Since uploading his first track to Soundcloud back in 2015, Joe Mulherin, better known as Nothing, Nowhere, has been cultivating a large following due to his unique sound that brings hip-hop and emo rock crashing together, creating something dark, intoxicating and fresh.
‘Rappers are the new rockstars’ is a phrase that often gets thrown around these days, Nothing, Nowhere is the embodiment of that theory in all aspects: sound, aesthetic, fan base – the “Hammer” rapper doesn’t fit into any real box when it comes to genre – in fact, he wants to get rid of the boxes entirely.
Nothing, Nowhere proved that he is a name to be taken seriously this year, after signing with Fulled By Ramen (an American record label famed for rock music, not hip-hop) and going on to release his third studio album ‘Ruiner’ – his strongest body of work to date.
We caught up with the Massachusetts born rapper ahead of his mammoth European tour, that includes four UK dates.
RIDE Music: First of all, why are you called Nothing, Nowhere?
Nothing, Nowhere: I was inspired by a lecture by the late British philosopher Alan Watts. It was about the concept of nothingness, something about it struck chord with me.
RM: Who inspires you musically?
NN: I guess I’m all over the place. My inspirations lately range from artists like Kanye, Frank Ocean and James Blake to artists like Code Orange, Julien Baker or Charlie Puth.
RM: There’s a lot of talk nowadays about rap being the new rock, your music seems to blur the lines between those genres, how would you describe your sound? and is ‘Emo Rap’ a fair term?
NN: It’s cool to see that genres are becoming sort of irrelevant, with songs and even with mixed bill shows. It’s awesome to see artists from different genres and backgrounds coming together. I wouldn’t call my music “emo rap” personally. I’m certainly inspired by both of those genres and listen to artists within both realms – but I guess I would just call my music experimental.
RM: You’ve recently released your third album ‘Ruiner’, could you tell us about your inspirations when writing the album?
NN: I was inspired by the idea of minimalism. Just letting the vocals breathe and keeping both the production and process minimal. Ruiner to me was about just letting go and creating from the heart without any self judgement. It was a nice change for me and a big step.
RM: A lot of the album seems like a deeply personal insight into your mental state, did you find it difficult putting these feelings on record or is it more like a therapeutic process?
NN: It depends. Sometimes dealing with mental illness is so overwhelming that I can’t bring myself to do anything much less write a song. However, I find that more often than not it helps me immensely to put these things into my music. Sometimes i’ll go through a challenging time and come out the other side with lots in my mind and in my heart, and music has been a catharsis and a safe place to store all of these overwhelming feelings. It really does help me.
RM: Both the album title and all the songs on ‘Ruiner’ are one word ending in ‘er’, is there a reason behind this?
NN: No reason whatsoever. It just looks cool to me haha!
RM: You often hide your face in videos and photos, why is that?
NN: It started sort of by chance. I never really thought about posting a picture of myself. That slowly evolved into me as a person taking a backseat and just letting my music talk instead. I’m a bit more exposed these days but I still usually stay in the background. I just prefer it that way.
RM: You start your European tour in the UK this October, do you enjoy touring?
NN: Touring is honestly a big challenge. It’s hard being in a different city every day and being away from family and friends, but at the end of the day its always worth it to meet and hang out with likeminded people and supporters. It makes my day when I get to talk with a fan and share a moment with them.
RM: Are there any cities you’re looking forward to visiting in Europe more than others?
NN: I’ve never been to most of them, so it will be an adventure. I got to play the UK this past fall with Good Charlotte and everyone I met was so kind and welcoming, so I’m looking forward to meeting people from these other countries and learning about and immersing myself in different cultures.
RM: Do you listen to much music from the UK?
NN: Of course, like I said earlier I’m a big fan of James Blake. Some other artists I enjoy from the UK would be Misogi, AJ Tracey, Skepta, Radiohead, The Smiths, Sullii…the list goes on.
RM: Finally, what can your fans in the UK expect from a Nothing, Nowhere show?
NN: A beautiful form of controlled chaos. It’s a room full of people letting their emotions go in a space thats truly nonjudgmental. Come out to a show, you never know what or who you might find.