Facing the music

Sage Francis answers Mainers' questions
By SONYA TOMLINSON  |  July 11, 2007
inside_hiphop_sagefrancis_0
OPENING UP: Sage Francis gets talkative.

It’s well known that Sage Francis has a reputation of being unpredictable and slightly unapproachable. (Hey, we’re all entitled to a little moodiness, especially if our job is to perform for strangers night after night away from all the creature comforts of home.) We wanted to give Portland’s hip-hop community a shot at interviewing this notorious New England legend all the same, just in time for his Sunday-night show at the Station, with Buck 65, Alias, and Buddy Wakefield.

We asked the burning questions (in no particular order) from DJ Graymatter, DJ Mayonnaise, jdwalker, Altruistic, and yours truly, of Sage Francis after nearly eight weeks on the road (traveling with Portland’s own Dilly Dilly in his backing band), via telephone en route to Chicago.

When working with different producers, many MCs have a hard time putting together a cohesive album. How much do you involve yourself on that end of the creative process to ensure a well-conceived finished product?
I fully involve myself because it’s my responsibility to make sure my album comes together in the right way. So I work on a personal level with every single person who gives me music that I decide to work with. At first I have to figure out what music can go with other music and figure out the order. The best way to make a cohesive album is to get it all mixed in the same place. That’s what I’ve discovered so far, using the same engineer to mix everything and give it the same final glossy touch.

"Bucky done gone: Sage Francis’s erratic, brilliant opener." By Christopher Gray.
What does being, for lack of better words, “straight-edge” mean to you and have you always been?
To answer the first part of the question it means you have no friends. And to answer the second part, no.

Was there ever any real beef between you and Buck 65 and, if so, how was said beef resolved before you teamed up on this tour?
It was [an] intergalactic beef and it was resolved through intergalactic counsel. It was a bunch of aliens in bowties that brought us together.

With personal journals you gave people a strong incentive to buy the actual album by including an in-depth liner notes booklet. You also give away a lot of diy-style exclusives for pre-orders from strange famous records to encourage album sales. With the current digital revolution how do you feel about the potential loss of the tangible found in record and CDs as it becomes easier and seemingly necessary for artists to sell songs and albums via the internet as downloads?
It’s unavoidable. I sell my albums on iTunes and I sell it on any other digital Web site that will hold my records. Because, if that's where people are going to get their records, I might as well have my stuff available there, but it’s not what I prefer. I guess I’m already a dinosaur. I really prefer to have the tangible item with the booklet just to have it in hand and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to completely switch.

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