|05.04.17 - No. 17
conversation: Felman shares his wisdom and reflects on EP 'Good Grief'
previously known as Mos Prob has had a wild ride through hiphop and
life in recent years. Just before he jetted off to the USA to keep his
battle skills sharp he kindly sat down to answer a few questions about
his excellent recent project the EP "Good Grief"
currently available on Bandcamp. Mad props to the man himself for such
enlightening/philosophical/intriguing responses, enjoy the read!
Solo Cypher: Good Grief kicks the EP off in
a fairly melancholy tone. You say you were looking for respect and
hearing laughter. Is this still true?
Felman: Because I did four comedy rap albums
and maybe twenty pretty silly battles before writing anything
heartfelt, I did feel like I had a lot to prove. The more I funnelled
into my funny stuff, the more popular it became, but I was getting less
and less happy. There came a point at which I had no option but to make
Good Grief, and there was a lot of that in the opener. I've been
rapping for twelve years and I was definitely getting nervous that I
was piling a lot of time and effort into being a laughing stock. I
think I stopped caring at a certain point. Obviously the respect of
others is important and you don't get too far without it, but
ultimately it's about self-respect as much as validation from external
places. I think I've found a fair bit of self-respect since I wrote
Good Grief and I think less now about how I'm received. I'm better at
rapping than I ever thought I would be, and I've had some great
feedback and encouragement so I'm happy. But only because I've started
to get on with myself. Otherwise it would be largely meaningless.
"I had a pretty
thorough meltdown after recording
Good Grief and had to really sort myself out to keep my job and my life
Solo Cypher: I do
enjoy some of the visual imagery you create such as "picking out little
scabs and ripping them open" comes to mind. How do you go about finding
inspiration or hone your observational skills in order to develop these
sorts of vignettes?
Felman: Books, weird books, and lots of them.
I like reading stuff I don't understand and forcing my head around the
metaphors until they make sense or reinforce a picture that fits. I
love writers like David Foster Wallace, Kurt Vonnegut and Mark Leyner
for that, they just have a sense for vivid pictures that sound good at
the same time. I try to incorporate as much of that density as I can. I
guess with the headspace I was in for Good Grief I overthought stuff a
lot as well, so didn't feel the need to explain what they meant in the
track or ram the meaning and emotion down anyone's throat. Otherwise I
let the multi-syllable rhyme dictate possible options, and then work
with the words I can fit in. There's no science to it. I just wrote
three songs for every song and cherry-picked the bits that made enough
sense. My observational skills are actually pretty piss-poor, which is
why I write in a more abstract way.
You say that you
are man enough to start living by a better system...I like the sound of
this, what would your ideal system be?
I'm talking about that sense of balance that's
nigh on impossible to come by. I had a pretty thorough meltdown after
recording Good Grief and had to really sort myself out to keep my job
and my life together, but since then I've been working on a system
where every day is its own mission, and the various parts of my life
are different things I have to do in that day, rather than have 50,000
overarching goals like I used to. My ideal system has space for other
people, a filtration system for those people (so you're only surrounded
with positive influences) and time to make yourself happy and fat.
Maybe with a bit of gym time so the fat part isn't so galling. The
ideal system would change with you anyway, and be ready for any odd or
tragic situations life can put forward. So it's hard to say what it
would be like. But you wouldn't have to think about it much - it should
be self-sustaining. Just a natural part of your day going about doing
everything that makes you happy and empowered.
I like the L.Ron
Hubbard reference. I don't know a great deal about the man, whats your
He's a dangerous lunatic, a marketing
mastermind and, from what I've heard, a pretty shoddy sci-fi writer.
It's kind of fascinating to have seen a religion spring up from the
ground more or less in our generation, though. I saw the Church of
Scientology in LA and it is absolutely colossal. I reference him in
another track as well where I'm travelling space with Gishnchips. We
share a joint in the bath and discuss theories on life. I think I keep
talking about him because he has a stupid name. I should probably stop.
"I spent many-a-fifteen minutes waiting
for a ten second porn clip to load at 64bps"
I love the upbeat
bounce of Fairweather but I can imagine it being a difficult listen for
some of your past acquaintances, especially those who "Led you to meds"
is this track still a reflection of a feeling towards some people who
have not been the greatest help on your artistic journey?
It's actually not about too wide a net of
people. But I guarantee you they wouldn't play my record to save a
puppy at gunpoint so it's never going to be an issue for me. Truth be
told, there's some bullshit that was too painful to let go but too old
and buried to be worth digging up in front of concerned parties so I
just channelled it. I've felt a lot better since. At that point, I'd
become pretty distant from people that still matter to me, so the song
was a kick up the arse for me to hang on to the ones that have me
covered. Some of the song came out as anger when it was really
misdirected loneliness. I see a lot more of my real friends now.
Hail RGB confused
me for a little bit until I discovered that RGB stands for the Red Blue
and Green colour based model of our human perception that is usually
associated with television (and I then also presume mobiles/screens of
all kinds). I was just thinking that the quirky sound effects are great
but aren't you just too young to remember those modem dial up tones!?
How old do you think I am? I spent
many-a-fifteen minutes waiting for a ten second porn clip to load at
64bps during my youth as well, you know. The modem noise was actually
my wife's idea, which means she's technically old too. The song was
based on a David Foster Wallace essay about TV eating up six hours of
your day, and the power that gives to the people behind it. And I just
got to thinking of TV as this manipulator that always finds a way to
stay at the centre of people's lives even with the bewildering array of
options we now have. The modem verse is a struggle between TV and the
Internet for dominance. It's my first sci-fi story track, essentially.
But it is pretty pissing weird. By the end, the TV mentality still
manages to end up dominating the Internet and making its way into
people's pockets. There's going to be a lot more on the next album,
Tidings, that sounds like Hail RGB. I've been pretty limited with my
setup until now. AWAIT THE SQUELCH.
"It was cool, and a bewildering and
but a moment like that is too special to make everyone else's"
Fucking love this track, obviously a labour of love so is writing or
performing still embedded in your grave, cradle and is still your
I think I have writing and performing more in perspective now. At the
time I wrote Somnambulist (it's actually the oldest track at five
years) I really needed it, at the expense of being an actual person. So
since Good Grief I stepped away from gigging to fortify myself a
little. I love music a bit more now that it's not the be-all and
end-all of everything. It's fun again. I’ve listened to this track many
times on repeat but there is a certain bit of quick fire spittery I
still cant catch; could you please help me out!?
calamities happen when trapped in a labyrinth.....(something I lost a
long the way.....slow it down!!.....Dentists for Basilisks.... Happy
calamities happen when trapped in a labyrinth Stabbed in the back with
a catalyst Average mannequin capturing Anadin gradually rabidly
panicking, The hourglass smashing and shattering, There's still some
fragments of sand in it, Happy Samaritan, gathering arrogance shambling
back at the battlements, Avarice seeping and bleeding between every
crease of my fracturing, cracking lips, I snack on the hand that bit,
bites back and it grins so I'm not even mad at it, A permanent
capturing of a passing glimpse of every crack in the manuscript,
Antagonist shaking hands with it, fact of the matter is scratching your
back is inadequate, Reactions are frazzled and battered and damaged and
cannot quit snapping and hammering, The back of my hand is a land
unexplored and I'm bored of pretending to handle it Dentists for
Basilisks.... telling 'em they should have less of the saccharine. One
day, I will learn to rap this kind of stuff fast Til then, just make do
Three Forty Five, a
beautiful, poignant track that tells a great story in itself. When
researching this I found the juxtaposition of such personal lyrics with
the newspaper splashes that your proposal generated as a Battle Rapper
pretty nuts. What lessons do you take from this mainstream media
attention and how has this track been received by other audiences?
Never, ever put something that personal in
that public a scenario again. It was cool, and a bewildering and
interesting experience, but a moment like that is too special to make
everyone else's, I think. I didn't clock that it would blow up like it
did. And I love the memento, the actual ability to watch it back and
see that moment - that's irreplaceable. But that moment will never just
be ours, and I do often wonder it would have been like as a small,
intimate gesture. I've got quite a selfish mentality about it, but it's
also our moment to be selfish about. We didn't even really get to share
the buzz when it was going viral because she'd already flown back to
the US and I didn't know when I was seeing her again. So it was
bittersweet. Either way, we aren't forgetting it in a hurry. It's most
people's favourite track on the album, which is weird for me for two
reasons. Firstly, I wasn't even going to include it because I didn't
feel it fit and it's really old (I'd been writing it on and off for
four years) and secondly, I wrote it as directly as possible for
Jackie, throwing in references I knew only she would get. For some
reason, personalising it like that made it more accessible for more
Do you both still
enjoy Ibsen, and what's the deal with Heda Gabbla?
My wife was in Hedda Gabler (nice try) when we
met up at the Edinburgh Fringe - I felt like referencing it made that
just our story. When I saw Jackie's production I obviously enjoyed it a
lot but I haven't seen any other Ibsen stuff. Jackie still loves the
guy and there's a production in London soon she's taking me too, but
she's the theatre head. I just smile and nod. I love the homely line
"We did it mate" From one happily married man to another happy but as
yet unwed bloke, what advice do you have for a successful relationship?
You know the smiling and nodding thing? Applies here too. Nah, just
share everything, do right by each other, always try to make each other
laugh and don't text your wife pictures of your poo. It's just being a
team and giving a tremendous amount of shits about each other at the
end of the day. What's also important is keeping on with your own stuff
and making sure the relationship is just part of that overall balance.
You laudably donate
any proceeds from the EP to the charity MIND....what does the charity
mean to you and how well do you think Mental Health problems are
currently being addressed?
Around 2012 I'd hit a brick wall with depression and couldn't really
form a dialogue with anyone about it. I finally reached out to a friend
with experience in that field and he first opened my eyes to what it
could be. I had another friend who took the opposite approach, and it
was really damaging. I saw the value that open dialogue with someone
who understands and wanted to put the money from this towards
supporting that, I actually don't have a personal connection to the
charity outside of an appreciation for the amazing work they do. But I
sure could've used knowing about them when I was younger. It hasn't
ended up being a huge amount, donation-wise. It's quite a small project
that did pretty humbly. But I'm deeply grateful to anyone that has
supported and continues to do so. Felman
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