What creative things do you have going on right now?
My band Low Mentality, which is in its third year of existence, is my creative outlet. I think of it as a rock band but there is a very heavy influence from all the African and Caribbean music that I have been working with over the years so the music is all very danceable and groovy. I write songs about whatever I want and am lucky to be performing them with a great crew of pals (including the one and only Timothy Allen of Antibalas on bass). We just released a 45 on 3rd Generation Recordings and we're gonna be putting out our debut album next year. This past year we have also starting performing as the backing band for the legendary Ethiopian keyboardist Hailu Mergia, which has been an incredible, mind-expanding collaboration and exploration.
I'm also working on my first-ever film score right now. I am trying to keep the project a bit of a surprise, but I'm comfortable saying a lot of people (hundreds of thousands?) are going to see it. The excitement of being involved is still outweighing the fact that I barely know what I'm doing. It'll turn out great I'm sure.
What was your favorite Antibalas show/moment of the past few months
I've had a lot of unforgettable experiences with Antibalas this year-- playing the beautiful music of Paul Simon at Carnegie Hall
, my having my first experience ever playing a show in an NBA arena
... It's kind of hard to pick. But our show in Ecuador
in March still stands out as one of the most life-affirming concert experiences I've ever had. Seeing people of all ages getting down to our music was really eye- and soul-opening. Everybody in the theater was really TOGETHER, in a way that you don't often see in NYC. It reminded me that when you create a good feeling it can be enjoyed by everyone, and that prioritizing hipness in your expression is the wrong way to go. The trip to the hot springs up in the mountains the following day was also sublime (shouts to Martín
for the hot springs knowledge).
What do you most worry about and what are you doing about it?
Well, our most recent Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said, "corporations are people too
," and perhaps the world's most influential living musician Jay-Z said, "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man
." Today it feels like almost every form of public expression is mitigated by corporate attitudes, if not by corporations themselves directly. The access created by new media has allowed for people to be able to spread serious messages, but they usually have to elicit extreme reactions like shock or outrage in order to be heard through the surrounding advertisement. As someone who has never really fit into the social categories of people around me, I am really aware of how this pressure to condense messages can be damaging to people who already struggle to have their voices heard. I am concerned that the things we see now as being convenient and efficient will ultimately divide us further. What I'm doing about it is to continue running my mouth, but mainly because I can't help it.
Where can people find out more about what you're doing?