EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Anxiety And The Post-Tour Blues With Krizz Kaliko

Nov 29 2010

“No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness.” – Aristotle

Since he got off the tour bus, Krizz has not been a happy man. After less than a week, he vented his frustration via Twitter:

“I’m already havin anxiety. & I only been home 1/2 day. I need to be in stage. It’s the only thing that keeps my mind right”

The psychology behind creative genius is always fascinating to us “normal” folk who purchase that genius and take it with us for our own enjoyment. For many artists this creativity has its price, and so it goes that we sat down to talk with Krizz Kaliko to get a perspective on the gift and the curse that is creative genius. If nothing else, the interview would at least give him something to do…

So you got off the bus not too long ago. What have you been doing since then?

Not…shit! Nothing! It’s driving me crazy–actually we just started on Tech’s album yesterday and I recorded a hook for him–me and this girl I used on my album, Courtney. We did a song for him yesterday. That was just yesterday, other than that I’ve just been sitting on the couch. I need to be getting in the gym and I’m just sitting around.

Speaking of that, I read on your Twitter that you seem to be suffering to what is common to many performing artists, often referred to as Post-Tour Depression. How are you handling this and have you ever experienced this before?

Yeah. I have. I’ve experienced it a few times. It’s almost like it catches me by surprise every time, because I feel cool. I’m coming home, I’m really tired–I was really tired after this tour because I think I was getting a little cold or something–but then it’s like, I think real big fatigue set in because I’ve just had that Post Tour Depression, like you said. The only person I’ve ever heard talk about something close to it is Michael Jordan. He was explaining the reason why he came back from retirement is because he couldn’t handle just being dad and just husband. He couldn’t handle doing it so he kept coming back and kept trying to do stuff to keep his mind occupied.

Was this the Wizards comeback or Jordan as number 45?

I think it was 45. I think he did stuff like “lemme come back as 45” because he wanted something new–he needed a rebirth of some sort, you know? This is just me assuming but….yeah man, when I get home it’s like an adjustment. My wife talks about it all the time: “I know baby you’re going to be feeling like this because you’re just getting home from touring.” I’m like “Nah, I’m fine!” Then I get home from tour and I’m losing it–sitting there and I’m up all night long ’til 5 in the morning and I get right back up at 8 to try and see my son off to school and then I’m falling asleep ’til like 12 again and then I’m–it’s just a weird sleeping cycle. Everything just gets super-wierd to me. I have to get back on medication when I get back home because I need to be on stage–like, I have to be doing that. I have to be creating music. I have to be performing music–like, I can’t breathe well without it.

How long have you had this kind of itch?

The bug bit me probably back in 2000. It’s been getting progressively crazier for me for the last ten years.

Where’s your head at right now? It’s been a few weeks. Has this feeling subsided at all?

Nah, not at all. Not yet. I’m waiting for my medicine to kick back in. That usually takes a couple weeks. My doctor said a month but I think two weeks.

Is it important for you to eventually be at a place to where you don’t have to take medication?

Yeah. I stopped taking it for a few months–cold turkey. You know Celexa is addictive and I just stopped taking it and just weathered the withdrawal of it. I don’t want to be dependent on any type of medication. When I was heavier I took a lot of different medicines and I got to the point that once I dropped 90 pounds I didn’t take anything. For me to even have to chew a Tums drives me crazy. Having to take a pain pill drives me crazy because I’ve found natural ways of just eating and stuff to try to solve the problem. I don’t want to take medication but think about it: if you were a diabetic you have to take insulin whether you want to or not. The benefits far outweigh the side effects. So that’s how I look at the Celexa and I’ma just stay on it. One thing I didn’t want to do–other medications I’ve been on kind of mentally numbed me and so I couldn’t be creative, and I eat by my creativity. That’s the only way that my family survives is off of me being creative. Celexa was the medication that I found that allowed me to have this sense of normalcy and still be really creative at the same time. The gift and the curse of it all is that it makes me feel like I’m losing my mind but at the same time, because my mind goes everywhere really fast I can be creative quickly.

How does your bipolar affect your work and how does your work affect your bi-polar?

It doesn’t affect my job really. It affects my downtime and my personal life but it never really affects my job. There’s times when things happen, when the politics of the business or whatever–and I’ll trip on something a little harder than I probably should and I’ll obsess over it. It never really affects my job though because my job is basically writing music and performing it.

Well I don’t mean affect in any positive or negative way per se.

Well in a positive way it makes me super creative. Since I know this thing back and forth and I kind of know what I want to do all the time it makes me just knife through it quickly. Tech will say “Here’s a beat, I wanna talk about this.” In five minutes I got it. Sometimes not even five minutes. It affects it positively if anything. One thing I’ve learned about people with bipolar is that they’re really creative. I was at my psychologists office one day and there’s this guy walking out and I just happened to talk to him in the elevator. He said “Oh so you’re here to see Dr. [Last Name]” and I said “Yeah.” He goes “So what’s your deal, are you bipolar or whatever?” and I said “Well that’s what they say” even though there isn’t really any science behind it–you can’t really tell what the brain is doing, as far as thought processes go. He was like “Man, you’re probably a really creative dude” and I said “Yeah, I’m a musician, man.” He said “Yeah. Most people who are good musicians are crazy or have bipolar disorder.” I was like “Really?” and he said “Yeah man. Check it out through history. If they’re creative, that mind can go every which way.” I was like “Wow.” It’s crazy to hear somebody else say it.

Yeah there’s definitely a lot of history behind that. Moving on I wanted to talk about the last tour you guys were on, the Independent Grind Tour. What made this one different for you than some of the tours prior?

Well this was the first tour that I wasn’t on the bus with Tech. I rode on the Guvera bus which was our sponsor. It was super-quiet because usually it’s Scooby, Muggs, and I going at it because they harass everybody. He’s usually on the bus busting someone’s balls and I’m trying to give it back to him and we’ll go back and forth a lot. It was just really quiet this time around and I had a lot of time to just sit back and think. It was actually a little bit more stressful because for me the worst times are when I’m alone. I think that’s definitely the negative side of the bipolar thing. The positive side of that was that I could relax a lot because the Guvera people would get off the bus and it was them and four crew members so when people were off I just had the bus to myself. So it was different in that way. Also I had my own segment, which I usually do even on the Tech show, and I did it without my hype man which takes a lot more energy. This time around I got a lot of response from fans like “Oh my God” kind of stuff. I saw a lot more Krizz Kaliko tattoos on fans this time. The response is increasing and it went from “Hey Krizz yeah man we love your album” to “Oh my God! There he is!”

I saw you at the Uptown and I thought your set was phenomenal. Last time we talked you said you even wanted to take it up a notch from where you are now. What do you need to accomplish to make that happen?

That’s all about getting my weight down which has always been a battle for me because I’m a big dude. When I say I want to take it up a notch that means I want a band. I need that band element. That would really send it up there–a band and a DJ, along with our set because the visual is important too. The band helps because the band aspect is visual. That’s a visual aspect in itself, just people up there moving and playing instruments. I just want it to be more and more of a spectacle every time–because the music is there: I could easily just stand up there and and give you the music, which would be good to listen to but not as entertaining.

Are there any artists in particular that inspire your performances?

Man I’m inspired by everybody from watching their show, from Usher to ICP to Gene Simmons to old school Motown bands. I take a piece from everybody. You can tell when you look at me performing. Tech and I have even watched the Blue Man Group and how people react to stuff. We got the idea of the song “Everybody Move” by going to the Blue Man Group show because they had this screen up and it was going like “Move” and everybody would dance and then it would say “Stop.” They controlled this crowd with the screen, with the word move, and this voice. So, we were even inspired by that. I watch a lot of people perform and viewed some DVDs recently, like the Busta Rhymes DVD, because Busta Rhymes is really phenomenal on stage. I watch that and I even watch the regular rap cats that just stand there so I can see what not to do. I get inspiration from anywhere. I might even get inspiration for a song just driving down the street and looking out the window.

Apparently T-Pain enjoyed your performance quite a bit when you guys were down in Atlanta.

That’s what I hear. I saw him and spoke to him like “Hey man, what’s up?” but I didn’t get any feedback from him in particular. The dude that produces for him exclusively goes by the name of Youngfyre, who does a lot of stuff for us. I didn’t get any feedback from him or Pain but apparently he was tripped out over watching me. That’s what they say. Apparently he was super tripping like “Whoa, are you looking at this dude?” like looking at his bodyguard like “Wow!” When I come on stage I come to bring it. I always tell people when guys ask me man like “What’s your advice for me? I’m trying to make it.” I say “Nobody wants to see you rap. People want you to perform. Once you understand the difference between that, you’ll be alright.” Because there is a difference. I can rap. I think I’m a pretty good MC, a pretty good singer but a better performer than anything. You’ve got to know how to translate. How do I translate when I got a hook that says “Put your hands up like you’re getting held up!” I’ve got to translate that with my body, even my eyes looking at em like: “You, right there! Let’s go!” That’s where I took inspiration from Busta Rhymes because he would point people out in the crowd and look at them and make eye contact and connect with them.

Does it give you a lot of pride to be able to put it down in the studio and the stage? They’re two totally different things.

Yeah because you’ve got to be able to project. You might be doing a song where you were rapping quietly or singing quietly, you have to be able to project that on stage and even set the mood. Like, I sing this little song I made up off of a Luther Vandross riff. That song I do about getting high, I have to be able to set that mood. I make it quiet before I do that. That’s when I’m coming off of “Misunderstood” and I’m like “Say yeah!” “Yeahhhhh!” I let it get quiet for a minute, and then Tech is like “Keep singing to them man!” and then I go “I’m going to sing something for ya’ll but it’s going to be like this, check this out…” because I want it to be quiet and I want them to settle down, but then right after that I go “yah! Yo! Yo! Yo!” I want it to be a roller coaster ride the whole time I’m up there.

It’s like theater a lot of the time.

Yeah, I did theater! That’s another place I get a lot of inspiration from because I did musical theater. So it’s like changing the whole mood just by your body language.

What’s next for Krizz Kaliko?

I am in the process of trying to write and submit songs to various artists because I would love to land a hit. I feel like I can write just hit after hit after hit. Whether the song becomes a hit or not, the song is a hit-style song. I’m in the process of doing that so I want to really become a writer and producer as well as being an artist. Hopefully doing a lot more solo tours–we’re trying to get that mapped out right now. Continuing to tour with Tech N9ne and building him–helping him build his entity because I owe him a lot. I owe him–he gave me a job doing music and I’m forever indebted.

How about the KABOSH project?

We just talked to the band Dirty Wormz. It’s supposed to go down in 2011 so hopefully. We don’t have a set plan on when we’re going to be recording but we’re prepared. I’ve got songs ready we’re just waiting for someone to say “go”.

Do you look forward to venturing out into different genres of music?

Like I do it in my solo projects but I’m searching for the way to get into the songwriting thing more, like that one connect or that one song landing. Especially if I land a couple of songs with different artists that do different types of music. I think that that would really open it up for me. I do feel a little boxed–well I don’t want to say “boxed in” because I have the freedom to be as creative as I want with Strange Music, but at the same time there’s so much more that I want to do. So, I feel limited in the sense that I just haven’t gotten to where I want to be. People are like “Man, you’re so successful” and I say “No…I’m not! Not according to me.” Not according to my expectations. My expectations are really high. I intend on getting there. I intend on being one of the most popular musicians…period. Not just for the popularity but so everybody can just hear what I have to say and everybody can experience my creativity.