Sage Francis, Make Shift Patriot, Sick of Waiting Tables, concave man
Dit interview vond plaats in de backstage ruimte van Waterfront te Rotterdam. Sage was moeilijk in te schatten als persoon. Dan weer heel symphatiek en uitgebreid in zijn uitleg en dan weer heel onvoorspelbaar door bijv. tijdens het interview een appel tegen zijn hoofd kapot te slaan en met stoelen en voedsel te gooien wanneer DoseOne binnenstormde.
Well, I’ve seen your show in Deurne in The Netherlands a while ago, and besides appreciating your music at home it was such a dope show I had to see you again here in Rotterdam.
So, how are you doing?
Good, very good. Torn, living, breathing, sexing, flexing, intersection, ripping mics, midnight.
Tired from the tour?
Yeah, not bad. I got some rest. I walked the city all day today. Powerwalking man. No I’m on a diet.
What’s up with AOI?
The band doesn’t live anymore. A couple of them got in a car accident. One of them had a baby. For two years now we haven’t been together. Every now and then we put out a new song that we’ve recorded a long time ago. Because we’ve never put out an album.
On the internet?
There is no band though. I’m looking for a new band. So if you know anybody who plays bass. Or a very cool keyboard player who has a panel with knobs on it and when he turns the knobs it makes them fluitgeluidje, cool sounds. Atmospheric? Just noise, you know. If he has one of these machines which makes the music really cool. I need one of those guys.
Okay, we’ll be on the lookout for them for you.
What do you prefer as an artist, just basic with a dj/md or with a band?
Uhm.. I prefer them about the same to each other, I don’t have a preference. I like to do shows by myself, but I have to have someone with me probably a band with a dj. lacht
What kind of vibe do you feel with a band?
It’s more organic. It feels more sturdy and secure. A dj is trickier when a record skips and shit like that, so you kinda get scared about that. You don’t have to worry about a band skipping. You just have to worry about the band maybe not catching the breaks or like coming out when they’re supposed to and shit. Either way there is ups and down with both sides of it. As long, as they’re on point when the moment comes.
The Non Prophets?
Yeah, man. We’re getting a new album out called Hope. I did some songs of them tonight. It’s coming out on Lexrecords and that will be out in late September. It’s a hip-hop album, it’s funny. I think there is a lot of funny stuff on it.
Any MCs featuring on that?
No, I’ve been very strict on not letting any rappers on my albums. I don’t like it.
A special reason for that?
Yeah, for the most part there is no rapper that can help out a song that I’m writing. And if I put a cameo on my album. Maybe it looks like I try to attract a crowd or something. That feels cheesy. My album is my album. Someday maybe, maybe on my next album, I’ll have cameos but right now I’m not trying to do that.
I heard you were doing this album with Buck65, is that still on?
Yes, we did an album together called “Sleep no more”. It was produced by Dj Signify, that will be out right after the Non-Prophets album. So probably October, but we only do a few song each. It’s not a full album of ours. It’s a production album, so mainly beats, I do three songs and Buck65 does four songs.
I was wondering is your real name Sage Francis? Coz in the song “Different” you say your mother calls you Paul. What was your father’s middle name?
Yeah my name is Paul. I just thought Sage was a real rappy name. I wanted to be cool, I wanted not to be called Paul. I thought Sage had something to do with mythology. There is a lot of definitions for it. I mainly just picked it because it was a four letter word and short. I thought it looked cool and sounded cool. But then I humbled it with the Francis part and made it pseudo homosexual… Just to humble myself.
In what way would you make a difference between the public when you’re doing poetry or spoken word only and when your doing a Hiphop show?
The spoken word show is much more comfortable. If people come to a spoken word show, I know that they are there for the lyrics. I just can get up stage and do what I do best. At a Hiphop show there is an audience that wants to dance and get hyped and do the typical say-ho-shit and interact and that’s cool too. But it makes me less comfortable ‘cause than I’m not sure to who to cater to, ‘cause I rather cater to the lyrics people. That’s just the guy I am, when I go to a party, I rather go to a small low key conversation style setting than a loud music people tipping glasses left and right kind of setting.
You criticize a lot of other people in Hiphop, do you also criticize some people in poetry?
I did at first, not anymore. The main criticism is just from Hiphop people who can’t feel comfortable enough with themselves and accepting the kind of things I do because I’m bringing something new to the Hiphop format . I’m not bringing a whole lot of new things to the poetry world, they have rappers. But at first they didn’t and they didn’t like the rapper kid coming into poetry slams and winning them.
You won a lot of them?
I did, I was going crazy. I wanted to win as many battles as I could, because I had no other outlets. I wasn’t getting shows, nobody was making beats for me. So I had to use what was available for me. I did everything I could.
Nowadays I do these things for the hell of it, just get on stage and mess around. The gold is never the win; the gold is to use my time on stage appropriately. And normally that doesn’t mean doing the shit that the judges like best. I do these like off-colour poems and off the wall material.
The Hiphop crowd has a lot to learn man. The crowd is very young, very close minded and very elitist. I can respect that because that is where I come from. I was that way for a long time so I really can’t bitch about them as much as I do. I shouldn’t because I understand and know why they are that way.
As an artist your in continues development with your music, you get better at things, might do things else or stop doing things. Do you think the development for you as an artist also affected in the development of your listening to other people’s music?
Over the past few years I’ve listened to less and less Hiphop and more music outside of the Hiphop world and music that is older than Hiphop. It’s been what’s appealing to me more. My ears are developing and taste in music is developing and changing. That helps me as an artist and as a person. I encourage everyone to.. I mean if you have been listening to the same music for one or two years straight, it’s time to freakin’ put it aside for a little while and look somewhere else. A lot of people coming from all different places making al different kinds of music, but they’re all communicating a human experience; something that we all can understand.
Five percent of every music genre actually may have something you like a lot. You just have to dig and find it. It’s not force fed to you by MTV or the commercial radio. Just dig into the crates and find something that got some good value to it. Right now I’m listening to punk rock and classic rock.
Could you share some names with us?
At the moment mainly Neil Young, Bob Dylan of course, John Lennon sometimes. Ehm… Those are always the three names that I say, but there is a whole bunch of stuff. Bad Religion is one of the punk rock groups that I’m digging. I say that but people think I’m bullshitting because they own Epitaph Records, the label I’m signed to right now. I listen to Bad Religion regardless to who I’m signed to.
What did you first listen when you got into Hiphop?
Man, I listened to everything that was Hiphop related. Run DMC, Fat Boys, LL Cool J, Ice-T, Ghetto Boys, NWA, Beastie Boys, DeLaSoul, KRS-One, Rakim, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, EPMD, the list goes on forever man. I bought everything that came out from the mid-eighties untill ‘93. It’s about ‘93-’94, to me it peaked, that’s where I thought it was the best and then it started to degenerate, the quality got less and less and I wasn’t feeling it as much I once was. That’s when I started to listen to some hardcore and punk rock stuff. And I guess I did more spoken word, listened to less music at that point, developing and I was at college.
Your show is pretty intensive and personal. How do you feel performing in front of all those people, you don’t know?
Since I don‘t know them, it doesn’t matter…
How long did you work on “Personal Journalist”?
I’d say 2 years. I wanted to get as many producers as I could on it. Just to keep each song fresh. I was hoping to get the heat from every producer, I don’t think I did. The stuff I did get I’m very happy with. And since I wasn’t having any rappers cameo on it, I figured I should have a lot of producers showcase the talent of the people I operate with that don’t get the shine that they deserve. I figured my album could be a good vehicle for that.
A question that came to me when I was standing in the audience and thinking back to the show in Deurne. Do you take your own chair with you to every show you do?
lacht No, no… I grab whatever is around. Sometimes there is no chair.
That would be cool though if you came from the airport with your own chair.
How did you feel when you completed “Personal Journalist”?
It felt great. A burden was lifted. I became lighter.
Did you complete a part of your life?
No, no, I made a mark though. It was an event that I was able to move on from.
Are there still things unsaid?
Mainly it was just documentation of a mood I’ve had a long time. A message to people in general about the kind of things we should feel comfortable talking about and the way we should interact with each other. It‘s not as personal as a lot of people think. That wasn’t the point of the album that was just the mood I wanted it to have. Like you‘re listening to a diary or you’re reading someone‘s diary, it’s not like that. I didn’t reveal parts of myself that I would be uncomfortable letting you or anybody else know.
Could you tell us about “Make Shift Patriot”? Working on that, how do you feel about it? And the events that inspired you to write it.
Well, that song was written in a fury. It was done quickly. It was out of a need to make sense of the situation. Things got very intense, as you are probably are aware of, where I was at. So three days after 9-11 I still hadn’t slept, still watching the news and not getting any information, very confused by what was happening. And the blind patriotism of my surroundings. The people around me really started to annoy me, just the ignorant things I was hearing from them. Because they were uninformed and they were talking as if they had it all figured out. And I knew they didn’t because I know that I had no idea of our foreign relations before this point. Nor did they have any idea how we would deal with something like this because a lot of innocent people are going to die for the fact there is an alterior agenda by the elitists of our country. Which isn’t just the president, it’s almost like the president is just a fucking figurehead. These people control the decisions he makes. It made me feel sick to my stomach. And “Make Shift Patriot”; was just a song that needed to be made in order to let everyone else out there know that things should be questioned. We’re not going to do the right thing by killing people in Iraq. It wasn’t an Iraq thing back then, we’re thinking… I don’t know who the fuck we’re thinking about at that point. We wanted to kill someone and get even. That’s not the way you handle things.
For all those who thought you wouldn’t last, what do you got to say to them?
Haha, don’t make me laugh!
Kill Ya Mommz?? Is that what we ought to do?
Hell no. I love my mum.
There is Anticon, Rhymesayers and Def Jux out there doing their thing with several artists. What would your favourite artist be of each of those?
Of Def Jux El-P, I’m a big fan of a lot of stuff he does. Of Rhymesayers Slug, he’s been great to me, he has shown me a lot of stuff, he’s been a good guy. And Anticon, I’ve had to say Sole because he helped me out a lot and done great for himself.
To finish, I’ve got a nonsense question for you, but maybe you can give an intellectual answer to it.
If you would be trapped in a cartoon world, and you could choose between the Ren & Stimpy-world and the Pinky & The Brain-world which one would you choose?
Pinky and Brain because Ren & Stimpy is fucking gross. Something about that cartoon makes me sick. I like it but I don’t wanna live there. Pinky and The Brain is not that gross.
Who would you be Pinky or Brain?
I probably be Pinky, I’m not smart enough to be Brain.
Een opmerkelijk eind van een interview met een opmerkelijke MC.