Juiceboxxx: Freaking out

by Halee Hastad

Juiceboxxx in conversation does not differ much from Juiceboxxx in performance.

Much like his high energy anthemic punk meets aggressive rap music, Juice speaks fast and direct. The only noticeable difference being an air of polite niceness to his conversational tone, likely a result of growing up in the midwest, Milwaukee.

He is a musician whose sound is reflective of his anomalous identity. From being called the worst rapper alive, to finding himself as a subject in a book, Juice has made a name for himself under a variety of critique and some praise.

His taste spans across a menagerie of topics, influences, and sounds. He came up through listening to many genres, describing himself as always being on the fringe of multiple scenes.

“I was often the one punk rock kid at a hip-hop show,” he said during a recent interview. “I drifted in and out of a lot of rap, electronic, and punk circles.”

And now, more than a decade into making music, he seems to have harnessed a clear idea of what he is going for.

Juice told of a tour with Public Enemy a few years ago being especially influential to his traits, and in the same breath pledged  Bruce Springsteen as a leading example to his style and taste. This is an artist who operates across a long and wide line of approaches and techniques, resulting in a sound that is relatable to angsty teenagers, angry corporate agents, and anyone in between.

Many of his lyrics revolve around a personal dialogue that tells of confusion, misunderstanding, frustration, and just not giving a damn. His website describes these testaments not as lunacy, but rather a positive “onslaught of creative ideas and outbursts.”

Freaked Out American Loser, the title of his latest album, begins with “Freaking Out,” an anthem telling of feelings many of us have had living in a country where the times seem only to be getting more and more dire. He released the album on his own label, Thunder Zone, which he founded as a way to promote his interests both musically and other.

“My story is of someone fumbling through the world trying to make sense of it through music,” he said. “I feel this is the beginning of my articulating an abstract thing that has been in my mind for a long time.”

Juice describes his music in terms of his own experiences, and said it is, like himself, inherently American. He has been playing with a full backing band since 2012 and his performances are noteworthy in delivery. Audience members can expect his full commitment with sweating, jerking, shaking, and other seismic movements. He feels a duty to live up to his heroes, even if there are only five people watching, he said. The delivery is not to be mistaken as uncontrollable carelessness, but instead a seriously intense physical and emotional experience.

What he expresses is something bigger than himself, Juice said. And his music and performance function hand-in-hand in making sense of that bigger thing. There is a certain absurdity to his life and music which has surely been judged and misunderstood, but it is fueled by passion, and genuine in nature, so it ought not be disrespected.

Looking forward, Juice said he doesn’t think much in terms of accomplishments, but rather focuses on maintaining a perseverance in making records and playing live shows, acts which he feels no less excited by now than he did when he began.

Juiceboxxx plays Make.Shift on Friday, Sept. 22, with Kung Foo Grip and Remember Face. For more about him, visit juiceboxxx.com or follow his Facebook page.