Fogey: Words Behind the Music

Photos: Emanon Entertainment

Sean “Fogey” Fogelstrom’s apartment is a disaster. His front door is broken, and the contents in his kitchen and bedroom drawers are scattered everywhere. But nothing is stolen. This is not the result of a random burglary. This is an attempted armed robbery and an event that transforms his life forever.

Fogey, 30, vividly remembers that summer evening. Twelve years ago, he and his girlfriend at the time are hanging out, watching movies inside his two-room apartment in East Wenatchee, Washington. As the early evening settles in, he suddenly feels a negative shift in the room’s energy.

“I sat up and everything was eerily silent,” recalls Fogey, who was 18 years old at the time. Boom! The door bursts open and three men rush into his apartment. Oddly enough, Fogey recognizes the unmasked men–He buys cocaine from them and they buy weed from him. They owe their dealer money and intend to rob Fogey to make up for their debt.

“What the fuck are you doing?”  Fogey says calmly.

“This is a jack move, bitch! Get your shit!” grunts one intruder as he pulls out a mac10 from his front waistline.

Terrified, Fogey’s girlfriend locks herself inside the bathroom while two of the three men search his apartment.

“I got $40 and an eighth of weed,” replies Fogey. “I have been waiting to pick more up. Y’all came at the wrong time.”

Fogey holds eye contact with the assailant and slowly walks toward him as the arguing continues. As he moves closer, the burglar nervously backs up toward the front door. The gunman breaks eye contact and attempts to load the clip of his gun. A fight ensues.

“The gun went into my belly,” says Fogey, “I grabbed the barrel with my left hand, pulled it up in the air, and then I hit him in the throat with my right elbow.”  Fogey manhandles the attacker outside the door and throws him over the railing of his two-story apartment complex. “He landed face first on the concrete and was knocked out,” he says.

When Fogey turns around, he catches a punch from the second intruder. In retaliation, he grabs the trespasser’s hand, torques his wrist, and shoves him partially down the stairs. The third man runs past Fogey and helps drag his unconscious friend to safety.

“The neighbors called the cops,” remembers Fogey. “I quickly gathered all my drugs, money, and scales and put them in my girl’s trunk, which saved me ‘cause my apartment was searched thoroughly by police.” Fortunately, Fogey and his girlfriend walk away unharmed and are only interrogated by the police. Fogey never turns the men in.

“I made my first prayer the night before this all happened, even though I didn’t believe in God yet,” says Fogey. “I woke up at 3 am, sweating and paranoid, thinking something bad was gonna happen. So I asked God, if he existed, to keep me safe from whatever was coming. I said amen and passed out.”

Several months later, Fogey’s girlfriend ends their relationship (because of the attempted armed robbery and because he was an atheist). As an attempt to win her back, Fogey makes a decision that changes his life forever: He attends church with her parent’s. The night before, however, nearly steers him off course after he takes LSD.

“I almost skipped out on going to church with them,” says Fogey who feels the drug was the devil trying to keep him away from going, “but my friend Jeremiah woke me up and made me go. I found God that day.”

From that day on, Fogey never looked at his life, or the world, through the same pair of eyes.

We at Cheap Sushi were fortunate to share a few words with the Washington native, Sean “Fogey” Fogelstrom. The father of two, and former drug dealer, was brave enough to express a personal story with us and, in addition, inform us about his early interest in poetry, his first taste of hip-hop, and his upcoming album “Manifestations.” Support local music and check out his latest music video “What I do.”

So tell Cheap Sushi readers a little about yourself

Wsup, my name is Sean William Fogelstrom, but people have been calling me Fogey since I was a kid.  I’m 30 years old, and I am originally from a small, tourist town in Leavenworth, WA. I was raised in a neighboring town called Cashmere until my freshman year, minus the year I attended second grade, which I spent in the Seattle area. I moved to Snohomish during my sophomore year (for a portion of the year) to live with my dad because I was getting into a lot of trouble back in the valley with my mom. I was expelled from Snohomish High School for numerous reasons, and moved back to my mom’s to finish out the school year at Cascade High School in Leavenworth. Well, I nearly finished the year; I was arrested on campus two days before school was out for [drug] possession, and I was expelled from my third school in a year’s time. I was forced to get a GED or leave the area again to attend another school. I chose to get a GED and moved on with my life. I followed the same troubled path for years, selling drugs, and working minimum wage jobs to make a living. I soon found myself addicted to a couple different substances, and my life spiraled out of control. I began writing poetry more frequently to alleviate the stress and emotions I felt. I soon found myself putting that poetry into motion with music at the age of 18. The first verses I wrote–when I look back on them now–were exaggerated and didn’t reflect the life I was actually leading. I felt weird trying to rap about topics that weren’t relevant to my life, so I lost interest in it for a minute. I later turned my life and interest in music around after finding God at the age of 18. I was an atheist before, but everything changed for the better after attending church one Sunday. I slowly removed myself from the world of selling and using drugs and got more into expressing myself through music–something I feel God intended me to do.

So it seemed like you used to get into a lot of trouble when you were much younger. Looking back at your life now, why do you think that was so?

I did seem to get into a fair amount of trouble as a teen, and, to be completely honest, I really don’t know what caused my behavior. I didn’t have a bad childhood–we weren’t wealthy by any means–but I always had food on my plate and a roof over my head. It did take me a long time to get comfortable with having a stepfather in my life, at the age of 5, after my parents split. I also think part of my own personal issues had something to do with not having my dad more present in my life. I sometimes went months, and even a year, without seeing or speaking with him. But looking back on that now, I can see why my mother didn’t want me influenced by my dad’s lifestyle: He suffered from alcoholism and [drug] addiction. He was not exactly a role model, but I still had that love and devotion a son has for his dad.  As I got older, I came to love my stepfather and everything he did for my family. He taught me how to be a man, although for many years I did not recognize how influential he had been in my life. My stepfather, Bob Peterson, passed away from Leukemia when I was 23. His passing was a devastating loss to the entire family, especially for my mother, Kori Peterson, and my sister, Ashley Peterson, who was Bob’s only biological child. It took me years living on my own to find who I was as a person. Soul searching and a spiritual awakening needed to happen, and I chose to find it. And that is where I think the absence of God in my life played a role. I didn’t have anything or anyone to believe in–so I thought–and I didn’t think about consequences thoroughly when I was making decisions, which often resulted in poor choices.

So you’ve been writing poetry, roughly, since the fourth grade if I’m correct. What got you into writing at such a young age?

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you any specific event or occasion that lead to me taking an interest in writing poetry, but I always found it fun and challenging when we were given writing assignments, and poetry was one of my favorite things to read and write. I continued writing poetry throughout school, and, in fifth grade, I had a teacher that really nurtured that talent. My teacher began saving and posting up my work, which back then was during Desert Storm. To this day, I think I owe a lot of my ability to write rhymes to my teacher because she encouraged me to keep doing it, even if my homework was turned in late. Lol

What was the name of the teacher that encouraged you to continue writing poetry? When was the last time you’ve seen or heard from this teacher? Btw, I think it’s awesome that you had a teacher that cared enough to motivate you to continue on your artistic path. It’s crazy how just a little bit of motivation can go a long way! 

The name of my fifth grade teacher was Sharon Divine. We lost touch for a very long time during my middle school years, but we actually linked back up through Facebook–she found me through mutual friends who were also former students in my class. She was very proud of what I had accomplished as a man, a father, and an artist. She even told me she has a box full of my work from the fifth grade, and always knew I had a bright future (even though I was usually the class clown and never really took school seriously, in my opinion). She really did make an extra effort to encourage the artistic side of my personality, and I agree with you that it is awesome to have teachers that do that.

What was your first encounter with hip-hop? how did you feel about it?

I believe my first encounter with hip-hop was listening to Sir Mix A lot with some friends (I actually had the honor to open for Sir Mix in Wenatchee on my 25th birthday). He had a super fast rap about buttermilk biscuits (lol) and there was something that intrigued me about putting all those rhymes into a format like that. This was around the time I was in the 7th grade. So I started gathering more tapes (from other people) ‘cause my mom did not approve of rap music. She thought it was too negative and had too much profanity. I had to keep my music library a secret. Now, my mom is one of my biggest fans (kind of ironic). Needless to say, hip-hop took a firm hold on my life and my taste in music. Hip-hop saved my life!

Wow! So you got to open for an emcee that turned you onto rap music? That must have been a trip! How did you feel about that? Did you get the opportunity to let him know that he’s the one that got you into hip-hop?

Yeah, it really was kind of a trip to open for him, especially in my own town with all of my supporters there. And it happened on my 25th birthday. It was something I will remember forever, a proud moment! I got to tell him about my childhood and about his tape that sparked my interest in the world of hip-hop. I want to add though, along with Sir Mix A Lot’s tape, one other tape that influenced me was The Click. That tape with Mr. Flamboyant turned me into an E-40 fan for life! And in February, earlier this year, I opened for Cool Nutz, Layzie Bone, Krizz Kaliko, and E-40 in my hometown of Wenatchee. I had the opportunity to speak with E-40 about his musical influence, and we talked about the collabo that we are doing together for my next album. That was more of a trip ‘cause I have been following 40’s [E-40] career ever since. I went from riding the school bus with a Walkman listening to his tape, to sharing the stage with him, and then to being blessed by featuring him on my album. I am truly thankful for that!

When did you decide to make a move from Washington down to the Bay Area? How do you like the Bay Area so far?

We just moved to the Bay Area (Pittsburg) in September. The decision was kind of impulsive and spontaneous. We are still adjusting to the whole move, but so far we really dig the area. There’s a lot more to do than where we lived.

In your opinion, does the Bay Area hip-hop scene differ from the scene in Washington? If so, how?

I think the Bay scene does differ from the WA scene because there is so much music out here.  I believe many artists have been influenced by the Bay Area sound, but I have not lived here long enough to form an opinion outside of that. I got a lot of love back home, but loyal fans don’t care where you go or where you come from; they just want to see you succeed. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I look forward to making the most out of moving here and calling the Bay my home. I know there is a lot more opportunity out here, but there is a lot more competition as well. I’m up for the challenge!

I found out that you’re working on a full-length album called “Manifestations.” How is the album coming along?

I am working on a full album called “Manifestations.” The name was inspired by what’s been going on for the past year in my life, both spiritually and musically. And I firmly believe that if you have a dream, you need to chase it and take it from an idea to reality (Manifest destiny) So far, it is going kind of slow because of all the external life changes going on. But I am always trying to work on my lyrics and stay motivated. I got a couple of good features coming on that album, including Bay Area Legend, E-40, who I mentioned earlier, and Madchild of Swollen Members. And I feel like I have really been growing a lot this past year as an artist, after making the decision last November to get serious about my music. So this should be an album people will love because they will be able to relate and connect to what I express. I work hard at keeping my music meaningful, and not only relative to my life, but also relative to others. Real music, real lyrics, coming from an honest place; and fueled by experience. Tribulations to triumph! I am eager to finish it, but there is a lot of work to do still!

In a past interview you stated that you were doing a good job at changing the town of Wenatchee, Washington’s overall look of hip-hop music. In your opinion, how are you doing it?

I did talk about that in a past interview.  What I meant by that statement was that I bring more of a positive energy to my approach of music. After seriously pursuing music last year, I gained fans quickly in my area– and many of them were younger. Even their parents liked my music. When people of older generations have biased opinions toward rap, or hip-hop, it is predominantly about negative things like drugs and violence. Although I do speak on those subjects, because they were such a large part of my life, I do not glorify any of it. I speak of its downfalls and how I overcame it all. And the fact that I barely use profanity allows my music to be heard by more people that would typically turn it down or not allow their kids to hear it. I also became a very involved member of the community and helped organize fundraiser events to raise money for families in need–one of which was right before we moved in August.  Our nephew was tragically killed at the age of 5, and I threw together a last-minute, all-day concert to raise funds for my sister in law’s family. The event helped them with funeral costs and helped them in general because they took time of work to deal with their tragic loss. The concert ended up raising over $10,000 and was a huge effort by the entire community.  It really brought everyone together for a common cause, and that is something I intend on doing as long as my music has any kind of influence on people.  Things like that change the minds of people who view rap or hip-hop as a negative outlet.

I am really sorry to hear about your loss… I have a three nieces, one of which is three years old, and I can only imagine how you must have felt…But I am really impressed with your involvement in your community. This was in Washington, correct? And, since you used to be heavily involved in your community, do you plan on doing the same in the Bay Area? If so,what do you see yourself doing?

Yes, this was back in Wenatchee. And I do plan on being an active member of the community; not only in the Bay Area, but anywhere I go in this world. I really can’t say what I plan on doing to help out here, but it all starts with getting to know people and networking. I gotta find a need before I can help fill it, and I gotta have the people behind me to help. As time goes on, I am sure I will find a way to use my musical influence to help out a cause. I really enjoy organizing fundraiser charity concerts, so maybe that will be my approach.

What is one thing new you’ve discovered about yourself over the past year after taking your music serious?

One thing new I have discovered about myself is that I am more capable of accomplishing great things on my own than I ever thought possible.  I don’t have an agent or a manager, so everything I have done in my music career has been on my own merit. It is not an easy thing to do–as I’m sure many indie artists out there know first hand.  But hard work and determination, mixed with passion and belief in yourself, pay off!

If there ever arises a moment in your life where you can finally tell yourself  “I’ve made it,” what moment would you say would solidify that statement?

Man, if I could ever say one moment would solidify that “I made it,” it would have to be that I have created something for my kid’s futures. I would love to be able to create a life for my kids, family, and close friends. And, of course, enjoy the fruits of my labor as well.

Any last words for your fans, friends, or any one reading this?

I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in my musical career. I would like to thank my family, friends, fans, promoters, artists, DJs, and people like yourself that take an interest in what I do. Without the loyal support of so many people, all the hard work and sacrifices I’ve made would be for nothing. Because I don’t just make music for myself–I make it for people that can relate to it. The best compliments I get, and the one’s that mean the most to me, are the ones where people tell me that my music inspires them or that it helps them through struggles that many of us battle. I feel obligated to keep that morale up by staying true to my music, myself, and shedding light on how I have gotten past the many obstacles life has placed in front of me. I am a man of faith, not only in God, but also in myself. We all have the power and ability to change our lives for the better, but you have to believe in yourself before anyone else will. And, as long as I can keep making music that inspires people to think that way, I will continue to invest and work hard at growing as an artist and creating music that people connect with. I invite anyone reading this to get in contact with me. I am new to the area, and I’m always looking to network with like-minded individuals. I appreciate you taking the time to interview me, and thanks to everyone who read this.  God Bless!

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