Oyster Interview: Big Boi by D.A. Wallach
From The Peace Issue — out now!
Big Boi loves his bling, his pitbulls and his music, and this is one man who is totally at peace with himself. We had the pleasure of interviewing him for Oyster #102: The Peace Issue — on sale now. Read an excerpt below!
When we were offered an interview with Antwan André Patton — better known as Big Boi — we wanted to find someone who would do the piece justice. As half of Outkast and in his solo career, Patton is one of the most highly regarded artists of our time — a brilliant rapper and producer with a genius ear for samples. Then we remembered D.A. Wallach, a Harvard graduate best known for being half of Chester French (a pop duo discovered by Kanye and Pharrell) and collaborating with people like Diddy, Janelle Monae and Rick Ross. Wallach is also a social media genius — he was the first artist ever to use Facebook, currently sits at just over 1.2 million followers on Twitter and is the official Artist In Residence at Spotify — who just so happens to be a really nice guy. Here is his first ever interview.
D.A. Wallach: This is the first interview I've ever done.
Big Boi: Congratulations!
Thank you very much! Oyster asked me to do it because I'm a musician myself — I've got a band called Chester French — and we've actually met a couple of times.
Yeah, I know.
I think the first time we ever met was down in Atlanta when I was with Jermaine Dupri and he took us by Stankonia Studios, and that was like visiting a temple.
[Laughs] Yeah, man!
I just want to have a free-flowing conversation about creativity and what's driving and inspiring you right now, and if any of my questions are too weird just feel free to let me know.
No, no, no. It's cool, man. The weirder the better — you know how it goes when you're asked the same questions over and over again.
I want to start by asking you why you always seem to be attracted to psychedelic imagery — you created the first psychedelic rap music, as I've ever thought of it.
It just comes from experiment, really. When you go into the whole realm of trying to create sounds and evoke emotion, you really try to go down a road that's less travelled — the road of the unknown, basically — and anything can happen. Sometimes — well, most of the time — the most tripped-out shit that you come across is the most jammin', so it's all about that experiment, you know? Just sitting around and cooking up different things in the studio, piece by piece.
Do you see Outkast or your solo music as being in the tradition of other psychedelic artists like The Beatles or George Clinton — people who have had a sort of 'druggy' aesthetic to what they've done?
I don't know if it's definitely, like, 'druggy', but just tripped-out, really — trippy. To me the music is liberating, you know what I'm saying? To where it's all about… You have to be able to feel the music. I guess, for some people, the best way they can feel music is if they're high, you know what I'm saying? The music is supposed to really stimulate something within you, and I guess if you're high it puts an amplifier on that shit. So, if you get something that's trippy and you're already trippin', you're gonna psych the fuck out.
In terms of it being a personal record, what were you able to get out this time that had been more difficult in the past or that sort of liberated you in some way? Was there anything you think this record really embodied that had been hard to do before — that you finally had a breakthrough on?
I guess it's a form of healing for me. I lost two of my grandparents and my father, so the music has always been like me self-medicating — therapy for me to go in and just kinda mourn and rejoice and find closure, all at the same time. That's what it does, you know what I'm saying? Of course I recorded it for the people, but it means a lot more to me than just a record — these are my feelings and it's a form of therapy. It just really helps me get through it and, you know, it's a gift that was passed down through them, so it's a piece of them as well.
What kind of music were your grandparents into?
Everything from Bob Marley to Isley Brothers, Beatles, Sly Stone, definitely Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins, Phil Collins [laughs], Johnny Cash, everything — my grandmother listened to everything. She used to look after me when I was little and she'd play everything; every week it'd be new songs or new 45s that had come out. She'd send me and my siblings to the record store to go buy her a new record and she would wear that bitch out all weekend long while she was cleaning the house or doing laundry or something.
I know you're a father — potentially a grandfather at some point in the future—
Not that close in the future! [Laughs]
But if you had grandkids and you had to give them a little record collection that really represented you and what you wanted them to know about music — to pass on that tradition — what would you put in there?
I'd definitely put that Bob Marley record that, ah… What would I give them first? I'd give them the Legend album 'cos it's got a lot of the more popular hits, and then they can go into the deeper roots of it. I'd give them the Kate Bush album Dreaming; maybe give them the Kate Bush album Hounds of Love. I'm really into that Kate Bush.
Why Kate Bush? I've always heard you talk about her, and I'm a fan as well. What is so special about her to you?
It's how you can visualise the songs, you know what I'm saying? The way she writes, how certain things can mean more than one thing and you have to kind of decode the records, and the fact that she wrote them and produced most of it is so incredible. I like the music in itself because it's really, really moody and the melodies are just, like, off the wall. Nobody sings like that. It's like a lot of times she's singing against the beat, under the beat… One thing I really love is how a lot of her songs morph into different tunes within one song. You know what I'm saying? From the different breakdowns and everything… And the pianos are beautiful; I love that.
For the full interview pick up a copy of Oyster #102!