John Schaeffer (MozaicMKE) is a hip-hop/rap artist originally from Milwaukee and currently resides in Oshkosh, WI.
Schaeffer has been under the name of Mozaic (MozaicMKE) since January of 2015. His strong presence coming out of the gates with both tracks and music videos has had us curious at Music Speaks. Things started before the name came, John had been writing since High School and things picked up after moving back to Oshkosh from Milwaukee. John got on board with Keagan Dittle, Keag, who together have a handful of co-releases, frequently perform on the same bill and will share the stage again this month July 29th at Peabody’s Ale House
Tell us a little about yourself
I go by the artist name “Mozaic” which was most fitting for who I am as a person, diverse. Whether it be my personality, choice of music, views and overall outlook on life.
When it comes to my music I put out the fun side, ugly side and every different aspect of myself that when put together creates the image of who I am, and people relate to that.
My father being mixed (african american & white) has a big influence on who I am and what has molded me into the person and artist I am today. I’ve seen a lot of sides to the spectrum to a lot of my peers who have not, and I feel blessed being able to have an expression from both sides of the field.
Performing and hip-hop is in John’s blood. Father Roderick Schaeffer, more famously known as DJ Rock Dee, is one of the shimmering pieces of the array that makes up the mosaic that is Mozaic. Roderick tragically passed away this time of year in 2008. Milwaukee radio hosts and journalist saw the makings of an everyday icon in Rock Dee. Most sources will highlight his roles as a host for 88Nine Radio Milwaukee [http://radiomilwaukee.org/], a seasoned turntablist both traditionally and digitally, a two year stint as a founding member of Disciples of a Lyrical Rebellion which was a precursor to Arrested Development, performing with Gumbo as seen on TV, for serving time in the military, as being a father of five and his career move to New York to later start two brands that still run strong. Left frustrated and driven to carry on his father’s legacy, it is here and now in the Fox Valley and Milwaukee, WI that Mozaic is making more than just his fans and family proud.
My father (DJ Rock Dee)
A Tribe Called Quest
Bone Thugs N Harmony
The hip-hop arena is far broader now than it was coming into the millennium when Tupac wasn’t considered throwback or Bone Thugs N Harmony vintage and Eminem was at the cutting edge. Mozaic’s wide-stanced flavor when mixed with TRiLL GATE$ production can lay on trap rap triplet rhyme schemes over high-hat trills real thick and turn a corner on the next collaboration planting stand-up limericks and lyrics alongside record scratches and horn samples that echo the sounds of the past like a slice of A Tribe Called Quest pie in its contrapuntal prime. TRiLL GATE$, Mike Reagl, original vision, CSYSYK and a select few other producers each generate a magnetism that bring out different pieces of Mozaic’s assortment of approaches.
When the production disappears and we’re left with nothing but words you get a real sense for Mozaic’s flow. Chaos is one of my favorites. Take a listen. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYg1-gvZspI] This track is what kicks off the Mozaik MKE YouTube campaign that lured and hooked my attention with a deep weighty voice double through a gripping monologue.
John put me right in his shoes with another center-stage homily through an interlude called “Fatherless” from his debut EP “Peace by Piece.” It features little more instrumentally than a creeping orchestral swell to usher in a haunting retrospective about coming to terms, slam poet style, with the challenges of growing up without small time celebrity father DJ Rock Dee [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHpegNTnHPk].
A day in the life goes a little something like. . .
Wake up, go to work… Music, Music, Music. I’ll listen to music at work, indirectly getting paid to be a musician (*to self – should I be saying that? *laughs)
John is constantly listening through new records and he’ll get through a lot during a full work shift doing double duty with headphones on alongside the daily grind.
Speaking of which, what’s playing on your iTunes right now?
A lot of what I listen to is from Milwaukee and Chicago. Let’s see. . .
Kendrick Lamar – Untilited Unmastered
Chance the Rapper – Chance 3/Coloring Book (its gospel)
Supa Bwe – Dead Occasion [Chicago – https://soundcloud.com/supabwe]
Mick Jenkins – The Waters
D’amato – Counterfeit Paradise [Milwaukee – https://soundcloud.com/damatolovesyou]
– also –
School Boy Q
How about a favorite instrument to hear in a track?
Piano and Saxophone – while thumbing through a catalog of instrumentals, what catches my attention most is if these instruments are involved. Anyone who makes music can admit that it’s quite hard to elaborate on the creation of a song and it’s really more of a feeling. These two instruments touch my soul more than I’ve found in any other instruments.
What’s the most interesting show you’ve been a part of?
The TrueSkool 10 year anniversary held at the 88.9 radio Milwaukee station. TrueSkool is a hip-hop youth school based out of Milwaukee,WI which teaches the elements of hip-hop to the youth. The 88.9 radio Milwaukee radio station was kind enough to host the 10 year anniversary and packed the house out. The show was filled with students and top local hip-hop musicians who dedicated their time and talent to be a part of not only the show but the TrueSkool 10 year anniversary album which also featured me on. The night consisted of nothing but love, addressing poverty and turning around the environment into a positive one.
John’s father Rock Dee was a host for 88.9. A two part video from the event is available here: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSyFj9bFvTk].
In mentioning additional shows from the pat year Mozaic said Reptile Palace, Barley & Hops, Oblio’s, Peabody’s and Stitches (RIP) come to mind first.
When it comes to getting on stage what’s going through your mind?
I tune out the world but be present for the event. I’ll get butterflies whether it’s packed vs. 4 people in the room.
Those moments before getting on the stage, standing right in-between excitement and nerves. When that happens I know it’s going to be a good show.
Then a different personality (Mozaic) takes over. Any artist can tell you that it’s more of a feeling. Just breaking down those walls.
When it comes to nailing a freshly written track John says it comes natural to “write a track and the words are there”.
Your music videos have been great to watch. Tell us about 1999.
1999 was something totally different, a party song. 1999 is about the college years, being at those house parties every week.
What would you say is your biggest claim to fame?
Imitation Diamonds (music video). It’s created a buzz and been picked up by major blog sites.
Imitation Diamonds [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpO_X3JKnAA] is the most recent music video to come from Mozaic and company. Credits include Zed Kenzo, direction under Alex Belville and Wes Tank with an instrumental coming from Eclipse that tirelessly trudges along like a chain gang. It was reposted by big major blog sites from Milwaukee to New York City [https://mishkanyc.com/our-story] and has earned the distinct honor of being selected as a finalist for the LA CineFest.
Earlier in the year I caught a preview of the track at the UW Oshkosh WISCO music festival and I distinctly remember John saying “you’re going to fall in love with this girl’s voice.” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pk8RwHY93Zw]. The half hour set was broadcasted live on the UW Oshkosh Titan TV cable channel.
Any hidden talents that we don’t know about?
I can pull my inner belly button out into an outtie (*demonstrates – laughs)
What’s in the works right now for you?
Releasing a music video for my single featuring Cullen Sampson Titled “Beautiful Death”
“Liquer Du Sang” single: [https://soundcloud.com/mozaicmke/liqueurdusang]
Releasing my Full length Album in December 2016 titled “Sometimes Author”
UW Oshkosh BM
Photos courtesy of Mozaic – Artist – Facebook