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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous

Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21790
2/25/03 interview at  Reply with quote  

Sage Francis

Sick of Waiting Tape 1999
Still Sick... Urine Trouble Tape/CD 2000
Climbing Trees 12” 2001
Sick of Waiting Tables CD 2001
Makshift Patriot 7” 2002
Sick of Waging War CD 2002
Personal Journals CD 2002
Makeshift Patriot 12”EP 2003
Sage French Kiss 7” 2003

Other Credits:

Sage – Home Grown Demo Tape 1996
Art Official Intelligence – Voice Mail Bomb Threat 1997
Non-Prophets – Drop Bass 12” 1999
Non-Prophets – All Word No Play 12” 2000

Sage Francis is a poet/MC/soon-to-be-pianist with much to say, fortunately he took the time to share a little of it with 30. It’s an interview that illustrates, among other things, exactly why you should put a little consideration into taping live shows.

Admired for his structure-bending statement construction, highly respected as a battle MC/freestyler, and maybe even more respected as a spoken word poet, Sage Francis is a genuine artist. The man is cautious about his connections, and active with his presence; he ignores the easy money to focus on coming through exactly as intended. While he is able to effortlessly put the out-of-place in their place he found it in his heart to sit through some annoying technical difficulties, and put up with a rather incoherent writer in order to get this interview done.

Sage Francis: What’s this for again?


Francis: So, it’s like music from the 30s? Or, 30-year-old musicians?

30: No, no, the 30 comes from a random journalism code…

Francis: That means it’s the end of the document.

30: Exactly! Yeah, so that’s where it comes from.

Francis: Cool, so this must be a hardcore journalistic online magazine.

30: Um… Well, we do what we can. So, starting off, at what point do you think poetry became accepted within hip-hop, outside of MCing?

Francis: Well, obviously within the last couple of years. I mean I’ve incorporated it in my shows for many years now, and when I first started it was very… People didn’t know what the fuck was happening. I don’t know, that’s what made it so interesting I think, that I would just shut the music off and go completely a cappella, for like five minutes. It was weird to people, but eventually it caught on. I think people saw the purpose in it, and I see everyone across the board realizing that it’s actually useful to let your words be heard – cause a lot of times you’re rockin’ over the beat and it’s all about rhythm, and I don’t know, dance moves, and fights in the crowd. Sometimes it’s good to hear the words.

30: So, would you say you’re pleased with what it’s become?

Francis: Well, it doesn’t please me. Not much of the slam poetry pleases me, not much of hip-hop pleases me. It’s just there. Just something new for people to fuck up.

30: (laughs) I guess on an unrelated subject, you seem to be very fond of Kinko’s. What’s your deal with that?

Francis: I just like to steal from Kinko’s. When I did those first run tapes and CDs I just made thousands and thousands of colored covers. And you know they charge such horrible rates. And eventually I learned how to freak the system a little bit, and get more for my dollar. I would go there and just fuck up their machines, and make as many copies as I possibly could without paying.

30: Yeah, you say that the Makeshift Patriot cover was made using stolen material, that was all proceeds of Kinko’s?

Francis: Well, that’s one of my main things. I go to Kinko’s, I sit down, and I give myself maybe five hours to put together a cover. I’ll go there with photos and markers, and I’ll use whatever materials they have available, and I’ll make the cover. And that’s it. I don’t feel like spending days or weeks toiling over what the cover should look like. I just wanted to make it; get it over with.

30: Speaking of that EP, a lot of the songs on it have existed for quite a while now, but it doesn’t really seem like a remix project, more like a revisit project. What made you go back to those tracks?

Francis: Um… Well, “Morning Aftermath” was an A.O.I. remix of “Come Come Now.” That was one of my favorite written pieces, one of my favorite songs. Some of my favorite writing I should say. And we were performing it with a live band and when we were performing it the band changed it all up, and I started to dig that version more than the original. So I wanted to record it with that different feel to it. I just thought it was pretty fresh. No one would really believe how we went about recording it, but it was done really shoddily. I dig the beat a lot. Joe Beats did the original beat. But with the way it was all recorded the sound quality wasn’t that great. This was just my chance to make it a bona fide studio recording.

“Cup of Tea” is called “Every Midnight” on the EP. It was a remix by, yet again, the band. That’s a song that was totally overlooked on the Personal Journals album. It’s one of my favorites, again. One of the things I visit on the song needed to be rehashed. I turned it into a really creepy song I guess. I have no idea, it was made more musical and I really like what the band did with it so we decided to record it. This time it has a catchier chorus – the original version didn’t really have a chorus at all. There’s just a weird reggae feel to the new one.

What else was on that EP… “Makeshift Patriot,” which was re-recorded from the original 7”, just a little bit. Some changes here and there. The reason I did that was I kind of rushed the first recording of it because I wanted to get it out right away, and there were things I wasn’t happy with. So, I needed to tweak it and add a couple samples that I thought were relevant and helped out the song.

30: Yeah wasn’t that track available to the public, pressed and ready, very quickly after 9/11?

Francis: Well, first it came out as an MP3. It was written recorded and released as an MP3 one month after 9/11. Then the 7” came out perhaps four months after that, I don’t even remember when the 7” came out. It was the same version as the MP3 that was on the 7”.

Um, what was the other thing… the other one was “Hang Time,” but that was a new one. That was on Sick of Waging War. Yeah, that was a new song produced by Meaty Ogre from Chicago.

And the spoken word at the end was “Hey Bobby,” which was a last minute entry. I had another spoken word piece on there before it called “Underbite Ben Finds God,” but I replaced it with “Hey Bobby,” because I thought it was a logical follow-up to “Makeshift Patriot.”

30: Personal Journals and Makeshift Patriot were both released on Anticon. I am wondering, what exactly is your relationship with Anticon?

Francis: Um… Anticon… Well I know who they are, and I’m good friends with a couple of them. Initially they asked if they could put out a Sage Francis album, so I said, “Yeah, I’d be glad to give you an album.” So we went out to California and recorded most of the songs there. I did what eventually turned into Personal Journals. Then after Personal Journals came out they asked me if I wanted to follow up with another record, and I didn’t want to give them another album at the time. But I did have those six tracks that I thought could work really well as an EP, especially considering the condition of the world right now. I just put out a Makeshift Patriot album on vinyl, I thought could help a few DJ sets. I think it’s dope just to have it on vinyl; make it available for the DJs.

30: I don’t know how often you’re able mess around on the net, but did you see that they played “Makeshift Patriot” out of Fifth Element as the anti-war march went by?

Francis: Yeah, the protest went by the store and they were playing it. Yeah, [Dee] Jay Bird told me about that. That’s pretty exiting. It’s just things like that. I mean, man, that song should be the theme music for such events. It’s like, that song’s not going to change anything in the world, what it’s going to do is, hopefully, motivate somebody who has the ability to change things. We all have to change things on our small levels, and immediate lives. I’m very honored that they would do that for me.

30: Yeah I gotta say it’s definitely… I don’t know… it’s… da… at… sorry, I guess I kind of trailed off there.

Francis: It’s OK, I do that fairly often.

30: Um… Yeah, so, you were saying that Anticon kind of came about just based on interest, I read recently that Epitaph is also interested in your work…

Francis: Yeah! I had a meeting with them the other day. They came to my show in Newport Beach, the president [of the label] was there. He’s apparently a big fan of Personal Journals and a lot of the stuff that I’ve been doing. He’s been to a couple of shows and… I don’t know, we’ve been talking. I’ve never really worked with a major label and – I mean that’s not a major, major label, but as far as I’m concerned it’s pretty fuckin’ major. If I went with them it would have to be this big deal, you know. I don’t know, I don’t know. I’ve just been working the independent angle for way too long that if I’m about to give up some albums for a label, and give up my own individual approach it would have to be something really special. And I imagine Epitaph is one of the labels that could do that. They have a good reputation with their artists and there are some artists on that label that I would love to have as labelmates; it’s a pretty intense lineup.

30: Yeah, from an outsider’s perspective it seems that you and Epitaph would be a good fit.

Francis: Yeah, it’s the most exiting label news I’ve got since Def Jam contacted me a few years ago. I just feel like Def Jam was looking for the next white boy, you know. I just got that whole vibe from ‘em. I got that vibe from Atlantic as well. I shun them.

30: Yeah, I think I saw that MTV was going to be doing some kind of battle where the winner got a Def Jam contract or something like that. No interest in entering that?

Francis: Nope.

30: So, you’re pretty close with the RhymeSayers crew…

Francis: Very close

30: How did that all come about?

Francis: It started out when I was doing a show in Milwaukee with Slug, DJ Abilities, and… actually it was just them. That was the first time I met Slug. This might have been ’99… ’99, 2000 - one of those years. Slug had heard of me, and I’d definitely heard of him. I actually had his song that I played on my radio show, when I had one… “Scapegoat,” as everyone knows. Anyway, so we did that show together, and he was really skeptical about me I think – as a hop-hop artist, or rapper in general – he gave us a really distant and cold vibe. But after the show he was all hugs and um… it was lovely, he was just very cool to me. Eventually he asked me to join along on this tour he was doing. So, just on the tail end of one of his tours, we did a few shows together. It was great, we just vibed off each other. And the whole RhymeSayers crew kind of accepted me as an outside member. I don’t know how to explain it, I’m really cool with all of them. I think it’s mainly because Slug put in a good word for me. Every time I go back to Minneapolis it’s all love, it’s one of my favorite places to be. Then after that first tour we did the big Fill in the Blanks Tour, and we did the whole thing. We’ve done random shows here and there. We’ve recorded four, maybe five songs together now.

30: Really? And have they all been released already?

Francis: No, three of them haven’t been released. One of them probably will never be released. There are two main ones that both of us like a lot, and we’ll see whose album comes out first; probably share one, share the other.

30: That’s smooth. I was going to say, the only one that I’ve heard is “Embarrassed,” and that one is unbelievable.

Francis: Yeah, that was spur of the moment, like jump in Eyedea’s crib and spit a verse out. That verse was mine, it was actually from four years ago. I just had it hanging around I never found something that could get the rhythm of it, but that one did. That one did so I rocked that.

30: A lot of your lyrics kind of dwell on your frustration or even angst. What makes you happy?

Francis: Um… Food. Food makes me happy. Sex makes me happy. Just the release of the demons makes me happy. What else… Performing a good show and not hurting myself makes me happy. Performing a good show and hurting myself if it’s done correctly makes me happy. Let me see… people being happy makes me happy. I don’t know, you’re right, I’m really not happy all too often. Just the company of great people makes me happy. I don’t think there’s just one thing that I could do that makes me happy. Even, like I said, sex – I don’t even think sex makes me happy. I think sex makes me fuckin’ depressed in a weird way.

30: That’s kind of odd.

Francis: It’s been like that for long time. It’s a very psychological thing, obviously. Brainfucking.

30: I guess that kind of makes segue into how you’re frequently portrayed with Xs over your eyes, or face. Is there any significance to that besides maybe the oblivious?

Francis: There’s a few things they probably are. I just like it. (laughs) Just shut down, I don’t want to see anymore, leave me out of it. “I’ve seen enough,” maybe that’s what it’s saying. Fuckin’ leave me out of your picture.

30: You seem to have a fascination with the concept of archiving, or maybe I’m being over analytical…

Francis: With archiving? Yeah, that’s very true. How did you make that assessment?

30: Um… Just various things that you’ve written I guess… I guess I can’t cite a specific example off the top of my head. I could probably email you something.

Francis: Um, I save everything. I’ve become less of a packrat, but archiving… I get scared that things will be forgotten, or they’ll go away. I grew up with that. That’s why I saved all my tapes - tapes of me rapping when I was like eight, nine, ten, eleven years old. All the writing I’ve ever done, I’ve saved. And that’s probably why I cater to the message board on the website. Anything that happens I like to just put it in there and hopefully it exists forever somewhere…

30: Yeah, I wanted to comment on how actively involved you are on your board and how accessible you are to your fans, followers, and really anyone else who needs to get a hold of you. How are you able to maintain this level of accessibility?

Francis: Well, it’s not so hard. You fuckin’ make a visit to your computer once a day, or once every two days, look on your message board, see what the people are asking about, answer their questions, give some extra information they may be interested in… Just keep an interaction between people. I don’t understand why other people don’t do it. It’s not like you really have to… I can’t answer every single email I get, like I used to, but I can answer questions that many people can see on my website, and if they ever really wanted to do some research they could probably search anything on my website and find the answer.

30: Still, I think you definitely deserve a lot of credit for that. There are a lot of acts who have boards and don’t take make even close to the effort you do to keep in touch.

Francis: Well, I think one thing is that people stay away is because they’re not comfortable with why they do things. Maybe they like to keep the mystique somehow by not talking to their fans, but I don’t really give a shit about that. I have enough mystique in my life, I don’t have to hide.

30: So, You also had a DVD and documentary in the works, right?

Francis: I have, and I don’t know what the hell is going to happen with it. Because I’ve lost faith in random people who were trying to help out and do things with me. I just don’t know what’s the best thing to do. I think a DVD takes as much dedication and as much spirit as an album does, and without me being fully involved in it I don’t think I would be comfortable with it coming out. So, what I would have to do is actually take a big chunk out of my schedule, sit down and put together this DVD with whoever wants to help out. But this guy who was doing it was talking about how he wants to do this and that, and how he wants to put it out next month. When he said that I was like “whoa.” I just stepped away, I was like, “Na, no thanks dude.” But I do archive as much video footage as I can, I’m trying to look for interesting stuff. And it exists out there, but it’s rare that I get my hands on it. That’s why I hate people at shows with video cameras ‘cause I never get a copy of my show. I just want to smash their fucking face with the camera… They’re sitting up in the front row… You know it’s just been so many years that I’ve politely asked for a copy of a show, and I’ve never got one. I just realized these guys aren’t trying to help the cause at all.

30: With all these projects, as we just talked about the documentary, and you have the other musical endeavors as well, how are you able to draw the lines between them?

Francis: I think different styles of writing and different trains of thought lend themselves to different projects and they get categorized in that manner. I just did an album with Buck 65 called Sleep No More. It’s a concept album, and the vibe that I got off the beats and the production, which were done by DJ Signify, and his direction as far as what the subject matter entailed really lends itself to me, catering to the certain subject matter that I left out of the Non-Prophets album. Because the Non-Prophets album had more of a hip-hop feel. Very rappy, very, maybe punch line, or catchy chorus oriented – that kind of shit. And I just need to always balance myself out with different things. Like when I did Personal Journals it was just pretty heavy material, you know. So, all the stuff I did following Personal Journals was more of a lighthearted nature, and just trying to balance my brain, and feel better about being a complete artist. I want to be rounded out a little bit. I’m trying to learn instruments. I think what I need to do is just play piano and just shut the mouth for a couple years.

Sage expects DJ Signify’s Sleep No More to be out around 4 months from now

30: (laughs) That sounds a little crazy…

Francis: I mean all I do is talk, talk, write, write, and it may be grinding on my soul a bit too much.

30: What were you listening to at age 17?

Francis: Let’s see… Let me do some math in my head really quick… Well, I obviously was listening to Public Enemy. Um… It was all hip-hop, I didn’t really start listening to anything outside hip-hop until around ’96. Yeah, I’d say the main thing would be Public Enemy and KRS-1.


Read our review of Makeshift Patriot

Visit Sage Francis' webpage:
Post Thu Feb 27, 2003 9:51 pm
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 907
Location: Austin, Tx
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whats the obsession with putting in the symbols/number for apostrophies, begining and ending qoutation marks and periods?

I know you and type it up for your interview?
Post Thu Feb 27, 2003 10:07 pm
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous

Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21790
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dummy up
Post Thu Feb 27, 2003 10:14 pm
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hugh grants hooker

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he didnt type it up.

its either a problem with a browser or isp.

alot of aol people have trouble's with that.
Post Thu Feb 27, 2003 10:21 pm

Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 907
Location: Austin, Tx
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oh, alright....well....i prefer to dummy down...thanks
Post Thu Feb 27, 2003 10:37 pm
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hugh grants hooker

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man, ya got alot of hate for video cameras. smash their face? lol. i want to be at that show.

have the members of gruvis at the door demanding all videos before exiting the building.
ha ha

nobody really helped with footage? thats lame assed.

adam from pensacola
Post Thu Feb 27, 2003 10:40 pm

Joined: 28 Oct 2002
Posts: 67
Location: :noitacoL
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If you wanna copy of Makeshift Patriot at Iowa City
let me know...I guess you probably would...

I'm sure I can find an address on here but if you wouldn't mind or if somebody else an addy.

Skylar Johnson
Post Fri Feb 28, 2003 3:03 am
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Joined: 11 Aug 2002
Posts: 32
the piano is great  Reply with quote  

i like just making stuff up improv
it is so much fun
it is pretty easy to come up with some pretty beautiful combinations
and you really don't need to know much
it's all about parallel motion and tempo and playing each hand off each other
i love it
i got my piano for free but i have paid to move it three times
but that is a modest fee of about 500$ total, worth the loot to transport
Post Fri Feb 28, 2003 3:33 am
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Mikal kHill

Joined: 29 Jun 2002
Posts: 6849
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I taped you in Charlotte for Trilogy when they had you here. If you want a copy bad enough to shatter my face for holding the camera, I would gladly mail you a copy.

Post Fri Feb 28, 2003 4:26 am
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous

Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21790
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I really do want a copy.

sage francis
po box 2509
providence, ri
Post Fri Feb 28, 2003 12:38 pm
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the godfather of troll

Joined: 18 Oct 2002
Posts: 4827
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Sage Francis wrote:
I really do want a copy.

sage francis
po box 2509
providence, ri

you should have let me tape your show when I asked then Fag
I would have sent you a vhs copy
Post Fri Feb 28, 2003 1:39 pm
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hugh grants hooker

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he told me that you dont hold the camera right.

it wouldve been all shitty looking.
Post Fri Feb 28, 2003 6:15 pm

Joined: 28 Oct 2002
Posts: 67
Location: :noitacoL
Next week.  Reply with quote  

I get paid next week. I'll copy it then and send you a copy.
During the second chorus the dude next to me was goin' crazy and hit the camera outta my hand it did like a 360 kick flip and I caught it right where he hit it outta my hand (no fault of his for gettin' into Makeshift) but it turned off so it skips during a line or two and then I was flustered to get it back on that I accidently hit the stupid negative button so for a split second the screen turns negative....but it's still good footage. You grabbed my camera and that shit looks dope as hell when you're rappin' into it.

Next week it will get sent out...

Skylar Johnson
Post Sat Mar 01, 2003 2:31 am
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Joined: 23 Sep 2002
Posts: 260
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one of the best interviews in a while. Interviewer was on top of his shit, for once.
Post Sun Mar 02, 2003 10:56 am
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