Chief & The DoomsDayDevice rotates his Mechanical and Verbal Weaponry for the Masses::: (interview)
Interview by: Mamba
Chief (a native of Austin, TX) has spent his entire life surrounded by music. Early memories of trips to Sound Warehouse led to a career in DJing at the age of 15, with an MC career beginning shortly thereafter. Early gigs at the Jump On It! Summer Concert series, popular weekly Hip Hop Humpday (The Mercury), and opening sets at the legendary shows of promoters Hip Hop Mecca led to a love of live performance.
Boy-Cott: For those out there that don’t know you, can you explain the meaning behind your name Chief and TheDoomsdayDevice?
Chief: Back in high school, I was looking for a name to perform under. Random people always referred to me casually as Chief, and Da’Shade Moonbeam made it official. TheDoomsdayDevice is what I named my everchanging, always rotating series of gear I use for live performances. The name gives the illusion of a band, or at the least, something greater than the sum of the parts.
Boy-Cott: I noticed that you have a very abstract approach in everything you do. Was there a certain individual or family member that peeked your interest in abstract work?
Chief: The abstraction comes more so as a reaction to the blandness that is heard on radio and TV. Not to say all popular music is garbage, but a lot of it is formulaic, and there seems to be a lack of diversity in all forms of commercial music. I look for inspiration in alternative sources, be it music of the past, or music from other parts of the world, or musicians who explore unique ideas. Because the pool of inspiration is unique, the outcome is a bit abstract.
Boy-Cott: Back in 2004, you were in a crew called “The Word Association”, and you fellas taught a course on hip-hop at San Marcos. Would you mind giving a short description about the curriculum of the course?
Chief: The Word Association is strictly a hip-hop collective. I used to give poetry workshops to Johnston High School (Austin) with .::liquidstereoproject in the past, and I have been asked to do the same at Texas State University once or twice, but The Word Association is a creative think tank, and at times a performing crew.
Boy-Cott: You recently took part in an event called “Wake of The Dead 2″. Would you mind explaining what “Wake of the Dead 2″ is, and is going to be a prolonged series?
Chief: “Wake The Dead 2″ was an event hosted by Grimnasty, held at the Wake The Dead coffeeshop in San Marcos, Texas. I believe the first event featured Muggzy Flowz and Promise Udo, and part 2 featured Nov. 27 and DJ Trainwreq. I’m not sure what Grimnasty’s plans are for performing at that particular venue, but I do know he is always looking for opportunities to play in San Marcos.
Boy-Cott: You’ve been in Austin, TX for quite sometime, and you’ve seen the scene change over time… My question to you is, what do you think about the Austin hip-hop scene?
Chief: The Austin hip-hop scene, like the live music scene in general, has gone through many drastic changes. Back in the mid to late 1990s, there was already a scene going on, but the city had yet to embrace hip-hop as part of the “live music capitol” umbrella. Events like Hip Hop Hump Day, Blowpop (Nasty’s), Jump On It, and the legendary touring shows presented by Hip Hop Mecca with local artist support made the power of hip-hop in Austin undeniable, and it was great to be a part of that as a young musician… it gave one hope that making a living at music was realistic, and it provided a blueprint that I took with me and applied to future projects.
Today, the scene seems splintered, and there doesn’t seem to be an appreciation for local talent… a few artists are handpicked and groomed, but the networks are smaller. Many artists have been forced to reinvent themselves to stay afloat, and have left the scene behind. Others are fighting to bring the community back to Austin hip-hop. There used to be a feeling of “if one person makes it, we all make it”… nowadays, there is more of a “get what I can at the expense of the next man” mentality… there’s more than enough room for all of us to co-exist, we just have to find our middle ground. Big shout outs to Notion at MusicNMind, DJ Charlie and the entire crew with The Good Life, Table Manners Crew, and the whole Applied Pressure/Exploded Drawings camps for moving things in the right direction.
Many artists have been forced to reinvent themselves to stay afloat, and have left the scene behind.