The Real Reel: Machine Gun Kelly
The Real Reel: Machine Gun Kelly
Machine Gun Kelly,is as self-effacing as he is talented. Known also by his real name Colson Baker, MGK effortly defies easy categorization. From his rise to stardom and life in the spotlight, the complexities he shares in his song lyrics, Machine Gun Kelly has paved his own path on his own terms. With so much talent in one place; hard work, brilliance, and a certain kind of honest vulnerability, Machine Gun Kelly’s open enthusiasm have been inextricable from his life’s work. Machine Gun Kelly is a testament to his chameleonic qualities—- and to the fact that he is ultimately only ever himself. There’s something gratifying about seeing someone like Machine Gun Kelly grow because one knows there will be so much more to his story. Here is what we we know so far….
MGK: What up guys, this is Machine Gun Kelly in the city of fuckin’ devils and angels here shooting my cover for Modeliste.
Modeliste: We are excited to have you as the first male cover for Modeliste magazine!
Modeliste: Can you share with us what your favorite look was from today’s shoot?
MGK: My favorite look today came in the form of a very simple accessory, and that was just taking a button up and tying it around … I mean classic move for … Yeah, for a rock and roll soul and just flipping it halfway around. Who would have thought that probably the least most expensive item in here added to the outfit the most. So that one, the long trench half flipped around button up tied around and extremely overly-long earring… there’s only probably one person that could pull off. Not naming any names.
Modeliste: How would you describe your personal style?
MGK: I like passing by mirrors or windows, especially since I travel so much or when you get a glance you’re like, “Oh shit,” and then you’re like “Oh shit, that’s me. Tight.” You know what I mean? Like “Oh shit” moments, you know? I used to pride myself on making really classic casual looks pop. I used to be big in black leather vests and just classic nice fitting black t-shirts with black skinny jeans. I branded that with me for the first five, six years of my career, and then now I’m kind of giving people the excitement of seeing me look different every time they see me. So it’s almost like you go to a Machine Gun Kelly show and you do expect to look onstage and be entertained by not just the voice or the band, but by the outfit as well.
Modeliste: You’re also the face of the fall/winter 2017 John Varvatos campaign. How did you get involved with John Varvatos?
MGK: Me and John Varvatos met outside of one of his shows a couple years back that I was invited to, and I was actually leaving the event to go smoke a joint and Varvatos was walking past me and a mutual friend was like, “Hey John Varvatos, this is Machine Gun Kelly. Machine Gun Kelly this is John Varvatos.” John was like, “Oh wow, cool. Nice to meet you man. Where are you going?” And I was like, “Well I’m gonna actually go smoke this joint if you want me to be completely honest with you.” And he’s like, “I’m coming with you.” And apparently we’re still riding that same high because we’re good friends and we’re campaigning together.
Modeliste: Tell us about your collaboration with Reebok.
MGK: I think there’s there is a huge kind of cultural Renaissance of classic styles and I don’t think there is a ’90’s era without like speaking about Reeboks’. Being a ’90s kid myself and kind of carrying a lot of that spirit around with me, I think Reebok needed the Young Gunner and the Young Gunner needed Reebok. You know what I mean? So I think we’re two people with the same initiative at the same time to like bring cool shit back and make it the shit again!
Modeliste: So going to your music, where do you draw your inspiration from when you’re creating your music?
MGK: You know it’s funny, on my last album I wrote the song 27 and I was talking about you almost have to create pain just to get inspiration when you get to a point where like your normal pain is gone. It’s weird because normal pain is of an average young kid growing up and you realize, “Oh, well like the real world is here now and like I’m broke and I don’t have future plans, and I don’t know what I’m gonna do.” That creates this beautiful hunger that people tend to lose. I don’t know if I’m just really good at having bad luck or really good at just creating my own anxiety and pain, but it just keeps coming and the hunger just keeps getting better and crafted better. It’s not like I’m fucking Lauryn Hill over here, but like there’s just something cool about the way I sing the lyrics I write and I just realized that on my third album. So it seems like I’m just finding out how to use my voice, which is crazy.
Modeliste: Do you have a favorite song on this album?
MGK: My favorite song on my new album is, “Let You Go.” It’s a song I wrote in my bedroom after the biggest break up of … probably the first real intense … That’s a lie. The first grown, intense break up for me. It’s like, I wrote three chords, four chords and it fuckin’ goes off when we perform it live. And you know what? I love looking in the crowd and seeing a bunch of beautiful women with broken hearts just singing the night away. That’s where I’m at right now, women singing and being free and sharing their big bright smiles makes me happy.
Modeliste: What is a collaboration which you would love to have?
MGK: It would be pretty cool to do stage collaborations right now. I think studio collaborations, I don’t know… Sometimes your collab with people and you never know if you’re gonna get the gem that you want from them. I’m more looking for like a really cool tour to do. Me and Linkin Park were supposed to do a generationally untouchable tour… The idea of it is still grand and forever will be grand and it’s fucking awesome. I think, I’m just now looking for something to fill that void because that was like the ultimate collaboration.
Modeliste: You perform with a full band and tie together both rock and hip hop elements to your performance. Would you say that the traditional boundaries of musical genres are dead?
MGK: I would say that the traditional boundaries are dead, but back when they weren’t I was still doing music and I still remember people being like, “Well, how do you categorize your music?” Or like “What genre are you?” ‘Cause I would come out with a fucking club banger and I’d still have a six inch Mohawk… I’ve always been very hard to put in a genre. Yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know.
Modeliste: What do you enjoy most and most feel passionate about when you’re on stage and touring? Do you have any of those “ah-ha” moments when you’re on stage, and you’re like, “Wow.”
MGK: Yep, I’ve had a handful recently….I had a stop and stare moment and soak it all in moment the other day on stage. I was actually here in Los Angeles performing outside of the Colosseum, which I think it’s like 90,000 capacity or something like that, and I’m on the show and I go out there and I’m performing this song called “Kiss The Sky,” and ironically there’s this patch of clouds and then the sun popped out … that was tight.
I started wearing sunglasses in concert because sometimes I just want to cover who I am and I don’t want to let people in yet. Sometimes I’ll keep them on the whole show, other times I’ll keep them on maybe until like the sixth song or something or other times maybe they’ll just make me feel so comfortable right away that I’m like, “Fuck this … Look at me!” But other times I’m like, just depending on my mood, like that was a real dark week for me last week so I had my fucking glasses on. But I’ll tell you what, I looked up and through the clouds a giant airplane just burst through the clouds. I forgot LAX is like right there, and it was just like stop the whole song but the chords are still playing. I’m like, “Everybody look up at the fucking plane and just look around.” And it’s like, “What a beautiful moment,” you know what I mean? It sounds lame and maybe I was just high, but it was really … I mean, it’s just a fuckin’ plane, but to play in that setting is like, “Whoa.”
Recently, I was just in Norway playing at the top of the hill, like the top top of the hill and I like looked over and there’s this lake and then you’re in Norway. Then the police come and detain you, and you get arrested, and then et cetera. But until that point it was a really, really beautiful view. Hahaaaaaa
Modeliste: What do you like to do most when you’re not working?
MGK: I don’t do anything else. I just obsessively pluck at Machine Gun Kelly. Yeah, when I’m not doing cool things as Machine Gun Kelly, I’m mostly just criticizing how much I should be doing something cool at that very moment. So it took me eight months to use my pool that I had in the back of my house, which was a fuckin’ lit cool pool. I just never did normal things. I would never leave my room or a studio because it was just like, “any moment you could create the best song ever.” Like, “you need the best song ever. You need it, man.” Like, “you’re not filling up arenas, dude. You need the best song ever.” I just sit there and I just sit there until it hits me. Obviously I haven’t made the biggest song ever yet, so I’m just probably gonna keep sitting here until it happens.
Before I used to be like doin’ it, doin’ it, doin’ it, because I didn’t know how fuckin’ long I was gonna be around. You know what I mean? But now I’m getting all these signs it’s like, “Okay, you’ve lost so many people and you’ve been through so much shit, like you are here for a really specific reason, and I don’t think it was to let go.” You know what I mean? So I’m gonna chill for sure, but it’s just not now, so what do I do in my spare time? I focus on becoming a better friend, better father, better entertainer. I have sex, smoke, and I just work on Frankenstein dude. Just pick at Frankenstein all day. He hasn’t woke up yet, so I’m gonna just keep fucking picking at Frankenstein until he decides to get up and beat my heart.
Modeliste: What’s something on your bucket list that you would love to accomplish in the next five years?
MGK: On my fuck it list? Everything. I’m just playing. Fuck it. Bucket list would probably be … Bucket list would be just getting in a mood and being in a mood at the Met Gala or something. Do you know what I mean? Like just a classic career moment like, “dude, Machine Gun Kelly got wasted and this happened.” Like just getting one of those under my belt is like … Just because I’m already stuck in the job of a celebrity at this point. You know what I mean? Quote un-quote. So it’s like, “I might as well get a …” Like God, that Kanye, Taylor Swift moment was like … I mean you look back and you’re like it’s fucked up, but it’s just like prime TV, dude. It’s so good. And you know, it’s in hindsight, so it’s like, “Fuck off.” We all were like sitting of the edge of our seat like, “Oh shit!” You know what I mean? I’m good for that, trust me. I live in my skin. I didn’t do all these “oh shit” moments just for the six people that are there to enjoy it. Six million people need to see a good MGK like “fuck it” moment.
Modeliste: Well, we’re sorry for that.
MGK: I just hope my … It’s cool I don’t like … Get the wrong moment, it’s like, “Oh, fuck dude.”
Modeliste: Someone makes you the moment?
MGK: If it doesn’t turn out, oh yeah, then we’ll see how it goes. I won’t try I’ll just keep letting it naturally happen.
Modeliste: It’ll happen.
MGK: Yeah it’ll happen. It’s gotta happen dude.
Modeliste: Do you have any particular artist or record that you feel inspired you to follow the path of becoming a musician?
MGK: Okay. When it comes to inspiration I guess, or how I started, I think I spoke on how I started, but I think there got to a point where I was re-inspired and was able to talk about things a little bit differently, a little bit … I’m a pretty dark person without the corny stigma of like, “Oh yeah, I’m dark. I’m emo.” I say, I don’t try to be it’s just like naturally what it is, and it’s like something I’m just … it’s just, fuck it is. Sometimes I just like being sad, you know what I mean? Like sometimes it’s just not … you know I’m just not … my chemicals in my body are like the first emotion that comes is not happiness. So I kinda was struggling with that trying to cover it up, and then I discover like gonzo journalism and I was like, “Whoa, this is really intense and it’s really graphic and dark and the subject matters are weird.” Hunter S. Thompson’s one of those faces of gonzo journalism, if not the creator of gonzo journalism, and he was a very like quirky weird guy. I was telling him earlier, it’s funny if you work with me I’m a very, very untraditional co-worker. Very yeah … I have methods that I just tapped into and try attain whatever vibe it is that I want to put out on a record.
So I think that I’ve achieved … Like 27 I don’t give a fuck what you think about Machine Gun Kelly. 27 is absolutely from front to back, a perfect example of how you can display the most pure form of yourself on a song.
MGK: You know what I mean? There should be classes on that song ’cause it … it blows my mind every time I hear it, and I fuckin’ wrote it. But you know what’s crazy? I didn’t even write … The most intense part of the song, I didn’t write. I just picked up a little demo mike, and I just sat … They were playing something and I just … I said the first thing that came to my mind and it was the chorus of the whole song. It was just super … it was just like my subconscious speaking, because I didn’t even think about it. I sort of just said it. It was the darkest, and everyone was like, “Holy shit,” and the room just stopped and it was weird. Then we pressed record and no one said anything about it, and then we put the song out and the fans said everything about it.
Modeliste: That’s amazing … tell us about any upcoming projects you have.
MGK: I have this movie coming out next year called Captive State. It’s the first … Huge is a weird word, but it’s the first big budget, big, big budget, motion picture that I’ve been a part of. First sci-fi thing I’ve been a part of.
I’ve just been doing a lot of music and I think I owe the streets some bounce. I think I owe the rock community some more of that. People keep trying to figure out who I am. I’m just The Gunner dude. It’s just, there is no fucking genre. I make what type of music I want to make. I’m a punker, I’ll beat your motherfuckin’ ass, and I’ve been through a lot of shit. It’s just a fucking vibe dude. You can’t put me in a box, BITCH…I’m six foot four, it doesn’t fit.