Michael Kontaxis, Architect of the Andover Rap Song, Explains His Opus
Today, a rap song from Massachusetts prep school Philips Andover hit the Internet with a bang. Was it real? Was it supposed to be a joke? Why weren't these talented young rappers invited to our president's hip-hop barbeque? Seeking answers to these pressing summer Friday questions, we tracked down the creator of "The Andover Song," a friendly just-graduated Andover senior named Michael Kontaxis.
Runnin' Scared: How did the song and video originate?
Michael: During my senior spring, my college counselor approached me. I've always made videos and I'm going to film school next year, so he approached me because he wanted an informational video to show to college scouts who don't understand how Andover works as a school. There really are different types of prep schools. At some, you have people coasting on their parents wealth, and to be honest that's what Andover was for the first 200 years. But at a lot of prep schools lately because of the large endowments, and that includes Andover, they're starting to be able to provide opportunities for kids who wouldn't necessarily be able to afford it, like myself. We wanted to show college scouts how that it's a prep school that has kids who are about engaging academically.
How did you go about making the video?
My counselor gave me complete creative freedom. At first I said no because I thought I didn't have time, but then I got nostalgic for Andover, seeing as I was leaving soon. I thought it would be fun to do a music video. I've always liked to do rap. You don't really see white kids in that kind of environment rapping -- that's sort of breaking down stereotypes. It's sort of a parody in that sense, which a lot of people didn't get. I'm not trying to go hardcore, just trying to have some fun. I wrote the music and lyrics myself. During the last week of school before graduation I filmed it, and I had my mom hold the camera as i walked to get my diploma. it all culminated at graduation. After that, I edited it and put it online. Little did I know that after one week it would be on national news sites! I was just showing some love for my school.
Who are the other kids in the clip?
Those were just my friends who had decent abilities to rap. People who could keep a rhythm. I've done a lot of videos and they'd seen all my movies. It definitely wasn't the admissions department trying to be hip. Admissions didn't even know this was happening until I asked one of the teachers who was in admissions to be in the video.
Do you want to be a filmmaker?
Yeah, that's what it's looking like. I hate saying that, it sounds lame. But i think it's what i do best.
What was the deal with all the Auto-Tuning?
I thought the Auto-Tuned sound would be kind of fun, and it's all over the radio. To be perfectly honest, if you've ever sung into a microphone, it's really appealing to just Auto-Tune it.
I know you were trying to break stereotypes about prep school kids. But doesn't it seem as though the video may have had the opposite effect?
I'm realizing that now. There were a few things that I did that I'm looking back on and facepalming about. One of them is, I didn't really think about using -- you know how when you watch admissions videos, it's a smorgasbord of diversity, like the U.N assembly or something? And I didn't really consider that. I just tried to get who would be best at rapping. I didn't really think about trying to make it more diverse, because I've always been exposed to it so I took it for granted. So that was one mistake. But I think it shows just how diverse we are. It didn't come to our minds to have to prove something. It was just supposed to be fun!
Michael is a good sport about the video's status as the butt of Internet jokes this week: "I guess they say any publicity is good publicity!" He says most of the reaction to the video has been positive. We wish Michael the best of luck when he leaves for college in California at the end of the summer, where hopefully his new classmates will either have forgotten about this thing or find it amusing.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.