Micol Scott Rankin as NOVA; vocalist, songwriter, producer, designer, audio engineer, singer, rapper, artist AKA EVERYTHING. The self-proclaimed “Tall Slimmy” has rocked the stage with some of the best having opened for artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Flo-Rida, Lil Jon, Roscoe Dash, Travis Porter, Ryan Leslie, Marcus Houston, D-12, and The Artifacts. He is a Pittsburgh Hip Hop Award winner, MySpace Music Feature Artist, and sort of a viral sensation with his “Periodic Table Rap” reaching over 250,000 views. A man of the people; he lovingly refers to his supporters and fans as the “Novatribe” often posting his favorite comments from them at his website www.novatribe.com. This is a twenty question insight into the artist known as NOVA.
1. How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
Nova: Started rapping when I was 10, my mom bought me a fisher price microphone, I was making songs with my genesis games. Literally writing SONGS when I was 10 years old…never stopped….still going.
2. Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Nova: LL Cool J immediately comes to mind……then Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige……and I always say my friend Zach Kumer was one of the most influential music people I met in my life. Really opened my mind.
3. Who do you consider the most influential and successful artist(s) in your genre today and why?
Nova: I think I’d be lying if I didn’t say Jay-Z. He CLEARLY is the benchmark for a lot of people from a business standpoint and even just in the art becoming one of the greatest to do it. Improving….mastering it. Easily its gotta be Jay, hands down.
4. Describe the first piece of musical hardware or software that you actually purchased with your own money.
Nova: with my own money eh???……hmm……I believe it was a shure microphone from guitar center. Everything before that, I was using from a school, or my mom bought me for Christmas, or it was a friend of mine’s stuff, or some recording people’s stuff…..my own money? Yeah….it was a cheap ass shure microphone.
5. Apparently when you were younger you nearly died in hospital because of a rare blood disease. How did this come about?
Nova: I have zero idea how that came about….was at school….eating a starburst….and blood was coming out my mouth. Thought maybe I cut my gums or something. Started being super sick later in day, went to hospital; they ran tests…..next thing I know my mom and me are in an ambulance headed to children’s hospital in Pittsburgh. That whole episode….one of the realest experiences in my f*cking life man. Made me a man of GOD. Single-handedly.
6. The fact that you suffered from a serious illness wasn’t your only setback. I read somewhere that once a woman in your life was pregnant with your child and you decided to call it quits with music because of this. Is this true, and how did you get over this period and back to music?
Nova: That woman is STILL in my life, my fiancée, I love her dearly. Once you know you are having a child….a REAL human being LIFE LONG responsibility….a lot of bull s*it gets thrown out the window. If it aint about diapers and food and shelter…I wasn’t trying to hear it. Music wasn’t paying bills. Her mother said something to me I’ll never forget though: “how are you going to have your daughter chase her dreams, if you gave up on yours”. Next day, back in the stu. Words to live by.
7. Which one of your original songs do you feel is the absolute “fan favorite” in your catalog?
Nova: My newest works are always my “fan favorites” because my Tribe moves with me. If I could say one song that I traveled well with it’s a song called “Want To Be So Fly”. Although, my newest song “So What” has gotten a reaction like NO OTHER….so I’m not sure…..have to ask them.
8. On which one of your songs do you think you personally delivered your best performance and most convincing performances so far?
Nova: Tough to say, my personal favorite songs are always the ones that are the most vulnerable and honest. A record on my 2008 album “Dreams of an Underground Rapper” called “Talking To Myself”……I will ALWAYS love that song. A song that literally changed me fundamentally. An audible”look in the mirror” if you will.
9. Which ingredient do you think is most essential in making Nova ‘s music, sound the way it does?
Nova: The key ingredient is soul. I’m of the soul, I’m from the soul. Even the smallest nuance, its my SOUL that poured that sound out….that rhyme out….that emotion out. Always of the soul. Black music dating back to FOREVER has always been known to infuse soul into it…somehow, someway…..you know. I’m from that school of thought.
10. If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you day after day to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion, hysteria or pride etc., and why?
Nova: It would be a new emotion called ‘joyangerdesirepridassionsteriapromise’. This is my entire life….I was 10 with a dream. I’m still going. This is my entire life we’re talking about.
11. What aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most?
Nova: Independence is dope because I determine what is heard, when it’s heard, how its heard. I get most excited when I get lost in the studio. When I have this momentary GLOW where all I’m thinking about and all I’m feeling in my body is this moment, at this second, and letting that come out of me verbally or audibly. Sublime.
12. What aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process discourages you most?
Nova: Not getting the respect you feel you deserve. When working tirelessly for YEARS amounts to minimal progress. Blatant disrespect. It wears on you. The time you aren’t with your child. The time you aren’t with your family….your friends. The time you invest and emotion you leave all on the floor. For somebody to just ‘ignore’ it all at a whim. Easy to run out of gas sometimes.
13. How involved are you in any of the the recording, producing, mastering and marketing processes involved in your music.
Nova: I do EVERY SINGLE ASPECT. Aside from producing at times. I often outsource my production. Everything else I do singlehandedly. Videos, recording, mixing, promoting, you name it. ME. I DO THAT.
14. The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t, but now know for sure that you should have?
Nova: Best piece of advice….”keep going”. No one has really given me any amazing, ya know, never thought of that one suzy type advice. Yeah….no advice has been given to me that’ I’ve just flat out ignored. I’ve tried everything damn near you can do from my seat. Still goin.
15. At this point, as independent artist, which is the one factor you desire most, and feel will undeniably benefit your future (for example increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, bigger live gigs etc…)?
Nova: Everything you just said….but also something taken off my plate man. You know, you have to put on so many hats when you are a guy like me. For instance, I have to be graphic designer, then video editor, then promotions and marketing team, then PR, then my own manager, then stage performer, then artist of the people in social media, then pretend I’m a label owner and make business smart decisions, then be my own biggest fan, then be a dad, then be a son, then be a friend. I need help man. Lol! All of the stuff you listed would benefit me GREATLY too.
16. Do you consider Internet and all the new technology, as fundamental to your music, or indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre copycat artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
Nova: Fundamental to my music but comes with a curse. EVERYBODY can do it now. Literally. The worst dude in the world PROBABLY has rich parents and a hella good videographer and can shoot a dope music video with bad music and look like he’s out here winning more than you. It’s the best time to be an independent talent….yet…also…the worst. You still need your gatekeepers to tell the general public: “HEY….this is good….this is what you need”. We just might need some new gatekeepers is all.
17. How did the fact that you rapped to Big Sean in an elevator come about? And has this in anyway had an impact on your career?
Nova: I saw Big Sean and I knew his story because I had researched him a while back. I knew he’d be a huge star man. You can just tell. So I asked him “hey man, can I rap for you for 15 seconds” literally….he said yeah man….my boy DJ Andre Perry had the phone with him….filmed it all, rest is history. I can’t say what it’s done for my career….because I’m not entirely sure if that story is finished yet. *wink*
18. Is going Platinum or winning a Grammy important you? If you were forced to settle for only one choice, which of the two would you go for and why?
Nova: Winning a Grammy…..that is like……I did it. That’s Mt. Everest to me. Grammy, definitely a Grammy I think. Childhood goal, DREAM….to win that trophy man. Absolutely a Grammy.
19. What do you think is the biggest barrier you have to face and overcome as an indie artist, in your quest to achieve your goals and attain any commercial success?
Nova: Yourself. Overcoming Yourself. That can mean a multitude of things. Fighting against doubt, fear, exhaustion…..overcoming yourself is the hardest part to attaining ANY success.
20. You have performed with many people Wiz Khalifa, Lil Jon, Flo Rida, Austin Mahone, D-12, Ryan Leslie and more. How do you manage to move in these circles, and has any of these major artists ever offered to aide your career? And most of all do you expect them to?
Nova: I don’t expect them to and none of them have. I’ve been blessed to have these opportunities; I’m a man of GOD. Faith got me these opportunities. I’m not where I am today without faith. I wait for no man. Never have. Never will.
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