Something has been brewing on the southside of Jersey and it’s become clear that Camden artist, Mir Fontane, has an opportunity to play a big role in it. He has had quite a journey to this moment and his outlook is positive. From the high flying regional hit “Wanni Wag” to an invite to visit “Sway In the Morning“, Mir has been moving quickly towards his musical dreams. Recently, he slowed down to chat with me about it all.
Tell us about Camden, New Jersey. Also, how has it shaped you artistically?
Camden is a gritty area very poverty stricken neighborhood. [We] make do with what we have. [There are] gangs, street crime, crooked cops, and cameras on corners. Real movie type stuff.
The environment shapes my music and story I tell. Without Camden, I wouldn’t be the artists I have become. You can hear the grittiness in my music. It has definitely shaped me.
I keep hearing about the “Southside.” What is that all about and what does it mean to your community?
It’s more so a culture . South Jersey never had identity, so i wanted to give it meaning. The North has a touch of NY but Southside is different. It’s almost like two different states, something Ish and I started together. It’s more than the music.
Musically, what is your creative process like?
I usually like to work alone. I’ll sit with the beat, and just think about it based on how I feel. Sometimes I’ll freestyle melodies and start to build the song from there. I usually get the beat first, because that drives creative juices. Other times I’ll have a hook and I’ll bring it to Kev (Kev Rodgers) or Kenny (Kenif Muse) and we make the song from scratch.
Which artists do you admire and draw influence from?
J.Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Kanye, and 90s R&B artists. I draw my inspiration from a lot of different places, so no song typically sounds the same. I like to take the strengths from each of the artists I look up to, and add it to my own game.
Let’s talk about your recent project Who’s Watching The Kids. It’s been in the works for a while and the campaign leading up to it seems to have been planned very strategically and effectively. What was it like to produce this mixtape and how did you build such a solid fanbase?
Making the project was fun. It was mostly looking into myself, my surroundings, my past, and putting it all in the music. The people around me resonated with what I was saying in my music. More and more people began to relate to what I had to say. As I got on more and more big platforms, like Sway, people got to know who I am and see that my music is candid.
I imagine that WWTK will have a long life span with the fans, but it’s good to be prepared for the next move. What’s next for you?
I want to keep dropping music, 1 more project before the end of 2016.
When can fans expect more live shows to support the project?
Booked through Septmeber. Listening party in Manhattan at a clothing store called Ethik. Shows at Temple and Syracuse. We might have special guests so stay tuned. Fans can grab physical copies signed with other goods available.
What artists/producers would you like to work with next?
Aside from music, are there other ways you express creativity?
I like to draw. I act and starred in an independent film called ‘I Am John Wayne’ (YouTube, Vimeo). I kind of dabble in screenwriting. But I have been drawing since I was 3-years-old. Before rap, drawing was the way I expressed myself.
Where can new fans learn more about you and your art?
New fans can follow my Instagram or Twitter. I usually post pictures that I draw there, as well as my new music. They can also check out whoswatchingthekids.com and sign up for the newsletter to stay up-to-date with news and get exclusives.
A manifesto is a declaration of intents and principles. What is your Artistic Manifesto?
As an artist you should stand by your art, if you’re willing to fight for your art. And if you are lucky enough to see success – be willing to die for your art.