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May 17, 2011 / punkcakes

Big Pauper, An Interview


Big Pauper, formerly Panzah Zanzah, is just ridiculously good. A deejay, producer, and former manager of hip hop label Token Recluse– he knows what he’s doing when it comes to rhythms and beats. April 26th birthed the release of Beyond My Means, an album which only proves the intelligence and creativity Big Pauper brings to the genre known as hip-hop.

Listen to Big Pauper’s track “Big Sick”

Q. To put it simply, who and what is Big Pauper?

Big Pauper is my mid-twenties.  It’s my required credit check, my
uneasiness having to force a smile, my suit and tie noose, my dinners
out I put on credit cards i’ll never pay, my innate hypocrisies, my
flabby will, my empty bank account,  my constant ailments, my
frustrations with humanity, and my fight against settling into
self-defined mediocrity.  It’s also my extensive catalog of beautiful
moments, my love for the people in my life, my connection with the
various scents one discovers in the pacific nw forest, my sense of
accomplishment seeing an idea to fruition, my desire to live more in
harmony with the natural world, my garden i will plant in a few
moments, and my appreciation of various grainy, soot-covered, broken
and dusty aesthetics.

Q. First of all, I have to compliment you on your choice of name…
Big Pauper is just excellent. What made you decide to move on from your previous identity Panzah Zandahz and create this one?

Panzah Zandahz was some silly shit I came up with as a kid.  I
delighted in everybody’s inability to pronounce it for a while, but it
began to bug me when so many mis-spellings or omissions of it surfaced
with the Me & This Army stuff from 05.  It also began to feel like
some late 90’s DnB deejay name like Cupah Cyentific, Elektrizz.ity or
Psylensah.  Not too tasteful.. kind of like what I called my label in
it’s infancy, Zero Skillz Recordingz.  I think I even used to ALL-CAPS
them Z’s.

Q. I love the Radiohead remix/mashup “Me and This Army”, are you heavily influenced by other musicians? Who?

My world is driven by the artistic efforts of others.  Big influences
over the years (not limited to music) include Robert Crumb, KMD’s
“Black Bastards,” Beck, Vera Chytilová, Edan, Moondog, Clara Rockmore,
Lydia Kavina, Andy Votel, Karen Dalton, Tom Waits, Julia Doucet, Karl
Klomp, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Bruce Haack, Vidvox, Folktek, the film
“Death Laid an Egg,” Odd Nosdam, Julian House, Matthew Lesko, Brad
Hamers and of course.. Radiohead.  This was a very incomplete list.

Q. What else influences your songwriting?

A bad day, a good day, illness, euphoria, my environment, the people
in it, the equipment i’m using, my limitations, my boundaries, myself.
I’d say the biggest influence however is the clock ticking on the
wall.. there is no shutting that damn thing up.

Q. As a hip hop artist, what’s your opinion on mainstream hip-hop out today?

Contemporary hip hop lost me around 2004 or so.  I’ll still throw on
some Lord Finesse or Ultramagnetic, don’t get me wrong, but nothing
new has moved me in years.  As far as mainstream hip hop goes, it does
and says what it needs to in order to make money.  It continues to
provide a constant barrage of ideological nonsense in support of
excess, money and material bullshit, further perpetuating it all.  The
majority seems all too happy to give in to any shiny object presented
before them as long as it provides the much needed temporary
distraction from anything that has any real impact on themselves or
their environment.  Not that there probably aren’t people out there
trying to say something substantial within mainstream hip hop, they
just probably aren’t selling many records.

Q. So about the album, that I can’t stop listening to… you just
released Beyond My Means April 26, what are you most looking forward to with its release?

Being able to move on to the next project.  It is rare I finish any
project I set out to complete, so it is always a bright day in my life
when some big project sees itself to fruition.  I had been working on
Beyond My Means for over seven years.  Lived in a lot of different
places over the span of that time.

Q. How is it different from your previous “Cops Eat Flowers”?

Not to speak ill of Cops Eat Flowers,but those are cutting-room floor
tracks.  I didn’t want those tracks on the album for various reasons
because I didn’t feel like they fit.  I was shooting for something a
little more cohesive on Beyond My Means.

Q. If you could create a slogan or catch phrase for Beyond My Means, what would it be?

Ooo, like on movie posters?  Hmmm… too borrow the tag-line from the
film the Innkeepers “a ghost story for the minimum wage.”

Q. So you’re ready to embark on an overseas European tour with Brad Hamers to promote both your new albums, what are you most looking forward to on that adventure?

I’ve been rather hermit-ous all throughout this bleak six month
portland winter and haven’t had much human interaction for a while.
I’m looking forward to meeting the good folks you meet on the road,
seeing my old friends from the last tour and catching up with Hamers.
Hamers is my right hand man and we travel really well together.  Not
only that but being in his presence triggers off a healthy creative
mania in me.. we always seem to just go fucking nuts everywhere we go.
Travel is what keeps me going…. I stay in one place too long and I
lose circulation, limbs die and I become comfortably numb in routine,
a very dangerous place to be.  It’s been almost a year since I hit the
road so I’m due for some serious shenanigans.

Q. Are you planning any US tours?

Lining up a west coast tour with Hamers for the summer.  It’s coming
together slowly but surely.  It’s looking like september will bring an
eastern European tour which I am very excited about.  The overseas
adventures always seem to just fall in to my lap… but booking
domestically is always a real jobby job.. I still haven’t been able to
book a home-town show for this album, haha.

Q. Do you have a favorite show you’ve played to date, any ridiculous tour stories you’d like to share?

This tour is going to take the cake… it is a story in the making.
But, the most immediate tour memory that jumps to mind is the time I
got in to a full on brawl with some rent-a-cops at twelve in the
afternoon in the parking lot of some Kent, OH supermarket.  I’ll spare
you the embarrassing details.

Q. What piece of advice would you give to young musicians trying to make it in the music industry?

Make your own industry.

Q. The obligatory Punkcakes question – As a music blog with an
appreciation for the pastry art, what is your favorite dessert?

Hmmm…. I could go for box of french macaroons in the tub with the
mrs. right about now.  Yum yum!  Thanks for chatting and be well.

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