Fee Gonzales Keeps Family 1st And
Business Second After Lockdown
Fee Gonzales is one of the most respected street artists out of the South of London. Releasing music consistently since 2017, Fee Gonzales has continuously progressed within the music scene and built a strong foundation of respect amongst his peers and music fans. As one of the many artists carving their own lane within the industry Gonzales is an artist that understands the importance of longevity within the music business. As an individual that receives guidance from some of the best in the industry, Fee also seeks to give back and create a path for those under his imprint Family 1st Entertainment.
We have all been in a tumultuous time on various social issues and before the lockdown, Gonzales was preparing to headline a show in London after a great string of performances, opening for School Boy Q on his London tour and also making an appearance at the Sam Wise headliner, watch here. Although there have been delays, Fee Gonzales decided to release some new music for his base during isolation, His 10 song project 'Cabin Fever', which was already scheduled to be released before the global pandemic, was released with fan favorites such as Gotham, Southside and Ms Banks.
Read our full interview with the 'Twin Sisters' rapper below
NW: What were your plans before Covid-19? What were you planning on doing?
FG: I was planning on doing the same things I have done during Covid-19; releasing my mixtape. I was planning on lining up a headline show but we had to cancel that due to Covid-19 so that was a little bit upsetting. But other than that, all the plans have been going through.
NW: Did you have any special plans for the fans or did you want to keep that under wraps for when you actually do it?
FG: By the time this comes out I probably would have announced it but I’m looking to drop a deluxe of Cabin Fever.
NW: We know you’re from South London so what would you say is the best thing and the worst thing about South London.
FG: The best thing is Jamaican food and the worst thing is the police.
NW: In that area (South London) there are a lot of up and coming artists that are doing their thing and you guys tend to stick together. What is it about South London that makes you do that?
FG: I think everyone knows the end goal and a lot of people have made it from our area so people know that it’s real and it can happen so a lot of people tend to want to stick around do things together.
NW: Speaking of sticking together, you have a tight-knit team within your circle. Tell us about what roles they play in your career and other careers that they may have.
FG: I got a whole group called Family First for Entertainment Family First Forever. It consists of a few artists: myself, Scully, Ishmatic and a female rapper called Shades. There’s a couple more artists (I’m) just waiting to announce them soon.
NW: Do you have any specific goals maybe in the short term for the label?
FG: Yeah just to get it out and get it established as a firm print in the music game as like its own Disturbing London, its own #Merky and just have it as its own entity.
NW: You have mentioned a couple of the big ones that are definitely pushing artists to the next level. Are there certain things that you take from one and (from) the other?
FG: I take everything. I know a lot of the people in these industries so I do like to use them as my mentors and just see what they are doing and see how I can elevate it into what I’m doing.
NW: Growing up, what were some of your mentors that you may have not been able to reach out to? Who were the people that guided you especially within music?
FG: One of my mentors was a guy called Ben Scars, he is Dave’s manager (and) he used to always help me focus on what to do musically. My father was a mentor (in terms of) guidance of music (also).
NW: With them being your mentors you probably went to them with certain things that were weighing on your mind. What were some of the toughest times you might have had during your come-up in the music industry?
FG: I feel (like) everyone goes through depression as an artist so learning how to channel those energies, stay active, keep my mind busy and know where and where not to direct my energy are kind of helping (me).
I feel (like) everyone goes through depression as an artist so learning how to channel those energies, stay active, keep my mind busy and know where and where not to direct my energy
NW: Do you feel like there is any specific thing that you would say is the thing that you have overcome?
FG: I think self doubt; I feel like I don’t doubt myself anymore.
NW: With your music and music taste in general, I’ve come to know that you like a lot of old jazz music. What were some of the artists that you feel like you listen to the most in the jazz realm?
FG: Herbie Hancock, Miles Davies, I listen to Marvin Gaye a lot. With old school music I feel like the words had a lot more meaning than now so that’s why I like that stuff. I can take a sentence from that and make a whole song out of it.
NW: It pretty much answers my next question (which is) how does that music influence yours?
FG: It influences it so much even from beat selections; I like a lot of melodies (so) it helps me with my melodies, selection, everything.
NW: Speaking of your creative process, what would you say is one distinct moment in the studio that you can remember?
FG: When I’m in the studio I just press play on a beat (and) within the first 5 seconds of the drop I know whether I want to go on it.
NW: Is there one song where you’re like “I remember that session”?
FG: Off Cabin Fever my latest tape there’s a song I got on there called The Rock and we had a microphone outside of the booth and we were just coming up with vibes but I was on a rocking chair and the chair just kept on rocking whilst I was trying to come up with a flow or melody and I literally just took of the rocking chair and turned it into the flow for the track.
NW: From a rocking chair to the tape. That’s wild
FG: I documented the whole process it’s on my YouTube channel.
NW: Speaking of your new project or creating a new project. Do you look for different things each time or are there certain elements that you have to have before you can (say) “Yeah I’m about to make a project”?
FG: I’d say I’m about to make a project but then I’d just record 20 or 30 songs the choose the best ones.
NW: Your latest project Cabin Fever (has got) 10 tracks. In a day and age where people are dropping projects with a load of songs why was it important for you to keep to 10 tracks?
FG: I feel like (since) I dropped an EP at the beginning of the year I had a good engagement with the fans so I wanted to keep it short and sweet and effective. I could’ve dropped more but I just wanted to go for the songs that everyone around me was going crazy for.
NW: Would you say that your aim with the project was to feed that energy and keep it going?
FG: So I made like 22 or 25 songs and I just wanted the best 10 songs. I didn’t want any song to sound similar to any of the other songs and every time I make a project it’s always different. I don’t think I’ve ever made the same kind of project so I just wanted this one to be wacky and feel fun.
NW: It doesn’t even have an image of you it’s just a distinct image you can latch on to.
FG: Yeah it made sense.
NW: You just mentioned that you know a lot of people in the industry but have your own lane (with) the way you move in the industry. What is your opinion on having the respect of your peers rather than chasing numbers and accolades?
FG: I think it is very important (and) I feel like it will keep you going but once you start to chase numbers, as soon as you lose those numbers and accolades you’re basically nobody. Once you’ve got the respect people are always going to respect you as a musician which will always keep you going and you’ll never die out because it’s just people here for your music. They’re not here for any hype or any numbers or accolades they’re just here purely because they respect your art and craft.
NW: Even though you are in your own lane you are part of a certain subculture in the UK that is bubbling up right now like you mentioned Sam (Wise), Octavian, Lancey Foux. How do you feel about that success because I know you’ve been there from pretty much the beginning?
FG: It feels great because I think the rest of the guys make themselves more visible in that lane (in terms of) appearance like dress sense and the way they act so to speak whereas me, it’s very hard because I’m more of a street guy so I stand out in both lanes. I can stand out in the street lane, the GRM Daily lane or I can stand in the new age lane that we’re in but I’m just really trying to build my own lane.
NW: Obviously with the title was it a play off the climate that we’re in right now?
FG: it was and it wasn’t because Covid had just started but I was in Austria when I made the tape and I made it in a little bungalow but it was wood inside so it felt like a whole cabin so I was like let’s call this Cabin Fever.
NW: One distinct project that is called Cabin Fever is the one by Wiz Khalifa. What would you say is your favourite song off that one?
FG: I can’t remember the tracks but I do remember that I liked it.
NW: The artwork on your project is really cool; on our platform we also aim to tackle other aspects of the creative world so how did that come about? Who did it?
FG: I hollered at one guy to get the artwork done; he’s sick (and) did Sam Wise’s latest project but it just didn’t hit. It was dope but it didn’t hit visually in my head for what I was doing so I started stressing out. Then a guy called Sam Samoski; I hit him online and he was a big fan so he came back and the artwork just resonated. I’m into art a lot and when something resonates with how I’m feeling I just felt like that was it. It just made sense. It doesn’t have to be verbal or written but it just made sense.
Once you’ve got the respect people are always going to respect you as a musician which will always keep you going and you’ll never die out because it’s just people here for your music.
NW: With your artists, are you trying to usher them in?
FG: No. Skully has just dropped his first two songs and they’ve done great; 300,000 on his first one and 100,00 on his second. He’s just killing GRM Daily so it’s like he’s killing the drill scene right now so if someone can go onto drill scene then kill it, if someone can go into the female rap lane then kill it, if someone can go into Afrobeats lane then kill it. Whatever everyone feels comfortable making musically I want them to excel (and) be the best in that lane.
NW: That makes perfect sense. Not pigeonholing people into a certain thing
FG: I just want people to feel comfortable and do what they want to do just like I go to the studio and do what I want to do. I don’t just stick to one genre.
NW: Another important part of your career so far is your show with Schoolboy Q and opening up for him. What was that show like? Did you have a conversation with him?
FG: Q is the homie like every time (he) is over here I’m chilling out with Q. Those guys give me a lot of inspiration and a lot of game and those are my mentors as well I’ll say like Mackwop, Ali from TDE, Schoolboy Q and there’s other guys like Big B that’s Jay Rock’s manager and a guy called Kean whose Q’s tour manager. I talk to those guys regularly and they just give me game. It’s not even me asking for help or me asking for anything it’s just being able to soak up that knowledge and just implement it in my life.
NW: That’s amazing to have those people that you know that extend their hand to give you that information.
FG: It’s what we go back to when we were talking about the respect or the accolades and numbers. I could’ve been the guy with numbers and accolades and they could’ve just messed with me for that but they don’t. They mess with me because of the respect levels, there’s a genuine mutual respect.
NW: We’ve been speaking about you being in your own lane and having a distinct perspective on music. Is there any type of model that you’ve seen that you want to go after in terms of your longevity?
FG: I had this thought this morning. I’m getting older in life and just been feeling like, escpecially with the times and what’s going on in America and over here, I just feel like I really want to get a message out now and really start to be able to change people’s lives mentally and physically. People like Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, Nipsey; I really want to be the one that is talking for the streets with a message. Nipsey Hussle is a very big model of what I’m trying to chase and focus on right now.
NW: You also have a good relationship with Yung Fume
FG: Yeah that’s the homie
NW: How does that extend beyond music?
FG: That’s my real life friend. We came from the same hood, same friendship groups (and) we just always had the same dream so everything just coincided together.
NW: Speaking of your music and the music you dropped before Cabin Fever; the song called Twin Sisters. Talk to us about that reception and what that did for you as well.
FG: Twin Sisters is one of my favourite songs because I was so high. I was literally stabbed a week before so the hospital had me on the strongest codeine tablets and I was in Idris Elba’s studio with Fume and a guy called Parkhill that’s Durk’s engineer who also raps, I was just high (and) Fume was working; it was my first week being out of the house and I was just in the studio then I just went on the mic and you can hear the highness in the song. It was lit, one of my favourite songs.
What was the inspiration behind 4THEWEEKEND?
There wasn’t really an inspiration I just went to the studio and cooked up.
You mention going viral on the song, what do you think did that for you?
Personally I don’t think I have gone viral yet
You also give advice about not faking it till you make it, give us an example of what that would be?
Don’t look down on the come up
We’ve had the song on our ‘Next Up’ playlist for months now, what’s on your playlist at the moment?
A few different songs a lot of M1llionz, J Hus, Roddy Rich, Travis Scott, Octavian
Who are your idols in Hiphop/rap, UK or otherwise?
People like Skepta, Jay Z, Stormzy and Travis Scott
What are your dream collaborations?
Probably like Skepta, AJ Tracey, Dave or Octavian
Who is your favourite producer in the game right now?
Twist, JT or YozBeatz
Tracksuits or designer clothes?
Tracksuits AND designer clothes
What else can we expect from LZEE in 2020?
A lot, just make sure to stay tuned
If you could describe your next project as a movie, what story will it tell?
The story of a 16-year-old from London trying to make it to the top.
What would you say to people that are sleeping on LZEE right now?
Wake your ass up before someone else has to do it for you.
NW: What do you think of the idea of not necessarily overthinking in the studio?
FG: That’s one thing I tell everyone around (is) don’t stress music (and) have fun. The moment you stop having fun with it you’re done with it so just have fun and keep on doing this for fun. Keep making the music for fun and have seriousness with the business.
NW: On this Cabin Fever project you have a song called Queen and Slim. What’s your opinion on the actual film itself?
FG: The film is amazing (but) I hated the ending. I wish the ending could’ve been a little bit different but the whole movie was amazing and it just empowered black love, black power so that’s why the whole song was a spin-off of that.
NW: There’s only one collaboration on the project: Ling Hussle. Why did you choose her to be the only feature on the whole project?
FG: Basically, I made the tape in Austria and (how the tape came about) the engineer I worked with called Drizz I met him through Ali at a workshop over here that Ali had. He’s a sick engineer who’s done (work) for Vince Staples and couple of other guys. He told me to come out to Austria and (we) made something there. When I came back I felt like the tape was finished but Ali text me one day saying have I heard of Ling Hussle and I was like yeah she’s dope. Ling is actually from my ends so I took a screenshot of the text and sent it to Ling and she was like yeah let’s go to the studio. So we went to the studio and made like 2 songs (then) I just thought let me put one of these on the tape and Ali helped get this tape together with making a connection between and (Drizz) then he helped make the connection between me and Ling so I just felt like it suited the tape.
NW: Speaking of female artists in the UK you have a song titled Ms Banks on there. If you were to take out Ms Banks one night where would you take her?
FG: Bagel King. I know she’s from the hood (and) that’s close to her sides.
NW: We’ve spoken about COVID and you’ve talked about certain things that you want to be doing with your music down the line as well. Outside of everything that is going on online and in the real world how do you find peace of mind?
FG: I feel like my son is a big factor to that just being able to take him to school every day and just go for bike rides that take me away from all the bullshit.
NW: One of the biggest issues right now is police brutality but also the systematic oppression that is going on within the black community. There is a lot of discussions but I feel like there are not many solutions so what do you think is a solution (for this).
FG: I’m not really sure. It’s one of those questions that you have to think about but I do think more togetherness and teaching each other how to love ourselves first then love each other just as black people. It’s one of those things that you have to really think about.
NW: It’s not just a one-time thing
FG: Yeah, they programmed us like this so it’s like how do we reprogram ourselves. It’s all good saying it but I’m still in the hood where someone is going to look at me funny and I’m going to look funny back at them so it’s learning how to take ourselves out of that bubble that we’re in and elevate our minds. (It’s) knowing how to approach someone that is looking at you like that in a different way that will change their thought process.
NW: A lot of people feel like celebrities are the people that should be at the forefront of these issues. What’s your opinion on that?
FG: Yes and no because if they are people will say that they are doing it just for clout and if they’re not people will ask what are they doing so you can’t really win. I just feel like stay out of everyone’s business because you never know what someone is going through.
NW: Or the route they are taking to achieve the same goal.
NW: When everything is back to the new normal what is the first thing Fee Gonzales is doing at his show? What will you be excited to do at your show?
FG: Just the interaction and seeing the crowd; being able to perform especially these new songs will feel so good. I performed one of the new songs at Sam Wise’s show and that was the best reaction that I had from most of the songs I performed and it wasn’t out. So just being able to perform this new music is going to feel good.