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Music: Q&A with Blue Scholars

Seattle-based hip-hop duo Blue Scholars is set to perform at WOW Hall this Tuesday. Tickets to the show are available at the UO Ticket Office or on TicketWeb and cost $15 in advance or $18 at the door. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m.

In light of their upcoming performance, Blue Scholar’s MC, Geographer, answered a few questions about their current tour, their most recent album, “Cinematropolis,” and what’s up next for Blue Scholars.

How is the tour going so far?

The tour has been great, we’re just on our fourth night. We’ve played two shows. We played the Seattle Showbox and the Wild Buffalo in Bellingham on the first night. And now the tour really begins. We went home after the first three nights of the tour, so to be in Portland now…it’s hotels, it’s all that fun stuff. I’m looking forward to playing some new material.

Is this new material beyond your latest album?

Yeah…we dropped a stream of a previously unreleased track a couple of days ago and we’ve been doing that live and then Sabzi has his rapping debut on this tour and we’re doing it in every city.

What do you hope fans take away from your live shows?

From this round of live shows? It’s always great to be able to do something like this without the pressure of ‘we’re promoting a brand new album’ and ‘everybody, it’s in stores.’ It’s kind of like, you know, we’re in the cycle where the album’s already been out for one year, so we’re catching a wave of people who may have been new to it… If you’re not in the album release cycle, it’s cool to see who our die-hard fans are, you know, it’s like, people who will come to see you regardless of if you have a new album out or not.

You held a short film contest after the release of “Cinematropolis.” What was it like seeing people’s interpretations of your songs with the film like they did?

Oh, it was cool, the response was overwhelming — like to the point where we had to set up two different nights at the studio to see over 100 entries. On one hand it was what we expected, we knew that there would be a lot of different looks, a lot of different creative energy that went into it, a lot of varying degrees, from people just getting started and some more polished numbers. But then there were definitely some surprises, including the three that we picked [as the winners] and unfortunately a few that didn’t make the final three but were just as worthy. So I think we accomplished our mission with that and we were actually very overwhelmed with the amount of aspiring filmmakers out there who were down to give one of our songs a try.

What was the inspiration to hold a short film contest like this?

Well we…you know, there are people out there who will make their own music videos or even make their own short narratives…so we had a couple videos made for us, like someone was like ‘Hey, I took one of your songs and made a video of it, check it out.’ And we were like, ‘Well this is not an official video, but let’s share it with everybody. Let’s put it on our Facebook, post it up on Twitter and see what the response to it is like.’ And they were overwhelming. One of them got like 700,000 views, just a fan-made video for one of our songs and I think when we saw that we were like ‘Hey, this is already happening without us here, so imagine what the response would be if we actually put it out there as a contest.’

You decided to fund your album “Cinematropolis” through Kickstarter rather than through a label. Is Kickstarter and the success that you found with it something you think you’ll continue to do with future albums?

I think it’s definitely always going to be an option now. We are working on new material, we haven’t gotten to the conversation yet about how we’re going to put it out, but once that comes around we’ll definitely see to the pros and cons of the Kickstarter “Cinematropolis” campaign we did and we’ll see if it’s something we want to do again.

Do you see Kickstarter becoming a platform that musicians will choose over working with labels?

There have already been a few that we’ve seen. Macklemore did a Kickstarter campaign for a music video. We have some friends of ours who did a Kickstarter campaign for their album…which went really well, it went above and beyond their goal. So I think it’s just going to be one of those things where it’s going to continue to happen as an option for independent artists. It may or may not necessarily be Kickstarter as the platform, but the idea of crowdsourcing, crowdfunding is not an idea that’s going to go away any time soon.

What’s up next for you?

For Blue Scholars, we actually just put out this unmastered song, we’re going to finish up that project and we’re sitting on a few other songs. If all goes well, we’ll be able to put something together. It probably won’t be a full-length album project, it’ll be a collection of maybe unreleased material or an EP, released early 2013. But for the rest of 2013, we’re actually going to keep it light. I’m going to back to college, I’m going to be going back to school to finish up my bachelor’s degree. Sabzi is going to go back and forth between Seattle and L.A. working on music with a girl, called Maiden Heights, which is him and a female vocalist. And I also have a solo record I’m going to be working on for 2013. So 2013 is probably going to be a year of Blue Scholars putting out more videos and some new tracks, in-between album kind of tracks. But for the most part we’ll be carving out some space to work on side projects and stuff like that. I’m excited about this.


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