Music — January 30, 2014 12:47 — 1 Comment

Evan Flory-Barnes On The 2014 Grammy’s

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Evan Flory-Barnes, bassist and composer extrodinaire, played with his band The Teaching on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ The Heist. As a result, he was invited to the Grammys last weekend to take part in the festivities and to celebrate the record. We sat down to talk with Evan about his experience at the awards show and his thoughts on the whole spectacle.

–Jake Uitti, Managing Editor

 

Do you get an actual Grammy? 

That’s a good question. You know, I don’t know. The technicality: I think because it is, considering the whole album, I do. If The Heist won Album of the Year, I would. But as of now, I’m not sure. Jeremy Jones and I were talking about the technicality – that we are on ‘The Best Rap Album’. I can’t believe he beat out Kendrick (laughs). We were all talking about that at the after party and Macklemore said, “I didn’t want to beat him.”

What was your take on the Macklemore/Kendrick situation?

Well, my take was, both those dudes made incredible albums. Here’s something I find interesting: Macklemore did it in a way where that dude grinded. Also, he did it in a way that circumvented the system of needing a label. And he did so without – he had the distribution – but he did so with the love of his fans. Kendrick Lamar is a Dr. Dre protégé. People forget that. It’s not about black and white, it’s green. On Hot 97, out in the open, Macklemore said Kendrick is the best in the game right now as an MC. For those who think that Macklemore should give back an award, or whatever, I feel like the overall critique, 1) it has nothing to do with the two people involved. The people actually doing the work have a lot of respect and admiration for one another and will continue to push each other musically. I feel like the debate about it was all short sighted.

The Best Rap Album is given out in the non-televised part. So neither of those guys were there for it anyway. All these readings of white privilege, and that’s why he got the award, that’s bullshit. Whether he’s as strong an MC or made as strong an album as Kendrick, that’s for the fans to decide. These awards don’t make someone better than the other – they’re just acknowledgements of someone’s work.

What I learned about being at the Grammys is that media distortion is a real thing. When you’re at the Grammys it felt like you’re at a party or watching a show. There isn’t that filter of watching the TV to create distortion. When we saw Beyonce we didn’t think BEYONCE we thought it was just a person on stage, like a friend performing burlesque. There is something about that filter of media that creates a distortion and then when everyone criticizes it, they’re criticizing it from the distortion and not actually what’s going on.

What was it like to have so many Seattle cats down at the Grammys? Who did you hang with?

It was great! I got to hang with Amos Miller, who is a musician and produced a lot of hip hop tracks and who I hang and play with at LoveCityLove on Wednesdays. I got to hang with my Teaching brothers, Josh and Jeremy. What was great about the Macklemore after party, which was in the outskirts of the Art District – the guy who owns it I used to hang with and play basketball with in Seattle – the vibe was beautiful. It’s funny, Josh Rawlings got a text from Ryan with the address and we went there and it was so chilled out and relaxed. We thought there was going to be some gauntlet to go through because in our own minds we were operating on some idea of fame. But really it was like walking up to a gallery in Capitol Hill. Ryan’s parents were there, Owuor’s mother was singing in the choir. One of the most beautiful singers in Seattle, Josephine Howell, was there too. She is a powerful artist who sings around the city and she was also a part of the choir. I got to hang with Andrew Joselyn and Hollis Wong-Wear – it just felt good, it felt like Seattle, it felt home, chilled and relaxed. I got to hang with and hug Ben and say, “You’re heart is what makes the difference, man.” We sat outside and talked about Kendrick Lamar and how that was unexpected.

What I’m getting at is that there’s a human element, an element of people being people that these criticisms can’t address because they will always see it from a distorted view point that they think is objective (laughs). Most of the stuff Ben was saying was that this was all unexpected. He was happy with his Best Artist win. This isn’t a direct quote – dude admires the hell out of Kendrick Lamar, calls him the best in the game. Macklemore doesn’t claim to be a founder of hip hop or the best in hip hop. He was on Hot 97 and they had him freestyle and they wanted to see if he could hang. And he did. You can’t use tired arguments that a person is clearly aware of against them, that just doesn’t make any sense. It’s a poor Hail Mary pass. It does nothing to elevate the discussion. But Ben’s mood was chill, he seemed tired, somewhat removed. But dude was just hanging. That was the spirit, the same thing with Ryan Lewis.

Who did you meet/run into down there in L.A. that made you smile?

I got to spend time hanging out with one of my most – top three – inspirations on bass, the great Christian McBride. And that made me smile. The Teaching got to hang with him as well. He sat in the same row with us at the show and that was really great. You had experiences where Yoko Ono was walking ahead of me in line. And you’re like, “Oh, there’s Yoko Ono.” The pre-telecast walk-through, there’s a sense where it’s crazy but it’s also sort of chill. You move through the press tables and people taking pictures and they stop you and ask questions – it was just fun. It’s fun to go to a party (laughs), whatever scale that is.

What is the one thing from the show that you’ll remember for the rest of your life? 

Gosh. Just having these moments of saying, “Oh, there’s Metallica.” Or, “Oh, there’s Stevie Wonder.” Or talking shit with Christian McBride. John Legend was playing, or he was at the piano, and maybe the track was just going. And Christian was just like, “Is he really playing?” The weddings during “Same Love” were just gorgeous to see. I felt proud. I don’t set up to have goose bumps or want to cry when that song starts, but it just happens. So that pride and that celebration – the performances when you see them live, you just go, “Dang!” and that doesn’t really translate to TV.

What’s it feel like to be back in Seattle after all that? 

Feels really good to be home. And good to see all the praise for The Teaching and all that. But it’s also upsetting when something that clearly has merit – on one level I feel happy to be back home in Seattle, I feel it is imperative to support one another, but it can be disheartening, not in the sense that it’s discouraging, but I feel like people aren’t seeing the whole picture. When you actually have the experience of being in the place where all these people are – yeah you can feel the vibe of fame and people wanting to be seen, but you can see that anywhere, anywhere where people want to belong, because that’s one of the ways people find value – but I feel like, to be at that after party, for it to feel like family and a hang, that’s what I hold on to. And that made me really proud to be a part of the album and to be a part of Seattle. We are creating the city that we want here.

 

Bio:

Jake Uitti is a founding editor of The Monarch Review.

One Comment

  1. steve says:

    If Evan brings a actual trophy to the Monarch…I want to photograph it…

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