“Other festivals could learn from Treefort” – B Dolan

One of the biggest reasons we love what we do, is that we truly believe that music is an extremely powerful platform for social movement and conscious change for the community that it reaches. This is why here at Earthlings Entertainment we are especially particular about the music/artists that we showcase and the interviews that we choose to seek out.

Those with a voice and pedestal that reach many have the opportunity to move people through their music, art and lyrics emotionally in a way that no politician, speaker, or even, family member, ever could. That is powerful but it comes with opposition of course. That is something that emcee and activist B Dolan knows all too well. B Dolan is one of the most blatantly forward and authentic individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I was able to snag him for an interview two years ago when he came to Treefort and performed at the Reef with Sage Francis. You can find that interview HERE.

This year, once again, he did what he does best. Commanding the audience’s attention with his audacious and energetic demeanor and scathing lyricism that infiltrated through and engaged the waiting audience immediately.  B Dolan opened up for Oddisee and Aesop Rock at the Knitting Factory which was the main night for hip hop during the festival. The trio brought exactly what local lovers of the genre had been needing for some time now, a lineup with intent and technique.

Before the show B Dolan and I were able to catch up and talk about the state affairs in the world that we live in, Kanye, and what a gem Treefort Music Festival is. Check it out below.

Shontelle Reyna- Welcome back! How has your Treefort been so far?

B. Dolan- Other festivals could learn from Treefort. Fuck. It reminds me of European festivals. They have Boutique festivals that are like this. Small enough to manage and keep integrity, not trash the place, people think about recycling. That filters all the way down too. I was just out in the street and Built to Spill had brought out their whole set for whatever that morning band calisthenics thing was. We were watching that and was like, “Oh, thats Built to Spill right there.” Yesterday I was up on the 7th floor. The food has been continuously rotating. I thought I was grabbing a ham and cheese, just to put food in my body to make it keep going for what I had to do, but I took a bite and it was peanut butter and jelly! I talked about that shit all night last night. I was like “Do you know they had peanut butter and jelly?” People were like, “Peanut butter and Jelly?” I was just coming from SXSW where they fuckin won’t give you water. If you ask them for water while you perform they’re like, “I don’t know man. Nobody told me you needed water.” That’s what I expect. I expect a festival to treat me like shit. Just wack at this point. That’s all it takes is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, like, “Hey motherfucker we know you’ve been living in Super 8 for two months. We like you. We’re glad you’re here.” That’s it man. That’s all it takes. Big up Treefort Fest!!

SR- YES! That’s so great. I’m so glad you’re having such a good time. So, you’re new tour is called Kill The Wolf and the poster has a pretty striking resemblance of one of the republican candidates. What are your thoughts on those running?

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B. Dolan- It’s a depressing year man, except for Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sander is this weird ray of hope in the midst of it all. To see a candidate that talks like that be that close… other than that, it is sort of on the right-wing side. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising because Europe has been dealing with shit like this for like 1o years. I have been watching it as I go over there. Parties like UKIP in the UK, or even Athens Greece where I was in the fall where there is a Nazi in the parliament. Like 20% of Greece voted for a Nazi, so the antifa kids out there are doing it for real. There are Nazis moving into neighborhoods n’ shit. It unfortunately seems to be the reaction to this last economic shit show. People are broke and angry enough to crawl back into the cave of nationalism and racism and xenophobia. It’s a world-wide trend. There are huge ground swells of massive change happening. It seems kinda clear that things are going to be very different one way or another.

SR- After your ‘Film The Police’ video someone threatened to burn your home down and had your address. Your activism is absolutely commendable and has obviously made in impact in positive ways and for you in negative ways. What do you think of Bernie Sanders and his blatant opposition to the status quo, considering your statement after you were threatened, “Standing up to bullies does sometimes have consequences.”

B. Dolan- That’s the thing. At the same time you’re trying to process that way more of the population may be white supremacist and openly be ready to throw down for white supremacy. Then you’re also like, “Oh wow more of the country might be ready for democratic socialism.” It’s been such a weird election. There’s always been a candidate I really really agree with and then there’s always been a democrat, haha. Since I was 18, there was Dennis Kucinich, there was Ralph Nader, there were people who talked in a way that I really wanted to hear and then there was the dude who could win. As much darkness that has happened there’s probably a lot of interesting developments, like finally coming to a consensus that climate change is an emergency and man-made. That’s positive man, and I do think that Bernie Sanders against Donald Trump is the election I have waited my whole life to see. Yeah, give Bernie Sanders that obnoxious, racist, millionaire… let him just be Bernie’s prop and stand him up next to him on a stage. Hillary versus Trump, I don’t know that Hilary wins that too easily. I think she could lose it really easily. She is a horrible candidate. She has always been totally inept and tone-deaf and her policies are horrible. Her foreign policy is horrible, her history, the Clinton’s history. The Clinton’s are dirty, scandal just follows them around. We’ll see man.

SR- In reference to Aesop you talk about “Respecting the BARS.” You obviously dig his lyricism. What are some other hip hop artists that you think are holding their own right now?

B. Dolan- I mean everybody knows Kendrick. He’s killin everything. I don’t know, there’s a lot of rap I like right now.  Been listening to a lot Vince Staples. Joey Badass does his thing, waiting on his next record. Even A$ap Rocky (laughs). I really enjoy that dude. He doesn’t talk about shit, he doesn’t have a single thing to say except that he’s pretty, but he’s smooth. Technically he’s real smooth. I like listening to him. In my little mini genre obviously Slug, Sage, I think those dudes still manage to put out sharp writing that I am into. I like a lot of rappers, I am just still the best.

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SR- So I know you are not a fan of Macklemore’s music, but I ma curious if you have heard his single ‘White Privilege’ and what you think about it.

B. Dolan- (Laughs) No I haven’t heard it. The thing is I didn’t mince words about how I feel about Macklemore and now people wanna ask me about Macklemore. I wish people would go back to asking me about Kanye West because I like Kanye and I have a ton of good things to say about Kanye.

SR- Let’s hear it.

B. Dolan- Oh man, I’m a big fan of Kanye. He continuously inspires me and his craziness entertains me but a lot of his craziness I can at least understand. There’s a lot of moments where people are like, “Oh, Kanye is out being crazy again,” and I’m like, “Nah I kinda get it.” I think a lot of times in his egotistical, misogynistic weird way Kanye is trying to stand up for black excellence. Like the Taylor Swift moment. I was like “Yeah Beyonce is better than Taylor Swift. Yeah you’re right.” (Laughs) I mean you’re crazy because you just jumped on stage and stole an award out of someone’s hand but I know how you feel. I feel how you feel too. (Laughs) I can’t even imagine Kanye’s life either. I don’t judge his craziness. I definitely think he is consciously playing a role at times. A criticism of him that I’ve heard from others is, yeah he’s consciously playing a role but he’s hamming it up. At the same time he’s overacting because this is America and that’s what American pop culture responds to. He’s a pop artist, but it’s still calculated. He’s tweeting, “Bill Cosby is innocent,” (Laughs) but he’s doing two days before his album drops. I follow him on twitter and he’s quiet for 6 months and then he starts kicking off around album release time and my grandmother wants to talk to me about Kanye and she doesn’t even know why she wants to talk to me about Kanye. He’s making this shit work for him. It pushes his album. He’s a pick up the whole bucket of paint and throw it on the wall dude and certainly brilliance has come out of that. He’s changed all of rap maybe four or five times, introduced new sounds and ideas into rap. Yeah, I fuck with Kanye. It’s that same thing, the activist in me is like, “Okay, that is not okay what you just said homie,” but the artists in me is like, “I like this record. I wanna play this record all the time.” It’s the opposite of the Macklemore situation. (Laughs)

SR- So recently you were sent an image that was found in Vogue and taken in Paris fashion week by a designer Walter Van Beirendonck that looks very similar to you. After reaching out did you ever get a response?

B Dolan- NO. I’ve been trying to track his ass down. That’s okay. I’m gonna be in Belgium. You’ll see me Walter Van Beirendonck.

SR- So your performance here in Boise will be with violinist Jenvieve Varga, what made you decide to add a violinist to your live show?

B Dolan- It was just an opportunity that came up. She is damn incredible. She is classically trained but also has a fiddle style and is doing like orchestral, modern classical compositions and stuff and is somehow interested in playing with us. I’m like, yeah alright. So I sent her Which Side Are You On and These Rooms off the Kill The Wolf record. She sent me this iPhone recording that sounded incredible. She’s like, “Am I close?” and I’m like, “Yeah, yeah you’re pretty close.” We met in New York, ran it twice at a sound check and she killed it.

SR- One of your lyrics to your song Safety is “My brother bought a gun safe. It’s a safe he bought, to keep his guns safe.” The concealed laws just changed here so that concealed weapons can be carried without a permit outside city limits whether or not engaged in hunting or another outdoor activity. I am curious what your thoughts are on things like this.

B Dolan- Gun control is complicated as hell in America because wide groups of people. My general thoughts are disarm everybody, and police first because that’s part of the problem. You know I hear Killer Mike talking about being a member of the NRA and what his gun ownership means to him. That is a more justifiable solution to a real problem. Then you have the weird white trash hillbillies who have what they think is a justified solution to an imaginary problem. Which is that Obama is coming to make them all get gay married an abort fetuses. They are just collecting guns. Then you have people who want to hunt and kill their own food, oh alright. So how do you selectively disarm America at this point? Obviously assault weapons are a pretty obvious starting point. It’s like, what horrible thing needs to happen for us to… the wildest, most awful shit has taken place and we still seem to be unable collectively to get the support. It’s also a campaign finance issue to with the NRA just buying in. Campaign finance reform, Bernie Sanders for president, hahaha.

Check out his music, buy an album, or all his albums and look out for when he’ll be in a town near you HERE

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