Over the weekend at Austin City Limits music festival, headliner Lanz Pierce was kind enough to sit down and talk about her experiences as a hip-hop artist. Originally from New York, Pierce has become a prominent artist in the hip-hop landscape, making her voice known across the country.
The Daily Campus: What first inspired you to become a musician?
Lanz: “Music is in my family, my blood. My grandfather made records in the ’40s and my mom, that was always her dream. She was a single mom and raised me alone so she kind of sacrificed what she wanted so that I could have it. Music was always around me, I grew up with a house full of records and my dad was also a DJ and ran a radio station, so I feel like music chose me. I just wanted to have a voice and really be able to say something and have a meaningful impact on the world, and music just felt like the most natural way.”
DC: So what drew you to the hip-hop style of music?
Lanz: “Poetry probably, just to me the rawness of what makes rap and what makes hip-hop so cool is that there’s really no lines to what you can and can’t do. It’s a very unapologetic genre ,and I grew up in New York surrounded by urban city vibes. My father lives in Queens and I was surrounded by where hip-hop was born. If you know anything about the origination of hip-hop, you know Queens is one of those epicenters where it was birthed.”
DC: So are there any inspirations you had from Queens that led you to where you are now?
Lanz: “The reason that I love New York or Queens or even Jersey – I have roots there too – so much is that there’s a constant pace. There’s this heartbeat, this hustle, so I think that aside from the musical element, you need a drive. You need to really be super driven and ambitious, and New York in particular just instilled that in me, that survival of the fittest.”
DC: Is that energy something you try to bring to the music you make?
Lanz: “One hundred percent. I’m very competitive and I think especially being a female hip-hop artist there’s a lot of stigmas and clichés and a lot of even negative things that come attached with just being that, and I have to fight against that all the time; to be taken seriously as an artist outside of the genre of a female rapper. Yeah, I definitely take that competitive edge and that spirit to the music. Even on the shows, even when I’m performing onstage, I believe that you leave it all on the stage. It’s a blessing to do what we do.”
DC: Is it different performing at a venue like Austin City Limits where it’s a huge festival scene versus just a regular concert?
Lanz: “Sure, I mean I do a lot of clubs. Clubs are obviously late night and there’s a different energy and there’s a different edge to it, but to do a festival where it’s light out, where there’s a lot of open air – it’s amazing. I’ve only done Lollapalooza other than this in terms of big festivals, so it’s exciting.”
DC: Are there any good stories from the road that you could tell?
Lanz: “It’s just always funny just because I’m usually the only female in the crew, I have a lot of guys around me so I somehow always end up playing the role of the caretaker or something, I’m like aren’t I the f***ing artist? It’s cool though, I’m surrounded by really amazing people, and again, just to be able to do what you love every day is amazing. Seeing a different city every time – we just did Stockholm, we did an international run, we have Australia coming up soon – it’s pretty cool to see people from around the world and their cultures and experience it.”
DC: Have you had a specific place that was one of you favorites to perform at?
Lanz: “Definitely, definitely. I’m going to say Stockholm because Stockholm was so cool, I didn’t realize how much they love hip-hop, how much they love rap, and it was incredible.”
DC: In terms of being a hip-hop artist, if there’s anyone you could collaborate with right now, who would that be?
Lanz: “That’s such a great question and it’s hard for me to pick one. I’m a really big J. Cole fan; I think that he’s incredible. I think A$AP Rocky, his show last night blew me away. A$AP was crazy, his charisma is amazing. I even like some of the newer guys; I think Vic Mensa is pretty cool, and Chance the Rapper. Those would be my four right there.”
DC: Do you have any tips for aspiring artists that want to make it big?
Lanz: “The tip would be you have to literally be
relentless. Just keep going, start, don’t stop, never take any temporary
failures or defeat as a reason to retreat. It’s literally one of the hardest
businesses in the world to get in to. And just be authentic. On the side of the
actual creativity, just be real, be you. Don’t try to sound like Drake or try
to sound like anybody else, just be you.”