In this business rarely do you get a chance to interview a person that is at the height of their career if you are an indie mag like we are. But luckily for me I was able to secure a one on one interview with the Ice Kream Man himself, Karlos Farrar right before his career is set to explode. Karlos and I have history as he was a weekly guest on one of Truluvsports Sports shows a year back. We’ve kept in contact and when I reached out to him for this exclusive, he responded like a true friend, “No doubt”.
With me being a music lover I was interested to see how he went about his career, starting from Detroit, to Los Angeles and Vegas, meeting positive people who have shaped him into what we see before us now. The interview shed new light on the way I see some in the business, it’s not always about the glitter and money, Karlos despite his success is still that young kid that would perform for his family at gatherings. He knew early on what direction he wanted to go, and if you listen, you can tell he made the right decision.
Fresh off tour with his mentor Ginuwine, Farrar and I had a great conversation about family, his love of music, the business and of course sports.
Growing up, my mother would have me perform for the family doing Michael Jackson skits. I learned early on the music career was not for me. Growing up did you have similar experiences, if so is that what made you pursue a career in the industry?
Karlos: Yeah, my parents would have us do Usher, R Kelly, not the one we know now but the “I Believe I can Fly R Kelly”. We did NSync, a lot of the pop records that was hot back then, it was a repetitive thing. I did it from maybe 5 till I was 10, then we started going around the neighborhood performing, doing talent shows at school, then talent shows around the city and by 12 I decided this is what I want to do with my life.
The distribution of music has changed over the years with streaming and illegal downloads. As an independent artist does it frustrate you when you work hard on a song then watch as copyrights gets lost in the new age?
Karlos: Ahh man I have this conversation all the time. I feel like the internet hurts artist in a lot of ways. But then you may have an artist that doesn’t have a budget, which may make the internet the easiest platform for them. But the problem with that is once you allow one person to do it then it’s inviting so many others to do it. It’s good to have some sort of budget to work with, if you have to get a side job and save up for one then that’s the way to go to preserve your music. But it also depends on your target audience. My target audience is 17-35, which that range has access to the internet but if you have a younger artist, his range may be 13 and younger. They have access but not as much so a record label may make more off of him because parents will spend to but the album.
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Following you on social media, you show a lot of love to your family. Is it hard being away from them for an extended period of time doing while your on the road doing shows?
Karlos: It’s tough but I am never gone that long of a time. The longest I been is three months when I was in China. But at times you miss some quality time but in the end you have to remind yourself that what you are doing you’re doing for them. So it’s all worth it in the end.
As a fan of Ginuwine, how did you guys manage to link up and decide to do a tour together? During the tour did he offer you any advice on how to maneuver in this industry?
Karlos: When I was in Vegas I would do a lot of shows in Cali and my current manager, but at the time he wasn’t my manager, they had openings on a show, I did the show and Ginuwine was on the bill. We talked and after a year my now current manager and G’s saw my grind and signed me up. When I was in China promoting the Ice Kream Man single they came up with an idea for a tour. Ginuwine agreed to it off the strength of seeing my grind and hustle, and that’s how we ended up with the Ice Kream Man Tour. As far as advice, he taught me to always be firm in your beliefs. If you see that the sound check is not right then don’t be afraid to let them know.
Back in the days it was as if every singer was a dual threat with singing and dancing. Watching you perform I can see the old school flavor in you. Do you think it’s a lost art in today’s artist?
Karlos: You know what man that’s crazy that you mentioned that, but there are a lot of cats that do sing and dance, but those are they guys that are not in the spotlight. You watch the BET Awards and you don’t see that because it’s the older generation but the young guys still have that desire but the main audience doesn’t get to see them.
With you hailing from Detroit, “The Home of Motown” are you focused on bringing that era back with your music?
Karlos: You know what man, I do, but I don’t. One of my records (Ain’t no Lady) has that Motown vibe to it. Back then R&B was so true but now it’s sex driven. As for me I try to bring a balance to my music. Nowadays everything is sex, sex, sex and no real substance. I’m not the only one trying to bring that sound back, it’s just hard. Growing up in that era I miss that.
So you know as a sports writer and you being a sports fan from Detroit, what’s the vibe in the D sports wise?
Karlos: Uhhh, my Lions I’m worried about, I’m not going to get in my feelings about them. The Pistons are good, good trades and they had the #8 seed so they are good. The Tigers are doing okay, but those Lions man.
Karlos was my first interview. It was a blast to be able to speak with him live over the phone and hear his emotion when he talked about the craft he love. As I was editing this piece his new Mixtape dropped last night titled “The Fresh Prince of R&B”.
Karlos debut album titled “Starts With A K” drops at the top of the year in 2017. Be on the look out.