When folks talk about people who’ve become stars on YouTube, it’s often those flash-in-the-pan viral moments that only occasionally get appearances in Weezer music videos. Rarely do people tend to think about artists who have built up a following one video at a time, being watched while they develop their skills and craft, fine-tuning with each passing posting. For Wax, he has definitely gone the “old school” route to finding fame.
Although Michael Jones has been releasing music since 2002, it was with the advent of a little thing called YouTube that allowed him a new, unique way to get his music heard, and as his inventive freestyles picked up steam, so did the attention that was being drawn to him. Another internet celebrity, Ray William Johnson, asked him to write a song to show at the end of his videos, which became the indelible classic “Stalkin’ Your Mom”. More mixtapes followed, and before long, Jones—known best under his Wax alias—wound up being signed to Def Jam.
Now, with his major-label full-length due out soon, Wax took some time out of non-stop rhyme-spitting to answer PopMatters’ 20 Questions, here revealing how intoxication helped him write, how Amy Winehouse helped him through the tough times, and the professional jealousy he has towards OK Go . . .
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1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
I cried when Leonardo DiCaprio floated away and died in Titanic . . . cried due to laughter because it was so hilarious! No, in all seriousness, I remember tearing up while reading the book Survival in the Killing Fields. It is unbelievable what that guy went through.
2. The fictional character most like you?
I would go with Paul Bunyan. He does it real big.
3. The greatest album, ever?
I would never claim that any album is the greatest album ever because I haven’t heard every album ever made. You will never hear me use the phrase “greatest _____ever”. I may say, “This is the best apple pie I ever tasted”, but I can’t fairly tell you that it’s the best ever without sampling a shitload of other apple pies. That being said, the Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride 2 the Pharcyde was very influential to me when I was younger. D’angelo’s Voodoo is a powerful album. Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black helped me through tough times. Lastly, you can’t go wrong with anything by the Ohio Players.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
My dad watched mad episodes of Star Trek when I was growing up so I gotta go with that. I never thought Princess Lea was that hot either. Captain Kirk was [having sex with] alien chicks that were way hotter.
5. Your ideal brain food?
Drinking a lot of alcohol by yourself can definitely get you thinking. I have written most of my best stuff when I was intoxicated.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
The accomplishment I am proud of most in my whole life is teaching my nephew Chris how to ride a bike. I have never felt more proud of myself and someone else at the same time. I was overwhelmed with joy that day.
7. You want to be remembered for . . . ?
I want to be remembered for my music. If it affects people today it could definitely affect people once I am dead. People discover the music, art, writing, etc. of dead people all the time. I remember when I really first started discovering music and it was great. I get e-mails all the time from kids who love my stuff and I hope kids discover it in the future even when I am a corpse.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
I think Michael Jordan is a very inspirational person. I know he is still alive, but his prime years of playing basketball are gone. His talent combined with his work ethic and attitude could inspire anybody, athletic or not. Obviously there are a lot of other inspirational people out there, but I will just stick with Mike.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
That music video that OK Go did with the treadmills. I absolutely love shit like that. I am into low budget creativity. Videos like that are why I love the Internet. I really wish I would’ve thought of that.
10. Your hidden talents . . . ?
I have had a talent since I was a little kid where I can say words backwards. Like if you say a word, I can say it back to you in the way it would be pronounced if it was spelled backwards, and I reply pretty much instantly. I never practice, and every couple years someone reminds me I can do it. I always think I am not gonna be able to do it any more, but I always can.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
My mom has definitely said “persistence pays off” to me plenty of times. I have been doing this music thing for a long, long time and now I am making a good living off of it. Almost everything in life I have tried I have finished. I graduated high school and college, and even though I don’t need those pieces of paper for this career, just actually taking the time and energy to finish has made me a better person. You can’t just quit when shit gets hard. That is, unless it is a job that sucks I have definitely quit many of those.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
I have only stolen small things from 7-11 and such and that was when I was a kid. The best thing I ever bought was this laptop I am using right now. At the time I bought it I really couldn’t afford it but I bought it anyway. I used it to record mad songs and edit mad videos that have gotten me to where I am today.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . . ?
I feel best chilling on my couch in pajama pants watching The Office.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
I would go alone. I don’t want some asshole talking to me while I’m trying to enjoy my incredible dinner.
15. Time travel: where, when, and why?
Honestly I think I would do NYC in the disco era. Everybody seemed so happy then. It was just dancing, smiling, and cocaine. I wouldn’t want to stay long, but it would be a good extended weekend.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation, or Prozac?
I am not sure what “hit man” means in this question. Honestly I have a difficult time with stress. I guess I deal with it by drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. I am trying to change though. I want to be one of those people that goes running when they are stressed out. I hate running though.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . . ?
I drink coffee every morning, I smoke cigarettes even though I really wanna stop, I drink alcohol every night, and I make music during all of this. As far as food, I love buffalo wings and French onion soup.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
I love Southern California. Los Angeles for work, San Diego for fun and/or relaxation. There’s nothing like sitting at a Chesapeake Bay-side restaurant eating blue crabs, though. That is paradise to me.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
“Whattup man, you should check out my mixtape. You can download if for free at www.waxdotcom.com.”
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
I am working on a lot of different songs. In the near future I plan to put out a mixtape, and beyond that I want to put out an official album. I am also working on putting some tour dates together. I am keeping real busy.
// Notes from the Road
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