Artjom Grecksch, aka AK-Official, is a rapper from Eltmann in Lower Franconia, who grew up and went to school in Perm until he was eleven. He moved to Germany with his mother in October 1998, leaving behind his relatives and his former life. During his school years, he discovered music and the graffiti scene. Soon he began to make hip-hop and experiment with a few former friends. Ten years later, he released his debut album “Endlich” – which means “Finally” – and has since turned his hobby into a passion and craft which lead him, along with OneFamRecords, to achieve considerable success in 2015 with the single “High Life”. In 2021, AK-Official dropped the single “Viel Zu Viel (Remix)”, which was originally composed and recorded by well-known rapper Dreyko. In November of the same year, a long-awaited collaboration took place with another rapper Bliza, for the project “Hieroglyphen”. In 2022 he signed a deal with the Hessian management agency AgenturNMM – Newcomer-Music-Management with plans of national and international projects in the pipeline.
- Can you tell us a bit about how you got started in the music business, and when you decided to take it seriously?
AK-Official: Music has always interested me. Especially rap music has inspired me very much. The ambition was aroused, I also wanted to write and record my own songs. I wanted to be like my favorite artists. That was a feeling of happiness for me. It was just for fun at the beginning, until I realized I was writing better and better songs and the feedback was great. Then I asked myself, “Why not try the commercial route?” In 2014 came the first digital commercial release, “Mein Sound.”
- Do you handle both the songwriting and beats on your songs or do you collaborate with other producers and writers?
AK-Official: I write my own songs by myself and I collaborate with some producers I have known for several years
- Who were your first and strongest musical influences that you can remember, and who are you listening to right now?
AK-Official: Oh man, there are a lot of strong artists. But the ones that influenced me a lot and that I still listen to are Eminem and Kool Savas.
- What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners?
AK-Official: Difficult question. I think because I am a real person and very authentic, many people should identify with my music. I want to give them the feeling that I am just like them. No matter if I’m successful or not. I want them to float in memory or in some situations every now and then when they listen to my music.
- For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and music maker, and the transition towards your own style?
AK-Official: Of course, in the beginning you try to imitate your favorite artists and sing their songs. Just to learn certain techniques. You also have to have a certain talent yourself. I practiced a lot and learned a lot. I think my style is a combination of different techniques.
- What is your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
AK-Official: I’m not trying to make the world better with my music, maybe it´s the reason why I don’t appeal to the broad masses. So I think it’s more technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment, you know.
- Do you write a song with current musical trends, formulas or listener satisfaction in mind, or do you simply focus on your own personal vision and trust that people will empathize and vibe with your sound?
AK-Official: First and foremost, I make the music that I like and that makes me happy. Meanwhile I read so many comments in social media or on YouTube that the music only sounds the same and no artist is different anymore. Copy & paste, you know. It’s not my vision to release new music every week even if I could. I prefer timeless quality. That´s what AK-Official stands for.
- Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a beat or a narrative in your head?
AK-Official: Both as well. Sometimes I hear a beat that inspires me, sometimes I have a few lines in my head that get worked out into a chorus or verse. Sometimes I have a melody in my head and I find the right beat for it. Most of the ideas come while driving or in the shower (laugh).
- What has been the most difficult thing you have had to endure in your life so far, and how did you overcome that event?
AK-Official: The worst thing for me was when my cousin died of a drug overdose. He was like my father to me. Learned a lot from him. R.I.P. I think that’s also the reason why I started to put feelings into songs. Yes, every bad event I pack into music.
- On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
AK-Official: The best thing that could happen to me in life, that I finally have my childhood sweetheart with me. She is a blessing, man. The most significant point in my music career so far, I’m an independent artist. I can do what I want, I can collaborate with who I want. I don’t owe anything to anybody. I am free.
- Putting aside any accolades or criticisms that fans, the industry, or the media may afford your persona or music, is there anything about you or your music, you think people may overlook, underestimate or misunderstand at all?
AK-Official: Yes (laugh). I still wear the wide clothes. Baggies, Long-T’s. Some people judge it and think I’m stupid and can’t articulate. When I meet someone I don’t know, I don’t tell them I’m a rapper because they’re like, oh, another wannabe. Until they hear my music and then they’re like wow, that’s really you? And I’m like “yeah, that’s me” (laugh) You’re often underestimated or misunderstood. But it’s ok, I can handle it
- Do you think is it important for fans of your music to understand the real story and message driving each of your songs, or do you feel everyone should be free to interpret your songs in their own personal way?
AK-Official: The other day I got a video from a friend in which my song “Save Me” was playing and her child was happily jumping on the bed. I was a bit horrified, because the song is very deep. I did not expect such an interpretation. So I think if the song has a message, the fans should also understand the story behind it.
- With social media having a heavy impact on our lives and the music business in general, how do you handle criticism, haters and/or naysayers in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or do you simply ignore and move on regardless?
AK-Official: Negative advertising is also advertising (laugh). I mean, when you’re in public, you always have to expect that someone doesn’t like you or hates you. I not only read such comments, I also respond to them with some humor. Sometimes I use them for my marketing purposes. I love haters.
- If you had a choice to collaborate with any acclaimed international artist or producer right now, who would you choose, and why?
AK-Official: So I’ve said before, Eminem is my idol. I would love (if I could) to work with him. Not because he is successful, but because I started with music because of him. I learned English and pronunciation because of him. I wouldn’t even share the song, I’ll take it to my grave. That would be my dream.
- Could you tell us something about the making of your latest project “Labyrinth” and the message behind it?
AK-Official: Song “Labyrinth” was born from an everyday situation. One day I came home from work stressed, annoyed, angry. Then the phone rang and everyone wanted something from you. I couldn’t turn off my head and chill. So I decided to write a song about how it would be nice to pack my bags and just leave without telling anyone. Leave everything as if you were at home. Not having to function anymore. And by the time people notice that something is wrong, you’re long gone. Just start a new life. That’s the message, you know.
- What’s the most exciting part of being an independent music artist for you, and which is the part you like least?
AK-Official: You are the CEO of your music. You communicate with your partners. You make your own decisions. You don’t feel any pressure, you feel free. As I said above, you do what you think is right. It’s not always easy, but it’s a learning process. What I like least, however, is that you don’t have great connections to the media world. And not everyone takes you seriously. You have to work much harder
- Creative work in studio environment, or interaction with a live audience? Which of these two options excite you most, and why?
AK-Official: You know, working on songs in the studio and hanging out with cool people is always fun. But going on stage and convincing the audience live is much more appealing to me personally. You get direct feedback if they like your performance or not. It’s all experience you gain, you know.
- Do you have a favorite motto, phrase or piece of advice, you try to live or inspire yourself by?
AK-Official: Just be yourself, don’t put on a mask, don’t hide behind facades, always be respectful.
- How essential do you think video is in relation to your music? Do you have a visual you could suggest fans see, to get a better understanding of your persona and craft, or will you be working on something new soon that fans can look out for in the near future?
AK-Official: Nowadays it has become very important to drop a video with a single. I personally don’t really like to shoot videos (laugh) but it has to be done. Ah, yes, some projects are in planning, some projects are just waiting for the release date. If you like, you can watch my music video “Save Me” on YouTube, it’s one of my more personal works. It’s been 4 years, but still one of my favorites.
- What do you find most rewarding about what you do as an artist? And do you have a specific vision or goal set in your mind that you would like to achieve in the near future alongside AgenturNMM – Newcomer-Music-Management?
AK-Official: What excites me as a rapper and songwriter is that I’m always finding new ways to evolve. I also support some newcomers and pass on my knowledge to them. And sometimes I learn from them, too. It’s a win-win situation, you know. Yes, my goal with the “AgenturNMM” is not only to have a strong partner at my side, but also to whip my career forward. So that both can benefit from it. They have the know-how and the contacts and I have the skills, you know (laugh).