Von Alexander is not Vonny Del Fresco

by: Evan Froiland

When you’re talking upcoming rappers in Milwaukee, Vonny Del Fresco is, or was, a household name. He first came to my attention this May when he appeared as one of 11 artists in Shepherd Express’ ‘The New Face of Milwaukee Rap’. Shortly after, Vonny released his debut project ‘Memoirs’. With a Pigeons and Planes premiere and good receptions from other respected blogs, 2DopeBoyz and Fake Shore Drive to name a few, the project was a success. Since then, Vonny has dabbled with singles and features here and there, and now, with a change in moniker and mindset, the 22 year old Northsider is getting ready to release his new EP ‘VON’ on November 19th. 

Meet Von Alexander.

Image:  Yoshi Genesis

Where did Vonny Del Fresco come from, where does Von Alexander come from, and why the change in name?

Vonny Del Fresco came from when I was from 15. People were already starting to call me Vonny just as a nickname cause my real name’s LaVaughn. Del came from Del the Funky Homo Sapien. I got Fresco from a t-shirt I saw Shae from N.E.R.D. wearing in a video or something like that. I liked how the Fresco looked and I was listening to a track off a Gorillaz album that Del was on, so I put it all together and that was Vonny Del Fresco.

Vonny Del Fresco wasn’t sure of himself as an artist yet. He wasn’t complete. Everything that Vonny Del Fresco was doing is the blueprint and the layout for what I’m doing as Von Alexander right now. Everything that was being written and recorded was just build-up, kinda like training. It’s kind of like a caterpillar and a butterfly. Get the cocoon, and you’re a butterfly now, so it’s like that in a sense where you mature and grow and then try to figure out how to mash everything together. As Vonny Del Fresco, my music was all over the place, and Von Alexander has more of an identity, and more of a true identity.

My name is LaVaughn, but it’s spelled too long so I cut it down to Von, and Alexander is my middle name, so that’s what I’m rolling with.

So what exactly does this new identity sound like? How does your upcoming EP differentiate from Memoirs?

The difference between this and anything I’ve released is that it’s actually me giving you me. It’s more of a personal insight to my life, where I come from, what I’m surrounded by, what goes on in my head for real. I talk a lot about homicides and shit like that cause I live on the North Side, and if anybody’s noticed, that shit’s been crazy all summer, all year. I’ve just been dwelling on that, trying to figure out the music thing, I’ve got family issues, so it’s really bringing in all these things from within my world, from what surrounds, like the outside layers to what’s in my tighter circle. It’s like everything in one.

Memoirs was kind of a mix between boom-bap and a newer trappy sound, is that still what you’re going for?

Not at all. I did Memoirs like that on purpose. I started off with boom-bap, with heavy samples and 9th Wonder beats, just real simple shit. And then I felt like I had to become more versatile, be able to come over here, enter this lane, drive over here, enter that lane. I just try to be all-around if I can. So that’s what Memoirs was. I had never rapped on trappy beats before, I was never able to do that, but now I can do that super easy. I didn’t want Memoirs to be too much boom-bap or too much trap so I tried to balance it and put it all together.

Would you say that you’re really evolving, coming into your own as an artist?

Anybody who has ever had a real conversation with me knows that growth and developing is like my biggest thing. I focus on becoming better every time I do something. Every time I do a project, I gotta make sure it’s something I haven’t done already, or make sure I’m including something I haven’t included before. And with that, it’s just as a person too. If I’m gonna be able to grow as an artist I gotta be able to match it as a person with my drive, my inspiration, where I want to be with myself, it all has to keep moving forward and I can’t do it if I’m just stuck in a box, so I’m just trying to keep evolving and be greater than those who I look up to.

And who are those that you look up to?

It’s a lot of people because I listen to different genres of music, but I’ll just stick to rappers. I look up to Jay-Z, Nas, Kanye, Lupe, Common, real veteran kinda dudes. Right now I like J. Cole, Kendrick, anyone who’s really perceived to be on top because if you notice, they’re not on top for no reason. Their work is real, it’s good and it’s just amazing shit.

Image: Yoshi Genesis

Image: Yoshi Genesis

You don’t have a manager, you’re super independent right? Do you do your own production?

Nah, I don’t produce. Since I started rapping, I’ve had to learn how to network, very well. If I don’t know how to network then I can’t do shit for myself, especially in the predicament I’m in now, like I gotta be able to move around and talk to people. So when I first started even recording, it was in my cousin’s closet, pretty much like anybody else who raps. With that, I was getting into blogs. Like 2009, I first started looking at 2DopeBoyz and that was the first blog I ever looked at. And that’s where I started finding music and what underground music is, and knowing I didn’t need to listen to the radio or wait for somebody’s album to come out. I got into that real tough, and I was just like “damn I could probably get on one of these one day”. So I was sending shit back then to them, I was sending my low quality music to those blogs for no reason (laughs).

With the networking thing, when it comes to meeting artists and stuff like that, I’ve met a lot of artists in the city, like a lot, and I just try to meet people outside of the city too. As far as production goes, I find producers on Soundcloud. For the most part, I will take a record, I’ll take it and record on it and send it to them, and if they like it they’re holler at me and tell me “I like what you did there, let’s continue to work” kinda thing. That’s a lot of what goes into it. Pretty much I’m not afraid to reach out to people.

You recently appeared in a Noisey article about Milwaukee hip-hop, and the scene as a whole has been getting a couple decent national looks. From what I can gather just from following along on Facebook and Twitter it seems like you sort of have this perception that as well are things are going, there may be a point that just can’t be reached in Milwaukee.

Sort of. I feel like we’re in this very intense build-up, we’re still building up to like a real climax, we ain’t reached it just yet. But just the fact that it’s bubbling and bubbling and bubbling, we’re not where we need to be yet. Within the city, shit needs to happen. Outside the city we’re getting looks and that’s beautiful, it’s all good, but we don’t do enough here. I’m not even speaking on a unity kinda thing, it’s more so a lot of people don’t move around enough in the city on their own.

On the East Side it’s a great market, a lot of artists can come down here and move around, but from where I’m at, I can’t do that in the higher numbers in Milwaukee. Up there there’s not really a market for music, everybody’s rapping. Pushing music here isn’t the easiest thing in the world which is why we’re so happy to be getting these national looks and all these looks, but at the end of the day, you gotta be really buzzing here to make a difference. That’s something I want to accomplish, but if it takes me going somewhere else and then coming back to do it, that’s fine. If they gotta see me doing something in order to follow along, that’s cool. But I really want notoriety here, I don’t wanna come home for a show and not be able to pull a crowd.

Von Alexander is very much his own artist calling his own shots, and as an admittedly impulsive person, those shots are often rather spontaneous. His recent single 'W A V E S' was written, recorded and released within two days. While you’re waiting on 'V O N', which will premier on Mass Appeal, check out his most recent work and second single from the EP, 'D R E A M S'  ft. Meraki.