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Interview: A Quick Catch Up With Pharoahe Monch

Interview: A Quick Catch Up With Pharoahe Monch

By Chris Cudby / Wednesday 6th September, 2017 12:45PM

Legendary New York rapper Pharoahe Monch (aka Troy Donald Jamerson) is returning to our shores this month for one show at Auckland venue The Studio. Deservedly acclaimed as a key lyrical innovator in hip hop, Monch's peerless discography stretches way back to the early nineties with rap duo Organised Konfusion. Not one to rest on his laurels, Monch's recent achievements include receiving a Grammy this year for his work on the Miles Ahead soundtrack and last year's brass band reinterpretation of his kaleidoscopic 2014 album PTSD at New York's Ecstatic Music Festival.

UTR caught up with Monch for a brief but illuminating chat covering his current tour, upcoming album, recent artistic activity, and well-publicised love of Game Of Thrones...

How's it going? You're playing in Auckland in mid-September, your first show here since 2013 – what can fans expect from the show?

I'm good man, I'm happy and good. The show will be aggressive and hype. I want to dig into some Organised Konfusion, some early stuff from Internal Affairs and yeah man just really hype y'know.

So the show will feature work from across your career?


Is it true that there's going to be a 'rock' angle to your next album? What ideas will you be exploring with the album?

Definitely. It's really hard, aggressive, seventies, my influences like Sabbath and Zeppelin, bands that I loved in the eighties and nineties. Super heavy, super lyricism and attacking and addressing some of the things that need to be addressed in music.

How would you describe those things?

First and foremost – super authentic. I think authenticity is what's key, no matter what your music sounds like, it needs to sound honest. First and foremost from the heart, and then lastly what is on your heart in terms of happy/sad. I don't mean to sound cliched, but social/political address issues. We're not short of content right now in the world.*

Congratulations on winning the Grammy this year [for the Miles Ahead soundtrack]. Did you see that coming?

Thank you man. We felt like that whole project and the whole feel behind that project was gearing towards that way. A sense in that, some really excellent songs on that project... Don Cheadle was in the studio as well and he was like “Yeah, we might do it with this”.

2016 was a big year with the release of Miles Ahead and the brass band live version of PTSD at the Ecstatic Music Festival.

Yeah that was amazing as well man. My Mom got to come to the event because it was it was in one of the classic orchestra halls in Manhattan. So that was cool man, it was really good. She got to see that show, she doesn't get to see many shows. I was really happy about that. It was put together by a collective of the Ecstatic Music Festival, those guys reaching out to me. It went over so well we're going to be doing it again at Duke University in October.

As an artist who's accomplished so much in their career, how do you keep inspired to keep your work fresh and relevant?

That's the fun part man. It's like, search for inspiration in film, conversation with people, letting life happen. I search for inspiration through music in terms of creating it. Certain melodies, chords and harmonies, they'll move me. Love, really love and be passionate about what I do.

Switching gears slightly, what do you think about the new Game Of Thrones season?

Hahahahaha it's amazing man, that's a prime example of what I'm talking about. It's one of the best shows, it's one of the best seasons so far and that's just really been inspiring and exciting. I've been watching it like a little kid.

*This interview was conducted the week following the Charlottesville rally.


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Fri 15th Sep
The Studio, Auckland

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