by Dylan Looney
Last Saturday night, The ETSU Student Government Association welcomed multi-platinum hip-hop/R&B artist T-Pain, who performed live at Freedom Hall.
Accompanied by his talented backing band (all decked out in ETSU gear), T-Pain worked the crowd into a frenzy, playing such hits as “Low,” “All I Do is Win” and “Bartender.” The supporting act, DEV, warmed up the audience with tracks from her new release, “Bittersweet July,” and hits from the past, notably “Bass Down Low” and “Like a G6,” from her collaboration with Far East Movement. Throughout both sets, the energy in the building was palpable, creating a fun atmosphere in which a good time was almost certain.
Between DEV and T-Pain’s sets, I was fortunate enough to get backstage and interview each one separately, asking questions submitted by ETSU students.
First, I interviewed T-Pain. On his experience working with comedy hip-hop group The Lonely Island on “I’m on a Boat,” he said he enjoyed “venturing out,” and due to previously working with Andy Samberg and Co., “at that point it was kind of normal.”
When asked what inspires him to make music, T-Pain laughed and responded “Usually pooping,” before explaining that, “anything can,” even the very conversation we were having that moment.
I asked about his experience with Johnson City, and T-Pain said he had been here once before, when his bus driver needed a place to sleep. “We didn’t do anything,” he said. “We went to some bars … well, a bar.”
T-Pain couldn’t remember the name of the establishment, only that is was “the smallest place we could find.” On his signature use of auto-tune, he said began to use it because, “It made me different … I didn’t want to get mixed up in just being another R&B singer.”
Lastly, I asked him which artist he would most like to collaborate with. (T-Pain has worked with a “who’s-who” of hip-hop, including Lil Wayne, Ludacris and Kanye West.) His response was Andre 3000 of OutKast fame, which I admittedly think would be a great combination. Unfortunately, the interview was cut short due to time restraints, and T-Pain went straight from our interview to the stage.
After speaking with T-Pain, I also had the pleasure of interviewing DEV. This was her first time in Johnson City, and she said the town “has a really cool vibe.” She revealed that she performed about three years ago with T-Pain in the most Un-Johnson City-like of locations, Dubai, and said their sets “flow together.” Currently, DEV is trying to record new material “whenever [she] possibly can,” and is working on a tour of her own for later this year.
I would like to thank both T-Pain and DEV for being so friendly and open to these interviews, as well as the people from 92.3 Jamz and The Soundboxx for their courtesy, not to mention the SGA and everyone at the East Tennessean for helping to make my music blog and these interviews possible. You all rock!