5Q :: Doomtree’s Sims readies ‘Bad Time Zoo’The latest Doomtree product is Sims’ “Bad Time Zoo,” which was produced entirely by Lazerbeak. The album will be released Feb. 15 on Doomtree Records. To celebrate, we asked a few questions of the Minneapolis MC.
(Note: This article’s companion piece, a track-by-track preview of “Bad Time Zoo,” is available by clicking on the attached link.)
For those unfamiliar with Doomtree, a primer: The Twin Cities hip-hop crew is currently composed of seven talented individuals (P.O.S., Sims, Mike Mictlan, Dessa and Cecil Otter are responsible for most of the raps, and Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger are responsible for most of the beats) and, at least according to this humble little music addict, is the most interesting collective active today.
As such, there is always much fanfare in my house and — much to the chagrin of my unsuspecting coworkers — at the Budgeteer’s offices whenever a new Doomtree product is announced.
The latest such gift from Minneapolis is Sims’ “Bad Time Zoo,” which was produced entirely by Lazerbeak. The album will be released Feb. 15 on Doomtree Records. To celebrate, we asked a few questions of the MC:
Budgeteer: For our readers unfamiliar with Doomtree and your solo career, how would you describe your particular brand of hip-hop? Perhaps more importantly, why should they rush out and buy “Bad Time Zoo” on Feb. 15?
Sims: My take on hip-hop is from a longtime listener and fan. I grew up listening very intently to a lot of different artists. I’d always paid close attention to not only what these artists were saying but how they were saying it.
I found that the artists I was drawn to always found interesting ways to blend content with style; I think I approach my work in the same way.
I want to say something that is an honest representation of myself while, at the same time, making it sound good. It’s difficult to blend content and style, but I think that I’ve found my way on “Bad Time Zoo.”
Doomtree is a business that my friends and I founded in 2002. With a tireless DIY work ethic and the unwillingness to take shortcuts, we’ve seen that business grow into something more legitimate as a company than most indie record labels. That said, we operate on a shoestring budget of every member’s cumulative dollars.
We are nowhere near wealthy, and every dollar we generate from music sales gets reinvested into the company to create the next project. I think if there is any reason to purchase “Bad Time Zoo,” rather than simply download it for free, it’d be to help us continue to create music.
Music-wise, how would you compare what you’re doing now to your early output? Has putting together records become easier over time?
I wouldn’t say it’s become any easier to put an album together. Making songs has certainly become easier, but I’m still extremely critical of those songs, so choosing which ones are best for an album and picking a sequence is still really difficult for me.
What is it like working with Lazerbeak? Does he come to you with songs that are for the most part done, or is there more collaboration that goes into making the beats?
Working with Beak is amazing. He’s the most brilliant and relaxed guy I know. We usually get together and listen to beats. I’ll take them, write to them and send him a demo, then we get together and go over the song. From there we might re-sequence parts, change up some of the arrangement or change a chorus, bridge or a verse.
We work really well as collaborators. We’ve made a lot of songs together over the years and we’ve developed a great working method.
When a Doomtree member releases a high-profile record, such as “Bad Time Zoo,” does full-crew material get put on the backburner — or are all seven of you working on that stuff between solo releases?
We’re always working on solo material. The reason Doomtree was founded was for all of us to be able to release our own projects.
None of us had the wherewithal or resources to release our material in any kind of successful way so we pooled our resources and efforts in order to help one another.
It was from that place that we started a record label. Doomtree crew albums have never been the priority over here; we are all interested in seeing each other create exactly the art that we want to create.
When that is a crew album, we make it.
That said, we’re starting production on the next crew album sometime this year and hope to release it late this year or early 2012.
Finally, on a lighter note, it looks like you guys had a lot of fun filming the album’s first video (“Burn it Down”). Did you get any weird looks running around in those masks?
Yes and yes.
NEWS TO USE
“Bad Time Zoo” will be released Feb. 15 by Doomtree Records. Pre-order bundles are available at www.doomtree.net.