from young to old, and people from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Hip-Hop heads respect my tri-lingual flows, and ladies fall in love with Bobby K voice at every show we do.
Bobby K: What more can you ask for??

Adam Bernard: What's the Hip-Hop scene like in Seattle?
Bobby K: When people think of music in Seattle they think of alternative music; Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, etc. We have a lot of talent in the Seattle area, but are lacking a truly unified effort to shed light here. At times it's hard for us to advance as artists because of lack of support from radio and DJs. Don't get us wrong, we have a good share of support from key players, DJ B-Mello has been real cool, but we are ultimately the masters of our own success.
A.Uno: Because there aren't a lot of options for independent artists we've had to put our efforts into reaching other regions, such as California and New York. The only act in Seattle who packs shows and has had success lately is the Blue Scholars. However, we're not really in competition for listeners with them because our styles are very different. People in Seattle tell us all the time that our sound is different than the stuff they're used to hearing from Hip-Hop artists, so we strive everyday at becoming the scene in Seattle for music.

Adam Bernard: I hear you also work with students. Talk to me about some of those public speaking gigs and what you hope to accomplish through them.
A.Uno: We both have the same vision of reaching out to younger generations to let them know you can achieve your goals when you run with your passion. We are two guys who have a passion and a vision who are going for it and they can do the same. It's amazing how many students are able to relate to our story when we talk about struggles and adversity. We find it a blessing to be able to positively influence the choices students make in their lives. We don't expect students to be inspired to rap and sing, but to be inspired to be passionate in whatever it is they choose to do. We hope to take our message nationally, reaching as many students as we can.

Adam Bernard: You have some songs that are of a sexual nature, notably "One Night Stand." Have you received any flak from school executives regarding your lyrical content?
Bobby K: We haven't so far. At the end of the day we're all human. We're not saying that to be human is to have a one night stand, but that there are times when a young man's mind wanders. If you notice in the song, it says, "If I could have a one night stand... it would be wit' somebody like you." When we wrote this song it was an idea that when you see a beautiful woman you're mind can take you places.
A.Uno: At the end of the day we get flak from schools for just being a "Hip-Hop and R&B duo." We were recently turned down to speak at a school because they saw photos from a photo shoot we did for Lowrider Clothing's "Back To School" campaign. Pretty ironic.

Adam Bernard: Finally, what has been your favorite, or most memorable, moment from one of your school gigs?
A.Uno: The response from the students at the end of the presentation is always memorable. It's also dope to break down stereotypes teachers and faculty members have about Hip-Hop music. By the end of the program teachers often ask for autographs, too, and thank us for taking the time to speak to their students.
Bobby K: And we get messages all the time from students telling us we've inspired them to pursue what they're passionate about. That's one of the best feelings for us.

Related Links

Website: steelomusic.com
YouTube: youtube.com/user/SteeloSquad


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:49 AM  
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