We Moved! WE MOVED

Galaxie Magazine Interview

Friday, February 11, 2005

Feels Like Home

February 2006

 Fame and money don't seem to matter to Mike Shinoda anymore. After enjoying phenomenal commercial success with his buddies in Linkin Park, the talented rapper/songwriter/producer feels that the time has come for him to pursue his artistic desires. Hence the birth of his alter ego, Fort Minor.
Fort Minor's debut album, The Rising Tied, is an ambitious record. It sees Shinoda crawling out of his Linkin Park mould and paying tribute to his hip-hop roots. "Before Linkin Park, I pretty much made hip-hop, " the 29-year-old Japanese-American rapper says in an interview with Galaxie.

"At that time, about eight years ago, my equipment was very cheap, and I didn't really know much about production or engineering. (But with Linkin Park) I've learned so much about production, songwriting and people in the last few years. Fort Minor started when I began to wonder what it would sound like to bring it full circle, to get back to my roots, but use all the tools I have learned since then."
On The Rising Tied, Shinoda played most of the instruments and wrote all 16 tracks on the album. Doubling as the producer and mixer, he had to slog away in his recording studio for months. "I slaved over every detail" is how the hard-working musician sums up his experience of working on his labour of love.

Wishing to keep his music with Fort Minor more organic, Shinoda shied away from his trademark Linkin Park sequenced keyboards. Instead, he created his own samples and breakbeats with live instruments. Current hit single Believe Me is infused with breakbeats, Latin percussion and a cello-based line. Shinoda says Believe Me is his tribute to classic rock. His personal anger and frustration with critics who calle dhim (and his Linkin Park bandmates) a fluke was also channelled into songs like Remember The Name : "This is 10 per cent luck / 20 per cent skill / 15 per cent concentrated power of will / 5 per cent pleasure / 50 per cent pain / and 100 per cent reason to remember the name".
Shinoda's biting sarcasm is also evident on Get Me Gone, where he publicly expresses his contempt for the mainstream media and explains why he only entertains e-mail interviews these days : "When some magazines printed that our label made us / we were too good to be true / some were saying ghostwriters were writing all that we do / so we had to disapprove it we spelled it out / to the detail / how we do it / when we're making this music / after that I made it a rule : I only do e-mail responses to print interviews / because these people love to put a twist to your words / to infer that you said something f***ing absurd".

Tell us more about Syles Of Beyond, the other force behind Fort Minor - Ryu, Takbir & Cheapshot. How did you guys meet? What inspired you to work together on Fort Minor?
I have known these guys for eight years. I actually designed the album packaging for their first album, 2000 Fold. The logo that they have tattooed on their skin - I designed that about seven years ago. Then about two years ago, when I started messing around with the music that would become Fort Minor, I ran into them and decided that they would be a good fit. Now, they're signed to our label, Machine Shop Recordings, and they're on almost half of The Rising Tied.

After enjoying phenomenal success with Linkin Park, why the need to indulge in a side project like Fort Minor?
This project isn't about success or indulgence. It's been more of a musical experiment. I used to make beats and rap over them before Linkin Park. I did hip-hop probably 90 per cent of the time at that point. So I started this project to see what my production and rapping sounded like now, after everything I've experienced since that time, I know so much more about songwriting and the world than I did then - not to say I know a lot, but I definitely know more! So Fort Minor is where I'm at today.

You're a good rapper. Is there something, musically or artistically, that you hope to achieve through Fort Minor that you couldn't achieve through Linkin Park?
There are certain limitations rapping with Linkin Park. I can't really describe it, but certain song styles, lyrical styles, and topics just don't sound good with LP music behind it. That also played a big part in making the album. For example, Kenji, which is about the Japanese internment in the U.S. during World War II, is very specific to me because it's my family's history. It's better for a song like that to be on my album than an album with five other guys whose families didn't go through it.

Are you media-shy? I had the privilege of interviewing Linkin Park twice but ended up talking to Joe and Chester instead of you as I had requested.
I don't think I'm media-shy, but I am a little bit private at the same time.

They say you're a nice guy. So what's the nastiest thing that you could possibly do when you're angry/upset?
I try not to do nasty things when I'm upset. I try to stay level-headed. But I suppose if I were going to do something nasty, it would be more calculated.

Tell us more about your wife. Is she someone from the music industry? Why does she cry each time she hears Where'd You Go?
You'll have to hear that song to know. It's a song from the perspective of someone who gets left home alone. But it's not a true description of her or us, it's more of a story.

Kenji is about your Japanese roots. How Japanese are you?
How would anyone answer that? I guess I could say that I'm half, but that's by blood. I think the Japanese American culture is pretty complicated, because there are parts of it that are very Japanese, and other things that are strictly Japanese-American. The most Japanese part of my personality is the food I like. Japanese food is the best!

What's next in the pipeline for Fort Minor and Linkin Park?
We'll see. Fort Minor is writing some music for Linkin Park right now.

thanks to lptimes.com and SJ