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Wasteland Hop MC, CSU alumnus Mickey Kinney open up about art

Wasteland Hop MC Mickey Kenny looks out from in front of the Sage Francis concert poster. Wasteland Hop opened for Francis Thursday night at the Aggie Theatre.
Wasteland Hop MC Mickey Kenny looks out from the Sage Francis concert poster. Wasteland Hop opened for Francis Thursday night at the Aggie Theatre. (Photo credit: Jake Schwebach)

Fort Collins indie-hop group Wasteland Hop opened for Sage Francis Thursday night at the Aggie Theatre. The Collegian sat down with the group’s MC, Mickey Kenny, who graduated from Colorado State University with a master’s degree in creative writing.

Do you differentiate between the poetry you write and the lyrics you write?

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I have my page poetry, like when I did my (Master of Fine Arts) here at CSU. It’s a very particular vein, or muse. And then slam poetry and then hip hop. I can usually tell at the beginning of whatever inspiration I’m feeling which branch it is going to go into. I do think the leaves from those branches are all co-mingling and what I learned here, in a cross training way, comes into that – and this goes into that – and they kind of weave.

You mentioned earlier not being satisfied and wanting to be with esteemed writers in a MFA. Do you feel satisfied now?

You know, I hope not. I hope to never feel satisfied in that regard. On a more superficial level, what I thought I would learn from (my MFA at CSU), exceeded my expectations just because the instructors and my peers here were so, just intelligent, talented and driven. So yeah, I don’t know if I’d put the word satisfied, but I definitely feel overwhelmed with what I came out with. Now I have to wonder if I’m satisfied in life (laughs, expletive).

What is that next thing you are trying to quench?

I want the band to be in a position where we can all live off of it as musicians. A self-sustaining band with six people is very, very difficult. Creatively, I do feel satisfied with the band. Our band is all equal footing for the composition. No one is handing parts to other people. That experience itself is so rare, and I definitely don’t want to take that for granted. So I feel creatively very fulfilled in that.

Do you try to separate your music as a job, or as a way to make money, and creativity?

We need to view ourselves as a business, like as a startup. I think the most important thing about that is the amount of sacrifice we ask of the six people in the band is tremendous. None of us are able to have stable jobs. If someone was to get married or have a kid, that’s probably going to end the band. And it’s not like things we actively talk about. You know, like “you can’t get married” — of course not. We’re all humans, but I think we’re all driven for this one mutual entity: to succeed.

(Sage Francis) is one of those rare performers where, even if he’s not looking at you, there’s metaphorical eye contact the whole time, and he’s so comfortable on stage. He’s in his mid-forties, I think, and he’s been doing this since he was a teenager. I don’t know if shaman’s the right word, but there’s something spiritual and special going on.

Is that where you want to be?

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I do. If I can survive off of my art, I think that’s the path to satisfaction for myself. I guess one thing about Sage, and I guess one thing why maybe he occupies such a special space, in my mind at least, is his ability to authentically commandeer the audience to a point where everyone is actually with every word. I think my failure as an MC is I don’t open my eyes during our songs. Tonight, you won’t see my eyes open. When I rap, I have this wall, for whatever reason, between me and the audience. I have so many words to memorize, but I think it’s bigger than that. I think it’s hard for me to be intimate with my poetry. I think when I see someone like Sage, who instead of using that poetry as a wall, uses it as an authentic bridge to bring others back into his poetic world. I think that is one of the things that captivates me so much about him.

Wasteland Hop announced Thursday plans for a six-month tour winter 2015 from Alaska through Latin America. Kenny called it the “glacier-to-equator saga.” The band will make its final stop in Ecuador, where they plan to live together and work on a new album, Kenny said.

Collegian Reporter Jake Schwebach can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @jschway.

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