8 Bit (a.k.a. Rob Fusari) is a man of many talents. Perhaps most well-known for his role in shaping Lady Gaga’s image and producing/writing on her debut album “The Fame”, he’s adding a new talent to his arsenal: artist. His new project, Cary Nokey, is “future 80s BANG” that looks to entertain and awaken your senses. I had a chance to speak with 8 Bit about Cary Nokey before their performance at a Miami Music Week showcase at The Stage Miami on Monday, March 24.
How are you doing today?
I’m doing great, how are you?
Good. You guys are originally from New York, right?
Jersey originally, now New York based, but I’m born and raised from Jersey.
Yeah I made the transition, I made the big step.
Yeah, I’m originally from Miami, so whenever people come down here they’re like ‘oh my god it’s so warm!’
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you like it?
I was born here, I don’t really know anything else (laughs).
How’d you guys like the trip down here?
It’s cool, I mean, I’ve been down here a bunch before with work-related projects and what not. I dig it down here; it’s a whole different feel and a whole different scene than New York in terms of the pace. And just the whole way you feel down here is a little more, I don’t want to use the word relaxed, but it’s just, a little more like you can take time to think and kinda gather your thoughts in a whole different way than you can in New York [background music stops]. New York is just move, move, move, make quick decisions, you know, right or wrong, you gotta keep it moving.
Yeah, it seems like it’s tougher than Miami with that kind of thing.
[background music comes back on, “So Fresh, So Clean” by OutKast starts playing]
By the way, I love this song.
Anyway. Do you have any pre-show rituals that you guys do before you go on stage?
Um, you know, I actually have one pre-show ritual that I have is that I don’t drink before I perform. I do drink after I perform, but I found, like early on, if I drank before a performance, it just wasn’t lending itself to the overall whole experience. It was kind of taking away from giving people the whole picture, you know what I mean? It was kind of blurring the lines.
Yeah, it’s easier to forget things and not be as into it.
Yeah, it wasn’t as tight, the lines were blurred. It just wasn’t it. So very early on, I made the decision to make that the pre-show ritual, just don’t drink before the show. I mean, I do drink, but just not before the show (laughs). But aside from that, we’re kinda like, as we’re starting to do more shows now, I need to find that ritual, if you know what I mean? Like I need to start doing vocal warm ups and I need to start stretching because I’m moving more on stage now. So with the more shows that are coming through, I actually have to find that. That’s something that I have been doing. I’ve been kinda doing this in a rock ‘n’ roll fashion, which is just like ‘bam-bam-bam’, just ‘go-go-go’ and that’s a little bit dangerous.
Right, you can screw up your voice if you don’t do it correctly.
I’m singing almost every night now, we’re doing shows and I’m starting to feel it.
That’s the moneymaker and you’re like ‘ahhh’!
Yeah. Yeah. So you gotta really be careful and treat it like a child. It’s like a treasure.
What are some of your favorite songs to play live?
Good question. It always changes. But now, it would have to be a song called “Be Who U R”. It’s a little bit on the happier side of things than what we’re accustomed to doing in terms of the feel of the track and the record. It’s a positive message. It’s not that we’re not used to doing that kind of thing, but as far as the set goes, it’s the happiest song that we do. And it’s a nice transition to be able to do something like that. We haven’t done anything like that before that’s so happy and uplifting and I think people are kind of responding to it. I think people want that.
Yeah, they like happy music.
Right. It’s happy, but it still has this Cary Nokey like (pauses).
Yeah, it’s got a little bit of a dark happy.
Like morbidly happy.
Yeah, it’s happy but it’s kind of sad happy. Sometimes I’ll talk going into the song in this little prelude we do and that kinda pulls at your heart when I do that talk. So it’s like this tug of war, this push and pull of happy and sad. But right now, I just dig doing it because we haven’t done anything like that before because everything’s been really heavy and deep and really kind of dark in the sense of Cary Nokey dark. So it’s just a transformation, it’s a switch of doing something a little bit happier on stage now.
What do you hope the audience takes away from your show?
You know it’s funny because when we first started doing this show, people started coming up to me and they would say, and I heard it a lot. And at first, I brushed it off because I didn’t really get it. They would say, “you inspire me”. And I was like ‘oh, all right, maybe that’s something, they’re being nice. Maybe they didn’t really dig it and that’s their way of being nice’, but I started hearing it more and more and it really started to sink in. People were taking away this whole feeling of ‘s—t, I think I could do something more. I could follow my dream. I could turn it all around’. I mean, they look at me and they say ‘here’s someone who had everything and could continue on the path of that production role and live out the rest of his career that way’. But instead, I made a choice to stop all that and become an artist and start from zero again. So literally I had to take everything I had and use it, but I had to start all over again and that’s what Cary Nokey is. I’m building back up from nothing, basically, because nobody knows me as an artist, they know me as a producer. There’s no fear, there’s bravery. I don’t care what people think, what they say, when you believe in something, it shows and it pours out of you and I think people feed off that, in a good way. Everybody has a dream.
You can always tell when someone likes what they’re seeing or when someone has a passion for what they’re doing.
Absolutely. They know when it’s authentic. They know when you’re feeling something and when you’re full of s—t. People seeing that, it’s helped them to rethink their lives and their dreams. It’s the whole thing of, you know, I say it sometimes during the show, miracles do happen. I didn’t believe in miracles for a long time in my life. Years. Miracles, it’s just a term people use when it’s a coincidence or whatever. But now I do believe in miracles, like this has turned my life around from something that looked like it was heading into a dead end, a void, heading into a very dark place. Through this, I was able to turn everything around from this downward spiral. To me, it’s nothing short of a miracle because I didn’t think it would ever happen. I didn’t see it coming. It just kinda came and it kinda swooped me like at the last second like Superman kinda. I think people see that.
Name one song people would be surprised to find on your iPod.
I think they’d be surprised that I have Andy Gibb, “Love is Thicker than Water”. It’s this very syrupy, late 70s, mid-tempo but funky. It’s one of those songs that it’s no different than a radio Gaga. It’s a song that I’ve been striving to not mimic, but have that feeling in one of my songs. “Love is Thicker Than Water” is no different. I’ve always strived to have a song/production that felt that way but in a modern setting. There’s something about the groove and there’s a sadness to it, but it’s still a dance song. And I’m always intrigued by those songs that are dance songs that are mid-tempo and funky and it’s groovin’, but there’s something sad about it.
Yeah, like they sound really happy and then you listen to the lyrics and you’re like ‘wait, that’s not what they’re saying at all’.
Sometimes it’s not even in the lyrics, sometimes it’s in the way the artist is singing it and you hear it. And when Andy Gibb sings this song, you hear a sadness. You really do. And it goes right through me. So I think they would be surprised that I have Andy Gibb, but you know that’s a staple. I love that song so much.
Favorite artists (or DJ) right now?
Wow. I’m a big Empire of the Sun fan. I love Empire of the Sun right now. I love MGMT. I love stuff that’s not trying to be different. It’s different, but it’s familiar, if that makes sense. It’s that anomaly again. Like, ‘I’ve heard this before, now it’s being twisted in this new light’. It’s no different than shining an old penny. Like all of a sudden, I’ve had this penny for forever, but now I shined it. It’s the same penny, but when you look at it now, it’s like, “yeah, this is kinda new and fresh” and it gives you a whole different perspective on the penny when it hits the light. I think a lot of those groups, like Empire of the Sun and MGMT are really bringing that whole element to the scene, which I love. It’s creative. You know, I’ve always been a fan of the Strokes. I love low-fi. I love pop music, but when it’s twisted upside down. I love when it’s done in a bit of a different feel.
I love when people mix genres and it comes out as the craziest thing, like ‘this shouldn’t work and it sounds amazing’.
Totally, totally, you can’t wrap your head around it.
I know this one band that I discovered last year, for example, they’re a completely different band than the one I came for and they were just this really cool mix of dubstep and rock.
And their lyric writing and that they have this whole concept around it. It’s so creative.
It’s amazing. I love that. I love when you hear a band where you go ‘oh my God. I can hear Bowie, Prince. I can hear you know this, or EDM, I just love that. ‘Cause all of a sudden these layers start to build up with the act and you start to fall in love. When something is one dimensional, there may be that initial candy. It’s like when you eat something and you’re like “ah, this tastes really good” and then you’re like “eh but now I don’t feel so good”. Then the second time you’re like “I don’t know…” and then you just lose it, lose it, lose it. And a lot of acts are like that today. It’s like that initial “this is good”, and then, “there’s no layers…” ‘cause you don’t discover the whole underbelly and you’re like “where’s the next layer?” and it doesn’t come. I’m sure you know, but there’s acts that are in the pop circuit today that are like that. That’s just not what this was built on. Music was built on those acts that really gave you those layers, like the Bowies, the Pink Floyds, even the Donna Summers. You could listen to those records forever and you never get bored. You’ll still listen to those records, the true artist that helped shape the whole scene for what’s going on.
Anything else you want to add?
No. I mean, are you gonna come back to the show later?
I am, yeah.
Then that’s all I wanted to ask.
Thank you so much, that was awesome. Those were good questions though. It was nice meeting you.
Thank you. It was nice meeting you too.