Ryan Caraveo Explores Mind Control with Hip Hop Melodies In ‘Butterfly Boy’ [Q&A]

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The Los Angeles based Ryan Caraveo may have made his musical debut back in 2014, but the innovative hip hop artist continues to turn heads today with his fantastic new album, Butterfly Boy. As a child with no professional experience in music, Caraveo would always rap battle his brother, which triggered his interest in melodies and lyricism. Caraveo's newest effort, Butterfly Boy, is already songwriting gold, but Caraveo's perfectly curated instrumentals is what makes it a masterpiece.

Featuring emotional tracks like "Battery" and "Deceived," Butterfly Boy truly showcases Caraveo's ability to be vulnerable through intimate storytelling. With appropriate interludes dispersed throughout, Butterfly Boy very much shares the narrative of Caraveo's inner workings as his brain bounces from one mindset to another. Whereas some tracks on the record are more elusive, Caraveo makes other song messages more straightforward like in "Bill$" and "My Head Gets Loud."

Treat yourself to Ryan Caraveo's musical stylings with Butterfly Boy below:

To celebrate his new music, we chatted with Ryan Caraveo about his proudest moments as a musician, his recent tour with fellow Ones To Watch Dennis Lloyd, and of course, Butterfly Boy

OTW: How did you first get into music?

Caraveo: I first got into music rap battling my brother in our attic of where we lived. We would write down raps against each other and then record them in Sound Recorder. This was like Windows 98. My little brother, who was probably like five or six years old… We would play it back and he would judge them. Did that for like, a year or two. And that's how I learned to start rapping… Insulting my brother. 

OTW: I love that. So organic. Who are your biggest musical influences?

Caraveo: Musically, I would definitely say when I was really young, Kid Cudi, Eminem, and Linkin Park are probably the biggest ones. I'd say those are the three biggest. Eminem for the words. Kid Cudi for the melodies. Linkin Park for the angst. 

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OTW: So it's been quite some time since you released Swings in 2014. How do you think you've grown as a musician since then?

Caraveo: Uhhh… I don't write 40 bar verses in my songs anymore. I don't care about earning respect from anybody anymore. I'm just trying to make good songs that I want to listen to forever. And none of those three things were true when I made Swings.

OTW: I respect that. What's been your proudest moment as a musician so far?

Caraveo: Oooh… That's tough.

OTW: I'm sure you have a lot.

Caraveo: Proudest moment as a musician? I'd say in life, and music, I've always worked best by myself. I'd prefer to not work with other people. And now, I'm better than ever working with people. Working with my producer… It's huge for me. All the stats and stuff are cool. When you hit streaming milestones and get cool awards, those are cool for like, four days. I wouldn't say any of those are my proudest moments. Even being able to go on a big tour for the first time is cool for like, a week. So… I don't know. Everything I'm proud of, I'm not proud of in a way. So I'm just going to go with being able to work better with people.

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OTW: Good answer. Your new album's coming out soon. Butterfly Boy. Can you describe your creative process for this record? 

Caraveo: My creative process…

OTW: Well, first of all… What inspired the album? Or is every single track different?

Caraveo: There's definitely a theme. Mind control inspired the album, and I'll leave it at that. As far as the creative process, I would say writing more songs than I know what to do with. Just writing every day. Writing hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of songs. And then spending time away from them. Just being constant. I think that when you make shit, anything, you have to make a ton of it. Whether engineering or painting or songwriting, you just have to make a thousand things and then the people around you will tell you which ones are the good ones. And that's kind of the process… Make a ton of shit. Hopefully it doesn't all suck at the end. That's the process.

OTW: So far you've released a few singles this year. Are they going to be on the new album?

Caraveo: Yes, every single song I released is on Butterfly Boy

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OTW: Do you have a favorite track on the record?

Caraveo: "Battery."

OTW: "Battery." Tell me more.

Caraveo: "Battery" is my favorite song and other song called "My Head Gets Loud." "Battery" is just my favorite. I could listen to it on loop. It reminds me of something that would play in Macy's. Imagine if you went in there to buy sheets and they have songs playing in there from like, the 90s and you're like, "How is this still popular?" It's just iconic forever. "Battery" reminds me of that. It's just the same guitar lick on loop, but it reminds me of one of those songs. In 20 years when I'm buying sheets, "Battery" is going to be on in Macy's. Watch.

OTW: Bet. Which song was the most difficult to write and why? In terms of lyricism.

Caraveo: The most difficult song to write is probably the last track on the album. It's called "All My Life." I wrote the hook first. I rewrote it like, three or four times and it just felt really special. Then I wrote the first verse. Then six months later, I wrote the second verse. 

OTW: Six months later…

Caraveo: Yeah… I would just sit with each piece of a song for like, a really long time. Just because it's probably the most personal, vulnerable, and honest song on the album. I mentioned my little brother by name and it's not just lyrics. There just couldn't be any fluff in that. Couldn't be any word play. Just had to be as real as I would say it to like, my mom or my little brother. So that one took the longest because it just had to be perfect and the most authentic. It couldn't just be a bop, you know?

OTW: And it is. 

Caraveo: Yeah. Absolutely. 

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OTW: How does it feel to know how successful "Paradise" has become?

Caraveo: It's really crazy. I forget about it sometimes, like any artist who focused on growing and being bigger than you are. It really is insane how big that song has become. To me, it's kind of just a song I made a long time ago. And I'm trying to make songs right now that do just as good and that's what I'm focused on. It is really crazy that it hasn't slowed down since it came out. It's still only growing. More importantly, it's not just a song people like to dance to. Little kids and grown ass people who have been through life… It affects them the same. That's the best feeling. It speaks to everybody. I feel like I actually contributed something of value to the world, which is tight. Obviously, I want to make records that people like having fun to and turning up to sometimes, but I feel like it's really special for that to be the song that did really well. Hopefully I can make another one of those. 

OTW: That's the goal. 

Caraveo: Yeah. 

OTW: What was it like being on tour with fellow Ones To Watch Dennis Lloyd? Actually, I was at the El Rey show. 

Caraveo: Yeah, that was interesting. It was definitely not the type of crowd that I'm normally in front of. The demographic was certainly different, but it was a cool experience because I have never, since I've been making music, really stepped out into other demographics. I've never done a showcase where it's different types of artists performing. There were a lot of people who only listened to Dennis Lloyd who were certainly confused. 

OTW: Yeah, it was an older crowd too.

Caraveo: Yeah, it was an older crowd. 

OTW: Some people were enjoying it though.

Caraveo: Anybody under 24 was enjoying it. They came up to me and said, "What's up," to me after the show. Other people were angry. I have a song called "Bill$" on the album. The hook says, "Fuck having the bills paid / I just want to feel okay." This lady tweeted at me like, "News flash, buddy. You're going to have bills to pay."

OTW: Oh my gosh.

Caraveo: Yeah. She tweeted it, but a lot of people shared the same feeling she had. But it was cool. Dennis was tight.

OTW: Did you know him before?

Caraveo: No, I didn't. But as soon as we showed up to the first show in Canada, he came to say, "What's up," and he was cool. I had fun. It was certainly a new experience.

OTW: Who are your Ones To Watch?

Caraveo: That's a good question. My homie Travis Thompson's killing it right now. He has an album coming out. He's from Seattle too. He just signed to Epic last year. He's finishing up his project with them. Shout out to him. Dempsey. He's a singer-songwriter. He's really dope. And Vrillah. They're both really dope from Seattle and you should check them out.

OTW: Is there anything else you want to throw in here about the album? Anything specific you want to say to your followers or our readers?

Caraveo: If you don't want ten years of bad luck, then go to Spotify. Turn on Butterfly Boy, the album, and leave it on mute while you go to sleep. And just let it run on repeat. Every single night for the next month. Or you'll have ten years of bad luck.

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