Here are my (Ken) answers to the Mental Nomad questions.
MN: Where are you from? How does living there affect your songwriting?
KW: I was born in Hamilton, Canada, but I grew up in Syracuse, NY and lived in Boston for school. Brooklyn still feels more like home than any of those places ever did and don’t think I came into my own until I moved here. So I think the grit and the extreme nature of the city fuels what I like to hear in music.
MN: Do you focus on any political themes? If so, please tell us in more detail about them.
KW: Our music responds to life around us and politics inevitably seep their way into and can be extracted from the music if we try. Its hard to avoid politics nowadays. Other than that, I wouldn’t say we focus on one political theme.
MN: How long have you been playing and what was your first instrument?
KW: I have been playing drums and percussion for 20 years. I started taking drums lessons at school in the fourth grade.
MN: How much has heartbreak contributed to your songwriting?
KW: Probably just as much as every other life experience.
MN: What are your main musical influences?
KW: Questlove of the Roots and Meshell Ndgeocello.
MN: What’s the last album you bought that you’re enjoying?
KW: From my last two very recent record store visits I came away with the new TV on the Radio, Phrenology by The Roots, Instant Vintage by Raphael Saadiq, the new MIA, Desire by Pharoah Monch and an Oumou Sangare record. I’m feeling them all for different reasons. I did really enjoy actually buying a physical CD as opposed to downloading tracks. I love having the art work and the full package. It’s more exciting- how it used to be.
MN: Have you seen any great live shows lately?
KW: I was just saying this morning how I want to go see more live music other than a gig that I’m playing on. I opened up for CL Smooth in December with another project. He came back with a live band and I really enjoyed that show (even though I had to tear down my drums and pack the car through most of it).
MN: What is your guilty pleasure band?
KW: I can’t think of a band that I’m down with that I would feel guilty about liking. I probably have few guilty pleasure songs, though.
MN: What was the first album you ever bought?
KW: I remember my first tape was called Kings of Rap. It was actually a compilation that had the Real Roxanne and Whodini and all the other 80’s rap phenoms.
MN: First concert you ever attended?
KW: The first major concert I remember was actually Bob Dylan at the New York State Fair.
MN: Who is your favorite record producer?
KW: I haven’t thought about that before. But I like different people for different reasons. Quincy Jones has got to be one of the greatest. I love whoever produced Kid A by Radiohead (name anyone?).
MN: What’s your favorite artist and album?
KW: Meshell Ndgeocello is my favorite artist. It’s either Peace Beyond Passion or Cookie: The Anthropological Mixtape.
MN: What is your favorite physical record store?
KW: Maybe Other Music on W4th.
MN: What is your favorite movie?
KW: It changes depending on my mood. My current favorite movie is The Dark Knight. I’ve always loved Pulp Fiction, too. There’s this Carlos Saura movie called Tango which is great simply for the dancing scenes (which is most of the movie).
MN: Mac or PC?
MN: Chocolate or vanilla?
KW: Depends on what it is. I prefer chocolate ice cream, but I prefer vanilla cupcakes, etc.
MN: Sarah Silverman or Dane Cook?
KW: I’m pretty ambivalent on both of them. I’d take Dave Chapelle or Chris Rock over them any day.
MN: You have $5 to spend on dinner. What are you eating?
KW: Falafel. It’s the new pizza.
MN: John Stewart or Stephen Colbert?
KW: That’s a tough one. I like the Daily Show better than the Colbert Report, but I think Stephen Colbert is funnier.
MN: What do you think is the most alarming media story in the last few months?
KW: The Gaza situation is particularly gut wrenching lately. Unfortunately, the problem is that some of the most alarming stories don’t even make it to the media at all.
MN: Do you support any specific charities and how do you give back as an artist?
KW: I’d like to be…no I’m going to be more active in causes that I care about like Darfur, gay rights, Palestinian relief.
MN: Have you read any great books lately?
KW: The last book I read was for research on my thesis, but I really liked it. It was Digging the Africanist Aesthetic: Dance and Other Contexts by Brenda Dixon-Gottschild.
MN: What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you?
KW: When I was a kid on my vacation with my family, I woke up in the middle of the night in the closet. I don’t know if I sleep walked or what, but it was really dark and it took me quite a bit to figure out where I was. Needless to say it bugged me out.
MN: If you were a superhero what famous musician would be your arch-nemesis and why?
KW: I couldn’t have an arch nemesis. I would fly around (cause if I was going to be a superhero, I would definitely need to be able fly) trying to rid the world of the agents of mediocrity in the music industry.
MN: What is the most adventurous food you’ve ever eaten?
KW: I almost ate goat brains but they got messed up in the oven. I’ve eaten snails before, and I would eat them again too.
MN: Do you read any online music magazines, if so, which ones?
KW: I get e-mails blasts from the deli. I’m going to start checking out more though.