Monday, September 24, 2007
Since moving to Lawrence in 2000, rapper Isaac Diehl-a.k.a. iD-has been releasing albums at a prolific clip under various guises: Archetype, The Find, iD & Sleeper, Rain Closet and Lost Cats. With his hands dipped in so many honey pots, the fecund lyricist saw fit to assemble an odds-and-ends collection that offers a wide-angle view of his cluttered consciousness. "Avatar Hotel" boasts producers such as Ming & FS, Sleeper and Miles Bonny crafting left-of-center beats with ripe musical concepts for iD to riff on. Despite its low-key introduction as a handmade self-release, the 19-song album is among the best stuff we've heard this year-local or not, hip-hop or otherwise.
Since moving to Lawrence in 2000, rapper Isaac Diehl-a.k.a. iD-has been releasing albums at a prolific clip under various guises: Archetype, The Find, iD & Sleeper, Rain Closet and Lost Cats. With his hands dipped in so many honey pots, the fecund lyricist saw fit to assemble an odds-and-ends collection ...
lawrence.com: Give us a little introduction about how this record came together.
Diehl: It's basically a collection of stuff that fell through the cracks here and there, and on the back end, some specific songs that I though went with the collection.
What's the significance of the title "Avatar Hotel"?
An avatar is a person who embodies an idea. In Hinduism or Buddhism it's a person who embodies a deity-the concept of the deity or what they represent. I took that as a metaphor for all the people who produced the music on this, because it's so varied : I basically thought of them as being the avatars, embodying the spirits of the songs.
Did you do some of the production and beatmaking?
No, not at all. I co-produced one beat on the album and the rest of it is from people who I've collaborated with. If I did a song for somebody's album, I'd usually say, "Well, let me get one for mine."
Is there a plan for "Avatar Hotel" or is it going to be self-released?
At this point it's just self-released : It's kind of a rare thing for people who seek it out. But I'm also using it as a demo for a couple of the labels that we work with as far as Archetype and iD & Sleeper to see what I can pull off for a future solo release.
What's your creative process like-just constantly trying to stay on it?
Yeah, I'm the kind of person who can't think unless I'm actually doing it. I have to just keep on shooting out ideas until I can piece together good ones.
What kind of recent listening have you been inspired by?
I've been listening to the latest Pinback. I like that record a lot. And "The Information"-Beck's latest.
You also list Paul Westerberg as an influence on your MySpace page.
Yeah, I've been listening to "Stereo."
Have you ever been in a rock band?
Hopefully some day. I write all different kinds of lyrics. I actually spent a lot of time up at Mixtape Studios recently, and on a random day we got together and were shooting around ideas : We set a mic up and I started singing and they were all kind of like, "Whoa-never heard anything like that." It was a really good off-the-cuff moment, so hopefully that piqued their interest enough that we can maybe develop that a little bit. But I'm still so much on the side of working with (hip-hop) type stuff that I don't really know too many rock musicians.
You're working in more live-band instrumentation, especially with Archetype?
Yeah, that's true.
Does that surface on this record or is it more of a hip-hop-production ethic?
This record has one song that features live musicians : Me and a friend produced the beat and then we had them come in and basically recreate it.
How do you think you've developed as a writer?
I couldn't really say. I really have no perspective on that.
Still just Isaac.
I'm still just doing my thing, I guess : Being creative and putting stuff out.
Do you still have a working relationship with Mush Records?
Yeah. The new iD and Sleeper record will be out in something like March of next year. They're going through some changes with their distribution, so they're kind of on hold right now and they have releases backing up.
Tell us about the label for people who don't know much about it.
Mush Records is an independent experimental music and hip-hop label. They started out doing experimental hip-hop beats with people like Doseone. A lot of people who are involved in that whole circle have put out records on there: Sage Francis, Jel, Doseone, cLOUDDEAD : Right now Busdriver is kind of the biggest thing that's come out of the label. He's actually moved to Epitaph. So yeah, they're kind of a prominent, respected experimental label such as Anticon.
Was that encouraging to get a release out on Mush?
For sure. It was surprising seeing as how we just sent them a CDR.
Dreams do come true.
Yeah, I guess so. Me and Sleeper made the album just for ourselves, not really thinking too much about what we were going to do with it. We sent it to a few people here and there just randomly, and they got back to us and said, "If you need a place to put records out for awhile, then we're it." It was definitely a nice surprise.