Q&A with Brooklyn rapper Silent Knight about new band
by Andrew Shilling
Feb 12, 2014 | 1755 views | 0 0 comments | 139 139 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Brooklyn-born rapper Jason Fraticelli, better known by his stage name Silent Knight, joined The Band Called Fuse as their lead M.C. a little over a year ago, and ever since he has helped grow and develop their sound.

As a child, Fraticelli was an introvert, however with the support of his friends and family, he eventually broke from his shell to show the world his rhymes and pent-up talent.

Now on stage with a diversely live hip-hop, soul and even rock-influenced group, he has found a place to freely express his art.

I met up with Fraticelli at Sidewalk Café in Manhattan to discuss The Band Called Fuse and his own personal path towards breaking out of his shell and becoming a frontman.

Where did you come up with the name Silent Knight?

I grew up extremely shy, extremely quiet and to myself. I am still a private person, but when I grew up and was in elementary school and middle school, I was really a quiet type of person. But then I started writing rhymes. I was always around hip-hop and that kind of music, but when I was writing, it got to a year or more where I was writing everyday and not sharing it with anyone. I don’t know what it was, because when I was a kid I was in a rap group and it was fine, but when I got older I got really self-conscious about everything.

I don’t know if there was that much pressure, but it was just the regular societal pressure and what everyone goes through as a kid. Growing up, I was so free as a kid. I was just so shy to myself about stuff like not having the money to buy the clothes like everyone else in school was wearing, or this girl I’m into, and not knowing what to say to her. Just regular stuff like that.

That’s where the name came from. Silent Knight was like this warrior or this thing inside of me, where I always knew that I had something to say.

What was it that got you to come out?

I don’t know really. I felt like I was going to explode, like it was just too much to hold in. And aside from that, my brother, who is a year or two older than me, and one of my best friends ended up being in a group together. They were around me a lot and I just needed to share this with someone.

I never saw myself as a writer or an M.C., but then I would write something and think, “No, this is good.” I didn’t let anyone else hear. But when I wrote this song, “Daily News,” I spit it for my friend and he was like, “where did this come from? You’ve been writing this?” Once I got it from him that it was good, I called my brother up and was like, “Yo, you’ve got to listen to this.” I did it for him, and he was like, “You’ve got to do that again.”

I would imagine getting on stage was intimidating?

It was, but some of my favorite moments have been on stage. Even at the time, I feel like I have grown and broke out a lot. My first moments on stage I would be staring at my feet and be really monotone, but at the same time I always felt like I was ready to do it. Once I got the okay from my brother and my close friends, I hit the ground running. At open mics, and people rhyming outside, I was all about that.

Where was one of the first places you performed?

The first place was at Rising Café in Park Slope. There were three of us in a group and we went to this poetry open mic. It was a capella, so we spit our poetry, but then the next time we asked if we could do one with our beats, and they were like, “Yeah, cool.”

Besides that, some of the first experiences played with the Rock Steady Crew, and we would go to those events. There would just be people in breakdancing circles, and people rhyming, so we would just jump in there.

What first got you interested in music?

It was always around. I grew up in Sunset Park, and my parents – from Puerto Rico - would listen to Salsa, Spanish music, and then Hot 97 and KISS FM. But the radio stations would play club music and hip-hop, R&B and reggae.

How did you get involved with The Band Called Fuse?

As a solo artist, and my group, we went to New Brunswick, New Jersey, to Rutgers, and would do shows there. There was an event called Tent State University. There, were tents set up; they were doing workshops during the day and music at night. There was a protest against tuition raises and money spent at war and on the military. We decided we would have our own classes during the day and our own music.

But then there was the band there and I met them. They had a different vocalist at the time, but we stayed in touch and a couple years ago they had new members in the band. Their lead M.C. left and they learned 10 different artists’ music and I was one of them. But when I went there to try out we just hit it off.

How did your music change?

When I first started performing with the group or just by myself and it was just rhyming, I’d have a burnt CD of music. Sometimes we would do bigger shows, too, but I would just have that CD, and we wanted to really put on a good show. Then the next step was getting a DJ.

Then me and the DJ can interact with each other and he knew when to turn the song off, or go to the next song, or do some scratching, it was just a better show. So when I started working with the band, it was even more. It’s this seven-piece band – drums, guitar, bass, MPC (sampler) and a singer - and they have really high energy and for me the possibilities were endless.

The drummer was touring with punk bands, the bassist is all about New Orleans and Chicago blues and jazz and stuff. There’s metal and rock stuff and blues and it all comes together. When I met them, they were focusing on playing hip hop, soul and funk and just fusing of that stuff together. Once I got with them, we built it a lot and and really went in different ways and grew a lot.

So how did you record this Impossible Dream EP?

I have a couple of solo projects, but this is really our first big project. We’ve been really building and coming into our own. In the past year, we’ve been to SXSW, where we played a bunch of shows, and we did a release party for the full version of this EP that’s exclusive to our Kickstarter supporters.

A year ago, we did a Kickstarter to fund the album. Our goal there was to get it mixed and mastered properly, get the proper promo and marketing behind it, and help us fund a video and spread it worldwide. For that, we asked for $10,000, but we got almost $20,000. In that, the fans are literally a part of funding and making the success happen.

Where did you come up with the title?

You can take it a lot of ways, but it’s about making the music you want to make, and taking the business the way you want to do it, and not conforming or changing yourself; that’s an impossible dream.

Another thing is, half of the band has kids and full-time jobs. But people don’t want to just abandon their lives and go on tour for 300-plus days a year, and although some can do that, this is about making a living and providing for your family and being there for your family. To do that and do your music is the seemingly impossible dream.

Look for The Band Called Fuse’s new EP out February 11. The Band Called Fuse plays the Sidewalk Café, 94 Ave. A, every first Saturday of the month.

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