This was one of the best interviews I have done up to date. I was very pleasantly surprised at the level that The Dean’s List was willing to work with me on, they really wanted it to happen. After many false starts and missed calls we finally pulled it together. Hope you all enjoy.
Please read as you would a conversation.
Mason: My first question is if you can you tell me a little about your background? Where did you get started and what made you want to do music?
Mendoza: Yea, well we first set up I was playing basketball with Sonny. That was like senior year of high school, bit of junior year. We started doing music for fun, not taking it seriously and then we started taking it a little more seriously as I was heading into Berklee, like the summer before Berklee, College of Music and the Institute of Art, and then I met Mik there and we started doing a bunch of productions together, and techno tracks in the dorm rooms, and we just started recording in the dorm rooms the three of us. Ever since then we just did a shit ton of music.
Mason: How long have you and Sonny known each other?
Mendoza: Probably about four years now, five years I’d say. That’s including us playing basketball through junior year of high school, and now we’d be juniors in college. I’m from Birmingham, and he’s from Birmingham and Mik’s from Edison New Jersey.
Mason: When along the way did you meet Mik?
Mendoza: I met him at Berklee. When I started at Berklee he lived down the hall, and we just did a bunch of music and partied in college, and then just started doing music every night. We were all just good friends having fun, and we just started doing music.
Mason: Why the name The Dean’s List?
Mendoza: It was supposed to be the name of a mixtape that was going to be just me and Sonny. Then we changed it because we met up with Mik and then we just had a good chemistry going, and it was really just gonna be a Mendoza and Sonny mixtape under the name The Dean’s List as the name of the mixtape, but then we figured let’s make this a whole movement thing and each have our own individual thing going on and just each come together for this movement and that’s it.
Mason: What’s a day in the life look like?
Mendoza: Well now were not on tour but we have on a lot. So a lot of times its just making beats on airports and on the flights and we just got done SPF Creative the other day. They are our Mik’s video guys, haha he’s actually in the car now. A lot of video shoots, a lot of business. I go back and forth between business and making beats everyday and all the of the other guys are busy doing their own things too, between music, and recording, and lately its pretty much been waking up for flights, working after a show, and then working on the road. Now were back in Boston so we’ve been doing video shoots, so it’s kinda all over the place really. But we’re about to be on our Pledge to Rage tour, which kicks off this week its gonna last two and a half months or so, and that will be a whole different kind of lifestyle for us.
Mason: Do you want to tell us a little about the Pledge to Rage tour?
Sonny: Well the Pledge to Rage tour is really our first big tour, were co-headlining with Cuey (OnCue) and Gilbere Forte is gonna come on for a few shows, and it’s really gonna give us chance to hit up all the states we haven’t had the opportunity to be at. It will really put the music out there and it’s gonna be a good experience for us.
Mason: How would you guys describe your musical style?
Sonny: I think it’s a mixture of rap, jazz, pop, blue rock, folk, country. Haha It goes all over the place. The new music we’re making will be expanding more on that. That’s what’s good about it.
Mason: Speaking of new music, what’s your next big project you’re working on now?
Sonny: Were working on our next mixtape Generation X were building the blueprint for it now, but we should probably have that out by next spring.
Mason: Are you guys working on any videos now?
Sonny: Yea, actually we just wrapped up shooting a video today, but we have a lot of videos in mind that we want to shoot, and I think that is a big thing to have, good visuals to your songs, so we really want to try our hardest to put some quality videos out we have a good guy here with us: Elan. He shoots really good videos, so we have a good team SPF Creative. That’s the name of the production.
Mason: What’s your behind the scenes team look like?
Sonny: Haha well we have Ralph, he’s our tour manager. Mendoza likes to call him his assistant; he is really one of our good friends. He’s like Cuey’s assistant too kinda. He’s kinda the tour manager that stays home on the computer, and handles emails and stuff. We just have good friends and close friends around us that help us do things we need to do. It’s more like a tight family I’d say. Oh yea, there’s Matt too! He’s our booking agent and our lawyer Adam. So that’s the family right there.
Mason: On Facebook you’re sitting at just about 20,000 fans, what has this type of online community meant for you as you’ve grown as an artist?
Sonny: It means a lot. I’m really thankful for it. I’m glad people are finally starting to catch on to our music, and it’s a really good look and were really grateful for it. But were still on our grind, to keep putting good music out there, and just working hard. You can never settle. So were grateful for where were at but we want to get somewhere even better.
Mason: Can you tell me a bit about how your music has developed since you started?
Sonny: We have grown a lot more comfortable as artists; Mendoza’s a lot more comfortable with the beats he’s producing and Mik is getting better at the mixing end of things and I’m starting to focus a lot more on what I want to say on tracks, and I have an idea about what type of rapper I want to be, and the type of topics I want to attack and how I want things to sound musically, and the overall idea has grown a lot more than where it was before, were a lot more focused and were more mature now, I think we have a better grasp on things.
Mason: What do you think is some of your greatest work?
Sonny: Awwww I don’t know. That’s a hard question. I always have a favorite song. Everyday it changes. Some days I’m like “Oh Dear Professor I love you” and tomorrow I’m like “ Oh I hate Dear professor” I can’t even say.
Mason: Which song do you like to perform the best?
Sonny: I would say La Vie; people go crazy with La Vie. Actually I performed Mainstream last week in Iowa and the kids were just going crazy, they knew every line. It was the first time we performed it, so that was an experience. All our songs are really fun to perform live because we have the band and everything. It’s a good time.
Mason: What’s something that a person that doesn’t know anything about the dean’s list should know?
Sonny: They should know that we aren’t just a fret rap group; don’t be fooled by our name. We really are about putting out good music, and trying to put our city on the map. Not only that but put greatness on the map, and do big things. We’re just a bunch of kids trying to make it through.
Mason: So now you’re in the game, what’s next?
Sonny: This next mixtape. I think that’s gonna put us on a whole new world. It’s going to be really big, so were working on that and this tour too. The Pledge to Rage tour; it’s gonna be big, so were enjoying it. It’s gonna be long but were it’s worth it.
Mason: Is there anyone you want to shout out to?
Sonny: you want to shout out to anyone Mendoza?
Mendoza: SPF Creative.