YMM: Tell us about your come up, how did you get into this industry?
"So during quarantine I started making beats. That's how I got into the underground scene. I was meeting artists through my beats, making all these connections and I was able to funnel that into making my first cover art for Love4Clip. I was reaching out to so many smaller artists’ asking to do work for them and he was the one that gave me that chance. We released that cover and the next day SSG Kobe hit me up and was basically like “make something for me and Faygo”.
From there with a mix of self-promotion and compounding connections, Siegel started to garner attention from labels and artists alike.
“Starting out I was just connecting with artists through DMs. That usually just started from me posting a bunch on Instagram and getting my voice out there. I did a lot of free work to start out. If you really want to get your name out there, you have to do some free work. It sucks at first, but you got to do it for the love of making the art and not the money because the money will come. Once I got my name out there, labels started hitting me up. I'd say like about half of my work is just directly from the label. I still want to make sure I'm tapping into these artists directly though so I don't lose touch with that side of the culture, you know, because the labels can be very mechanical."
YMM: Are you signed to a label? I’ve seen a digital artists recently getting signed and staying exclusive with that label.
"Yeah so I’m signed on a monthly retainer to a few with Galactic being one of them. I also work with Republic Records and 10-K projects. Those are like the consistent labels that I work with but I also do one-off projects for other labels. I have a lot of love for Galactic because the whole team has really supported me, and that's kind of how I got my footing in the industry. I've gotten to understand what they want in their art and the kind of direction that they want so for them I think it’s more valuable to have one person they can trust to execute their vision instead of outsourcing all the time."
Galactic records most notably represents Lil Tecca, whom Siegel has worked with on a few projects including Never Left and I Love You Tecca 2.
“I always have a good time working with Tecca. It’s a lot of mutual respect and it's always a positive experience. We Love You Tecca 2 was the first time I had that much creative control on an album and got to work on so many different aspects of it. I did the cover, social media ads even made Instagram stickers. If you search We Love You Tecca 2 and go to the Gif tab. I made all of those and the animations. So it was crazy to see the whole process of what goes into an album roll out, especially because that album was really influential for me and I just love the music itself."
YMM: How is it being in school while doing all this? Do labels understand that you’re a college student?
"It's definitely tough to balance. There are times when they’ll be like “We need this ASAP” but I have math class so it has to wait. I'm hoping it gets easier but it's still intense because the labels don't see me as a kid going to class. They see a cover that needs to be done by the end of the day. Likewise, my teachers don't know that I do this. So they're still expecting me to get an assignment in on time. Neither of them works with one another but overall I think they're both worthwhile things to accomplish. I definitely want to get my degree just in case one day I wake up and don't want to do this ever again, I’ll have a safety net."
For Siegel, it seems increasingly unlikely that he’ll need this safety net as in the past few months he has worked on three of the biggest projects of the year. Her loss, Honestly Nevermind and Heroes and Villains.
YMM: What is it like to work with these bigger artists?
"It's always super fast paced, last minute. I remember the first time that I worked with Drake on Honestly, Never Mind. I got a text that morning saying “Hey, we have this really confidential thing for a big artist and we need everything by today.” They sent me the cover art and I had to actually take a walk first to wrap my head around it. When I got back I just kind of locked myself in my room and worked on a bunch of different versions. They wanted to see four different initial animations of the cover and different ways I could animate it. I sent it all over to his team and we went back and forth the whole day until we landed on the one where the colors were like dripping down. For Her loss, I was in class and I had a stats midterm later that day when I got a text like “we need animation for Apple Music and Spotify, can you send it ASAP?” So I just went into a study room and knocked it out in 30 minutes then went and took my midterm."
YMM: You mentioned Heroes and Villains was your one of your favorite projects this year, how did that come about?
"I was able to do the animation for that thanks to Diego @reduciano. He connected me with Gibson Hazzard, the director. All this was during Thanksgiving break, I was staying at a hotel with my family so that night I was in the corner on my laptop, pulling an all nighter to animate everything. It was super fast paced, but I loved how it turned out. I had no idea Morgan Freeman was going to be narrating it. I played it for the first time and it blew my mind."
YMM: Diego (@Rediciano) alongside you is a part of a new generation of young digital creatives supporting this underground rap movement. Do you have any other favorite people to work with in the industry?
"I definitely say like the two people that I've been working with since the beginning are Saidali Mesbahi @saidali.mesbahi and White Collar Will @whitecollarwill. Yeah, we first like linked up over the internet when we were in high school and the come-up between all of us has been crazy to see. There are a lot of creatives that I do work with now, but it's like that relationship isn't the same as these people that I like starting from the ground with. We’ve seen each other grow. So it's definitely more meaningful to work with them and it's crazy to see all of our success. I also love MiHailo @mihaloandic. He's a crazy creative. He did all the Lil Yachty cover art. He did one Lil Tecca cover art. He's been an industry giant for years and so it's been great to connect with him. Also Fahmeedx @fahmeedx, he's a great motion designer that I take inspiration from. I love seeing new forms of art because I feel like a lot of cover art can be formulaic so this new wave of artists that are actually putting a lot of thought and effort into everything is great to see."
YMM: You seem to stick to music, would you ever consider branching out into fashion or other fields?
"Definitely 100%. I'm trying to this year. I don't want to be known as just like a creative that works with artists. I want to be a creative period. l got a lot of stuff in store, a lot of cool things in different genres. I can apply my skills to many things and I definitely want to get into fashion and more stuff like that. I just want to make sure I can have the creative execution, fully. I don't want to half-ass it and do something that's not 100% something I’m proud of."
YMM: Any other goals for this year?
"So besides that, this year I'm trying to focus more on building myself up instead of relying on other people or other companies to build my name up. I want it to be like fully myself because it’s tough having to rely on other people to post your work or to tag you. I feel like I don't do a lot of work just for myself. I do so much work that I don’t like to work when I'm trying to relax. I’m definitely trying to channel more of that creativity into my own branding and just kind of build up my own name this next year though."
"I also want to make a space in the future where it's easy for creatives to enter the scene and advocate for themselves, being able to make a name for themselves without having to count on other people. I feel like that's happening slowly but surely. I want to pave the way to a point where if you want to be creative and do something in this field you have the means to do so and you have an audience that's there."
"For my own career specifically, I want to expand everything that I'm doing, connect with people and artists on a different level and create like really meaningful art that's not just like formulaic and something that's already been done before. I want to make some timeless things."
Keep up to date with Alex on Instagram @huhalex
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