This Friday, February 1, Seattle-based hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis will entertain a sold-out crowd at Colorado’s legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre as the headliner for the second Winter On the Rocks concert. Skiing caught up with Ben Haggerty (AKA Macklemore) and Ryan Lewis to discuss the show, their recent success, and their affection for Colorado.
Your latest album, The Heist, has been #1 on iTunes and #2 on Billboard. Last week, “Thrift Shop” became Billboard’s #1 single. How has the success changed things for you guys going into new projects?
Ryan: On one hand, it’s super exciting, crazy, unexpected, a lot to wrap our heads around, and not what we anticipated. On the other hand, when we go into the studio now in 2013, we want to, in the mist of all this excitement, put ourselves in a place where we can naturally make the music that we want to make. We just want to enjoy the process.
Ben: For both Ryan and me, the goal is to be creative. Having a number one song on Billboard is a big deal for us. In terms of what’s on paper, it’s probably the biggest deal. I’m very proud of that, I think it’s awesome, but I don’t want that to come to define us.
Have you played Red Rocks before?
Ryan: Yeah, but as a bit of an opener, which makes this show very exciting.
It’s February in Colorado when weather can be unpredictable. Did it take much convincing to do this show?
Ben: I didn’t really realize it could be freezing until someone told me that not too long ago. I kinda figured, “oh, it’s Colorado, it could snow, but it’ll be 70 the next day.” No, it didn’t take a lot of convincing.
Ryan: We don’t have to worry so much about instruments going out of tune. Hip Hop musicians in the snow are blessed.
You’ve been all over the world, but you’ve made several stops through Colorado lately. What keeps you coming back to this scene and the mountain scene in general?
Ben: There’s something about the mountain scene. People like to celebrate, to have a good time, and to go out and listen to live music. Colorado was the first place that I performed outside of the Northwest. It’s one of the first places that I really got embraced. I had a fan base in Colorado before I had one in California, before I had one in just about every other part of the world outside of the Northwest. The people there just love hip-hop music. They let loose and have a good time and the shows are always crazy.
Growing up in the Northwest, did you ever ski or snowboard?
Ryan: Yea, I was a snowboarder. I grew up in Spokane and rode Schweitzer. It’s a good mountain, big, double-black diamonds.
Ben: Snowboarder. I went Snoqualmie Pass a bit and this place called Ski Acres.
Favorite Seattle sports team?
Ryan: Mercedes G Class
Ryan: Kanye West
Ryan: Ice cream scooper
Best time to listen to your music?
Ryan: In your car
The new Seattle Super Sonics?
Ben: Hell yea.
Ryan: Bo Jackson
Favorite dance move?
Ben: Running man
Ryan: Whatever girls do after you say “drop down and get your eagle on girl.”