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Interview with a Journalism student. 11/15/03
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Sage Francis
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Joined: 30 Jun 2002
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Interview with a Journalism student. 11/15/03  Reply with quote  

Interview by Argot, who is in the same class I once took. Same teacher. Ha. Ahhhh.





Why did you decide to start making music?

"It felt good to do it. It felt rewarding on multiple levels. I got to speak my mind, be creative and involve myself in youth culture."

Why did you decide to go into journalism in college?

"Because it was an easy field to fake. Writing came easy to me, but majoring in English would mean that I'd have to do too much reading. Journalism is something you don't really need to go to college but I still needed the college degree to make the family proud while pursuing real life."

Did journalism studies affect how you approach your music, choose your topics, write your lyrics?

"It allowed me an interesting perspective. It may have instilled ethics in my approach to subject matter as well as my presentation of it, but it mainly reinforced my existing feelings on these matters. it's very difficult to say. I'd be lying if I said that I paid much attention to my classroom literature, but I do remember getting excited about RESEARCHING information on subjects I wanted to educate the public about. I'm just a poor student."

A large part of your music covers some controversial topics and politics, is there an audience that you are trying to reach with lines like "I attended candle light vigils for Matthew Shepherd,/ While you just put out another ‘fuck you, faggot!’ record"?

"Of course, the audience I am targeting with lines like that is the hiphop audience. It is an audience filled with homophobes and sexists. Now, I communicate this message to them while using their preferred medium...so no one can really accuse me of preaching to the choir. I have the ability to relate to my listenership and challenging their reality at the same time. I believe that is the most important thing an artist or journalist can do. You must allow the public an opportunity to question themselves and their surroundings. If you don't, then you are probably pandering to your readership/listenership which is a pathetic existence as far as I'm concerned."

What do you hope to accomplish by writing songs about these topics?

"I hope to shake people up a little bit and make them question why they feel the way they do about such matters. People like to settle down and get comfortable in their ideas about life, God and humanity. It is a rare case that this comfort is considerate of all people in regard to race, creed, religion, sexual preference or gender."

Could you elaborate on the topics that you covered in Makeshift Patriot and your reasons for writing this song?

"I targeted the media in Makeshift Patriot. The media was feeding into the fear of America and they broke about every single rule I learned in my journalism studies. I was appalled actually, so I sat down and studied my television. I stayed awake for three days after the attacks, documenting the reports that were coming in from the radio and television. I felt like the whole week after the attack was a crucial time period where the media could have really made a difference in the way the American public handled such an atrocity. But instead of educating the public and giving them "fair and balanced" news, they consistently fed into the horror, fear and outrage by SPECULATING that Muslim groups were responsible and that more was to come. They showed the plane flying into the building hundreds of times. They showed children crying for their parents to come home. This is all I saw and heard for 3 days straight, and never once did I feel like I was getting the REAL story. I felt like my emotions were being toyed with. I felt like news reporters were making shit up as they freestyled in front of the camera. So I decided to head down to NYC on Sept 16 and witness some of this craziness first hand. I needed to absorb the environment and make sense of it for myself. And sure enough, it was the same old NYC that I am used to. Peddlers in the street, homeless people, business men and women scurrying around the denizens, and police officers telling everyone what to do. The buildings were still smoldering. Rescue vehicles were driving in and out of Ground Zero while people cheered them on. It was emotional. I recorded the audio of this and ended up using it on Makeshift Patriot, a song that was meant to make people question the government and media while still acknowledging that it was a difficult time to exercise these freedoms. No one else was offering that voice of freedom and I feel like that ONE song made a huge impact on the people who were able to get their hands on it exactly one month after 9/11. I offered it free to the public and I have gotten positive feedback ever since. People were thrilled to hear a voice that spoke their opinions in a time when it was very faux pas to question the government."

What did you hope to achieve from writing this song? Did you achieve it?

"I hoped to offer people a new way of thinking about the current situation, and according to the feedback I received I was successful. Not only that, but this song showed countries abroad that we weren't all maniac flag wavers here in the USA even if that's the only coverage the media wanted to present. The more I tour Europe the more I hear this sentiment from people who had a misconception about the American public until they encountered my music. I certainly don't represent the general public, but I do represent a large section of free thinkers who aren't so easily swayed by the poetic brilliance of George w. Bush."

Why did you write the song Hey, Bobby? What did you hope to accomplish by writing it?

"Hey, Bobby was a follow up to Makeshift Patriot, recorded a year later in fear that it was too late to stop the war. It's more militant and direct than Makeshift Patriot, and rather than criticizing the media it attacks the government for hindering the freedom of the press and the people. It is basically a voice for the people to a government who seems to think we are comfortable under their control. We aren't. And we will rise up, the way any group of people who are being deceived and treated unfairly by the powers that be have risen and rejected their government. It is a warning of sorts I suppose, and a message to the people that this idea of revolution didn't die in 1776 or 1976."

Do you think that musicians have a role in journalism?

"I think musicians are in a very unique position where their job is not to be journalists, but with a strong listenership comes that responsibility. Because the people CHOSE you because they relate to YOU, the musician. If there is something affecting your life and you don't address it, then who are you working for? I don't consider myself a political artist, but when my world was flipped upside down by the events FOLLOWING 9/11 it was my duty to address those issues and the best way I could possibly do that was in a journalistic sense."

Do you think that musicians have an obligation or responsibility to their listeners?

"Not always. Most of the time their only responsibility is to entertain and provide music."

Why are there so few musicians writing more political music? Especially in the mainstream, where the influence is greater and there are teenagers eagerly ready to accept any view an artist slips out?

"It does not benefit the pop artist to challenge the mentality of its listener. Because if they did, then they would be using the medium of the institution to challenge the GOALS of the institution. Therefor, they will be phased out by the institution and will no longer make the big money that influenced them to be involved in such a bullshit industry in the first place. Some artists on mainstream radio and network television TRY to do this, and God bless them. But they don't last long. Bill Maher had a successful network television talk show called Politically Incorrect which was immediately canceled after he questioned Bush's use of the word 'cowardly' concerning the terrorists. Freedom of speech all of a sudden becomes very faux pas when your opinion differs from that of the CEO whose network provides you with the medium to speak to the people at large. These CEOs also so happen to be beneficiaries of a war that they are advertising to the public as NECESSARY. And who are these people to question the TV that raised them and continues to feed them candy every night? Clear Channel is a company that owns most of the radio stations (as well as many other things) across the country. After 9/11, they issued a list that consisted of songs that were to be banned to all of their radio stations, because these songs were deemed 'unpatriotic.' All banter was to slant toward the support of the war. This is the way that public opinion is formed, and it is done by people who have no understanding of their responsibility to be fair with the information they provide to the public. That's why the typical pop artists is worthless. They are dispensable."

How about a list of some musicians who are keeping up with politics and showing it heavily in their music?

"Zack De La Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy, NOFX, The Coup, Billy Bragg, and I wish I could say Bob Dylan."
Post Sat Nov 15, 2003 1:15 pm
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