We Moved! WE MOVED

Malay Mail Interview

Friday, February 11, 2005

  Getting inside Shinoda’s world
January 2006

One thing we really like about members of Linkin Park, the most successful rock group of this millennium, is the fact that they are always hungry to break new grounds.
Detractors might label them a ‘manufactured’ act or a ‘boy band’ but since they broke into the scene five years ago, the band has put a lot of other more credible bands to shame.

They may not walk the same path like these credible acts but they made their mark with the music they have been churning out.

After their multiple platinum and award-winning debut album Hybrid Theory, the band released Reanimation, a remix album which featured A-list names in both the rap-rock/nu-metal and hip hop scenes.

And in 2003, they came out with their second album, Meteora, a tighter and more cohesive effort. In their eagerness to show another side of their music, last year the band released Collision Course, a ‘mash-up’ album that had their music being looped and blended with rapper, Jay-Z’s music.

And if you thought they had run out of creative juices, think again. They are far from being done.

In December 2004, word was flying around that Mike Shinoda, the other half of the vocal firepower of Linkin Park was working on his solo album under the name Fort Minor.

In the midst of all the speculation, Shinoda premiered five of the songs from the album – Remember The Name, Petrified, Where’d You Go, Right Now and Believe Me – to selected online hip hop press in an exclusive listening party last April. It was an enlightening experience. We learnt that Jay-Z, who worked with the band before, is the executive producer of the new album.

He is joined by respectable names in the hip hop game like Common, John Legend, the Roots’ Black Thought, Kenna and Shinoda’s bandmate, DJ Joe Hahn.

Others such as Styles of Beyond and Holly Brook, both signed to Shinoda’s imprint, The Machine Shop Recordings, would also make guest appearances.

Good words were said about the songs and the anticipation among Linkin Park, hip hop and rock fans was high.

In October, fans got their first taste of what was to come when Fort Minor made its debut single, a double A-side; Petrified/Remember The Name available for download.

The album, The Rising Tied, when released on Nov 22 was greeted with positive response by both the fans and critics.

Buzz had the opportunity to do an e-mail interview with Shinoda recently. Here’s what he has to say about Fort Minor, The Rising Tied, the current hip hop music and Linkin Park’s next studio album.

First, are you happy with the way both Linkin Park and hip hop fans received ‘The Rising Tied’?
I’m happy. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from fans on both sides, those who never listen to hip hop and those who only listen to hip hop. The hip hop heads say that they like the uniqueness of the album, which to me is a huge achievement.

Fans who don’t usually listen to hip hop usually tell me that they like the lyrics on The Rising Tied because I’m not talking the same stuff most rappers talk about. In both cases, I’m extremely happy with the response so far.

I notice that you openly express yourself on issues like being ridiculed by detractors on Get Me Gone and authenticity in the hip hop game on Cigarettes. Did working with Fort Minor afford you the freedom that you never had with LP?
When I write for Linkin Park, I tend to write things that I think represent all of the guys in the group. On the Fort Minor album, I just have to represent myself. I guess that’s why it comes off as more personal.

The Rising Tied sounds like a pretty angry album. Why?
I don’t really agree; you may be mistaking anger for something else: The thing I think is the most striking is the sarcasm and humour. I haven’t really done much of that with Linkin Park. When you listen to songs like High Road and Petrified, you’ll know that I’m not entirely serious.

I’m sure you’ve been asked this question many times before but why call the project Fort Minor. Why not your name instead?
I could have done it the easy way – put ‘Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park’ with my picture on the cover, and get beats from the Neptunes and Timbaland. But I wanted something personal and unique. As for the name ‘Fort’, it represents the more aggressive side of the music. ‘Minor’ can mean several things: If you’re talking about music theory, minor key is darker. I did not want my name to be on the cover because I want people to focus on the music.

How did Common, Black Thought, Jonah Matranga, Eric Bobo, John Legend and the rest get involve in the project? Did you specifically approach them?
As I was making the songs, I wanted to limit the guest artistes to my friends. I only called people I already knew, and asked them if they wanted to be on the album. If you look at the artistes – Black Thought, Common, John Legend, Styles of Beyond, Holly Brook, Kenna, Jonah – I think there is a lot of diversity. I looked at each song and thought about what would make it better. I respect these people, and I knew that if I asked them to work on a song, they would understand my vision.

When will be the time when you’d consider the album a success on a street level?
The streets are always changing. People are always looking for the hot new thing. Our street reputation is different in different countries, but in general, I would say that our rep is good. People know that we consistently put out a certain quality of music, and that we’re not a**holes. And the critics’ response has been good. If you go to fortminor.com right now, you’ll see some of the great things that have been said about the album. I can’t complain!

Being the singer of the biggest band of this millennium, it leaves you with two major responsibilities – to raise the bar of rock and hip hop and silence detractors who question your ‘authenticity’. How do you juggle that?
The time I’m most inspired to make music is when I feel like I’m waiting for something. If I’m waiting for a certain style of music or a certain type of song, and nobody else does it, then I go for it. That was how Linkin Park and Fort Minor started. As for juggling the two, it’s very difficult, but so far my team and I have held it together. We’re busy promoting Fort Minor, and the next Linkin Park album will be out next year.

As someone who grew up with hip hop, what do you like to see more in today’s hip hop scene?
IN terms of the Fort Minor album, I wanted to make it organic. Hip hop right now is mostly based on keyboard music. One of my goals of the Fort Minor album was to keep the big sound of a hip hop album, but make it using live instruments and hand-played keyboard parts. When you hear an instrument, it’s usually played by hand.

Trying out new ideas is one thing but what about the fans. Sometimes, they find it pretty hard to accept cutting edge ideas. Hip hop has become like a habit, not passion or art anymore.
I think hip hop has become a machine. People are making so much money that they look at it as a business more than an art. I admit that it would be stupid to ignore the business side of it, but I try to remember the art of writing a good song and playing a good show when I’m doing it.

I’m sure the process of making the album has made you a better person, producer and artiste?
I always go into a project trying to experiment and learn something. I make mistakes along the way, and try out different territory. I think I have learned a lot from this project, and I will be taking those ideas with me on future ventures.

I read that, you will be producing the next LP album. From a producer’s point of view, have you figured out the direction of the album? As an emcee, what more can you bring to the next LP album and as a unit, how do you see LP raising the bar?
I will be sharing credit with another producer, who we have yet to pick. The previous albums had a ‘produced by Linkin Park’ credit, and the rest of the band agreed that I deserved that credit. I’m very flattered by the gesture, and I plan to do what I always do; help craft the songs into something powerful and special, something that will touch people. In general, I would say that the labels of ‘nu metal’ and ‘rap rock’ are old and outdated. If you notice, our last album had songs like Breaking The Habit. And you’d be silly to call that ‘rap rock.’ We will continue to move in that direction, to make music that defies the conventional genres.

thanks to lptimes.com