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One-On-One: Busdriver

One-On-One: Busdriver

When it comes to mastering the English language in song, no one can compete with the likes of Busdriver. From his trademark sped-up style first heard in Memoirs of the Elephant Man to his genre-smashing collaborations with Nocando and The Mae Shi the Los Angeles-based rapper has played to crowds of thousands across the globe. His latest album Beaus$Eros continues onward with his traditional flow and artistic elements that have made him a favorite for both fans and critics alike. Via email I had the chance to pick the spectacular master of the vernacular's brain about his current album and recent work with his other two projects.

King Baby Duck: What made you want to go a more poppy route for Beaus$Eros instead of the art rap style fans know you for?

Busdriver: The album does have some pop numbers on there but it isn't super poppy on the whole. Its mostly a milieu of strange. The direction was informed by my tastes at the moment and my need to unveil a series of particular styles. I never thought of what fans would be expecting.

KBD: The album is more of a personal trip than your previous recordings. Was it difficult conveying these inner feelings in song?

Busdriver: No, it was liberating. The language used through out the record had to be a tad more accessible to get most things across. This in itself was great for me at the time because the convoluted rhyming that I'm naturally inclines to do can make the mind grow weary if I'm not centered. And I haven't been.

This approach to writing was therapeutic on various fronts. It helped me simplify my writing as well as be candid about how I was feeling about my break-up and my dealings with women.

KBD: This is your first solo record in awhile without a major label backing it. Is it tougher musically going back to the start, or do you find it refreshing in some way?

Busdriver: I wouldn't say that I've returned to my starting point. The conditions have all changed too greatly for that to be possible... But musically this record was the most liberal. Label backing didn't matter though because we made the thing without a label to begin with.

KBD: Where did the idea for the "Kiss Me Back To Life" video come about?

Busdriver: Visually, my director Chris Coats was going for a Hype Williams thing. The story itself was inspired by one of his feverish dreams.

KBD: One of the things I've always loved about your albums is that my vocabulary seems to grow larger by at least twenty words after I listen to them. Does this talent of the tongue come naturally, or did it come from something you learned (like at your alma mater American University of Paris)?

Busdriver: I like words. The writers that I look up to have deep word banks at their disposal. All I'm doing is trying to mirror them... BTW, I never finished school.

KBD: What was it about Nocando that made you want to team up with him to create Flash Bang Grenada?

Busdriver: Nocan has been the promising up and comer from my rap family Project Blowed for some time. So, I was always eager to work with him. After we pulled off two great songs ("Two Track Mind" and "Least Favorite Rapper") on our respective albums in 2009, it was clear that our chemistry could be explored further. The group just made a lot of sense.

KBD: How did Physical Forms first come about, and can we expect a full-length album in the near-future?

Busdriver: My friend Jeff and I just started making songs on day in spirit of the band that he had helped start, The Mae Shi. From there things just spiraled out of control. It was a gamble that I dove into head first... Hopefully our record we see the day of light one day.

KBD: I gotta ask: was "Picking Band Names" based on true events with either Nocando or with The Mae Shi?

Busdriver: Neither. I wrote the song before those groups came about.

KBD: Does the perception of your music change when you find yourself performing in different countries?

Busdriver: Definitely. It feels like it has a place in most of the European countries that I get to play in. The mishmash of influences in my songs all feel like familiar touchstones in Berlin, Paris or London. In The US its harder to always crack to audience that completely gets most of whats happening. Yet the sense of the world that my songs depend on are all born from modern life in America. So, I mostly feel like I still have an audience to discover even after all these years... Which is exciting.

KBD: What would you like to accomplish for the next chapter of Busdriver?

Busdriver: Producing for myself and other. And making more records.

KBD: Here's something I always end my music interviews with: if you were stuck on a deserted island, and you managed to "Gilligan's Island" a record player, which three albums would you like to have on you to keep you sane until your imminent rescue?

Busdriver: Pete Rock & CL Smooth's Mecca and the Soul Brother, Radiohead's Kid A, and Yes's Close to the Edge

Special thanks to Busdriver for giving us at B3 this opportunity to conduct this interview. "Beaus$Eros" is in stores now, and you can catch Busdriver on tour in America. For tour dates check out his official website! 

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)