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My interview with 2/24/11
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Sage Francis
Self Fighteous

Joined: 30 Jun 2002
Posts: 21790
My interview with 2/24/11  Reply with quote  

First, let’s start with the basics: what inspired you to travel the musical path?

"Quite simply, music moved and inspired me. I involved myself as soon as I could. I suppose that's what it's like for most people. I never stopped involving myself even when it seemed like a bad idea. Every couple of days I come across a make or break moment but I cross my fingers and say 'fuck it...keep it moving.' By this point I know I've come too far to abandon it. There's too much at stake."

Can you remember the moment when you realized this business was going to work for you?

"You never really know, but I decided to stop working a regular job when it seemed like I was making enough money from shows to pay my rent each month. This was in 1999 and I immediately transitioned into the artist/mailboy/manager/booker/promoter/label-owner role."

While you may not have reached a Kanye West-type level of success, you’ve achieved a tremendous amount of acknowledgement in the underground hip hop scene. Would you consider yourself somewhat of a pioneer in the modern underground scene?

"I am a pioneer of sorts but that probably doesn't mean much at the end of the day. It's not something I care to have etched into my gravestone so it's probably not a flag I should be waving while I'm alive. That said, I pioneered the shit out of this shitty shit. haha. Nah, I don't know. I just made the most of what was available to me during a wild west period in the music industry."

I’ve followed your music for nearly a decade now, and while we’ve never met I know quite a few folks who have met you. By all accounts I’ve heard you’re an incredibly personable guy. How important is it for you to interact with the fans, and is it something you truly enjoy?

"I like to interact with fans as often as possible on basic levels. But there are some instances where I can tell that some people want to get 'deep' with me. Unfortunately, I'm usually unable to entertain that kind of stuff. Truth be told, I'm not all that personable. I'm not a people person per se. I live alone, I work alone, and I prefer the company of myself for the most part. If we were sitting at a dinner table and I had a clear understanding that there was a basic level of respect amongst us I would gladly delve into deep matters, but in general I just care to give a handshake or a hug while exchanging niceties. To some people that seems to make me an asshole, which I've caught wind of over the years. I feel like if you listen to my music then you should probably get the idea that I'm not someone who will gladly give his time to strangers. In my mind, time is probably more precious than the people who are mostly interested in pulling me aside for an on-the-spot chat. I do truly enjoy hugging crowd members when I'm finished with a show though. I give as many hugs, take as many photographs, and sign as many items as I can. I'm usually one of the last people out of the club but when I'm out of the club I prefer to be alone."

You seem to “experiment” with unique sounds on just about every album you release. Is that you exercising your personal creativity, or do you set out to make albums that work against the grain (for lack of a better term) of today’s traditional hip hop albums?

"I do like working against the grain but I'm not sure if I intentionally do that when creating an album. Each album feels like I'm setting out on a particular journey and I try to stay true to that while avoiding whatever is popular. I don't care to follow trends. I feel like I've carved my own path with each album I've made and it's something that I'll continue to do despite what's going on in the industry. I want my albums to represent eras of my life and for that to mean anything to me I need to be as true to my situation as possible. This is life documentation. For that reason alone, peoples praise or criticism doesn't weigh too heavily on my conscience. I *do* like knowing that people appreciate the work I put into my art but I can't let that dictate how I operate. I suppose the public's opinion does affect my output to some degree but I haven't figured out exactly how that works. Once I realized that people were following my natural train of thought I felt great liberation. Thinking about this too much is bad though. haha. I mean...once a person knows they are being observed their nature is changed. Ah well. Look at me do my interview dance."

From a fans standpoint it’s difficult to pick a pick a favorite Sage Francis album, especially considering how extremely different they tend to be. Do you have a personal favorite? You know, that one that always calls to you?

"There are many projects under my belt and I return to a lot of them with different feelings depending on where I'm at in life. The most reminiscent projects for me are Personal Journals, A Healthy Distrust and Sick of Waging War. There isn't any one album that always calls to me though. The newer albums get unfairly judged by me because I associate all the annoying work that went into making them. I probably can't give a proper answer to a question like this until 2020. As long as I stop making albums this year."

Tell me some of your favorite material to perform live.

"I love performing material that crowds is most excited about. This is contrary to what a lot of artsy artists believe in, but when I'm performing for a crowd I prefer to give them what they want. Especially if they're fans. I'm proud of all my music I make so it doesn't make much of a difference to me what songs I perform, new or old. However, if I'm performing in front of people who don't know my music either way then I like to push as many buttons as possible and give them something they'll remember. Beyond performing songs, I mainly love to just talk a bunch of shit that makes people laugh a couple days after hearing it. Something that doesn't click at first but something that resonates and echoes in the conscience until the person finds themselves chuckling to themselves a couple days later while lying awake in bed."

Heading into some more personal territory, I’d like to briefly discuss the late, great Eyedea. I know you two were friends, and recorded plenty of music together. Being a fellow emcee and friend, how do you move forward after such a terrible loss, and do you find a way to draw motivation from a tragedy of that nature?

"We actually didn't record all that much material together. We have one official song which I'm really proud of and the rest of the recorded material the public is aware of is from the 'Orphanage Radio Freestyle' that I put on my Sick of Waiting Tables album. We've done a lot of shows together through the years though. When Mikey passed it threw me for a major loop. I've lost a lot of people in my life but never a contemporary. It made me reevaluate all of the relationships in my life. It's something I reflect on a lot. I'm not so sure I draw motivation from it. It's just another level added to my perspective. Of course I had the impulse to write a song about him and maybe I will at some point but I'm not even sure I've fully digested what his passing means in the greater scheme of things. I wrote some stuff that I shoved to the side once I started thinking too much about it. It didn't seem appropriate to over-think it. That might be the strange form of motivation you're asking about."

Getting away from that topic, how have fans been receiving your latest project, “Li[f]e”?

"It seems some new people were drawn to my music by it and other were pushed away. The core fans stayed on board. As for me, it's much to fresh of a project for me to judge with any type of objectivity. All I know is that a lot of work, time and money went into it. I typically prefer projects that are more off-the-cuff but I'm glad I was given the opportunity to make an album like that. I believe that a couple of the best songs I've ever written are on that album so that in itself is important to me."

I think we all want to know: what’s in store for Sage Francis fans in the future?

"I'm cherry picking cities to perform in while exploring ways to make most of my time and money in hopes of helping the general public. Other than that, I'm working on new music, releasing projects on, thinking of ways to develop, putting together a book or two, working on my next DVD, and sharing ideas with the public via all my networking channels (ie twitter, facebook, SFR & my blog.)"

Anything you’d like to say to your fans and supporters out there?

"Nothing other than thanks for the support. It's much appreciated."
Post Thu Feb 24, 2011 2:40 am
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Joined: 11 Jul 2002
Posts: 1715
Location: Newark, DE
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A book or two?? Care to elaborate on that one? Good interview by this guy, btw.
Post Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:19 am
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Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 8547
Location: Third Coast
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I'm aware of the necessity for exposure and the obvious benefits of giving interviews, but how tedious does this kind of thing get? Probably half of every interview, if not more, covers the basics and is practically indistinguishable from the next. Is this just one of these things you have to do, so you grit your teeth and make nice, or is it one of those things that you really enjoy? I suppose it would depend upon the interviewer and the setting as well. Over coffee would be great.
Post Thu Feb 24, 2011 1:54 pm
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