Balancing school, athletics and other extra curricular activities can be stressful for any college student, but on top of juggling all of that this past spring, Mitch Brown, or Kid Quill also managed to create an album. The 20-year-old attended class at DePauw University during the day, and then opened for hip-hop artists like SoMo at night. He’s made his way out of small town Shelbyville, Ind. and onto stages in St. Louis and Chicago -- and onto the top of the iTunes charts. Last month Kid Quill officially released his current album, Ear to Ear, and within a day it landed a spot on the iTunes hip-hop Top 40 albums list. The compilation of songs explain the struggles of growing up, finding a place in the world and falling in love. Up top, "Feelings" takes fans through the various emotions of a 20-something-year-old chasing success. And by the end, "All Right" addresses all of the people that ever doubted Quill's quest for success. Ear to Ear is a musical story, and it's laced with witty lyrics and infectious feel-good vibes.
Before his performance at Irving Theater alongside rappers Mike Stud and IamG, I talked to Kid Quill about his new album and ability to balance two very different lifestyles. Check it out!
NUVO: Where did the name Kid Quill come from?
Kid Quill: Kid Quill came from my middle name; it's a double entendre. My middle name is Quilleon, and so I kind of just wanted to take that and make it personal. The "kid" came from when I started making music. I was a camp counselor and so I kind of wanted to put the "kid" in front just to capture that moment of my life.
NUVO: What inspired you to pursue your interest in music?
Kid Quill: It started off as a joke. My friends and I were just kind of messing around one time in my basement and they took a video of me. We woke up the next morning and it had 700 views, but we had no idea who viewed it or anything like that. They just pushed me to start my own career, so I cheaply recorded a mix tape. And then from there it's just progressed and progressed and started to take off.
NUVO: How do you manage to balance school, sports and your music all at once?
Kid Quill: It was super hectic making the album. I had to book around so many different events and games and stuff like that. But, I think the best answer to that is time management. I really had to manage my time and there were some nights where I'd have a show in Louisville and I'd have to come back to school and have class at 8:20 the next day. There were a lot of all-nighters and I had to make a lot of commitments, but I've decided to step away from soccer in the fall. I'll have more time to focus on music and I'll have more time to focus on school so it will get a little easier.
NUVO: Do you intend to put more focus on school or would you like to further pursing your music as more of a career?
Kid Quill: As of now music is just a hobby. What I really plan to do is get my degree and take a year off and maybe do music to see what happens. And then I plan on going to law school to pursue entertainment law.
NUVO: Some fans say that you remind them of Mac Miller; how do you set yourself apart from other hip-hop artists?
Kid Quill: At first I set out with this idea where I just really wanted to be different, but then as I started making my record I realized that being myself will make me different. Instead of honing in on trying to do things other people weren't doing, I kind of just started thinking, "You know, why don't I just do what I want to do?" I think that has kind of helped me set myself apart.
NUVO: What artists or bands influence you the most?
Kid Quill: I'm a big Jackson 5 fan; I listen to a lot of them. Other hip-hop artists that I'm inspired by are Chance The Rapper and Jon Bellion, but my favorite artist is probably Big Sean. And then Chitty Bang also inspires me.
NUVO: I saw that you had the opportunity to open for SoMo back in April and then Riff Raff in May, what was that like?
Kid Quill: Riff Raff was quite the adventurer. It was hard going from SoMo, where there was a crowd of a bunch of girls, and then to Riff Raff. When I opened for him, no offense to St. Louis, there were some freaks there. I took a video of a guy that was literally in the corner by himself just dancing crazy. It was a complete change of pace, but they were both fun. SoMo was very good live, and with Riff Raff I think I just learned about the life of a super star. I just got to watch how he handled himself.
NUVO: Ear to Ear made it to the top 40 on iTunes hip-hop the day it was released. When did you realize that and what was that moment like?
Kid Quill: I was at work and my dad sent a group text between my family and I and it showed the album at 101, right above Biggie, who's also one of my favorite artists. And we were just kind of joking like, "Hey, we actually made it on the charts!" Then throughout the day my dad would say, "Hey, it's really moving up" or "It's at 80 now." And I just thought, "Wow, this is crazy, I didn't think it would chart." After that I started keeping up with it and then all of a sudden I kept looking and it was getting close to the top 50. Then I went to the pool with the day camp, so I didn't have my phone around, and when I snuck to the bathroom and looked and it was at 36, and I was just like, "Wow." It peaked at 34.
NUVO: Which track off of Ear to Ear is your favorite?
Kid Quill: That's hard; if I had to pick I'd probably go with "Feelings," the second song behind the "Intro." We had a lot of fun making that one. We had a guy come in and play guitar on it and we added a bunch of different cool things like little voices behind the chorus. It was just the little things that make it special to me.
NUVO: Do you see your sound changing as you continue to produce music?
Kid Quill: There are a couple things that I do still want to experiment with. I do want to try to do some other things like work with some other artists and see how they can evolve my sound if we got on the same song together. As of now, I think I've found a sound that I like for myself and so I don't think it's going to change too much, but I think it will definitely have a few quirks here and there that will change.
NUVO: What projects are you currently working on and what can fans expect to see from you in the future?
Kid Quill: Right now we're just building a catalog of music. We're going to try to put a lot of music together, but I'm not sure what the next project is. Personally, I think that the music is just going to keep getting better. I think that Ear to Ear was a good start to kind of show people that this is for real and I think that the next project or the next couple songs will make people think, "Wow."