The artist formally known as…Cloudy October

June 23, 2010 at 08:53 1 comment

What’s in a name, what’s in a phrase? Alternative, left-field hip hop…maybe, but when the first chords of ‘The Aviator is Dead’ hit, you might feel like you’re sitting in a caravan in the middle of a volcanic landscape and all you can hear is the wind and the sound of hot lava bubbling under your feet. The man who created the album, Cloudy October, has nothing to do with volcanoes and lives in an ancient building somewhere in Portland, Oregon. He’s somewhat secretive and has had more name changes than Prince or Puff Daddy.

Sometimes, he visits the library and has a dig around his local record shops for a few good sample chops. Cloudy October isn’t in the music game for money or fame cause only art can break your heart, but Kitsch can make you rich…I was intrigued when he first wrote to me saying: “note to self: All my female cousins have become women out of no where. I decided to document this phenomenon in my song Two Rude Dudes. I had this beat for years and it always made me smile and laugh so I decided to rhyme on it…The plot takes place at my grandmother’s house in Atlanta, most the song. I hope you can find time to listen.”

The result of our chat in the bungalow is an interview about names, living for the moment, racism, and also about long-lost Thundercats action figures and library cards…

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What’s good – can you introduce yourself?

This might be the hardest one to answer hahah. umm, my name is Cloudy October, sun of Carolina. I am a half-american producer/songwriter living in Portland Oregon currently. I am a participant in the arts, currently music being the main one I put most of myself into. Right now not working a nine-to-five is real good and having an opportunity to be questioned and raise attention towards my work is mighty fantastic. How are you?

Cloudy October – is it a feeling, a certain sound or just a name?

I was given the name Cloudy October because it is a time of the year in most places that people really disregard. It is a time that people are regretting the departure of summer even. I am a person who is always attempting to be in the present moment so even a cloudy day in a gloomy month cannot really equate to a bad day for me. My current title is a reminder, for me and others, to ensure anyone who encounters me, has an extra reason to accept the present moment. Or maybe even look into books that are written about being in the present moment, after our encounter.

Cloudy October – the legend, the secrecy…You’re rumored to have been born in Atlanta, had facial surgery and have gone through several name changes. what’s the best thing about having a new name, does it open certain doors? can you reveal some of your previous names?

Having a new name is great. Depending on the reason I guess haha. I think for many people, weather a name change comes from Marriage, Divorce, or a personal emotional decision, like myself, can be beneficial. I have many female friends, one being my mother, who often keep last names of men who have done horrible things. All so they can have yet another connection to their offspring. I heard that Flying Lotus used to be called the Piano Overlord or some shit. Switching names probably allowed him to break away into some new sound.

For me, being a black man without a eurocentric name gives me all sorts of extra room in my day to inform people about the importance and meaning of a name when my current title raises interest. There is so much history in our names, interesting and painful shit. I have had many rhyme names as well; Kid Hype, Kwondo The Red Eyed One, and Pineapple Jack are a few.

This is a line from your track Vagabondage:

“born in the land of the raped and the used, I guess that makes me nameless too.” The name theme crops up again, can you elaborate on that?

What frame of mind were you in when you wrote the lyrics to that track?

Man when I wrote those lyrics I was in my usual; ‘america is racist as shit’ moods. The more I discover about current systemic racism and the recent history of racism within U.S. policy, the less american I feel. Half american actually. Most African-American names, especially last names, are often directly connected with previous ownership from the transatlantic Slave trade. Vagabondage is about homelessness from a few perspectives, and about racism as well.

To know my first given name is connected with such horrible and ignored events, that mirror the present inequalities between whites and non-whites, makes me feel as if I have never had a home or a name.

Who are some of your favourite musicians?

All of them. just kidding. Stevie Wonder, Prince, LL COol J, KRS-ONE, Busy Bee, THE COld Crush Brothers, The Treacherous Three, Run DMC, Pete Rock, Aesop Rock, Mark the Forty Five King, Marley Marl, Edan, Rakim, Poor Righteous Teachers, Musiq Soulchild, Heavy D, The Funk Brothers, Michael Jackson, Juice Crew, The Alkaholiks, Freestyle Fellowship, Hiero, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Quincy Jones, Rick Rubin, Fiona Apple, Zero 7, All the rappers rhyming under Native Tongues in the mid 90s. Nas. Jay Z. Eminem. I could go on haahha. so many great mutha phuckas.

What do you do when you’re not in the studio, the Action Office II? what can you tell us about your studio, what’s it look like in there?

I have the very typical, 5000-dollar home studio that took me years to slowly acquire all the gear to complete. It’s like an adult vintage dorm of sorts I gather. Being that I live in a very old building, it has its charm. I am surrounded by organs, chord posters and sheets for curtains. There is really never a time when I am not in the studio. I had a huddle with three other Portland artists recently who, like myself, make no money with music but work more on music than we do for other people. That’s that Portland Oregon shit for real. If I ain’t at the Action Office II, I am usually doing a show, hanging with Mr. Jeigh, or hanging out at the Library or at 99 cent Records.

Who did the cover art for the ‘Aviator is Dead’? Is it a concept album?

My brother Nicholas Graham of Sheetfort via Pinball Publishing, built the whole design. He did an excellent job. We are really proud of it. It looks so so good. For a debut, this album makes rappers bleed for days. You should see the blood trails around the city here.

When I hear the term ‘concept album’ I always think of more elaborate efforts, like Edan’s ‘Beauty and the Beat’ or any Rupert Holmes record. I don’t think ‘The Aviator is Dead’ is a concept album. I do feel that it is a small album with a great concept. Aviation in hip hop is somewhat dead because anyone can record music and over saturate the already over saturated market.  On the contrary, the Aviators, the Pioneers blueprints are so available using the same tool that also makes music kind of suck, the fucking computer. One can choose to study up and come correct, or regurgitate and ignore the present moment with some nostalgic bullshit.

You say you like watching Knight Rider, how do you like the A-Team or Thundercats?

I was never really into the A-Team. I would like to see some more of it to see what its all about. Now Thundercats…Super into them as a kid. I still remember losing my Mum-Ra and Lion-O action figures after a ‘show and tell’ in the first grade. Come to think of it, this is the first time I have come to the realization that they may have been stolen, thanks Beat Bungalow.

What have you got to tell about Portland, Oregon – what are your favourite places to hang out?

Portland has many of the same negatives any city has. but the positives are kind of one of a kind. FOr a person who is aspiring or already and artist, its a key place to be. Many spots to live at for cheap. A transit system that would be beneficial even in a larger city, so no need for spending money to use and maintain a vehicle. There are many cool spots to chill at and so many live shows its ridiculous. I like to hang out at 360 vinyl, 99 cent Records and the Library for sure.

Anything else you’d like to say?

I just want to say thanks again for this opportunity. Its a first for me. Normally I only do local radio interviews. Also I would like to remind all who like anything regarding myself to download my debut album ‘The Aviator is Dead’ for free.

Please keep in mind that joining the mailing list of an artist you think is dope is almost as good as buying his or her shit. Also, If you want to make sure I eat, I am on itunes and amazon and damn near every site you can think of and will be on Pandora in a few months.

Last but not least I would like to mention that I am about to make what I foresee as being an incredicle second album before the year is through. stay tuned, pretty please.

thanks;

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