“One to watch”.
This phrase was something I’d hear my teacher say about me when she handed the class to a reliever. Why? (Perhaps) I was a little cheeky for my age. But I wish “she’s one to watch” was meant in the way Gino October should be watched. Blink too quickly and you’ll miss this man reach the top. This is a hell of a young artist that transcends well beyond his age, doing nothing more than pursuing his natural-born gift, beginning to create a stir of ‘WOW’ amidst worldwide rap listeners.
If the fruits of his labour weren’t so damn tasty to listen to, it’d be annoying how talented he is.
Gino didn’t always have it so victorious. Born in Cape town but arriving in New Zealand at the ripe age of 12, Gino recalls “falling asleep to the sound of gunshots in his neighbourhood, something that his family didn’t want him growing up in no more.” He began recording and producing his own music at 16 here in New Zealand, but this new safe home didn’t take away any memory of his past, Gino’s consistently referencing his experiences throughout his lyrical narratives. I’m living for the line he rapped in a live freestyle session on Mai FM last week: “My skin is black. And I’m more proud of that than any rap I’ve made on any track and that’s a fact.”
Check out the further story of Gino – in his preferred way of speaking.
Stunned at his effortless flow?
Yeah. That’s Gino for you. The way he raps is set to make an impact on your sound system. Anyone who’s into poetic and socially conscious storytelling behind a silky and sophisticated beat will appreciate it. Gino stands for owning your unique story, your history, your personality and your self-cultivated style – that’s why he’s so attractive to our progressive generation. Watch this space.
That first EP of his we heard in 2016 ‘Conflicted Conscience’ had Gino performing in venues throughout Auckland. He’s since featured in one of JessB’s tracks ‘Work With’ featuring BigZeeks and smashed a live set at one of the biggest festivals in the country Northern Bass with his EP ‘Expansion’ in 2018. ‘‘Look How Far We’ve Come’ is the working title of his newest and hottest project. Gino dropped his first track on the album ‘Calisthenics’, just last Friday 31st July. When I played it aloud for my flat for the first time, that intro line hit hard. “Better believe I never stopped working. Even when s- didn’t work out”. You speak truth Gino; time didn’t stop despite the rush of lockdown life slowing down. The grind was real, and a few of us took the time to smash those goals we had resting on the backfoot.
We got to sit down with Gino for a quick Q&A to get to know more about the rising artist.
Let’s talk about this incredible taste and talent for music you’ve got going on. How did it all start?
Growing up I listened to the music my parents would play on their vinyl and cassette tape player. They listened to a lot of Motown classics like The Stylistics, The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, The Isley Brothers, etc. They also listened to a lot of Jazz from artists like Al Jarreau and George Benson. I found Hip Hop/Rap through my older brother. He always had it playing really loud in his room. He even had all the posters of artists like 50 cent, 2pac, The Notorious B.I.G, etc. I started noticing that all these songs were more than just songs, they meant something to me and those around me. I started viewing music as a form of expression rather than just songs. All these genres and more sparked my interest in music.
What’s the hardest part of working in the music industry?
Developing a brand that allows for growth and longevity. Creating music and performing comes naturally to me, but figuring out what my sound and entire aesthetic is as an artist took time.
Best thing that’s happened to you this week?
I released my first single, Calisthenics, with Universal.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
Bob Marley, Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Jay Z, Nas, Outkast, J.Cole and Kendrick Lamar
Where do you see your career going for yourself?
I see myself going on tour and selling out arenas/festivals all over the world… Well once Covid-19 is under control of course.
Who are 3 artists you’d love to collab with?
Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign, The Weekend
Your insta handle, cuppagino_ is a clever wordplay. I like it. Let us hear it though. Is that your usual coffee order?
Sadly, it’s not my usual coffee order anymore. I used to love cappuccinos until I started drinking mochaccinos. Now it’s all I drink at cafes. My IG handle was always going to be a play on words and initially it was a toss-up between, cuppagino_ or Al_pagino.
Spin us a yarn about something you did during lockdown?
I tried to keep busy during lockdown. I started going for morning runs around the field and did push up challenges with my friends via video call. I also learned how to solve a 3×3 and 4×4 Rubik’s cube. Other than that, I created music and edited videos for a series called Watchlist. Naturally, I binged watched tv shows like The Sopranos and Community in my down time.
Favourite Kiwi artists?
Che Fu, L.A.B, Katchafire, Homebrew, David Dallas, Melodownz
What’s something you wish you could tell your 16-year-old self?
I’d tell my 16-year-old self to enjoy your youth! Be free and stop stressing about what you want to study at university, you’re too young to have all that pressure on your shoulders. You’ll figure it out with time.
What’s been your favourite release so far and why?
My most recent release, Calisthenics, because I’ve learned so much on what goes into promoting a single. I feel like it’s the type of experience money can’t buy.
Let us in on the story behind your new release, Calisthenics.
Calisthenics was made at the end of last year. The beat was produced by KruffKurtis (aka Kurt Murray). I call him my brother even though we’re not really related, my big brother Gio introduced me to him and our families have always been close ever since we came to New Zealand. He made the very first beat I ever rapped over when I was 16. He also showed me how to make beats and guided me through the recording process, in many ways he was and still is a mentor to me. It’s awesome to see how far we’ve come and how things have come full circle with this release being my first official single with Universal.
If you had to describe Gino October with 3 words, what would they be?
Driven, Open minded and confident.