Joined: 30 Jun 2002
|12/20/03 interview with Artform (spanish magazine)
Hi Sage, itīs been a year since we started ARTFORM with an interview with
you. A lot of things happened during this period: your album on Anticon,
your deal with Epitaph, the Non-Prophets album on Lex, a lot of live shows
around the world, ... Itīs been a busy year, hasnīt it?
The past 4 years have been a blur. Today is almost over and it feels like I just woke up. Too much to deal with. In a perfect world, the days are much longer."
First things first. Personal Journals was a huge success with a lot of good
critics and I think the sales were also good. Did you expected this?
"I worked very hard in order to have an audience who would enjoy my official album once it was released. If that album flopped I would be in a much worse place than I am right now. Much, much worse."
You were touring with the Anticon boys in Europe. How was this experience
for you? Did you find any differences between the people here in Europe and
the people in the USA?
"Touring with anticon didn't bring much money, but it was great hanging out with the kiddies again. Sole is a very good friend of mine. And everyone else played their role in the social atmosphere of the van. The people in Europe aren't much different from our crowds in the USA."
During this European tour you were performing in Sonar Festival in
Barcelona. Can you tell us something about this show and about the time you
spend in Spain?
"We flew into Spain from America so we were a little out of it. We walked on a beach and climbed up a jungle gym made of stretchy material. It's very difficult to explain but we had a blast on it. The show was alright. It took place at a festival which isn't really the best place for people like us to play. A lot of people are there just to dance and socialize it seems. The music is incidental. We are not very good at being incidental."
Changing the topic, this year you surprised a lot of people announcing your
deal with Epitaph. How did it all started? And what do you wanna say to
those who donīt like to see their underground heroes signing with major
"Epitaph's president, Andy Kaulkin, called me after seeing me perform in LA. He had been researching indie hiphop and my name was one of the few that kept popping up. After seeing my performance he asked me to contribute a song to their Punkorama compilation. I was honored. We stayed in contact, talked about hiphop and music in general, and it became clear that we were on the same page as far as what I do as an artist and what services they will be able to provide for me. I feel very privileged to have a COMPETENT label who respects and enjoys what I do artistically. As for people who don't like seeing artists sign to major labels, I understand. But if any of them thinks I would compromise a single aspect of my career for the sake of a dollar has a very poor grasp of who I am. I don't need Epitaph to make money. I have already accomplished more than almost any indie artist of this era. Epitaph is there to make my music available to more people and work my product to the degree that I personally don't have time, energy or resources for."
Before talking about your first album with Epitaph, letīs go with the
Non-Prophets debut album, Hope. Itīs been two months since Lex released it
and almost everybody seems to be loving Hope. Is this a surpass for you and
Joey or did you know this was gonna happen?
"We were expecting more of a backlash, but the feedback has been very positive.
It got better feedback than Personal Journals, but less press. I don't think the album has hit as many people as it should. Wait til the tour."
The few people that diss Hope compare it to Personal Journals. Maybe the
problem is that they donīt realize this is a Non-Prophets project, Sage
Francis and Joe Beats, and not the next Sage solo album. Do you agree?
"I definitely agree with that. But even if it was a Sage Francis album, its not Personal Journals. I would never follow up Personal Journals with another Personal Journals. My brain wouldn't allow it."
Hope is almost flawless, there is no single track that make you push the
skit button, but some of these tracks that are classic. For example, The
Cure. Last year you told us this was the song you were most proud of. Can
you tell to the people that havenīt listened to it yet what is it about and
why is so important for you?
"Hmm, I think the Cure is important as a final track to HOPE. It's just an introspective, cool out track. The sound landscape is beautiful and the lyrics are ambiguous enough to make people fill in the blank spaces, which helps them enjoy it all the more."
Joeyīs production is also amazing. I read somewhere that it combined
perfectly the best of todayīs underground sound with the best of the early
nineties. What do you think about it?
"Joe uses a classic formula and still manages to get a signature sound out of that process. He is very careful with how he crafts each beat, and there's always a lot of movement. To be quite honest, it is difficult for me to write material to beats like that, but I welcome the challenge. "
Hope is also full of references to the past. It could have been called Hope:
Non-Prophets tribute to Hip Hop. Is this a way for you to show us what Hip
Hop should be?
"Nah, referencing the past is just a tradition of art. A tradition of spoken word and story telling. Keeping certain images, characters and ideas fresh in people's minds to help mold the future in a shape that is enjoyable by us."
Back to Epitaph. Can you tell us some news about your fist album with this
label? Who is gonna be on the production, the subjects on the songs,
"I don't want to spill any of the beans just yet because it is all in the beginning stages. There are many people who MIGHT be involved. There are many directions I could take. I have to allow my mind to guide the hand without much expectation of the KIND of material I SHOULD be writing. That is not being fair or honest. But I have been writing some very aggressive stuff lately. And I have also been writing some interesting character profiles as well as stories."
You signed a three record deal with Epitaph. Could be one of them an entire
Xaul Zanīs album? I think this should be great.
"If I did, it would have to be the 3rd album."
Are you planning to be behind the boards in any of your future projects or
you just wanna left the production for other people?
"I will definitely end up behind the boards. I am always behind the boards to a certain degree, but there will be a time when I handle all of the production."
It seems that your popularity is increasing really fast these last months.
How do you feel about it? Advantages and disadvantages?
"Well, certain aspects of my life will never change and if I ever sense that disadvantages are effecting me negatively I will eliminate those aspects of my life completely. I feel great where I am right now. Just me and the wifey living in the woods."
Finally, what are you planning for 2004? Another Sick of series album,
tours, colaborations, marriage, whatever, ...?
"I will be touring the states in Feb and March with Joe Beats, Grand Buffet, Mac Lethal and my new band the Gimme Fund. I hope to have a new CD called Sickly Business ready by then. Lex records will be releasing a Non-Prophets single/EP in the spring. I am collaborating with MF Doom, Slug and Brother Ali and doing a song with a group most people won't even believe until they hear the album. There's some other little stuff too, but that should hold people over for a while."
Thank you very much Sage for the interview. Weīre glad to have your words
again for our fist anniversary. We hope we can see you performing in Spain
next year, your fanbase here is also growing very fast. Some last wishes?
"I wish the best of health to everybody. It's a sad existence we live. Get the medicine you need and lets have a party with emergency exits."
Sun Dec 21, 2003 4:15 am
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