Tour Necessities Q&A: Uncommon Nasa on A Few Days to Churn tour
After talking with Brzowski about this tour in my previous Tour Necessities Q&A (read here), I knew that I had to shoot some questions about it over to New York-native emcee (and man of many other hats) Uncommon Nasa. If you’ve been around CrayonBeats for awhile, you would know that he’s no stranger to our site either (although, I’m a bit behind on writing about a couple of his projects–I’ll catch up, I swear!). Since the last time that I covered him, he released two projects that you should listen to: New York Telephone, which released in August 2014, and Halfway, which released October 2015.
After you read this Q&A, I highly advise that you go through his discography. Now, let’s get into this interview. Before he goes on this short run with Brzo, he’ll be throwing down at Yule Prog’s 9th annual event on December 3rd (peep the FB event), so I started this Q&A by talking about that first. Then, we jump right into all CHURN tour stuff, so give it a read.
TIFFOLOGY: Your annual holiday progressive hip hop show, Yule Prog, is about to celebrate it’s 9th year, on December 3rd. You and your team have once again delivered a super dope lineup, with performances coming from you, Quelle Chris, billy woods, Elucid, Carl Kavorkian, MC Eleven, Karma Kids, We Are Not For Them, Skech185, Henry Canyons, Brotherz Grimm, and Lamon Manuel. Describe your pre-show feelings/thoughts right now.
Uncommon Nasa: It’s another culmination of a lot of work. I’m really amazed, even myself, that we’ve done this 9 times. I haven’t even held one day job for 9 straight years in my entire life, so this is an accomplishment. Tickets are available at Ticketfly and it can be live streamed around the world at LivAmp. Shout out to Backwoodz Studioz and Reservoir Sound Womb as well.
Tell our readers why they should come to THIS show and what they can look forward to (especially if this will be their first Yule Prog experience).
I always tell people, the way we set up Yule Prog is if you show up at 8pm and have to leave at 10:30, you’ve seen a great show. If you show up at 10:30 and stay til 1am, you’ve also seen a great show. Staying from 8pm to 1am, we hope leaves you ranting and raving about it. Year after year, a lot of the same people come back and look forward to Yule Prog and, for that, I’m grateful. We put together the best talent we can find that all fits under a Progressive Hip-Hop banner, from the first act to the last. This year we have 12 acts; we’ve had as many as 14 or 15 in years past. It’s a frenzied show of quick hitting and high quality performances, and that’s the intention.
What are some key necessities or tips that go into putting together your own event, especially with something like Yule Prog?
Getting the venue locked down as early as possible helps because then when you approach acts and headliners you have a date and a location to point them to. Doing it the opposite way makes things really sloppy. When doing an event at this scale, it’s also important to be on a swivel and prepared to change directions at a moments notice.
Now you’re getting ready to embark on this “A Few Days To Churn” mini-tour, what are you most excited about?
There was a time when a 5 show run was a full tour for me, not too long ago. Now I classify it as a mini-tour or a short run. So this is a bit more of a relaxed situation, especially when I can hit the road with a guy like Brzowski. This will be me and Brzo’s 3rd run together, it’s always super chill when we’re together. We are similar in many ways and different in all the ways we need to be; he’s a steady hand on the road and that helps me focus. He took me on my first tour a few years back so there will always be that bond.
From the dark side of touring, is there anything you’re least excited about?
The unknown I guess, hoping to end my two tour streak of the inevitable fuck up. 2 tours ago I broke my ring finger on my car door and one tour ago I forgot my temporary drivers license back in NYC.
How many bags are you likely to pack?
I’ll have my stage gear in one small bag, my merch in a large bag and my actual clothes in a modest bag. That’s about it. Luckily, this is only 5 dates and there are no flights involved, so it makes things a ton easier.
When you pack, do you pack light with just enough clothes for the amount of days away (or less), or do you pack extra stuff just in case?
I usually pack just enough, or even a little less. Sorry, I can be a dirt bag on the road sometimes.
Are you a “neatly folded” or “just throw everything in there” kind of packer?
It’s an evolution. It starts neatly folded, but as the dirty laundry vs. clean clothes ratio shifts, it becomes more and more of a mess.
Since I already know that you two are taking a mid-size rental car, who is doing the driving?
I’ll be doing the driving. I really enjoy the long drives. I eat 6 hour drives for breakfast at this point, 8 or 9 hour drives are my full meals. A 4 hour drive is officially considered light work. I love studying maps to get the best routes when booking and love being behind the wheel. I usually choose to drive as much as possible, I kind of hate sitting in cars for long rides. During my tour with Carl Kavorkian and Samurai Banana, we drove from NYC as far south as Nashville, back up to Chicago and back East (a total of 11 shows in 12 days), and I only tapped out to have Carl drive for like 3 short stints. This run I won’t have to do that at all. My wife never lets me drive at home, so I take advantage during tours.
What are your sleeping arrangements looking like for this tour? Friends’ places or hotel/motel type thing?
A mix of all of those. I try to get hotels usually, but at the very least when you look for a hotel people tend to clean their fucking cribs up.
What music will you likely be listening to during this tour?
I usually try and plan music, but I talk so much, I can usually hold down the entertainment on my own. The only tour I remember listening to a lot of music was with Gajah last year; we exchanged a lot of groups and artists on that run. But for the most part, it’s just me and the other person or people chatting it up. With Brzo, I’m betting that’ll be the case.
What are your top 5 travel necessities?
Getting up early and getting on the road early the day after gigs (within reason), my rings, my mic and sampler, toothpaste and a toothbrush, travel sized shampoo and other products.
While on the road, driving from city to city, do you try to eat healthy snacks or do you go straight for the easy junk food options? That said, what are some go-to snacks or beverages that you like have?
I try to do a decent job of staying healthy. Cliff Bars and a bag of apples usually comes with me. Often, I eat better on the road then at home day to day. I usually only do two meals a day too, I hate eating before a performance, fucks me up. I’m a bit of a foodie too, breweries with food options are usually the first stop when available.
When you’re in each city, do plan on going to any specific food spots? Like I asked Brzo, are you more likely to go to a place you’ve never been to or somewhere you already know and love?
I actually loved his answer. I always try to eat local too, what the locals like is usually good, with some exceptions. Like, if I’m in Philly, I want a Philly Cheesesteak. If I’m in Chicago, I want a hot dog. I get that people that live in those places are sick of it, but that’s what I want. A lot of people hear I’m from New York and offer to take me to get pizza or bagels or Thai food and I’m always like, “why the fuck would I want to eat those things HERE for?”, haha. Gimme the local legends, no matter how played they are to you.
Let’s say you arrive early to the next city and don’t need to be at the venue for soundcheck for several hours, what are you looking to get into?
A nice place to eat, maybe an avenue where there’s a record store or a decent shop, an art gallery space, a brewery or even a decent looking bar to park myself at.
Are there any particular stops you’re looking forward to on this tour?
Always love going back to Baltimore. This will be my 3rd show there and 3rd at the Wind Up Space. It’s always fun because I get to chill with the homie DJ Addikt and catch up with heads like Teddy Faley and Cubbie, etc. Lots of great beer and food options in that city too. Never been in the state of West Virginia, so that’s gonna get checked off the bucket list. Never rocked in DC, so that should be dope. Hitting North Carolina the 2nd time this year, which is pretty dope for a rapper from NYC to say, and, of course, finishing off in Philly and rocking with the homie Carl Kavorkian and more will be fresh.
Do you have a tour rider? If so, what’s on it? If not, will you ever be the type of artist that lists an unusual, or perhaps extravagant, request (whether for real or for shits-and-giggles)?
I’m getting to the point where riders will be realistic soon, at least I hope so. Really what I expect is a professional promoter on his or her shit, a friendly welcome – at least from the organizers, a few drink tickets and a hotel room. And of course, to get paid what I was promised, or more even.
This tour with Brzowski is meant to help promote and announce your forthcoming collaborative project, CHURN. What’s it been like working with Brzowski and what can you tell me about this album so far?
The album so far is heavy, naturally, I think our subject matter so far really matches a healthy combination of what you’ll know me for doing and what you know him for doing. I think it was easier to collaborate then we thought honestly. We got together a few months ago, he stayed in NY for a few days and we did 3 complete songs from start to finish. I literally made or finished off the beats with him present, we wrote together, he played guitar on a bunch of stuff, we rocked it out. Our name, Churn, sort of has a big influence on what we are focused on writing about. Both of us being parts of changing neighborhoods and cities, we brought a lot of that to the forefront so far.
On that same note, will you perform a song or two from it to give fans a taste of what to expect?
Not quite yet, but it’s coming soon! This won’t be our last run together by a long shot.
What other songs might you perform?
I’m going to do some new tracks from my new record, Halfway and of course some tracks from New York Telephone and Land of the Way It Is.
What merch will be available?
I’ll have NYT vinyl, Cassettes for Halfway and NYT, T Shirt & Digi DL combos from all 3 of my solo records.
From a musician’s standpoint, what are 3-5 tour-related tips you’d give to others?
Try and book circular routes as much as possible. Ending and finishing in the same region helps a lot economically. Travel with one or two other people, maybe 4 of you at most. The more people, the less money you’ll get on a split and the more stress you could possibly have in a car. It’s damn near impossible to argue with one person when it’s just the two of you, haha. Rent the smallest vehicle possible (this ties into traveling with only a few people too), because it will be the most fuel efficient. It sounds great to have a “Tour Van” until you start filling up at the gas station and get 60 to 80 dollar bills per load. When you have that small car and it gets you through 2 days of driving for 25 bucks, it can be the difference in failure or success of a tour.