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Interview with Smash Magazine 3/14/12
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Sage Francis
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Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21580
Interview with Smash Magazine 3/14/12  Reply with quote  

By Jeff Thompson

Q: Much of your music is very deep and poetic. What is your writing process? Is there a formula you use when you sit down to write a new record, or does it just happen when it happens?

A: Rap is obviously very word heavy. However, it annoys me when people are just saying a bunch of nonsense to take up space. Too many songs are littered with filler lines. That's not just in hiphop either. In fact, you can get away with it more in a rap song than you can in a song where there are only a few lyrics for the audience to focus on. Anyway, when I sit down to write I do my best to figure out exactly what I want to say and how to most effectively say it. Or how to say it in the most creative way. If it sounds like something other people could or would say, I either throw it away or think of a different way to say it. If it's a cliche and I can't flip it in an original way, I toss it. If it's a trendy topic and I can't do something timeless with it, I toss it. I also need to keep the sound of my voice in consideration. Something might sound great in my head, but then when I say it out loud it doesn't quite match how I was hoping for it to sound. That dictates what I write sometimes. Those are the rules I like to give myself when writing.

Q: You have been in this hip hop scene for a long time. (10 years can be a lifetime to still be relevant in the independent scene) What changes have you noticed in the music? The scene?

A: Well, I started writing and rapping when I was 8. I began performing on stage at 12 and I put out my first demo tape in 1996. I'd say that I've been in the thick of things for a good 15 years now if not more, and the changes have been DRASTIC. Everything has changed and it keeps changing at a rapid pace. I don't even know where to start. From era to era there have been major shifts in who is doing what and how. I also need to factor in my age. When I was younger, I was part of an energetic and an electric scene that was eager to share, learn and grow. We pushed ourselves and we pushed each other. I don't see that happening much anymore, but maybe that's just because I've grown into an old hermit who never goes outside except to do shows. One of the most noticeable changes, outside of people just downloading music instead of purchasing it, is how video-driven the music scene has become. Videos are HUGE in breaking an artist. That's something I never would have considered while coming up and now it's par for the course. Almost a necessity. Back when my music was breaking worldwide, people were geeked on an MP3 leak and there was little-to-no expectation that you'd see a video of your favorite song. Songs were able to break on the merit of the song alone. That's not really the case anymore.

Q: A fan from Las Vegas asks, Who was your biggest influence in music while growing up? Who inspired you to start writing music? Is there anyone that you still look up to?

A: I've been asked that question a thousand times and I'm never able to give a satisfactory answer. I listened to every rapper I could from 83 until about 96. All the groups and albums that came out up until 92 or so influenced me in a big way. Run DMC and Public Enemy were big inspirations. LL Cool J, Ice T, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, Beastie Boys, and on and on and on. The list is huge. Sometimes I'll stumble on a mixtape of the old stuff and time travel back to how inspired that shit used to inspire me. And it still inspires me. I don't want to make music like that because I think it's more important to contribute my own voice and style, but I certainly give big salutes to those groups in much of my music.

Q: Freestyles and rap battles have changed in a huge way to mostly pre-written battles as opposed to real "freestyles" What are your thoughts on this new wave of rap battling?

A: The way they battle these days is like a mix of slam poetry and WWE. It still takes talent to do it well, I see why people get into it. Also, the chances of having an entertaining battle is greatly increased when people aren't banking on spontaneous brilliance. Haha. Not many emcees have the fire, humor or improvisational skills to make your battle as entertaining as possible if you're going to stick to a strict freestyle format. The best part about freestyle battles is how often people fuck up. Watching people completely crumble or fight their way back from a gaff was really enjoyable to me.

Q: Another fan in Las Vegas asks, Hey sage, If you could give any advice to an up-and-coming musician what would it be? Any words of wisdom?

A: I actually don't have any advice other than checking out Bukowski' poem "Don't Try." That says it all right there. http://allpoetry.com/poem/8509537-So_You_Want_To_Be_A_Writer-by-Charles_Bukowski


Q: We have to ask, we know you've toured and been around the world. What is your craziest VEGAS memory?

A: I've had a few crazy moments in Vegas. In 2002 I was there with Lord Grunge from Grand Buffet. We were in the casino all night long. Neither of us were good gamblers, so we lost all of the money we had just made at the show we did. We didn't even have enough money to take a cab, so we had to do the walk of shame back to the hotel just as the sun just started coming up. As we were exiting the casino, Grunge found some spare change in his pocket and he tossed it into a slot machine as a last ditch effort to save face. Low and behold, he hit the fucking jackpot and won $10,000.00. We were shitting ourselves. Just kidding, he lost the money and we walked all the way back to the hotel.

Q: You run your own label, STRANGE FAMOUS RECORDS. Do you prefer being the boss and running a label? Or would you rather just be an artist under a label?

A: I'd rather just be an artist. That's all I want to be. But I haven't had the luxury of entrusting my art in the hands of others. It's been very important to intimately involved in the business side of things. But, yes, I wish I didn't have to do that. I wish I could go on vacations, chill out, focus on my art and have a social life. However, my art is to important to let other people fuck it all up.

Q: Lastly Sage, we want to thank you again for taking the time to answer our questions, we want to thank you for the years of amazing music and talent, congratulate you on the 10 year anniversary of PERSONAL JOURNALS, and leave with one last question. If you could go back and do it all again, would you do anything differently?


A: Thank you for listening! If I had to make any changes, I would not have struck some of the deals that I did. I would have stayed away from certain people. But that's it. Everything else has worked out just as it needed to. Still living and learning. Breaking and building. Searching and destroying.
Post Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:08 pm
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