Sasquatch is a meeting place for all styles of music. Sitting down with P.O.S. aka Stefon Alexander showed that sometimes all styles of music meet in a single person, as well as at a Festival. The rapper, punk rocker, beat maker, and all around talented vocalist and lyricist seems to be working five jobs at once and hasn’t even let a rather serious medical condition slow him down (much… he did take a little time off, the man’s not insane).
On the third day of the festival I had the chance to sit down with P.O.S. in a co-interview conducted by myself and VancouverisAwesome blogger and friend, Adrian McCavour. Here’s the gold that came out of the brief but enlightening 20 or so minutes.
Myself (JR): So you haven’t even had a second to breath yet because you just came from another festival yesterday…
P.O.S.: Ya, at home in Minneapolis there was a hip hop festival called Sound Set that Rhymesayers Records throws and it was… really fun. We were out there playing with Snoop Dogg and Tech N9ne and, well, Busta Rhymes didn’t show up for some reason. Which sucks cause a lot of people were there to see him. There were 27,000 people there and he decided “day of show” he wasn’t coming.
Adrian McCavour (AM): You’ve got so much going on there with Rhymsayers, Doomtree [Collective]…
POS: …Marijuana Deathsquads, Gayngs, all these different groups. It’s the perfect city, as far as I’m concerned. I wish the winter was a little bit shorter [laughs]…
AM: But the music scene there, you’ve got punk, you’ve got rap, you’ve got rock: how does everything influence you and how do you hope that you influence all the difference scenes that are going on there?
POS: I think ever since I was a little kid in Minneapolis you notice that it’s not so much about listening to the radio or watching MTV, it’s about trying to compete with the other bands in the city. There’s enough music that’s it’s not even really a competition, it’s more like, “This band is really creative, let’s try to make something as good as that.”
AM: Watching Killer Mike [perform] last night he was throwing down lyrics like, “Dance music: that shit’s for suckers.” Listening to your new album and what you’ve done in the past… you bring in everything from other genres…
POS: Everything! Everything that I enjoy, man. I want to make music I want to listen to. You can’t just get stuck on one thing. When I was younger; probably up until I was 18 or 19, I would not listen to anything that wasn’t punk or hardcore or metal. Maybe the occasional old hip hop like Dre or Snoop or some shit but… it took me a while before I could make creative strides on my own. I mean, I got really into German Techno! And you can hear it on the new record; it’s in there. I still wanted to keep all the urgent drums and the shouting and stuff too though.
JR: And you’ve still got KCMP’s (radio station 89.3 The Current in Minneapolis) “Ruining The Current” so are you playing everything there that you dig too?
POS: Ya, ya, ya. If I can’t do [the radio show] live, they’ll let me tape it if I’m on the road or stuff like that. I’m ten weeks in and it’s great.
AM: Is that a really good outlet for you to put the stuff you like out there? The German Techno and all that?
POS: Ya. I’ve gotten the chance to play a little bit of everything that I like so far and I’ll keep playing more. I had a 90’s grunge-themed night a couple weeks ago. Last week I played a lot of hip hop and new stuff. That’s the cool part about it!
AM: Have you gotten any reaction back about it yet?
POS: People live tweet it every week and they send me lots of really cool messages so it’s been fun.
AM: Moving back to Doomtree and Rhymesayers for a minute; it comes across as though you guys have a really familial structure. You have a really good relationship with these guys that’s been growing over the last decade, could you elaborate on your relationship with everyone involved?
POS: With Doomtree? Ya. Doomtree started as a production crew and then just all of my friends that rapped and we all kind of counted on each other. I knew how to get shows, some others knew how to get a bit of press, other people knew more about how to structure [the music] and we all grew up thinking that Wu-Tang lived in the same house and were best friends. [All laugh]. So we sort of modeled ourselves off of what our ideals of what a crew looked like and we actually did live together in two different houses! I think that really set us up. We’re all pretty much friends for life now.
JR: Is there anything other than Doomtree that you’re focusing on now or putting more of your effort into?
POS: For sure. The band Marijuana Deathsquads is kind of the… while I’m waiting to get started on more hip hop, you know, collecting beats and that, we’re working on Marijuana Deathsquads’ full length album, Oh My Sexy Lord coming out in July. We’ve done several residencies as a band; we camp out in LA for a month and play once a week. We’re about to finish one [song] in Minneapolis next week, we did [a song] in New York, Austin… it’s a good band. It’s members of all old bands I’ve been in: Building Better Bombs, members of Gayngs, and members of Polica… We played our first show as a band in a year yesterday at Sound Set and I look forward to touring like that later on this year.
AM: You weren’t able to tour this year for your new album because you had the liver transplant…
POS: I didn’t get a transplant yet, actually. I’m on dialysis still. But ya, I had to cancel and kind of take everything easier. I’m just stepping up now to get back into it… So I’m really excited to get back. To not be able to tour a record is something I’ve never done. Never Better (2009) came out and I played 225 shows. To put out a record and then do only 10 shows that year is, well, heartbreaking and ridiculous to me. I’m not really mad though, I know that’s just what it is.
JR: Now, in terms of your video presence, you’ve got the video for Bumper: it’s pretty raw with Pitchfork’s City of Music project. But then you’ve got Weird Friends with a much higher production value and concept to it. Is it difficult for you to balance the visual that you want to share while having people still pay attention to what you’re saying?
POS: It is rather hard to pick video concepts. I would much rather have all my videos just be the band playing but that’s just hard to pull off and that’s not what everybody wants to see all the time. It’s a tricky thing. But I think that once this band [Marijuana Deathsquads] gets as tight as we were yesterday at Sound Set I feel like that’s what people are gonna want to look at. I mean, we’ve got, in my opinion, some of the best drumming that anyone’s ever seen live. I’ve never seen a hip hop band that was as compelling, to me, as the band that I’m working with right now. Live band hip hop ends up getting this sort of “jazz” feel and we tried to really OBLITERATE that and focus on the urgency of the drums and focus on making sure that shit cracks, you know? Really tight, really loud. Most of the music I make is really drum based anyways…
AM: On top of that you’ve got really great lyrics. You always seemed really socially conscious. You seem really critical of society…
POS: …of garbage? [laughs]
AM: …of ways that we can improve as human beings.
POS: All the music that I cared about growing up had a little bit of that. Whether it was silly NOFX stuff or serious Minor Threat stuff or Ice Cube or whoever; there’s not just fun, there’s also some sort of underlying agenda. And I know that not everybody wants to take music so seriously all the time but that’s just the shit that was always important to me.
AM: You also talk a lot about the change in technology-driven time. What’s your biggest concern with the way people feel when it comes to new media?
POS: It kind of does. It’s hard to gauge that and write about that in a real way. Everybody needs to take time away from their phones… everybody’s “zombieying out” and it’s changing the way our faces look cause everybody’s looking down all the time. People are getting jowels all early and shit. It’s fucking gross [laughs]. I don’t think you can save the world. I don’t think you can save everybody, you’ve got to live the way you want to live and do the best that you personally can and hopefully that affects the people immediately around you. Every generation thinks the world’s going to hell.
JR: On the flip side to that though, do you find it easier now to get your music out because of the new media and all the channels available to you?
POS: Absolutely. I think that the hard legwork that Doomtree and Rhymesayers have done to gaining true fans that are down to do what we’re actually trying to get out, those people are the ones that are looking out for what I’m doing when I’m not rapping and looking out for what my friends are doing when they’re not rapping. And that shit’s really important to me, you know? I don’t have millions of fans but I do have like 20,000 solid people that are gonna check for what I’m doing and hopefully share with their friends… and I’ve made that work for almost ten years now so I’m not really trippin. I may not be famous, I may not be a household name but I’m able to do what I love everyday!
AM: And from there, you’re gonna start touring, well, slowly touring…
POS: Ya, hopefully I’ll get out later this year and really hit the road hard and show off my new songs and hopefully put out some more songs.
AM: Working with Astronautalis as well?
POS: Yup. We’re putting out a 7” at the end of… next month… maybe? Sometime this summer for sure. And we’ll be putting out a full length as soon as it’s done but both of us just stay so fucking busy, you know.
JR: Are you two going to be touring together at all?
POS: Hopefully. We really like working together so as soon as we get a chance to do it together, we will.
AM: Anything new in terms of Gayngs? I know Justin Vernon was on one of your tracks so has anything new come out from that?
POS: The next Gayngs record, I think it’s gonna be called “Le Ron”, and we’re gonna push a little… it’s gonna be a little different. It’s always gonna be different. When you’re dealing with Ryan Olsen who’s the main producer for both Gayngs and Marijuana Deathsquads, you’re gonna get a different kind of vibe depending on what’s going on in the little world that he’s making. I don’t want to say too much but know that there’s more music coming.
JR: Well just make sure you head up to Vancouver on your tours.
POS: I absolutely will. I love most of Canada… [all laugh]. I love Vancouver, I love Montreal… I even love Toronto, man. I feel like Canadian people are infinitely nicer and sometimes that confusing, but it’s also really nice so I’ll get to Canada. I promise.
That’s a promise a growing number of Canadians are gonna make sure he keeps.