Rizenhower The Great Poupon is one of the more uniquely talented artists within the MKE underground music scene. I recently sat down with veteran emcee/musician Rizenhower The Great Poupon to ask him a few questions.
1) For those people who dont already know who you are, why dont you tell us a little bit about yourself. Are you a native of MKE? Where did your interest in music originate? Tell us a little about your background.
I am indeed born and raised in the Brew. I, like many musicians, started in the Church. I sang in choirs throughout my childhood and into college. I also played drums at church. And, I just kind of picked up the other instruments as I went along. A lot of times, you just kinda get in where you fit in. You see auditions for bass players, so you’re a bass player, or for trumpet players, so you become a trumpet player…etc. I just really have always liked music creation and performance.
2) You’ve been known to incorporate live drums, trumpet and singing into your live sets and your studio work. How would you describe your musical style? Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
I think of it as Jazz/fusion/funk/hip-hop/soul/rock. But, at the end of the day, Everything is geared towards live performance. I’m always thinking from creation on, “how will this play out live?” “Will this work for the crowd?” etc. My favorite musicians are D’angelo, GURU, and Lenny Kravitz. And not just because of their music, but because of their overall presence, their accomplishments as far as mixing of genres.
3) You’ve been a long time collaborator with MKE native producer DSCRIBE who spent some time out in Oakland but recently returned to Wisconsin. Can you tell me a little bit about how you two began collaborating creatively?
D and I went to High School together, and eventually ended up at UW-Madison together. In college we first started experimenting with recording and music concepts. He moved out to Cali, I moved back home. But, we never stopped collaborating and about four years ago I found myself wanting to get out front more than I could as a drummer. D was in town for a visit and he said, “Why don’t you do this by yourself?” and we haven’t stopped since.
4) As I mentioned, DSCRIBE has recently moved back to Wisconsin after some time out in California. You two managed to produce a catalog of material despite the distance. Can you tell me about some of the challenges you faced with that?
Ironically, recording projects before D moved back was not as difficult as expected. He would basically come in town every other month or so, we’d spend a week or so doing a ridiculous amount of recording, D would take the tracks home to mix and come back ready to get some more done. So, you know, choose your friends wisely!
5) As we’ve seen on social media, “Land By The Lake 2”, the follow up to the massive city-wide collaborative project “Land By The Lake” is currently in production. Do we have a timeline for release yet? Are there any other upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?
We are looking at a summer release LBTL 2. We’ll also be putting out my third album in Fall on this year. It’s called Ouroboros (The Eternal Return). Also, my next live performance will be February 12th at the Riverwest Public House in Milwaukee.
6) In addition to being a talented performer, you are also a teacher for MPS. Do your students and colleagues know about your music? Has your work as a teacher brought upon any unique challenges when it comes to your music? Or have you come upon any unique positive experiences where the two worlds have collided?
There have been parents who’ve come in the building like, “Yo, it’s Rizz! The old lady Smell Guy!” But for the most part it’s basically a double life. During the day I’m Mr. Williams, everyday common citizen, and at night I become Rizenhower the Great Poupon, Milwaukee’s Finest Performer!!!!
Below are links to Rizenhower The Great Poupon’s music, including the link to the playlist for the original “Land By The Lake” compilation. Check ’em out!
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