! Spotlight: Busdriver’s road isn’t paved in gold
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 V.20 No.8 | February 24 - March 2, 2011 

Spotlight

Busdriver

An underground MC’s road isn’t paved in gold

Down down baby, down by the roller coaster ...
Down down baby, down by the roller coaster ...
Busdriver has never been a superstar.

But if someone gave him the keys to the music-industry-mobile, he says he would surely go for a ride.

He was on the Epitaph label, and he remains on its online roster. "I'm going to be listed there until the day I perish," he says. But he was dropped about a year ago because Epitaph didn't see a lot of earning potential in Busdriver's near future. "There's a lot of desperation in the air as far as the music industry is concerned. If an artist doesn't produce results, they have to get rid of him."

His real name is Regan John Farquhar, and he speaks surprisingly slowly for an MC known for supersonic speed and weird, self-made diction. When we talk, he's home in Los Angeles, and he takes momentary breaks to help his daughter set up an orthodontist appointment.

He grew up rapping, he says, and the crew that he's from, known as 4/29, prided itself on approaching hip-hop the same spontaneous way improvisers approach jazz. "A lot of the rhythms and the pacing is indicative of jazz riffs and horn solos and sax solos."

Rappers of his ilk are independent right now, he says. But he's not against the bling MCs. He's not against commercial rap or top 40 mainstream rap. Though he's known as an "underground" MC, with his dense thematic style and atypical word choices, he’s down with the rap industry, too. "This is not the era of saying no, and it's not he era of thinking that there's such a thing as selling out,” he says. “Even using that idea is dishonest and manipulative. What does that actually mean? You want to forgo an opportunity because you don't want people to have input on what you put out creatively?" It might sound good in theory, he says, but no one actually does that. And if a rapper puts out music without label support, it's usually as a shrewd business move. "Look at Atmosphere. He ended up making a shitload more money."


[click to enlarge]
Though Busdriver's not on a label right now, he did create a record. He finished it in mid-February, about a week before his interview with the Alibi. It didn't yet have a name, and he was trying to shop it around to labels that suit him, that he could coerce into giving a damn about him.

He collaborated with Amsterdam-based producer Loden, though they’ve never met in person. "It's been very liberating. We've worked very well." Busdriver isn't certain what genre the new album will fall into. "It's not a rap record. I thought that it was, but ... ”

Busdriver believes that what he does is geeky kid music. "Adults don't take the time to sit down and listen to a difficult rap song. That's kid shit. I tend to attract antisocial kids who have little or no sex drive." They all look the same, his fans. "Overweight, bifocals. They either play video games or read entirely too much. And they spend a lot of time by themselves."

Music is the only job he's had for 11 years. He’s spent recent months with a bunch of L.A. DIY types, including members of experimental art punk act The Mae Shi. Together, they are Physical Forms, a crew that combines homemade electronics with a love of anthemic pop. The band released a split 7-inch with Deerhoof late last year.

Dweebs, loners and other people are invited to make their way to The Spot, a DIY space in Albuquerque. Big deal or no, "I usually go where people will have me play," Busdriver says. "I'm like a mercenary in that respect."

Busdriver

with ceschi, Dark Time Sunshine, Void Pedal, Sapience Christ and Omen20012
The Spot
504 Yale SE
Tuesday, March 1, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $10, all-ages
Listen at busdriversite.com
 
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