So here's what happened: I was reading a review of a new (awesome) mixtape called "Healthy Snacks" by a new (awesome) artist Peabod (full name Isaac Peabody), and then I listened to it and loved it. I read some more about him and realized he could be a mirror image of me--him pursuing music and me pursuing writing. AND I went and discovered he recorded a rap about Parks and Rec, and I decided we may have been twins separated at birth. Seriously it's crazy.
I figured I'd take a shot in the dark and see if he wouldn't mind being interviewed, and he said YES! I listened to his mixtape another five to ten times (mainly because I loved it), and tried to write smart questions for him! Anyways, check him out here or follow him on Facebook!
Here's the interview in all its glory!
1. If you could replace your arm with anything in the world, what would it be? (example: mine would be a Twizzler that grew back every time I took a bite)
I can say with confidence that I have never been asked this before and I love it. Mine would be a crazy straw with a never ending supply of whatever beverage I'd like at that exact moment (so basically Coca-Cola 95% of the time). And it wouldn't drip ever somehow.
2. You say in "A PEAceful Introduction" that you make happy raps, and the entire mixtape is really awesome at portraying a sense of joy. Even in songs like "Dang!" and "Ok", which deal with harder circumstances, there's still joy. What demarcates joyful music and happy raps for you?
Great question! My joy is found in Jesus, so even in a more light-hearted song like "Roommates" or "Summertime," the joy I'm communicating comes from a deeper place than the words themselves. I think joy in music is all about intention. Some music is intended to make you feel sad or to allow you to connect with a sad or angry emotion to help you grieve. Happy raps and joyful songs are intended to help someone move toward a place of joy. A joyful song could even cover a sad topic if it wanted, but the goal will always be to point listeners back to joy.
3. Creativity is often viewed as an individualistic experience--there's that idea that creatives lock themselves in caves until they leave with this perfect work of art. But the Bible talks about community all the time, and a lot of your mixtape is about community as well ("Roommates"; "Summer of Fletcher"; "Hat Hair"). So what does it mean to create within community? How do you find a balance?
I think there is a ton of value for both. On the one hand, it doesn't make sense for me to invite my entire community into my creative process every single time. I don't think anything would end up being created that way (haha). That said, music is arguably best experienced with community. That's why concerts are so fun! Similarly, as music enthusiasts, we can't help but tell all our friends about our new favorite artists. And we love singing along to our favorite song with other people who also love this song (to me, this sounds like a glimpse of heaven). Now back to the creative process - if there is any ability in the creation of the song to emphasize that these words should be sang with a community, that is a huge win. That could look like gang vocals, relatable lyrics, or just a great hook. We are all hungry for community, and music is one of the greatest tools we have for bringing people together. When an artist keeps that in mind and works that element into his/her songs, the result can be really special.
4. So folk and rap are my two favorite genres, and you happen to be great at both of them (amen). Are there corollaries between the two? How do they both deal with experience and emotion in unique ways? How did you find yourself pursuing both?
Oh man, I think there are SO many connections! Which is weird, right? Sonically, the two genres could not be more different. And on a surface level that's true of the lyrics too. But when you dig in you find that both genres have great storytelling, complex poetry, and an ability to give a voice to an idea or group of people that is hard to explain. In the same way that Kendrick is a master at describing what life is like in Compton, Sufjan Stevens (who has come in and out of folk) is a master at describing what grief is like. I think many artists in both genres are incredibly deep thinkers. This makes for some of the most thought provoking lyrics I've ever heard. I started writing folk music because I gravitate towards acoustic guitar as an instrument that helps me process my emotions. Folk music is just a natural fit for processing which was good for my soul. Hip hop unlocked a different set of emotions that I hadn't really written about, but it was in a similar vein because it felt sincere. Maybe that's what I'm trying to get at - both hip hop and folk songs have the potential to be powerful when they're written from a place of sincerity. For me at least, when I'm writing as my most genuine self it comes out as either folk or hip hop.
5. This is totally an aside, but you mention Fruit Gushers in "A PEAceful Outroduction", and I have to ask: did the Gusher commercials where the kids' heads blew off ever freak you out as a kid? Think about it: a bunch of kids are found headless after eating "innocent" fruit snacks. That's some CSI material right there.
I do remember that commercial! I don't remember being freaked out as a kid, but I might be freaked out if I watched it again...that is pretty trippy if you think about it.
6. You rap a lot about remaining child-like but also maturing into adulthood. It reminds me of Jesus talking about childlike faith and Paul writing about moving from "milk to meat" in our faiths. What has that process looked like for you? Is there a recipe to do it well?
I think that the balance of being child-like and an adult come when you fight against bitterness and cynicism. Obviously being an adult requires a more mature view of life, but if a person can manage that without giving into bitterness than there's a sweet spot of child-like faith and joy. Man, I'm still growing so much. I think as much as going through college and graduating was a huge period of spiritual growth for me, I feel like I'm being stretched in new ways every day in the current season I'm in. The interesting thing is where I'm at in my relationship with God is so specific to me. I don't say that to be self-centered; I just mean that it's incredibly personal. My relationship with God looks different than my roommates, my siblings, my fiancé, my parents, etc. And that's a good thing! Because of this, I don't think there's a recipe for proper spiritual growth. God knows what each one of us needs and he knows exactly how he plans to draw us closer to him. For me at least, this was a huge relief to know that I'm not pursuing God "the wrong way" because he is always faithful to meet us where we are.
7. Okay, so I was going to do a closing question about The Office, but instead I ran across your song "Parks and Rap" on SoundCloud. So what Parks and Rec character speaks to you the most? I've been told I'm a rather perfect blend of Ben and Chris...and I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing.
YES so glad you found that! I honestly feel quite attached to all of the characters, but I think Ben and Andy speak to me the most. Andy has the most fun, so I want to be like him, but Ben is such a rule follower that I know that's me to a T. So I think I'm a Ben that wants to be an Andy.