Interview: Oxymorrons

Creating therapeutic works of lyrical and musical art is the name of the game for Queens Alternative Hip-Hop Band, Oxymorrons. Beyond the music, Oxymorrons serve as an example of forward-thinking artists who proactively take charge when it comes to creating deeper and more personal connections with their fans. I caught up with Lead Vocalist, Dave Bellevue, to discuss their collaboration with iRel8, raising awareness of mental and emotional health, the bigger purpose of their music and more.

Tell us about your partnership with iRel8 and how this has deepened your connection with your fans.

The connection with iRel8 came from doing a mental health event in which I spoke on a panel for a company by the name of ILiveForOrg. It is a company that was started by an Aunt whose nephew committed suicide. My connection to it comes through my best friend who committed suicide years ago. It changed my life. He was the driving force to my music. I have chosen to be an advocate ever since that experience. I speak for many foundations and provide my thoughts all over the place, not only through my music. I linked up with one of the iRel8 sponsors at the ILiveForOrg event that I spoke at and they explained the app that they had created. The app allows you to have talks with people in real time, any time, anywhere. They have chat rooms, it’s informational and you can also get professional help on the app itself.

You’d be surprised how crucial those talks can be for those that are suffering in silence. Through societal pressure, there are individuals who are timid when it comes to bringing their pain outward. It’s bizzare to think of individuals creating fear within themselves because society tends to be rigid when it comes to candid vulnerability. There are so many individuals that are suffering within. It’s beautiful that you have transformed your experience into an opportunity to serve others.

You know, it’s still something that I undergo on a daily basis. I have made peace with certain things, but I do have my breakdown periods. Through our music and in general, we tend to push ourselves through the ringer when it comes to everything in our lives. It’s something that is needed. It’s something that is being more universally spoken about now which is great. There are so many celebrities and artists who are just committing suicide, you know? Taking their own lives. This is a huge issue in music and beyond, yet I love to see awareness continue to grow and expand. Through the iRel8 app, we have about 2500 accounts that we can give to people for free. You don’t have to pay at all and you can get so much professional help, it’s incredible.

Amazing. You mentioned the breakdown periods, yet it seems like the breakdowns have served as key components for breakthroughs for you. Your latest single, “See Stars”, lyrically dabbles into the interactions with people in your life steadily changing. Let’s talk about what inspired that track.

“See Stars” in general was about the battles that we have encountered through our life. It’s about battling through the music industry and how long we have been doing this while trying to break through. “See Stars” is the culmination of a really rough year for us. “See Stars” is that motivational push that reminds us of all of our circles and everything that we have been through. Our sights are set on our goals and we are about to achieve them; that’s what “See Stars” is about. You just have to keep pushing through everything that you are going through all at once. And once you see that moment, you see stars.

From my perception, your thought process of “seeing stars” is entirely different from the surface thought. Your intention and vision of “seeing stars” is the to be able to provide a safe space for both yourself and your fans to be unapologetically themselves while in tune with their mental and emotional health.

Yes! That is who we are in general. We allow and encourage our fans and everyone to be unapologetically themselves. That’s just the way it is. 

I noticed the way that you guys dress as well; flamboyant and entirely unique. Total freedom of expression. Whatever you want to wear, you are going to wear it. It’s not what your team wants you to wear, it’s what you want to wear.

Yeah, absolutely. Clothes shouldn’t even have gender assignments. Wear what you want to wear. Do what you want to do. This world is so controlled over and over again and for us, that is not how we live our lives. We just try to be that voice letting people know that it is completely okay to be yourself and that there is nothing wrong about it no matter what society is telling you.

You hit the nail on the head. No career path or amount of followers negates the fact that you are a human being that has feelings. Tell us about some parts of you beyond being a musician that you take pride in.

For me, it is just being a human being in general. I take pride in being a multilingual human being. I speak French and Krio which actually are my first languages. English is my third language. Outside of that, I am extremely healthy. I do Muay Thai and train a lot. I bike ride which is completely therapeutic in such a big place like New York. Also, I am really big on knowing what content that I absorb on social media.

I am a Buddhist and that came from my friend that committed suicide.  He was always challenging religion and challenging thought processes and it was through Buddhism that he changed his mind and altered his thoughts. I have been going to temples a lot too which has been refreshing for my entire life.

I can assume that that leads you toward a broader of awareness of the ride that you are on both musically and within. Life in New York is no joke. You are on the move 24-7. Nobody gives a fuck about you in New York and if that isn’t liberating in itself, I don’t know what is because it really pushes you to express yourself in a boundless way. There are no boundaries but yourself in a city like that. As you mentioned, being proactive with bike riding through the city helps free the mind and take in the bigger picture that you are free to do and be whatever you choose.

Exactly. The biggest thing for us is that we know that life is our own book. You write every chapter no matter what is going on. You are in full control. A lot of the times, people don’t realize that and it is due to what is set by society as to what is “normal” and what isn’t. Everything is pretty much controlled and dictated from the moment that you are born. You are told what you do.

True. We have all subconsciously absorbed all of this through our growing years until the recognition of the power of the mind begins to come to light.

Exactly. Oxymorrons tends to challenge control. We bend genres. We grew up on so many different kinds of music. For anyone to tell us that we can only make a certain type of music is fucking crazy which goes into another thing that we deal with which is being in the Alternative scene. We are a black band and people don’t tend to lean towards that. Do you know how many times that I have been told that we won’t make it because we are not American enough?

Photo Credit: Ken Spielman

But it is great to see bands like you and Radkey moving forward and pushing the “normalization” of African Americans in Alternative and Rock music.

Most people don’t know the history of Rock Music. Most people don’t know who the founders of Rock Music are. On our upcoming EP we have a song by the name of “The Ghost of Chuck Berry” in which I talk about Rosetta Tharpe. People don’t even know who Rosetta Tharpe is; like are you fucking kidding me? She’s huge. She is a woman who is one of the founders of Rock Music; there wouldn’t even be Rock Music without Rosetta Tharpe.

True. How has pursuing music affected your home life? Have you been able to find balance? Has it enhanced your relationships with others?

It’s a give and take with that. You know, when you are pursuing such a big dream and something that is so difficult to achieve while understanding energy and manifestation, you lose a lot of friends. I lost a lot of friendships. Relationships have shattered. It is extremely difficult for me. As you first start off as an artist, you just don’t know that this is what happens. You are so ready to rock with your goal that you don’t even factor in these parts. I do have to say that through being a musician, I have made a lot of good friends and have connected with some great fans. But I have also lost a lot. I am not there for key family moments at times and it’s really difficult. As time goes by, it gets harder to swallow.

Through the lens of a fan, the instant access of social media and really the instant access of everything these days throughout society leads artists to being in the forefront at all times. That is challenging. As an artist, you have to choose to make time for your family. You have to choose to make time for your spouse. You have to choose to make time for your loved ones. You’ll see who is really there for the right reasons in the long run. It takes time to navigate those waters.

Yeah, for real. There is no book on it. No one is teaching you that when you first start music. You have no clue. It’s all trial and error.

For sure. Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?

Be yourself at all times. I love seeing beautiful people being unapologetically themselves in every city that we go to. At the end of the day, we are inspiring all of our fans with songs that come from the heart and that is so special to us. It’s not even all about us; we do this for you guys. This is way bigger than us. Rage on.

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