In 2011, I had the pleasure of watching Omar Offendum perform a captivating blend of hip-hop and spoken word poetry, some of which he translated between Arabic and English. Since we first met, Omar has been busy making meaningful contributions to humanity. It is rare to come across an artist who is as dedicated to making a difference as Omar is. When we spoke earlier this year, he had just returned from Chapel Hill, N.C., after attending a vigil for three Muslim students who were murdered. One of these students was a long time fan of Omar’s, making this tragedy especially close to home. This point set the tone for the rest of the interview where we discussed a variety of subjects ranging from his recent marriage, to HARAM, a play about the life of Dr. Maher Hathout that he had been active in bringing to Los Angeles. Chatting with Omar is more like having a conversation with an old friend. I hope you all can share my appreciation of, and recognize the expert conversationalist that is Omar Offendum.
I have been listening to Rapper Big Pooh since his debut with Little Brother (Phonte and 9th Wonder), over a decade ago. A few months ago, I had the honor of chatting with him. We discussed everything from his love for sports to his brush with death. This interview also details Big Pooh’s tour of Detroit led by my old friend Apollo Brown. (Big Pooh was on the show to promote their collaborative project.) I do not know if you ever get used to interviewing your idols, but at least Big Pooh makes the task a little less stressful.
I have known Red Pill for quite some time. He is always out whenever I decide to see what is going on in the scene. Sometimes it is super refreshing to be able to chat with someone in the music scene that can also discuss John Dewey or other political theory. Most of the time it’s good to just see the dude. When I first interviewed him a few years back, for his project with Hir-O, The Kick, we had a fantastic conversation about their chemistry and the philosophy behind their music. Unfortunately, that conversation was fleeting because a technical glitch at the radio station failed to capture and record the interview. This time, I was fortunate enough to get Red Pill on the phone in time for his latest album, an album which has received widespread praise. It is my pleasure to share this conversation with you and I think you will find him as enjoyable as I have.
In 2009, I challenged myself to interview 100 people in a year. One of these people was Artin who, at the time, was making music with a duo known as Purple Disco. (He currently works under the pseudonym “Martian Marlin”.) Artin is originally from Iran, and when I spoke to him he was working in a studio with refugees in Australia. Fast forward to 2015, I got a message on LinkedIn from Artin who I had since lost contact with. Our conversation was truly moving and I consider Artin to be one of the few musicians with the ability to truly bare his soul in conversation as well as in music.
I met Jonas a few years back at SXSW, on my walk from the hotel, where I was staying, to the bus stop. At that time, he was touring with Dena, another artist from Berlin. Since our first meeting, I have been following his work with other another group, Ballet School. Finally, this past fall the stars had aligned and I was in the same city as Ballet School. My second evening in New York for CMJ, I walked through Brooklyn to see Ballet School, unfortunately the conditions were too loud in the venue to conduct an interview. The next day Rosie and I were able to meet up for some peace and quiet, and had a chat in Central Park. This interview was one of my favorite of 2014 and I look forward to seeing them again.
The first morning I arrived in New York City for CMJ 2015, I stopped at a diner with some of my college radio colleagues and ran into Jared & the Mill. I cannot remember how the conversation was initiated but it resulted in this interview. Jared & the Mill hail from Arizona and were kind enough to interrupt their brunch at the Waverly Restaurant to chat with me.
If someone were to ask me to name one artist who best embodies the spirit of, and engages with, the people I would most likely answer, Frank Waln. Whereas most hip-hop artists I meet literally and figuratively put their city on their back, Frank holds it down for the entire continent and the patchwork of American Indian and First Nations therein. In our conversation, Frank shares his thoughts on a myriad of subjects and is genuinely one of the nicest guys I have ever had the pleasure of chatting with.
With my time at WXOU coming to an end, I decided it would be appropriate to attempt to interview one of Oakland University’s most renowned alum, Regina Carter. This past spring, I finally had the honor of speaking with her. Regina is a Detroit native and Artist-in-Residence at Oakland. Her passion for music is exemplified by her dedication to young musicians and her continued support of jazz music education. To say this was a bucket list interview of mine would be an understatement, because it was more than just an accomplishment during my time at WXOU, it was inspirational.
This past summer, I met a Aric at Guitar Center while having a conversation with one of his co-workers. He invited me to see his band, SRVVLST, that evening, and in my spontaneous fashion I went to go check it out. Before the band arrived, I ran into Matt from Psychedelic Horseshit, who was on his day job (which was technically a night job) as a sound guy for the venue. It was at this show that I realized that the Columbus music world is as small and overlapping as any of the other scenes I had inserted myself into. SRVVLST is comprised of Aric Jones, Ryan Douglas, William Ong, and Zack Holloway. Besides being my first interview with a math rock group, which was interesting in and of itself, each member of the group had fascinating histories to share with me. I think you will find the group as interesting as I did.
It is a rare occasion when I get to interview artists that I grew up listening to. This was one of those occasions. Since their album Connected was released ten years ago, I have been listening to Foreign Exchange. The group is comprised of Phonte, of Little Brother, and Nicolay, who I have had the pleasure of interviewing on two prior occasions. In the spring of 2014, I finally had the opportunity to speak to both of them.