Ireland’s own spoken word festival, Lingo Festival, kicks off next month from October 21st-23rd. One of the performers set to take to the stage in the Workman’s Club in Dublin is Sage Francis, owner of independent record label Strange Famous and a massive figure in the mixing of hip hop and spoken word. He’s fresh off an Edinburgh Fringe run alongside B Dolan showcasing their show, Epic Beard Men. We got a chance to ask Sage a few questions about his experiences in Scotland, performing live and loads more.
How would you describe the recent show you having been performing with B Dolan, Epic Beard Men?
“It was a bizarre throwback to the era when we originally crossed paths in the spoken word scene. That was back in the early 2000’s and we’ve worked diligently to separate ourselves from all of that. So, yeah, NATURALLY we decided it was time to go full circle in 2016 and throw ourselves back in the fiery pit of spoken word. Haha, nah. Since it was a world we got to create all on our own while mixing in some music, it was a lot of fun. That’s what I’ll be doing at Lingo Festival as well, so…I’m more than ready.”
Is it something you’ll be planning to take on the road again?
“I’d be interested in doing that, especially since we just did 25 spoken word shows and the performance is tight as hell, but I don’t think it’s in the cards right now. I might sneak in some local performances, but mainly we need to square away the Epic Beard Men project so that we have a bunch of new material to release and perform next year.”
How was living in Scotland for a month to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe? What was the worst food you are while you were there? They’re known for selling some pretty foul stuff.
“It was a total treat. We would do our performance early in the day and then spend the rest of the time trying to find wifi. At night we would write and record Epic Beard Men demos, especially if the internet wasn’t working. Which was always. We were spoiled by food though, so I’m not sure why you think they have the worst food. Honestly, the worst food was probably the pizza because none of you guys really know what pizza is supposed to be like.
Our favorite spot was a Malaysian place on our way back from the venue. I guess the worst food was actually veggie haggis which was too mushy and couldn’t have tasted much worse than actual haggis. On the flipside, there’s a place called Henderson’s that served up a delicious vegan doner kebab. And I’m not really high on vegan shit, but it surprised me how tasty it was. There was a crepe place that was out of this world. Man, all the food in our general area was better than anything around where I live so I can’t complain. I need a Sainsbury’s. That’s how desperate I am for options.”
Which do you prefer performing, rap shows or spoken word sets? How do you prepare differently for each, or is it the same process?
“I prefer a mix of both and that’s always been my preference. If I do too much of one, I want to even it out with the other. I think music shows can be bigger and be more fun for the audience when the sound is right, but spoken word can affect people just as effectively if not more when the conditions allow it.”
As someone who has spoken about the bad aspects of social media in your music, you’re also very good at it. Do you genuinely enjoy having the one to one access to fans daily? Also having been early on the Internet rap scene, is social media everything you could have wanted back then?
“I spoke to a tree once. The tree told me to leave it all behind. I told the tree that, as an indie artist, I had no choice. Social media is my only connection to the public and, sure, I could pay someone to run my accounts but I don’t want anyone touching my stuff. The tree had no response. It just stood there like a big, dumb, peaceful piece of shit.”
Last time we talked you said that you needed to tour for your mental and physical well being. Do you think you’ve found a balance between achieving that and exhausting yourself?
“Touring has been essential in keeping me out of the muck. I have not found a proper balance. I am a person of extremes, and I kind of fear that I could have a healthy home life but it would mean abandoning everything else I’ve worked so hard for with my music and record label. Life is long. Not forever enough.”