How are you doing today?
I’m doing fine. I mean, it’d be better if my microphone worked, but how are you doing?
I’m doing well. That’s rough though. I’ve been having technical problems myself. I can’t type anything on my computer without the letter “g” randomly popping up.
Yeah, I got a new computer, and it’s a really awesome gaming computer, but I think I’m having a problem because I have USB 3.0 ports and I’m supposed to have 2.0 ports. I’ve read that it might be my problem, I don’t know.
I don’t know anything about computers, so I can’t help you there.
It’s a mess. I was yelling about it for two hours yesterday and didn’t get anything accomplished.
The first song I ever heard from you was the brave revelation that Kendrick Lamar stole your music, titled, “Kendrick Lamar Stole My Music.” Tell me more about that track.
I was just telling the story of how it all started when I was nine, and how he’s been stealing my music ever since he was a kid.
That’s awful. Has he ever apologized?
No, he hasn’t even acknowledged me.
That’s disgusting, I have to say. I hate when a childhood friend goes astray.
Yeah, you know, the real recognize real, so the real believe me.
I was looking through your SoundCloud page, and I saw that the oldest track on there was called “In the Mind of James Holmes,” where you took on his perspective and detailed him falling down that mental rabbit hole. Is that your oldest song, or just the oldest song you’ve kept up there?
I think there’s a video of me on YouTube where I was 17 and I was off-sync rapping in a cage. That’s probably the oldest one that you can find.
There are other ones, but they were taken down. There’s one other one that’s earlier, and it’s on a different channel called Crazy Baby in Service where I was freestyling with my cat. RIP.
Damn, RIP. What was the cat’s name?
Aww, Blacky. So how long have you been making music?
Since I was 13, and I’m 25 now.
What would you say is the biggest development you’ve made in that time?
I don’t want to say that I’m still very similar to how I’ve always been, which is true, but ever since I came out as genderfluid it’s definitely been weird. Before that, I was pretty used to people giving me lots of shit & I didn’t care, but honestly I cared more when I first started [coming out] than I’d like to admit.
It was a new way of dealing with things that I wasn’t used to, which is what my song “Born Again” is about. I’ve had different stuff that references that. Even before [I came out] I had stuff that referenced it, and either I didn’t realize it or I did and I was just playing around & wanted to see who would actually pay attention.
You recently posted about trying to be more understanding of people who are negative towards you about gender expression. I was happy to see you mentioned it’s been a success. Tell me more about that experience & new approach.
It’s very easy, when people are shitty to you, to come back and be really shitty to them. I’m good at doing that, I’m good at arguing, and I’m good at making people look stupid, but it comes down to “What do I want to get out of this?”
I’m not gonna pretend I’m never gonna do that again, because I still do it & it still helps me promote my stuff so why not? But I’m trying to make an effort to not do it so much, especially with gender-related topics, cause you’re not gonna get anywhere by yelling at people.
If I make them look stupid, they’re going to think “What a fucking asshole,” even if they were in the wrong to come at me in the first place. However, if they come at me angrily and I respond calmly and respectfully, it takes them off guard.
I talk to them & ask “What exactly is it that you have a problem with?” “Why do you have a problem with this?” “Ok, think about why that’s a problem for you.” A lot of the time it doesn’t logically make sense and I’m able to level with people.
More times than not, if you actually sit down and talk with people, they’ll understand that, & understand we’re not completely different people just because I’m doing something against societal norms. If I have that one-on-one conversation, I can get along with most people.
[With my music], I get certain types of responses out of people that make me feel a certain type of way. As much as, on the one hand, the internet isn’t real, I do spend a lot of time on there and that’s where a lot of my interactions are, so in a sense it is.
As of recently, in the last two to five months, I’ve tried to cut down on being so negative and just deciding that’s not what I want anymore. I don’t want to give the trans or queer community a bad rep by me being a dickhead & doing things to purposely anger people.
You dedicated your track “Dear” to different friends & family members, and I heard a lot of Atmosphere influence in your raps & instrumental choice on there. Did you listen to them at one point, or have them in your rotation?
That’s very true, but the track wasn’t about me. I took that idea from them, too. I really like the way Slug [Author’s Note: he’s the rapper in Atmosphere] will tell a story and use “I” perspectives, but it won’t actually be about him.
I like that a lot about their stuff. I’ve been listening to them since I was 13 or 14.
Yeah, I’ve been listening to them since I was 15 or so, maybe a little bit younger.
So other than them, who did you have in your rotation that got you wanting to pursue your own musical endeavors?
Like most white kids, Eminem. Him, G-Unit, Dr. Dre. Later I got into more indie people like Atmosphere, Eyedea, Brother Ali, Prof, and everyone in Rhymesayers. I really liked Cage, and I got to meet him. I loved Tyler, the Creator when he came out, and Jakki the Motormouth.
Jakki is one of those artists almost nobody’s heard of, but is so talented. He doesn’t really care, he doesn’t really want to rap anymore, so he doesn’t very much. Have you ever heard of him?
I actually haven’t. Tell me more.
Do you know Copywrite? More people have heard of him.
I haven’t heard of Copywrite, either.
So he was in the early to mid-2000s and did a mixture of interesting abstract storytelling & battle rap. He has this really cool album called God vs. Satan, where he goes through these different scenarios that those two place him in.
Based on how well he does in each scenario he gets different points, and depending on what happens he either goes to heaven or hell when his time’s up. He’s just so good, and he’ll never be popular, but he doesn’t care either.
So where does the name Arsini come from?
So it’s pronounced Arson-Eye. It’s actually on my website, which I should change. I really don’t like the meaning of it, but I think I’m going to make a new explanation for what I say now in my About Me [section], and also have the [one] from when I was younger.
Yeah, I’m kind of ashamed of it. It’s arson + eye, and the “s-i-n” is meant to say “It seems sinful, but you have to analyze for yourself. Burn your perspective. Change how you see things.” Fucking corny, to me, at this point, but that was my idea.
I think I’ll just keep the name and not tell people what it means or I’ll say “This was a stupid thing I thought of.”
And in 5 or 10 years, Nardwuar’ll find this interview and bring it up in front of everybody.
I mean I’ll have it public, I’ve told plenty of people. Although I’d like to meet Nardwuar, yes.
You know what’s funny, though? I don’t listen to a lot of wordy, underground people anymore. I listen to weird stuff, but a lot of it is more popular. I’m really digging the new age sound, although at first I really hated it.
So who are your favorites now?
It’s hard to say. I’ve had different influences from the past I still respect, and I feel I’ve still gotten influence from.
We can narrow it to people you’ve been listening to lately.
Ok, so first, I do think it’s important to mention that my favorites were not only rappers, but people like Elliot Smith, who did soft acoustic stuff, Jeffrey Lewis, who does folk-punk & anti-folk, and Lily Allen, who’s a British pop star girl. Some of those people are still my favorites.
Jeffrey Lewis is really awesome. I still really, really like him, although I don’t listen to a ton of his stuff anymore cause he doesn’t have a lot of new work, but I really like him. I met him one time, and I was so starstruck, and he’s not that popular.
I was thinking I might write a song about him. He wrote a song called something like “Chelsea Hotel” or something [Author’s Note: it’s “the chelsea hotel oral sex song,”] about this girl he could’ve gotten with, but he didn’t.
I want my song to be kind of like that, except I could’ve had a picture with him, but I didn’t.
It was really awkward. I was just walking around; I wanted to get a picture with the whole band, but I couldn’t.
Some of the people in the band were saying they thought that I could, but I kept trying to and they were busy doing other doing other stuff, and I thought, “whatever,” and I just left.
I feel like they probably think I’m a big dumbass for that, I don’t know, but I still have his bandmate on my Facebook so that’s cool.
Tell me more about the HOBA Gallery.
Wait, I’m all over the place, I didn’t say who I liked right now.
I like Lil Pump a lot.
I didn’t get it at first, but he’s really got his own sound and he’s really doing something cool. I like Kendrick Lamar, even though he stole my stuff. I still really love Tyler, the Creator. I think he’s progressed in an awesome way. I like Brockhampton.
Ok, so HOBA Gallery. It’s a gallery that I’m helping my girlfriend/fiancé put together that we hope will be a cool destination for upcoming artists in the city. We plan to do more marketing than any other place that’s like that in the city [of Louisville.]
We have very extensive marketing knowledge and we’re going to put the money into it. There’s a lot of places targeted at people 18 & older or 16 & older, but we want a place that’s available for little kids to start being creative & expressing themselves.
I love that. Since you’re getting involved with the gallery scene, are there any other artistic mediums you’d like to dive into?
I’ve dived into performance art. I’ve done that online a lot, but I’ve also done a bit of it in person. I did one where I was trying to sell people on fixing up cabinets. It was a sales pitch to the whole room based off a job I had that really sucked.
I did another one that was about why I’m the ideal partner. That was really fun, and they went over really well, so I’d like to do more of that stuff. I’ve thought of, at some point, doing a short film. I’d also like to do some music videos for other artists.
There’s one I want to do for Mac Miller, and there’s one I want to do for this artist named Human Petting Zoo.
So what was in those 170,000 emails you sent your boss?
I guess both?
It was just some stupid marketing shit we were trying to send out to an email list. I don’t want to go into detail about what it is, it’s not interesting, but it was something they never should’ve got.
There’s this option in the new email service we have that I fucking hate. You know what BCC is?
I was adding the partner we were working for, as well as my boss, onto the email because I wanted them to see what it looked like. Makes sense, right?
I put them on BCC, and I find out over the weekend that what that means, in that program, is that it sends them a copy of every single email that was sent. I don’t know why that’s an option unless you just want to piss someone off, but it is.
The second time I did it…I felt so stupid, man. I copied the email, and I copy emails all the time.They have a similar format & I can easily change the rest of the content.
I copied the email, and I wasn’t paying attention & didn’t remember the BCC thing was still an issue. I’d fixed it after that first incident, but the issue was still there on that specific email, so it happened again.
Basically, our partner was pissed and so was my boss, but I figured out a way to easily fix it that time so it wasn’t a problem for very long.
What type of boy band would you want to be in?
I don’t even remember that post. I say a lot of stuff that I think. I guess I thought it’d be fun to be in a band where we’re all cute boys & we sing things that might serenade people, or maybe we sing very dark things.
I could be the effeminate one, we could have a bad boy, a really muscly, big one. It’d just be really fun.
What would y’all be called?
If I had to think of it off the top of my head, maybe however many boys are in the band & the word “boys.” So, like, “Five Boys.”
Sleek & simple. I like it.
And we wouldn’t get sued by Five Guys. And I like that term better, it feels more kind & innocent, I guess.
Have you rapped for Eric Andre yet?
I’m going to do that tomorrow.
Are you actually?
I mean, I hope.
That’s sick. Are you going to The Eric Andre Show?
No, I don’t think it’s the show. He’s doing a stand-up set, and I got a VIP ticket to meet him so I want to be like “Hey, I want to rap for you.” I’m just going to freestyle at him; I don’t think he’d like one of my written [songs] as much as a freestyle.
I don’t expecting anything to happen from it. I don’t really care. I’d just love to see his reaction. And hey, if it’s a video I can use for marketing, even better. [Author’s Note: You can see Arsini rap for Eric Andre here].
So what was the last message you sent to Jay Z when you asked for money? Maybe we can help you with the next one.
Well, I said, “Hey, I know that you’re probably doing okay & collecting art & stuff, but, you know, I would really like some money. I think you’re pretty cool & I’ve never made fun of your lips.”
I have no idea why he didn’t respond to that. That deserved at least 50K immediately, cash in hand.
Thank you. I feel like I’ll get someone to invest in me soon. I just have to approach the right celebrity, like Eric Andre.
I believe in you.
Thank you. It’s only a matter of time. My problem is I’m very lazy, and I get demotivated when I put so much effort into stuff…Sometimes the return is really cool & I feel awesome, but other times I think “What am I doing?” I get upset and I don’t want to bother with it for a week.
I definitely feel you there. Well that’s all I’ve got, but it’s been great talking with you.
Yeah, let me know whenever you want to talk again. I’m gonna go back to screaming & trying to get my microphone to work.
And I’m gonna go back to screaming at my keyboard.
Make sure to follow Arsini on Facebook, Instagram & SoundCloud, and stay tuned for future updates on the HOBA Gallery.
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