Outasight is a New York-based hip hop artist who will appear next year on Pod Across America and The Mental Nomad Podcast. (This year's shows are completed, save maybe another contest blurb.) He's interviewed here courtesy of Ariel Publicity.
Where are you from? Born and Raised in Yonkers, N.Y.
How does living there affect your songwriting? Yonkers has allowed me to enjoy suburban lifestyle yet still only be 20 minutes from the city, where I have spent most of my time being inspired by the bright lights and big city action. People-watching in itself is inspiring to me.
Do you focus on any political themes? If so, please tell us in more detail about them. I was a political science major in college, and I swore politics off, especially in music after years of trying to figure this world out on a political scale, so no political themes.
How long have you been playing, and what was your first instrument? I have been playing music since childhood, first instrument was my father's 1975 Ovation Electric Guitar. Ovation actually does not even make electric guitars anymore, so I consider it a timeless piece.
How much has heartbreak contributed to your songwriting? I believe it was Elvis Costello who wrote something along the lines of, inspiration comes from either falling in love or having your heart being broken. I agree. Heartbreak has helped inspire me even on songs that aren't about a woman. Sometimes you just reach down and feel that sympathy for yourself and use it to fuel a whole different type of emotion on the record.
What are your main musical influences? A mixture of soul and hip hop artists. Stevie Wonder and The Beatles are the classics. Then soul singers like D'angelo -- his album Voodoo is my all-time favorite -- plus hip hop innovators such as the late great J. Dilla, Mos Def and The Roots all serve as big influences.
What's the last album you bought that you're enjoying? Q-Tip's The Renaissance. He is another big influence, both solo and with A Tribe Called Quest. Also Foreign Exchange's Leave It all Behind, which my personal favorite of '08.
Have you seen any great live shows lately? Well, I was recently attending the MTVU Woodies awards and really was diggin' both Santogold and Vampire Weekend's set. I hope to now check both of them out in the near future. Santogold especially, she was incredible!
What's the most personal song you've ever written and what was it based on? Most of my songs come from personal experience and then flipped through to the eyes of another, almost creating a character.
The most directly personal record I have done is probably "Runnin 08," which was a serious interpretation of The Pharcyde's "Runnin." We flipped the song both musically and lyrically, and the lyrics were actually just pieces of letters I had written to former friends/lovers. The chorus says, "I've been runnin' for way too long..."
... Which is how I dealt with these certain types of relationships. So I felt addressing it would be the only way to move forward.
What is your guilty pleasure band? Maroon 5. Or Coldplay. I know, I know. But both bands have great records.
What was the first album you ever bought? It was 2 off my mom's old Columbia House offer. A Tribe Called Quest's The Low End Theory and De La Soul's 3 Feet and Rising. Still own both.
If you could create your own fantasy music festival, who would the top six headliners be? Since this a fantasy, I am going to assume this means alive or dead. ... The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Prince, The Fugees. Wow.
If you could craft an all-star band, who would play in it? I have done this before using only dead players. This time I'm going to mix it up. On drums is ?uestlove from The Roots. On bass would be The Who's John Entwistle. Lead guitar is Jimi, rhythm is Clapton. Keys and vocals is Elton John, with Marvin on lead vox. What the hell would that sound like???? Pure genius.
What is your favorite physical record store? Amoeba in LA. Fat Beats NY.
What is your favorite movie? So many. The Usual Suspects. Do The Right Thing. Godfather 1 and 2. Goodfellas. City of God. Pinero. ...
M&M's plain or peanut? Peanut.
David Johansen or Iggy Pop? Iggy.
Keith or Mick? I'm a lead guy. Mick.
Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. Preferably Mint Chocolate Chip.
Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert? Stewart. Not even close.
What do you think is the most alarming media story in the last few months? Alarming in a good way ... Obama is our President!!! Alarming in a bad way ... we're in an economic crisis!
Do you support any specific charities and how do you give back as an artist? Well, besides being an environmentally friendly person, I plan over the next year contributing more to specific environmental-friendly organizations.
Have you read any great books lately? Just read Gonzo, the story of Hunter S. Thompson. That was good. Just started Coltrane by Ben Ratliff.
If you were a superhero what famous musician would be your arch-nemesis and why? How bout I'm the OutofTuner and every time I get near T-Pain, his Auto Tune goes haywire. Haha. Just kidding, I like T-Pain.
What is the most adventurous food you've ever eaten? Umm, I try not to adventure too much in the food department. But eating a hot dog at Yankee Stadium is quite an adventure.
Do you read any online music magazines, if so, which ones? Yeah, daily. Okayplayer, Nahright, Pitchfork Media, The Fader Blog are a few of the online music sites I hit regularly. They all provide dope music daily, which is always good for the iPod.
Outasight's music is available from the Thrift Shop Hip Hop site or from Select Records.