Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For ‘Tour Tales,’ we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it’s still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on ‘Tour Tales.’
Kari Faux has a different level of comfort with her fans than the average artist. Her “Help Wanted Tour” had the unabashedly unique rapper performing, at times, from her bed onstage. Her live shows have turned fans into family and family into believers.
“My mom and dad came down to the Dallas show when I was on tour with Mick [Jenkins]. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I think that was their first time seeing me in front of an audience that large and seeing those people sing the words the way they did. It really made them understand what I was doing was good,” Faux told REVOLT TV.
In this installment of Tour Tales, Kari explains the inhumane conditions of touring, forming a family of fans on the road and why she doesn’t care what Jermaine Dupri has to say about women who rap.
Your stage show while you were on the ‘Pieces of a Man Tour’ with Mick Jenkins was a bit different than the one you had for your ‘Help Wanted Tour.’ What was the thought process behind putting a bed onstage?
It was to create a safe space for myself because when I’m in my room, that’s when I feel the most myself and free to be myself. I’m free of judgment. It’s my comfort zone. So, I decided to take my bed on tour. Going on your first tour is scary. You don’t really know what to expect. For me, it was more so to create a space where I felt good on tour. It also created a necessary space for people. Once I feel good, I can generate that to the audience and they can feel good, and then we can all feel good.
Your shows definitely carry an intimate sort of vibe and you seem very connected to your fans. What’s the most impressive thing a fan has either given you or done at a show?
The people that come to my shows share so much with me. I wear this bracelet that this guy gave me. This guy comes to damn near every show or anything that I do. He lives in Texas. Once I tweeted about how I was losing my voice and he brought me Throat Coat. Then, when I did a show in Houston, he made a bracelet that I still wear to this day for my birthday. He was like, ‘I’m not going to see you for your birthday. So, here’s this bracelet.’ I remember I was deejaying at Camp Flog Gnaw and he came to L.A. for Flog Gnaw, and came to my set. I have supporters that really show up for me. It makes me feel like I have a family in a way.
There was a show on the ‘Help Wanted Tour’ where you got a little emotional onstage. What was that like?
I got emotional at most of the shows. It was just surreal. I’ve been doing this shit for so long and for me to finally be doing my own tour, and people come out, and support was crazy (laughs).
Your shows are always so inclusive for the fans. I was at the Noisey Nights event in Brooklyn earlier this month and you had an entire dance party onstage.
(Laughs) I did not plan that. It was supposed to be four or five people on the stage and then, the whole shit got bum-rushed. But, it was fun. The people that put on the show weren’t tripping. They were just like, ‘That was amazing. That was great.’ I was like, ‘Y’all sure? Because that could’ve ended really bad.’ But, it was cool. Everybody was safe and had a good time. All I care about are people enjoying themselves.
How has your stage show gotten better?
There’s nothing I’ve done [to get better] consciously other than take vocal lessons. Other than that, I feel maybe my confidence has made my stage presence felt more in the room. But, I consciously can’t think of anything where I was like, ‘OK, this is what I’m going to start doing.’
Have you ever been surprised by the audience’s reaction of a song that you performed live?
I think ‘Medicated.’ First time I did ‘Medicated’ live was at South By Southwest. That’s not really my audience. That’s more like a showcase. I performed it at Brown University at their spring concert [Spring Weekend]. I did ‘Medicated’ and they all sang that shit. It was so emotional. This song is very personal to me and the fact that so many people of so many walks of life can relate to it, and sing those words with conviction was like, ‘Damn, this is tight.’ That’s when I realized I was doing something that was special.
When ‘No Small Talk’ was included in HBO’s ‘Insecure,’ that was when a lot of people got put on to you. Did the audience change at your shows after that?
It was just more of the kind of people that were already coming to my show. I will say my fanbase is kind of — not to be rude — older. To me, I like that. It’s interesting. I’m 27. I have fans that are younger than me, college-age, my age. But, there be people that will be in their 40s and 50s that would come to my shows. The mom/daughter or mom/son dynamic I be having at my shows sometimes be so tight to me. I’ll be talking to people that come to my shows, and there will be an older lady and her kid. The mom will be like, ‘Take my picture with her.’ The daughter will be like, ‘Mom!’ The mom will be like, ‘No. Take my picture with her.’ It’s so funny. Moms be fucking with me (laughs).
How about your own family. How do they think about your rise as an artist?
They’re fucking with it. They think it’s tight. They’re super supportive. When I come home, they’re watching my videos on TV. That’s annoying. It’s fun. My mom and dad came down to the Dallas show when I was on tour with Mick [Jenkins]. They thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I think that was their first time seeing me in front of an audience that large and seeing those people sing the words the way they did. It really made them understand what I was doing was good. A lot of parents don’t know that you can have a real sustainable life off of just making music or art. My parents are in their 60s, so they don’t know that. They just know you go to college and get a job.
You have some of the most eclectic and fascinating outfits onstage. You’re about to perform at Afropunk Festival this year in Brooklyn. That’s where everyone shows their creative styles. Do you have anything planned?
Of course. People should look forward to seeing me, man. I may have a band. I may not have a band. I may have a backup singer. I may not have a backup singer. I may come with the crazy fit. I may not come with the crazy fit. We don’t know.
Afropunk is always a unique audience. What about the Afropunk audience do you consider when you put together your show?
I don’t think I’m going to change my show. I just performed at Smokin’ Grooves with a band, and I think the show I have now can fit at a Smokin’ Grooves and can fit at an Afropunk. We’re bringing a whole ‘lot of genres and I think that’s what Afropunk represents. It’s a mixture of so many things that are all black. In that sense of what Afropunk represents, I think that’s who I am. I’m a whole ‘lot of different things that are all still very black. Any space that I occupy, I’m going to always bring that. I’m going to always bring the things that are eccentric, a little off-kilter, but still black.
I heard soon after the ‘Help Wanted Tour,’ you were in London working on some music.
Yeah, I made a whole album in London. The whole album was done in two weeks.
You just caught a burst of inspiration after the tour?
It was God. I don’t even know. I can’t even tell you how it happened, it just happened. God be looking out. The new album feels crazy, it’s great, I love it. It’s very me.
You’ve always been one of the more interesting rappers in the game. What is your opinion on Jermaine Dupri’s recent comments regarding the state of women who rap?
I got off the internet right as that was happening, but I heard about it. I’m about to sound like a dickhead. I don’t really care what no nigga think. I’m going to keep it real with you. I got to a point where I don’t be caring what niggas be saying because what you’re saying is not true. When you say shit like that, I know you have not done the research. If you say things like that and I know you have not done the research, I am not about to prove myself to you. I’m not about to argue with you.
What the fuck I look like proving myself to some bald-headed, sixty-year-old nigga who ain’t had a hit a since been had a hit (laughs). I don’t care. Jermaine Dupri isn’t breaking artists. Let’s keep it real. That type of shit doesn’t move me and it doesn’t matter who is saying that shit. Any motherfucker saying, ‘Women don’t rap about anything,’ I don’t listen to that. It doesn’t even reach me. It’s whatever.
What’s on your rider on tour?
Tequila, Throat Coat, goldfish crackers; a tray of assorted fruits that are mostly strawberries, pineapples and melons. Honey, only the blue box of Welch’s fruit snacks.
You’re starting to get attention from big-named artists. You posted something on Instagram about CeeLo Green greeting you after a show. What was that like?
I had just finished performing on one of the stages at SXSW. I went up there and did my thing. I walked off stage and [was] about to link with my friends, and I heard, ‘Yo, Yo!’ I turned around and it’s CeeLo sitting down next to the trailer because I was opening up for the Dungeon Family. I’m looking like, ‘Uhh, is he talking to me?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I’m talking to you. Come here.’
So, I go over there and he was like, ‘Yo, your music is dope. I fucks with it.’ I was like, ‘Thank you.’ His was manager was like, ‘Yeah. He really fucks with it.’ His manager came with the double cosign even though he just told me that. They were really nice.
What was the most surprising thing about touring that you didn’t know?
I didn’t know that touring was so fucking inhumane. That shit is inhumane. It’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong. But, goddamn. I was sick for most of my tour because I was not getting any sleep. Then, when I finally got one day of sleep, I wasn’t even sick anymore. I literally was sick because I wasn’t getting enough sleep. But, it’s tight. I love it. I love being able to travel with my friends, and see people’s faces and stuff. But, shit’s inhumane.
To me, the concept of time doesn’t exist when you’re on tour. You really only know what time it is when you’re sound-checking and when it’s time to go onstage. You just know what city you’re in… You don’t even know when you’re going to get a meal. You have to low-key go find food and shit. But, I love it.
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