Aesop Rock: I told myself I’d quit my job and give myself one year to try to make it work

by Bryant Liggett

Ian Matthias Bavitz, aka Aesop Rock, will perform in Durango on Saturday at the Animas City Theatre, along with Rob Sonic, DJ Zone, and Homeboy Sandman. Downtown Lowdown columnist Bryant Liggett interviewed Bavitz via email.

With “The Impossible Kid,” – your latest album – has your approach to writing, producing and recording your records changed over the years?Yes and no. Generally speaking it’s pretty similar. The writing involves tons of note-taking, and piecing these small ideas together into something larger over time. I rarely sit and write a single verse or song all the way through. Production wise, the biggest advancement I’ve made since the beginning was switching over to Protools some time in the early 2000s. Before that it was strictly samplers and 8 tracks. Bringing the computer in as the hub for everything allowed me to produce the songs, write them, and record them simultaneously – in any order I want – or work on all three of this elements little by little until I arrive at something. That said, it’s still a lot of gathering samples, some live instrumentation, and mixing it all up.

At what point in your life did you say making music – your art – that this is what you would “do?”I quit my last day job in 2001. I always worked on creative endeavors, drawing,painting, music, etc. – but that was the first time I told myself I’d quit my job and give myself one year to try to make it work. It was right before my ’01 record “Labor Days” had come out, and it felt like a little momentum was building, so I just went for it and haven’t looked back.

Has touring remained important? Is that the best way to get your music into the hands of the audeince?It’s important to keep money in my pocket. It’s also, while extremely stressful, a great way to spend time with some friends and have a unique bonding experience that only exists in that world. I tend to isolate when making music, so when it’s finally time to hit the road, it can feel pretty nice. It’s difficult stuff though, hard on the mind and body, but it’s a nice break from the routine. It’s all phases though – after too much touring I just wanna be home working, and vice versa.

As a fan, who do you like, who are the artists pushing the envelope these days? How do you continue to push the envelope?Hard to narrow down. Love my guy Rob Sonic, Homeboy Sandman, Kimya Dawson, the Mountain Goats, Ka, Mick Jenkins, Wiki, DOOM, Vince Staples, and more.

How did [animator and filmmaker] Rob Shaw come along to make that video for the album?He offered his services to me many years ago during another project. He’s done videos for several of my projects, and this time around I just said “would you wanna just handle all video content for the new one?” And he was on board. Super good dude, easy to work with, very talented, and having one person on board for the whole vision makes it feel easy and unified. We can tie things together well, keep a lot of the same crew on the shoots, and just get a team vibe going, instead of having to find someone new each time. Rob is fantastic and has put a ton of work into this album. There might be one or two video elements that creep out done by other folks, but Rob certainly has handled the bulk of everything and I couldn’t be happier about having him as an ally.

Bryant LiggettThis interview has been edited lightly for clarity and style

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