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11th of february 2002 | interview : tadah

Hi, how are you?

I'm doing good. Just sitting here, getting up in the morning.

Sorry, did I wake you up?

No, no, no. I've been up for a little bit (yawns).

I heard you went to Japan. How was that?

That was incredible. That was probably one of the most gratifying moments that I've had just doing music for a living. We went over there and did a show and we basically sold the show out, for what it's worth. I mean Krush and Spooky were on the bill too, but there were tons of people. And there was this one guy that took his pants and boots off for me to sign them. And I was just like stricken with all. It's pretty cool if you are doing music in your bedroom for five years, and you're going to a country you've never been to, and there are all these people that want to say hi and hug you, you know. And it was the very first time that I've been there. It was pretty intense.

So you are back in the States, what's on your schedule now?

Oh man, I'm a busy bird for some reason. Jel and I are finishing the new Themselves record, which is due to be out in August on Anticon. And we are also finishing the new cLOUDDEAD, with why? And Odd Nosdam for Mush. And I got a band called Subtle, with Jel in it, but also four other really wonderful people, musicians. We are doing four EPs, kinda like the cLOUDDEAD thing went, and it'll be combined to a full length. And I'm finally going to do some organized tours: we are doing the big Mush tour, that is going on in May. I'm doing a world tour with Themselves. And that's it. And I'm feeding my cat, you know the usual.

Where are the tours taking you to?

I'm touring with Hood in about three weeks, which I'm really excited about. They are some of my favorite musicians. But that's just the south west and the west coast of the US. And then the Mush tour is the whole US, and it looks like a few dates in Europe. The Themselves tour is going to be the whole world: I think we are trying to do Europe first, then the US and then Japan and Australia.
I wanna work like a dog and see how it feels like to tour for so long (laughs). I'm willing to do anywhere. I think it will be a total blast. We are trying to do the entire record live. Well, sort of interpret it. It's going to be fun. We're trying to push it.

How did you hook up with Hood? They are more of a Rock thing, right?

They are more like a Rock, Electronica cross. When we got the cLOUDDEAD 10"es, Nosdam and why? sent them to Hood, cause Hood has been our favorite band, for Nosdam and I especially, for a long time. When I was living in Cincinnati, I used to like get 711 coffee and smoke cigarettes and listen to the Hood record on my back porch. And so we sent them the 10"es, and they responded and they were like: "you like our music?" and we were like "yeah man, we are like die hard fans". And he's like "you sure you got the right Hood?" - "yeah man, we're positive". So then we just kept talking and now we are getting to be like their liaison in the States, and do a little tour with them. And then I also gave the 10"es to the Boards Of Canada, who I'm hoping to go and see this summer.
That's two of my favorite groups there on the planet, and they both responded really well and enjoyed the music. So I'd say, besides of the Japan trip, things like that are the biggest worm fuzzy we can get. Meeting your favorite artists, that's pretty cool. You know, I complain a lot, because I'm constantly working. But I'm definitely extremely grateful. And very lucky. Things are going very well.

You've mentioned the cLOUDDEAD 10"es. Is it true that there are going to be twelve of 'em?

Actually we don't know. We are about seventy percent done with the second record, and it looks like that there will be definitely four. But there might be five or six. The seventh 10" is out right now. "The Peel Session" doesn't count. That's its own 10". You might even get some music on the CD, that isn't on the 10"es. And it will be a while from now, but we are going to do a full world tour with cLOUDDEAD as well. I would like to at least.
I don't know what happened. That was the music was so bedroom when we recorded it. And now it seems to be the greeting card that everyone got. That's pretty interesting.

Have you've done any other kind of music, before you did the hip hop thing with "Hemisphere"?

Yeah, "Hemisphere" was the thing. I used to be a total battle emcee. I was in New Jersey and I was Mr Battle Emcee / Freestyle rapper. But I knew that I wanted to do these six minute long, intensely complicated rhyming songs, and I was just kinda following my head and exploring all that. And I got to the point when I started to follow my heart, when I started meeting other artists, who were doing what I was doing. And then I realized that I was on the right path, but that I was just overdoing certain things. It all started to settle after we did Deep Puddle Dynamics and Greenthink. But I definitely came from a raps over beats origin. And then before that, I never did any music. I can't even play the piano.

That's quite a stretch, coming from a battle background and doing what you are doing right now.

But you know, I wasn't always doing punchline/funny man battle. I was always pretty stylistic, pretty refined in what I was doing. I was an underground head, so had a pretty high bar. But I've always been the aggressive kind. Even now, like the new Themselves music, it's really honest, but it totally has an aggressive edge. Cause that's definitely what I do. It's intense, I would say, maybe more than it's aggressive.

That's interesting, because the newest Themselves track that I've heard, the one on the "A Piece Of The Action" compilation, that one's pretty happy.

Oh yeah (laughing). That's our happy song. I try to do those every once in a while. Like after a depression, you are like: "I'ma do a happy song, so I can remember this". You know, the new album is all over the place. Like when I work with cLOUDDEAD, it gets emotional, but it doesn't really get intense. Maybe it just relates to the fact that Jel and I love to program drums, and cadences together, so at certain points it's pretty driving. But yeah, "Thems My People" was certainly one of our happy songs.

Let me throw a statement at you: your music is rather masturbative.

It definitely is. All of our stuff is. But you know it also is over indulgent and emotional. So we ask to be taken very serious with that, but then we are constantly mocking ourselves on record. And we mock ourselves in public and we are humble. So, as masturbative as it is, it ends up being sort of silly. As much as we inflate our own balloon, we are taking our own air out as well. But at least it's not macho.

You do mentioned that you are working on the beats as well, but as the Emcee on a Themselves record, how do you feel about a beat taking away some of the attention that could be spent with your lyrics?

Well, that's kinda half the fun for Jel and me. You know we write poems and some of them take like half a year to write, some of 'em happen in five minutes. What is art about what we are doing is, we can bury the poem in the song, or it can be mixed loud on top of the beat, and the poem is what it's all about. The at other times, the actual three minutes of music is what it's all about.
We have some really fast stuff on the new Themselves where you can't understand the lyrics anyway. We mixed that pretty low. And then Jel is rapping on this new record. And he's pretty damn dope. I mean he's been working with some of the better underground rappers for a long time, so he has kinda always been able to do it.

You are always saying that you write poems. Are you drawing a distinct line between poetry and just dropping rhymes?

No. The more music I do, the less I can categorize it all or speak for it. The line gets more blurred as I go. Sometimes I sit down and write a rhyming-poem-rap. Some things are distinctly poetry that I don't use in music right now. That's like the only new thing in my life, that I have poems that are to be written. So we started doing books. There are just certain things that are not to be delivered like that; they are just to be read.
We don't really read poems at the shows, we do like an acapella. But that's different. Sometimes when you are doing your music for everyone, they are not that patient.

Do you refuse to be put into categories?

You know, the music refuses it by just not really working into the equation. For me, I think it's a blast when people in record stores really genuinely don't know where to put some of our newer music, like cLOUDDEAD and the new Subtle music and Reaching Quiet or the why? and Nosdam record. That shit just is a few things. It's indy rock, it's hip hop, and it's Electronica.
I think if we have one thing going for us, is that we've stayed together after the last five years, and we are still all friends and are doing music. And then the other one is that people don't know where the hell to put our records in the store, which is pretty cool.

» forward to part 2...

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