The first time I met Von Sage I was interviewing him as an Ice King. A collective of four solo musicians making music as a group. He arrived at the studio in his signature Dodge Challenger. All blacked out with white stripes running down the top, hood, and trunk. He hopped out, fresh cut clothing, gold necklace, and dreadlocks. I had done my research but nothing went according to plan that night. My camera was somehow set to the automatic light adjustment feature, basically capturing him as a silhouette.
He comes off as a mystery, with intense beats and lyrics. His image is so clean cut but yet he shows a darker side with his particular style. I kept getting the sense that he walks alone ninety eight percent of the time. I saw a man pressed by emotion and hardened on the outside by the world around him. Never bitter though. Just keeping on his grind. Steady, strong, independent. Underneath all that is a workhorse for the American dream.
Von recalls making tapes and videos as early as eight years old, and would continue to do so throughout high school. Proving to be far beyond his years by the age of thirteen. Von got his hands on some basic equipment and started teaching himself the in’s and out’s of beat mixing and mastering. Effectively becoming his own producer by fifteen. Continuing on he would take film classes for broadcasting as well as pursuing his passion in acting. This became his direction through college at U of W River Falls. In the beginning, Von stated that, “I never saw myself as a rapper, but more the producer of others.” Always thinking much larger than those around him, he found a solid direction with his talents. Production of tracks over time led him to speak about the difficulties and struggles in his own life with other artists sharing the same vibe. Bringing his vocal and writing abilities to the front line of his career. This was the connection needed to tell that story and share his voice with the world.
As I was getting to know who Von Sage really was, I felt “ this mysterious and dark exterior” lift like the smoke that surrounds him on stage. In a beautiful display of bright color, I finally understood…
To sustain such a tremendous force of energy, requires countless hours of dedication and studying. Von’s not quiet or shy, he simply doesn’t say or do anything without calculating the risk. An extremely intricate network of safety protocols have kept him alive and able to produce what he loves. He suffers from sleep paralysis, which he describes in one of his hit songs titled, Sleep Paralysis. Aside from his struggles with sleep, he carries with him the vivid memories and grief from some major life experiences. He once saved the life of a friend in college at UW River Falls by taking quick action. Recalling CPR training from a class he took only once years before. His cousin was murdered at his (Von’s) 13th birthday party and A&E produced an episode on First 48. He has endured so much my heart literally broke for him. Such an incredible human. Selfless, intelligent, and insanely real.
This opportunity to follow him to the main stage at First Avenue in Minneapolis, has changed my life forever. Personally getting to see what now fourteen years of dedication and service to the culture has finally brought him. My words do not, and cannot, describe the sheer weight of what’s at stake. It has been my personal pleasure to bring you this story with every ounce of my being, and only hope that you find him as I have…
Mikey Nitro (One Of Many Dreamers)
Film / Live Photography : Mikey Nitro
Article written by : Mikey Nitro
Article edited by : Lilly Bea
Video produced and edited by : Mikey Nitro