Saturday, April 14, 2012

A chat with ?uestlove

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing the drummer, bandleader and all-around music fiend ?uestlove. We talked in his tiny drum booth, part of a makeshift recording studio adjacent to the Jimmy Fallon set. I sat in a corner, and ?uestlove sat behind his kit, politely facing away from me so as not to spray me with crumbs from the kale chips he was snacking on.

A condensed version of the conversation appears in the next issue of Time Out New York, an advance plug for the Shuffle Culture event that ?uestlove's curating at BAM Thursday and Friday, April 19 and 20. The online cut of the Q&A, which you can read here, is about twice as long.

I'll admit that I'm no expert when it comes to ?uestlove's massive body of work. Much of what I know of the Roots and his various side projects and production jobs comes from the 24 hours of cramming I put in prior to the interview. But every time I've ever heard him play, watched live clips (I wish I could find that vid of him nailing the opening fill on Elvis Costello's "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea") or read interviews, I've always been impressed by the sleek economy of his drumming and the unpretentious wisdom of his R&B/hip-hop scholarship. ?uestlove's career is a lesson in how to become a pop star without compromising your integrity or sacrificing the core music-nerd-hood that made you cool in the first place. I had a blast speaking with him.

P.S. There's way more to the conversation than you'll read above. I hope that eventually I can get around to posting a few outtakes here. For one thing, he offered up great anecdotes re: attending high school with heavyweight jazzers like Kurt Rosenwinkel and Christian McBride.

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