Finally, a couple hours later, DOPE gained access to artist catering for an interview with record producer and TV on the Radio guitarist Dave Sitek directly overlooking the Gorge. After struggling to keep a joint lit in the windy weather, we talked about cannabis cultivation, side projects, finding your own artistic niche, and the possibility of a new TV on the Radio release in the near future.
DOPE Magazine: Is there anything you guys do to prepare for a concert?
Dave Sitek: Not like we should. [Laughs]. We’ve just been hanging out, smoking for a couple hours, enjoying the view.
DOPE: Does cannabis play a part in your creative process?
DS: I don’t really look at it like that, necessarily. It’s just been a part of my life for so long. I hesitate to tell people what’s right for them, but for me, being on it, I could focus, I wasn’t distracted, it worked for anti-anxiety. My friends were always smoking to have a good time; I was smoking to relax. And, you know, if you listen to a song 300 times, sometimes you need to hear it anew like a kid for the first time, and for me, cannabis is like a direct path to that.
Some people can’t do it all, it’s not right for them. But the amount of times I can listen to a song and still be excited about it is proportional to how comfortable I am. Usually, that’s high, in shorts, by myself in the middle of the night at home.
DOPE: Is that part of why you made your own studio [Federal Prism] at your home?
DS: Yeah, but I’ve always had a studio in my house. The way that I work right now, it’s the kind of records that would be made in bedrooms, but with the fidelity of something modern. I tried studios in LA, but just the vibe isn’t right for me—too tied to commerce and all that. At my house, I’ve got dogs and my pot plants.
DOPE: Yeah, I like seeing the photos of your garden on Twitter.
DS: That’s kinda been just a natural extension. My brother and I grow a bunch of different strains that we’ve been trying out for years. That’s kinda where my interests are, and the only reason to do music is if I really want to. It’s funny—between music and weed, it’s like half and half right now, but I never thought there’d be a time I didn’t do music all the time, until my brother and I started growing together.
That’s something I really excited about—we don’t want to grow the most cannabis, we want to grow the best cannabis. That was a feeling I had in the record business as well, and I’ve been really lucky with the caliber of talent I’ve had to work with. But with cannabis, it’s such a new thing, you have no idea what’s going to happen. That’s a different feeling. For music, the business part is shrinking, and more people are scared away—cannabis is just the opposite. I love music, but I think cannabis will eventually be a much bigger business than the music business, but it can supplement it too.
DOPE: Speaking of wanting to make the best, not the most—the same thing seems to apply with having your own studio. There’s not the same pressure to make the most commercial music.
DS: Yeah, because there’s an audience for that, but that’s not my audience. People who are jamming out to the big shots don’t need to know who I am, because the world that I’m in—I’m a very question mark-oriented person, more than an exclamation point. In music, I have TV on the Radio, which is super-experimental, and then there’s The Neverly Boys, which is like stoner rock? I don’t even know what we are. I’m fulfilled in those two categories, and then there’s cannabis. My brother and I started growing together, and we’ve got an awesome sibling rivalry going on. We get to really push the plant and let the plant tell us what it wants. It’s a whole different thing—in music, everything is kind of sped up, you need to be on top of it and releasing new stuff all the time. I think there’s room in cannabis for people who just love the plant.
My brother and I started this company, Easy’s Peak. We’re doing all these collaborations with different people, like growing strains for particular people that are developing their own brand—I don’t want to blow up their spot right now—but they know me, because they’ve been to my house. We have another lab where the real work gets done too. I love the plant so much, and I’ve been fortunate to try some really incredible weed. You ever smoked out of an onion skin?
DS: All the dudes in Africa roll these…If you peel the layer before the green layer, you soak it for 30 minutes in warm water, then you pack it with dry weed and roll it up, and it sticks together. You can smoke out of that thing for like four days. It looks like a cartoon cigar.
DOPE: Does TV on the Radio have any plans beyond the festivals you’re playing this summer?
DS: We’ve been working on a new record for a while. We’re not the fastest band, we’re in our 40s, but we’ve been working on it. We have a lot of new material, we just have to… I’d call us a cosmic band. [Laughs] When the planets are in the right position, we get hive minded and get things done, but we’re still writing and fucking around. We’re an experimental band, so we experiment with time as much as we do with the music, you know.
DOPE: How do you guys write together? Is it formulating ideas separately, or…?
DS: It’s every kind of way. We’ve been playing music for a long time together, and that’s unusual for a band, especially when your common language isn’t in line with commercial success. It’s very different personalities. We’re like brothers, there’s a lot of stuff in it that’s like family. We know what our common language is, and when it all lines up, our output matches who we are. Weird band to be in. [Laughs]
We’re not really ambitious in the way you’d think. I think TV on the Radio has probably practiced like 30 times in the last 10 years. We never practice—we just play. That’s what weird. It shouldn’t work.
DOPE: You excited for your show tonight?
DS: Yeah. It’s our third time playing Sasquatch. I don’t think we’ll screw it up. I’ve been super-super-super-duper high and played shows no problem, but it’s when I run out of weed…then it’s anybody’s guess.