Meet the rapper behind "Iowa" video
Brett Ferry, 30, known also as his stage name Kemyst, dropped a music video for his new track, “Iowa,” on Sept. 8 and the video has since turned into a local Internet sensation. "Iowa" grabbed more than 2,700 shares on Facebook and tallied more than 15,000 YouTube plays since uploading.
“It’s that small place with a big heart,” the chorus explodes — a sentiment most Iowans can agree with.
Learn a little more about Kemyst and his "Iowa" video through the interview below. He's scheduled to open for Machine Gun Kelly Oct. 7 at Seven Flags Events Center in Clive. Tickets are $30.
Juice: Let’s break down how the “Iowa” video happened. Did the idea for the video come first and then the song, or vise-versa?
Kemyst: It started as a song, actually. Last year, I started writing it. My buddy, Sam Akina, [who directed the video] he lives in Seattle but he grew up here — we got in touch when I was 18 and we’ve stayed in touch since. He’s done my last three videos and he hit me up and was like, “You need to really do something cool for Iowa,” and put the bug in my ear a little bit. The song came to me immediately. I didn’t want to write like [a] corny, hometown anthem. I wanted to write something that was very real to people here, that they can relate to.
Tell me more about the people who make up the video.
It was a little bit of everything. Sam had reached out to the MMA gym and the tattoo shop and the iron workers and my girlfriend lives out at the farm where we shot some of the drone shots — [that let us] get more country people, as well. I’m in the hip-hop community so I know more urban-type people, a lot more cats who are into the hip-hop scene. [It’s] very much the way Iowa is. We’re not a huge, tech company [type of] state. It’s a lot of everyday, middle class, hard-working people and we wanted to show that to the rest of the country beyond just here. There’s a wide variety of life here. It was a conscious effort and an organic thing at the same thing.
There’s over 15,000 views on the video. How’s that feel?
You always want your videos to do well. It’s been insane. I got probably 400 or 500 friend requests on my Facebook, have tons of new subscribers...there’s comments. Honestly, the support for this video has been beyond humbling. I’ve been doing this a really long time, I’ve been rapping for 12 years. To finally start getting some recognition on a bigger level, it’s just an absolute, amazing feeling. I’m just a hard-working artist trying to make something of myself. To get that love, especially in own state and city, is very humbling and a great feeling.
Why was it important for you to write this song about Iowa?
I feel like Iowa really gets snubbed in hip-hop a lot. It’s very hard here. To be able to paint the city as the way I see it and the way a lot of the people maybe in the hip-hop community sees it or the way your average person [sees it] — to be able to do that in a way that’s wide-spread and releate to a lot of people — that was the goal. [And] to get some love spreading here for the hip-hop community, not just for me. There’s a lot of really talented artists here, we all struggle to get that limelight for a second. To be able to do something where I could show some different artists in the city and bring some awareness that we do have talented people here and we do have quality work and quality music and videos and...we’re not just cornfields.I had a guy hit me up from Minnesota last night who said he was bumping “Iowa.” That’s insane to me. That was so humbling because we don’t get a lot of love here. Maybe after this more avenues will open up for a lot of people here.
So, what’s the Kemyst story?
I went to Ankeny High School. I grew up in Waukee and until seventh grade and moved to Ankeny and graduated from Ankeny. I lived here a couple more years [after that] and then actually moved out to new New York for three years to study audio engineering and hip-hop in general.
What made you want to come back?
It was really expensive to live out there. [Laughs.] I really love New York City, I would love to get back out there. I don’t know if I’d necessarily want to live out there, but I definitely have a lot of love for New York City...it taught me a lot. It’s like the birthplace of hip-hop.
[I’ve] been working on an EP called “The Experiment.” It’s a wide variety of music. I didn’t try to stay in one lane too much. There’s stuff for the ladies; some more greitty stuff that’s a little less digestable for the average listener but for the hip-hop heads who’re really gonna enjoy it; I have some more commercial stuff. Within the next couple of months I’ll be going back to the Northwest, to Seattle, to shoot a couple more videos. We got the EP coming — that should be complete in the next month or two. It hopefully should be done by November at the latest.