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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21595
3/11/03 interview with Get Underground  Reply with quote  

Sage Francis: Alright, let's rock.

What's your favorite Rakim track?

SF: "Follow the Leader," one of my favorite songs ever.

What does music mean to you personally?

SF: It helps. It's an escape… I traveled Europe all by myself, and being in a lot of countries where they didn't speak English- or if they did, it was bad- and I didn't speak any other language, the only time I'd start to gain my sanity would be when I'd listen to some music that I dig. It just felt so good, it was like I was getting a fix. I just throw in a Dylan album, and really feel at home. You can identify with it, you have this interaction between the music and yourself and your interpretations.

What's your favorite Dylan tune right now?

SF: Right now, yeah, it's changes a lot. I don't have a favorite, but I usually like "Maggie's Farm" more than the others for some reason, but he has so many fuckin' songs…

Who are your main influences?

SF: Hmm…we'll, they're equally shared between a number of years: any hip-hop that came out between, say, 1983 and 1992. That's a good gap of time, but every hip-hop artist that came out then had some impact on me, showed me what I wanted to do or didn't want to do. And I took it all in, I saved a lot of it, I processed it, recycled it, switched it around a little bit, and just tried to involve myself in everything I loved.
Ice-T is one of my major influences. When I listen to his old albums, I laugh to myself, 'cause I realize "oh, that's where I got that idea from," but I didn't even realize it when I was doing it. Now in retrospect I see the relations. I don't think he gets his proper respect, because he's not technically an awesome rapper, but man, he had these songs that just fuckin' rocked my world, and when I was a younger kid listening to it, it just felt like he was revealing so much, and really letting you know what the fuck was up, and that's what I wanna do.
With Personal Journals, I took all that into account. I wanted to be that guy, I've been trying to be that guy for a while. It's the kind of music I wanna do. My next album, I'm not that guy any more.
For a while I've been digging outside of the hip-hop world in order to really feel inspiration, because I haven't been getting it from any hip-hop artists. Actually, I've been backtracking, I'm going back to the times where I should've been listening to maybe classic rock and stuff, and I'm listening to that now, and folk music and punk rock. You know, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, John Lennon, Paul Simon, Nick Drake…

Melissa King: Who are your favorite poets?

SF: Jeffery McDaniels, he teaches at Sara Lawrence College right now. He has a book called The Forgiveness Parade, and whenever I lend it to somebody they're so reluctant to give it back. It's amazing shit. I quoted him on the inside cover of my album, actually I got the name "Pitchers of Silence" from him.
Hmm, who else…to be completely honest, I don't read poetry, I never did, but his is one book that I read and fell in love with. I really don't know, I was more of a spoken-word guy.

How did you grow from your older albums to Personal Journals?

SF: I didn't. I regressed a little bit, actually. But the one thing I can say I did was I integrated a lot of my spoken-word formula into my hip-hop writing style, as far as delivery, content, and the way I make my point. I use my own formulas, I have my own structure. But as far as content and subject matter goes, that's the kind of hip-hop I love.

What kind of response have you been getting so far from Personal Journals?

SF: It's been amazing. It's been out for a while now, and the feedback just keeps coming. It was slow out the gates, it wasn't able to get to everybody, but it's continuing to sell, and everybody who enjoys it is letting me know. I mean, we've sold out shows on this tour, and we didn't even promote it. All the promoters are asking me for promotional CD's and flyers and all that, and I said "nope. I just wanna do a tour, and people who know the music are gonna be there." But I didn't expect that, show after show, we're selling out, and it's insane. It's because of Personal Journals, all these people finally get their hands on the album, and want to check out a show. It's beautiful; beautiful, beautiful people.

Is the Non-Prophets album out yet, or are you still working on that?

SF: We're mixing it down, and there's a possibility that it will come out in about four or five months. Not any sooner than that, unfortunately, 'cause we're going through a label, and we gotta work out contract stuff and cover art. There's a lot of gatekeepers, to make sure it's cool with everybody, and it gets good promotion. We want to make sure it's promoted well, 'cause I'm not sure people are familiar with the Non-Prophets name as they are with the Sage Franics name, and I couldn't put it out as a Sage Francis album because it's really a collaborative effort- not like Personal Journals. You're not gonna get what you'd expect from another solo album of mine. Joe Beats does the productions, I do the lyrics, and we have a guy named Mekalek do all the cuts.
It's more of an ode to the hip-hop that I was digging, say, in '92, '93, '94, that era. I make a lot of reference to that era, and people who aren't familiar with that music may actually be lost by a lot of references in my songs. Even my whole style, I mean, that's how I rapped then, I've always maintained those styles. I didn't get to use them on Personal Journals, because I wasn't trying to do that kind of shit. But this time, I wanted to encapsulate it, put my stamp on it, and present it like "this is hip-hop to me, this is the way hip-hop should sound, I like it like this."

Do you feel that everything Audiogalaxy and Napster started hurts artists, or does it help them?

SF: I'm a strong supporter of Napster. At first I wasn't because I didn't understand it…as silly as it sounds, I'm computer-illiterate. I mean, I have a website, I contribute to the forum, I'm an email madman, but I didn't understand downloading music. I still don't, but I do know that it helped my career out incredibly. It's the only reason I was able to do world tours before I even put out an official album.

Do you feel that's where the future of Music is?

SF: No, it was just an elevated form of tape trading, that's all it was. Napster was just a more efficient way for people to show each other stuff they dug, and help an artist build a following simply with the music. Good music sold itself, and created a buzz for it. That's what happened with me, and I'm really grateful for all these people that gave it a one-listen and then passed it amongst their friends. All of the sudden, it's just like…I have kids coming to my shows, and just paying me money. "Here, I downloaded a lot of your stuff, here's some cash." Some dude gave me like $250 a few shows ago, and that's unheard of. When it comes down to it, a fan or someone who enjoys the artist, is gonna support the artist. It's that transaction of, "here, I wanna give a little something to support what I enjoy," you know? I think that's just in our nature. I do it. Like, with some of my best friends, I still go to the store and buy their album, even though I could probably just give them a call like "yo, dude, wanna send me a CD through the mail?" but I don't wanna do that. I'll actually buy their CD, and own it. People maybe don't see the class in it.
I would never worry myself about it. Major labels are worried because the buzz they try to create about artists who don't deserve such a buzz can easily be killed, 'cause you can just go and check out the album and see that it's shit, and not have to waste your money. That's why their album sales are down, because their artists suck.

What's this DVD that you've spoken of?

SF: That's a touchy subject right now. There's been a few people that have approached me with ambitions to do a DVD, and I really want to. I've been compiling video footage for many years now, but until I'm ready… I want it to be like an album; I want it to be cohesive enough, I want it to be totally enjoyable for people who a) don't know who I am, b) do know who I am and have a knowledge of my history, and c) I want it to have repeat value, to watch it over and over and over. I'm not really sure how DVD's have been going, but I can imagine that a lot of people are abusing the medium already. You know, just throw a whole bunch of shit, six hours of just bullshit performances, and sell it. That's not the way it should be.

Future plans- any kind of styles you're gonna branch out into?

SF: It's becoming a little bit more musical, a little bit more melodic, just working on the sound of my voice, and studio recording techniques. Eventually, I may branch off into completely non-hip-hop…I don't think I could ever really shed the hip-hop edge that I have. It's always there, and I don't know if I could do without it. But I wanna do like…I can't sing for shit, but I do it all the time. I'll probably get into more folkie stuff. I enjoy that.

Look at Neil Young. I mean, it's not really a "normal" voice, but it works.

SF: Yeah, I think he has a beautiful voice. Even Bob Dylan- people diss his voice, but to me, he really fuckin' rocks. I love it. The only guy who I listen to who I think has a shaky voice, and probably can't really sing but works it well enough is Leonard Cohen. I can hear he's not hitting the note right, and he has the backup singers to help him out all the time. That's what I want. I want the backup singers to carry my notes for me, and I'll just say the words kind of near the note.

Do you feel that you reach a diverse audience?

SF: Yeah, for sure.

Do you do that consciously?

SF: No, I don't. I feel privileged that people outside of the hip-hop world dig. The fact that I get a lot of punk kids and rock kids who would normally feel alienated by hip-hop don't because of my subject matter, and accept and enjoy what I do. That's very cool. It's the fact that I don't alienate gay people or old people, or whatever these divisions are; I don't go out and make anyone my enemy in my music. Some people do, and that's fuckin' horrible, it's very sad. The only people I ever have any issues with and that I will attack in my music are inconsiderate people, ignorant people. I don't want females to feel attacked in my music; I'll attack females as much as I do men, but that's just a slight edge I have to my writing, because a lot of my music is influenced and inspired by probably a bad experience I had with somebody. But you gotta be mature about it. Just 'cause you had a fight with your girlfriend doesn't turn into a "women suck" song. You have to be creative, you have to be fair, accurate enough where you do the subject matter justice, and do it responsibly. hip-hop artists don't do that at all. I try to do that, but sometimes I'm a little more immature than I probably should be.

You've commented on the need for the Underground to unify- how do you feel it's divided?

SF: It's becoming more and more segregated, the sub-genres are shutting themselves off to each other. There's an obvious division between "white" hip-hop and "black" hip-hop. Mainstream and Underground are like the Secret Passwords really. I think it's elitist by nature. It's like you're in a group of people who are in "the know," and the Mainstream people are the fuckin' sheep. It's like you wanna feel power in that knowledge.
It's really sad. I don't see enough integration between styles, subject matter, or personality types. I think everyone's sticking to their own, and we're going back to Square One, to the point where eventually something new is gonna have to come out where everybody can agree that it's fresh, it's new, and no matter where you come from or who you're down with, if you're doing IT, that's your bonding element.

Kind of like punk used to be.

SF: Or like hip-hop used to be, or like rock-n-roll used to be, or jazz or blues.

What are your thoughts on HBO's "Def Poetry Jam"?

SF: I was a little interested in it at first, but to see how it's affected people, and the spoken-word community in general, the kind of people it's attracting, it's fuckin' gross, man. They exploited something that was really special to me, which was the spoken-word open readings. Now when I go to my local venue to do spoken-word, I have all these fuckin' little Mos Def's running around that wanna get picked up by the next Def Jam rep. You can tell they're really writing for the wrong reasons. It just doesn't sound right, it's very false and forced, and I can't dig.
They would never put someone like me on "Def Poetry Jam." I would have so much more respect if they would just let someone go on there and just dog the fuck out of their whole function. To me, that's what's punk rock about spoken-word, it's like you get up there and say whatever the fuck you want, and there's no regulations. I've seen more insane shit on spoken-word stages than I have anywhere else; they have no boundaries whatsoever.
I wish they would have poets on there who the audience didn't agree with at all, and get booed, to give it a balance. There's this guy, Corbet Dean, who's a police officer, I wanna see him on "Def Poetry Jam," and do his poem about being a police officer, and totally win over a crowd that normally would not cheer a police officer on. He's so amazing, and he explains his job in a lot of his pieces, and it's very emotional and humanistic, the way that he breaks it down to people and what it is to be a cop. I'm no fan of police myself, I have a lot of bad things to say about police, but I have nothing bad to say about this guy.

Do you think in general that the whole spoken-word poetry scene still has
the heart there?

SF: No. I don't think it's had a heart for many many years. There are members that bring some authentic and amazing material, just like anything else- in the heaps of trash there's gems. You gotta dig for them, you gotta put up with a lot of trite and watered-down crap in order to find that one special poem that you can attach to your hip forever.

Do you feel there's any scene right now that's sticking to their Integrity?

SF: There's no perfect art form. There's a lot of shit film, there's a lot of shit books, there's a lot of shit magazines, there's a lot of shit singers, a lot of shit rappers, a lot of shit poets. In fact, it's like everything is 80% shit, but in that 20%, there's something really amazing. And maybe that's what Underground used to be, the 20% of hip-hop that was great was Underground hip-hop. It's not like that any more. Underground hip-hop is shit. Mainstream hip-hop of course is shitty, but I think there's just as much good Mainstream hip-hop as there is Underground hip-hop now. It's not like one of them is obviously much better than the other, those lines are totally blurred now.
For me, it's about content, and how many people are really presenting some original or special content in a different way. You gotta keep things fresh, and twist it and contort it to your own special shape. It's just that we're in an era where we're so used to rehashing popular formulas. It's almost like an unbreakable pattern that pop culture has fed into all of our brains; we're raised on it.

How many times have you been abducted by aliens?

SF: I don't know, because they knock me the fuck out.

Do you feel those excursions have had an influence on your music? After all, your pseudonym Xaul Zan is clearly from the Zarbanian language, which is only found on the planet Tixual…

SF: Yeah, they gave that to me, but I use it now as my own little shot in the ribs to them…I don't know if they have ribs, but it's my way of saying "you didn't fool me. I know you're there, I know what you did to me, and I'm gonna getcha."
Post Sun Mar 09, 2003 7:20 pm
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UncleSylis



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 128
Location: Philly
 Reply with quote  

Yes! Leonard Cohen gives hope to shaky voiced singers everywhere.

Btw, after seeing you with Gruvis, I'm really fiending for a whole CD of Sage/Gruvis rock covers. Maybe like a "Sick Of..." type CD? One can hope, can't they?
Post Sun Mar 09, 2003 8:51 pm
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Still Sick



Joined: 10 Nov 2002
Posts: 223
Location: Pittsburgh
 Reply with quote  

great interview. i cant wait for "hope" as well as the dvd if it comes out.
Post Sun Mar 09, 2003 9:02 pm
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Aesopkills



Joined: 29 Nov 2002
Posts: 9
 Reply with quote  

we have similar taste in music i.e dylan, lennon, simon. didnt know there were too many hiphop fans out there that also liked the singer/songwriter crowd, although it makes sense. just saw dylan in concert in Nov.
Post Sun Mar 09, 2003 9:15 pm
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penelope



Joined: 02 Nov 2002
Posts: 595
 Reply with quote  

is this a futuristic interview?
it's a good one! but the date has me perplexed.
Post Sun Mar 09, 2003 9:31 pm
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21595
 Reply with quote  

what's the date today?
Post Sun Mar 09, 2003 10:03 pm
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Ryan



Joined: 27 Sep 2002
Posts: 739
Location: Presque Isle, Maine
 Reply with quote  

It's March 9th for another hour..
03/09/'03

what a repetative interview..
Post Sun Mar 09, 2003 10:04 pm
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hugh grants hooker
Guest




 Reply with quote  

classic
Post Sun Mar 09, 2003 10:06 pm
 
Abinatra



Joined: 04 Jul 2002
Posts: 1621
 Reply with quote  

The last paragraph of the -"Hope" sound- made me smile.

The whole -future plans- response made me uneasy.
Post Sun Mar 09, 2003 10:56 pm
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Jesus Frank



Joined: 12 Jul 2002
Posts: 2314
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Re: 3/11/03 interview with Get Underground  Reply with quote  

Sage Francis wrote:
Is the Non-Prophets album out yet, or are you still working on that?

SF: We're mixing it down, and there's a possibility that it will come out in about four or five months. Not any sooner than that, unfortunately, 'cause we're going through a label, and we gotta work out contract stuff and cover art. There's a lot of gatekeepers, to make sure it's cool with everybody, and it gets good promotion. We want to make sure it's promoted well, 'cause I'm not sure people are familiar with the Non-Prophets name as they are with the Sage Franics name, and I couldn't put it out as a Sage Francis album because it's really a collaborative effort- not like Personal Journals. You're not gonna get what you'd expect from another solo album of mine. Joe Beats does the productions, I do the lyrics, and we have a guy named Mekalek do all the cuts.
It's more of an ode to the hip-hop that I was digging, say, in '92, '93, '94, that era. I make a lot of reference to that era, and people who aren't familiar with that music may actually be lost by a lot of references in my songs. Even my whole style, I mean, that's how I rapped then, I've always maintained those styles. I didn't get to use them on Personal Journals, because I wasn't trying to do that kind of shit. But this time, I wanted to encapsulate it, put my stamp on it, and present it like "this is hip-hop to me, this is the way hip-hop should sound, I like it like this."


If you guys could only see the smile on my face right now.....

My enthusiasm at the moment is just overwhelming. I can't wait for that.
Post Mon Mar 10, 2003 5:04 am
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PHIL LACIO AKA P DAWG
the godfather of troll


Joined: 18 Oct 2002
Posts: 4825
 Reply with quote  

Ice-t had a similiar influence on me. He had a major influence on me His storytelling and writing was very vivid and highly underrated. He literally opened my eyes to a whole new world. His past records are so slept on. Rhyme Pays and Power are in my top 20 hip hop albums of all time.
Post Mon Mar 10, 2003 4:53 pm
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sagerulez



Joined: 10 Mar 2003
Posts: 1
Sage, check out Mugshot Magazine  Reply with quote  

Sage, it sound like you're into interviews and stuff, so I thought I'd mention this. My cousin started a hip-hop magazine about two years ago in New York called Mugshot. It's not like The Source or any other of that crap; it focuses on real people and real music. It also covers all parts of hip-hop, and some fashion too. I told her about you, and that I think you should do an interview. If you're interested, post back and I'll get you her email address. The mag is free because of ads and lots of support, so it gets a lot of circulation. You should check it out: www.mugshotmagazine.com. Thanks.

Gilbert
Post Mon Mar 10, 2003 10:12 pm
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Lazy Eyed Pea



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 582
Formulas  Reply with quote  

Formulas and structures. Sounds awful. I'd really love to hear more on that though.
Post Mon Mar 10, 2003 10:37 pm
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Jesse



Joined: 02 Jul 2002
Posts: 6166
Location: privileged homeless
 Reply with quote  

That's like the most settled down and friendly Sage Francis interview I've ever read! His words wore a tidy sweater and it looked good on them!

It's topped only by Buck65's interview of him on CKDU two years ago or something.
Post Tue Mar 11, 2003 12:23 am
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous


Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21595
 Reply with quote  

and do you know why?

haha...

the interviewer had a very fair lady with him.

I am...such...a sucker.....for fair ladies.

truth
Post Tue Mar 11, 2003 12:34 am
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