Open Mike Eagle talks about collaboration with Paul White and art rap

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Open Mike Eagle’s latest project, “Hella Personal Film Festival,” is full of witty and at times self-deprecating humor, but it also addresses intimate issues like anxiety and racism. Eagle worked with producer Paul White and together they hit their creative strides while constructing one of the best alt-rap projects of the year. The Daily Texan spoke to Eagle before his performance at Sound on Sound Festival on Nov. 6. 

The Daily Texan: How would you characterize your latest project with Paul White?

Mike Eagle: Each song has its own intent. I took each piece of music at its own inspirational value and went from there. I titled it “Hella Personal Film Festival” because each song sprang forth from a vision I had in my head, like an image or picture. Each song was a drawn out version of a premise.

DT: What is Paul White like as a producer?

ME: He is super creative. He is very unconventional in a lot of ways but that is really only in terms of sound schemes. Working with him is awesome because I hadn’t really worked with anyone who so fully understood the different phases of song creation. We would start with a piece of music or a beat or loop and I would write songs to it. He was very serious about taking the lyrics and the music we had initially and turning it into an expressive song, to make it do different things, to make it a living-breathing thing.  

DT: You’ve described your music as art rap. What exactly is art rap?

ME: There are just no rules. You are free to do whatever you want. That being said, you end up with projects that reflect who people are. It was initially a way to help contextualize myself commercially and then from there it became a small growing movement … When I first started using the term there was a lot more of a dichotomy [between] commercial rap music and independent rap, and at that time it made sense to draw some lines to give you the understanding that we were doing something different. 

DT: Apart from music you also host a podcast called “Secret Skin.” What’s your favorite part of hosting that show?

ME: It creates context for myself and helps other artists get to push their own narratives and push their own stories. A lot of people don’t have access to a lot of PR — that is one area where artists suffer. There is no way to tell their stories. So I like having a platform where people can come and talk about themselves and define themselves. 

DT: Who are some of your favorite rappers or musicians right now?

ME: I am really into NoName, a Chicago female rapper. I just think she is absolutely incredible and am impressed with what she is doing with style, content, presentation, all of that. I really like Danny Brown’s album that came out this year, I really like Schoolboy Q’s album that came out this year. That is a lot for me, to find three albums that I like. I tend to not listen to stuff, so having three projects that I am into is kind of a big deal. Other than that, I just listen to a lot of old music. 

Open Mike Eagle will play the Forest Stage at Sound on Sound Festival from 5 p.m.-5:45 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6.