It’s the night of July 20th, and I gear up to attend a local show. Up until this point I’ve kept the ticket in my car visor for safe keeping- this is the first physical ticket I’ve actually purchased since summer 2013 when I saw Dizzy Wright live. This cardstock paper is special, for after about a week of coordinating with none other than the headliner himself, Pariah Pete pulled up to my job after my shift to hand deliver it to me about a month in advance. He complimented my Pleasures tee. I arrive at the venue and all goes well, the headliners go crazy and I meet with some mutual friends in the scene I didn’t expect to see. Unfortunately the show gets cut off for me as I soon realize I’ve lost my phone after wildin’ out in the pit. As luck may have it I rushed out the function for nothing because Sprint closes earlier than I thought (information I could’ve easily figured out had I not lost my phone). Not for nothing though, for I’m put on to the dope artists that opened and got to speak with another Phoenix artist, Lil Prada, outside- who said he fucked with UVC. Digressing, I took an opportunity to speak with Pete about the show the day after, as well as get insight into the grind it took to get both the show and the album he released around the time of the show created (you can check out the album review here). Due to life being the way it is, and each of us being human, some things take time and patience. Pete took some time to hit me back with the answers, to which he apologized in depth for, but consider the apology irrelevant because there was no fault to apologize over. Great things come to those who wait, and this discussion was worth sitting on. Pete, even through text, glows with humility, charisma,and passion for what he does even months after the initial magic of having both an album and album release show sink in. Pete is living proof of immigrant mentality and the bootstrap ideology that shows that regardless of position, your grind and your mindset toward a goal is the ticket into countless opportunity. Check it out below. 

Who are you, where are you from, and what do you consider yourself to be?

My government is Peter Flis, Flis is my father’s last name but him and I have no relationship so I’ve always pronounced it differently than he does. I am from Phoenix, Arizona. I was originally born in Vermont but have been in AZ since I was like 5 or 6 so I consider Phoenix my home forsure. I am a first generation American, both my parents and 3/4 of my siblings were born in Warsaw, Poland. I am a hip hop musician, but also a multi-talented entrepreneur at the end of the day.

Your debut album Mercury dropped the 12th of July, what was the process like for bringing your first full length project to fruition?

This project was a long time coming for sure and has been an idea since like 2015 when I first bought my 1987 Mercury Marquee. Immediately the car just gave me a whole vibe that I wanted to capture sonically for a project, there have been 2-3 versions of this before it became the album it is today. Since 2016 I’ve dropped some singles, an EP, a Mixtape, but this was the first time I went album mentality. Although it is only 7 tracks, you hear the purpose in every moment of it, the story behind it, the marketing process, everything about it screams album to me. In my eyes there isn’t a second wasted, whether that’s in between songs for transitions, song structures, or bars. Every moment was there for a reason. 

The album is deeply personal and strong in storytelling. What is it that you want to impart onto to your audience with your music? Why go that route rather than omit details of your life and just make “bangers”?

I mean… it def wasn’t an intentional thing to do. I think it’s just because those are the songs I NEEDED to write for myself. At the end of the day I do write for myself, but to help others. Its like if I were a painter, I would be considered a realist rather than abstract. I could do a lil abstract and add that into my story; however, I am a detailed oriented person so I figure going into detail about my emotions and stories is what makes it so personal. Also, it makes it more relatable for the listener who has experienced the same emotion or event, which most of us have. I just wanna give people comfort in themselves and their struggles through music, by me being as authentic and as real as possible.

When and why did you start making rap music? And why rap in particular?

Rap is all i’ve ever known music wise. I’ve never stepped outside of that genre and R&B for most of my life. I went through phases when I was skating in 8th grade and listened to some alternative/rock songs, but literally my earliest memories are of 50 Cent, Eminem, and Dr Dre. I always listened to my sisters rap playlist as early as Eeementary school and with access to Youtube I explored most aspects of the entire genre. It wasn’t until 2 weeks ago that I listened to some new music, its cuz I went to my first punk/indie show and really enjoyed myself, so afterwards I listened to the Misfits for the first time ever, lol. The only album outside of rap/R&B i’ve listened to before recently was Dark Side of the Moon. Besides that it’s always been all rap. I’ll definitely try to listen to other genres, I was just never really introduced to them as a kid, and never felt the desire to check them out. 

Can you call to mind any particular hurdles you had to overcome while on the come up?

Lack of self worth, doubt, overthinking, overanalyzing, pride, selfishness, all the ugly stuff. Im human, definitely not perfect. Still struggle with those things to this day. Just certain moments and events brought shit out of me. Trying to forgive myself more and more though. At the end of the day, if I learned anything this summer with my album, show, and everything that has happened. It’s just to trust myself and the universe more. I keep getting blessed for the time and love I’m putting into everything. So why try to get down on myself?

You had the album release show on July 20th, and from what I saw while I was there, it was so intimate and tight knit. What was it like headlining a show all to celebrate your own project? Was the atmosphere any different from other shows you’ve performed?

Yeah man! You could call it intimate and tight knit but that’s also the same venue people like Young Ma, Fat Nick, Denzel Curry, The Underachievers, have performed at and the list goes on. From what I’ve heard, my show was a show of the summer, potential local show of the year, and more lit than some of those names I just listed. Sold out 3 weeks in advance and had the energy of a LIT show…I didn’t feel like no local on stage, I felt like a touring artist with a cult following. People were already singing lyrics for songs off “Mercury” which had only been out for 6 days, that was the biggest trip for me. Pulling away from the mic cuz the crowd knows the lyrics without me even instructing them to do so, after 6 damn days. The atmosphere and energy was just different, just more intense and vibrant. 

I know that you went mobile all hours of the day to get people tickets to the concert. Can you describe what the grind was like for actually selling out a show and getting talented local acts to open up?

My whole thing is when I set my mind on a goal, Imma do whatever I can to achieve it. I just took everything one ticket at a time. I didn’t know If I was gonna be able to get it done truthfully. Before booking the venue I was on all the openers heads about having to go hard for this to sell out, probably too much so. As far as openers, I picked people I love to watch perform and people I could trust. I sold 260 tickets over 14 days, averaging 18 tickets per day delivered and sold. Just one ticket at a time. I was active usually from 10am-4am. There were a few days I literally did 12 hour shifts of delivering tickets, or be selling tickets all morning, go serve tables from 4-10, then hit the road again. I slept very little, DROVE A LOT, and all that mattered was getting tickets off. I never turned down a delivery, never bitched about distance or lengths, never asked for gas, never tried to reschedule because I wasn’t feeling it. It’s just all I cared about at that moment in time, it wasn’t about selling out or making money, I just wanted everybody in the world who was interested in going, to be there.

Do you have any advice for any other upcoming artists, especially from where we’re from, having a scene that’s slowly but surely emerging on the map? 

Get involved in with the local community. I hope yours is as talented and established as Phoenix is. Be genuine. Be yourself. Create what you love.

To Phoenix artists, once again, get involved ASAP. Find people, meet people, attend events, and don’t try to skip steps or find a quick way up. I have kids in my DMs everyday asking how I get shows or whatever. I started from the ground up. My first few performances was First Friday [a festival/block party/art exhibition in the city of Phoenix on the first Friday of every month] on the side of the street corner, then I moved up to hole in the wall venues or house shows. Now 3 years later, I’m getting booked & reached out to, or renting out venues by myself. Nothing happens overnight.

What’s been the most rewarding part so far about being an artist? What was the moment when you thought to yourself, “Wow, this is working.”

Definitely the sold out shows and merch sales are the “Wow, this is working” moment. But the most rewarding is what people tell me about my albums impact on their personal life. How much it impacted some people, how it helped them with their struggles, made them feel not alone, made people cry, gave them chills, and just generally how overall great the reception of the album was. That’s the most rewarding forsure. It’s still growing everyday and this summer changed my life and elevated my platform to a whole new level. There are a lot of new eyes and listeners I didn’t have before. Grateful for everything.

Music aside, what does a normal day of your life look like? Is music your main hustle 24/7?

Music is forsure my main hustle, but I’m not signed or touring yet, so it’s not my main source of income. I’m either thinking about music or my music career in some sort of way or creating everyday. Weekends are where I’m most productive creating, networking, or performing. However, throughout the week I wait tables Mondays thru Thursdays. I spend a lot of time with friends when not doing music stuff, most of my closest are involved with music as well. I drink more than I probably should lol but I don’t really go to parties often. I dont smoke weed as of right now, I don’t really play video games often. I wanna say I read but I been slacking in that department. I love watching movies, listening to podcasts, watching interviews. Also love cooking. Did i mention podcasts?? Lol usually ones on Youtube with the visual as well.

At the end of the day, what motivates you to keep doing what you do? Who/what inspires you?

Like I said earlier, this entire summer taught me to trust myself now more than ever. To quit doubting myself, because right now the universe is blessing and rewarding me. I have faith that I am on the right path. Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, Kanye West, Mac Miller are all huge inspirations for me. Along with many others in and outside the industry. The people around me and apart of the Phoenix scene are also super inspirational.  My producer/brutha Sk8zen inspires me all the time. Jalopy Bungus, Emmitt Dupree, De La Preme, Brownboi Maj, Snottyman, Shrub Head, MA$TERMIND, Saiah, Dbangz, so many people I could go on forever. We got so much talent here. I’m blessed to be connected with those people in some sort of way. Honored to rep the same home field as they do.

The show is done, the album is out, what’s the next step for Pariah Pete? Care to talk about your penultimate end goal if you have one?

So if I would have answered these questions on time… I definitely would have mentioned the music videos I just dropped for “Young” and “Take Ur Time” during August… that still is the short term plan as I am in the process of brainstorming for my 3rd music video from the album. I got hella shows lined up too, Im opening for Ugly God, opening for Fatboy SSE, I’m traveling to Tucson to perform, traveling to Colorado for the first time ever to perform, and I’m headlining the AZ Hip Hop Festival as a solo artist. 

Got a couple collabs in the works that’ll be dropping before the year is up and maybe a new single. 2020 people will see Pete 3.0… but I can’t speak on that too much just yet. However, I’m already mapping that all out. My end goal is to take my platform as far as I can take it, tour, and impact as many people as possible. As far as right now I want to keep capitalizing on the momentum I’ve been building, and try to increase my audience, maybe more out of state/country.