Q&A: Pigeon John (plus podcast!)
By Daniel Kohn on October 15, 2010
A lot has changed for Los Angeles-based rapper Pigeon John since his last album was released in 2007. He scrapped his trademark MPC for a QR100, which has given him the ability to add live instruments onto his album for the first time, co-produced his new album, Dragon Slayer with Herve Salters and went through a divorce. What hasn’t changed is his trademark clever and witty lyrics. On the hottest day on record in Los Angeles, FILTER caught up with PJ at his sweltering apartment to talk about the concept for his promotional videos and podcast, the theme of Dragon Slayer and what’s his favorite Bob Dylan album.
Can you explain what you are planning on doing with the videos?
Just releasing one a week doing different things promoting the record. A little spoof, fake interviews, stuff like that. Also spots on the radio show/podcast where I have fun talk and play music. Just a little this, a little that. Me and Kevin Taylor, my bud, kind of thought of some ideas and we’re gonna perform four songs live with an acoustic type band and play on different areas of the roof.
How did the songs on what became Dragon Slayer come to fruition?
I started it a couple of years back on the road, most of the beats and stuff. I did it on a (Yamaha) QR100. I came home, dropped those (into Pro Tools) and went up to Berkeley and Herve kind of flushed it out. It was a lot of fun. Ever since 2003, I’ve always had this idea of making the beats and then getting it produced traditionally. I just haven’t been able to do that so it went the route of special guest producers. On this one, I just wanted to do a record with a beginning, end, nice and simple. Also to get comfortable and grow into the words and music, I’ve been highly looking forward to a record like that.
The album shows a lot of growth in your lyricism with your highly personal lyrics, was that a conscious or subconscious decision?
I didn’t see it like that while I was writing it, but looking back and seeing the songs and how they’re pieced together and which ones were created I was like ‘wow, I can’t believe I feel that way.’ I think I was tired of the race and the chase and all that stuff. I never depended on being an underground rapper with touring and doing shows. I kind of let go of the whole trying to keep up and get anywhere and that’s why I’m happy with this record. The theme of the album is slaying the dragon, like working out, staying positive and fighting till finally winning.
With the tour coming up, what are some of your favorite places to play?
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada. It’s a raging town. For some reason I’m big up there, probably someone died and they had my record in their car (laughs). I love Whitter, California and also Reno. It’s probably my favorite place because it’s a dirty little city. It’s grimy dirty but have really clean people. People that live in Reno are phenomenal.
I see that there are some photos of Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan on your wall. How did these two guys, seemingly not necessarily names associated with hip-hop, influence you?
I would say they influence me for sure. They seem to say less but it’s real deep. I like that whole ‘speak less but mean a little more’ thing. They roll hard and I respect that.
That’s one of the most iconic images of Dylan behind you. What’s your favorite Dylan album?
I’d say Blood on the Tracks. And also Nashville Skyline, that was the first album of his I heard and that was my favorite for a while. I liked his country twang. F