D – We are rolling
J – should I start with interview-y questions or should I just go random?
D – Yeah either. It’s new for me because I really haven’t done that many interviews in the last few years
J – Alright, Micheal Jordan or Pelé? (brazilian soccer super-legend)
D – (laughing) Pelé because he’s nicer. you know what, I shouldn’t do that because I actually shamed someone on twitter today for doing what I just did, which is calling a celebrity “mean” who you’ve never met. And I shamed someone. and I wasn’t proud of it. I really did, I feel bad. So I’ll say Pelé because soccer is my first love…and he’s nice. I would walk over to Pelé but I don’t think I would walk over to Jordan
J – Wait, who did you see, but didn’t walk over to?
D – Probably everyone.
J – You were talking about someone the other day… You saw him and you sent someone else over or something?
D – David Beckham? cause that happened…and he dissed me. And I was wearing his underwear
J – Wow!
D – …with his name on it.
J – Wow. That is just so weird on so many levels.
D – So many levels. If he knew, I mean imagine how good that photo would have been of me front wedgie-ing myself
J – Wait you didn’t show him?
D – I didn’t show it to him, but that would have been such a glorious photo! Could have made an album cover
J – So he just said ‘no photos’?
D – He said no photos, he was there with like 5 models
J – Wow
D – He was in Acme, if you know that bar
J – Acme Underground?
D – No it’s like on Bowery and Bleecker or something
J – Oh yeah it used to be the Acme Underground, I think. I saw the old awning, but it’s like a nice restaurant?
D – Okay I guess that’s it. yeah he was in there.
J – one of our first shows was in that venue downstairs. when it was a venue.
D – That’s crazy
J – Yeah. It was fun. very different obviously. I saw it recently, and it’s funny they have the same old awning and I was thinking “What’s up with that?” They just kept it? I think that’s why its called Acme, cause they thought “well it looks cool, lets just keep the sign”
D – I mean that’s like the New York classic, you take over the building and keep the name. And then its the wacky name of your place
from Oyster photoshoot // photo by tim barber
J – Okay so I have an interview question. So between dancing, choreographing, and singing, which do you prefer? I might be wrong and stop me if I am, but I assume writing and recording is your fave so I’ll leave those out.
D – Yeah. Those, yeah…that’s good. So out of those 3? It’s a tie between…it’s either choreographing or dancing but id actually say choreographing above it
J – Oh, above singing?
D – Oh hell yeah. Oh my god I hate singing so much
J – Wow
D – I mean, hate is a strong word but I just don’t enjoy it.
J – Okay
D – I don’t enjoy singing.
J – It’s a necessary vessel to glory. I’m kidding…
D – Yeah, but even then I always try not to. Like on the last album I tried, I got different people cause I just prefer other people’s voices more
J – You’re allowed to be wrong…umm…
D – Do you prefer singing…
J – Choreography for sure.
D – Yeah do you prefer singing to recording or playing…?
J – Um I prefer the excitement of writing something that i think is good and then also performing it the first time in rehearsal. when you’re in a rehearsal room and playing it for the first time with other people and it comes to life. Singing can be cool when it’s not…I don’t know, I like improvising, making stuff up on the spot…
D – Yeah
from a ballet Dev choreographed and directed a couple months ago
D: Did you play music in high school?
J: that’s when I got into it. I was so not musical. Basketball, I was into. It was my main passion. But once I got into music i went 150mph right into it. That’s what I do with everything. That’s why I can’t drink, or even drink coffee now.
D: Do you drink coffee? You don’t.
J: No cause I would end up drinking 10 double espressos and be up till 5 in the morning. I studied music in a class then all my free time was music, and I dropped out of high school to go study music full time. So I went pretty hard, but it started late, I was like 15 16.
D: So you weren’t in any embarrassing bands in your teenage years?
J: Uhh…Not like.., what’s embarrassing?
D: I guess embarrassing is a bad word. But…
J: Yeah we played a show when I was 17 I think, or 16 in some bar, The Spiral. It’s not there anymore. but you could play without a demo tape. you could book a show just by calling up.
D: Oh my god. Were you singing?
J: Yeah and playing guitar.
D: Whoooa. Man. That’s crazy.
J: Just pipe.
D: Just Pipe?
D: Wow. That is great
J: We only played one show.
D: Damn. there’s no existing footage of you playing an instrument and singing live?
J: someone might have a picture, I don’t think there’s footage
D: That’s cool, that’s good I like that. I appreciate people…I’ve always had an appreciation for people that can play instruments, but choose not to. I’ve always liked that. That used to be something I would say about Justin Timberlake, but now I think he shows that he is really playing so I can’t. I have to take away that title.
J: He’s got some dance moves though.
D: I wonder what he prefers? Dancing or playing.
J: I’m pretty sure it’s playing guitar. Oh my god.
D: Actually probably playing guitar. You write on guitar right?
J: Mainly. sometimes piano. I go through phases. I’m way better at guitar, I think. The thing about a piano is that it’s really two instruments. So that has it’s place.
D: Yeah you’re good at guitar.
J: Um … Prince or MJ?
D: I…I don’t…I can’t.
D: I cant do it.
J: Okay. Have you seen that video of them on stage…
D: Oh yeah with James Brown? I love that. Yeah I just view them so differently, you know. Cause I get it, like Prince is like the musician’s guy and MJ is more the heart guy
J: what does that mean?
D: MJ is more the fantasy guy, like if you’re a kid that dreamed when you were younger, magic, showmanship, beauty. Not to say Prince doesn’t have those things but there’s something more romantic musically about prince. i love them both though.
J: So one is child-dreams-magic and the other is sex-romance?
D: Exactly !
J: got it. …Oh that wasn’t even the question, it was actually James Brown or Prince is what I meant to ask you
D: Oh okay. Oh alright. I would say Prince, personally. But I do have the 12 inch single that James Brown did for like Rocky IV or whatever
J: Oh hell yeah, Coming to America?
D: Yeah I’ve got that. That’s the only James Brown I physically own.
J: Wow. I had the…I think I had the album
D: That that song was from?
J: The Rocky IV that had “Eye of the Tiger” and all that shit. I still have it somewhere actually. Yeah it’s pretty…I don’t know, it makes you wanna…fight? Or rise gloriously?
D: Yeah. I was in Philadelphia recently with Samantha Urbani and she kind of notoriously has seen no movies ever. we were going to that museum, the Philadelphia Art Museum and I was making a joke like i was gonna pretend to run up the famous steps and she had a blank face and had no idea because she had never seen…
after being jumped by security at lollapalooza after performing in a Trayvon t-shirt
J – Rocky?
D – That is Rocky, yeah. Oh my god I’m losing it…So I had to stand on the steps and show her on my phone that scene for the first time ever in her life, I’d like to point out
J – The best thing about Rocky I think was the score
D – Yeah
J – Anyway Live or Smash Mouth?
D – Is this a real question? I’d say Smash Mouth
J – Okay
D – I feel like they have the better hits. I recently saw a signed Smash Mouth CD in a store in midtown
J – Oh wow
D – I didn’t buy it but…
J – You don’t have to lie
D – I probably should have
D: I was wondering if you have ever experienced any kind of moments of racism with Sam (Julian’s step-dad) growing up. Like witnessed.
J: Well, yeah. but not… the thing with growing up in New York, I think it can be good because you can grow up around so many different kinds of people that you mingle with. you can definitely stay in a bubble here, too. But I mean, yeah its endless, kind of, running into situations where if he was white and he’s as good as he is he would probably be director of a school he taught at. You know what I mean? There are countless stories. I mean, directed AT me personally, because of Sam… not really in New York, you know. There is subtle racism… like I said, I couldn’t imagine the shit that he has to deal with in every situation…
J: Like if someone just left their bag and came back and it wasn’t there and it’s like, “Fuck not this.” I mean I think I see that so much in general.
D: Yeah. I think its really interesting because it’s…yeah I just feel like that just gives you a very particular insight that a lot of people don’t have. That’s just like in general with any race, having someone of a different race as a part of your family or in your life.
J: I mean I can’t even imagine… I would imagine it like pain of any kind. I think white people can be the first sometimes to you know, “I was short and people judged me!” And be so crying with a triumph over obstacle story. but I think the subtle racism it’s so repressive that people just have to be so strong about it. It’s almost just like…Most people probably just try to push it aside, I think, because well it’s not my place. I mean you know more. How many instances do you encounter a day on average?
D: Oh my god. I mean honestly…
D: On a good day 2.7. Its funny cause, me getting attacked at Lollapalooza. I think if I just like…There’s been a lot of incidences that I’ve not said because… I mean there was a time I got illegally arrested in Miami like 2 years ago. They busted some club for not having a liquor license, but I was outside, I wasn’t inside. And they were going inside and wouldn’t let people in. I was kind of doing what I’m doing now, but back then I would do solo Blood Orange shows. And I was like, “Oh, my stuff is inside and I just need to go get it” and there was this one… You know one cop who was a dick and he said “No. Not going to happen.” And I was like “Oh, can you tell me like how long?” And he was like “No.” and then these two Miami white girls walked up and are like “We really need to use the bathroom!” And he was like “Yeah go right in ladies.” I was full mouth-to-the-floor like “What!” So I went up again. I said “Look man, I need to get my stuff and I’m just gonna like leave. I have a flight back to New York in the morning.” And he was like “That’s it!” Hand cuffed me around the back, threw me in the back of the car and then left me in the car for 4 hours and I couldn’t do anything. And at one point, this is the scary moment. An officer came and opened the door and bent down to me and was like, “Hey man, it’s probably best if you just don’t say anything and um it should be cool…” and closes that door. And I was thinking “WHAT!? That doesn’t make me feel good!” You’re telling me to be quiet because the guy you work with is insane? What the fuck!?! It was so crazy.
buy sam’s book here (dev coincidentally bought it for a friend without knowing it was Julian’s step-dad)
J: Oh my god.
D: That whole night. just till the next morning, so eventually I got let out and I thought “It’s done.” Then the next day, there was a mural of the Miami Heat. I’m not really a Miami Heat fan but I wanted to take a picture in front of it to send to my friends. So I’m standing there, my friend has a camera. There are some people there taking pictures ahead of us. two girls and two dudes. Whatever. It’s 11 am and they’re taking pictures. Maybe 5 yards away. Then the girl, they’re all white, the girl then goes, “take a picture of me, I can’t wait to show my friends a picture of me and all these niggas!” And she’s standing there. And then the guy and i were like “Are you done?” And they walked away. So that was a 24-hour moment. But yeah there were a lot of moments. I’ve had my passport held in Germany.
J: Your what?
D: My passport held on a layover flight in Germany. He went through it and peeled off the corner in front of me cause he was like “Is this fake!“ And then it was a damaged passport and I had to get a new one. Shit like that.
J: How are you not just a heroin addict?
D: No, seriously. I am…but no no. They took out my electronics and were asking, “Do you know the day that you bought all of this stuff?” Like an ipad and shit. Like “no? Of course not.” But anyway, I could go on forever. So Smash Mouth or Live?
J: I’m so sorry man. I apologize on behalf of white people, we’re the worst. I’m just. I don’t know. How to atone is the question. I don’t understand why there is any kind of question about reparations and all that. It seems like such a no-brainer.
J: Yet somehow it seems like it’s already off the table, taboo.
J: It’s maybe more American politics, but… I just. Ahh man. Maybe like more cultural exchange programs or something?
J: to live in some other ethnicity’s world…Cause I think when you see the other side of things it’s less weird and you get more understanding… this is just going a level beyond, I guess, maybe just forgive me if I’m sounding stupid, but its almost not even racism a lot of the time, it’s almost more culturalism? I feel like, you might not like something about someone else’s culture, but then it has nothing to do with race or genetics.
J: But some people think, “Oh ‘they’ always do this,” but, yeah there are micro-subtle differences, but there’s way more differences with blood types, I think. So it’s really way more a cultural thing. I was thinking of Germany too – we were just there on tour. it’s almost like having a yellow star sometimes, to be black. And I think the big problem… not the biggest problem, but one of the top problems is that people don’t even acknowledge it in this day and age.
J: it’s this shameful, I don’t even know what to do…You need a massive public awakening. Massive public awakening, anyone?
D: Album title.
J: Sorry, I apologize to speak on things that I…
D: No, no, it’s good.
J: Ummm..so I have different subjects here: selling out…politics, any interest?
D: Lets talk about selling out
J – Okay
D: I don’t know.
J – Isn’t it the best?
D: God I love it!
J: What do you think?
D: Well I know that, I remember when I was doing the thing with that brand I was nervous breakdown texting you
J: Oh right. Is it going? Is that happening yet? Is it out?
D: Yeah it’s already out
J: Oh I didn’t see it yet..should i?
D: Eh… no you should watch it, its good. But its funny because I do remember, it was fine and stuff, and I got a twitter barrage from one person about how, they’re like “you talk about social justice so much and helping the people, yet you’re working with them”
D: i think it’s pretty all or nothing. I took into consideration what she was saying, but I also feel like, maybe if she was living in a tent in a park with no electricity and no Apple products and wasn’t tweeting this from her iPhone, and then she came and said that to me, I would probably take it to heart. But instead she was tweeting. I feel like I cant take anyone seriously if they’re tweeting their point of view
J: its basically, you know, suckin’ the devil’s D. yeah it’s a tough one… it’s easy to make no money doing music these days.
J: Sometimes it’s the only way. And it’s not like you’re gonna make any kind of difference to them whether you do the song with them or not
D: Yeah if anything it was detrimental to them, I think
J: But you getting access to more people, having more money to fund what you do I think it can be a positive. And I think you gotta weigh it, you always gotta weigh it out.
D: Yeah. I used that as a springboard for the Kimmel thing, which came out before
J: That was so amazing. just mind-blowing.
D: Thank you.
D: Have you had moments where, people have been like “what are you doing?” or “You sold out!” or…?
J: I mean I don’t read any comments, so I’m sure a lot of people are saying a lot of shit
D: But was there a moment where you remember rethinking, like “should I do this? Is this something I should do?”
J: What are you talking about selling out?
J: I mean….Yeah I mean I sell out for breakfast
J: I love selling out. No, I’m kidding…No I think you just have to weigh it, I think you gotta weigh the good versus the bad effects of those kinds of decisions.
D: I also feel like you could only sell out to yourself, you can’t sell out to other people. Do you know what I mean?
J: There’s selling a product that’s bad for people, that might be selling out? Like Mcdonalds and stuff like that. Although, I say that. If Mcdonalds offered me a million dollars to do anything… I might let Ronald McDonald have sex with me for a million dollars.
D: I haven’t watched it, but I know they put online a video of them making chicken nuggets to prove that it’s chickens. Sounds terrifying but still.
J: When was the last time you’ve eaten at Mcdonalds?
D: I was 15
J: Wow. I went four days ago…Don’t judge me!
D: My friend Ben goes to Mcdonalds a lot and I give him a hard time, but just because I think it’s funny. But he goes to that one on Houston by the Bridge, the one where last year someone…I’m laughing but it’s not funny…someone got shot or stabbed? But before they called the police they ordered a Big Mac and fries and went and sat down and waited and ate their…
J: Oh damn
D: So that’s the power of Mcdonalds
J: It is. I mean they’ve figured out the human mouth. I was just angrily eating it thinking “damn, they’ve just…figured me out!”
D: I would take a fil-a-o fish
J: They’ve scientifically broken it down, it’s like pop music almost.
J: So a layer too under-the-surface perhaps, but Terence Trent D’Arby or Lenny Kravitz?
D: Wow, Terence Trent D’Arby. [laughing] That’s a great one… I got some questions.
art by Ron English
D: Um, I’m trying to think if I should go deep first or no. I guess it’s harder to come back from deep.
J: I think so. Its like, “…and that was the last time I saw him alive. So, Live or Smash Mouth?”
D: [laughing] Oh god. Alright this is what I’ve got. When exactly and how exactly…what birthed Cult Records? See it’s a question I know I could Google and find an answer…
J: No, probably not actually.
D: I’m just curious about it-
J: It would be a fake me, giving you the reasons…
D: I’m curious about it cause it’s one of those things that I would love to do, but I would never do it, because I feel like its too much work.
J: It is a lot of work. Umm, I’ve always had the energy to do more than one thing. You know? I’d always be thinking of five video ideas at once and twenty t-shirt ideas, you know what I mean? So. That’s not why I did it, but I guess I’m starting with the end. Sometimes people will want music advice and every time I’ve done that, from a distance, it’s just a disaster because I’ll mention something and they don’t fully understand what I’m saying, but they just kind of, “oh I got it!” and then i’ll think I made it worse in the end. You know what I mean? But I just want to see it through. So with Cult I guess I can…someone can ask for help. and if i say “ok I’ll do it” and then I can just make sure and see it through. I just like making cool things and helping others make inspiring things and it’s not just about money or anything, although it would be good to… it’s about, I don’t know, trying to help make quality things mainstream I guess…
J: But, uh… There wasn’t a label that I liked or that wanted me that I thought understood how I wanted to do things. That’s another reason… Ok, the real reason. How it began, in all honesty…I’m almost too embarrassed to say it. Is someone asked me umm, they said “I’m doing a label” and were asking me if I had any good ideas for names.
J: I was kind of off duty at the time and I just kinda went deep in name-search mode, and I thought, “I’m going to find a cool label name.” And I had a lot of stupid names, funny too, I wish I could remember them, like um, “Heart-Broken Records,” a bunch of stupid shit. Yeah, so I thought “Oh Cult records, there is no label i know called that. That’s the perfect name.” And I was very excited. So I told the guy that name. but he didn’t go with it…
D: (laughing) He went with Universal BMG
J: (laughing) Yeah he went with Sony. I was like “Big mistake buddy.” I’m 100 years old… Umm, yeah… So I started with the name. And then the more I thought of it, the more it made sense for all those others reasons I was telling you. Then I had my own record and i thought “Oh I can put it out.” Cult was only an imprint at that time tho…
D: Was that the first release on Cult?
J: Phrazes for the Young? Kinda. with RCA. Officially, the first one was The Virgins record.
D: Cool. I like Donald.
J: Yeah, he actually took me to here, to this place. (Croissanteria)
D: Oh right.
J: …it’s kind of super ambitious, and probably a dumb thing but my long-term dream is to create connections between all the cooler, more underground radio stations and record stores to be part of a more unified thing. So when there’s a cool record, it can have a bigger network and compete better… Because you’d think with the Internet great music would rise to the top, and it does, slowly, but it takes two or three years almost.
D: Yeah, definitely.
J: Some things explode, but I think there’s no…there’s this mainstream mega-machine and also a lot of really great indie artist struggling a bit at times…there is a place for pop music obviously, there always will be, but I think there should be two lanes. Even if it’s pop music 80% and indie music 20, it feels like 99 to 1 right now.
D: Definitely. Huh, I’m glad I got an actual answer…I know a couple of people with labels. It just seems so crazy, but I respect it. Because I couldn’t. I’m like making tapes in my apartment and I feel like that’s just too much work for me. Like, that’s like just too much. I don’t know. It’s cool. Was it crazy? Is it weird releasing your own record?
J: Weird, no. No, it’s good because then I can experience first hand what its like to be on the label. I’m trying to… I’m always in the process of figuring it all out.
J: You’ve got to be on top of everything yourself, that’s the problem. everyone always wants to find a magical wizard, whether it’s a producer or manager, it’s just “Oh I’ll find a guy who does everything creatively and makes me a lot of money.”
D: [laughing] Not gonna happen
J: I mean it can happen i guess, but you can’t bank on it. but yeah, I want to be that wizard for others down the line. I’m just trying to figure that out because the business side is a wilderness where money talks. Money eats, kills, and thrives.
D: It’s true.
D: Um Beethoven or Mozart?
J: I would say Beethoven. I think I relate more to his laborious process. Umm…
D: I’m Team Beethoven. In terms of personality at least, and insanity…and quotable-ism. There’s more quotable-ism with Beethoven
J: He speaks more to me. He’s almost the guy who started I don’t want to say ‘atonal’, but started challenging – almost melodic pushing…
D: Yeah definitely.
J: Mozart was the king of that style but I don’t know…he only very rarely got sad and powerful. Usually kind of flowery.
D: Yeah I always thought Mozart was…I actually can’t think of a metaphor, but someone who is like obviously a genius and technical, but also just like pop. And like sugar…
J: Yeah. His best moments are ridiculous though.
D: Yeah. Beethoven also…gave a shit about what people thought.
J: Yeah. Also I like the fact that he kinda went out with a bang. he did the 9th later in life, was big in his time…I hate that…That’s the thing with music and the same with politics, that like 20, 50, a hundred years later, everyone agrees on everything, but when it’s happening in their own time…
D: Yeah. Beethoven, a weird thing happened where he was seen as a genius in Vienna and no one doubted that, but no one would go to the things he was doing because they didn’t really like it. It wasn’t commercial enough. He would do an opera and it would run two nights and they would ask him to maybe, “can you change a few notes here, can you just like…?” He’d be like nope! And it was done. And so he was broke… but he was seen as the greatest and he got offered…
J: To do festivals.
D: Well kind of actually. He got offered to go to other jobs in Italy and other places to write music in cities and courts and they would pay him. And then the city of Vienna created a clause that the people of Vienna signed saying that they treasure him and that if he just stays in Vienna, they will pay him a salary.
D: Then he stayed. But, yeah. That doesn’t happen now.
J: In Canada it does, I think.
D: (laughing) Actually it might. It might happen everywhere but America.
J: Subsidies and stuff.
D: yeah. Grants.
J: I don’t know anything about that. Cult Records Music grants.
D: I think its time to…Lets get deep.
J: Why not, where else are we gonna go?
D: There’s nowhere else to go.
J: How do you even… just trying to say the right thing. sometimes people who don’t even seem to know…even just innocent bystanders will jump down your throat
D: Oh my god. I actually have a mini art project in the works which is every…I mean I don’t have “every” but screengrabbing every time I say something about like race or marching… Like I went to Millions March on Saturday and-
J: How was that? I saw that on the news in Europe, looked cool
D: It was wild
J: I mean it’s not cool that there has to be…
D: Yeah I mean we walked for like, I did like 4.5 hours and then had to feed the dogs and had to come home. but yeah I’ve been capturing every weird racist response I get whenever I say something because I want to kind of do a weird montage one day-
J: I cant even imagine…
D: Just cause I’m masochistic. But also I feel like it would actually…. Because I think you know like living in new york, it’s pretty… I mean granted these things are happening in new york, but you also know a lot of people that know it’s bullshit and I think it’s easy to forget that outside of that, there’s a lot of people that don’t think its bullshit.
J: Don’t think what’s bullshit?
D: The decisions not to indict-(grand jury declined to indict NYPD officer over chokehold death of Eric Garner)
J: Oh okay
D: Like there’s a large population of people that don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s easy to forget about that. So yeah-
J: that’s the whole issue. That people don’t realize it.
D: Yeah its like, this is still a thing.…I might sound off now..
J: No, sound…
D: I mean two things happened a few weeks ago that I feel no one gets what that really shows it. One was when the Sony hacks happened and then there’s the whole Amy Pascal, and I can’t remember who the other dude is who’s the head of Sony and their emails talking about Obama. Did you read about that?
J: I saw something but I didn’t see what he said
D: Yeah so the emails, they were about to meet Obama and they were saying things like, “should I ask him what his favorite film is? Probably 12 years a slave hahaha” “Yeah I bet he likes Tyler Perry movies hahaha.” And there are emails that are like out of this world…so that happened.
D: And then the other thing was on a much much smaller scale, someone I actually know was outed for being, its so ridiculous, but being a user on this forum or message board where he would write racist, homophobic, and sexist slurs and tirades and stuff and everyone said, “Well that’s the language of the message board,” and the band said “we don’t tolerate this language, you know, I’m really upset about it, but he’s not racist, this guy.He was just caught up in using the board,” and that seemed to be the general theme of what everyone was saying.
J: “I’m not racist… BUT”
D: Yeah exactly! The general theme seems to be, “He’s just talking the language,” you know. And what no one else is seeing about this is that that in 2015, if you live in a major city or whatever, that is the modern racism now. Like it’s not a case of a white guy saying “get off the bus” or… you know this stuff still happens but its not as, no pun intended, black and white, as we’ve been brought up to believe.
J: Of Course
D: You know we’ve been brought up to believe, especially in the last 20 or so years, “don’t hate people of other colors” and like “we’re all the same” and all this stuff. But the racism now is people saying things like underlying comments behind your back.
J: Or denying their racism…
D: Exactly. Just because they have friends who are black who they probably do care for and you know like, would like take them out to the movies, you know, they don’t understand that as a black person or any other ethnicity now, when you meet people, the biggest fear you have is that behind your back or deep down, they’ve got thoughts like that. And they will make jokes like that when you’re not around and they will say it. That’s the terrifying thing about this. It’s way more scary than a guy saying “fuck you because you’re black” you know, its way more sinister and terrifying in a way. And that’s the disappointment with this kid and this band…I’m not like “fuck that guy” or anything like that, its more just like “that fucking sucks and I wish I could explain to you how much it sucks cause it’s not in the way that I know you’re thinking it is” and he’s apologized for saying this stuff… But I don’t think anyone understands why these things are bothersome. That’s my sound off.
J: No man it’s-
D: Smash mouth
J: No its heavy, I mean I had a question, let’s talk about when you were jumped by those racist security people at Lollapalooza for wearing a Trayvon shirt.
D: I was just thinking about that today actually.
J: Um it’s sad and scary but every black person depressingly has to accept it in a way, and of course that’s what many white people can’t really understand. I don’t know, maybe that’s not true for everyone…
D: No I think it is true. It’s like with the Millions March, it was a case of…there were people out there who…I mean I cried like 3 times, like it was so crazy feeling. It felt like a wake. It had such a crazy air to it. And fucking Santa Con was the same day and there was Santas walking-
J: The drunk santas?
J: Oh those fuckin people are the worst
D: They’re the worst! And it was such a real fucking like…
J: the ultimate contrast
D: It was insane and you would see people…There was one moment
J: (Laughing) You guys shamed the Santas
D: There was one moment where there was 3 Santas and they felt, I could see in their face how bad they felt. But all the other ones I saw, it was just such a… I was just grateful so many people came out to march who aren’t black, who are just genuinely hurt and upset about this because I felt I didn’t have a choice but to be in the Millions March. There’s no other thing that day that was more important for me than to do that. And so it was really touching and… I mean touching isn’t even the right word, I wish there was a better word but to see people who just, they feel it. And they know it’s fucked up and they’re not black or…they’re white. It was really something. Seeing the older generations like walking is crazy. it just felt like everyone really has had enough. I don’t know… There was one guy I saw who was maybe 50 something, and the sign had a face on it and it said “they killed our neighbor” and it had his date of birth, which was ‘60 something and the date of his death which was ’85 and this man in his 50s just walking….and I mean it was a real….there were so many instances like this
J: its really not even close to questionable. It’s so obvious that its almost, I don’t want to say a “Racism Test” but if you think “well you know, the guy had a heart condition” or if any of these things cross your mind as excuses then you just don’t see… you’re not judging things objectively. I mean there’s just endless examples, its centuries…
J: Of the latest incidents, maybe the Tamir Rice one is probably the hardest one to deal with cause –
D: That’s the craziest one
J: He’s just alone in a fucking playground. How many times have you, and me…just alone playing with a toy gun. He didn’t even have time to react. I mean the car ran him over basically, its like…if that motherfucker doesn’t go to jail-
D: Then…I’m scared. If that person doesn’t go to jail, then I’m like generally scared what would happen.
J: this is a point that I might butcher but,…This is something my stepdad says, but if you can convince white people to realize that by defending a few bad people, you’re actually making the future for yourself 100 times worse. you can still be for the police and not have to protect bad apples
D: Yeah, no exactly.
J: Like for me, I think it’s, I don’t know man, I honestly think a lot of it probably comes down to education too I think…
J: …if people studied slavery more in detail leading into recent history – and they understood better how it led up to this day, how it is, I don’t think it would be quite as bad. I don’t really think people understand. and see how the civil rights movement was really beginning and kinda de-railed after King got shot. and I think the worst thing that happened from Obama being president, who I think is still, within the totally broken system we have, is the Michael Jordan of politics, is that many white people just thought “Oh, racism is gone,” that whole…
D: Exactly. Yeah, this is, that’s what I think about a lot actually. It’s always education. Like for example people that want to be cops, become cops and…that is terrifying. People need to plant the seed so we have good people, which it all has to do with education. I mean it’s crazy in England as well. Like in England you’re not taught anything to do with race or like black people or what’s happening.
J: That’s why they’re so racist in Europe because they think…
D: Yeah no really!
J: like the French, think of themselves as intellectual, and they are, but when I went to France right after Obama won, two separate people tried to tell me racist Obama jokes as soon as I got there…and it was just like, “No man, that’s not the vibe.” I just think in America its somewhat more dealt with I think here. They didn’t really have that culture clash
D: Yeah, exactly.
J: They think they’re above it cause they’re smart about many other things, but they’re actually a bit in the dark, generally, when it comes to race things.
D: Yeah, I mean all growing up it was something. I don’t know if you know, but I was like really intensely bullied when I was younger
J: You were what?
D: Really intensely bullied
J: Bullied. Wow
D: When I was younger, growing up. Like hospital shit.
J: Oh jesus.
D: Its pretty, pretty crazy. And the craziest thing about it is that the majority of the people that were doing it were black. which is kind of a weird thing because where I was growing up is actually severely racist and you know the British National Party, the BNP, have and always will be unfortunately, in power in this county. And you know it’s a pretty crazy racial divide. But I was being bullied by black people for like not looking like them, for being different. And you know, in my school it was fine because I played soccer, basketball, and I was pursuing my music career but also like rapped, but was like playing in a metal band. They just kind of like knew me, so it was just kind of fine. And you know I would always score in the soccer games
D: You know (laughing)It was kind of like, the issues they had in maybe the first year or so of me being in school were easily washed away because they got to know me. It’s sounds cliché but its true. But outside of school, I would get brutalized but I always thought it was because of this weird uneducation that’s just always gone through England of people not knowing exactly what black people have gone through. I feel like if there was some underlying notion in the back of these people’s heads of like, “It’s pretty insane for you to pick on this other black kid because he’s not wearing, like a hoodie or something,” you know? And it kind of fucked me up for a long time because I had kind of grown up with this like central hatred but obviously I wanted to be proud of my culture and race but everyone I knew of my culture and race would like spit on me and like kick the crap out of me. (laughing) So I kind of grew up with this crazy, you know, yo-yo of a mind. So it’s weird, I honestly only feel like its been the last 7 years that I’ve even begun to deal with any of that. But you know it’s a similar thing, I think, just the education….
J: …does this ever come into the music lyrics and stuff that you do?
D: Maybe, I mean… Yeah I mean sometimes I do …a lot of my lyrics tend to be about pretty fragmented things that I present as if it’s like a yearning love song, but what they are actually about is usually not that at all.
D: So they tend not to be about one- well sometimes they are, but usually it’s like…it’s more like a group of five songs and then within those five there is different things interlocking.
Like a verse can be about one thing then the chorus is something else I’m thinking about. That’s usually what happens. Umm, I also write lyrics in a way where… I never sit and write lyrics I always do them once the music accompanies it.
J: Just hearing you talk about all that politics stuff, again I’m not thinking of interviewing you, as a human or friend or whatever…music fan. I’m thinking when you’re talking to me, it sounds like a modern version of almost like a Bob Marley song, you know what I mean?
D: I actually…I think I played you a song I had called “All Black Cast”. I think I did. Because there was a period where I was writing, just before this last album, where I wrote a lot of songs kind of super going there, and this was 2011. And then I didn’t really go through with it. the day after the Trayvon Martin case, I went to the Union Square Rally. Then I went home, and for that whole week wrote a whole album of songs that were just about how I was feeling about the entire thing. My goal was to create a fake email account and email it to publications for free to put out, because I wanted it to be out…and this is a problem that I have in general, but I didn’t want ME to be the aesthetic. I didn’t want myself to be in the way of what I was thinking and what I wanted to say. And I wrote this album, and…
J: So you gave it to Josh Groban
D: So that’s the new Miley Cyrus album.
J: “Black Lives Matter” by Josh Groban
D: But oh my god. It was called “Black Out” and I wrote it and I just kind of…I think I lost my nerve in the last second. And didn’t do it. But I have those songs still.
J: what’s making that noise?
D: I think it was a small human.
J: Oh okay. I thought it was a parrot or a dog…
J: Do you need to go?
D: I’m not sure…
J: Should we go play soccer?
dev and julian play soccer “a lot” / jersey boys
D: (laughing) Oh my god.
J: Should we stop at exactly one hour? I feel like, I don’t know. We haven’t figured it all out. We haven’t made a conclusion. you need to go don’t you?
D: I might need to