Kush Wonder

In Interview on August 17, 2010 at 3:50 am

       While walking around downtown Tampa, have you ever seen a wheat pastie of a man standing with an umbrella on a building or electrical box? I’m sure you have. That’s Kush Wonder- or Chuck, as he goes by when he’s not performing. Seeing those posters was how I discovered his music, and what I heard made me pensive and intrigued. His sound is described as psychedelic, experimental, and hip-hop. I’m not sure if it was out of nervousness that he paused throughout the entire interview- but he was one of the most polite and considerate people I’ve ever met. After the interview he asked me more about the zine, wondering what I was going to do with his words. I assured him the zine was our sincerest attempt at legitimacy, and here is the result of our meeting.

       The man behind Kush Wonder is from Pennsylvania, though he’s been in Florida and the Tampa/St.Pete area for more than half of his life. When asked what was in a name, he said he was originally Kush, because he liked the sound of the word, and Wonder was later added sort of as a last name similar to Robin, the boy wonder from Batman. His performances are spaced sort of far apart, and his last was May 8th, at Crowbar. His setup included a set of turntables, a Mac, two white screens behind him, and a projector set up to the right of him. Before he started, he pulled out a crinkled Panera Bread bag, which curiously held packages of different colored peeps. The peeps ended up in the hands of random and amused audience members. It turns out the peeps are an inside joke between “him and his girl.” It’s a bonding thing between them and they believe that “peeps are the cutest things in the world”. They have matching tattoos, Chuck with the outline of a peep on the left side of his chest and she has one on her back.

       A medium sized crowd watched and listened curiously as the first song, ‘Antax 7’ was played. The two screens and the projector were used to put up pictures and slides that pertained to the songs. One of the pictures that went up during Antax was of a familiar looking lagoon creature with large red eyes. The all-knowing voice in the audio sample explains that we should prepare ourselves in advance for if we were to meet beings not from this planet. The voice is from an old NASA convention. It isn’t to say that music without words has no value, but that it needs to be more visually entertaining. You have to admit that using an object like a projector mostly associated with classrooms as a dj and musicians’ tool is odd but interesting. Chuck said the projector and the slides exist in his performances because he feels that seeing someone live “should be a theater performance. When I come to see people live, I wonder why I’m seeing them instead of just being at home and listening to their cd. I like to see a show- see things going on.”

       One of the pictures that were put up during the second song, ‘forever is an illusion’ was a graffiti piece done by the well-known graffiti artist, Banksy; the one of the husband and cheating wife looking out the window as the other man dangles naked from the windowsill. Not only is the beat to this song great, but it’s the added pieces of the ex-couple talking that make the song. The woman claims to be sorry for being unfaithful in the past, but the man is still devastated, angry, and unwilling to accept her apology. Chuck explained that the song was all done, except for the audio he wanted to add. He was close to hiring some actors, but then saw the movie ‘Brown bunny’ and thought it was exactly what he was looking for. When asked if he really thought forever didn’t exist, he said, “I did when I did that song. As far as love goes- I think it can be for a lifetime. I don’t know if that’s forever- but nothing is. Like this earth isn’t for forever; people, humans aren’t forever. It’s constantly changing.”

       When Chuck was really young, his listened to “Michael Jackson, the Eurythmics, Bon Jovi- and a lot of 80’s stuff”. Though, he was captivated when he heard Metallica on Mtv and started getting into metal. As the 90’s came along, his taste turned to hip-hop, including groups like Diggable Planets, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Sol, and The Roots “really did it for him.”

       He started out as a DJ about 10 years ago. He said that he “became so absorbed in it and wanted to be a part of it.” “I started experimenting and making my own music and finally felt confident enough to use the songs to put out an album.” His second album is due out this summer. Though, his full attention is on nursing school, which he started four years ago, but unluckily ran out of money. Now, he has the money and is “fully focused and ready” with only 3 semesters left to go. When asked about where the nursing came from, he said, “Music is something I have to do. And nursing, if I’m going to do something for a career, I want to do something that makes me feel good and helps others feel good. It’s gratifying.”

       My favorite question to ask someone is what do you wish I would ask you? Chuck replied with, “Lifelong goals, maybe? I want to be a nurse and eventually be an astronomer; to have my own house with my own land to grow all my own food; to raise all my own; to fish- and if I choose to eat chickens- I don’t know if I could ring a chicken’s neck, so we’ll see. And for as many people in the world to hear my music- I just want people from all over the world to hear it.”


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