No need for introduction. Let’s fire off the questions. Where did you grow up and how was your childhood?
I grew up in a small town called Hollis in Maine. It was very woodsy, and small. My childhood was great, I got to hang out in the isolation of the woods all the time. My appreciation for music probably stemmed from the boredom of being a teenager in a small town though. Now that I look back at it, I think that’s why I’m so focused on music at this point in my life. I had nothing else to do while living in the woods, and now I do nothing else but music, even though I live in Oakland, California now.
Tell us about your hiphop history. What were your first steps, who influenced you in your early years etc.?
I really got into hip-hop through a late-night video show. My parents never had cable television, so I never got to see MTV. They would play Run-DMC and all the popular rap videos on this late night Saturday show. Then one time, they played Special Ed on the show and I loved it. Here was a young guy doing music that I found way more interesting than most of the rap that I had heard. I went out and bought Youngest in Charge, and a few weeks later discovered The Source magazine. The Source used to be such a great magazine. It was so exciting to read different articles about rappers who I was just learning about. Now that magazine is nothing but one big advertisement. It’s a shame.
How did it come up with Anticon? All artists of Anticon got this strange, unique sound. Do y’all have a special philosophy in common?
We all came up out of necessitiy. When you live in a place that is somewhat far away from a major metropolitan area, your music takes on a more honest approach because you don’t have other people to bounce ideas off of. We all came from smaller places, so our music had a “strange” sound to it. Nobody really wanted to work with us in the beginning, so we huddled together in hopes of making a difference in numbers. It seems to have worked. Our philosophy of life is simple I guess, make music and live life. Nothing too complicated.
Excluding yourself, who do you think is the best artists on Anticon?
I can’t answer this. Everyone involved with anticon has thier own sound and special thing about them that I like. Sorry. Can’t answer this one.
Did you ever hear something about the opinion of american people on you? A lot of people consider your music as abstract, wack and nerd hiphop. On the Molemen Inc. board Sole was called a entertaining gnome… So people in the USA just seem to be to ignorant to understand what you do. Does this feedback bother you in any way?
No, but it used to bother me. I can’t spend time wondering or worrying about why some people dislike us so much. I can think of lots of other more important things to think about. I don’t care if some rapper or producer doesn’t like anticon, they smile in your face and talk shit on message boards. I thin k Europeans are more into the music, not the image of the music. In America, people focus on our whiteness, the fact we don’t dress in a hip-hop way, and things like this. I find in Europe, people just listen to the music and make thier decision about whether or not they like it based on just that.
In May/June this year you were on tour with Lali Puna. How was it to be on tour with them?
It was great. I got to play to a much more diverse crowd, and spend 6 weeks with a great group of people. I’m touring with them in the US in November and December. There is a mutual respect and a great friendship that came from that tour. They are some of my favorite people to be around. Very inspiring to see them perform every night.
Sole and Josh Martinez were also on tour in Europe at the same time… Why didnt you tour all together?
Josh Martinez is doing his own thing right now, he’s not releasing anything on anticon. We are all trying to do our own stuff nowadays. Trying to make names for ourselves as individual artists. We all came up as a group, and now we are trying to establish ourselves as individuals.
What is the best thing you ever experienced on a tour?
Coming home. I’m not really into touring at all. I don’t enjoy being away from my wife and my studio for long periods of time. I guess the best thing though, was having my wife on tour with me during part of the Lali Puna tour. It made it much more bearable.
Are you still doing shows with Sole’s group “The Live Poets”?
Nah. Live Poets started as Sole and Moodswing9. I used to just do shows and some side production for Sole during that time. Sole is doing his own thing, and Moodswing is doing his own thing. Live Poets haven’t released anything since 1997. I’ll be producing a few songs for Sole’s next album, and I’ll be producing an entire album of his at some point.
Do you plan to release a second “Deep Puddle Dynamics” album together with Sole?
No. Dose is busy, Sole is busy, I am busy, and I haven’t talked to Slug in a year. He is also obviously busy. Deep Puddle was a one time thing, and that’s a stamp in time for us. Plus, Slug always talks shit about that project. Doing another album would cheapen what the first one represents I think.
Lets talk about your second album “Muted”. How would you describe this album?
That was my first instrumental album. I had always wanted to do an instrumental LP, and when I got back from touring the US and Europe with Themselves in 2002, I bought some new equipment and started working on instrumental songs. I have been listening to lots of electronic kind of stuff since I moved out to California, and it was evident in that album I think.
In what way do you name your instrumentals? I mean, when you hear a instrumental do you think that it sounds like “Chew The Fat” or “Again For The First Time”?
I name them in a way that marks what it means to me. Chew the Fat is a song I did while my wife and her friend were having a long conversation. Actually, the constantly changing noise is a soundbite of them talking, that I put lots of effects on. There’s an expression about talking about nothing really at all “sit and chew the fat”.
It seems as though you try to tell a little story with every song. What comes in your mind when you listen to following songs:
The main sample is six bars long, and this was one of the first tracks I did. From the first batch of songs, this one was the only one to make it.
Shoes, Cars And Soft Drinks
Those are the three big things that marketing companies place “hip” music in commercials for. A few people had mentioned that some of my new stuff sounded like it could be in a car commercial
Am I Cool Now?
All of those phrases are things people constantly say about anticon. None of them are true, but for the past 5 years, people have continued to say them. Thought it would fun to put it in a song.
One Obvious Rule
That a pretty obvious thing to say. Governments lie. They always have, they always will.
Are you drawn more towards production or MCing?
Production, definately. Mcing is like the icing on the cake. Production gives me the ability to direct the mood or feel of the song. Plus, production is something that just comes much more natural for me. I work on new beats, remixes, and other forms for production almost every day.
What else are you working on currently? Any new non – hiphop projects?
I just recently finished a new instrumental album with my younger brother, Ehren. He plays clarinet, flute, alto and soprano saxaphone, acoustic and electric guitar, piano, etc. I flew him out to California from Maine and we recorded an album in two weeks. It will be coming out in June of 2005. I’ve also been working on an album with a female vocalist from Brooklyn. I still haven’t met her yet, but we’ve recorded 8 songs thus far. Her name is Tarsier, and she’s in a group called Healamonster and Tarsier. Their website is www.17ftjellyfish.com and you can check out some audio on that site. Not sure when that project will be done, but it looks like early 2006.
How about the other Anticon artists. Do you know if anyone of them will release a new album in the near future?
Lots of new stuff will be coming out in the near future. Dosh’s new album, Pure Trash, will be out very soon. Telephone Jim Jesus is releasing an instrumental album in November. Then, for 2005, in the first half it will be the Pedestrian LP, a new Sole LP, the Themselves/Notwist LP, a new Nosdam LP and the Alias & Ehren LP. Jel is working on finishing up his first solo record for anticon. And Why? Is finishing up a new record as well. Restiform Bodies is still working on thier album for anticon. Everyone is staying busy. Busy is good.
Any last words to the people who will read this?
Listen to music because you like it, not because someone or some magazine tells you you should like it. Be nice to other people. Start your day with your favorite music. End it with your favorite tea.