By Lance Saunders
Adam "Doseone" Drucker can now legitimately self-proclaim himself as one of the hardest working rappers/poets. His 10 mile-a-minute wit and one-of-a-kind vocal chords throw him in the barrel of the uncomparable. After graduating from business school and finding himself unfulfilled with battle raps, he turned his attention towards making abstract imagination/lyricism into musical form. He is best known as an eminent spearhead of the highly reputable Oakland/Berekely based Anticon label and the balladist baron of cross-genre projects including his six-piece band Subtle. Doseone recently spoke with SLUG Magazine about his methods, madness, and his new musical monograph For Hero: Fore Fool.
Photo by Terri LoewenthalTaking the bands [Subtle] geographical separation into consideration, it's astounding how reserved Adam "Doseone" Drucker seems when it comes to keeping everyone together as a community of artists/musicians. "There's no keeping it together. It's just about having relationships with everyone without forcing things or defining anybody's creativity. The only thing that can stunt someone's creativity is to tell them what to do with it. It's like everyone follows their own personal lead." Which is exactly what Subtle has been doing for the past year while creating the sound collage that is the new album, For Hero: For Fool.
After a winter road accident in February of 2005 that left keyboardist Dax Pierson seriously wounded with a severed spinal chord, one would think that they might abandon the project all together. Subtle's music is the pure definition of the word impervious. "The record itself is a continuation of A New White which has been in construction for the past few years. Parts overlap and sometimes they don't fit on a certain record. It's kind of like a lay-mans story of what I think the record looks like. Ideas about colors for songs, songs we want to rip off, songs we have already completed that we wanted to have a requiem for."
The chemistry between this Oakland based sextet is undeniable. Their sound aggregates demos, old recordings, live recordings and the palpable faith they have in each other as musicians as well as artists, no matter where they are; they still practice in small bedrooms while dealing with the ordeal of their apparent obtrusive dissemination. There is a lot of alone time in their process. "Because I do all of my vocals alone and the way they are on finished songs is a product of me doing them, re-doing them, and re-hearing them over a month all alone," Drucker says.
Subtle is a collective of true working class dudes and being on an indi-European label doesn't make them a shit load of money. However, Dose still has his visions of grandeur. "Maybe some day we'll make enough cash to go to Barbados and record an album under water". I hope it's in the Ocean Park Aquarium with sharks. "Oh, that would be so dangerous. We could have our own reality T.V. show," Drucker responds.
I asked Dose to tell me about the remix sessions for Wishingbone (A New White EP side project) in which they recorded tracks featuring Beck and Mike Patton. "Beck and I worked together in the studio, but I put a lot of tender loving care into my vocals based on what he had already written for the choruses. With Mike Patton, we sent him the songs and he did everything separately because he is a madman and that's what I want."
Dose isn't the kind of musician that needs to snap a 1, 2, 3, to sing a two-part harmony. That kind of doubling up is okay for live sake, but collaborating with as many people as he does and working solo is sometimes the nature of the beast. Doseone has been recently collabing with artists such as Boom Bip, Fog, The Notwists, Alias & Tarsier, and the lately noticeable Canadian group Wolf Parade. I asked him how he continues to make connections with so many different artists in miscellaneous locale's and genres. "I have a fiancÚ whose sister is engaged to Dan Boekner [guitarist for Wolf Parade] and we're all very close, so he's pretty much my only pal up here in Canada. We started working together and had some chemistry. On the song we did, I gave him a bunch of middle-class words off of For Hero: for Fool and he grabbed a few of them without listening to the original songs and I backed him up with a church choir sound," Drucker says.
His work ethic and element are cross-genre; not only in music, but his sense of visual art which is somewhere in between half obsessive, and half relaxed. "I have to calm down a lot because I'm self-employed so it's all on me. That's what I chose and its one of the up sides and down sides to my line of chosen work. When I play Grand Theft Auto I don't necessarily get docked any pay, but I don't really [play games] any more. Everything that I draw is out of what I write. I see it before I write it. I'm a shitty drawer, but I do my best."