Interview and Photos by Dom Ellis
Circa Fall '14
Los Angeles has always been a poppin’ city so it’s fitting that the king of “Pop” Polyester the Saint was born and raised here. For those that don’t know this west side wine sippa’ may be best known for his production work with Dom Kennedy on records like Choose Up in which he also jumps on the hook and kills it, but has extended his reach sonically by hopping on tracks of his own.
Albeit never having thought of being a rapper albums like 2012’s Real Deal P, and 2013’s Pop, sets him apart as a rapper as well as a producer. His nostalgic flavor reverts you to a time where Tommy Hilfiger jackets filled the halls and beepers vibrated freely. Polyester is an originator of the modern day funk and plans on conjuring up that same energy on his forthcoming project set to release mid-summer. We got the chance to sit down with Polyester at Truth Studios during the mixing and mastering of his album to talk about his Bay Area roots, his musical influences, cars, and how ‘poppin’ the 90’s were.
So first off tell us about your cars.
Right now I have a Chevy Camaro. An IROC, I’m trying to swap the twenty two’s it’s on now to some twenties. They just ride too hard.
You were born in LA which is a melting pot for creativity do you think that affected you growing up?
My dad did music and event planning so I was always exposed to this world. I’ve been going to clubs since forever, there’s a picture of me and Shaq in the ‘club club’ when I was like thirteen. I was thirteen in Supper Club with twenty-one-year-olds so as I grew up it was in me.
So when you turned twenty one you didn’t go full throttle?
After I finished up high school and school for engineering I was throwing parties by default. I knew a lot of promoters. I threw a party with Johnny Cruz, who still throws parties to this day just because we would just see each other so much. By the time I turned twenty one I was over it.
So what did you supplement partying with as you grew up?
I didn’t replace it with anything it just gave me more focus. Like you know you aren’t supposed to be throwing parties. Even with regular jobs, I’m not saying quit your day job but I did and it’s not a cupcake road but it's lead me here.
What made you put jobs and partying aside to go in on your music?
It was more so what I was supposed to do be doing. I’ve played the drums since I was five, piano since thirteen, jazz band, marching band. I’m not supposed to be throwing parties. I’m supposed to be a musician. I’m a musician just as much as a bird is a bird
You’ve spent some time in the Bay Area growing up. What do you like about the Bay and how does it manifest into Real Deal P?
I have family throughout Northern California so I’ve been visiting since I was eight. It balances me. I was getting game from Oakland to Vallejo, Richmond and LA and I didn’t even realize it. I was saying ‘Yee’ before music so when I started making music that’s what came out because it’s all me.
You have a funky 90’s vibe. What music did you grow up on?
I grew up in the 90’s but I’m heavily influenced by the 70’s. George Clinton and P Funk All-Stars but I also love Tupac, Missy, Snoop, Total, the music of that era. That’s when I was doing my thing and I had my first girlfriend. Shorty Swing My Way was out.
I’ve heard you don’t get nervous to perform. Why not?
I played the drums at a church in West Angeles full of black people, old black people at that. So when I was on the drums I had to play right. There wasn’t none of that ‘Oh it’s alright baby”’, they’ll be like “whoever was on the drums need to go”. If I played drums for a room of eight hundred black people I can rap in front of two thousand people.
In your video “Hard Shells” you’re reading “Steve Jobs” has he influenced you at all?
I’ve never actually read that book but I’ve always kept up with what’s been said about him. He’s one of our modern day geniuses and I like that he’s quirky like most other geniuses.
Who influences you the most?
Thelonius Monk. He is a genius and I like the way he plays. During the height of his career he lost it. He was so good at one area that the rest of his brain started deteriorating. He just plays things that make you wonder “why did he do that?”. We even share the same birthday.
You’re self-taught, unafraid to perform, and you share the same birthday as Thelonius Monk. Are you a genius?
I wouldn’t be able to say. Other people will say but all I know is since I’ve been born I’ve loved instruments and music. Only time will tell.
Back to the Hard Shells video, where do you find the girls for your videos?
A lot of them are friends. I like to keep it like that so that it’s real. It’s not like I paid some girl to a hundred bucks to come pose and I don’t know her, I wanted it to be cohesive. Not just some random girls.
You have moments like in 2013 where you’re uploading tons of new music and videos and then you just disappear and we don’t get another song for a year. What’s up?
I’m originally a producer. Honestly I never thought about being a rapper but as producing went on I started getting on hooks and people liked the way I did them. So that told me that I could be an artist. The artist thing is a tool. But I’m always working. Whenever you don’t see me dropping nothing new just know I’m in here going up on something. Whether it be for me, Dom, Nipsey, Casey, or anybody that I work with. This is what I do. I wouldn’t call this a job, this is my lifestyle.