I’m Evil Key, otherwise known as Jonas Nicholson from Syracuse, NY. My latest release is the album “The Host”, a dark and lyrical rap album. It can be streamed and ordered physically here:
I’ve been active in the music industry for over a decade now. I play in the 2-time Syracuse Area Music Award-winning band Vaporeyes. We started way back in 2010. I learned a lot in the earlier years of the band. I like to try every genre. Evil Key is my outlet for rapping and producing beats, Vaporeyes is a psychedelic/Prog rock/jam band, and I also play guitar for a folk project.
I’ve worked at and ran both music venues and record stores, do lots in the studio, and I’ve acted as management and booking agent for a couple of acts including of course Evil Key and the band Vaporeyes.
A lot of my family is musical whether they do it for a job or not. I’d screw around on instruments and freestyle or battle rap with my friends, but I didn’t start taking music seriously until about 2010.
I plan to keep creating in every way possible. I just dropped a new Evil Key album called “The Host”. I split production duties between myself and my boy Fuzzy from Ithaca and also got to work with the legendary Detroit emcee Guilty Simpson on the album’s title track.
Back in November our band Vaporeyes also dropped an album called “Cantrips”, which actually just won a SAMMY award as well.
My plans are to continue taking these projects to new heights. I’m pretty much perpetually deep in production on the next Evil Key album. I’m just gonna keep working my ass off and people will continue to catch on. I want to make music people can relate to, or at least think about. Since music is my life, I want to of course make music with substance. Seeing people connect to it is extremely rewarding. That’s why I’m in it really, not for the money but for the love and the art of it.
My inspirations are all over the place musically. I’ll start with my favorite emcees and producers: Aesop Rock, Cannibal Ox, MF DOOM, J Dilla, DJ Shadow, Kaytranada, Joey Badass, Nas, mobb deep… I’ve really been messing with Elzhi lately and of course Guilty Simpson can’t make a bad song. Other genres also inspire me and surely trickle in to my rap music as well. Bands like Deftones and Lotus definitely influence me. For real this section could be a whole essay so I’ll stop there.
Non musical inspirations are also all over the place. Although when I’m writing, a lot of the time I tend to try and write out my demons. I write about pain, identity, depression, addiction, learning.. all sorts of shit. My album “The Host” touches on all this through the topic of possession.
Where I’m the most creative depends, I think. When I’m producing Evil Key beats I get lost for hours, sometimes 12-14 hours without stopping or eating just working on a beat I’m really feeling. I know that is f—king terrible but I just seriously get lost. I have made my best beats that way, which is probably why I haven’t tried to change yet… ha.
When I’m freestyling or writing rhymes, for sure I’m best just chilling in my room. I’ve noticed I’ll write a lot of cool stuff in my head as I’m walking somewhere too though, it must be the rhythm of the walking that inspires some stuff. I’ll stop, take notes in my phone and continue on sometimes. Some cool songs were written in my head while walking around with a J for sure.
When I’m playing with the band in front of a crowd and feeding off their energy I also feel I’m at my best. There’s nothing like that, it can be the best feeling in the world. A natural high.
I really look forward to seeing where Evil Key goes. I have already been blessed working with some insane artists. I haven’t had this much fun working my ass off before. I just want to spoil all the stuff I’m working on now, but I still have to promote the album I just dropped. I’m just looking to keep that passion and excitement no matter what my future holds.
8Best places to follow Evil Key on social media. I’m on Instagram as @evilkey_ https://www.instagram.com/evilkey_/
Also my favorite way to share albums and connect with people is Bandcamp, https://evilkey.bandcamp.com
I’ve got a fresh music video and some visualizers on YouTube:https://youtube.com/channel/UC1QR61vuSGoBXIUjdzRmRHw
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