Taking a myopic view of Holland, one might think tulips, clogs, and windmills are all the region has to offer. The area, however, is also the home to Skiggy Rapz, an emcee/producer who’s been making a name for himself throughout The Netherlands, and beyond, thanks to his mixture of high quality lyricism, and pop sensibilities.

Earlier this year, Skiggy released his sophomore album, Satellites, and this past week the video for the third single off of that album, “SuperHoney,” hit YouTube.

When RapReviews was extended an invite to Skiggy’s studio in Utrecht (via Skype. RapReviews may be a great site, but we don’t have THAT kinda budget), we took him up on the offer, and found out more about his city, his music, and how Satellites could have ended up a depressing album instead of being so upbeat. Skiggy also opened up about being eternally linked to Snooki.

Adam Bernard: Tell me about the defining features of Utrecht. All I know of The Netherlands is Amsterdam. What’s cool about your hometown?

Skiggy Rapz: As much as I love Amsterdam, I think Amsterdam, for me, is a little bit too anonymous. It’s not a very big city, but it’s a very crowded city. There are lots of tourists. I see more tourists than Dutch people in Amsterdam. Utrecht kind of has the same vibe in terms of having all the beautiful buildings, it’s a pretty old city, but it’s less anonymous. I feel more comfortable here. It’s more cozy, and a lot of good music comes from here.

AB: Have you found there are any distinctions between Dutch hip-hop and American hip-hop?

SR: I don’t know. What I do see is a lot of Dutch hip-hop, they try to copy American hip-hop, in a way, especially the whole tough thing, like “yo, I’m from the streets.” Now in Holland everybody’s from the streets and shit. (I hear that and think) I don’t believe you. You always see, in a lot of things, that a small country like Holland copies America. Also, without America we might have never known hip-hop, so there’s still an amount of copying the sound. I think now there are some new sounds in Holland, as well, but to be honest I don’t listen to a lot of Dutch hip-hop. There are some good Dutch rappers, but I think Dutch, I don’t really like that language to rap in, or to listen to when people rap in the language. Some (Dutch rappers) are really good, but still, it’s not something I would put on my mp3 player.

AB: Let’s talk about something that’s making its way to mp3 players, your latest album, Satellites. On the first track, “Natural Born,” you say, “I’m a rap artist with something extra.” How do you define that something extra?

SR: I do everything myself. I make my own beats. I write my own rhymes. I record everything myself. I mix everything everything myself. Sometimes I master everything myself. Also, I try to be a rapper who can make a song, but who can also really flow. I like catchy music. I actually really like pop music a lot, so I try to put in a really good hook, but the verses need to be high level emcee rap verses.

AB: I was going to ask about your pop influence, because I actually searched your liner notes to try to find which 80s pop song you sampled for “SPR*” only to find it was all original production. How do you toe the line of incorporating pop without falling into the dreaded realm of being considered corny?

SR: I guess that’s just my own judgement. I have a couple of people around me that, when I make songs, I play them for them, and if I get good reactions then I know it’s good, but I always, in my heart, know if it’s good or not. There still will be a lot of people out there who think “SPR*” is a corny song. It’s always a subjective thing, and what I try to do all the time, which is something I have to admit is pretty difficult, is I try to do what I want to do, no matter what anybody else thinks. Like my new video, “Super Honey,” that’s a very easy video to hate, you know?

AB: For a while I was wondering if you were gonna move at all in the video.

SR: I thought it would be very cool for the first 30-40 seconds, I’m not gonna do anything. I thought yeah, we should just do this very stupid low budget dance video. I think it’s funny. I already know a lot of people out there are not gonna get the joke, or they’re not gonna like it, or they’ll think it doesn’t suit the song, but I just always try to do what I want to do, and luckily, a lot of times other people like it. Other times people hate it.

AB: As long as they feel strongly about it.

SR: Yeah. It’s all good. I also hate a lot of music. {*laughs*}

AB: What events were going on in your life while you were creating Satellites, and how are those things reflected in the album?

SR: There’s a lot of self-reflection on the album. Most songs were recorded in the time after me and my girlfriend broke up. We had a relationship for six years. A song like “Natural Born,” that was at my absolute low point, where I felt really depressed, and really insecure, about a lot of things. A lot of songs I made in that period I threw away, or put em on the mixtape I released before my album. A song like “Satellites” has a few lines about my ex-girlfriend, but that was already a little time later, so I accepted it more. A song like “T.A.N.Y.A.,” I traveled a couple times to do shows, for example to Russia, after me and my girlfriend broke up, and I met a girl there, her name’s Tanya, she also speaks on the track, which I recorded when I was with her in Russia. A song like “Hey Now,” is about how I feel good again, I’m back. A lot of songs were actually written in a depressed time.

AB: It’s odd that you say you were depressed when you were writing most of the album, because so much of it has an upbeat vibe in terms of the production.

SR: Right, because I didn’t want to make a really depressed album. There was, of course, an amount of time that I felt really fucked up, but I didn’t want to make four songs really heavy about that. I also don’t want to listen back to that album and constantly get reminded of this black period, this dark period, so I thought “Natural Born,” that’s enough. I made that depressing song, got it over with. The album also starts with that song. We have that, and now we go on. After that comes “Follow,” which is a more epic song, and with a more positive vibe to it, but also a little bit melodramatic. Then there’s “SPR*,” which is like the fresh thing, so it kind of builds up.

AB: Rewinding a bit, you mentioned doing shows in Russia, which means you’ve been to some interesting places. What’s been the wildest thing you’ve seen, or experienced, while on the road?

SR: Last time we were in Romania I was there with my DJ, DJ DNS. We stayed in this apartment, and there was this guy constantly with us, a very big guy. He was a mercenary, actually. Nothing really happened, but he really didn’t want us to go outside because it was dangerous, and stuff like that. We did go (outside) eventually, of course. It was nothing too crazy.

AB: Hanging out with a mercenary is pretty crazy.

SR: He was very proud of that, talking about how he murdered a lot of people. He also said, “oh yeah, don’t make jokes about my car,” because he had this ridiculous sports car and I said, “hey man, that’s a nice car,” he said, “don’t make no jokes about my car.” It was a nice car! Everything we wanted, he got it (for us). To us he was very friendly, but you could feel this, like he was ready to explode at any minute. (We thought) just treat him nicely and we’ll be OK.

AB: Have you kept in touch with him since? Do you know if he’s exploded and gone to prison?

SR: No.

AB: So it’s a possibility.

SR: Yeah, it’s definitely a possibility, absolutely.

AB: In addition to your solo work, you have a production company, Pelican Productions, with your longtime collaborator, Tienus. How did that come to be, and what are you working on now?

SR: Tienus, he’s my longtime friend. I live with him in the same house, and I’ve been making music with him for like 15 years. A couple years ago he played with another band called Leaf, and he wrote the songs for the band. This band was very popular in Holland in 2009. They had a most played radio song, and stuff like that, but he didn’t want to go through with the band, so the whole project collapsed, and he said, “you know, why not write songs for other people? Let’s both do the production, and mixing, and get our powers together and see what we can do.” We started working with some artists. I had my studio in my bedroom, so these artists would come in here to my bedroom to record songs. People from EMI, or Sony/BMG, were coming here to have meetings. It was very funny. Then we got hooked up with a girl named Krystl, she’s a singer, and we made her first album. Tienus wrote four songs, I think, on that album, and we produced the whole thing, and I mixed the whole thing. The first and the third single were very successful here in Holland. In that way we got connected to other artists, and we’ve done some very cool projects. We just finished Krystl’s second album, and the new single is doing really well. She played at one of the biggest radio stations in Holland, and when you play (at those stations) you have to do a cover of something that’s in the Top 40, so she covered “Blurred Lines” and she asked me to do a verse on that. I said oh fuck it, why not. It got some really good airplay, and some really good attention. I’ve been playing some shows with her. Tienus is now working on his solo thing, and I also, of course, spend a lot of time on my solo project, and I just finished mixing another singer/songwriter album.

AB: You stay busy! Finally, when I did a Google search on you an image of the cast of Jersey Shore came up. This stemmed from you having your music featured in an episode of the show during season two. How do you feel about being eternally linked with Snooki?

SR: {*laughs*} It’s funny because I had never seen that show until Ryan (Goeller) from Beats Broke sent me an email like “they want to use your song ‘Today’ for Jersey Shore,” and they wanted to use it for an episode that was a really big one, like five million people were gonna watch it, and it would put my name on the screen. I was like “why not?” I didn’t do any research. Then I saw what the show was about. I thought it was a pretty funny show, actually. I read a lot of the YouTube comments on that song and a lot of people are talking about Jersey Shore, like “who found this because of Jersey Shore,” and like a hundred thumbs up. For me, for my music, it was pretty good. I sold a lot of singles of that song. I sold like a thousand singles in one week, and when you do that in Holland, you only need 500 to get to number one, and the YouTube views went up like crazy, so for me it was actually pretty good promo. What I’ve experienced is that it’s very hard to get attention without promo on TV, or promo on the radio. My video for “Satellites” is at just over 100K views. They started playing that song on Dutch radio on a semi-big radio station when the video wasn’t out. A couple days later the video was out and getting two or three thousand views per day. Then when the song was off the radio it dropped to like 100 views per day, so you see it’s a very big influence. A lot of people say to me, “Skiggy, why are you not famous? Why are you not as big as you should be? Why are you not constantly traveling the world?” I’m like yo man, there is so much music out there, especially with how it is now, everybody makes an album, everybody makes a video, a lot of stuff gets thrown out there, I feel like I need some kind of a break to break through to a wider audience. It’s very difficult to see how you can reach those people, and if that’s maybe through Jersey Shore, we can use all the publicity we can get.