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Interview w/ Sydney, Australia's "Music Feeds"
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Sage Francis
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Joined: 30 Jun 2002
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Interview w/ Sydney, Australia's "Music Feeds"  Reply with quote  

Interview by Michael Carr

You mentioned that it was at a public enemy show in 1988 that really evoked I suppose a sense of awe and admiration in you toward hip hop, what was it about that show and PE themselves that you found/find so inspiring?

"There was organization and purpose. It was something bigger and smarter than anything I had seen in hiphop...and hiphop already had me sold. PE had people on stage in cages with guns. Terminator X in a DJ booth that was hanging high in the air. The S1W's doing militant step dancing in unison.That all caught my eye."

Hip hop as a genre has gone through a lot of changes over the years. Whatís you opinion of mainstream hip hop?

"Mainstream ANYTHING is typically a watered down version of something that used to be potent and powerful. I don't have much of an opinion on mainstream hip-hop. As far as I can tell it is manufactured for the sake of background noise while ordinary people do uninteresting things. Sometimes interesting stuff slips through the cracks and gives pop culture the kind of flavor it needs to keep seeming cool. I don't know. Haha. I don't really think about that stuff too much. I've never been all that interested in things that are forced on me."

How do you respond to those critics who say your music isnít hip hop, while what is now considered hip hop is a greater distortion of what PE and other such acts stood for in the beginning?

"It's easy to say what people like me AREN'T. That's the easy thing. I'm waiting for someone to peg exactly what it is that we do. It would be nice to be categorized appropriately for once. But at the same time, who cares? It doesn't change what we do. We, the losers of the hip-hop lie. All I can say to critics who say that I'm not hip-hop is 'You're right. But we still hold the torch.'"

I interviewed Kool Keith a few months ago and he told me what he felt was important about hip hop was to be versatile and to never restrict yourself to a genre whether it be gangsta, back pack, etc, that itís all just hip hop. What do you think about all the infighting between rappers e.g, EL-P and Sole, Jay-z and NasĒ

"Battling and competition has always been a driving force of hip-hop and art in general. Let us fight it out. The loser must submit and deal with the worst fans."

Your music has been called everything from Emo rap, back pack, nerd rap, slam hop etc, how do you respond to these classifications? Are they just rubbish word trying to describe something they canít begin to grasp?

"Most of those labels have been used as a means to diminish what I do. But every time I've been slapped with a term, I accepted it and owned it. It really doesn't matter to me. It doesn't affect how I operate or what I create. You could call it chum-spank and I'd say 'Cool...I am chum-spank. Now watch me chum-spank your ass with this twat stick.' I just wish people would settle in on one name so I can finally tell my family exactly what it is that I do."

You are the founder of Strange Famous records, what made you want to start your own label?

"Since I've learned almost everything the hard way, I figured that the least I could do is apply this knowledge in a way that benefits artists I enjoy. It also gives me something other than my own career to obsess over."

With the industry the way it is now, do you think itís necessary for artists to take as much control as they can of their careers to ensure that the fans are artists are served as opposed to record coís

"Artists need to do much more than artists of the past were required to do. Same with record companies. It isn't about artists taking more control or labels taking more's about both entities doing a lot more while working toward the same goal. It's just a whole new game. A lot of musicians from the pre-90's who we now consider legends would probably have failed in this current whirlwind of instant digital gratification."

You have always tried to shy away from collaborations on your albums, why?

"Well, my process is very private. When I get into recording my album I consider it a documentation of a certain period of my life. And quite frankly, there aren't many people I'd be comfortable sharing something like that with."

Despite that you were part of the 80-minute freestyle, what was that like?

"That was very off the cuff and devoid of pressure. Here you had 8 or so serious emcees cutting loose and having fun. I've been part of many long freestyle sessions and I'm glad that one was on the radio because it raised everyone's energy level. It made people work together for the sake of the moment. It was a very jazz-like session in that way."

was Aesop Rock rolling a joint in the background towards the end because everyone sounds really stoned there, and he doesnít drop a rhyme for like 15 mins?

"Aesop just didn't seem too comfortable with the situation so he played the background a bit. That's his personality and it totally makes sense. If he hopped in and started ripping cats on some punchline shit I probably would have bugged out and ate a box of crayons. Seriously though, I just think it was more of a situation where the people who were comfortable with looking goofy got goofy while the people who are cooler than that played the safe role and acted as the grounding wires. It was a good dynamic. That's probably the last time I saw a few of those dudes. It's crazy to think that that was 7 years ago."

"Youíve often taken part in Scribble jam, do you think battling is an important skill for a rapper to have or is it just fun?"

I don't endorse battling really. I do it because I was raised on battle rap. It's part of my make up. That's not what matters in my music though. And I think battles have seen better days, so no...I don't think it's important. What's more important is that people get their fundamentals down before experimenting and twisting the art form in original ways. What's good about battles is they remind you to keep a competitive edge, but too many battle rappers fall into the trap of thinking everything is about dissing or bragging. It's not."

On Escape artist to reference Jack Kerouac, and I have always felt that your delivery and imagery to be somewhat influenced by him and the Beat movement, especially Allen Ginsberg and the way he amasses literary images. How if at all have Kerouac and the Beats influenced you and what other non-hip hop or non musical artist influenced you?

"That comparison gets made from time to time, but it took me a long time to understand what that was all about. I read Kerouac's 'On the Road' during one of my first tours. So being on the road while reading 'On the Road' helped enhance that experience a lot. I'm not a big reader, so that's the only Kerouac I've ever gotten into. I still have not read any Ginsberg books but I've obviously read poems of his and I know his history. The beatniks were driven by art while they changed rules and did whatever they wanted while still making their material palatable (for the most part.) I don't think any of us were directly influenced by the beatniks but they obviously did something to the culture that influenced us. I just can't pinpoint exactly what. haha. For me at least."

You are well know for being and avid Slam poet, working with The Providence Poetry Slam community, how has that influenced your music?

"The most important thing Slam taught me is to be very careful of the amount of time and energy you spend within ego-driven communities that are intent on eating themselves to death. In the early days Slam taught me how to work on my writing. As Slam turned more into a battle-rap format it became very homogeneous and boring to me. Of course I love the ability to perform spoken word, and I've cut my teeth in chattering bar rooms in order to find out what it takes to make the moment worthwhile for everyone involved, but if I have to sit through another open mic night I might pull my dick off and secretly die of blood loss. Part of me wishes endless poetry slams on all of my enemies, but that's too cruel."

You are well known for your fire and brimstone live performances, but unlike a lot of other rappers I feel your energy carries over to record very well, how do you work yourself up in the studio to capture that energy?

"Oh, I don't really know. I'm not even sure I agree with that. My live energy isn't often captured on record. Each environment offers an opportunity for various forms of energy. I don't want to be screaming on every song when I'm in the studio. But I don't really have a choice during most live shows. I think I capture certain energies while in a vocal booth that hopefully works best for the sake of posterity. And during a live show I am a slave to my immediate surrounding so I work the energy that is most appropriate for that very moment."

What are you working on at the moment? Can we expect a new album from you? Are their any upcoming releases from Strange famous we should know about?

"I am recording tons of demos. I have over 20 done at the moment. I will be releasing free music from time to time on while I compile the official songs for my next album. As for SFR, we just signed a lot of new artists. Expect a Sleep album called "Hesitation Wounds" soon. Also, B. Dolan is working on an album produced entirely by Alias and it is called "Fallen House, Sunken City." There are a few other albums in the works too so please check out our site for details on that. We have stuff coming from 2Mex soon, a punk band called Prayers for Atheists, and other projects from Buddy Peace, Curtis Plum and Cecil Otter. One of the perks for me, working with all these artists while they develop their albums, is the inspiration I get for my own material. Everything has been very symbiotic in that kind of way."

Are you planning to return to Australia anytime in the future?

"I do plan on returning, but I can't say when. I think I'd like to go back for a week. But I can't leave my kittens alone for too long or they'll summon evil spirits to haunt my sleep."
Post Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:29 am
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Joined: 02 Jul 2002
Posts: 6165
Location: privileged homeless
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The loser must submit and deal with the worst fans.
Now watch me chum-spank your ass with this twat stick.
If he hopped in and started ripping cats on some punchline shit I probably would have bugged out and ate a box of crayons.
Post Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:56 pm
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Joined: 28 Jul 2008
Posts: 344
Location: Los Angeles
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answered that beat question ive been wondering about..
Post Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:58 pm
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probably drunk

Joined: 22 Jun 2008
Posts: 2220
Location: NJ
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Jesse wrote:


If he hopped in and started ripping cats on some punchline shit I probably would have bugged out and ate a box of crayons.

You can tell by the color of his teeth...

Aesop sounded fine when he was spittin. Illogic did not.
Post Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:00 pm
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Joined: 05 Sep 2002
Posts: 1519
Location: SWE
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Nice interview. I like the answer to the freestyle-question. Seemed like a great time.

On a sidenote. It would be really neat if you made another Q&A thread like that one you did a couple of years ago. That one died too fast.
Post Sun Mar 08, 2009 6:43 pm
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D&D addict

Joined: 05 Jun 2004
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very good interview.
Post Sun Mar 08, 2009 9:19 pm
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