INTERVIEW: We chat to hip-hop adventurer Jody Bigfoot
Jody Bigfoot is the Hip-hop artist doing things boldly. Based in the North-East, UK he has an ambitious solo project underway, and is set to release his LP and feature-length film this May. In the meantime, let’s delve a little deeper ahead of his first ‘Duszt’ trailer release this Friday.
This project seems like a long time in the making. Can you recall the moment you decided on setting out on your solo adventure?
I decided to go solo around the time I met Tandaro, my current rap group was stuck in a rut because my partner was not turning up to any video shoots, gigs or recording sessions, which left me in a very awkward situation. Meeting a fresh new producer with energy that matched mine was the fresh start I needed.
What does ‘Duszt’ mean or symbolise for you?
It has many meanings. It is a reference to the bible phrase "From dust you came, and to dust you shall return", a phrase that stands to remind us that in essence we come from the same place and below any societal constructs, we are all equal. It reminds us to humble ourselves as we are not the gods on earth that our arrogance and ego has led many to believe, but part of a vast interconnected web of life and consciousness. It is a reference to the symbology in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials", in which Dust is the language of Angels guiding us to a better fate, overcoming totalitarian authority. It is a zen koan, a paradox that can lead to abandoning reason and encourage enlightenment in that you want to pronounce it "Dust" for ease but truthfully you know it should be pronounced with the Z.
Please give us three of your top highlights from your time filming in Japan?
1. Spending a day with Baikei Uehira and son, a master calligrapher that has done commissions for Lady Gaga, the Tokyo Stock Exchange and many other high profile clients. He used to teach Jo (who is a long time collaborator adding an angelic voice to many of my projects) Japanese calligraphy, and after our first filming session in his school, he was more than happy to drive me and Jj an hour south to his house to film more calligraphy on a giant piece of paper about 8x8 metres, for free. We walked up a local mountain and tried in vain to get into the famous local Onsen (Japanese bathhouses), most Onsen do not allow people with tattoos to enter so unfortunately this was unsuccessful. We then went to a tiny restaurant ran by a retired engineer that had trees growing through it, or should I say, was built around the trees of the valley.
2. Being the first person to arrive at Fushimi Inari, a famous Kyoto temple with over 32,000 torii (the red gate featured on the movie poster) and filming the shrine and gates before the hoards of tourists arrived. I felt a great affinity to the place, taking this trip on one of my last days in Japan, and although I was 'working' it felt like somewhat of a pilgrimage. I later found out that this shrine was a huge inspiration for the writer and designer of the Legend of Zelda, a game with a very warm place in my heart and childhood, about a child having to rise to the task of a Hero and save the world from darkness.
3. Seeing any of my old friends. I have been a bit of a globetrotter for a lot of my adult life and made some truly great friends I get to see far too rarely, so any chance I get to hang out with them and catch up is a blessing. I got to see my ex girlfriend Yoko who I am still great pals with, an absolute legend of a man, Leo Jahvaneese of Direct Impact Soundsystem and the under-sung pioneer of hyper pop Numb'n'Dub who sings the chorus of the song "Migi Ni Hidari Ni", and who's first music video I produced when I first lived in Japan.
If you had to choose, can you pick your favourite track from Duszt?
Every track has an element that is my favourite in a different way, but since my main focus is lyricism and message I would have to choose Ring Ring, I feel like at all times but especially in this age of turmoil we have destiny on the phone, calling us to evolve, focus and grow to build a better world free from unnecessary suffering, and use our technology and energy for the greater good not the greater profit.
So, with the trailer coming out this Friday, are there any easter eggs/hints that we should pick up from in the sneak peek?
I tried to keep as many cards as close to my chest as possible, whilst still providing more than your average 30 second teaser. The trailers have utilised many beautiful shots that couldn't fit in the final film and use a mix of the original songs and their instrumentals. As far as easter eggs are concerned I think I may have missed a trick in the production! If you are to find easter eggs in this album it will be through the dissection of the lyrics, unearthing my true meaning or creating your own from my words.
What was it like working with Tandaro on the album?
Tandaro is a prodigy, together we managed to actualise a fantastical idea of conscious trap into existence with all the added flavour of movie scoring and accompanying visuals. The album was in draft stage when the filming was done and then returned to Tandaro to develop alongside the visuals. It was tough at times, there was a period when he was let down and pretty much betrayed by a Jamaican reggae group he had poured his heart and soul into, which affected his mental health in a really bad way. He persevered onwards and I stuck by his side trying my hardest to practice patient compassion and here we are, with the final product being released at what I would say is the most perfect time.
Obviously, right now gigging seems like an alien concept. But when things start to open back up, any future chances of us hearing these tracks live?
Gigging seems very alien indeed, I got close during the summer when Germany was open for gigs. I flew out there for an event in Lindau (Tandaro's home town), but it was to be held outdoors in a public park and ended up being cancelled to rain! A true disappointment, but it was lovely to see Tandaro, his family and his new Spanish rescue dog in person and just chill somewhere other than my bedroom! When venues open back up, a live screening with performance will be my number one priority.
Any other future projects you can hint to?
I am also sitting on another finished LP, for my new rap group 'Lucid Giants' produced by Scottish hip hop renegade 'Konchis' that will be released immediately proceeding the release of the full Duszt project. I am simply awaiting a time when me and my partner in this group Nobull can meet up to shoot the videos. I am also hoping to find the funds for the sequel to Duszt "2Duszt", which I also hope to film in Japan, this time shooting in the 88 temples on the Shikoku hachi ju hachi Buddhist pilgrimage and going even deeper into the Japanese underground and nightlife than before…
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