Words by Martin Connor
3 Feet High And Rising is now $380,000 and rising.
That’s the amount that the rapping trio of De La Soul — Posdnuos, Dave, and Maseo — have raised in just the first week of their month-long Kickstarter campaign. The initial fund asking for $110,000 now seems comparatively modest, as donations have poured in from almost 7,000 backers. But even with all of that money, the group still knows who it is that really makes this all possible, as Posdnuos explains: “We love connecting with our fans. We’ve always loved [them,] from this touring to not just one place but to tour all over.”
So, want to dig through crates with Maseo? Eat dinner with the crew? Even appear on De La’s next album? Well, head on over to their donation page here where you can sign up for all three and more.
Watchloud caught up with Pos to hear about how the idea for the Kickstarter campaign came together, what De La Soul’s new album will sound like, and what he thinks of the group’s legacy of sampling 26 years after their debut album 3 Feet High And Rising:
WatchLoud: So what’s up Pos? Where you at right now?
Posdnuos: Atlanta, recording.
WatchLoud: The Kickstarter your group has been running will help fund that whole recording process you’re in right now. How did the idea for this crowdsourced campaign come together?
Posdnuos: All of us as individuals had heard of Kickstarter. I know my other partners, Dave and Mase, they love to be on the Internet and find out about things. I’d heard about it but never really paid too much attention to it. And then it had been brought to my attention like, “Wow, this is a way to have crowdfunding, [getting] income from your fans or people who respect what you do, to now launch this product.” So when we were kicking around the idea of just the project, just working with the band and figuring out things, once again, it came up. Because even in the early stages of jamming and things we were putting together, all of us, pretty much every member of the group [and] even some of the musicians who have been blessed to play sessions with will.i.am or whoever, had ins to have this on a label. “Hey you, know that person is interested.” “We spoke to this person and they’re interested.” “Oh, you know, my friend over at Warner Brothers will take a listen.” But in how vast the music was and where our minds were going, we just really felt like, “But, if we put it through the conventional way of putting it on a label, maybe there’s a high chance that what we wanted to do creatively, we wouldn’t be able to get done.” So that’s when we really started focusing on, “Well, yo, what about Kickstarter?” We had this idea brought up several times. So it was like we really started paying attention to it and we realized, “Wow, you know what? This could be great!” And for me looking through Kickstarter, I’m realizing it’s a lot of upstarts of people coming in with the product, not really known, and then I start seeing, “Wow, look what! Spike Lee’s on there.” It gave me that understanding, like, “Oh, okay, there are established people that use this medium,” and the more we investigated it and looked at it we was like, “Wow, this is really cool and this is great,” because we love connecting with our fans. We’ve always loved [them,] from touring to not just one place but to tour all over. And we like to connect with our fans and be hands-on with our fans and this was just another way creatively for us–along with our fans–to put together enough finances to present this project the way we needed to present it.
WatchLoud: Before the Kickstarter even launched, what did you expect to happen with it, and what will you use the money for?
Posdnuos: We were hoping that we would reach the goal, obviously. In that, we see money that could be used for mixing, possibly if there were any feature work that we would need to compensate, like different musicians that could come in and overdub. Just the natural things that happen with mixing, managing the record and putting it together. [There are so many] levels of interpolation, even when we’re sampling ourselves. We may sing something that’s interpolation, and you still gotta have a sample person reach out on that. We have an idea, this song we have called “Schoolyard Studios,” but we’re kind of mimicking the Paul Simon record “Me and Julio.” That’s an interpolation, so we gotta reach out, just in case. Who knows what that takes? The lawyer who gotta reach out, marketing and promotion as well, making sure we get it out there and it has a chance as opposed to just having this finished product, and just deciding, “Okay, let’s upload it someplace.” You still got to get the word out. There’s just a lot of work that goes into that and a lot of that work does call for money. Even down to — you can do great videos for, I feel, very cheap at this point where the world is with technology to get your point across, but still, again, it costs money.
WatchLoud: Your group’s page also reads, “Using Kickstarter and giving our fans the opportunity to be a part of the process just feels right. We see Kickstarter as a home for creative minds and a wonderful platform; where people who believe, respect and see the vision, can support an idea and make it a reality.” Could you expand on that at all?
Posdnuos: We’ve always been blessed. We recognize this. People can take part in what we’re creating, but even in what we’re trying to give them. We thought about things like, “Wow, how could this be something that would be good for them?” What could make them want to be a part of this?” We truly take pride in that and in knowing that.
WatchLoud: Right now you, Dave, and Maseo are going back through about 200 hours of recorded studio sessions, and that the money your crowdsourcing effort generates will be used for mixing those sessions, mastering them, and so on. Where are you at right now in the process of going back through that load of material you recorded? In the middle?
Posdnuos: Not in the middle, but we definitely started. When you’re a person or a musician, when you’re in the studio, you’re like a kid. You want to listen back to what was done. So we started that process a while ago, kind of making notes, like, “Wow, this particular session that happened on this month at that time, mark that!” And it’s cool, you can just go right in ProTools, and shade it, and mark it, and be like, “Wow, this would be something great to loop.” “Oh, this is a great drum that could be for some other music.” So we’ve been doing things like that and continuing the process, and now putting rhymes to match with some of the subject matter we’ve come up with that we want to talk about over the music.
WatchLoud: The Kickstarter also mentions what your influences will be will be for the new album. You specifically list jazz, funk, rock, country western, and “anything else we’re feeling in the moment.” Could you get a little more specific? What was the last thing you listened to today or yesterday?
Posdnuos: It was really cool, where we could listen to a session, where it was a very slow piece, slow tempo movement within a session, but then the guitar sounding sad and the bass being very deep and dark. But then now taking one piece of that note and then another piece of the guitar, placing it in something that’s a little more upbeat, we immediately changed the outcome of what and where the music and the feel of it came from and started from. So we been doing things like that, but as I said, there’s a lot of material that just sounds good as it is. So we just take a portion of that and then we just now have the band play congas over the feel. We have a song where it feels so dark and sad but it’s visual. So the way I’m writing my rhymes, I’ll then send a piece to the percussionist and I’m saying, “Oh, you know, the person did this in the song and the moment got dark.” Then he uses different sounds from different instruments he has, percussion instruments, to play along with what I’m saying. So it’s just been a really great building process that we’ve been going through to get to the end of each song, or in the middle of a place that we feel works as a great skeleton to add more lyrics and ideas.