Editor's Note: We first encountered Blaison Maven at our ISSUE 03 Release Party earlier in January 2013. We hadn't formally been introduced but he had a familiar face and a kind smile. The somewhat reserved recording artist tagged along with SUSPEND Staffer Jonathan Tate, who conducted this photoshoot and interview with Maven, back in May during our editorial with Ashlay Cashlay and Ann-Marie Hoang for ISSUE 04. Blaison stayed until the evening rolled around when we finally wrapped up the shoot. He had a portable notebook in hand. After exchanging pleasantries he asked if we wanted to see this music video he was going to release the next, for his song 'Gold Chain' directed by Phil Mao. It may have been the long exhausting day that preceded the moment, but upon watching the first few scenes and hearing Blaison's voice for the first time we were visually transported.
JONATHAN: Who are you? BLAISON: A young King reigning from the south Los Angeles region of California by the name of Blaison Maven.
How did you get the name Blaison Maven? Is there a significant meaning behind that name? [It's] something I came up with. It's a play on the words blaze-on...being consistently hot… (but pronounced Blaise-On). And "Maven" is derived from the original term, of course. One who's an expert in a certain field that passes knowledge onto others.
Where do you hail from? I'm from the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles. Born and Bred.
When it comes to apparel, you mainly stick to neutral colors (i.e. black), is that for a reason? No reason, I'm just pretty fond of neutral color - I have maybe 10 different pairs of black jeans. I have a lot of bright colors in the closet, but I'm cautious when it comes to wearing bright stuff. You just gotta know how to pull it off properly.
In your song 'Reminisce,' you mention being friends with someone who had an AR-15. Was it always like that growing up? It was just the circumstances within the neighborhood we grew up under. Even though I didn't join a gang I was always around that because it was everywhere. I knew everyone that might have been from wherever…even the guys I played ball with on the team... and for the guys that were a part of that lifestyle, having to carry whatever to protect yourself came with that.
In the song 'Soar' off of 'The Stratosphere' album you say this line, "I don't mind being Porsche-less, 'cause if knowledge was dollars I'd be on Forbes' list". Can you explain the meaning behind this line? Even though I'm not physically rich, my wealth is of the mind. At the end of the day cars and flashy shit isn't everything. It's nice to have but its all about what you know. When it's all said and done, it's what you know that gets you that shit anyway. Whether it's this business or business in general, it's who you know that puts you on, but its what you know that will determine how long you stay on. And that applies to everything.
What song do you like the most that you've written so far? Why that song? It's a song I haven't even put out. You guys will hear it pretty soon. It's called "The Walking Dead". It's about going against everything and not conforming. That's all I've known all my life. I've never been cool with going with what everyone else is doing; I'm gonna form my own opinion and stay true to what I'm doing.
You also mentioned watching Cartoon Network in the song. What was/is your favorite show on Cartoon Network? 'Dexter's Lab.' That kid was a genius.
Are there any music videos out now that you like? This may sound narcissistic but my video for 'Reminisce.' That's my favorite video right now just because of the story behind it and what it means to me personally. And there are a lot of people that have [watched it] and felt a personal attachment to it.
Is there anything you draw inspiration from for your lyrics? Things I've been through, seen, and go through everyday. Growing up seeing what was taking place in the environment around me.
How did you come with the name 'The Stratosphere' for your last album? There's no limit to the stratosphere, as there is none to one's ambition and potential. Reaching that without letting anyone nor anything stop you. You can have the wildest and most outlandish aspirations but nothing is impossible.
You frequently mention playing basketball in your lyrics. Do you really have game on the court? Yeah I played ball all my life. That's my first love. I'll let whoever wants to challenge me in a one-on-one be the judge of that.
Which venue have you had the most fun performing at? The Roxy... Hands down. Me and the homies started a mosh-pit, peeled the roof back. Classic night for real.
Favorite pair of sneakers/shoes you own? They were my [Air Jordan 11] Concords but my black [Nike Air Max Charles] Barkley's are my go-to shoes. Discreet but still stand out. They have an aerodynamic feel.
Top five films? Rocky 4, Ali, Scarface, 300, and Dark Knight rises. Those films out of the ordinary.
Can you name a few artists you grew up listening to? Dj Quik, Ruff Ryders, Pac, Esco, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. A lot of Mo-town. My parents jammed Al Green and Lionel Richie around the crib so I became accustomed to that sound.
Do you bump your own tunes when riding around the city of Los Angeles? Sometimes...Depends on the mood. I play a lot of Sade in the car if I'm with a girl, especially at night.
Do you have a favorite era of music? 90's to early 2000's. I was young but everything taking place at that time really resonated with me. That era had a real important impact on my generation. You had more Hip-hop on television as far as shows like "Rap City" and the original 106. "Rap City" would come on when I was at school so whenever I stayed home sick I was amped 'cause I would get the chance to catch it. And music videos overall were more cinematic because the budgets were much higher; it was just different.
I've heard stellar things about your collaboration with New Zealand's P-Money on the 'Reminisce' record. How was that experience for you? It was a great experience, P-Money is the homie. I met him in LA through some friends. He told me he heard my music and that he wanted to work with me on some stuff. So he put some beats on my hard drive right before he had to catch a flight back to NY and on there was the beat for 'Reminisce.' It wasn't in its complete form as you hear it. I recorded it and sent it to him then put his final touches on it. Turned out dope.
You have a calm and collective attitude. How do you maintain this chill frame of mind? Just a natural high with me; I'm a really chill dude. I'm not a really an intense person unless the situation calls for it. But for the most part I'm just chilling.
What artists do you enjoy working with? The homies JeanLeon and Dame 55. Dame is a character. He's hilarious even when he's not trying to be. But yeah, those are my guys.
Is there anyone you want to work with production-wise? I have a small circle of producers that I work with and that's everyone I have a desire to work with at the moment. But my ears are always open. Myself, Gage Brown and Soraya La Pread are on some stuff right now. Those are the homies. Extremely talented individuals.
When coming up with lyrics for a song do you write in a notepad, on a cellphone, or take everything to memory? There have been times where I've written songs without any pen or pad. But for the most part my songs are written - I take pride in that.
Do you have a favorite song off of 'The Stratosphere' album? 'The Soar' is my favorite song. Just because of the level of vulnerability in the song.
What's next for King Blaise? "Universal Domination."
Interview and photography by Jonathan Tate
Follow Jonathan on Twitter at @Johnny13laze