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Sage Francis
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Joined: 30 Jun 2002
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An interview I did with New Zealand's  Reply with quote  

Here's an interview I did with Renegade House (New Zealand Magazine) on 10/17/10 conducted by Michael Botur.

I just found this interview in my email inbox and realized I never posted this here. Some good questions with answers I still stand by:

Q: You’re a performance poet, a rapper, a qualified journalist, you have to write
your own website, Tweets and do interviews. Can you ever take time off from
writing? If so, how do you relax? Can the writer ever let his brain switch off?

A: I've found that the only thing that helps my brain switch off is by playing cards or doing something that requires use of my brain in other ways. So that's not really switching my brain off, but sometimes I need to involve myself in things that tap into other parts of my mind and help me push away the rest. As far as I can tell, a writer/artist is never able to switch their brain off. Because our craft is reliant on all the things we do and learn when we're not actually writing.

Q: Tell us about your writing habits, routines, superstitions etc.

A: I can give you an abridged answer but it won't be all that accurate because there isn't a science that I stick to. No method in particular that brings about consistent results. In fact, sticking with a routine can be superstitious to me and I don't like feeling superstitious. Haha. I will say this; although most of my work is done in the solitude of my own home I feel like some of the most interesting writing happens while traveling or sitting in a crowded restaurant/cafe.

Q: How literate are American audiences? How does the American audience
compare to the audience in Europe and Australasia?

A: Well, I wouldn't want to lump my audience in with the typical audience of any country. People come to my shows because, as far as I can tell, they like thought-provoking music. Or maybe they just like seeing a guy go bat-shit crazy on stage. The only differences I can draw is between English speaking crowds and non-English speaking crowds. If nothing else, it's possible that the American audience understands each and every nuance of my subject matter and delivery but that might be giving them too much credit. Not sure.

Q: Is your music ‘conscious rap’? Is there a label/definition which sums your work

A: I've got to admit, the whole 'conscious rap' label is a joke. It's a complete joke. Who the hell came up with that? I caught myself saying it early on and then I got to thinking, "What…are there unconscious rappers out there? Someone ought to go help them!" Fuck is a conscious rap? Haha. I hate that term. It's a crutch-term for the media and you can very easily be lumped into that category if you use a few choice buzz words. I'll let you figure out those words. It's fun. Come up with 4 of them and try not to use "revolution." As for a label that sums up my work, I'm not sure. Maybe Post-rap / pre-apocalypse.

Q: You run your own record label, Strange Famous Records. What are the
advantages of owning your own label as opposed to having the label own

A: If all you want to know are the advantages then the answer is included in your question. If you're someone who likes to be responsible for EVERYTHING then run your own label and own your own music. Unfortunately a lot of people get caught up in the fantasy of what having a music career is all about and they fuck up by doing everything their way. Or, more accurately, they fuck up by not doing the things they should. That's 'their way.' I love being in charge of my own music and almost everything that my career plops in front of me. But it's clear that not everyone can kick their family and social life to the curb for 10 years straight in order to achieve the kind of success I've seen. And, yes, success is relative. But I wanted to live off of my music, do everything my way, say what I wanted whenever I wanted to and build a fanbase who enjoys that. So far so good. No matter who owns your music, rest assured that it is you and/or your management who needs to make sure that you get all the things you deserve. Never sit back and think that your only job is to be creative. If all you want is to be creative then build a shed in your backyard & amuse yourself. That's not a bad idea actually. I think I'm going to do that.

Q: Does ethnicity have to be part of an MC’s identity? Should an audience have
to consider ethnicity/culture/race when enjoying music?

A: Ethnicity doesn't have to be a MAJOR part of any MC's identity. But as participants in a social forum I believe it is important to be aware of ethnicity and the role it plays in the larger picture. I've noticed lately that a lot of white MC's and white fans would rather ignore this. Because race relations are a difficult thing to grasp and take account of. But that's the end-all be-all to the music. It's not why music should be enjoyed or how it needs to be enjoyed. It's just a puzzle piece to the overall picture that matters.

Q: Comment on rhyming/meter poetry versus free verse/blank verse poetry.

A: Structure gives you an obstacle course to navigate through and be creative within. Blank verse poetry is like running in an open field. It's athletic and all but unless you're really great at running I might lose interest quickly.

Q: Imagine a world in which you couldn’t rap. Tell us about that world.

A: What a bizarre question. The world would be the same but I'd probably be a fighter since my other passion growing up was martial arts. Or maybe I'd be a DJ/producer. Hell, I should start thinking about this a bit more as I don't intend on being a rapper forever. My throat hurts.

Q: English is the language which you rap in. It is your palette. Is English the best
language to rap in? What are the advantages and drawbacks of English?

A: I don't know any disadvantages as English is the only language I can speak and understand. So, as far as I know, it's the best language in the whole wide world. Haha. I mean…I don't know if I'll ever learn to speak another language but if I do I'll then be able to give a more informed answer. As far as my ears can tell, English is the best language to rap in. But, yeah, I have an incredibly small box to draw my answer out of.

Q: Is Providence a friend to poetry? Is it a haven for what you do? Are there
particular places in the world which are more receptive your work than others?

A: Providence used to have a very strong poetry scene. And then it had a very strong slam scene. And then the slam scene ate up the poetry scene. And now there seems to be only remnants left of both. I have no respect for the slam scene. Zero. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy or respect certain people within that scene, but overall I can't really jive with the nature of competitive poetry. It's also introduced me to some of the lousiest people in the world outside of stand-up comics. As far as poetry is concerned, the UK and Sweden seem to be the most receptive to my style of poetry and poetry in general. That being said, America's northwest is probably just as receptive to it as any other place. Not sure. It's been a while since I've done straight poetry sets in America because I don't like being associated with most people who like to call themselves poets. I'm a somewhat poet. Haha. A guy wrote me an email recently and he said, 'I am somewhat poet.' I'm going to use that for something.

Q: Poetry has survived millennia. Will hip hop be around forever?

A: Yes. In one form or a hundred.

Q: What is your message to all of the artists reading this who are stuck working
jobs which feel meaningless?

A: Everything feels meaningless after a while. Find meaning in what you do and if you can't then you're not doing it right. Get a hobby maybe. If you think your art is more meaningful and important than anything else then do what you need to do to live on your art. But don't forget the first part of my answer.

Q: Fame and success mean less private/personal time: can you still write
when everyone is knocking on your door? What’s it like writing material
now, after more than five albums, compared to the Personal Journals era?

A: I've made it a point to remain a very private person. The only time I'm around people is when I choose to be or when I'm on tour. I live along in a secluded area. In fact, I'm alone now more than ever. If anyone knocks on my door it usually means trouble. So…please don't knock. Just walk right in and announce whether you are armed or not. When I wrote Personal Journals, which was my first official album, I was living with other people and more of a social person.

Q: Does the writer have to be lonely to be objective? In your career, have you
always been on your own?

A: I'm not sure how much objectivity can be obtained through loneliness or otherwise. It has been important for me to be on my own during a majority of my life and career though. I don't know how I could get anything done if there were always people derailing my train of thought.
Post Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:29 pm
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Joined: 06 Sep 2006
Posts: 10
Location: Baltimore
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Cool interview. Why are stand up comics mostly lousy? I only know one and he's annoying ass hell because he's not funny and he never shuts up. You've probably met a lot, do you see a thread that binds them?
Post Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:42 am
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