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interview with Denver Westword 2/15/04
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21619
interview with Denver Westword 2/15/04  Reply with quote  

For readers who might know about Clear Channel, could you explain why youíre calling this tour, the Fuck Clear Channel tour?

"Clear Channel is a company that likes to bully local radio stations and show promoters to the point where every scene because homogenized and predictable. That way they can force feed their fast food music to a conditioned market and no one will know what they're missing. What they're missing is actual personality and genuine thoughts. I am successful without commercial radio airplay, AND I am currently doing a 41 city tour, selling out non-Clear Channel venues all across America. It is an honor and a priveledge of mine to say FUCK YOU, Clear Channel. In the process, it raises awareness to who Clear Channel is and what they do in each city I visit. It's a stepping stone of sorts, because there's corporations are in the process of homogenizing the world and in the process they are hurting the quality of our life. I am insulted by that."


How has Clear Channel impacted you directly? (We have a local promotion company, Nobody In Particular Presents, who have a lawsuit pending against Clear Channel because of their stronghold tactics of securing artists for venues, threats of no radio airplay, etc)

"Clear Channel has never impacted me directly, because my music and message is not something they would want to risk playing with. My approach and subject matter is poisonous to their whole outfit. I exist completely outside of their grasp, and that's why I have the freedom to book a full fledged tour and call it Fuck Clear Channel."

On the new record it seems like you and Joe Beats were having a lot of fun bringing that old school vibe back, how would you compare this to Personal Journals?

"HOPE is a good companion to Personal Journals because it shows what existed even before I branched off into the non-traditional styles of hiphop. It is an answer to all the critics who thought Sage Francis didn't have the basics down, and it was a great way to display some fundamental skill while expanding upon them. Sometimes it is necessary to back pedal a bit and reconnect with your roots. If not for your own sake, then for the sake of the public who is ignorant to your background in the field you are contributing to. HOPE was also necessary for me to balance out the style of art I have been creating, because it can't all be introspective and moody. If I only put out one style of music I wouldn't be representing myself well."

I like how you start the record with Ferlinghetti, was he a big influence on you? Why did you open the record off by sampling his voice?

"He's not a big influence on me at all, I just loved the twists he put on that prayer. It totally fit in with the subject matter of the album."

Do you see any comparisons between the influences that Ferlinghetti and the Beats have had on youth culture? Youth cultural expression? and the influences that the current spoken word scene and hip-hop has had on youth culture?

"I don't know, because I haven't familliarized myself well enough with the beat movement. I read On the Road and enjoyed it a lot, but that's as far as I went. People seem to reference the beat poets a lot, but I haven't felt like delving into their work yet."

What was the concept behind the record cover? Rhode Island and Jesus?

"It is what it is."

Since the record has one producer, the record musically has a more cohesive feel. How would you describe the chemistry between you and Joe Beats? How long have you been working together?

"The chemistry between Joe and I is on and off. We have been cool with each other for many years now, but our musical direction doesn't always match. When we are able to find enough overlap we are able to make an album like HOPE. That's not an album either of us could have made on our own, and that's a successful collaboration when the outcome of the project gets as much positive feedback as we have recieved."

There seems to be a lot of self-righteous elitism in hip-hop today, especially in the so-called underground, like somehow it is not possible to like 50 or Mobb Deep and like some fill in the blank conscious rapper. What is your take on this?

"Because people are fragile and insecure. They identify themselves through the music they listen to, and they feel if they like one kind of hiphop they have to shun everything else. I was like that for a long time as a kid. I grew up. I am waiting for a lot of other people to grow up right now."

One thing that pisses me of f is how some white people from the so-called underground seem to think that just because theyíve done their research and they know the forefathers of rap, that somehow theyíre the gatekeepers of the culture. Any comments.

"Yeah, I have a comment. I had someone traveling with me once who tried schooling me on Kool G Rap. My comment was, 'I bought that tape the day it came out. You bought it last month. Don't talk to me.' Haha. That in itself is elitist, but I get so urked by kids who think they have an understanding of hiphop because they are able to fit certain pieces of the puzzle together due to a timeline."

What do you think about the issues that have come out as a result of The Source vs Eminem exchanges, not the petty individual beefs, but the deeper concerns of cultural theft. (Elvis/Big Mama Thornton/Rolling Stones/Robert Johnson parallels) The industry pimping the Great "White Negro" Hope? Or pimping stereotypes of "authentic" blackness?

"I think they are hung up on the wrong issues, and at the core it is a very sick state of our society. And the more Eminem appropriates black culture the more he is worse than Elvis. That's my own personal belief. But I am unapologetically white and I will probably never have the diversity in fanbase that Eminem has. If I was in Eminem's shoes I would feel compelled to reject the media's feeding frenzy. Instead, you can go to your supermarket and see soccer moms swooning over his pouty face on every teenie-bop magazine cover. It's lovely packaging. I tip my hat to Dr Dre."

I know you probably donít like commenting on individual lyrics but Iíll give it a shot anyway. "African medallions didnít sell platinum albums/Thatís probably why you think hip-hop died". What did you want to get across with this song?


"Just because the image of hiphop changed in order to become as commercial as possible doesn't mean the artform in general has been lost. There is still craftsmanship; it just doesn't get the publicity or spotlight."

I love the line, "Drunk Driving for Exxon". Do you see that as a metaphor for our current administration?

"Sure. That works."

"Makeshift Patriot" is a great word combination. What kind of feedback and responses did you get from people about that song

"That song won me a slew of new fans, and insane amounts of press. I never would have expected that when I first recorded it. There were some negative reactions from serviceman, but in all actuality most of them admitted a lot of horrible things about the military to me."

Should Natalie Portman be scared?

"Hell yeah. She should be scared of a dwindling career. And she should be scared of Scarlet Johanson knocking the crown off her dome."

Who is xaul Zan? And how is he different from Sage Francis?

"Xaul Zan is the afterbirth."

I like the new record a lot, are you getting a lot of airplay? How has the response been so far? Is "Any Port" the first single?

"We are getting some airplay which is nuts because we never releaed a single. The first single will be Damage, b/w a remix by MF Doom featuring Slug and Brother Ali called Doomage."

"I read somewhere where Patricia Smith was a big influence on you. I teach at a correctional facility for juveniles and it is interesting to watch the kids respond to her reading on the Def Jam poetry series. In what way did she serve as an inspiration? "

"She performed at my college in 1995 and it definitely affected me. I felt doors swing open in my brain. Her range in emotion and personality sent me for a loop. We became acquainted a couple years after that. I always reference the moments I have seen her on stage and guage my material against that. I never win."

When did you decide to become vegetarian?

"In 1996. People tried telling me I was addicted to meat. I scoffed at that notion. After a year of not eating meat I tried to go back to it and it grossed me out. I am disgusted by meat."

Upcoming projects? Goals for the future.

"I am currently working on my solo album for Epitaph Records. I can't let the cat out of the bag just yet, but many people have big expectations and I take the attention they are giving my project very seriously. Another goal is getting this dipshit out of the white house. There's lots of stuff in the works, but talking on shit before it manifests doesn't do anybody any good. Thanks for this interview. Peace."
Post Sun Feb 15, 2004 6:42 pm
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