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A new interview w/ SoundFuseMag. SFR, Life & Music
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous

Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21790
A new interview w/ SoundFuseMag. SFR, Life & Music  Reply with quote

Sage will be in Chicago on February 18th at the always welcoming Bottom Lounge for a long night of hip hop. There are a number of opening artists, including Dark Time Sunshine, Metermaids, and Kristoff Krane.

Q: How has starting your own record label, Strange Famous Records,
helped make your music career more successful?

A: In the beginning it was all about taking control of my own destiny
rather than waiting around for a label to invest in me. That, in fact,
probably wasn't ever going to happen if I didn't first forge my own
path and garner a following. Once that happened, I worked with various
labels, but I continued to run and grow SFR as that's my home. In
fact, it's one of the only constants in my life, so it means a lot to
me. Much more than just a business venture.

Q: What's the hardest part about running your own record label?

A: It's really difficult knowing how much money to invest in certain
projects and where to invest that money when the people buy less and
less music. There have been a couple instances where we overspent in
hopes of getting proper promotion and when you do something like that,
the artist and the label loses money. Yet, without promotion, you risk
having an amazing album go unnoticed. So right now the main focus is
to rely on cheap and innovative ways to promote artists. If you wonder
why we're so active on social networks, well there you go.

Q: What makes a really good day at work for you? A really bad day?

A: I know it's a good work day when I go to bed before 2 AM and I
don't feel my to-do list breathing down my neck. A bad work day is
usually when I have to talk to multiple people on the phone, because
if it's gotten to that point then that means people haven't been on
the same page or there is something ultra-urgent that I can't trust to
an email.

Q: Why has mainstream rap / hip hop gone down hill so precipitously in
the past handful of years? How has underground hip hop managed to
thrive in the face of that?

A: I can't say whether that's true or false. I'm only an expert on how
unenthused I am by most of the hiphop I've heard since the mid-to-late
90's. I keep my focus on my crew and the small circle of people
inspire me. Nothing else matters much to me. Sometimes that annoys
people, but I've only got so much time on this planet. I'm not going
to waste it by listening to shit I have no interest in. Both
mainstream and underground hiphop are similar in how a large majority
of it sucks. You have to dig for the gold. It's the same with any
genere I suppose.

Q: Both Personal Journals and A Healthy Distrust utilized more a
traditional electronic-based hip hop approach, whereas your two latest
albums, L(i)fe and Human The Death Dance feature a lot more backing
music created by instruments-- what drove this shift in ideology?

A: I tend to work with what's offered to me. It's almost always a
matter of circumstance. This is why I stockpile beats and lyrics. You
never know what will match what. If I'm feeling the aesthetic of the
music someone sends me, I first make sure that it feels right to me
and then I do my thing with it. Before anyone was making beats, I
would just rap over other people's instrumentals that I liked. And
then I made songs with a band. Then I had people giving me beats to
work with. Then I had other musicians sending me more music to play
with. Oddly enough, my process has stayed pretty consistent over the
past 14 years. It's the feel and style of the music that changes from
time to time. Currently I'm recording to beats as well as live
instruments. I just need the right sound and the right feel. I
loosened the reigns on my last album in an experiment to see how an
album would sound without me being the actual "producer," but I'm
going back to being a control freak because that's just how it's
gotta' be. Haha.

Q: What have you been reading lately?

A: I'm currently reading "99 Nights with the 99 Percent" by Chris
Faraone and "Murder Stay Murder" by Geoff Trenchard. Neither of those
books are out just yet, but they will be soon. One of the perks of my
job is having friends who are amazing writers.

Q: Do you do any other kinds of writing? For instance, do you write
poetry that maybe ends up as a song later? Or write prose that somehow
winds up as something perfect for a lyric?

A: Almost all of my writing starts out as lyrics for a song. Sometimes
I write essays but I've never been big on prose. I dabble in it, but I
haven't felt the urge to dive headfirst into that territory just yet.

Q: You recently went off about Spotify, so how do you think this
streaming music service idea be changed to better assist musicians in
earning a living?

A: Whether it's guilt-driven or not, the "EVERYTHING SHOULD BE FREE"
people really come out of the woodwork when a musician dares to open
his mouth about piracy, downloading, and (now) Spotify. In this most
recent instance, I wasn't even suggesting that piracy was bad. My
contention is that Spotify is potentially more harmful to career
musicians than pirating is, because at least piracy doesn't leave the
people feeling like they've just done the musician they love a good
deed. If people who pirate music love my shit, some of them actually
go out and support it. And believe me, I probably hear from each and
every one of them who does. They want a cookie or something for
actually paying for music, as if the music wasn't part of the trade.
haha. Anyway, yeah, my point about Spotify is that if its users think
they're doing musicians a solid favor by streaming albums/songs,
they're really not. We see fractions of a penny for that stuff.
Honestly, I'd have to assume that any fairly competent person would be
able to make sense of that, but I'm asked about Spotify so often that
I finally needed to make a public statement about it. Most musicians
stay away from this topic because the unnecessary backlash makes it a
total waste of time. As I'm immortal, I have no worries about that.

Q: You are very entertaining to follow on Twitter, how much fun do you
have with social media? How has it changed the music industry?

A: Well, I live alone and work on various projects/tasks from the time
I wake up until I fall asleep. It's gotten to the point where I
literally have about 2 or 3 hours of human contact per week when I'm
not doing shows. I just realized this last week, and what concerned me
the most about that is how content I am with it. I know I can't keep
up this lifestyle so I'm trying to get as much done as I can while I
live under these circumstances. Sometimes my interactions on social
networks is part of the job, but other times it's probably just
because it's nice to get a response on any random thought that pops
into my head. And sometimes it's just to fuck with people for my own
amusement. But at the end of the day, I am most definitely just a
hermit who books shows on occasion for the sake of paying rent and
doing something social.

Q: You seem to be quite jaded in regards to politics, government,
etc... What in your life right now are you still un-jaded about?

A: Good old fashioned elbow grease. Building things. Creating things.
The concept of justice and the urge to fight for it. Emotional eating.
You know, stuff like that.

Q: Time to let your jaded-ness out... what's one thing you dread about
2012? On the other hand, what's something you're really looking
forward to in 2012?

A: I dread certain business decisions I might have to make based on
principle. I can't divulge specifics, but indie labels have been put
in a very tight spot over the past 6 years. We've been bullied by a
lot of the middlemen, and we carried on as usual just for the sake of
staying afloat, but you can only kick a dog so many times before it
runs away or bites back. It's kind of exciting though, because drastic
change can result in unexpected opportunities. On the other hand, it
might compromise our whole operation. Fuck it. Balls to the wall or
none at all.

Q: Can we expect to hear a lot of material from Li(f)e at Bottom
Lounge? Are the backing tracks pre-recorded or do you bring some live
instrumentalists along with you?

A: The last time I played Chicago I had a full live band and we played
most of the songs off of LI(F)E. What's cool about that is I actually
recorded that whole album in Chicago, so a lot of the people who were
part of the recording were there in attendance to see it come to life.
However, that itch has been scratched. This time through I'll be using
DJ No Spin Zone and doing a medley of my entire catalog. I want to
focus a lot on the Personal Journals songs as this is the 10 Year
Anniversary of that album.
Post Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:44 am
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p00ny tang

Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 6413
Location: Detroit, Michigan
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I think you're onto something....

You should offer a free cookie with every album purchase.
Post Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:57 am
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Joined: 22 May 2008
Posts: 2679
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"2 or 3 hours of human contact per week"..... that sounds so nice.
My wife and job fuck that one up.
Post Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:18 am
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Flawed Logic

Joined: 16 Nov 2010
Posts: 355
Location: Austin, TX - Albuquerque, NM - Kalamazoo, MI - Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
Re: A new interview w/ SoundFuseMag. SFR, Life & Music  Reply with quote  

Sage Francis wrote:
This time through I'll be using
DJ No Spin Zone and doing a medley of my entire catalog. I want to
focus a lot on the Personal Journals songs as this is the 10 Year
Anniversary of that album.

Hell yeah. I can't wait till next Friday!
Post Wed Feb 08, 2012 9:52 am
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Joined: 11 Jul 2002
Posts: 1715
Location: Newark, DE
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Most musicians stay away from this topic because the unnecessary backlash makes it a total waste of time. As I'm immortal, I have no worries about that.

Post Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:16 pm
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