Inspired by the likes of James Brown, Prince and Michael Jackson, Rocstrong's first taste of the captivating power of music came from witnessing a P. Diddy/Snoop Dogg concert. From there, having devoured his family's record collections, he knew he wanted to be part of an industry where he could share his growing passions with the world.
Fast forward a few years and he's now had one of his songs featured in a Coen Brothers movie and earned himself a growing fan-base as a result. With big ambitions and dreams to hold one hell of a party with Bruno Mars in his home-town of Dublin, he kindly agreed to this interview to chat Budweiser, influences, dream shows and favourite songs.
PW: How would you sum yourself up in five words?
Rocstrong: I would describe myself as a very creative, motivated, ambitious, honest and at times difficult person.
PW: Have you always wanted to be a music artist or did you have other career plans before you realized the path you wanted to take?
R: I decided at a young age that I wanted to do music but also there were times I though it wasn’t for me, there wasn’t much else I had my eyes on pursuing so in the end it turned out my first choice should have been my only choice.
PW: Which bands or artists did you grow up listening to and how, if at all, did they influence your decision to make music?
R: I grew up listening to greats like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Prince, James Brown…the list is long. When I was young I didn’t have my own record collection so the ones I did listen to belonged to my Dad. I really feel I got a little something from each of these music icons and they’re things that help me on my journey till this day.
PW: Can you recall the first album you bought and concert you attended? What impact did they have on you?
R: It was a long while before I had to buy my first CD because my dad and older sister were pretty up to date back then on who was hot and who was not in the music world, but my earliest memory would have to be Justin Timberlake’s Justified album. My first concert was P. Diddy and he was supported by Snoop Dogg…I remember the feeling of being star-struck when I saw Snoop because was I really close to the stage – it was great.
PW: Have your musical influences changed much over the years?
R: The greats I continued to follow as time went on started to reduce because the sound of their music started to change, but I feel Madonna and Michael Jackson really did well to keep their music as up to date as possible while also keeping their identity throughout.
PW: Is there one particular band or artist you might say you're similar to?
R: There’s not many or even any I could compare myself to as I have my own style and also at times I’d dip into other genres. Yes I have a lot of influences but how I improve myself and how I make my own style of music is to take all the good stuff people hear in the music they listen to and put it all into my own. I like to think its what gives my songs the strength that they have.
PW: Your track "Go’Head" was featured in the trailer for the latest Coen Brothers film Hail, Caesar. How did that come about and what impact did that have in terms of people noticing you and your music?
R: "Go’Head" is where it all started for me. I was entered into a competition sponsored by Budweiser by my manager. My understanding was I was to write and compose a song fit enough to be on a Budweiser commercial. It was unsuccessful in that competition but then fell into the hands of some popular bloggers and radio presenters and from there really started to spread and on its journey from being made with the hope of it being chosen to be used in a Budweiser commercial it was used instead in the Coen Brothers latest blockbuster film Hail, Caesar. I really got some positive recognition from that and now I have a much greater following.
PW: Tell me about your latest single "Block Party". Is there a story behind it?
R: The song is dedicated to my close friend John Ojo, who sadly passed away 2 years ago. Back where I’m from, when someone close passes away, instead of mourning their departure, we gather to have a party that celebrates their life, so I decided to use an upbeat, fresh and funky song to put light on John’s outlook to life and the type of person he was.
PW: How easy or hard do you find the song-writing process and from who or what do you find inspiration?
R: The song-writing process would have to be one of my favorite parts of what I do. I’ve been doing it myself from a very young age so as time went on I developed a style and I’ve stuck to it. My inspiration can come from anywhere even in dreams where I hear a great melody. When that happens, I suddenly wake up and write down or even record myself humming what I heard in that dream.
PW: In your opinion, which is the greatest song ever written and why?
R: The reason I feel the greats were great was because of the way they could make us feel with their music. I was quiet young when I first listened to them so some lyrics I could have missed but I still enjoyed the experience based solely on the way their song made me feel at that moment and also in every moment where I heard it again. To give an up to date example of that and in my opinion the artist that has done that the best in the current place music is at would have to be Pharrell Williams when he released his song “Happy” - that song makes you feel exactly that.
PW: Are there plans for an EP/album in the pipeline?
R: Most definitely, this summer. It’s already in the works and I’m very excited about it. I’m really going to use this year to show my true ability and prove my busy musical mind is limitless.
PW: What are your thoughts on social media? Would you agree it's a necessary tool for bands and artists today or, like most things, does it have its good and bad sides?
R: Right now I’ve only experienced its good sides, for me and I’m talking solely on my journey so far, I feel social media played a huge part in getting my music into the right hands and is currently the main factor of why my music is being heard in different parts of the world as quickly as it is.
PW: What are your touring and performance plans for the coming months?
R: I’ll be hitting up Los Angeles and performing at The Mint on the 26th of April, then from there it’s off to Vegas to shoot the video for the single I’m actually most excited about which is “Show Off What You Got”. More dates will be released soon. It’s going to be an exciting year.
PW: If you could play a venue with four other bands or artists who can be living or dead, where would you play, who would you choose and why?
R: I would like to play the 3arena in my home town of Dublin with artists like Pharrell Williams, Andre 3000 and Macklemore. Why those guys? Because every time those guys perform it’s like one big party and that’s a party I would like to throw in my city. Throw in Bruno Mars as well, we might as well go all out here!
PW: Where would you like to see yourself three years from now?
R: I'd like to have my first or maybe even two albums out by that time. I'd like to be doing an international tour and most of all be recognized as an established artist in this industry.
PW: Finally, then, what's your ultimate ambition as an artist? At what point would you truly believe you'd 'made it'?
R: I'll truly believe I’ve made it when those words come from my dad - he’s a very hard guy to please.