art culture politics music humor

issue 1.1

A Discussion with Rench of Battlestar

Describe your music.

Country-Hip-Hop. I sample and produce beats and put country vocals over them. I've got a live band with another singer (Veronica Dougherty), guitar (Bryan Pocius), fiddle (Michi Wiancko), drums (Danny Miami), and a DJ (DJ Ray Dawn).

Describe your message.

I don't think bands have one particular message, well, not usually. I'm a socialist, and most of the lyrics have some kind of progressive political inspiration. I also try to take a more nuanced tone, to reflect some complexity in politics so it's not just some revolutionary sloganeering. I guess if there's a central message, it would be to get smart about being anti-corporate, understand the different dynamics that our free-market system plays in peoples' lives. I think the music has its own message, though. Country and hip-hop can work together; things don't have to always be so culturally segregated.

What kind of reaction does that get?

Sometimes people are confused and think it's a bad idea to be combining country and hip-hop. Other people get it and they usually think we are doing something exciting. There has been talk for years about "Hick-Hop" and people like Everlast or Kid Rock have built on an image of combining rural and urban music. So sometimes we have to work against the preconception that country hip-hop is going to sound like Kid Rock. We don't sound anything like Kid Rock. There's a lot to country music and hip-hop that hasn't been brought into the equation yet. Two part harmonies, fiddle, and country style chord progressions are something that we've added to hip-hop beats and scratching to reach a more complete kind of country hip-hop sound. I'm just surprised that it hasn't been done more already, aside from us and a few other people that have started experimenting with it in the last few years.

How can other people make a difference, politically?

The most important part of trying to make political change is being organized together with people that are in the same boat or who share your interests. Not just because of strength in numbers but also because organized institutions can last and pass on knowledge and resources and build power for causes rather than just individuals. Working with unions or political nonprofits is a good way to do this. There are links to good organizations like the Prison Moratorium Project and United Students Against Sweatshops on our website.

When can we see you perform?

We have shows pretty much every month in NYC. January 16 we will be at Luna Lounge on the Lower East Side.

Battlestar info:

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