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Name: Adam Bernard
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Artist Of The Week – Verbal Sideshow
Monday, January 07, 2008

Verbal and Sideshow

Sometimes things just come together. This can be taken in a few ways in regards to this week’s Artist Of The Week, Verbal Sideshow. Sideshow had been emailing me his group’s show dates and I had never been able to make any of them. Thankfully, about a month ago I was finally able to make it to one of their Hear Me Now events and it was completely worth the trip into the city, as evidenced by their appearance on this site today. The story behind Verbal Sideshow is also one of coming together. Equipped with an MC, singer, DJ, drummer, bassist and guitarist, the group has evolved over the years and today creates a unique brand of music that has Hip-Hop at its essence, but a myriad of other inspirations floating in and out of it as well. They call it “the cure for the common soul,” and this week I caught up with Sideshow to find out more about the group, their widespread appreciation of all forms of music, and why they like to shine the spotlight on so many other acts during their shows. In his own words he was more than happy to “Spread The Verb.”

Adam Bernard: Where are each of you from and how have your backgrounds helped mold your music?
Sideshow: Verbal, Professor P, K-Cam and I were all born and raised in Queens, NY. Add One was born in Eugene, Oregon, lived for a time in Cyprus, and moved to Long Island, NY, in his late teens. Our new drummer, Jason, his nickname is Slim, was born in raised in Jamaica, Queens, and currently lives on Long Island. Each of our upbringings has been relatively different with the exceptions being Bryan and Professor P, who are twins. In writing about our own lives we found commonalities that implied the experiences of everyone among our generation. Our families, our time on the streets in our neighborhoods, our relationships, our thoughts about the purpose and meaning of our lives, all became the threads that we saw as tying everyone together. They’ve become the themes that recur in our lyrics.

Adam Bernard: Topically you sounded almost inspirational when I saw you live. Is that where you’re looking to go with your music? What are your goals when you’re putting a song together?
Sideshow: I think we’re going to have to work on the “almost” part. (laughs) We want people to be as inspired by our music as we are by music in general. It’s about more than just feeling good at a show; it’s about what you take home with you once that show is over, what you keep with you of the music, the part of it that’s yours. Perhaps it’s better to say that we want to leave a lasting impression. If only you could see the innumerable list of songs which provide the soundtrack to our lives. As we say, the playlist is infinite. We’re not trying to preach, and we hope we don’t come off that way, we just want what all artists want - to make our contribution to the vast catalogue of expression that has so enriched our own lives. We want to write a song that lasts, that sticks in your head not just because it’s catchy, but because it’s catchy and it says something. Some of the lyrics on our album These Three Words have been interpreted as having highly religious undertones and subtexts. We received a sterling review on okayplayer.com, for which we are extremely grateful. Our thanks go out to Sidik Fofana for writing the article. The majority of the review was highly positive, constructive, and complimentary. However, the article suggested that we are in essence a Christian Rap act, actually going so far as to say, “Verbal Sideshow’s Bible-Hop style is a weird cross between Creed and Aesop Rock.” To clarify, Verbal was raised Jewish and is non-practicing. Sideshow and Professor P were raised Catholic, but are beyond lapsed. Professor P is an actual professor of Philosophy at Queens College and Hofstra University. If you look closely at the references in their lyrics to God and faith and the sort of theological questioning they do in a song like “Higher Than Me” you can tell that we are like most people these days, agnostic, and soul-searching for a better belief system than any of those that exist today, one whose credo is “believe in yourself.”

Adam Bernard: The Hip-Hop scene is crowded, especially in NYC. How do you feel you stand out?
Sideshow: We stand out because we go beyond the customary approach to Hip-Hop and use all of our musical influences and original ideas in creating a style that spans genres and is uniquely our own. We use Hip-Hop as our foundation. It is the edifice upon which the eclectic blend of Verbal Sideshow is built. Through Hip-Hop we create a sound that is greater than the sum of its parts. Our music is innovative yet accessible to a wide variety of audiences. In August of 2007 we won First Place in the Long Island Music Festival, beating out over 100 other bands. Good Times Magazine and New York Newsday said this accomplishment was no small feat since the Long Island music scene is infamous for being a Hard Rock/Metal demographic. We were the first Hip-Hop band to win the festival its twenty year history.

Adam Bernard: You also host an event at the Bowery Poetry Club that features all kinds of artists. Tell me about the idea behind the event and why it works.
Sideshow: The event is called Hear Me Now which is a reference to the first track on These Three Words. That song is about our desire to express ourselves and be acknowledged. In a world where even the term “reality” has come to lose its meaning it’s almost impossible to be real with your art and get any credit for it. There are far too many hyper-talented musicians in NYC alone who should be recognized worldwide but aren’t yet, and that’s the point. We’re trying to show people that the underground is the higher ground and it’s on its way up. It works because people are hungry for something new and every time it happens the room is always packed. Our event, which occurs on the last Saturday every other month, came about as our way of shining the spotlight on all of the artists - poets, singer/songwriters, emcees and bands - that we feel ought to be heard, seen and felt.

Adam Bernard: How have you seen your music change by working with such divergent artists?
Sideshow: The best thing about working with a variety of musical acts is that it keeps us on our A-game. In the past year we’ve shared the stage with artists from all genres of music and all walks of life, we even got the chance to open up for one of our idols, the legendary KRS-ONE. We’ve seen how talented, creative and exciting the various music scenes are across New York and the tri-state area. We know how good our competition is and it keeps us on our toes. It pushes us to keep trying new things. We’re currently recording our second album and we’re anxious to show everyone just how much our sound is evolving.

Related Links

MySpace: myspace.com/verbalsideshow
MySpace: myspace.com/spreadtheverb


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:44 AM  
  • At 9:37 AM, Blogger Tah's Chronicles said…

    See Verbal Sideshow man! They're cool as F*@&!

    Do it up Y'all!

    How come y'all don't send me emals about shows anymore?

    Tah Phrum Duh Bush!

  • At 12:43 AM, Blogger crew54 said…

    adam b bringing the dopest in unsigned artist news

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