One wouldn’t expect a hip-hop artist to set up shop in Centralia, a city where music venues are few and far between. But Page Turner, a native of Lewis County who’s been writing rhymes and creating beats for years, is looking to dispel that notion.
Page, whose given name is Ismael Arceo, has heard all the comments, not only regarding his rapper aspirations, but also the choice to stay in his hometown. Undeterred, he sees it as a challenge. “I’d rather be crazy than to stay small-minded,” Page states.
Music has always played a part in Page’s life. A variety of styles inspire his lyrics and beats, from hip-hop’s “trap” subgenre to classical music. “Mozart is my favorite,” he says.
“I was playing the violin at first, but that didn’t translate into anything because I didn’t really pay attention,” he says. “When I was sixteen I needed beats to rap to and I bought a keyboard.” That instrument increased Page’s creative output and provided an outlet to channel his energy and thoughts.
Page turned to the then-new online video channels regarding do-it-yourself audio production. “[Artist and producer] Ryan Leslie would put up these videos in 2006, when YouTube was fresh, of him in his little Harlem studio, playing piano and then laying down drums, not worrying about acoustics,” Page explains. “He walked in that room with nothing, and he walked out with such a great song. That’s what made me think ‘I can do this without going to a studio.’”
Having released tracks under different names, “Page Turner” represents a new sense of perspective after a year of living in Miami. “When I came back, my familiar surroundings felt stronger and I started reading,” says Page. “I started with Rich Dad Poor Dad – that was an amazing book – and then I got into the self-help and entrepreneurship books.”
Through YouTube, social media and streaming music services, Page connects with hip-hop fans from various parts of the globe, as well as target music lovers specifically in the region, serving paid sponsorships promoting his latest tracks and upcoming shows. “I can literally put my own ads out in the city and it’s worked,” Page says. “Now there’s a demand in Centralia.”
More Not Less, a two-volume set of songs released this past June, is an accumulation of Page’s hard work, ambition and songwriting output. “More is about more lyrics, more production,” he says. Page decided to stagger the release of his music into two books, making it easier for fans to experience his music. “Unless I’m Drake, nobody is going to listen to a 21-song album.”
Book One is comprised of “three or four new ones” alongside older material. “It’s for people who aren’t super familiar with my work,” says Page. The video for “Walk Away,” Book One’s leadoff track, was filmed in downtown Centralia and features many familiar Tower Avenue locations.
Themes of relationships, introspection and the drive to succeed run through Page’s tracks, from the experimental R&B-influenced “Mistakes” and “Ups And Downs” to the spare percussion-based confessional of “Back To My Old Ways.”
Book Two is all new tracks, representative of Page’s increased lyrical and musical aptitude. “Book Two is my best work, up to now.” This volume adds some fast-paced tracks with strings, brass and other unique sounds weaved into the beats, such as “Young Man” and “Young’n Fly.”
To celebrate the launch of More Not Less, Page and his musical partners put on a show on Friday, June 29, at The Chehalis Theatre. DJ Raf (Page’s younger brother) warmed up the audience with some classic hip-hop on the decks. Young Notice, Page’s musical and business partner, acted as master of ceremonies, introducing the acts and performing a few numbers in between sets. Erina, a three-piece band from Olympia, played next. Their combination of ethereal vocals and soulful melodies complements Page’s confessional lyrics and keyboard-based grooves. Erina’s lead singer, Jessie Branch, later joined Page onstage for “Selfish,” a slow jam from Book Two where she contributes guest vocals.
Page hit the stage delivering rhymes with the energy and confidence of an A-list musician. Fellow regional collaborators WalteR and MIZ were on hand to perform their guest rhymes and increase awareness of the area’s fertile hip-hop community. In yet another instance of Page’s showmanship, The Feral Dance Crew, a troupe from Portland, performed a kinetic dance number during “Right To It (Freestyle)” an Auto-Tune-based track off of Book One. The show ended with the video premiere of “Have No End,” one of many future clips, according to Page. “I’m trying to shoot videos for 85 percent of the songs on Book Two.”
With a high volume of songs to promote, Page is looking to book more local shows in the near future, and tour outside of the area later in the year. If his proactive attitude is any indication, we’ll definitely be hearing and seeing more activity from him soon.
“I’ve got a lot of goals – they’re bigger than rap, that’s for sure,” says Page. “Pull the trigger. A dream is a dream. Take action.”
Visit Page Turner’s official website and his Facebook page for updates on music, events and merchandise. More Not Less: Books One and Two are available for purchase here and can be streamed on Amazon Music, Spotify and SoundCloud.