Hip-Hop and poetry go hand in hand, and Califonia native George Watsky is the epitome of that. After attending poetry slams as a youth and eventually performing in them, Watsky began to catch the eye of onlookers with not only his skill on the microphone but with the content he
Photo Courtesy of: Eleanor Stills
Watsky was featured on Season 6 of Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO in 2006. He was also the 2006 Youth Speaks Grand Slam Poetry Champion, 2006 Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam Champion, and performed in a record six consecutive Youth Speaks Grand Slam Finals.
In 2007, he released his first album, Invisible Inc., and followed this up with Watsky in 2009.
On top of the music, Watsky has also released a New York Times best selling book entitled, How to Ruin Everything: Essays. It was deemed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer and lyricist of In the Heights and Hamilton as, "Funny, subversive, and able to excavate such brutally honest sentences that you find yourself nodding your head in wonder and recognition."
Amber Cruz, a writer for Up In The Pines, recently interviewed Watsky in anticipation of his new album x Infinity that is being released on August 19th, 2016. The questions can be found below and make sure to pre-order x Infinity, here.
1. Is there any specific moment you think writing took your attention? Is it something you've always enjoyed?
The moment that I really decided to go into it seriously was when I saw Def Poetry Jam for the first time, at 15 years old, before it went to Broadway. There was a run of a few weeks in San Francisco, and I went to go see the show twice. I was captivated by an artform I had never seen before and I was hooked.
2. What was the first poetry show you ever performed?
Probably a few weeks or months after that. I went home and immediately started writing and then showing up to youth poetry open mics around the city. I got very involved at a spoken word poetry organization called Youth Speaks, taking workshops and meeting other young writers from around the city, many of whom I'm still close friends with.
3. What made you start creating music?
I started making music around the same time I started writing poetry-- the impulse was the same. I love wordplay, rhythm, performance, the energy of the crowd, and rap is where so much poetry lives these days. It just took a long time for my following in music to catch up to the gigs I was getting for spoken word.
4. Have you been back to Canada since the instance you mentioned in your book (I don't want to give too many specifics and ruin the story for future readers)?
I did a whole run of Canadian shows in 2015-- Edmonton, Regina, Calgary, Winnipeg, BC. I love Canada. I'm sure I'll be back soon.
5. Any future books in the making? Do you plan on publishing more?
I'll definitely write more books in the future. My essay collection was not intended as a one-off, it was to show people another side of me as a writer that I intend to keep developing as long as I live. But I doubt I'll write more personal essays-- at least for a long time. Doing an essay collection was a natural bridge from my music and poetry. My followers are used to hearing me tell stories about myself, only in a slightly different form. But I really want to write fiction, and next up I want to tackle a novel.
6. Poetry, comedy, acting, music, and being an author, any one that you feel the most passionate about and why?
I'll always be a poet first. I consider myself a writer more than a musician. And I was passionate about poetry before I got an urge to write prose.
7. What is one of the most memorable shows you performed?
University of Iowa 2008. They know why.
8. Are you going to miss the Subaru? What's the story behind how it came into your life?
The story about how the Subaru came into my life is simple-- my dad agreed to help me buy a car after college if he could pick the vehicle. So he chose the safest, lamest used car he could find, and I learned to love it. Will I be nostalgic for the Subie? Possibly. Will I miss it? No.
9. Who is an idol of yours?
10. How long did this album take you to create? Any specific message you want your listeners to gain?
X Infinity took me about a year and a half, from when I really started working on it. The biggest message I would want listeners to walk away with is that we are insignificant. BUT our insignificance is actually a liberating idea-- No, we don't matter much in the big picture, but if we embrace that, it means our daily problems don't matter either, which frees us of anxiety and allows us to love, celebrate, and enjoy the time we have here.
On September 2nd, 2016 at Club Red in Mesa, Arizona, Watsky will start his 60-city x Infinity tour, spanning 14 countries.