What is your favorite memory from childhood? What did you dream of?
I started playing baseball when I was 7 or 8 years old. I loved it right away. And it became my dream to be a professional baseball player. My favorite memories are of playing baseball. I was good and it was fun, but it also calmed me down. Life made sense when I was playing baseball.
How did you come to love baseball? Has it influenced your music?
My introduction to baseball came when someone organized a league in my town. At first I didn’t want to play. But then I heard all my friends were going to play, so I changed my mind. I’ve written a few songs about baseball, but I wouldn’t really say the game influenced my music, even though it’s a big part of my life.
Since you started making music, have you ever thought about stopping or changing occupations?
I thought about stopping in 1999 after my mother died. I hadn’t had any success and was beginning to get frustrated. I went back to school to look into continuing studying medicine. But before than happened, I was given an endorsement by the guys from Radiohead. They helped me a lot. My career took off shortly after that.
Do you remember the first music that strongly influenced you?
Probably the first thing that really influenced me was the Beastie Boys’ first album. I was 13 when it came out. It changed my life. I guess it was the first thing I heard that gave me the idea that I could do it too.
What is music to you?
Music is the ultimate form of telepathy. Not only can you put your words and thoughts into someone else’s head, but with the music, your mood, your emotions as well. It’s magic.
Do you play any musical instruments, in addition to your DJ skills?
I can play most things a little bit, but nothing really well. I was trained in tuba for five or six years.
How has music influenced you? Can I say that if it were not for the music, then you would be a completely different person?
Yes. If it wasn’t for music I would probably be playing baseball and I can’t imagine how different a person I would be. I would probably be the opposite of who I am now. Music has given me the opportunity to travel, which has probably been the biggest influence on my life. I learned most of what I know from traveling.
Soon the second Bike For Three! album will be released. Tell us more about your familiarity with Jo?lle and how you work together.
Joëlle and I have still never met. We mostly just communicate through music. The Bike For Three! songs are a conversation between us. I asked if she would want to collaborate on one new song for my next album. We did and that opened the door to a whole new album. Once we started, it happened fast. There are challenges in working from a distance, but it’s the key to what makes it work for us. Knowing there is a stranger on the other end of the line is where the inspiration comes from. We may never perform together. We have made an agreement to never meet. We’ve discussed creative ways to perform together. Something might be possible one day. I would like to try.
If you had to choose any person from any period to work together with, who would it be?
I would like to work with Raquel Welch from the mid-sixties. She has some musical talent and is a great dancer, but mostly I would just want to be near her because she was the most beautiful woman in the world. She’s still very beautiful.
If you were not doing music, what would you be doing?
I studied biology in school. I was pursuing sports medicine. Maybe I would be a doctor.
What is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for you? What has a negative impact on you, on your mood?
Dadaism has been inspiring me for a long time. I can’t imagine it will ever end. I’m a very sensitive person. Almost everything has a negative impact on me. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so sensitive, but mostly I don’t. It’s where my songs come from.
Do you follow the political situation in the world? Do world politics somehow affect you?
I do follow the news. Mostly it’s a nightmare. It affects me strongly. Sometimes I feel the need to hide from it. It can be very difficult to feel optimistic.
Should the political situation in the country influence whether a musician performs in this country or not? That is, should the fans suffer from the musician’s decision not to come to this country?
I really like what Grimes said recently about visiting Russia. Some people were mad at her, but she shouldn’t punish her fans for the actions of their government. Grimes is very smart.
What do you use to expand your consciousness?
Art, mostly. Sometimes sleep deprivation. I’ve never done drugs. I don’t drink either. Pain also gives me a lot.
What does family mean to you?
I’m not close with my family. I wish I was. My concept of it is probably a bit messed up. If I ever have a family of my own (which seems doubtful), I would want it to be close. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a family.
What do you value most in life?
I value my freedom. I don’t mean that in a political way. I went to jail once and had all my freedom taken away. I would want that to ever happen again. It gave me a big appreciation for my freedom to do the simplest things.
Is there anything that you regret and would like to change in your life?
I have tons of regrets. I wouldn’t even know where to start. I’m just a big pile of shame and regret.
In your opinion, what is the biggest achievement in your life?
True love. I think it’s very rare. I had it once. I still love that person, but she doesn’t love me anymore.
What do you think about the present state of affairs in the sphere of hip-hop music? What do you think of the newcomers?
I don’t listen to a lot, but I think the Pro Era guys are very talented. They make great music. And there is still some amazing stuff in the California underground scene. El-P is still consistently doing amazing work.
Who are your colleagues in the field of music?
I’m close with guys like Sage Francis and B. Dolan and Busdriver and Open Mike Eagle. We tour together and work together sometimes.
Can music change the world?
I remember Nirvana changing the world. I hope something like that can happen again. The world needs another Nirvana.
Do you have any idols?
No. I think that’s dangerous.
Which of your works do you like most of all?
I think the best thing I’ve ever done is my Dirtbike albums.
Do you feel satisfied after you’ve finished a song?
Usually I do. Not always. My next album was inspired by my divorce. It was an incredibly difficult time, but I honestly felt better when I finished my album. The next day. Better.
Do you have faith in God? Are you a religious person? Do you believe in reincarnation??
I just don’t have answers for any of that. I don’t know anything. I can’t say how I feel one way or the other. I’ll probably never make up my mind.
How do you see your future?
I’m writing a book now. I hope it will be successful and that my next life will be as an author. But maybe there will still be another life after that. There’s still a lot I want to do. I know I want to live in California at some point.
Many are looking forward to your new solo album. Tell us more about it, when will it see the light of day?
The new album will be out in the spring, I think. Like I said, it’s a divorce record. It’s pretty heavy. Many of the songs were made with a producer from Sweden [Marten Tromm]. So there will be a new sound people haven’t heard from me before on many of the new songs. On my SoundCloud page there is a song called “Fairytales” I made with him, to give you some idea. But I didn’t do all the songs with him. It’s a very personal album. It’s heavy. Sad. Pretty. Dirty, sometimes.
If you could choose a time period, at which time would you want to live?
Mostly, I think the world becomes a better place as we go. So I would like to live in the future. Hopefully a time is coming when most of our problems are solved.
Do you have any hobbies besides music?
I still play baseball a lot. I am a big film enthusiast. I collect some things. I read a lot. Like I said, I’m writing a book…
How difficult is it to make money with music and hip-hop in particular?
It’s almost impossible. It was never easy. Now it’s very close to impossible. Strangely, the new currency seems to be ‘clicks’ and ‘views’ and ‘likes’. It’s weird.
How do you feel about the phenomenon of music piracy and the system of “pay-what-you-want?”
I think it’s just reality. I believe music has value, but I don’t think people ever want to pay for it again. Pandora’s box is open. Music is free now.
Everyone knows that you like to read. This is especially felt when we listen to your lyrics. Tell us about your love for Russian literature. What makes it different from other literature, in your opinion?
In most cases that I’ve read, Russian writers seem to engage the reader directly more than others. You feel like you’re being trusted with a secret. I love that.
A few years ago you were in Russia. I unfortunately didn’t see your performance. What do you remember most about your arrival. Would you like to come back?
I remember being nervous when I arrived, but that went away quickly. I played with the band Beirut and Zach (the main guy) seemed very paranoid. I loved my trip there very much. I want to come back soon. Hopefully in 2014. I want a Russian girlfriend.
If you could speak to the whole of humanity, what would you say?
I would tell people to travel more. See the world, by any means necessary. I think it’s the most important thing we can do.
Are there any questions that I haven’t asked you but you always ask yourself?
Lately I’ve been asking myself how I can protect myself so that the world doesn’t make me a hard person. I don’t want to be hard. I never want to be mean and bitter and angry and totally pessimistic. It’s a difficult challenge.