Date printed: Sun 18th Feb 2018 7:38pm PST
Ishmael AKA "butterfly" of Digable Planets interview
I don't know if there are any Ish fans out there, but it is a good interview about his new band "Cherrywine".
There are quite a few references about Prince as well.
Ishmael Butler of Cherrywine
Grammy award winning member of Digable Planets, Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler resurfaces with funk creation, Cherrywine and debut album "Bright Black" talking: politics, cocaine, lazy critics, Mos Def, and his Sundance independent film, "I am Ali" with Eko.
Eko: So how's Seattle treating you?
Ishmael: Seattle is treating me great. Definately. Got a lot of family..alotta old friends up there cause that's where I'm from. So, I couldn't really ask for more in terms of an enviroment.
Eko: People been waiting on you for a while.
Ish: You think?
Eko: Yes. How come that took so long?
Ish: Well, I don't know. After Digable broke up, I was still making music. Label stuff was going crazy like having to get off one label then get signed to another.. then that label folded. A lot of politics just worked against an album coming out but as far as my life was going.. everything was okay. I mean, it didn't really seem like it was a long time to me because I was living it. It would have been nice to see some of the albums I made come out..
Eko: Yeah! I saw in 1999 or 2000, "ISHMAEL COMING!" in print publications. I was like.. "what happened with that!?" So, you have lots of work in the chamber that we're never gonna see?
Ish: I doubt it.
Eko: I hate that!! (theatrical fake crying and sniffling)
Ish: I got albums that I don't even have copies of any more, you know? But who knows man, maybe they'll put it out now.
Eko: Did any of 'em get leaked on the internet at all?
Ish: I don't know.. They were sending out albums for review. So i'm sure people have it.
Eko: I'm gonna have to do a little diggin'
Ish: Yeah, if you do. If you find anything.. let me know. Cause I'm telling you I have shit I don't even have any copies of.
Eko: Note to artists.. keep one copy of everything. It's like keeping money in the bank!
Ish: That's real.
Eko: How did this project come together? I don't know the story..
Ish: When I moved back to Seattle, I wanted to learn how to play guitar.
Eko: Which is hard as hell-
Ish: The Turner Brothers. Gerald plays bass and Thad plays guitar. They're kinda homies from the old school. They're older than me but I knew 'em coming up and they have kind of a legendary status musically in the city so.. just started hanging out with them and trying to learn off of them. We just started making music together. I don't really remember the day we decided to make it like..boom...Cherrywine.. I mean it was my idea but I just always had them in mind and was hoping they would be down with me. When they decided that it was something they wanted to do, that's just how it happened.
Eko: Now was it like, 'you need to show up at 2pm on thursday for your guitar lesson'?
Ish: Naw, they don't teach like that. When I was asking 'how do you learn to play guitar?' They were like , "You know m*thaf*cka, you gotta play all the time. Straight up." And that's the best piece of advice I have ever got about playing. I sit around and watch them and steal little licks..but mostly you gotta play all the time.
Eko: Interesting that you came with this project and Cee Knowledge dropped a 12-inch last year and I know that Mecca is working with a friend of mine, Encore right now. Ya'll are all coming out right about the same time with recorded material in all these different reincarnations. Do you see anything happening with them in the future? Cause honestly, I don't follow drama and gossip and I don't know if anything went down.
Ish. There's no drama. There's no drama. Knowledge, when we had a show in Philly, he came to the show. We kicked it. He had a show later that night.. I went to the show. We was freestyling on stage. It was cool. Mec, I don't really talk to her that much. As far as getting back together and doing something.. it's not impossible but not really a possibility right now.
Eko: I read an interesting quote from you about previous work being thin compared to what you are doing right now.. and that was killing me cause when you were doing Digable stuff you had the ultimate toast "We be to rap what key be to lock" .. How much thicker can you get than that? That was like a profound complex analogy.
Ish: Well, I think when I was talking about that I was talking in terms of the politics. A lot of people talk and say the Cherrywine stuff is not being as political as the Digable stuff but what I was saying about the politics...not that it was thin but that it was somewhat more rhettorical than
actionary. Where we were sayin stuff and "bringin the light" to subjects and stuff. But i think what you gotta do in terms of politics is you gotta bring the fire. You gotta bring dedication and life to it rather than just awareness. So alot of times when peoples talk about
political issues.. what it serves to do is bolster their own image of being thoughtful revolutionaries rather than helping out the cause they're talking about. So, that's what I was saying was thin with the Digables stuff. but not transparent! it was meaningful but it wasn't all that it could have
So on the new shit i was like, talk about yourself. If you're gonna have a revolution let it be where it needs to start first and that would be within yourself, be honest with yourself man. And write songs that are real and that way they can relate to people in a way that is a little more substantial. That's all. I was talking about the politics of it. The hip hop shit of it was still the realest shit to me.
Eko: Okay, WHO is doing cocaine. There are so many references to people doing cocaine on the record. In all the time that I have been at shows and around artists and record label people I have never seen anyone do cocaine!?
Ish: Well that's the thing about it. It's kinda like a hidden, secretive thing. you know? But alotta people do. Alotta peolple do ESPECIALLY on this street . Especially in this one block radius that we sitting in right now! But all that is about media
gratification, escapism, materialism, the need for outside things to enhance your own image and your own coolness. You know 'what do you do, what do you wear, what do you dress, who you with' - you know that kinda stuff.. those references, the things like: cocaine, or money, or dazzlement, or sparkly stuff is symbolic of an overall viewpoint about what's going on in popular music and popular culture, art, business. Those are catch words.
Eko: You didn't include all the lyrics in the cd booklet, shame on you. It's interesting though.. from what I heard lyrically I think you are saying just as much political, critical, potent stuff as you have always been coming with. It's just.. folks mature and you put it a different way.
Ish: Well I've always thought that as far as being a critic, a listener, a consumer that the limitations of what you get out of someone's stuff is in you, not in what the person has created. A lot of critics of music, they're kinda lazy. It's easy to be that way. Some people have said that they couldn't believe I was trying to be a gangster, I wasn't being political no more and stuff like that but I'm like you, I think it's pretty real shit that's being talked about on the record.
Eko: You know! CampLo got that same criticism when they were working that whole vibe of sort of recreating blaxploitation and reflection of pop culture on their album People just weren't understanding.
Eko: Another thing you said, "When everybody is out there carousing and up in the club and trying to get a little away from whatever they're trying to get away from, to make music to facilitate that is romance."
Ish: Yeah, romance is exciting to me. Excitement is anticipation with certainty. There's two scenarios when you go out. 1.) You go to a place and you're about to see something you wanted to see and it's gonna be great for you. And there's always the chance that it may not deliver that. 2.)You go out and you don't know what you're about to see but you end up seeing something that gives you some transcending/transporting feeling. To be a part of that is a romantic thing because it's just unexpected love, unexpected fulfillment, unexpected joy. That's a sweet thing to be a part of that whole connection. That exchange of things is really nice.
Eko: Had I read that you were mentioning relating to the ladies through your music?
Ish: Yeah, it's all hooked in to me. If it wasn't, I probably wouldn't be doing it. The lines in my life, I don't really have any. They're blurred. My relationships, my music, my traveling, my family it's all the same. For instance, I have a daughter who lives here . I'm doing a show here. I got family here, cousins, girlfriends, ex girlfriends, that's all gonna be at the show toinght. all that energy swirling around will go into the songs. It's a constant ebb and flow. They're ain't no lines. That's just how my life is.
Eko: On the new Madlib album there is an interlude where one of the blue note jazz vocalists is talking about how if you're a women you will never be first in a musicians life, cause the music will always come first. I was thinking about that. I consider myself as a dj a musician of sorts.. and I don't feel that way. If i have a man in my life they can be equal if not more than music. Would you agree with that statement?
Ish: Yeah, I'd have to agree with you. Once again, what you are in somebody's life.. is what you make it. If you are with someone who's into thier music, you can't view it like, 'there's the music and then there's me'. It doesn't work like that!
Eko: I think maybe I was lookin for a little validation!
Ish: You got it. Yeah, if i'm with some woman and she's a fashion designer.. I'm not trying to be like.. 'you're going to do what? work on your stuff, what about me??' Come on, that's bullshit. If anything, get in there with her and see what she's into. It's up to you. Everything is up to us.
Eko: Was the Cherrywine album originally named the 10 commercials or was that a separate project?
Ish: The ten commercials was an alternate title for the "Since 1999" album on Red Ant that never came out.
Eko: I feel like when I debut music from an artist whose been on the dl for a while and comes out with something a little different than previous work or what people are used to.. I feel like I need to warn them and say, "Okay, when you go to listen to this album, don't have those expections." and offer a different context for them to understand the new work. When I listen to music.. I often am in a mood or frame of mind and go to my collection and try and match the music to it. Does it bother you when people compare this project to "Dirty Mind" from Prince. Or is that a compliment?
Ish: It's a compliment when I'm by myself, taking a shower but in the world, it kinda bothers me. Cause if you have someone like that, who you dig and you know good and well that you're not really fucking with them - you don't want that comparison cause you don't deserve it but at the same time it makes you feel good. It's doubled up.
Eko: Cause stylistically is not replicating or anykind of biting. But if i was in the mood and wanted to listen to Dirty Mind, I could easily put on the Cherrywine album.
Ish: Now that makes more sense right there. People are usually lazy and just say A=B
Eko: Yeah I'm not feeling the 'somewhere between Outkast and Prince' comparison.
Ish: That's what I'm talking about. That's laziness right there. And it's not even true. And if it is you have to substantiate that with some type of facts.
Eko: "I am Ali" I haven't seen it!
Ish: Naw? It's kinda hard to see. It was in Sundance. It's real good though.
Eko: How was that experience?
Ish: It's the best. Acting is real music
Eko: Why do you think it's easy for muscians to make that transition?
Ish: I don't really think it's easy. The only actor that I think is good that was a musician is Mos . Cats do they little cameos.. I'm not knocking nobody but the only person I think gets down as an actor is Mos.
Eko: For your character, did you do a journal and get into character development and do all the things that actors do?
Ish: Yeah. it's real.
Eko: For you show tonight, might we perhaps see someone named Cody Chestnutt pop up tonight since he's from LA? Did I hear something about a jam session with him at Electric Ladyland studios?
Ish: Yeah! Mos was there.. Mos is a m*therf*cker on the drums man! Hub from the Roots. I was playing piano that day and Cody was singing. But Mos man, forget about it man. He's a rascal for real. So nice.
Eko: You ever talk to King Britt anymore?
Ish: Yeah! That's my man. I'm on his new album, "Adventures in Lo-Fi" and that's my man. He comes to Seattle and dj's.
Eko: Oh man, just to be a fly on the wall at that jam session!!
Ish: Well, someone was there videotaping it. It could be out there somewhere..
Eko: Well then, I think I'm gonna have to let you go now. I gotta run home and scour the internet for that shit right this minute! Peace!
As much as I love the DPs, Cherrywine was the most disappointing LP I bought all year. I hope he keeps putting out stuff, tho.
Good to know he's still going. WE NEED A DPs REUNION!
Good night, sweet Prince | 7 June 1958 - 21 April 2016
Props will be withheld until the showing and proving has commenced. -- Aaron McGruder
"We B 2 Rap What Key B 2 Lock and I'm Cool Like Dat"!
What a PHAT tune!
Date printed: Sun 18th Feb 2018 7:38pm PST