- Posted on Mar 7th 2011 6:45PM by Theo Bark
You were born in Trinidad and grew up in Brooklyn. Which place had a bigger influence on you?
I never really lived in Trinidad, so Brooklyn, definitely. I grew up in Brooklyn. It's the only real place I can draw inspiration from. Some of my songs have to do with fantasy, but mostly Brooklyn's the inspiration, because I know everyone from here and I eat here, you know?
You like to travel. Does that influence your music?
Yeah, man. Every place is different. I like being on the road. We drove through Germany. We drove through Switzerland, Paris, eating steaks at gas stations, just living that type of road life. It's not a family-based type of life. You're on the road every day, around a band member, and that person becomes your family.
When you're in a foreign country, and you're surrounded by people speaking a different language, does that get you into a different head space?
Not really, man. It's actually the worst. I was in the south of France, and no one spoke English. No one wanted to speak English and no one cared that I speak English. It took me, like, two hours to find food and stuff. So, that wasn't inspiring. I want to learn the language of the country. I want to learn the history. That makes traveling that much better, so every time I go to visit a place, I try to find a local or hang out with somebody that knows the streets. Sometimes promoters are really street-savvy; they take me around, take me to amazing restaurants. That's what inspires me, really.
So it's actually the opposite of 'Lost in Translation' for you.
Definitely the opposite.
In the past, you've mentioned Elvis Costello and Sun-Ra and Fela Kuti as artists who influence you. What are you listening to now?
Me and my friends, we make playlists every month, and generally the playlists are kind of confusing. We just put a bunch a new music on it. Definitely put Adele's new record on it, [and] this kid Jamie xx. I've also seen his first shows in New York. Lil B's music is on my playlist. When I'm making a record, I research so much music, but when I'm done, I listen to current s---. Before I'm making a record, I listen to some real straight-to-the-point music that I'm discovering, whether it's Arthur Russell or listening to the Marvin Gaye catalog.
That's all very emotion-based music.
Yeah, things with emotion, like even Lil B's s--- is mad emotional. He said, "Eatin' wonton soup and f----ing your bitch." That s--- is mad emotional to me.
At what point did you decide to start a career in music?
I decided what I wanted to do when I got out of high school, like, "Yeah, I'm gonna make music." I was doing it before. I wasn't making music, but I was rapping in the hallways, rapping for girls, battling people in school. But then that s--- [brought about] mad fights and got kind of lame, so I just wanted to focus more on songwriting and creating an art. I had to find the right place to write music, and the right people to write music around. I had to find a great singer across the street, had to find a great photographer in the neighborhood, had to find a good manager, had to find a good lawyer, had to find a good studio, had to find good people. That's what I needed to make music -- other people around, so I could actually grow.
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