Below, you can read our interview with Dry Ice (a.k.a., Alvon Jackson), and listen to music from his album, International Ice. Check out our full music review of International Ice, HERE.
Q: You’ve described yourself as an Army brat that traveled the world while growing up. That sounds exciting. Give us a list of all the places to which you traveled as a kid. Did you enjoy all of the moving back then?
A: I loved moving around growing up. Really and truly, it was the only thing I knew, so I always found comfort in that freedom and mobility. We lived as far west as Arizona and as far east as Ansbach, Germany. When we lived in Germany, I got to travel all over europe. The weird thing is that I absolutely love Germany but I haven’t been back. Talking about it in this interview is making me want to prioritize that trip. It gets into your system and effects you one of two ways: Either it makes you despise traveling and you never do it again once you are done with the military. Or, it lights a fire in you and you absolutely have to travel or you will go crazy. I’ll go crazy if I can’t get out and see the world every now and then.
Q: Eventually your family settled in Tallahassee, Florida. What prompted that? Why Florida?
A: All of my family is from north Florida and Alabama. Once my pops retired, moving to FL was like coming back home. I spent all of my summers and holidays in FL and AL growing up.
Q: Tell us a story about about how you got your moniker, Dry Ice?
A: People have been calling me Ice since I was about 15. It wasn’t even a rap or a stage name. It was just a nickname I picked up running around with my friends. Long story short: I was riding around with some friends that were smoking a blunt. We got pulled over by the police and the car reeked of weed smoke. Everybody was high except me. I told everybody to chill out and let me do as much talking as possible. So I was able to maintain my composure and talk us out of the situation without the police calling any of our parents. When we got back in the car, all my boys were saying, “Yo, you were cool as ice back there”…..and Ice just stuck. It wasn’t even that I was so cool, I just don’t smoke, so I wasn’t high! At any rate, fast forward a little bit, and I meet a kid in school that was as enthusiastic about rapping as I was. He used to make songs and mixtapes karaoke style, with one tape playing an instrumental and him rapping into a cheap mic over the beat. It was the first studio type experience I ever had. He asked me what my MC name was, and I said I don’t know……everybody calls me Ice. Ice by itself was kind of plain though, so he added the dry because dry ice is cold but if you touch it, it will burn you. As a 15 year old kid, that blew my mind (lol). I was all in. That’s how Dry Ice was born. I’m always surprised at how fitting it is and how well it has stuck over the years. I have friends whose grandmothers call me Ice. I guess some things are just meant to be.
Q: You’ve been an MC since your time at Florida A&M University. Are there any other projects you’ve recorded? Where can we find them?
A: I’ve recorded demos and stand alone songs over the years, but nothing I would have put out as a cohesive project for the world to buy. I would cringe if somebody popped up with an old Dry Ice song. Sometimes my close friends will call me playing something from “Welcome To The Other Side Of The Pillow”. That was my first demo that I tried to shop with the prospect of getting a record deal. Maybe I’ll release it one day just for the laughs.
Q: How long did International Ice take to record?
A: From the conception of the mixtape to its actual release, it took about 7 months. I spent a lot of time searching the globe for inspirational production. I thought the writing was going to be grueling because it had been so long since I even conceptualized doing anything cohesive. But, once I started writing, I shook the cobwebs off pretty quick. The majority of the time was spent production shopping and trying to work my recording schedule into my everyday schedule. I’m pretty efficient in the studio, though. I’m probably the exact opposite of every rapper I know. I don’t really go to the studio to party. I’m not 50 deep with a bunch of weed, liquor and women. I’m in and out. I need peace and quiet because I’m seeking perfection when I step in the booth.
Q: What were the high & low points of the recording process?
A: I would say the high point was the camaraderie of creating new music again. I was in a rap group with guys that I consider my brothers and it was nostalgic to send material back and forth to them and discuss ideas. Music has a way of making everything else just fade away. It’s that zen mind state that everybody is looking for. The low points were the time surfing the web looking for production. It makes me envy guys like Guru from Gangstarr that could depend on one dope producer.
Q: Any plans for a follow-up album or mix-tape?
A: My priority is my travel show. The response from my supporters will determine if I rush to the studio to put together a follow up project. As a matter of fact, the only reason I dropped this mixtape is because we had some down time between episodes and I figured now would be a good time to drop something that really galvanizes the brand and brings something unique to the world of travel entertainment.
Q: Your the CEO of your own entertainment company, Believer Entertainment, and star in your own travel-based reality web-TV show, Give Us The Strength. How long have you been filming the show? How did you get sponsorship? Where in the world has your show taken you? Can you tell us about your favorite episode?
A: Give Us The Strength happened in the most organic way possible. In 2011, I was seeing this woman. She was fine as hell by the way, but that’s neither here nor there (lol). Anyway, she was fine but we just weren’t seeing eye to eye. Primarily because I travel too much! I won a free cruise through a sweepstakes and I couldn’t take this girl anymore. Things were basically over between us. My boy Rome, who is the co-host of the show, lives in south Florida. The cruise was leaving out of West Palm, so I told him the ticket was his if he wanted to go. We docked in the Bahamas and rented scooters one day. So we were riding around sight-seeing, and out of nowhere this big-ass doberman comes out and attacks us. I had the camera rolling and we were able to catch a lot of it on video. The video made our friends laugh and a light bulb popped up over our heads. So we decided to see if we could travel to other destinations and recreate that energy. The rest is history, so-to-speak. We’ve been all over the place. The Canadian wilderness, Costa Rica, Spain, Thailand and we have three trips lined-up for this year already. My favorite location so far is Valencia, Spain. We went for Tomatina which is basically a big tomato fight. The fanfare leading up to the event was amazing. I fought a bull, got soaked with wine, and a bunch of drunk spanish women mistook me for 50 cent. You’ve got to see the whole episode for any of that to make sense!
Q: Perhaps in some unspecified amount of time, your career in entertainment explodes in the best of ways…what does that look like for you?
A: I’m a creative person, but I don’t necessarily have to be in front of the camera or behind the mic. Success to me is equal to ownership and freedom. If I can have those things, I’ll gladly take a job producing or directing or writing. It would be extremely gratifying for me to be able to wear multiple hats and still garner respect from my peers. Plus, fame is just so overrated. I like being able to go out without a lot of fuss.
Q: You get to collaborate with anyone of your choosing. Who is it?
A: Stevie Wonder. I wouldn’t even try to do a rap song with him. It would be a blessing to just be there to watch an iconic genius at work.
Q: Your favorite album of all time?
A: Aquemini by Outkast. They found a way to push the genre forward and still maintain hip-hop sensibilities. No matter how funky, jazzy or rock they got, there was still no doubt it was a hip-hop album. I could sit here all day and talk about that album. It’s a life changing album for me, personally. I literally feel like that album changed the trajectory of my life.
Q: Your favorite song of all time?
A: Wow…you’re killin me with this one! I’m gonna say, Before I Let Go by Maze (feat. Frankie Beverly). I have so many good times associated with that song. All of my memories are organized in my head by song. I’ll hear a song and be instantly transported to a time in my life when that song was significant for some reason.
Q: What would you like fans to know about you that they’re most likely unaware of?
A: I’m just as insecure, ashamed and scared as anybody else. Somebody got to go get this money though. It might as well be me!
Q: Any shout-outs you wanna make?
A: The whole 5 mic family, Ayche, Six Fif, John Q, Smitty, Santiago Slim, Mohican Squad, the whole Jackson family, the whole Wilson Family, Goldiesound, Tallahassee, Florida, the whole 8-fire-0, Dirty South forever. I’m a rapper, I’ll be all day doing this. Like 90% of my day is just shout outs.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Everybody go out and support local talent. Be brave enough to break somebody. Stop waiting for acts to be broken to you. Thank you for the interview! I appreciate the support.
Listen to music from International Ice by Dry Ice:
* Contains Explicit Lyrics *
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