Monday, September 30, 2013

Q & A with Robert Dillard

When I first heard Robert Dillard, I was flabbergasted. I like to use the word flabbergast to describe stupification: Stupified because his lyrical content was both intimately outrageous and rhythmic... and he looked good in a white t-shirt...and what's better than intimate outrage with rhythm in a white T? Nothing. That's what. It was circa 2007 at Legacy Books and Cafe in St. Louis, MO and Robert was performing Coward, a piece that left no room for speculation about what "that nigga" did because he was a punk pussy assed bitch (my deduction, not actually found within the lyrics of that song). Robert had been performing since circa 1999, gracing the mean, mean streets of poetry jams and open mics; amidst the StL Boheme of that frequently reminisced upon era that ushered in spoken word as a regional pop culture love child of hip hop and gentle interpretive metaphor.
Yet Robert's voice, illustrations, candor, subjects, timing, and timelessness let audiences know that they showed up for him and not the other way around.

I became a spectator, then a fan, and finally a collaborator...partly because I loved his music and partly because people kept asking me (1) if I knew him and (2) if we were going to collaborate. Once a fan of his mistook a picture of me for a picture of him, I figured it was time for us to be seen together in public. I had the opportunity to accompany Robert on guitar, open for his shows, and ransack his refrigerator and cabinets for peppermint bark. I learned that behind the music lied a sensitive, compassionate Pisces with a knack for human connection and a cheese problem. I could imagine that most would perceive him to be eccentric, but being accused of such myself, I recognized him as a compadre in the struggle, an intriguing inspiration, a teacher, and a dude uninterrupted. 

Countless performances and 3 studio albums later, I decided to virtually kidnap Robert for a  Q & A and chop it up with the rhythmic wonderkind. Residents of the Galaxy, meet the man...the myth...the guitar playing lyricist: Robert Dillard!

Blue: Where are you from and what hood do you claim?

Robert Dillard: I'm from St. Louis, MO..born and raised in The Central West End area. The hood I claim would be CWE ALL DAY BABY!!!!

B: How did you get started in music? 

RD: It all started with me keeping a journal. I've always been the kind of person that needed to release so that I wouldn't explode or get sick. I'd been journaling and writing poems since i was 6 years old. In 2002, an ex boyfriend of mine bought me a guitar, and I didn't know how to play it, but I taught myself and within a couple months, I wrote my first song and performed it. The feeling of release was so amazing, I kept doing it...and have been making and recording music since that time.

B: Please describe your musical and creative vision?

RD: I'm a writer first and foremost, but the instruments are an amazing vehicle to deliver my emotions, message, etc. I see each song/album as a snapshot of where I am in my life. I assess, document, and move forward, so that when I'm 127 years old, I can look back at these recordings as if they were a photo album. I'm completely disinterested in corporate hands contaminating my art with their green papered agenda.

B: Girls love you. Guys love you. How do you keep them all satisfied?

RD: I DON'T. LMAO. I appreciate any love that is being poured into me, but I am less interested in satisfying people these days, and more interested in being WHOLE. If who I am in my entirety is satisfying to someone, thats awesome...if not, thats awesome too.

B: You recently added politics to your repertoire. How did this come about and what affect has it had on your creativity? 

RD: So much of my message is wrapped up in connection. I love how I feel when I am heard and seen. I have seen so many people's flames blow out because they didn't feel like they mattered. A politician came to my show one day, loved my message and solicited my help with a few projects. I gladly agreed to, and I even got to infuse my art into the legislative process. I learned that I could help enforce justice through legislation, which is something that my art always spoke to.. It's been amazing making these two professions bedfellows.

B: What advice would you give to someone reaching for musical stardom?

RD: I would just remind them to stay focused on their art and what they want to express. As for fame, I think it's important that you use fame as a means to an end as opposed to just an end. The latter could lead to having life feel hollow.

B: If you could share a vegan wrap with any historical figure from the past, present, or future, who would they be? What would you ask them? 

RD: It would probably be Bayard Rustin, a gay social activist and civil rights leader, who also happened to be an aide to Dr. Martin Luther King. I would ask him "Where did you get all of that strength and courage? Strength to fight as not only a black man, but a gay black man during that period?....and how do you think we could go about bringing out that light in today's gay black men?

B: If you could go back in time, what would you tell 15 year old Robert? 

RD: I would say to him "Hold on sweet prince, it's going to get a lot more difficult, but you can handle it. You were built to last."

B: What's next for Robert Dillard? 

RD: I'm kicking around some idea's for a future political run for office, I'm finishing up my new album 'Adversity, Love and Light' and I'm also going to write a book once I'm done with the initial promoting of this record.

B: Where can the people find you? 

Cover art for Damage Control (click image for download)

RD: You can like my Robert Dillard facebook fan page, or go to my website, or follow me on twitter @ TheDillardLife or search my name on youtube or google. Information about my upcoming shows and projects will be on my website.



Watch Robert Dillard performing Oh Pretender from his 2012 release Damage Control

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