Signed to Ear Drummers and 88 Rising, Spence Lee aka Shotta Spence is the first-generation Vietnamese/Chinese American artist making waves. Get familiar with him via this VIPER interview…
You just released ‘On God’ – tell me something unique about your creative process making the track.
In 2021 I was recovering from an emergency surgery. I could barely walk or talk for like three weeks, it was a rough time. My friend Melz came to visit me at home and we were sitting on the couch listening to that B-Rackz beat. I started freestyling that flow and he was like “that’s fire you gotta lay that down,” and I did. It was meaningful because during that time I was praying a lot and I used the song as a positive affirmation and giving gratitude to God.
What’s your favourite thing about your upcoming album?
My favourite thing is the variety of sounds and the versatility. It’s a real warm album with a lot of feeling and melody and of course the beats are hitting. I also love the live instrumentation through the project.
Any surprises there?
You’re signed with Mike Will Made It and 88Rising, does Mike handle the majority of production on the album? Who else is on there?
Yes Mike is executive producing it, he’s on a bunch of the beats. Kakuyon is doing a lot of the live instrument production. The Eardrummers are also all over the project: Melz, Myles Harris, Pluss, P-Nazty, TrueBeatz, Lifted & Zwiffa. There’s also production from Mohntra, Dev B, Mike Larrry, B-Rackz, K6, Kenneth English, MaxFlames and Lucian.
What five words define your sound?
Energetic, anthemic, soulful, melodious, motivating
Tell me something unique about your creative process?
I like to jam out with the producers while they are making the beat from scratch. Sometimes I co-produce. I also prefer to record myself.
Which song of yours would you like people to hear first?
‘SPEND MY DAYS’. It’s a newly recorded song that hasn’t been released yet, but it will be my first release of 2023. Everyone who’s heard it, loves it so I’m excited to share it with the world.
What inspired you to make that song?
Love. Real love, unconditional love. It’s a real soulful song with warm melodies and harmonies… that’s the bag I’m in right now.
What’s the most vulnerable you’ve allowed yourself to be when writing/making music?
I spoke on my friend being murdered on my first project. I also spoke about my anger issues as a kid on my upcoming project. I also talk about love and relationship dynamics. I think love is a beautiful thing and it gets vulnerable when you talk about it. Everyone experiences love, no matter how tough and rough you are. If I’m talking about sad topics I try to do it poetically though. I want my music to heal and uplift.
You just did Coachella and you’re on the line up for the first NYC Head in The Clouds, what’s the best part of festival performances?
The best part is the big crowds and being able to feel the collective energy. Also being able to gain new supporters.
What’s the best/worst experience you’ve had on stage?
The best experience was Coachella 2022. The crowd was electric. The worst experience was probably when I lost my voice mid-performance at a festival. I still turned up though.
What is your favourite song to perform?
Right now ‘Arriba’. I have some brand new songs I’m going to perform on tour that I really love though.
What are you most looking forward to about your tour with Masiwei?
Being able to travel and see different cities and share my music with more people. This is my first tour so I’m looking forward to the entire experience.
Which artist/song/album made you want to make music?
2Pac, Kanye, Kid Cudi and Kendrick inspired me to start writing at first. Then when Future and Young Thug were dropping in 2014-2015 that made me want to really lock in on music. That’s when I really started believing I could be an influential artist.
If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing instead?
Fashion design or holistic nutrition.
What’s success to you?
Success is being able to use my God-given gifts to spread love and help others. Being able to make people feel good through my art is success to me. Self-improvement, spiritual growth and shedding my ego is success to me. But most importantly being able to wake up every day and experience life with my loved ones is success to me.
What moment in your life/career forced you to change direction?
When my friend Chino passed in 2012 due to gun violence, it really made me focus on putting my heart into my passions and seizing every moment and opportunity. Tomorrow isn’t promised. He was an Asian-American artist as well and I felt like we both had unique perspectives growing up in Franklin Township, Somerset NJ. Him passing at 19 years old gave me a sense of urgency to tell my story and really put on. Another turning point was In 2018, I had a health scare and that really made me lock in on eating better, thinking better, and paying attention to the energy and words I put out into the universe. Taking care of my mental, physical and spiritual well-being has become my top priority.
Where can people keep in touch with you?
Instagram and twitter @shottaspence but really I’d rather you link me in person at a show!