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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21599
interview for ozhiphop.com  Reply with quote  

Q: You've released some pretty introspective work in the past, yet a lot of the press material surrounding "Human The Death Dance" is billing it as your "most personal record to date"? What is it about this album that makes it more intimate and revealing than your past work?

A: The only other album that comes close to being as personal to my new album is obviously "Personal Journals" but all of my material is personal. I don't know how to outdo my personal nature while making music...it's all personal. But in literal terms, Human the Death Dance is filled with more stuff that explains actual events in my life and how I became the type of person I am right now. Personal Journals connected with many people due to the raw sound and writing, but Human the Death Dance deals more with specifics.

Q: The lyrics on this album are noticeably less political than those on "A Healthy Distrust", and the production you've selected is considerably less harsh and abrasive. Did you consciously opt for a less aggressive tone on "Human The Death Dance"?

A: Yes. I wanted a more laid back sound on this album. Change of pace. Laying back in the cut a little bit. There are some abrasive songs, but mainly it's a cooled out mood.

Q: We hear that the title of your new album coincides with the title of a poem by spoken-word poet, Buddy Wakefield. What exactly sponsored this decision? What exactly does "Human The Death Dance" mean, and does it share anything in common Wakefield's work, besides a title?

A: That's a very difficult question to answer in just a few words. The title "Human the Death Dance" applies to a philosophy that resonates with me. Some of that explanation is available in the album booklet (sorry iTunes purchasers!) But I was happy to have a reason to incorporate Buddy Wakefield into my album and spread his name. His "Run on Anything" album is great.



Q: You begin your album with 'Growing Pains', an intro which pastes together excerpts of you rapping from as young as eight. It seems as though most emcees would want to bury that kind of material at the bottom of their closet, as far away from the public eye as possible. Why is it, exactly, that you like to continually showcase material from your formative years?


A: I have nothing to hide. I've always been...the best. Haha. Why would I want to hide something I did at the age of 8? I saved it all this time. I might as well use it. Plus, my 8 year old self discovered time travel and he placed a wicked guilt trip on me.

Q: In 'Underground for Dummies', you refer to the days before the internet as a "nazi era", yet later joke that today's DJs ask for promo copies when they can just download your tracks. As somebody who has seen both sides of the Internet coin power to independently promote yourself and build a global fan community, yet powerlessness to prevent either of your last two albums from leaking well before their scheduled release dates how do you feel these days about Internet culture, and its influences upon music consumption?

A: It's an unstoppable force and it's to be respected. This is something I've understood and applied to my career since 1998. Nine years later it seems like most companies still aren't ready to cross over to what they consider the dark side. The "everything is going digital" mantra is as unfortunate as it is true. But that doesn't mean I don't see the value in change. As Daddy Kev told me last week, this is the new wild west.

Q: In 'Underground for Dummies' you also mention that, coming up in the hip-hop scene, you'd sneak into clubs where you were "the only whitey in sight," only to assert that that doesn't make you realer or faker than anybody else. This seems to allude to the war of words you had last year with MC Serch, when he claimed that white people can only qualify as rappers if they "[rip] in front of a crowd of black people." In a later track, 'Midgets and Giants', however, you seem to throw all sorts of light-hearted disses at foolish characters who litter the hip-hop scene. What qualities do you think give people a right to be taken seriously in the scene, presuming it's not, as MC Serch says, "approval from the people that started and built the culture"?


A: People need to be authentic. I see people falling victim to trends and cliche much too often, and although that can propel a few people into mainstream acceptance, most of the time it just hinders their ability to connect with people. We all have unique perspectives that we need to convey in whatever way is most natural to us. That's how you "contribute" rather than "take" from the "culture."


Q: 'Clickety Clack' is an uncharacteristically macho tale of vengeance, which we hear was inspired by a burglary you suffered in Amsterdam. Can you tell us a bit about this experience, and how it manifested itself into fanciful lines about human skinning, wizards' staffs, and armoured suits?

A: Hahaha..."wizards staffs." Nice. Hahhaaa. Ahhh. Good stuff. Well, shit...I WAS in Amsterdam after all. It's tough to explain. I had a bit of a nervous break down and decided I needed to leave my home. I had plans of catching up with Slug and Brother Ali in Europe during their tour. My connection flight was in Amsterdam, and rather than catching my next plane I decided I would stay by myself for 14 days in Amsterdam. In retrospect, that was a bad decision but I prefer to be by myself more often than not. Mainly I just needed to be away from my home. But my bag eventually got stolen and my bag had all my stuff in it. My passport, cash, credit cards, and my journal. The only thing that pissed me off was the loss of my notebook as it was a recording of the past two years of my life. There are many items in that notebook that I will never get back. This sent me into a short depression. As I was walking the streets of Amsterdam I began thinking of the words and verses to the song that eventually turned into Clickety Clack. The rhythm was inspired by the sound of a horse's hooves as it walked by me. Clickety clack. Clickety clack. Gather my things...and quickly attack. Gather my things. Quickly attack.



Q: The album seems to take a darker, more reflective turn at its halfway mark, but only after we hear a short interlude about broccoli of all things. What exactly is the significance of broccoli, and why did you choose 'Broccilude' to partition your album?


A: I've become the spokesperson for broccoli. An ambassador of sorts. I own stock in it and I believe in it. I believe the President should be served a healthy dose of broccoli every day til he chokes on it. Maybe I should invest in pretzels.


Q: The album's closing track, 'Going Back To Rehab', is unmistakably personal, yet like much of your best work, whatever life story it's based on seems shrouded in ambiguity. Why do you prefer abstract imagery to a more literal approach when appropriating your personal experiences for public consumption?

A: I don't know, man. I did the best I could with that subject matter. I understand that this subject matter deals with the kind of stuff a lot of people go through and I didn't want to make it so personal that people have to look at me and be like, "Awww...poor fucking guy." It's not about me being a poor fucking guy. Cuz I'm not. It's about what we all have to go through to make sense of the life that we have. Why did the people who came before us mess this world up so bad? I don't know...let me find out and get back to you about that.


Q:The clip for 'Got Up This Morning' features the likes of Buck 65, Slug and Brother Ali, as well as yourself, suited up and playing poker. You guys have all gone so far in establishing independent careers, that it's easy to forget you all once ran in similar musical circles. Was it fun getting everybody together to shoot a video? Have you got plans for any further collaborations with these guys?

A: Everyone in the video has some sort of friendship as well as professional relationship with me. It was definitely fun getting a bunch of people who I've worked with on various levels all come together under one roof and capture it on film for the sake of posterity if nothing else. I will continue to work with Tom Inhaler and Bernard Dolan, and I'm hoping Buck 65 and I can get some recordings done on this upcoming tour we're doing. Everything is left to chance, but I hope I get to work with everyone in that video some more on whatever level. Unless they secretly hate me and if that's the case then it's on. Oh...it's on.


Q: I know having just put out a new album, with touring to inevitably follow, the last thing you probably want to think about is what comes next, but do you have any immediate plans for the future you might be able to clue us in on? Have you got any new material, collaborations or other projects we might anticipate?

A: As of now I'm still working with Mark Isham on the music for Pride & Glory. I have no idea how I will get that done while being on the road for the next two and a half months, but we'll see how that goes. Other than that, I am finishing up the new Prolyphic & Reanimator "The Ugly Truth" album for Strange Famous Records (SFR.) It will be our first non-Sage Francis hip-hop release, but I am on a couple of the songs. More touring after that. Maybe a DVD. Signing more artists to SFR and building the arc.


Q: Finally, just last year you collaborated with up-and-coming Aussie songstress, Macromantics, on the track 'Locksmith'. Unlike a lot of high-profile international guest verses which get cut-and-pasted into Australian tracks, your verse seemed to be of some actual quality and substance. How did this collaboration between you and Macromantics come about? Did you write the verse expressly for this track, or was it a verse you'd had lying around for a while that you thought might suit her purposes?

A: While I was touring with Macromantics in Australia she showed me some of the new beats that she was working with. I took a special interest in that Locksmith beat. She eventually sent it over to me while I was back home and I wrote my verse to the music. My subject matter was inspired by the cut-and-paste chorus that say something about being uncomfortable talking about my life in my own voice. It flowed from there. I sent it back to her like "Shit...got kinda personal on this one. Let me know if you can work with that style" and then she wrote a verse that paralleled mine in a good way. She's good at that. Very talented. She's actually featured on the Prolyphic & Reanimator album. It's good pairing up all of these talented people because it does result in quality material. Fuck someone who thinks they can get away with phoning something in.
Post Thu May 17, 2007 10:51 am
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T-Wrex
p00ny tang


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 6405
Location: Detroit, Michigan
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Good questions. Looks like the interviewer actually put some effort into it. Kudos.

And LOL @ the significance of broccoli question. Durrrr.
Post Thu May 17, 2007 10:58 am
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PatrickBateman



Joined: 09 Aug 2003
Posts: 2276
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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Why don't we live in a world where thieves have to deal with Sage, and his wizard staff, somewhere dark?

Do journalists not read previous interviews before conducting theirs, as to cover new ground?


I'm excited about watching SFR grow. Will there be more hiphop? Poets? I picture a female vocalist/poet/singer. Maybe she'll have a ukulele.
Post Thu May 17, 2007 11:29 am
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Storm Davis



Joined: 01 Apr 2004
Posts: 425
Location: Providence
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"Q: In 'Underground for Dummies', you refer to the days before the internet as a "nazi era" "

I had interpreted that as "pre-internet Nazi era" (suggesting Internet Nazis) versus "pre-internet, Nazi era."

Glad I could get that off my chest.
Post Thu May 17, 2007 11:30 am
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21599
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ah yeah. i actually misread that
Post Thu May 17, 2007 11:32 am
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Oakwoodian



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 107
Location: dayton, ohio
Re: interview for ozhiphop.com  Reply with quote  

Sage Francis wrote:
Maybe a DVD.


I can't even express how much I want another sage dvd!!!!
Post Thu May 17, 2007 6:10 pm
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timmyprinz



Joined: 20 Aug 2006
Posts: 250
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shit sage your still working on music for Pride and Glory..i thought you were done. I remember u saying u did 3 songs. Im really curious what the other songs are called..

How many more songs do you plan on doing for the movie and/or soundtrack??

This is exciting news to know that we may hear more than just waterline and good fashion from you and mark...I love how u guys sound together.
Post Thu May 17, 2007 7:17 pm
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