Aesop Rock Interview

Do you think you're old? Do you feel old? Are you scared of growing old?

Jeez way to jump right in there. Ha. I guess I do feel old. I'm 30. I have a handful of friends my age and older, but most people doing the music I do, or attending the shows I do are younger. The concert-going fans will always be a younger bunch, as I was really all about seeing shows during my late teens and early 20's. The only part that scares me about growing old is that I am constantly haunted by wondering what I'm gonna do next, in all of this, in music, in art, all of it. Sometimes the worry of that outweighs the enjoyment of what I do. Will I find something to keep me interested musically or otherwise? Will whatever I find pay the bills and support whatever family I may have at that time? I'm finally at the point where I can actually look back a little and say "oh shit, this is what I did with my youth". That can make you feel locked in, which is a scary thing. I also am starting to have the desires to involve myself in things that help out younger generations, which to me is an "old" way to think. I am starting to feel like it is my duty to show kids that they don't have to be a banker or sit in a cubicle, or if they DO have to or want to do that, there are other things in life that can bring you satisfaction and a sense of personal accomplishment that don't necessarily come with a 9-5. I know living off music or art has been a blessing, and if it stops ever I am still happy I got a chance to do it. I'd love to introduce kids to that world.

On the MTV site they said something about you "building on the rapping style eccentrics of Kool Keith and Del". How do you feel about that, and did you see Kool Keith last week at mezzanine and what did you think of the show?

I take that as a huge compliment. Those are 2 dudes that I am honored to share a place in a sentence with, as I definitely felt like both of them were role models to me in many ways. They really continue to show people that it is ok to let your personality show thru in your music, which really is the most important thing. It seems really odd, and sad that something like 'letting your personality show thru' is something that people need to be reminded of, but I guess it's maybe a sign of the times. I dunno. I did not see the Kool Keith show in sf.

List some places here in SF where you can be found? (places you enjoy going- eating at- parks to sit- record stores- spending time at- bars to drink at- movie theaters- anything if anything.

It depends on who's looking for me. To be honest I don't go to that many bars or parties. I don't drink, so that kinda stuff isn't really all that appealing. I'm really just trying to get used to the city still. I lived in NY forever, aside from college, so it's a bit of a change of pace. I haven't been here all that long. Most days my wife goes to work and I work at the crib. I make my rounds to all the record spots every couple weeks. I like walking anywhere cuz most of it is still relatively unfamiliar to me. I am a major movie nerd but I hate theatres. I'm trying to re-train myself to enjoy theatres. That being said, I saw nacho libre the other day and was really really let down. I like jack black, but they forgot to write jokes into the movie. I can also be found prying Jeremy fish out of his house to go eat at any of SF's fine diners. Grub Steak is up there.

I know Fat Nick from skating in Ohio. Do you know him and have you been to his Scribble Jam? If so, you ever compete in it?

I've actually never been to scribble jam. I may know nick if I saw him but the name doesn't ring a bell.

Did you say that smoking cigarettes will make your voice sound dope? That stuff causes cancer. Worry about that stuff? You smoke four packs a day?! My dad used to smoke three. I thought that was tough.

Jesus talk about something being blown out of proportion. I said the voice/cigarettes thing as a joke in an interview many many years ago and it has haunted me ever since. I did at one time in my life for several months smoke 3-4 packs a day. It was a bad time. A 'low point' if you will. The rest of my smoking 'career' averaged around a pack a day. Smoking doesn't do anything to your voice but fuck it up. I have long said in my life that I would quit smoking when I either had a baby or turned 30, whichever came first. that being said, I do not have a baby, but I did turn 30. I have not had a cigarette for 23 days. I have officially quit. Cold turkey. No going back.

Tell me how this collaboration with Jeremy Fish came about. How did you two meet and what in the hell do you think about that big geezer?

Man that guy is my hero. We have a friend in common who hit me up a while back saying that this guy Jeremy fish had an opportunity to pitch a cartoon to Disney and wanted me to be involved in the music side. I flipped out cuz I was also a fan of his, and owned some of his work. I was also dying for any kind of side project that I could get involved in, as occasionally making solo records gets really boring and repetitive, no matter how you approach it. As soon as I moved out to SF we got up, and that was that. We were getting the runaround on the cartoon, but decided we would collaborate regardless, as we had a ton in common and really just hit it off well. I grew up skateboarding, though it had been maybe 7 years since I have done it regularly, but Jeremy is pretty involved, and I got to nerd out on old skateboarding stuff. We just got along well, and his work ethic is inspiring to say the least. When I first moved to sf and re-set up my studio I was working a lot but having a real hard time getting into a zone. New surroundings, foreign city, all that. Jeremy really took the time to show me around a bit and helped me to get back in the zone. That guy is a gentleman and a scholar.

Would you consider yourself a nerd?

music nerd, movie nerd, video game nerd, part-time skateboard nerd, part time art nerd, and I like to read science journals.

Describe yourself when you were twelve.

Skateboarding. Dead Kennedy's and Public Enemy t-shirts. Pretty much listening to any music my older brother gave me. Trying to make art. Learning to play bass. Rapping over my brother's Casio concoctions. Building a launch ramp. Making out with a fat chick who wore Skid Row t-shirts. That was all around that time give or take.

You perform live a lot. Tell us about your worst live show.

There have been a few doozies. We had one this past year. I went to Santos Brazil for 2 shows with my friends Rob Sonic and dj Big Wiz. We played in this concrete soccer stadium thing by the beach. It was kind of open on the sides and covered up on top. It was over 100 degrees outside, and hotter in the spot. When we got up, somebody had piled all these towels onto wiz's computer, causing the whole thing to over heat. it was so hot that his equipment simply would not turn on. we were all so hot and that was causing us to be aggravated and irritable with each other. We finally go things running and in our flustered state started doing the wrong set (form an older set list), as in playing songs that weren't rehearsed. About 4 songs in the whole system again shut down. if that happens in the u.s. you can cover it up with something accapella, or freestyle, or make the crowd clap or something. but when you are somewhere with a language barrier, a lot of the impromptu shit is out the window. we tried our best and fudged our way thru it with the equipment going in and out the whole set. I've never seen wiz so mad. in hind site it was funny, but Christ we were not happy. luckily we played the following day too, and the weather had cooled. we did a lot better. I've had everything from blackouts during the performance to stabbings at the show.

When you first started taking off was it hard to stay away from the hot groupies?


How has living in SF changed your music if at all... and how did you end up here?

My music tends to change over time regardless, so it's hard to tell what effect sf has had on it directly without taking into account the changes the sound has already gone thru. I'm being really critical on what I do these days, it seems more so than ever before. I'm also trying to just write about shit I have never written about. I have a few more stories than I ever had. I've been really into songs that tell a story lately, or songs that just describe a setting and set up an event but don't actually detail the event, if that makes sense. saying this was the time, the city looked like this, it was night, it was summer, the air smelled like this, etc. I love that stuff.

I came to SF cuz I recently got married, and it was easier for me to relocate than my wife. she had a job and a band (parchman farm) in sf, where as I always worked by myself from home.

So you used to skate in the '90s. What was the largest pair of pants you rocked? I got to 56, and that was conservative.

Hum I don't honestly remember the actual size. I definitely had some bad ones though. But for every large pair of jeans I had, there was always a raver somewhere that made me feel like mine were a small/acceptable size.

With the world getting crazier and crazier... are you the type to zone out and escape or are you stressing about the fucked-up-ness of it all?

I guess a bit of both. Being married is pretty dope cuz at the end of the day I have someone to escape with. That makes it pretty easy to zone out. It makes it easier to tune out the bad. It has made the importance of the idea of family really really clear to me, and once you get that sense of comfort, it feels like at the end of a movie when they zoom out, and it just keeps zooming out more and more, and the houses get smaller, the city, the state, the country, the globe... You start looking at your family and your loved ones in a different light. everything you ever took for granted becomes clear in many ways, and the idea of what success and happiness are really changes... I still keep up on current events as it is important to stay aware of where you live and what is going on, but I also am primarily concerned with the health of my wife, my brothers, parents, etc.

Following the World Cup?


Ever think you'd be interviewed by a website called Fecal Face?


All proceeds from your show on the 6th go to 826 Valencia which is great and all, but I read somewhere that reading bores you. How did you get involved with 826 Valencia?

Well, I don't really read novels. I just always found it boring, (though I have been thinking of giving it a go again recently), but writing, that is pretty much my everyday. Maybe in some ways that doesn't even out, but I don't give a fuck. I love writing, and I love music, and lyrics. I also love reading, just not novels. I actually became aware of 826 Valencia because I am a massive fan of Chris Ware. I knew he had a mural on that building, and I knew he had done artwork for Mcseeney's, so when I moved out here I went to see the mural he did (which by the way is fucking crazy). I then read up on 826 and found the organization to be involved in some extremely admirable things... Offering creative writing workshops to children, and publishing short stories written by children, among other things. They basically promote the idea of getting kids siked on art, and right now that is exactly what I want my mission to be. Then, randomly, 826 contacted me about being part of some sort of benefit show or something in NY. I told them that I was not living in NY anymore, but I would love to help out in anyway. Then when this me and Jeremy thing came up, we discussed it and thought this would be the perfect opportunity to help out. I think Jeremy feels similar in a lot of ways about being part of something that helps to get younger people into the idea of drawing pictures or creative writing, or anything of that nature. So I called in a favor to some friends, and before I knew it I had a benefit show on my hands.

As of this second, what are you looking forward to and what are you looking forward least to?

Well, isn't that vague. here's a few answers:
1) I'm looking forward to eating the pastrami in the fridge. I am not looking forward to cleaning the dish.
2) I'm looking forward to finishing up another record. I am not looking forward to dealing with critics young enough to be my son telling me what I'm doing wrong.
3) I'm looking forward to next week's episode of deadwood. I'm not looking forward to it inevitably being cancelled cuz they always cancel my favorite shows.

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