PARKOUR CULTURE MAGAZINE
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Lately, Rap Is Where I Reside

November 7, 2018

Remember Matthew Rogowski? This is him now. Feel old yet?

Back in 2005, I was training in a playground a few blocks away from my childhood home in Verona, as a few people watched from afar. Eventually, a friend of mine, Amie, approached along with her little brother to ask about what I was doing. He was interested in learning, and while I had only been training for two years at this point, I jumped at the opportunity of taking on a student. Such an opportunity was rare, as there were only a handful of people training in the States in 2005, and parkour’s worldwide explosion didn’t happen for about another year. This was the day I would meet my first full-time movement apprentice and future teammate, Matthew Rogowski.

We trained and worked together professionally within parkour for nearly 10 years until he felt it was time to move on and pursue other creative endeavors. What started with a passion for filmmaking within parkour led him to video production within the music industry, and ultimately, becoming a musician himself. Lately, rap is where Matt currently resides.

It had been years since Matt and I had the chance to create anything together, and when he reached out to me to work on his first music video, I couldn’t refuse. Although short, the production time gave us a chance to catch up as well.

Andrew:

It was 2005 – you were literally at the forefront of parkour in the States and you were only seven. What was that experience like for you?

Matt:

It was a dope experience – especially just being able to travel as much as a kid and really go anywhere that I wanted. I was so young, and not a lot of young people get the chance to just go out and experience the kinds of things that I did. It was fun, it was definitely fun – but I think at that age, it’s pretty hard to fully understand those types of experiences and the things that are going on around you. I learned a lot, but it was kind of like just being here and doing it. It was something I connected with and something that definitely kept me out of trouble

 

It gave me an amazing group of friends, especially you. You know, you pushed me but allowed me to continuously have fun at the same time. It wasn’t like we would go out and only drill, drill, drill, drill – you know there were times where we were just gonna keep it chill. It was honestly all just good vibes.

 

And I had put in 7 years or so before I began to slow down, and with that many years into something, you get to learn a lot at a young age, even just for being around a community of individuals that were so much older than myself. I had people influencing me that were grown and I continuously learned from people who been through it already.

Andrew:

One thing that had always grabbed my attention was attitude and perspective that your mother held. You were literally young as fuck – we began training together when you were just seven and there was never an ounce of worry in her, or so it seemed. I felt like she respected what you did and respected what we shared within the student-mentor relationship. I never once felt any of that being questioned negatively. We would train for hours on school days, for days on end in the summer, and she just let you travel all over the country with a group of grown hooligans. What was the deal?

Matt:

I would always be worried before you would talk to my mom about a trip or something, but the way you were so professional and smooth with words – we got this, we’re good. My mom was never super strict, but as long as I was safe, it was cool. As long as I wasn’t causing trouble at the house. It was also the way my mom saw parkour. She looked at it as the sport and discipline that it was. She didn’t look at it as many of the other parents and older people like it was crazy stuff.

Andrew:

You also mentioned us not always drilling, but that was definitely something that you did, and something that seemed like a very thoughtful but automatic process. You would pick up a challenge, wouldn’t put it down, and wouldn’t give up part way.

 

I remember when you were 10 and pushed through 4 straight hours of conditioning with Parkour Generations and then proceeded to train all day afterward. Most people your age hated that kind of repetition, so what drove you to have that type of mentality?

Matt:

I think our drilling made me comfortable to do that. If I didn’t want to do something, I wouldn’t do it. That’s just the kind of person I am and I grew up to be. I don’t want to waste my time and I’m not going to waste anyone else’s time, or at least, I try not to. But it was definitely one of the things that made it fun for me. I could choose a challenge and do that thing all day long, and would just keep it going. But it all came down to the person who I wanted to be, honestly. It was cool to settle down and be able to focus on one thing because my mind just goes to a million places a second all of the time.

 

When I find something I like to do, I like to release myself into it. If it wasn’t for the things I love to do today, I feel like I’d go crazy. I would definitely be insane. So those things I like to do, I go all out for them. It also probably has something to do with the fact that I’m a perfectionist. Once I have something, I just need to do it the best that I can then and then the next one has to be even better than that. But it all comes down to the enjoyment and the person that I wanted to be. Did I just want to sit around and live that normal life or did I want to push myself and go to that next level?

 

But focusing on those drills, that repetition, working through a challenge, seeing what I could be – those are things that honestly made me the person who I am today. I built myself up through it all.

Andrew:

I don’t know if I ever told you this, but I have always been extremely inspired by your style. I think you took the things that I presented you with and things other people had and you were able to take what you wanted. You threw the rest away, and you created something that was distinct and uniquely yours. You always gave this feeling of you through your movement and I’ve always admired it.

 

What inspired it and what kept you going for so long at such a young age? I know that when I was young, I tried and quit so many things. But you, you stuck around.

Matt:

If I ever needed the motivation to go out and train, you, my brudda, who brought me in like a step-child, would always hype me up. Just to see you so motivated and living such an authentic lifestyle – it was dope. We would constantly watch videos together or you would be like, “let’s try this together.” But we were really there at the beginning and witnessed everyone coming up.

 

Livewire (Tim Shieff) was definitely one of the first then. I sat down and watched him plenty of times. Saw his first video and would be waiting for when his new ones would drop. There were so many people at the time who influenced me though. Obviously people like David Belle and Stephane Vigroux. Phil Doyle, Oleg Vroslav, Daniel Ilabaca, and Kie Willis were huge ones, and later on, came Storror – those guys were also so young, and monsters. They were super dope. I would just go out and try everything I would see them do. Damien Walters, too – I was always inspired by his acrobatics. He was definitely crazy with it.

 

But especially all the people around me and being part of Team Sanjuu. Like we were huge at the time and were like 30 people deep. You know, you gotta put on for the team. But all of the people around me were constantly motivating me. I wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for you and the people around me. I don’t know that I would have started or continued parkour without people.

Andrew:

It’s been a while since you’ve trained or been a part of the community, how do you see parkour now, especially coming from someone who started so early on within the discipline?

Matt:

Being involved with the sport for so long, it was weird watching it turn strictly from a community to more of an industry, which are both completely different. Parkour is all over the world now. But yeah, it’s been awhile.

Andrew:

It has. So what’s up in your life now?

Matt:

Still life.

Andrew:

Still into photography?

Matt:

Of course, I still love photography and filmmaking.

Andrew:

Photography was something that has been prevalent within parkour for you and it’s something that you took with you when you transitioned into other aspects of your life. Why did photography carry over?

Matt:

Honestly, I went to you. I was at the point that I was done with parkour…maybe not done with parkour, but slowed down for that point in my life, and I felt like life was starting to set in. Like, I’m going to need to do something soon – something that I like doing, something I’m familiar with, and I went to you for that. I had no idea what to do. And I remember telling you that I really loved photography and filmmaking but didn’t know where to go. And, yeah, it was just something I enjoyed, something I was familiar with. I felt like it was a good way to live.

 

And like I said before, I’m not going to do something that I don’t like to do. It was always around with parkour, especially being around you since you were always filming and I helped you with a lot of it. And that helped too because you would always direct things, you wanted yourself filmed a specific way. And that’s definitely how I am now too. It’s overall something that just came together.

Andrew:

Well, give me a rundown on the music. That’s clearly been something new. So what brought you into rap?

Matt:

I always wanted to rap, just was never really confident with it. One night, my bro brought me to the studio – he was there for me. We made some jams and I woke up the next day forgetting we made a song, which was titled “Fuck 12,” and when I listened to it – it was hard for a first song. That was the inspiration I needed to put my feelings onto a track. Like, there are so many styles and sounds today. I feel like the direction of where rap has gone has also given me that confidence.

 

But getting into music, there wasn’t a specific influence. It’s not like anyone sat me down and told me to do this or do that. I simply had the confidence to go in one night and made something that ended up sounding pretty good. And I kept going and knew, like everything else I had dedicated myself to, it would get better and better.

Andrew:

So what about Lately? Why did you choose it for your first video?

Matt:

It was just one of them beats I threw on and it just clicked for real. People are shady, man. I had a lot to talk about in there regarding some personal experiences with people who I thought were close. Songs like this one usually mean something to me. They’re honest.

Andrew:

I definitely understand that. It took me forever to be honest with my music and with myself, or enough so to bring it into the world. It was definitely a process. So what has it been like discovering yourself as a musician and artist?

Matt:

Weird. You really get to find who you are when making music and it’s all portrayed in the different sounds you can make and your style in general. I still don’t really know. I just pick a beat that I like and rap how I’m feeling, and if it sounds good, that’s another one. I’ll probably change my name eventually through that process too.

Andrew:

So what about music influences: who are you listening to right now?

Matt:

Right now? Honestly, I don’t listen to a lot of music. I try not to. People don’t realize how much they’re influenced just by listening to or seeing something. They’ll do something and think it was their own, but we’re influenced by everything. But when I do listen to something else, I keep it down to a handful. Some of the newer artists like Juice WRLD, Future, Young Thug, Lil Baby…but that’s about it. I’ll listen to some top albums occasionally. Like Future and Juice WRLD just dropped one, but honestly, I try not to listen to much of anything at all. I do that to try and find my own style, that’s how I try to do it. We’re influenced by so much, so I try not to listen to anything new at all.

 

But before, like every white boy, Eminem. Of course Eminem. Who knows though. They could have been throwing that shit on me and maybe I didn’t really like Eminem, but I was made to like him. 50 Cent, Tupac…California Love, man, I used to sit up and wait until they played that joint on the radio. Every time it came on I would turn it up, that was my favorite. I listen and got some rock and metal influences too. Far off from rap, but I dig Asking Alexandria and a couple other metal bands too. But I was all over the place with music growing up. If I heard it and I liked it, I’d listen to it and toss it on my playlist.

 

I’ve never really cared about genres. Even my own music, I don’t categorize it. I can’t say this is this or any of that. I just make music, and if I make it out to be a metal song, it’s going to be a fucking metal song.

Andrew:

So what about your creative process in music?

Matt:

It’s all inspired by what I’ve been through and what I’m around. It just flows organically. I’ll put on a beat on and I’m just going through that beat. I know what sounds good to my ear, and if it sounds good to me, I’m gonna keep on going for it. I don’t think too hard about it. And I can’t work for too long on something. If a song doesn’t come together in a day or two, it’ll get old to me, so I have to finish songs quickly. I have songs sitting from months ago that aren’t finished yet just because I heard it, couldn’t catch anything from it, just put it in the vault, and just let it sit there.

If you look at artists like A$AP Rocky, he’ll make a song on LSD and shit. Everything seems to based on experience for him. He’ll go across seas just to have a story behind it all, for the motivation, or to get some new words into the brain firsthand. They can then talk about things people haven’t seen or experienced and it connects with people because of it. And that’s something I too like to put into my creative process. I try to put myself in new places, let it be about the experience, and what is happening right now.

Andrew:

And what about your creative process within parkour? How do you see those processes differ?

Matt:

Everything was in my head. Parkour was all a head game. It all started for me with finding something and overcoming it internally. If you tell yourself you can do something, and know you can do it, you’ll do it. Unless I was training adaptation or improvisation, I pre-planned everything. It was all planned before I would run and I would envision myself working through everything in my head. It was a very meditative and visual process for me. I would go in thinking I’m going to do this, that, and that, throw in this there, do a full there, know that I could do it, feel that I could do it, commit to it, and then just went in and did it.

Andrew:

I had a blast working on this project with you and spending time catching up. What’s next for Matthew Rogowski/hunnidmatt/whatever you decide to go by? And will we see another parkour video somewhere in the near or distant future?

Matt:

It was dope brudda. I thank you for everything: for introducing me to parkour at a young age and keeping me out of some shady shit. Definitely kept me out of a lot of trouble. You brought me out to even try acting for the video, which was something hard for me to do. Acting is cool something and something I would try. Maybe improv or something is next. I got a lot of private projects stored up though. I’m just gonna continue doing what I wanna to do, so we’ll see.

Video © Andrew Obenreder.

Follow Matthew Rogowski on Soundcloud and Instagram.

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