Sapient: Indie Rap Hustle Kingpin
By Tyler OneWerd Webb
I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been a big fan of Sapient’s (Sandpeople) work for a minute. I’ve always gravitated toward artists that I perceive to be truly “independent.” For me, it means that when I purchase a CD, bump a track or attend a show, all of the pieces of that product are directly connected to that artist as possible. I’ve always had difficulty connecting with music that felt like it was part of some machine,similar to when it comes from publicists, A&R’s, label promotion, marketing experts, etc. Not that those are inherently bad things but it always made the music feel much more distant, somehow.
As a founding member of Sandpeople (a Pacific Northwest HipHop collective), half of Debaser, producer, emcee, visual artist, illustrator, engineer and superhero president of the universe, Sapient is one of the most independent artists out there. This is one busy guy!
When I got the opportunity to ask Sapient a few questions, I kinda flipped a little. There was a lot I wanted to know…..what color pen does he write raps with? Will Taylor Swift lead to future collaborations?
Is Macklemore dreamy in person? How does he sing like an angel? I tried my best to check my “fanboyism” at the door and stick to the core topics….independent musicianship, creative process, balancing fatherhood with touring, etc. (Dude penned a highly insightful article on this topic for the Huffington post I hope you enjoy getting to know one of my favorite artists and become dangerously addicted to indie rap like myself. Support this dude and you’re copping that blood and sweat direct from the skin and glands.
UBO MAG Interviews Sapient of Sandpeople
UBO MAG: Tell the people who you are/ what you do.
Sapient, I make music and other things.
UBO MAG: Nice, to the point. A lot of folks are probably familiar with your crew Sandpeople. Can you tell us about how that started and how you came to be involved in it?
Sapient: Mo-b basically started the crew with a Wu-Tang structure in mind and also looked up to Oldominion a lot. I was living in Eugene at the time and he was going to school at U of O. He asked around for talent and found your boy. I was skeptical at first but then we hit it off and formed Sandpeople.
UBO MAG: How would you describe the differences between working in a crew vs. as a solo artist? Do you prefer one vs the other? Do you have any future collaborations planned? Have you done many collaborations outside of your crew?
Sapient: Of course there are tons of differences making solo music vs collaboration of any kind. I think it always turns out different when making music w/ SP or in a group – sometimes it’s easier to tell what songs/lyrics/beats are the most fire when working in a group because the consensus is a pretty good judge. Especially when the people reaching the consensus are hella talented people.
UBO MAG: You’re highly respected as a product of the Northwest hip hop scene. How would you describe music/ the scene in your area? Is there any other region you particularly like playing?
Sapient: I think the NW music scene is pretty dope, but also a wealth of weak shit too – just like everywhere. I like playing anywhere hat has heads that want to hear me, I don’t really think of regions or places that I like or dislike, I’ve had good and bad shows everywhere – though I gotta say Germany is a lovely place to tour.
UBO MAG: How do you approach your projects/ how would you describe your creative process? Is it the same for each album?
Sapient: I approach my projects in different stages and have to change my mode completely with each stage – writing/composing, creating content and promoting, performing, etc. Even when I’m not in a creative stage for my own albums, I am always creating tons of music and art. And then with each stage I have to transfer mentally back to father and husband as well. A lot of head changes ya dig.
UBO MAG: Do you think your music or how you approach it has changed significantly in your career? If so, how?
Sapient: Hell yea. I’m sure my music has changed tons of ways, but I’m not sure I’m the best gauge since I can never hear my music from any other perspective but the maker. I didn’t change it deliberately, it changed in its own.
UBO MAG: You’ve a man of many talents…what are all of the creative endeavors you’re involved in? How do you balance these, and are there some you’re drawn to more than others?
Sapient: Thanks, I do a bunch of stuff. I make beats, plays some instruments, I write music for ads, I commission illustrations, do layout and design, I shoot and direct music videos, mix and master, make my own shit too… I’ve always been drawn to being creative visually, but it wasn’t until high school that I realized I belonged making music.
UBO MAG: Your music focuses a lot on the hustle of an independent artist….how would you describe that to someone that hasn’t experienced it? What is a day/ week/ year like in the life of Sapient?
Sapient: I would say don’t go down this path. Go be a slave, it’s easier lol.