25 Facts About Sage Francis – Copper Gone

• June 5, 2014

Sage Francis – Copper Gone

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Following in true tradition for our “25 Facts” series, here is Strange Famous Records’ Sage Francis giving fans 25 Facts about the upcoming album “Copper Gone”.

1. The title for “Copper Gone”, though based on graffiti that’s painted on abandoned buildings in my area, came to me in a dream. In my dream my Grandmother asked me how “Copper Gone” was coming along. I liked the way it sounded when she said it.

2. “Make Em Purr” was written and recorded in on the same night I received the beat. I thought the album was finished before I received that music and it immediately became clear that the album would be incomplete without it.

3. I own two cats. The mom and son. The momma cat is the last thing my dad ever gave to me. He found her on the street but he couldn’t keep her so he asked if I would take her in. Turns out she was pregnant. I ended up keeping the runt but we had to give the rest of the litter away. These two cats have been my life force for the past few years and I wish they were cool with traveling because it really sucks to be away from them.

4. “Grace” is a song that contains lyrics and concepts I’ve collected over the past 10 years. The subject is a conglomerate of many people I’ve known and taken shit from in the past decade. I repeat “This is not a love ballad” a few times throughout the song. That phrasing is in reference to the intro of “Shakiyla” by the Poor Righteous Teachers. Wise Intelligent of PRT says “THIS…is not a love ballad” at the beginning of the song and I’ve always wanted to sample it. A few years ago I asked him if I could sample it and he gave me permission, but once I recorded the song I decided it sounded better being delivered in an understated kind of way.

5. The video for “Grace” was inspired by a Japanese film called “Survive Style 5+.” In the music video there’s a part where a woman straddles me and then slaps/chokes/scratches/punches me. We did about 20 takes. Acting is fun.

6. I basically freestyled the chorus to “Pressure Cooker.” I knew where the words were supposed to be and in which cadence, but I had no idea what I wanted to say. Eventually I found out the phrase “I’ve been busy…doing stuff” to be one of the unintentionally funny things I’ve ever said. And I didn’t even know it was funny until I saw every single one of my friends laugh at that part.

7. A couple of the beats I use on this album were discovered from remix contests we’ve held at Strange Famous Records over the past several years. In fact, a lot of the beat producers on this album were originally discovered through SFR remix contests. Although they’re tedious as all hell, I’ve found remix contests to be a great way of discovering production talent.

8. The entire album was recorded in my house in a studio held together by duct tape and strings. There’s no way of explaining how impossible it was for all of this to get recorded in the time frame that it needed to get done on the equipment that I had at my disposal. But I got it done, goddammit.

9. My original plan was to record this album at the end of 2013. However, I ended up touring Australia in December and then I returned home with pneumonia. Most of the album was recorded with a chest infection which was a painful and difficult process. I had to re-record the vocals many times because of this, but I only had one month to do everything which means I haven’t slept much since February.

10. Reanimator and Alias are the only two producers on this album who also made contributions to my first album, “Personal Journals.” They’re both married, they both have one daughter, they both have office jobs, they both like to cook, they’re both incredibly nice, and they both make me wonder where I went wrong in life. Haha. No, they rule and I’m just realizing right now how similar their lives are.

11. I’ve never had an emcee feature on any of my official albums. The first studio album I recorded was in 1998, so I’ve gone 16 years without having Busta Rhymes feature on any chorus.

12. B. Dolan and Prolyphic are both Rhode Island emcees who are on Strange Famous Records and their vocals are sampled on Copper Gone. It may appear to be self-serving to sample people on my own label, but the only hip-hop I tend to listen these days are SFR songs. When I hear lyrics, a lot of lines stick in my head and I can’t get them out. And then sometimes they work perfectly in the chorus of a song.

13. “Say Uncle” originally had entirely different lyrics. I couldn’t figure out how to be cryptic enough to the point where I wouldn’t be putting someone else on blast, so I decided I’d rather have the song be mainly about me. That way I wouldn’t have to answer questions about the person for the rest of my life. Also, in the second verse, I give a head nod to Eyedea by referencing “Shadows have Shadows” and “Oliver Heart.” When those lyrics came out of the pen I thought it was adequately subtle yet obvious at the same time in a way that he might appreciate. Miss him.

14. “Once Upon a Blood Moon” is about a woman I was with for 6 years. A bulk of that song probably sounds like playful symbolism or use of metaphor, but the lyrics reference literal situations. Some shit you just can’t make up. It took me an incredibly long time to record that song due to my inability to actually say a lot of the lines. I had to separate myself quite a bit from the material in order to deliver it. Now when I play it live it feels like I’m telling someone else’s story which makes things a whole lot easier. That’s the power of putting your life onto page sometimes. I’m not sure if that qualifies as healing or simply numbing oneself, but I’ll take it.

15. When I listen to music for leisure I tend to just listen to piano or ambient stuff. It’s usually material with very simply lyrics or no lyrics at all. Stuff that makes me calm. Something to fall asleep to.

16. The album illustrations were done by Inkymole, the same person who held the “When A Girl Writes Off the World” art gallery show for me in London back in 2006. She also did the illustrations for my Human the Death Dance album.

17. “The Place She Feared Most” was originally titled “Space.” However, since I already had a song called “Grace,” I decided to change the name of the song because I didn’t want to have two songs on the same album with titles that rhymed.

18. The part from “The Place She Feared Most” that made me laugh after writing it is the section where I explain what a phonebook is. I referenced a phonebook and then I realized that some people might not even know what the hell a phonebook is. For the record, it’s basically “a black book for fat fucks who can’t cook.” Which begs the question to the younger generation…”what the fuck is a black book?”

19. My mother was a life guard for a majority of my childhood so she got me swimming at a very young age. The title for “Dead Man’s Float” is based on an actual style of swimming that people are taught to do to conserve energy if they are ever in trouble while in a vast body of water. I wasn’t sure if this was an actual term until I just Googled it right now. Turns out it’s not something I incorrectly remember from my early days (*Phew*).

20. The title for “Over Under” and the inspiration behind it was based on a girl who told me (among many things) to “get over myself.” I’m willing to bet that she has no idea how over myself I actually am.

21. Irena Girlbot did the art design and layout for “Copper Gone.” She laser engraved Inkymole’s “Copper Gone” illustrations into a plexiglass plate and then made a copper relief out of that plate. The album cover is a photo of that copper relief. We then used the plexiglass cliche to do monoprint posters in the kitchen of my home. We’re still trying to perfect that process before making them available to the public. I’ve been working with her on various albums, shirts and website designs since 2004. However, as she lives in Croatia, I only met her briefly while touring through Europe. We’re now touring the world together with her as my VJ. She projects videos that correlate with each song onto the stage. Trying to figure out how to keep her on US soil has proven to be insanely difficult and costly thanks to arbitrary US immigration laws, so I might just have to spend more time in Europe moving forward.

22. Originally I wanted to connect every song in a way where the end of one song would be the beginning of the next song. On some of the songs you’ll notice that the last line of one song rhymes with the first line of the next song. This became a bit messy when I needed to switch the arrangement for the sake of pacing, but I’d like to execute that shit properly one day. And it’ll probably be a in way no one notices so I’m not sure why I obsess over little things like that. Haha. It’s just for me.

23. A song called “Brick by Brick” (prod. by Buddy Peace) was recorded for the album, but we eventually had to leave it off because of a weird clicking sound in the drums that were sampled. It’s a really fun story-style song, but I think it will probably work best on another album or mixtape if I can ever figure out how to recreate it without the weird clicky sound in the drums.

24. Recently a fan from Sweden complained about the song title for “MAINT REQD.” He didn’t understand why I would spell the song in all caps and with weird abbreviations. The song title came from the warning signal on my car’s dashboard that says “MAINT REQD.” It never goes away and every time I drive the car I see it. “MAINT REQD”….that’s how it’s spelled and that’s how I say it in my head.

25. The adlib at the end of “ID Thieves” is 100% authentic and off-the-cuff. Once I was done delivering the verse the extra words just came out of my mouth as I was walking away from the mic. I’m guessing this how ugly my accent always sounds when I’m talking to myself.


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