A Moment With: NoName Gypsy [Interview]

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Vocalist. MC. Spoken word poet. It’s one thing to excel at one of these creative endeavors, it’s another to be consistently dominant across the board, as NoName Gypsy is. We sat down with the Bronzeville native to discuss her influences, her aspirations as a live performer, and what she’s been doing to avoid ever having to get a “real” job.

GLM: NoName Gypsy, how are you feeling?

N: Excellent. It’s been a really nice day.

GLM: What did you do today?

N: I woke up and then got ready and met up with Saba. And then we parlayed for a little bit, and then we came here.

GLM: To kick this off properly- who are you and how did you get here?

N: I’m NoName Gypsy and Saba drove me here!

GLM: That’s layer 1, layer 2?

N: Layer 2, I’m Fatimah Warner, that’s my government. God brought me here.

GLM: Shout out God.

N: Gotta shout out God. Early!

GLM: What have you been working on lately?

N: I’ve been working at Vocalo lately. I haven’t been working on a bunch of music, I’ve just been actually working.

GLM: What do you do for Vocalo?

N: I’m an intern. There’s 2 different shows- “The Barber Shop Show” and “Reclaimed Soul.” I work for the producer for those shows.

GLM: Obviously being a lover of music, how has this filtered back into when you are making music? Has it helped your process?

N: Yes, especially when listening to “Reclaimed Soul” because it’s all soul music. It’s interesting to hear where a lot of samples for music that I love came from, hearing those songs. Usually I don’t know, so that’s been cool. The other show is more so interviewing people in the community, not so much music but I guess it’s given me more topics to write about.

GLM: You also get to meet the people interviewed.

N: That part of it is really cool, because it’s super community based.

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GLM: Where do you draw your inspiration?

N: I like to read poetry. I just read this really great book of poetry, I got it from Harold Washington Library. I like to read (laughs). When I can do that, I get my inspiration from reading.

GLM: I know one of the last shows I saw you at, you started off the show with and inspirational quote?

N: Oh yeah! That was a really fun show. That was Saba’s show at Schuba’s for his project. That was the 1st time I’d did that. I was at my granny’s house and was like I want to do something different. I’m just gonna read a quote at the beginning and end of my set. I don’t know how it worked out. I liked it, it was fun for me.

GLM: No, it was great. I appreciated that it set the tone, that this was going to be a different affair.

N: It helped to. My music isn’t really turnt, I had to let everybody know this is what you’re getting into.

GLM: I know you’ve been able to travel a little bit around the country because of music. What are you some of your favorite places you’ve been? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?

N: I haven’t been able to do that much traveling. I mainly perform in Chicago. I did go to Michigan, Iowa, Boston and New York. Oh, and Texas, at SXSW. Maybe Texas, that was really fun. My experiences were for the colleges I went to, it was really cold. When we went to Texas, it was obviously a lot warmer. It was fun being around that many artists at one time. As far as challenges, the food. I eat so shitty being on the road. I end up eating things I wouldn’t normally eat, caught myself eating McDonald’s out of pure desperation. That’s probably the worst. I have to reiterate, I haven’t been on a tour yet, I can only imagine what it must be like to be on the road a month or something (Sidenote: NoName is currently on her 1st national tour with Saba and Mick Jenkins)

GLM: Who’ve been some of the people you’ve enjoyed working with the most?

N: Definitely Saba, Mick Jenkins, Chance, Nico (Segal of Social Experiment), Akinye, Eryn Allen Koehn. I’ve worked a little bit with Chad, they’re really great. The band that I play with, they have a band called Woo Park. They just put out a project, those kids are really nice. They’re super musical, I always enjoy playing with them.

GLM: Is it more of a long term partnership or more of who’s available sort of thing?

N: We’re trying to be a band, like metamorphosing into a raw band that already exists is what we plan to do.

GLM: What projects or masterpieces do you have on deck for 2015 and what expectations do you have for the year?

N: I’m going to put out Telefone 2015. I’ve been saying that since, I don’t know, 2012 (laughs). It’s definitely coming out, hopefully earlier in the year within the 1st couple of months in the year. I’m excited about that. I’m excited to do a lot more rapping on stages at peoples faces, is what I’m excited to do.

GLM: Is this a change in direction, something that is a more preferential approach? Or is this to just to beef up your skill set?

N: Just to beef up the skill set and also to give myself to not have a real job, to just consistently be rapping would be amazing.

GLM: That is THEE dream.

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N: And it’s attainable, it’s definitely attainable. It’s a dream to be a world renowned rapper, but it’s work.

GLM: I think it’s also important to acknowledge the community element, that a lot of this doesn’t happen without a really solid support network.

N: You absolutely need that. It’s so necessary.

GLM: I’ve seen what can happen when you don’t have that and it’s rough.

N: And really talented people too which sucks. Hopefully 2015 really should be the year where a lot of the artists that we’re around help each other and push other people who are coming up under us forward. Someone did that for me and that’s just necessary for other people. I definitely want to work with up and coming artists constantly because that’s how you keep the scene progressing.

GLM: It’s also important to acknowledge that the longer you do this, it’s not that it loses special meaning  but it’s not new. And then to deal with people that this is brand new and then feed off their excitement, it’s contagious. The things we take for granted, to kids, it’s like we just revealed a big secret.

N: True.

GLM: What would your dream event be?

N: Playing the Chicago Theater, but it’s not a concert. It’s a play, and I’m in it at certain points rapping.

Not a Hip Hopera though! Maybe more like the Wiz, on some super black futuristic artsy thing. And Erykah Badu’s in it. I don’t know what she’s doing but maybe I’d get to be her little sister or something crazy like that. That would be my dream show, to do some theatrical shit. One minute, I’m in a costume, the next I’m not, the next I’m the Rock and then I pop out… (laughs). I gotta write it 1st.

GLM: In 1 word, describe what you want to leave the world?

N: Love. I would want to leave the world love.

GLM: We certainly need it. Thank you.

N: Thank you.

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