Also known as Shawn Rosenblatt, Netherfriends‘ career began in the mid-00’s composing layered Indie Pop music. After nearly a decade of touring, playing thousands of shows, and releasing dozens of musical projects, in 2012 he shifted musically to more Hip-Hop inspired rhythms utilizing original and sampled sounds. His debut LP P3ACE (pronounced three-peace) showcased his honed fundamentals while also letting him find more depth and dimension in the studio environment. Refusing to be pigeon-holed as a specific type of artist Netherfriends manages to toe the line between being honest and overbearing, and his cult following wouldn’t have it any other way. As his upcoming “TOUR4EVER” tour begins this week at Emporium, GLM sat with Rosenblatt for an interview & photoshoot…
GLM: Welcome Netherfriends! Who are you and how did you get here?
Netherfriends: My name is Shawn Rosenblatt and I got here in 1986.
GLM: Yeah? How did you get here? Was it a rocket ship from the moon or…?
N: I’m called Netherfriends. I’m a 1-man band. I tour 4Ever and do whatever I want
GLM: Could you expound more on tour 4ever?
N: I don’t have a full time home. All I do is tour and just live with people that I know across the country and overseas sometimes. I’ve been doing that for like the last 4 years.
GLM: What was the impetus for that decision?
N: I started a 50 states project, where I went to all 50 states in 1 year and wrote and recorded a song, played a show and kind of just tricked my brain into that lifestyle of touring full time and learning how to just survive off my art alone rather than working for someone else.
GLM: Why do you make music? Stupid question to ask but…
N: No, it’s a good question. It’s important to question that always as an artist, especially today. I started making music because it was really fun. I just was so interested in it, was really driven to play guitar and then learn how to write songs, so I started writing songs. When I started recording, I realized that recording was a great way to kill a lot of time. You can jump into it and record for hours and then realize that you just spent all day recording. Time just flies by. That’s my biggest problem with time, with how long the day is. I like the musician’s lifestyle because it’s so short, it just flies by because I’m having a good time.
GLM: It’s not work if you love what you’re doing.
GLM: Describe your experience in the industry thus far.
N: (laughs). I could say it in 3 words- “Fuck boy shit.”
GLM: (laughs) Favorite venue to perform at in Chicago and why?
N: I like the Burlington a lot because I lived right around the block when I lived at the Kimball House so that was really really awesome… I could just play and then have a party afterwards. But I really like Lincoln Hall a lot, Empty Bottle, Schuba’s, those are like my 3 favorites.
GLM: Outside of Chicago, what would you say is the weirdest show you’ve played? As you’ve said, you’ve been to all 50 states, you’ve traveled to Europe, etc. What is the most unique show you’ve done?
N: I played some weird shows in Alaska in Kodiak, which is a small island off the tip of Alaska. That was pretty bizarre. People don’t see live music, especially music like me ever, so in Alaska- anywhere in Alaska was pretty crazy.
GLM: They were really receptive to it?
N: They were really receptive to it… it was kinda eerie, I didn’t expect such a great reaction.
GLM: What projects do you have on deck? Seems like you’ve been locked away in the studio all summer making music, what’s coming up next?
N: I have a few different albums in the works. I have a love album called Lady Friends. I have a punk album that I finished awhile back that I’m sitting on, it’s called Logan Square. And then, I’m gonna put out an EP that showcases some of the singles from those two albums plus some collaborations that I have with rappers in Chicago. I’m making a Juke album as well with this producer named Kez the Dude and it’s called The Taste. Every song is named after a neighborhood in Chicago.
GLM: Is that in response to the passing of DJ Rashad, the Juke project?
N: No, I just wanted to do it. I’ve been really looking into Diplo and how he’s operating now and how he just goes to different cities or countries and dives into the culture of their music that he’s interested in making. It’s like an ethnomusicologist, I’d love to be that sort of person especially because I actually play instruments; to be able to take that knowledge and bring that to other places. Since I’m in Chicago and juke is a thing here, I figured I’d dive into it. A lot of people who hear it aren’t calling it juke but in my head it sounds like Juke – taking different elements of that making something new.
GLM: For sure. You’ve stated many times that the 1 reason you come back to Chicago is the Hip Hop scene. What’s your experience been like with that?
N: It’s been amazing! I was involved in the rock scene in Chicago and it was so bad. There’s nothing that worth while for me there, it didn’t inspire me. I was actually writing something today about it because I’m playing this show on Sunday with all rappers and it’s just where I want to be right now. I’ve toured and played all these local band shows and there not inspiring to me. It’s not music I listen to, so why would I be involved in a genre of music that I don’t listen to? Even if I don’t rap, I want to play with rappers because I enjoy that dynamic, I think that’s cool.
GLM: What would your dream event be? If you could one that was perfect, what would it be?
N: I want to make a 24 hour beat live with how I use my setup, like make beats live with my loop pedals. The cool thing about the loop pedal is that when you start recording, that initial audio starts fading as you’re adding new audio on top. I can constantly make a new beat within the span of however long that loop is. I just wanna do that for 24 hours and have rappers come up and freestyle or do verses. All the big Chicago names, all the friends, everyone.
GLM: Like clocking in for your shift at the mill (laughs)
N: (laughs) Right, comes by, hangs out. Has to be somewhere where we can smoke. I just have to figure out how to make money on it too and make it like a streamable event…
GLM: A sponsored event?
N: Yeah, a sponsored event but it’s got to be like a fun spot that a lot of people could come hang out and it would be 24 hours.
GLM: Like the way people go crazy at Boiler Room events?
N: Yeah, that’s how I want it to be. Almost like a DJ set but I’m playing the beats live.
GLM: How would you plan on staying awake?
N: I don’t know.
GLM: Sheer will power?
N: Yeah, I think you could stay up for 24 hours right?
GLM: Yeah, it’s very doable but usually you’ll need coffee.
N: Yeah, I’m gonna drink coffee. Caffeine. THC.