Up-and-coming American pop artist Mod Sun has more than just catchy, electro-influenced hip-hop songs on his side, he says. The 24-year-old rapper, born in frigid Minneapolis, Minnesota but usually found in sunny Long Beach, California, is an outspoken acolyte of the law of attraction. It’s a concept he first discovered, and widely popularized, by Australian author Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret. In essence, if you believe strongly in positivity, you attract positivity, and a cascade of good things continues to come your way.
So far, they have done so for Mod, whose handle is actually an acronym stands for Movement on Dreams, Stand Under None. As an independent artist with no manager or record label, he’s leveraged the power of social media and his own relentless friendliness to build a following of hundreds of thousands of fans.
The outcome so far? In recent months, it’s been recording session in Miami Beach with producer Dave Siegel — who produced such chart-toppers as T.I.’s “Whatever You Like and Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Thru the Phone — as well as a finalist slot in a recent contest for unsigned artists to grace the cover of the venerable Rolling Stone.
Before striking out on his own as a solo artist, Mod played as a drummer in several pop and rock bands, and there is a certain hangover from that experience in the high-powered hooks of his new songs. The rest of his material is relentlessly sunny, aimed at spreading the good news of an optimistic attitude to all of his fans. Or rather, his friends — Mod insists that he doesn’t have a “fan base,” but rather, a “friend base.”
We caught up with Mod not too long ago for an interview; here are some selections from the chat. In the meantime, follow him on Twitter at @MODSUN, and download his free mixtape Health, Wealth, Success, and Happiness below.
Download link: http://www.mediafire.com/?h78dxd66ksn5iyn
Essential Pop: You got your start playing drums in rock bands. How did you make the transition to rap?
Mod Sun: I always identified with brilliant sentences. There’s never a song that’s too deep for me. I can really understand what an artist is saying. So I wanted to come from behind the kit and get at the front of the stage and in front of people.
One of the special things that I wanted to do with my hip-hop career — I call it “hippie-hop,” by the way, if I haven’t mentioned that — from the very, very first song, it was released. I’ve released every song that I’ve written, because I really wanted to show progress. So the very first song I ever rapped on, which is me not even knowing how to rap, really, I wanted to show people that it’s all about progress. So at this point I’ve had six releases, and four have been full-lengths, or more than full-lengths, they’re mixtapes.
I wanted to just show that you start at this point, and the goal is to get better. I’m not trying to be the best rapper, or the best musician, or the best artist. I’m trying to be the best human I can absolutely, at all costs, possibly be.
I gave up my life to positivity; all I’m trying to do is spread positive vibes to everybody. All I want to do with my artistry is inspire — I want the next artist to be better than me. I don’t want to be at the top of the list, although I’d love to tie, because I want everyone else to be just as good.
When I quit playing drums, I went back my hometown where everyone knew I was in a rock band that had toured and done everything I wanted to do. And when I told them I had quit to start rapping, they were shocked, obviously.
And it’s all about proving to yourself, and I think it is very important what people perceive you as. I think if you say something out loud, it makes you hold yourself to it. If you say, “I am going to do this” in front of a bunch of people, they’re expecting you to do that, and it’s going to propel you to do it even more. That’s what I believe. So I came out, and I said this is what I wanted to do, and I’m definitely going at it as hard as I can.
When you started out, did you look up to any actual rappers in particular?
Yeah, being from Minnesota, one of the guys I looked up to, and still do to this day, was a guy named Eyedea. He just recently passed away, so rest in peace to him. He was absolutely, hands-down the biggest influence on me to start, to get into hip-hop.
His rhymes and subject matter were different, he’s smart, he’s witty, he can do it all. He won Blaze Battle with the freestyle, even P. Diddy wanted to sign him at one point and he said no. He stayed in Minnesota and that’s what he wanted to do, stay with the Rhymesayers and Atmosphere and Brother Ali. So what got me into it was totally, 100 percent the Rhymesayers crew.
You kind of said that was what you were into to start. Do you look up to somebody else now?
I definitely still look up to them and their movement. In the rap world, right now, who do I look up to? I don’t know. I’m the first to tell everyone that I never really listened to the rap classics, like Biggie Smalls and Tupac and Big L, and even not too much Jay-Z. I’m not the biggest rap-head and I’ll be the first to be 100 percent truthful about that.
So, you know, I don’t really cite those people as having a huge influence on me. But, with the fact that I want to be a better artist in my craft of rapping, I study, and obviously now I listen and go back and better appreciate that they’re doing, and really study hip-hop. But at the beginning, it was all about getting out my voice and not caring who heard it.
How did you first get into ‘The Secret’ and the Law of Attraction?
One of my friends named Fatty, actually — that’s his actual government-given name — he showed it to me, and I couldn’t believe it. My world changed. Because the biggest thing about it is that everybody watches it and says, “Oh, I do that.” But the people who don’t really identify with it still say, “Well I do that already,” but it’s totally different when somebody sits there and looks you in the eye and says, “You’re doing it, but now try to just do that.”
I think it flips everybody’s world around when I show them. My sister, for instance, she didn’t grow up being all positive, and life wasn’t working that well. But I introduced her to it and she’s 100 percent a different person now. I just think it’s the greatest tool to live life — you adapt it to your own situation.
I don’t ever want to be the type of person that preaches that, this is the way you need to be. I always say, whatever you stand for, don’t judge the person who believes the opposite, because without them, you don’t have anything to stand for. So I believe that everyone should do exactly what they feel inside is right. But I do feel that in my case, I know that the law of attraction works 100 percent, and I’m trying to prove it to everyone else.
Your bio says you literally feel happy all the time. Do you ever feel down, and what do you do about it?
You can train yourself to not feel down, because you control everything. Your brain controls everything, and you control your brain. The fact that I’m talking to you right now, that is a total choice on my part to open my mouth and say these words. I’m controlling everything, and that means I control my thoughts.
So that means there’s a possibility I’m about to think down about something, I know it does no good, so I stop myself from doing it immediately. It says it’s a scientific thought that a positive thought is more powerful than a negative thought, it’s twice as powerful. So say that you do think a negative thought, and make it positive — it’s twice as powerful, so you just erased the bad thought.
That’s how I taught myself, knowing I just thought something bad, so I’m going to take the same thing and feel positive about it, and it completely erases the negative. And I know that.
What’s a concrete example of something you’ve achieved or something that’s happened in your career that you attribute to the law of attraction?
I want to make an impact on the world in a positive way. If you think about Mod Sun out there, the majority of people out there, if not all, think of positivity. So that sends an image of Mod Sun and a thought of positivity into the universe. The universe is then going to take that and send it back to me, because someone else out there is thinking positively about me.
And again, I mean, I could cite a million things to you right now about how, exactly, it has happened. My name stands for Movement on Dreams, Stand Under None. I’d be lying to you if not every single thing that’s happened in my career was not part of a plan, something I had asked for a year ago, two years ago.
Do you have plans to release a proper studio album? What are your latest musical projects?
Yes, I have a fantastic EP that I’ve just released this past December. It’s called In Mod We Trust. Upon release of it, it debuted at number one on the iTunes hip-hop charts above Black-Eyed Peas, Kanye, Kid Cudi. I mean, not for like, a month, but it did debut at number one.
I recorded that EP with a guy named Dave Siegel who’s a fantastic producer down in Miami. He did T.I.’s “Whatever You Like,” Soulja Boy’s “Kiss Me Through the Phone,” and he works off the Billboard charts and makes hits.
Are you looking for a record label deal?
I think music is at the absolute greatest point it’s ever been in the history of music. People complain about it all day, and there are old heads in the industry who don’t want to change, but I think music is so amazing, and everything is possible. People like Owl City went from a basement in Minnesota to number one on the Billboard Charts. That is possible!
So I think being on a label is great, because it means you have people working for you. That’s fantastic. But guess what, I can do everything by myself right now. I am my self-promotion — granted, half my day is spent really promoting the shit out of myself. But I’ve decided to do that instead of working a cubicle, so lucky me, I can sit on my iPhone and be at the beach, smoking a joint, and be doing my promotion!
I think until everything is over your head where you don’t even get to sleep any more because you have so much to do, I think you don’t need a label. You should hold out. I’ve been offered multiple record deals from major labels, independent labels, nothing labels, everything, because people have caught on early to this and knew the potential of it. I’ve been offered plenty of deals, and I’ve just said, you know what, I can do everything myself right now.