Who are you and where are you from?
My name’s George Watsky. I rap and perform poetry under the name Watsky. I’m originally from San Francisco, California, and I now live in Los Angeles.
Who are your favorite artists from home? What’s it really like touring?
Touring is incredibly fun and rewarding, but it’s a grind. I’ve been living out of a suitcase for three months. You operate on little sleep sometimes, stay in seedy hotels, eat a lot of gas-station food, but when you get to perform to great crowds with your friends on stage it’s more than worth it.
What’s your favourite city/town/venue to play?
It’s hard to say; there are so many towns that have been great to us. My top three might be New York, San Francisco and London, with many, many close seconds.
What’s your ideal festival line-up?
Stevie Wonder, Outkast, the Who, Jurassic 5, the Roots, Prince, Simon & Garfunkel, Louis CK hosting.
Tell us a tour story…
One time, on tour, the other act with us on the road kicked a water pipe in Seattle on the way to join us onstage and sprayed that whole backstage with water while we were performing. The venue didn’t charge us…
What has been your biggest achievement of the year?
Playing my dream venue, the Fillmore in San Francisco, was huge for me. That’s where I saw all of my favorite shows growing up in the city. I still have a dozen ticket stubs from shows I’ve seen there, and it was a very important milestone for me. All my family and friends were there, the house was packed and it lived up to every bit of expectation I had for it.
What was the worst piece of advice you were given?
To try to appeal to what I think kids want to hear musically — there are a lot of hacks in the music industry (mixed in with some creative geniuses) who don’t have any concept for what kind of art they want to create beyond what they think will be popular. These people brainstorm about hit-making after listening to what’s already on the radio to decide what derivative elements to pirate from those songs. All this leads to is watered-down and uninspired music. Better to figure out what you love and why you love it and let it inspire you to create something that is unique.
What do you do to relax?
When I’m truly relaxing I’m doing nothing at all. This doesn’t happen very often though.
What are you reading?
I just finished my friend Beau Sia’s new poetry collection The Undisputed Greatest Writer of All Time.
How about TV, anything good on the box?
I watched half of Breaking Bad and all of The Wire before I left on tour. I have to be careful not to get sucked into too many shows because I’ll watch them all at once at lose three days of time to a blackhole of TV.
Do you have a favourite YouTube video?
Maybe ‘Kick His Ask’ – it’s a little girl learning about swearing and monsters. Adorable factor is off the charts.
What website do you visit most? (discounting email, etc.)
New York Times for news. Some illegal European streaming site so I can watch Giants (baseball) games when I’m on the road.
What is your favourite:
There are a lot- I’ll put some favorites on: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below by Outkast, Rubber Soul by the Beatles, Joyful Rebellion by K-OS, Chronic 2001 by Dr. Dre.
Maybe ‘Blackbird’ by the Beatles.
Lost classic song?
‘The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald’ – folk song by Gordon Lightfoot.
Quannum Projects. They put out a lot of my favorite independent hip hop in the early 2000s: Blackalicious, Lyrics Born, the Lifesavas and many more.
Who is your favourite current artist?
Digging Kendrick Lamar right now. good kid, m.A.A.d City is an incredibly creative and inspiring album, particularly for one that is a commercial success.
A new artist that you are most excited about?
Digging Chance the Rapper from Chicago. Great creative, honest, musical flow to his lyrics. Excellent wordplay.
What was the last great gig you have seen?
Saw a great comedy show by Bo Burnham. Super impressed by the detail that went into it.
I’ve seen a bunch of duds, don’t want to trash any other artists publicly though.
What should we expect from your Irish shows?
My live shows are a way different experience from watching my videos. I’m very proud of the musicians I play with and we work hard to make every night special. I hope people are surprised by the energy and the level of musicianship.
Watsky performs at the Academy, Dublin this Saturday, 25th May.