Sunday, August 23, 2009
IAME: The Questions & The Answers
So I dropped off a little article meets review (of his new album I Am My Enemy which you need to peep if you haven't) on IAME Thursday night and now, as promised here is the full Q&A transcript. I hope you enjoyed the article and gain some insight into one of Portland's up and comers.
Q: Can you introduce yourself and give a quick history lesson of the Sandpeople?
A: My name is IAME. Basically as Sandpeople go, it was crew that started about 2004-2005. It was originally me, Moby and Simple we had a group called Red Shield and that was like the first project that I was ever involved in seriously outside of just messing around – the first album that I put out. Shortly after that period we started working with more artists within the region and decided to do a bigger crew effort and so we did this album.
This album was the very beginning stages of the group, it wasn’t like we became this group and then made an album – the group was still getting defined when we made the first album. There were some people on that first album that haven’t been able to commit to being in a group. But we’ve also gotten some new members like this dude Only1 who was a younger cat in the group. Then we got Illmaculate who was pretty well known for the battles, he became a part of the crew after the second album.
I did a solo album in 2005 and was getting a lot of production work from a couple cats in Oldominion like smoke and Zebulon dak. They lived in a house with Sleep and Syndel and we were just kicking it a bunch and there was a real good connection between all of us. Once I started getting more established a couple more cats in Oldominon took notice and it was a just a natural thing that I join with that group too.
Q: What was your progression from the first album to this tighter packaged second album?
A: This album took a lot of planning. I started working on music right away after Noise Complaints. I still don’t really stop, I’m working on new music right now but when you are trying to sell an album it takes away from the time you can spend in the studio. A lot has changed since the first album. My first album was something I really wanted to get out there. I made the album with the money it took to press it. There was no campaign, I just got it pressed and started trying to get on as many shows as I could. It was a very basic approach that most starting off musicians do.
There was a lot I was trying to accomplish with that album, I feel like it has some strong work. I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an artist since then and just gotten a better sense of who I am as an artist since then. After Noise Complaints I was working on new stuff just trying to work in a general direction of doing a new album and I would keep coming up with new ideas for what that album would be called. Eventually I started doing some songs over some Sap beats that I had and it had a certain feel that some of the other beats from other artist were missing so it made more sense to lump all the Sap beats together – he’s a fucking incredible producer.
I was able to craft this idea that I was gonna use these beats and I had him produce some more for me. Then I came up with the idea of I Am My Enemy. That was kinda how the album concept came about – it was just sort of a lot of planning for making a new album and trying to come up with something and then it just came to me.
Q: You mentioned being part of Oldominon and right now the Seattle scene is flourishing. Is the Portland scene taking some cues from that or is it trying to do it’s own thing?
A: There has been a strong connection, in terms of just the Northwest as a whole. We are so close together, like Seattle to Portland, it’s hard to not be intertwined. I know that Portland has a real dope scene and I know that Seattle has a real dope scene. It’s not exactly like if you have a strong Seattle fan base you’ll have a strong Portland following and vice versa. There are a lot of dope artists in both cities and the kind of place that you can go and see familiar faces. There are always talented artists around, but there is also a lot of saturation in both cities. Both cities do have large Hip Hop scenes and Portland in general even has a bigger music scene, rock scene, outside of the Hip Hop scene.
[Onry Ozzborn interjects “Fuck IAME” – also asks for load in time for the show]
That was just one of my fans!
Portland has this big Rock scene and stuff and it makes it interesting to do Hip Hop here because it’s not as embraced as well as the Rock music and stuff. I think there is a big population out here that are into a lot of stuff and open minded about stuff but the words local and Hip Hop don’t really register as anything. But then you go out and artists that are able to gain some success outside of the city of Portland, then they kinda gain more popularity within there own city. Like Sandpeople and Oldominon have gotten out as much as we can, touring and stuff and just trying to spread the name in other states and other countries. I think that there are people in Portland & Seattle that are constantly taking notice, it just keeps growing and growing. I think as city Portland embraces the Rock a little bit more, stands behind those artists a little bit more. It’s got some advantages and disadvantages. I think part of the reason why there is a lot of good Hip Hop and music in general is because it’s not a LA or New York. I mean Portland isn’t even a Seattle. There isn’t a lot of industry so to make our music stand out and get noticed we have to be really competitive and really make something that takes notice. You can’t really get by on being average.
Q: You talk about getting written about on blogs, I’ve seen you guys on 2dopeboyz. Are you guys wholeheartedly embracing the blogs as kinda like the new radio or is it just something you are tolerating?
A: Despite the fact that it’s a new word and a new social medium the overall concept is nothing new. There is nothing new to people reviewing art and forming opinions about it. I don’t look at it as anything different than that. Doing music and putting it out there means that you have to embrace that kind of shit, you don’t have to agree with everything people say about you. You have to put you shit out there and it’s for people to decide if they like it and if they want to write about it. If that’s something that upsetted someone then you’d be like well why did you even put your music out there in the first place. The interent in general, spreading music the way it does and other forms of media I think that word can travel fast but at the same time you are just a small fish in an extremely large ocean. There is so much shit going on, how do you stand out. To really get noticed you have to spend a lot of money on promotion, publicity and all that shit. So when you are a small independent artist hopefully you can do good enough and get enough feedback from people that somebody starts writing something that makes other people want to listen to it and just take people over one by one.
Q: You talk about coming from the suburbs and moving into the city, were you making music before coming into the city or was it once you got into the town that you really started getting into making your art?
A: I’ve been making music pretty much my whole life – making music is just writing. I have some musical background, but it’s really just as a beginner in everything. I’m just now getting better as a producer and putting out some songs that I’ve actually made the beats for. That’s something I’ve been working on for a long time.
I wrote music for probably four or five years before I was putting shit out. The first CD I put out was that Red Shield shit and that was when I was 19. When I was in High School, 13-17, I was listening to a lot of Hip Hop and writing a lot of Hip Hop but still becoming my own person. I think once I was kinda old enough and had actually gone through some life experiences, I had some actual things to say by the time I was 18-19 and between 17-19 I was just trying to get into the cities Hip Hop scene whatever way I could. I started going to Hip Hop shows when I was younger than that but around 17 was when I actually wanted to try and go out to parties where people were actually rapping at and to get down like that and at first it was just kinda a fun thing to do and a way to express myself, but for me it wasn’t like ‘oh I’m just this loud mouthed dude who wants to be in the middle of the shit.’ Cause some people are like that, just the kind of people that would never rap a day in there life but they are drunk and see a cipher and want to go rap. For me I had been writing my music and it was something I keep to myself. I became more serious about it and it was more about trying to get it out there in front of people. Ever since then, I got a little taste of it, I’ve just been grinding.
Q: Have you seen a large growth from when you first started in Portland to the artists that are active today?
A: Hip Hop wise and even just music in general. Portland seems to be pretty crackin right now. There has always been stuff coming out of Portland that was tight and I think that right now there is just a lot of good stuff in the city.
Q: Are you familiar with Glass Candy?
A: I’ve heard the name.
Q: They are from here, I just started hearing them.
A: Yeah that’s the thing, there is a lot of good stuff out of Portland.
Q: You mentioned making beats, are you sampling and digging?
A: I don’t do much diggin because I just try to get records that seem interesting to me. There’s styles that I’m interested in pursuing and I kinda know where to go to find that those records. It is something I plan to get more and more into as I get older. I would like to be the person who listens to the record before I buy them or just buy a ton of fucking records and just listen to them all the time. I have to balance it with writing, putting out albums for group projects so it gets put on the back burner at times. I wouldn’t say I’m solely a sample based artist. I try to use samples, but I try to use original stuff to. I want all my stuff to have a real sorta grimey sound to it.
Q: I grew up on the southern Oregon coast and was always into Hip Hop, but it was pretty late that I started to discover that there was Hip Hop coming from the area. At what point did you make that discovery? Who were those artists?
A: Oldominon was one of the first and Lifesavas too. There are cats that are holding it down in Portland and in the Northwest in general and there are a lot of people who have gotten popularity as of late. But I would say some of the most well known Hip Hop still comes from Oldominon, Lifesavas, Cool Nutz and Sandpeople as of late. When I was first starting to get into underground Hip Hop I got into some stuff from LA and the Bay Area and a lot of east coast Hip Hop. Some of the first Hip Hop concerts that I went to were more underground East coast artists like the Roots or something like that. I would see cats out hustling, promoting there stuff and one of those guys was Owl One (from the Sandpeople) and he was in this group called The Chosen and they were a live band. They were real dope. That was one of the first Portland Hip Hop things that I was bumping.
Q: Do you approach your writing for a Sandpeople record differently than for your solo projects?
A: Not really. I think that I try to accomplish a lot with the solo stuff that I wouldn’t get to do with a group project because you kinda just have to play your part. If you are doing group shit you can kinda organize and be like lets do this and that and get other people to rally behind your idea. But with a solo record you can do whatever you want. I kinda just try to do all the things that would seem a little too over controlling – I got this this idea, this idea, this idea. When you are working in groups, some things pan out and some things don’t so you just keep a little list in your head and start forming ideas of stuff you are gonna do on your own that you can only really do on your own. As far as the actual writing style I try to be as well rounded no matter what I’m working on.
Q: Whats in your tape deck or iPod that you are listening to right now?
A: Sleep’s new record is pretty fucking dope and Sapient’s newest record. Obviously they are both in my crew. I’m not just saying it because I have to, they are both really dope fucking records. I like that new Blaq Poet album.
Q: Primo beats?
A: Yeah for real you can’t go wrong with that, it’s always been some of my favorite shit. I’m trying to think of anything else new I’ve been bumping.
Q: Anything outside of Hip Hop?
A: No, not really. I do listen to stuff and try to absorb it but I don’t pay attention as a fan because I feel like I’m way to busy making music and other life shit. Listening to Hip Hop stuff I do like, there is not like a ton of stuff outside of Hip Hop I can say oh I’m feeling this. It’s not to say there isn’t tight shit out there that I wouldn’t feel, I just can’t think of any.
Q: What’s your favorite Hip Hop album?
A: That’s a good question, I really can’t even say at this point. I don’t know. I really don’t know. There is a lot of good music and things that have been influential in my life at different times, like Mos Def’s first album
Q: Black On Both Sides? You checked The Ecstatic?
A: No I’m sleeping.
Q: He is just continually doing new shit.
A: Outkast has been some of my favorite Hip Hop shit. Aquemini is a great record. Old Organized Konfusion, Phaorhe MOnch is one of my favorite artists. It’s hard for me to say whats my favorite album because if I like an artist and I like what they are doing at the time and I listen to the album and I like most of it its my favorite for awhile and I listen to it and then move on to the next thing. There isn’t any particular album I hold and cherish. There’s just a lot of good fucking artist and good songs.
Q: What’s your favorite drink?
A: [laughs] As of the last half of the year it’s been Jameson. Before that, I get down on the liquor and usually regret it. I was always into beer. I love fucking beer, a good fucking beer. I got introduced to Jameson and was like where the fuck have you been all my life? It’s one of my major vices at this point.
Again many thanks to IAME for taking some time from his sound check to chop it up with me! Shouts to Someday Clothing too!