10Qs with Spose

Spose is a 26-year-old, Wells-based rapper whose single, “I’m Awesome,” went Gold, peaking at 37 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and 36 on the US Mainstream Top 40. Later this year he’ll release two new projects for free – the album “Peter Sparker,” and “Dankonia,” a mixtape set to Outkast instrumentals.  Both projects will be funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $28,000.

Spose (photo by Alexander Richter
Spose (photo by Alexander Richter)

Where were you born?
I was born at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine because my mother and father were living in Scarborough at the time. I think she was a bartender and worked at Burger King and he was a cable guy.

What keeps you in Maine?
Well, Maine is my home and where all my family lives. I’ve traveled a lot and spent weeks at a time in New York and Los Angeles and other hubs of entertainment activity but nothing ever feels as good as home. I love Maine and, unless I have a 9-to-5 in another state someday, I will probably live here my whole life. It’s got my family, electricity, and the Internet and that’s pretty much all I need to run my business.

Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
Besides rapping? No, I do not. I’m a full time rapper. I haven’t worked for anyone else since January 2010 when I quit my job as a pizza delivery guy in Wells to go back to college at Suffolk University in Boston (I was commuting because I have a home, fiance, and daughter in Maine). Shortly thereafter I scored a record deal with Universal Republic Records, which I got out of in 2011, but I have remained independently self-employed as a musician since.

What was your most memorable gig?
I can’t pick one. I’ll pick three. The first one has to be when I played the University of Maine Farmington for the first time after I released “Preposterously Dank” and I rapped for like 100 people but it was the first time the crowd was rapping my lyrics back to me and I’ll never forget it. It was the best feeling in the world and it’s happened hundreds of times since but that first time will always be special. Another memorable gig was when we played for 15,000 people in Rochester, NY at a radio festival when I was touring to support “I’m Awesome.” The sheer numbers of that crowd were memorable enough. And lastly, I’d say, in February 2010 I had booked two shows at the Empire in Portland with Sidecar Radio, one all ages and one 21+. I booked the shows in December and then between booking them and the show happening, my song “I’m Awesome” had become the most requested song on local radio so both shows were sold out and the crowds were ravenous. It was electric in there for both shows. I really felt like I had arrived locally and had transcended the hip-hop scene once and for all.

What was your worst gig?
I have too many “worst gigs.” The one that will always take the cake was just a few weeks before the aforementioned Empire gigs that were my best. New Years Eve 2009, I played with my band “The Danks” at Pat’s Pizza in Sanford. So, yes, I’m playing a New Years Eve gig at a pizza place in Sanford. I was promised $1200.00 for the gig and, in the end, was given somewhere around $200 and had to pay all my band members the money I promised them out of my pocket. There was a huge snowstorm that night so there were maybe 20 people at the show, including us and our girlfriends and the staff. In the middle of the gig, my guitarist quit the band, but finished the show, so the mood was miserable. This was by far the worst show ever. Luckily, a few weeks later I signed a record deal with a major label and it was just a funny story rather than the state of my life.

What album or artist has most influenced you as a musician?
I suppose Jay-Z has influenced me most because I kinda stole his rhyme style and tried to implement my life into the patterns of his flows. However, my favorite bands are Radiohead and The Smashing Pumpkins and I’ve probably listened to their music more than most rap music. I like weird, moody, evocative rock music as much as I like genius wordplay and great beats and descriptions in hip-hop.

What’s the one piece of musical equipment you can’t live without?
I’ve got guitars that I’ve had since I was 9 and keyboards and amps and pedals that have sentimental value but I would be most pissed if somebody took my mic. It’s a Blue mic and I love it and I need it to survive. The other shit I just have love for.

Any advice for a musician starting out?
Be different. There’s only one you so don’t try to be like someone else or emulate your idols too much.

What’s the origin behind your band name?
There comes a time in every suburban white kid’s life where he needs to start a rap group. We started the Frothy Four when I was in 9th grade. The one black kid in my grade (half-black, I suppose) told me mine should be “MC S’pose” because I always said “spose” instead of “suppose.” When radio hosts ask me this question I usually make up a sob story that has something to do with me having webbed feet in elementary school, kids calling my “spork toes,” and it eventually evolving into “Spose.” Either story works.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
I listen to a lot of pop radio with my daughter because I don’t wanna corrupt her with rap lyrics. So, my current guilty pleasure jam on pop radio is that fucking Will.i.Am and Britney Spears song where she goes “Britney bitch.” I have it stuck in my head right now as I write this. I do appreciate pop music, though. There’s definitely an art to it and mastering that art is the key to financial victory. The people who do pop music well – Max Martin, Jim Jonsin, etc. – are geniuses in my eyes even though it’s not really my cup of tea if I’m gonna pick what to listen to. Unless Lily’s in the car. I swear.

Stephen Quirk

Prior to landing his dream job at Automattic, Stephen served as Associate Director of a Boston-based non-profit overseeing the organization's technology, visual design, social networking, and event planning. For twelve years, he worked in the Technology Department at his alma mater, Maine College or Art.

Additionally, Stephen has exhibited his photography in Portland, Maine, Boston, and California. He lives just outside of Portland with his wife, Megan, and daughter, Kate.