Shazam Meets...Asher Roth
For anyone who’s ever been to SXSW, you’ll know that trying to dash between meetings in the Texan heat can be tricky; especially when your GPS has decided to direct you ten minutes in the wrong direction. While we managed to secure a valuable few minutes of Asher Roth’s crazy schedule, it was touch and go whether we’d make it or not. With the help of a local taxi driver, we arrived to find Asher huddled unassumingly in the corner of a Texan sports bar, the Def Jam signed rapper seemed relaxed and perfectly at ease with our time keeping.
While the ‘I Love College’ singer, grabbed some much needed SXSW sustenance, we discussed his experiences of the festival, the pressure of delivering ‘Is This Too Orange?’ and what happened when he decamped to Miami for a week, to work with Pharrell Williams.
How are you finding SXSW?
This is my third one. Last time I was here, I had to feel it out and make the mistakes. I tried doing too much. But then you realise, you have to plan it out. This year has been pretty cool, last night we hosted a karaoke party so we were drinking whisky and chilling. South By is cool, now it’s my 3rd one and I’m friendly with a lot of people performing, it’s a hangout more than it is work; it’s good to have that feeling.
So you’ve previously pushed yourself too far at things like this?
Oh totally, like doing four shows a day and having to be over one side of town then the other. It gets extremely tiring if you don’t know what you’re doing. There’s so much to do and you want to do it all, but you’ve just gotta prioritise. I think that’s like a metaphor for my whole career in general you know? Getting back to the drawing board and prioritising what’s important.
For someone who’s never been to SXSW, how would you describe it?
It’s a sh*t show man (laughs).There’s just a lot going on, you’ve got 6th St which is just bars and drinking and music. That’s the best way to explain South by, drinks and music. They tell you it’s best to do things in moderation, but it’s very hard to do SXSW in moderation, because it’s all over the place. But, it’s a lot of fun and if you’re with the right people and you’re into discovery? SXSW is the place to find some really cool stuff.
So your new album, ‘Is This Too Orange?’ when can we hear it?
We’re really shooting for a May release date, because it’s so warm. If we don’t release it in May, at the latest June, we’d be really screwing up.
What happened with the album title, we heard you’re were all set to go with ‘The Spaghetti Tree’?
We’re always working and sometimes things take on a life of their own. We went down to see Pharrell (Williams) down in Miami and worked with him for 11 days and came up with a bunch of tracks that became a body of work called ‘The Spaghetti Tree’. Obviously when people interview you, you can only talk about what’s going on at that moment. Then with the internet, they take something and run with it and that’s how it is. But it was just what was going on at the time; it was never going to be an official release.
You also released several mixtapes over the last few years. Was that just to get some new tracks out there to the fans?
We have so many with the outlets with direct to fan and the internet, its tough putting out music with a major label or organisation; it takes time. Some of the tracks on ‘Is This Too Orange’ are almost a year old. It takes a while to put that together (with a major label). But, we can’t wait that long! My job is to make music and I can’t really wait around or ask for permission. We have the Twitters, Facebooks, Tumblrs and blogs that are extremely friendly with us and want to put our music up all the time. So we need to provide content to our fans, so rather than wait to put out studio albums we give them something and say ‘hey, come to a show’. So that’s what the tapes are about, plus it keeps me fresh; you gotta work the muscle, work the brain.
Mixtapes have become a huge movement in modern hip hop, but it seems to be limited to the genre; why don’t, say, indie bands do the same thing?
I think it’s one of those outlet things, its promotion for us. We have an opportunity to do what we feel like doing. Hip hop has always been very self-promotional, I think Lil’ Wayne has done it best; just flooding the market with content and songs and having stuff out there. I think it’s just seeing how the music biz is operating in 2012, how the internet has impacted that and seeing how things move really fast. Things are cool for five days, and then move on; so we’ve got to stay relevant and we do that by putting out content.
So your new album is the first on Def Jam, obviously a label with a huge history. Did you feel any pressure because of this?
It’s still only just starting to sink in! I’m so tainted by the music industry now that I’m like “Arrrgh, labels!” But I go over to Def Jam and it’s refreshing, people are smart, young and understand what the music industry is right now. In a collaborative world, there’s no better label to be working with in the world right now.
You mentioned you’ve been working with Pharrell, are there any other collaboration you can tell us about?
Yeah, we’ve got Organized Noize who do a lot of Outkast stuff. Nas and I link back up, Chuck English and I have been working together. From a feature perspective you’ve got Rye Rye, who I love – she’s a little firecracker. We’re just trying to do the right things for the right reasons, there’s a real balance. You know, I’m in the music industry so I need to make sure there is some singles there. Trying to fill that “quota”, achieve that balance; because I’m indie at heart you know?
Is there anyone on your list that you haven’t had the chance to work with yet?
Y’know, I’m a huge fan of K.R.I.T., Theophilus London is great, M.I.A. Then there’s the Bruce Springsteen’s and Stevie Wonder’s of the world, people who I look up to. Would I want to make music with them? Obviously, but would it make the best music? I don’t know…
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