This past Friday, Blast’s Madeline Knutson had the opportunity to talk to Mika “Prophet” Guillory from the band 7Lions. The band is currently signed to RedOne’s label 2101 Records and is based in Southern California. There are six members of the group: Forrest Fulmer, Will Carpenter, Daniel Hange, Tony Tomassi, Morgan Taylor Reid, and Prophet (the honorary “7th lion” is Forrest’s brother who passed away during the band’s creation). During the interview, we spoke about the band and their future plans as well as his personal music background.
Blast Magazine: How did 7Lions form?
Mika “Prophet” Guillory: Originally Forrest was in a band and I was a solo artist. We met at an artist-in-residency program sponsored by Von Dutch. Forrest was set to perform live and asked me if I wanted to do it with him. We performed together and people really liked what we did. After that, Forrest invited me to a rehearsal for his band Omission, whose members included Will and Tony. I did a few shows with them and we decided to try something new and created the band Terra Incognita. Six months after the band’s creation, Forrest reconnected with Morgan, who became a member of the group. Eventually, we changed direction and became 7Lions with Daniel.
Blast: How would you describe the band’s sound?
Prophet: We are a combination of an eclectic mix of our inspirations, including underground hip-hop, ska, rock, and pop. We are a collision between all of our influences, pop culture included, and the individual ways in which we express ourselves.
Blast: How did you first get into music?
Prophet: Where I grew up, you sold drugs, were part of a gang, or did graffiti. Growing up, I didn’t want to be a monster, so I tried to find a vehicle where I could still be a part of my neighborhood, but not be killed. The Boys and Girls Club took me in and it was there that I met this guy who always had a radio and was playing hip-hop tracks.
Through the club, we went to a camp and during that time, we took a 5-mile hike. On the hike, the same guy played a bunch of tracks and freestyled. I was inspired, so I worked with him to figure out flows and how to be a better rapper. When I came back, I would try to impress the guys on the corner and make them smile with my flows. After doing this, rapping and freestyling became a real hobby for me. I would always freestyle and eventually someone came to me and said I should think about doing it for real.
In high school, my friends and I would freestyle with each other and spend our free time battling and coming up with various tracks. At some point, a light switch went off and I took the poetry I had been writing and turned them into song lyrics and worked on conceptualizing themes and concepts. When I was 21, I asked myself what the one thing I couldn’t live without was and I instinctively knew music would always be a part of my life.
Blast: What has been your favorite song to record/play?
Prophet: My favorite song to play is Born 2 Run (EP’s title track) because it has spanned all over the place and there has been a strong reaction from so many different types of people, from a boy in a remote village in Taiwan to a woman battling cancer. When we perform that live, I channel a lot of that energy and the record’s inner spirit with me. It is just such a feel-good record and brings so much positivity, which leaves the crowd with a powerful message.
Blast: Who are the artists that inspire you the most?
Prophet: Shawn Carter came from a truly difficult upbringing, which was far worse than where I came from. He gave up selling drugs and created a company and a huge body of work. What I admire is that he is not afraid to recognize his past and makes no apology for the person he was. He addresses his past with class, and focuses on his future. He is definitely the most powerful and relatable artist I can think of.
I also admire Bono and the way he uses U2 to talk about atrocities and issues worldwide. He uses his music to raise awareness and utilizes his voice as a political tool. He says what he wants and expresses what he truly believes in, regardless of other’s opinions.
Blast: Is 7Lions working on new music now?
Prophet: Yes we are trying to put together a second half of the EP for European release so that we can attract European radio, build a story, and get into touring. We ran into some issues with US radio because the alternative stations want to back a specific image. Because 7Lions has a bit of a different sound, it is a challenge for us to be contained to a certain style. We are trying to maneuverer the chess game and Rubik’s cube that is the politics of the music business.
Blast: What do you feel is the message of “Born 2 Run”?
Prophet: If you break down the verses, I talk about a bunch of different things. It focuses on my constant struggle with myself and love and being in this hustle. However, the end message is that I know that we are all going to make it. Forrest’s deliverance of the chorus delves into the message of triumph and overcoming all obstacles. We want to send the message that you shouldn’t let anything get in your way. We were put on this planet to do, so you need to make sure you at least attempt to do whatever that is.
Blast: What is your ultimate music goal?
Prophet: I have done shows by myself all over, but my dream is to have the band tour the world together. I would love to have the messages and music and camaraderie on tour around the world at least once.
Blast: What is the most difficult part of being a musician?
Prophet: The hardest part is that you can’t just be a musician anymore. Long gone is the dream to just do music and solely focus on your craft. The vintage level system has self-destructed and now it is a DIY model. If you don’t know about every business aspect of making yourself popular, from advertising to promoting to budgeting, you can’t succeed. It is extremely difficult to try not to lose the focus on the artistry while juggling all the hats of a startup.com company.
Blast: How would you define the term “success”?
Prophet: From the logistical perspective, success is garnishing as much attention as possible for your career. For me personally, it is being happy with how you are spending your life and leaving a mark on the world. That varies by person: for some, it is having a child that represents you well, for others, it is leaving a legacy with many buildings sporting your name. The most honest form of that is just leaving your mark and not regretting a single day of your life. I want to do what I love to do and live autobiographically through each verse and communicate that to others. Everyone wants someone to understand them and that is what I am trying to do through my music.
Follow the band on Twitter (@7lionsmusic), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/7lionsmusic), Instagram (7lionsmusic), and their Website (http://7lions4ever.com/home). Follow Prophet on Twitter (@Prophlogic) and make sure to buy their EP “Born 2 Run” on Itunes.