As one the founders of the influential indie hip-hop label anticon., Adam “Doseone” Drucker has been one of the underground’s most interesting and creative figures. Doseone’s career now spans three decades and a countless number of projects. Outside of a solo career that continue to grow strong with the release of his excellent new album G is for Deep, Dose has also been one of the central forces behind Themselves, Subtle and the indie hip-hop supergroup cLOUDDEAD, while also collaborating with artists as diverse as Alan Moore and the Notwist.

The second half of this epic interview focuses on Dose’s collaborations with others, including his work with Alan Moore, as well as some in-depth examination of his creative process and why he went solo on his newest album, G is for Deep. If you missed the first part, don’t walk, run here.

As you mentioned, you teach a freestyle class, so you’re kind of immersed in how younger people are coming to the genre. Since we brought up Odd Future, who are really using the internet to enhance their career and break away from major labels, do you think that kids now are able to get a grasp on more music through the internet than they would have before with more traditional methods? When you’re teaching that class do you get the sense that these kids are able to reach out and sample in ways you wouldn’t have been able to when you were their age?

So I think that the first and best way to put this is that more young people have read the first page of more books than ever before. They are not going deep, though. This is not an era of depth. So if you find depth…if people come into this world thrust into their artistry with depth, it’s a blessing because this is not an era of depth. This is an era of “I love that band, I have this song.” It’s a song culture, a tip of the iceberg kind of thing. That said, more people have more shit, like “Ah, yeah, I love Skrillex and Fleet Foxes!” Palettes are broad, exposure is more often, because of the whole facing the internet all the time, you’re always checking shit out. I came from this get everything/studying/collectors dependent era from the early ’90s and it’s a very different consumption pattern than right now. Meanwhile, I use my old pattern on the internet, and it’s amazing! It’s like I type in “all freestyle fellowship recordings crap” and it’s fucking there! I don’t know if other people are doing that, but it’s fucking like people are just trying everything that’s coming out. But I don’t do any blanket studies, they won’t take my censuses at the census bureau.

You should commission that. Get that data out there.

I mean, it’s cool, because my kids, I’d give them a mixtape all the time, every week. And it’d have one thing that related to whatever we were trying to underline that week. Songs that were like that, whether it was chops and fast rap, or storytelling or whatever was going on. But they would always be happy with one song from one band, but very few kids would be like “Hey, man, do you have everything Masta Ace ever did?” So it was interesting, because I was very much the opposite.

When I was a kid it was the same thing as you. I had to find things on my own. One of the things I would do is read the liner notes. I’d see who people were thanking, and then I’d go track down those people to see if they were any good. And it’s weird, because now I feel like everyone has all this access. I have friends who have every track by so-and-so on their computer, but they never listen to it, it’s just there. It’s like “Well, I have every Pavement song ever recorded, but I’m not gonna do anything with it.” It’s so strange for me, because the way I learned about music was to sit there and listen to that stuff. I’d track it down and I’d spend my money on it and I’d make sure I got every possible inch of material I could out of it.

The valid thing about this is not that we sound like old men, yelling down at all the saplings, that really has nothing to do with it. The reality is that there are positives to how people consume music and digest music from all the eras, a little more of that these days wouldn’t hurt anyone. And a little more of this ease of sharing music, of people just sending shit and downloading shit all the time, and everybody telling everybody about something, that is awesome. It’s tape trading gone wild. Really, the internet is like this the tape trading concept with windows and videos and permanent addresses in digital PO boxes. I love all that shit. I think it’s great, every aspect of that.

In your music, with the way that your career trajectory has been, if you were to not listen to your music for a while and come back to it, to where you are now, it would seem like you made this huge change in direction. But for people who follow you, it’s so fun to watch the way that you’ll do one album, which sets up one type of sound and you’ll build off that sound. Just the way it evolved from your solo stuff to Themselves to cLOUDDEAD to Subtle, to now back full circle, you’re an artist who is always experimenting. Is that something you’ve always been drawn to, to take those influences and sounds you’ve picked up and slowly craft something ever evolving from that?

I have no training, so I was a “rapper” and then I watched people like Yoni [Wolf of Why?] and Dax [Pierson of Subtle], play stuff. An MPC, if it’s not plugged in, is not an instrument. So I just watched people tap the knack, and explore the knack, and make music out of the thin air that is sampling and rap music beginnings and shit. That was my training. So for me, all the stuff that seems like leaps, and experimentation, is just learning. And what I would make. When I say learning, it’s not like all my records are notebooks. Everything is very polished, and done, and the way I needed it to be and the way I hear it. When I hear songs, unlike some of my friends I don’t hear chords or hooks and shit, I just hear stuff, and sometimes I see words and I kind of go at it and whack at it all. And then it’s every artist’s job to be diligent about being a good editor. If you’re not aware of when you’ve had enough of you, then you can be damn sure the world is going to have enough of you all too quickly. So you have to keep track of that shit. I like to also turn on a dime; as a music maker, I get very bored with stuff, I like it to come alive a little more and change. I spend a lot of my time doing that. Sometimes it causes clutter that I have to go back and remove. But for the most part that’s my favorite thing. And that comes from four track music where someone shuts a door on a song and that becomes “Ah, I wish I could always shut a door on that beat!” And now with modern technology, you can really do whatever you want. It’s like somewhere between sound sculpting and making beats, that’s kind of how I enjoy stuff. It’s still a decent amount of collage, even though I’m making R&B right now. So I guess that’s a long winded way to say that the whole aesthetic of sampling and collage that is the only way to make music when you are a young, rap person that isn’t a musician, has stayed with me and that’s kind of the umbrella. So I do my best to not let that ever inhibit me or make my music stay in one place. I don’t mind really exploring a square inch of song and then going “God, that was awesome! Okay, I’m gonna go over here.” And I can always go back. That’s the whole point of Themselves’ rap return. I don’t stop because I’m out of it, I stop because I achieved that and that felt great and it was just one of those things, that’s how my pattern is as an artist. Some people think Rothko is the shit, he painted the way he painted all the time. And I love it, it’s always my favorite pieces at any museum, but there’s no Rothko with a guy grabbing his dick and graffitting, there’s no variation, no phases. The other thing is I’m a big fan, and I’ll get into something and it will distract me in such a positive way that it will take my creativity along with it. Like the types of beats, types of lyric writing, artwork– all that shit. I’m a hard study on a quick follow, in a positive way. I’ll be like “Oh! What the fuck is that?! I really like that! What’s going on?” And whether it’s a piece of music where I pick apart what I’m liking about the drums, or if it’s prose, I pick apart what I’m liking about rhyme scheme, or fucking attitude, that’s my favorite thing.

It’s like that restlessness has also enabled your work to be stronger. Because you move on before you get bored with stuff, it’s very difficult for listeners to get bored with what you’re doing. There are no albums you’ve put out that I don’t enjoy. And it’s interesting to me too because part of that is that you seem to shift identities a lot, working with different collaborators. Like last year, one of my favorite albums was the 13 & God release Own Your Ghost

Awesome!

It was so great, it was cool to hear you guys come back to that. But if you had milked that collaboration and tried to immediately crank out three albums with it, would we have gotten the same product? Probably not.

That’s very much the case. All the collaborations are also how I describe the arc of my career developing. The collaboration is the same thing. It’s half out of necessity and half out of pure curiosity. It’s like, “We want a band with a drummer, we better meet one.” “Want a guitar? You better meet one.” The other half of that is like “I don’t care what the fuck you play, I just heard your music, I want to make music with you.” I don’t think that really comes from being rap people. I think that’s just something that myself and Jel, and Dax, we have a lot of that in ourselves, just like this sense of “Well, I love that, I do this thing, want to do that with me?” A lot of people are over that, they come from a private place. It’s interesting, I’ve met a lot of my favorite musicians, and they just don’t work that way, and that’s cool, I totally respect that. It’s the law of the land. Everybody has different relationships.

You’ve also done a lot of collaborations that I think have really surprised people. Like recently you worked with Alan Moore. I’m curious to hear how that came about, and what that was like for you, because he comes from a different medium but still, it fits completely with what you’re doing once you think about it. But at first it’s kind of shocking.

He’s the man. He’s the Wilt Chamberlain of comics. The whole thing came to fruition through Tom Brown at Lex [boutique label that many anticon. acts are associated with, including at one point Subtle], who happened to be introduced to Mitch Jenkins, who took the photos and happened to be a lifelong neighbor of Alan. Because Alan, he doesn’t have a computer, he doesn’t e-mail, he uses a dot matrix printer, he’s the fucking shit. And he’s like “Eh, I’m not cut off from the world, I just talk to it the way I like.” He’s really amazing. So we scored the whole book, and at the end, we got to perform it, and we got to meet him and hang out with him. He’s like the coolest, sanest person I ever met. He’s someone I look up to, he blows everyone out of the water. He has like tales to tell and is completely in the room with you, which is what most people of fame really can’t afford you. It’s like “Yeah, I met so-and-so, he was looking past me the entire time.” Alan was like there. Not just there with me, the guy who did the music. He was there with the woman who was bringing us bottled water all night. So he was really pretty awesome, while still being a head above you. Like literally, he’s really tall, but mentally, he’s touching something that we’re not. You know how there are those trolley cars that run with the electricity above them? With the wires hooked up?

Yeah, yeah.

He’s like if there was another one above the one we’re on, he’s attached to that. So while he’s in the room with you, his stories range from being about serpent shaped DNA quests to dry facts about how movie companies fucked him on deals and shit. He’s awesome, man. And as far as performance, for being a real wizard that doesn’t get out much, he fucking nailed it, man. He read a two hour book and I think he maybe, between the two nights, had two flubs and then got back on it, just nailed that shit. Which I sure couldn’t do. It was great. And he did all these things, it’s called The Show, it’s a collection of short films and feature films we’re doing now, and Crook & Flail is doing all the music. It’s awesome.

That sounds incredible. He seems a lot like you in that he just moves past things, and rather than stick to a genre and play it out, he just seems to not give a fuck and be like “I’m just going to do an H.P. Lovecraft story now. That’s what I’m going to do.”

Mm hmm. He’s…I don’t know, man. I mean, I’ve done some damage, I came up out of left field and do what I am doing to music. But Watchmen? That’s some other shit, man. The way he put a medium on its head yet opened up, he sort of flipped the whole thing. Like “Oh my god! The bottom of this whole medium is larger than the top!” It’s like he put life into that medium, like that’s definitely something I helped do for rap, making it a little more anecdotal and poetic and yours and bedroom. He did with it comics, like comics were about the World War! and superpowers and they were all telenovellas and shit and he just fucking went there. It’s kind of crazy when you meet someone like that. It’s a pretty significant footprint he has in his genre. That goes without saying, I’m going to do what I can to work with that guy. There’s people like that that I might have met and I didn’t know how dope they were. And I fucked up. But luckily, with someone like Alan, I am aware and on top of it and get to add what I do to what he does, which is really what I’ve gotten good at over the years and what I like most about the universe.

Considering how often you do the collaborations, it was interesting to see that this new album, G is for Deep, is just under your solo name. I mean, was there an inciting incident for that? Something that made you decide that this needed to be a totally solo affair?

To be honest, I think that after all the adding of what I do to what other people do, I felt like I was at a place where I could close that circle. And make it a closed circuit and just have something that is really what I do. I had to learn how to make everything and it’s more…there’s this thing, and I don’t know if anyone out there will really know what I’m talking about unless they’ve already broken through this wall, it’s so much easier to rap on someone else’s beat or to sing on someone else’s song. Sometimes building the house from scratch is boring, or frustrating, and I kind of got to a place where all that shit was off me and I really liked these beats I was making and it was a joy to sing on them, and refine them, and learn how to mix and balance and sort of pull things out and more precisely create what’s going on inside my head. So now it’s like a closed loop of me helping me and collaborating with me and when I did it, it’s still very free. I try not to hold me back by being the only other dude in the band. So sometimes I turn to myself to work on a song and I’m the [adopting funny voice] “crazy guy in the band” and I’ve gotta rework this song because it’s boring the shit out of me. And sometimes the uptight engineer dude and I’m throwing shit away all day. It’s a little exercise in musical polarity. I had to learn quite a bit in order to have the…confidence is one thing, but the kind of confidence you can work off of is completely different. You have to know what your hands are doing while you use your eyes. Or vice versa. And I think that was something I just had to find and self-teach my way to. And now that I’m there, I kind of can’t stop, I’m already throat deep in the next G record and all this other shit. I’m loving it. It was nice. It was kind of what I needed, it was like a spa treatment after all the collaborations. I got to kind of sit with myself and find some things again and go some new places still and this only allows me to collaborate more freely with other people. There’s always this, and for anyone who’s in a band for any duration or any group of any form, there’s always this energy to go solo. When done for selfish reason it’s pure poison. When done because you have something you have to get to, and you know, and you’ve drawn a map– it’s one of the cooler things in the world. And all my friends of course embrace it. It’s like a bad spirit analogy, is what I’m talking about here.

You’re also able to, in that environment, learn what you’re able to do, what your strengths and weaknesses are. And have more time and flexibility to experiment with things, at least in my experience, because in a band environment, you’re very aware of everyone else’s time, and how you may be wasting it, so you’re less inclined to go off on tangents that might not work out. Whereas by yourself, you can just go “I can do this for myself, it doesn’t really matter whether it works.”

That’s a really good point, I hadn’t really thought about that. But the same thing that’s nice about working on something alone, there’s negatives to it too. But the one thing that’s always positive is that you negate having to work with any kind of relationship, or communication pathways, it’s just a beeline between you and your medium. And that can be a very positive thing. What I love about my best collaborators is that you don’t actually have that barrier. So like with Jel or Andrew Broder from Fog, we don’t have to talk. It’s almost like I could drop the mic and walk out of the room and he can just pick it up. That’s what you work towards, in groups, and it’s the best thing to have. And if you’re lucky, you can have that with yourself and it’s a healthy thing, and it’s not just a bunch of a cappella crap from the lead singer, or a bunch of beats that really need the vocalist from the band you’re in, you know what I’m saying? I love when people go solo, but it sucks when it’s a solo track. It’s like “Ah, yeah, you are the guy who does that in that band. I love that, but where are the rest of those dudes?” I try not to be self-conscious when I make music, but I do have strategies on how not to be the same old me for people or myself and I always, when I make an album– it’s one of the things where it’s like “what’s the fucking single on this record??”– but I always make a record that’s really fun to listen to from song one to song ten, that’s what I make. I make songs, but they’re within an album. That will always be the way that I am. Whatever, if you want to call me old fashioned, you can. But I just would have nothing less, that’s good craftsmanship to me. You don’t just buy car seats, you buy the whole fucking thing.

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