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Name: Adam Bernard
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About Me: Veteran music journalist with 20+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, & B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Homeboy Sandman Launches “Dirty Looks” With a Smile
Friday, January 07, 2022

Homeboy Sandman is entering his 15th year of being one of indie hip-hop’s preeminent artists, and having seen success on a worldwide level, and spent time on Stones Throw Records, and Mello Music Group, he’s taken all of his experiences, and veteran expertise, and launched his own label – Dirty Looks.

Dirty Looks was conceived in 2021, and began with a series of single releases from the Sandman himself. Having famously shunned social media, he gave fans a first listen via his very active email list.


I caught up with Homeboy Sandman to find out more about the new label, as well as his decision to leave social media, and the ways he now stays in touch with people.


You recently launched a label named Dirty Looks. What inspired you to add Label Owner to your resume? 

I just wanted a way to release music without having to take into consideration any of the considerations that come with being part of a label that isn’t my own. (Things like) getting on other people’s schedules, basically, and also running this or that by people.

I really enjoy collaborating with people, and I really am grateful for collaboration. I still plan, and anticipate, to work with others, but the freedom to … it’s a way of getting cooks out of the kitchen, more so than anything else.

Over the course of your career you’ve been on Stones Throw, and Mello Music Group. What did you learn from those experiences that you’ve taken with you for the creation of Dirty Looks? 

I’ve gotten different advice from the heads of both of those labels.

I’m still with Mello Music. I still have Mello Music (releases) on deck, so it isn’t that I don’t collaborate with Mello Music anymore.

I think just in my experience with labels, and looking all around me … I do envision involving other artists in Dirty Looks. I do have artists that I zero in on, and hope to one day play a part in spreading their music to the world.

The importance of the artists, the importance of trying to help the artists manifest their vision, keeping things pure, keeping things art based, not making things about money, or capitalism, and basically just making sure authenticity is at the forefront, making sure love, and support, and authenticity are the forefront, are the things I think my label experiences have instilled with me.

Both Stones Throw, and Mello Music Group are known for being labels where you can trust the logo, so to speak. If you see their logo on the back of an album you know there’s a high level of quality involved. 

Right.

There are definitely things that I want people to think when they think of Dirty Looks. (If someone says) “This is out on Dirty Looks,” it’s going to be unique, it’s going to be very original, and there’s going to be a high degree of cultivation, and craftsmanship involved in it.

By the way, I love the name Dirty Looks. How’d you come up with it? 

The launch of Dirty Looks, timing-wise, has been based on the name coming to me, as much as anything else. I’ve wanted to start releasing stuff of my own in my own way for a while, but didn’t have the name yet. I was making a turn onto 5th Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, I was walking on 36th Street and turning onto 5th Avenue near a gas station over there, and Dirty Looks finally came to me. Boom.

Were you getting a dirty look, or giving a dirty look at the time? 

{laughs} I wasn’t getting, or giving a dirty look, but I may have been thinking, “Wow, this is a good look,” or, “That’s a great look.”

I maybe was thinking – what is the music? This is dirty, this is filthy. It’s kind of a bad meaning good situation.

Everything that comes out on Dirty Looks is gonna be dirty. You’re gonna hear it (and think), “Oh this is dirty!” That’s the type of looks you’re dealin’ with.

Have you found any initial challenges when it comes to launching the label? 

No. I believe that I can do things that I want to do however I want to do them.

There have been little (issues). “Come Through,” the second release, is not on Apple Music right now because I neglected to dash a box, I overlooked it. So there are things I’m learning by experience, but I’ll get it all figured out.

You are, famously, not on any form of social media. From a privacy, and mental health standpoint that’s awesome. However, in 2021 you faced a tough situation when a booker/promoter posted something on Facebook about you after you chose to drop out of a tour. The post didn’t paint you in a positive light, and the comments were awful. How did you suppress the urge to want to jump in and defend yourself, and state your actual position versus the picture others were painting? 

It got back to me that there was unsavory commentary going on on the internet, but not knowing what it is … I was actually working out on a beautiful day. It was a gorgeous day when all this was happening, and I was having a fantastic day, and I just remember a couple of people texting me like, “Yo, are you OK?”

I was one of those people. 

It really highlighted the reality – I was having a beautiful day, it was beautiful, sunny, and I was in a very joyful mood, and that was what was really happening.

If you hear (what you just said), you’re like, “Somebody said something that wasn’t nice, other people said other things that weren’t nice.” That doesn’t seem to be a very appealing, or inviting thing to want to get involved with. There really wasn’t too much pull.

I was on Instagram, and Facebook, and Twitter for a number of years, and I didn’t find them particularly enriching. Looking for things that are going to add to my day, add to my creativity, add to my spirituality, I want to cultivate my soul, that’s why I believe that I’m here. I didn’t feel like those things did any of that.

The situation where somebody was online saying something, and then other people said other things, that doesn’t sound very interesting either.

Also, in this internet age, once a person has made up their mind about someone, or something, do you think it’s even possible to make them reconsider their stance? 

I don’t know. I guess there are all different types of people in the world. Maybe some are more open minded, some are more closed minded. Some might be open minded at a point, closed minded at another. To be honest, with regard to what people might think about me … I guess it doesn’t really matter. {laughs}

From an artist standpoint, the primary purpose for my art is for me – to make art, and to express myself. It’s for me, but I’m very grateful that I get to spread it to people in the world, and in the universe, and have it be appreciated. That makes me feel great. That’s a real blessing. But what people think about me … I do believe in truth. I think the truth matters a great deal, and I feel like that’s what matters. So the truth about me, I feel matters. The truth about things, I feel matters. If somebody’s position falls in line with that, that’s great, but if it doesn’t, I guess it doesn’t really matter whether they change their mind, or not.

Without social media, what are some of your favorite ways of keeping in touch with fans? 

I have an email blast. My email is HomeboySandman@gmail.com, and people that email me, and ask to be on the blast, I put them on the blast. I send that out pretty often, about one a week, or one every couple of weeks.

Text message, too – I share my music with my friends, and people that I know.

I like running into people. I love doing shows, also. I just got a flyer in for a show in Berkeley in February. I’m gonna be doing some shows in Berkeley, and Reno, and in March I’ll be doing a run of shows.

I guess live performance would be my favorite way of disseminating my art, but also I text people, and like talking to people. They say, “Hey, how ya doin'? What’s going on?” and I’ll answer them. I have a lunch with a friend later on today.

Just taking opportunities to let people know what’s going on with me – text, email, and shows are the first three that come to mind.

Finally, complete this sentence – In 2022 Homeboy Sandman will be … 

In 2022 Homeboy Sandman will be … in Reno on February 18th, in Berkeley on February 19th, in Columbus, Ohio in March, and in Kansas City in March, and in Colorado Springs in March, and for all the other places where I’ll be email HomeboySandman@gmail.com and be added to the email list.

So Homeboy Sandman will be working, and will be everywhere. 

Homeboy Sandman will be not working, and will be everywhere. (Homeboy Sandman) will be grateful to God for his ongoing workless streak, which is reaching into 15 years of not working. Thank God.

 

For more Homeboy Sandman, check out his music on Bandcamp, and email him at HomeboySandman@gmail.com to receive his email blasts.

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