That Time I Interviewed Statik Selektah (& Almost Threw Up)
As Hallmark-y as it might be, one of my favorite quotes comes from Thomas Jefferson. It reads, "If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done." There is a rap version out there somewhere in some song, but I couldn't place it, so I'll use the hokey original.
Anyhow, after nearly two years of blogging, I have been really trying to push myself to get out there and either create opportunities or take advantage of the ones given to me. I know in relation to teachers, doctors, fireman, and about a bazillion other jobs, it isn't hard, but for me it is I have always been a more laid-back, behind-the-scenes kind of guy, but I'm learning that just wont work if you want to make it in hip-hop. So I'm pushing myself to get out there. That's where this "Behind The Boards" series came from. For a socially awkward rap nerd, talking to some of the games best producers is a little daunting. I told you about how I felt like I was going to puke when interviewing Illmind.
Well, you would think these would get easier, but each time, I am just as nervous. When it came time to interview Statik Selektah the butterflies in my stomach were throwing up. I love Illmind, but Statik is someone who I have listened to for a long time and is exactly my kind of hip-hop. Boom-bap hits me in my soul and few are doing more for the sub-genre today than Statik. Plus, he has worked with pretty much every renown, respected underground emcee. The man is hip-hop, so excuse me for being a little nervous. You always see the end result of an interview, but I bet you rarely know how it's done and how it goes.
I wish I could tell you the interview was as flawless and enjoyable as the Illmind one, but the truth is it wasn't. Don't get me wrong, it was still a pleasure to talk to him, but I think my nerves got the best of me. Interviews are a funny thing, I am much more passionate about Statik than Illmind, but passion isn't what makes a good interview. To survive an interview, or pretty much anything else in this industry, you have to fly by the seat of your pants and roll with the punches. To use another schmaltzy quote, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade". Interviews are supposed to be conversations, but I struggle with those enough when not talking to my favorite producers; not to mention Statik has such a imposing, gravely voice it was kind of intimidating. And then there were the tech problems. My Skype call recorder that was a free demo from some virus filled site had a terrible echo and cut out at one point. I was expecting Statik to give me these insanely elaborate, awesome answers, but his responses were much shorter (I guess I can't expect an "I Have A Deam"-like speech for every reply). The interview lasted all of twelve minutes...include the two minute break while I rebooted my recorder.Honestly I was worried I didn't have enough material, and even more worried that Statik though I was the worst interviewer on the planet. Listening to the recording was the most awkward uncomfortable thing in the world. hearing your own voice is always terrible but this was even worse. It felt like the "Behind The Boards" series was over before it started
I was panicked. I thought I didn't have enough material, didn't make the interview into a conversation, and didn't ask the right questions to draw out those awesome answers. With a little help from Nathan and Z, the two best mentors anyone could have, I decided to structure the write up a little different. Illmind's was a straight interview, but Statik's, as you will see is a little different. Well, lesson learned, before I freak out and panic that I suck at this job, I need to give myself a little credit. I managed to to flip the interview into a narrative piece that I am actually quite happy with. It's a little different than normal, but interesting nonetheless, and I think I appropriately captured the wisdom that Statik shared (hearing him talk about samples is fascinating). But don't take my word for it, read it here and judge for yourself.
So what's the fucking point of this? Well, one point is to shamelessly plug the new interview (click here! click here!) but there is another, more important reason. The music industry is so focused on the final product, that the work that goes into it is never really talked about or highlighted. Ever think about how much work goes into an album cover, a concert, or in this case an interview? RefinedHype is all about pulling back that veil and showing you the industry for what it is and I can do that the best when it comes from first hand experience. I don't think I've ever really thought about the intricacies of an interview until I started doing them, and I want y'all to know just how it goes from my recorder to your screen. I'm not going to pretend I'm fucking Nardwuar or Zane Lowe. If anything, I feel more like a regular fan and I want to give you that perspective and insight into what I see and do in this hip-hop world, as minimal as it might be.
Plus, I kinda want you to read the interview, that would help to.
This article originally appeared on RefinedHype.com, which has now merged with The DJBooth. For more info, click here.