|These are the transcripts of an interview with Apathy aired April 17th, 2006 on DJ Hyphen & J. Moore's "Sunday Night Sound Session" on Seattle's KUBE 93.3 FM. For more info. on DJ Hyphen click here. |
MVRemix: Some people when they hear your name think "That's the dude that's been signed to Atlantic for a minute..."
Apathy: [chuckles] Sometimes, I mean hopefully that's not all they think about...
MVRemix: Well we'll just start off with that because everyone wants to know - what's the current situation with "Bearer Of Bad News" - the upcoming album...
Apathy: Yeah... I mean, I'm gonna be workin' on it. Its taken a long time and my relationship with Atlantic has gone up and down a lot. We started workin' strong, we started doin' a lot of stuff... I recorded a lot of stuff with them and then things went bad; we couldn't get on the same page... we couldn't get all our ideas straight. I got frustrated and would diss them, talk about them, get even with them, call 'em up and threaten them - all of that. Specific individuals - not the whole Atlantic staff.
MVRemix:...record songs like "Fuck You."
Apathy: Exactly. So now we're at a point where we're cool, we're talkin' more - there's more conversation. It's on a more positive, upward note so I can't even call it. That's the most honest answer; I really don't know. Like everybody out there's like, "I don't know what's goin' on with Ap with that Atlantic situation." Well, Ap doesn't know either. [chuckles]
MVRemix: Despite their work with some of their other commercial acts - they're kind of a forward thinking label in that they have Little Brother, Saigon, Lupe [Fiasco] is on there now... The Cee-Lo project. Do you think that's still a good fit for you at Atlantic?
Apathy: You know nowhere is a good look for me unless they're pushing my product. It could be cool like "Alright, we got Lupe Fiasco, we got Saigon and we got Apathy," so what if you're not puttin' out their albums? What's the use? Are they collecting us? Are we baseball cards? Unless we're put out, there's really nothing good about that.
MVRemix: A group like Little Brother and then the new Dangermouse/Cee-Lo project - they're definitely giving a lot of artistic freedom. Do you feel that you were not given as much as them and if so, why was that the case?
Apathy: I have no idea, I mean I was on tour with Little Brother and them and I was tellin' Phonte. I was tellin' him, "Yo, I'm real jealous of you guys. You have complete creative control and you put out the album that you wanted to put out." I was like, "That's really hot. I don't think you know how hot that is."
MVRemix: In the meantime, you've done a few side projects. Like you mentioned, the Army of the Pharaohs joint just came out - everyone's liking that. And then you just put out your own, I guess it's officially the debut, even though you've released a couple bootlegs - this one's called "Eastern Philosophy" - how important was it for you to get this out on Babygrande, even though you're still signed to a major?
Apathy: That was really... I mean that album there, that's my "Illmatic," that's my "Ready To Die," so regardless if the major label album was poppin', I would've wanted to put that out some way, somehow anyway. I really, really was adament about having that album come out and having that album pop.
MVRemix: Was it always designed as it is now, or was some of it designed to hold some of these tracks off for the Atlantic album?
Apathy: The only track that originally was gonna be for the Atlantic album was "The Buck Stops Here." The one about the passing of the dollar bill.
MVRemix: How did you come up with that concept?
Apathy: We were on tour in Europe and we were exchanging our currency, we were about to go into the UK and there was a place to exchange American money into pounds. At the little machine where it said "Exchange Currency," there was a little plaque which said "A certain percentage of American money has traces of cocaine on it." An overwhelming amount! I was like, "Wow, that's real crazy." I was tired, hadn't slept for days and I was just sittin' there - we were on a Ferry goin' over to the cliffs of Dover - and I was just thinkin' about that the whole time. Kind of where that idea was born. It took me a long time to write it. I wrote a couple drafts of it and it didn't come out the way I wanted it to come out, it wasn't conveyin' the story the way I wanted to. So it took me a couple shots to get that right.
MVRemix: Yeah, I've seen you say before that you want to maintain the ability to write with the same messages you've written with previously, but then with the Atlantic stuff that you want to maybe adapt it to make it a little more commercially viable. How do you go about doing that?
Apathy: A track like that, in my opinion, is ready to be viable in a commercially viable album. It's not like I'm considering, "Yo, that'd be a jump off club smash!" But if I had a hit song and kids are gonna buy my album regardless - it's not like they're gonna - it's not like there's 15 year old kids in Iowa going [nasal voice] "Er, this song's kind of underground." They're not gonna know, they're just gonna be like, "We want Apathy!" So, that's like that whole vibe of basically introducing underground Hip Hop into the mainstream by having a big album that serves as a vehicle then having those album cuts on there.
MVRemix: Yeah, last time [Phon]te and Pooh from Little Brother were up here, they're kind of in the same situation that you are also in that is being "underground music" while still being signed to a major and having the expectations that a major will put on you. Do you think that puts you in a strange position, both in terms of the music you're creating and then how you're fans are gonna react to it?
Apathy: Oh definitely! Hell yeah! We have to walk that fine line where I remember thinking and getting so frustrated with them because my A&R still wants me to be lyrical and still wants me to do good songs. So I remember thinking, "Alright, here's my little grocery list: I've got to make a song that's commercially viable, that'll blow up, that's original, simple and catchy but is lyrical and has Hip Hop integrity." I'm like, "Damn!"
MVRemix: That's quite a tall order to live up to.
Apathy: Like... okay. So, it was a tough, frustrating situation that'll drive you absolutely nuts.
MVRemix: I can't even imagine it. We also had Joe Budden up here, he's kind of going through the same thing where he created a whole mixtape of honest tracks that came off kind of depressing. He said that if he turned that into Def Jam they would just laugh his ass right out of the office.
Apathy: See, no disrespect to Joe Budden because he's one of my favourite emcees, he's dope. But another thing I don't wanna do, is I don't wanna get in that stage where this isn't my existence. Like this issue that I'm having with the label is just an issue that I'm having with the label - I still have music to do. Regardless of having any label, I'm gonna still continue doing this on my own. I'm gonna continue music because it's what I love to do, I have fans. So as long as I have fans that will listen I'm doing this. The politics are an issue, because you wanna get your politics straight, you wanna get your business straight. But, that shouldn't...
Apathy 2000 Interview by Hugo Lunny
Apathy 2002 Interview by Hugo Lunny
Apathy 2006 Interview by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman
Apathy 2006 Interview by DJ Hyphen & J. Moore
"Sunday Night Sound Session" with DJ Hyphen and J. Moore airs every Sunday night on KUBE 93.3 FM (Seattle) from 11 PM PST - Midnight.
http://www.kube93.com to stream online.
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