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Peering into the Crystal Ball - Our Interview with Mystic I

Max Arellano (A.K.A. Mystic I) is a hip-hop artist out of Denver, CO. Not only is he a fantastic rapper, but Mystic I also provides high-quality videography for himself and other artists around Denver. We had the opportunity to talk with him about his growing career as a musical artist and a videographer.

How did you get started in the music scene and in the photo/video scene?

Mystic I tells us, “I remember always singing along to songs on the radio and beatboxing random rhythms as a kid. In high school my homie started recording music and I thought that was super cool. So, with his help I started making my own music with my iPod. The music was not good at all, but I fell in love with making something out of nothing. I got good enough to headline some shows early in my career and people encouraged me to make more music.” Shortly after beginning his musical career, Arellano realized that he would need photo and video work done to compliment his sound. “I was actually taking my own photos and filming my own videos when I first started. I didn’t have enough money to afford a photography/videography and I don’t remember even considering hiring on in the first place. I knew what I wanted and I wanted to be the one to make my content.” Mystic I has been a self-made, hands-on artist since the beginning. We asked, “Do you prefer performance or production?” Arellano’s response was that he likes both. “I like performing because that’s how I started, but I also like production because I like all the technical aspects of the behind-the-scenes process,” he said.

Let’s Dig into Some Details

“What makes a good song to you?” We asked. Mystic’s process is that he comes into sessions already knowing what he wants. “It’s hard to change my mind when it comes to that. I know I made a good song right after I record the hook,” he said. While he does not produce his own beats, Mystic I works with many producers such as Samuri, J. Dot, and Lunar Horizon to create a unique sound in each track. While beats are important to stand out, Mystic I believes his vocals set him apart from other artists in the scene. “I do some weird things on the mic, but it adds different elements to the song that makes it unique,” he said.

We decided to dig even deeper. “They can’t all be bangers–how do you keep going?” Arellano started out by saying that we was unsure. “I have a lot of songs I started and never finished because I don’t like them. I create my own inspirations out of feelings I have and I want to capture that feeling in the music. I keep going because art is therapy to me. I really don’t care if people listen or not, I do it for me.” This really stood out because one can tell that Mystic I is in it for the passion of creating music, not for the fame. Mystic I has said it can take him 30 minutes to a couple of months to finish a track. Typically, he said, if everything is on track it can be completed in a few hours. Last, we asked him what his favorite track is. He said, “Probably this song I did a couple years ago with Samuri called OFF-WHITE. Samuri made the beat in like a second and I got it sent back to him in like 20 mins. It did super well and was one of those songs that I knew was going to be a banger when I first heard the beat. I like when the process is fluid like that.”

Tell us more about your videography

“My homie/colleague David DiGioia really got me in the Denver scene and taught me a lot about photography. Big ups to him for that because it’s one of my favorite things to do now.” Arellano said. If anyone has seen some of his work, he or she can tell that, like music, Mystic I finds a lot of passion in his photo and video work. Currently, he is finding a lot of satisfaction in film cameras. He recently purchased a quadroscopic 3D camera: The Nishika N8000, “for those retro 3D looks,” he said. “Also, I use my drone more than I should. I just love the way my drone footage looks after post.” With drone footage becoming more and more useful and accessible, look for more amazing shots from Mystic I. He is inspired by video director and editor Lonewolf (Zac Matias) who has worked on projects with Plu20 Nash, Warhol, and Yung Pinch to name a few.

What is very unique about Mystic’s music videos is that he shoots, edits, and directs them himself. As previously mentioned, Mystic I prefers to cut out the middleman and work on his own projects. “I do everything. I even make the animations for promoting my songs. I have some help from the homies, but I am mostly a one-man team when it comes to creating visuals for my music.” he said. He uses custom LUTs, which are custom-made presets for videos, that give him the edgy, cinematic looks in all of his videos.

Looking to the Future

Finally, we asked what Mystic I has planed for 2021. He is working on many different projects. “I’m working on three different tapes with different producers at the moment. I’m also starting to plan my own album for later this year,” he said. Mystic is working with many different artists to create video content both for himself and their own videos. It was amazing to sit down with Max and learn all about his past and present. He is amazing behind the mic and behind the camera. Click the links below to follow along with Mystic I and stay up to date on all of his projects.

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