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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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PremRock Turns An Eviction Notice Into His Own ‘Place’
Thursday, April 24, 2014

When someone comes home to an eviction notice, it can spark a plethora of emotions. Fear, depression, and anger can all swirl together in an unhealthy mix. When NYC hip-hop artist PremRock came home to an eviction notice, he used it as inspiration.

PremRock remembers the night he arrived at the East Village apartment he was living in to find the unwelcome notice welcoming him home. It started a trend of uncertain, and what most would consider nerve wracking, evenings. “I’d walk home, and I didn’t know, legally, if I was allowed to be in this apartment,” he explains, “I would just come back, and open this door, and still not know if all my stuff was there.”

Even when he was home, he knew the situation could escalate at a moments notice. “Waking up in those scenarios, where every creak could be someone forcibly removing you from your home, you start wondering what it is you’re doing with your life. It really fueled writing, and looking within, to be like, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’”

The question was in PremRock’s mind because the eviction notice was a result of his withholding rent due to what he considered to be substandard living conditions. His building had been ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, as he says the storm, “Really ruined our living situation,” adding, “the heat and lights wouldn’t work all the time, so we’d withhold rent. Then it became a court cost issue.”

During the entirety of the situation, PremRock says he had the overarching feeling that he was doing the right thing, and while he was warring with his landlord, he was simultaneously writing for his latest album, A Clean, Well-Lightest Place. “I did a lot of traveling, too, during that time,” PremRock remembers, “and that kinda solidified some of those things, but I’m more or less, throughout the album, working out a lot of those things.”

PremRock says of the theme of A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, “Initially, I really wanted this record to illustrate transition, and what was going on in my life, to a degree.” Working with him on the album were a litany of producers, as PremRock notes he used close to twice as many producers as he’d ever used before, which was a point of concern when he first dove into the project.

“Going into that I knew I had to pick works from each individual person that kinda jived with the overall theme of this character that is going throughout this record,” he explains, “it has a lot of different emotions. Most of them could be described as melancholy, frustrated, or trying to achieve something that isn’t quite within grasp.”

Everyone PremRock reached out to brought something to the table for the album, which has a list of contributors that includes the likes of Blockhead, and Willie Green.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place dropped on April 15th, and on that date PremRock could have literally dropped it on listeners, as he was in the air, going to the next date of a three week tour of Europe that he’s still currently on.

Travel has played a huge role in PremRock’s career, and life, and he’s shown a proclivity for penciling in last minute additions to his itinerary. During a previous European tour a friend of his who was teaching English in Istanbul invited him to come to her school. The RSVP was a no-brainer for PremRock, who says, “It was like $100 American to fly there. When (else) am I gonna be able to go to Turkey for $100?”

His friend had prepped her class by telling them about him, and sending them some of his music, and when PremRock arrived at the school, which was one day away from their summer vacation, he says the response floored him. “They all came in droves,” he remembers, “they introduced me, gave me a commemorative clock, and the kids just went nuts. I don’t know if they really even knew what I was saying, but it didn’t matter, they were out of school, and it was a reason. It was one of the most surreal moments of my life.”

Another surreal moment on the road came in Amsterdam, after performing a show on Easter Sunday that was booked at the last minute, and took place at what PremRock describes as “a punk squat venue.” The venue, however, was nothing compared to where he stayed that night.

The guy who set up the show told PremRock he had a place set up for him to stay. PremRock, along with two Italian electronic music artists who didn’t speak English, piled into the guy’s car, which took them to a place they would have never seen otherwise.

“We take a drive about 20 minutes outside of Amsterdam to this remote, way out of the way, thing,” he remembers, “and we approach this huge gate, and it just has the letters ADM on the front of it. He gets out, he presses a button, and the gate opens.”

Once inside, PremRock bore witness to an authentic Gypsy commune. “As we’re driving down this dusty, dark road, everywhere are these trailers, like custom made, where these people are living. By the end you probably pass like 30 trailers, and it opens up to this enormous, vacant parking garage, which is decorated with art, and metal sculptures, and around it is a whole entire community of trailers, probably hundreds. Probably a thousand people here living completely off the land, and off each other, and without any kind of government regulation.”

PremRock’s ride continued to the top of the garage, where along the way he saw, among other things, sculptures made out of doll heads, and a giant mural of a Tyrannosaurus rex. Although he didn’t share a common language with the Italian electronic music duo, he says, “We’re just looking at each other like... OK.”

Once at the top, their driver hopped out, and pulled a rubber mattress down from a large stack. “He’s just like ‘here you go.’ I’m pretty adventurous, I don’t need very much, and he looked at me like ‘this is how I live,’ so I just took it, and I was so tired I just passed out. I was like, I don’t even have time to think about it.”

PremRock woke up the next day greeted by a pot of coffee and a Turkish danish. He was also invited, as a guest of honor, to a birthday party that took place at the commune. “This was real deal Gypsies,” he says, “and it was crazy. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and I really don’t think I ever will again.”

Due to a lack of outlets, PremRock was unable to charge any electronic devices, so there isn’t much in the way of pictures, or video, from the experience, but he actually views the inability to take pictures as a good thing. “To be 100% there, and present, is a lot better than taking out my phone every five minutes,” he explains, “everything is breathtaking in situations like that, and it’s a lot better for me to just experience it.”

Some people feel a picture’s worth a thousand words. In PremRock’s case, with his lyrics, a thousand words can paint a pretty vivid picture, whether that picture is of a Gypsy commune outside of Amsterdam, or A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 3:35 PM  
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