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Pigeon John - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Pigeon John's Pool Party Never Ends

November 2006

MVRemix: Speaking of live shows, how has your live show changed since we last spoke?

Pigeon John: The way I tour now is with a DJ. His name is bTwice. On drums, we have Gib. Peter 'King' Hong plays keys and acoustic guitar.

MVRemix: What is your favorite part of your live show?

Pigeon John: I like when it is stripped down, when the acoustic guitars and the drums go at it. Also, you know how a DJ may throw a different track into it? I like to do that, but going back. There might be the track, but the DJ cuts out and there's just the band. Right after the band, something else comes on. I kind of use the band as a record. Those are my favorite moments. I think that live, people really respond to that old school feeling. 'Pass The Courvoisier Part 2'. When that first came out, everyone was like 'Ahhhhh!'. Everyone used that in their show. It just has that energy.

MVRemix: What songs do you perform with the live band?

Pigeon John: Pretty much all of them. The drums are on all of them, or percussion is. The keys fill in tracks and stuff.

MVRemix: Do you think that some hip-hop artists should stay away from working with live instrumentation?

Pigeon John: Yeah, definitely. Obviously, everyone knows hip-hop started as a live band. But, it was one band. It wasn't like there were 70 hip-hop bands touring the nation. There was one, Afrika Bambaataa, who dressed crazy as hell. That's it. To say that it came from that, is really not true. It really started with a wack beat machine and the emcee, or turntables and that traditional element. It is the foundation of hip-hop. I love doing it that way. But for me, it is done so much, that it doesn't matter. It was revolutionary when it came out. It is done right with someone like DJ Premier. When there is a good DJ, like Eyedea & Abilities, they do not need a band because they are the element. Ugly Duckling? To put a band behind them would slow them down. Most DJ's aren't good. They just mostly play tracks. There are so many of them that they are in competition. Going back, people don't like the live instrumentation sometimes, because it may bring a softer element. They say, 'What are you doing? Is this alternative rap?' For me, if I see that most people are using a DJ and an emcee, I naturally will not do that. This is because I do not want to be like anyone else. I don't want to run with stupid idiots. Especially when you tour, that's all you see. I need something, something just to keep my interest in it. That usually is bringing something I like to my sound.

MVRemix: Do you think success and credibility are mutually exclusive?

Pigeon John: No. I think that they go hand in hand. Me, personally, I think they go hand in hand. I think credibility is, 'That dude is doing what he loves to do. He doesn't really care about what other people think. He's really trying to refine his voice.' I think there is a difference between what we view success and what success is, in the long run. Financially, look at De La Soul. They never waived. They are probably going to have just as much money as Nelly when they die. Now, Nelly may make more in a three year period than De La Soul's entire career. Just by numbers alone, let's say Nelly came out and had 3 million fans and had a 5 year run with 4 or 5 records. De La Soul will probably have 20 records by the time they die.

MVRemix: Speaking of De La Soul, what did you think of their last album, 'The Grind Date'?

Pigeon John: I thought it was solid. It wasn't my favorite, but they are doing it from their own voice. I think they are taking themselves too seriously. I don't want to hear about rapping like it is a job. Bob Dylan does not sing about rock & roll like it is a job, and he does it better than anyone else. What are we doing as a job? It's just a different mind state. I don't think they did that during a certain time. I can sum up that time in just two words: Prince Paul. They need to go back with Prince Paul. The Beatles had their producers. The Beatles were one of the greatest bands on Earth and they had producers. Some people don't need it, like Prince. Some of the heavyweights don't need a guiding force, but most of them do. I'm looking forward to that.

MVRemix: Some artists are now known because of their association with certain producers. For example, Kaze gained some fame when 9th Wonder remixed his album, 'Spirit Of 94'. Do you think that now, more than ever, hip-hop is a producer's market?

Pigeon John: Here's an example. Al Green's producer was a singer-songwriter who never made it. He had his own sound. He heard Al Green and said, 'You are the bomb! Come sing over my sounds.' That's what pretty much happened. The producer got his share and Al Green got his. I think, today is the Motown era. The backing band dictates things. I mean the Motown era, meaning only hits and not so much full albums.

MVRemix: What collaborations could Pigeon John fans look out for in the future?

Pigeon John: With this record, the guys who are on it. I did a song with Grade School, which is coming out next year. It's awesome. I love working with those guys. I did a bunch of other projects. I did another Brainwash Project which will come out next year. I think, in this season, I'm definitely having fun. I'm looking forward to the next season when things would happen that I would love to happen. I want to work with Prince Paul. I want him to produce my album. Or, I would like to approach it like a singer/songwriter production. My total goal is to make all the music and make all of the words, build it from the ground up while working with a live band.

MVRemix: What will your next solo album be like?

Pigeon John: My competition? I look at the Elliot Smith record. I listen to that and I listen to the new Mobb Deep record. What I do is, I say, 'What am I more drawn to? What do I think is more important?' If I'm going to go the hip-hop route, I'm going to have to play a game, literally. Even underground rap is like that. You have to have a 9th Wonder sounding track with snares way too high, sounding like kick drums. You are going to have to do very traditional beats and raps.

MVRemix: Maybe, a track with a sung hook?

Pigeon John: Maybe, but it will have to be straight ahead. That way is absolutely boring and I used to listen to that when I was 16. Or, there is the commercial rapping with all new beats.

MVRemix: Do you have an idea or concept for your next album?

Pigeon John: Yes, I do. It's coming into focus because I know my choices. How can I even try to even be in the same ballpark as Jimi Hendrix? How in the world will I do that? Will it be the traditional way? Let's follow 9th Wonder. 9th Wonder made it because he didn't follow anybody so, why are we following 9th Wonder? You can either do it that way or do it the commercial way. That means electro beats and hope that someone will put a million dollars behind one song, which might not happen. (Laughs). The third way, which is the best way, is to do important music, dude! When I listen to TV On The Radio, I can tell that those dudes are doing something they love. You can hear that they are doing music that they love and that they are trying to break ground. When Bjork went from The Sugarcubes to 'Debut', she did a huge ass jump. That was because all of the stuff she was listening to, like rock & roll.

MVRemix: Personally, I think 'Debut' is Bjork's best album.

Pigeon John: I like 'Post'. I think that she always sounded the same. Even with The Sugarcubes, you can hear her voice. But, as an artist, I have to take a chance and not worry if I am going to make it or not. Even with what she is doing now. When she was just with beat machines, it was incredible. Who else was doing that? No one! I think that I have to do something that no one is doing.

MVRemix: What will that be?

Pigeon John: Well, if that means not using any beat-makers, maybe. It would not be because I don't like them, it would be because everyone does it. Who doesn't have a beat-maker? That's very common. If I was doing rock & roll, I would not be content with just bass, drums, and guitar. There's no way. I would be bored by that. I think that something has to happen. In the meantime, I'm having fun. That's why, with this record, almost every song has guitars on it. There's a lot of live stuff, based around programmed kicks and snares. I wanted that bigger feel. In this era of hip-hop, I think that it is a little uncommon. That's why I wanted to do it.

MVRemix: Final words?

Pigeon John: Watch 'Boogie Nights' and believe in yourself.

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"I wanted that bigger feel. In this era of hip-hop, I think that it is a little uncommon. That's why I wanted to do it."