EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Hip-hop's horror connoisseur speaks.
Tech N9ne is the King Of Darkness. The Kansas City chopper has immersed himself in horror culture to the point where his name rings bells in ghoulish circles. From songs like "Trapped In A Psycho's Body" to "Slither," "In The Trunk" to "Pinnochio," Tech has gleefully reveled in the grotesque and the macabre. Themes of cannibalism and dismemberment delivered with brilliant technical prowess. Murderous concepts and collaborations with horror-movie composers. A growing collection of horror films spanning across decades. Tech N9ne not only admires the genre but has lovingly adopted it into his own persona.
With Halloween upon, it seemed fitting to connect with Tech N9ne for a conversation on the horror genre. A true connoisseur of the culture, Tech opened up about his favorite horror films both past and present, as well as the process behind crafting his most emotionally devastating and darkest project thus far. Who better to break bread with on All Hallow's Eve than the AngHellic one himself? Read our full conversation below.
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HNHH: Tech N9ne, what’s up!
Tech: It’s all good, bro.
Let’s get into it. Halloween’s upon us.
My favorite holiday.
What was your introduction to the horror genre? When did you first realize you enjoyed being scared?
My introduction to horror was my mom taking me to see Carrie in 76’. I was hooked after that. She took me to see Halloween in 78’. I latched onto it. I was a kid, you know what I’m sizzlin? She took me to haunted houses when I was younger. The darkness came from a Christian lady -- Maude Sue Yates-Kalifah.
When you think about the Bible, it’s dark as hell. Why not the darkness?
You also came up during one of the best eras for horror, the seventies. Have you been following horror movies since?
Yes. My whole childhood, even the most obscure. Like Dead Alive or Reanimator with Dr. Herbert West. It goes on, Evil Dead 1, Evil Dead 2. Not Evil 3, but maybe I should give it a chance these days. [Laughs] It ran through my whole childhood, down to Friday The Thirteenth. It don’t stop, if you name it, I’ve seen it. Do you know what Dead Alive is?
I heard of it. I think that’s Peter Jackson, who did Lord Of The Rings. When he started he did horror movies.
Yeah. I know Sam Raimi did Evil Dead, and he did the Spider-Man movies and stuff. And he came out and did--what’s it called. Damn, it slipped my mind.
Drag Me To Hell!
Drag Me To Hell! The Lamia! My son stole the DVD from me, so it’s hard for me to think about it. I let him use it and it disappeared.
That one’s got the freaky-ass goat.
The Lamia. I love Sam Raimi movies. Have you seen his latest one, Crawl? Ah man! It ain’t what you think! It’s a Sam Raimi movie for real.
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You’ve implemented horror qualities into your own music, but which kind of horror do you find the most unsettling? The occult? The slasher concept, like you explore on songs like “I Am A Psycho” or “In The Trunk?”
Religious horror. Like The Excorcist. Like The Conjuring. Valak, The Nun, you know what I’m sizzling? Something about religion, like The Omen. It was super creepy cause I was raised a religious kid. I was born a Christian. My mom married a Muslim when I was twelve. My whole upbringing was super religious. I can see why those movies are so unsettling, but I dig em’ all and I own em’ all. I have a lifesized Regan in my house. Not Ronald Regan, The Exorcist Regan. I have a Clown shrine in my house. Everything is Michael Myers because I’m Michael Myers lyrically.
He’s your favorite of the iconic slashers?
He’s the original. Everything came after Michael. There might have been a couple movies, like Maniac or something like that, where they had the idea, but I believe Michael Myers is the original. After him came Jason, after that came Freddy. He was the original.
You pay homage on “Psycho Bitch” with that John Carpenter flip. That was crazy.
Yes I do.
Man, you gotta check out this Korean movie The Wailing! It blew my mind. Terrifying. That movie is incredible, it reminded me of The Excorcist.
Where did you find it?
It was on Netflix for a while.
I’ll check it out.
I recommend it. What was the last truly terrifying piece of media you’ve seen, be it a book, a movie, a song even. Something that really shook you.
Real-life shakes me. Like when somebody shoots up a school. When somebody shoots up a place where little kids are. Sandy Hook That’s the most terrifying thing. Horror can be fictional but some people bring it to life. Jeffery Dahmer brought it to life. John Wayne Gacy brought it to life. Ted Bundy brought it to life. It’s crazy, man. Art imitates life but life imitates art. The real things. The LaBianca murders. What Manson was able to do with influence. That’s the spookiest of all.
I’m the guy that goes to the haunted house and leads a pack of thirty. I used to stand in the dark when I was younger just so I could get used to being in the dark and not be afraid of it. In my later years, I used to look for ghosts. My mom was sick all these years and I wanted to know what I was praying to was listening. I had ghosthunters come and show me stuff, but I never found anything after all these years. After my mama passed, I stopped looking. I wished I found something.
Are you a vivid dreamer? Do you ever have nightmares at all?
Of course! I have a creative mind. I have super nightmares.
Some people don’t even remember their dreams. It’s a shame.
Sometimes I write them down. If I didn’t...I did this thing called Brightfall, this tar-like monster, I saw it in my dreams. Check out Brightfall if you have time. Joseph Bishara, who played the devil in Insidious, he plays the monster in Brightfall. He also does all the music for Insidious, The Conjuring, The Nun, Annabelle. He does music with me. We’ve done a couple of songs together already. We have a song called “Shroud” together, and “Brightfall” as well. He’s been to a lot of my shows in LA, as well.
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I remember when KOD came out, I listened to that album at night, with headphones on and lights off. I got to the track “Pinocchio,” and man...The creepiest track I’ve ever heard in my life.
[Laughs] Yes! That was a dream of mine too. How that guy might look, the sharp teeth. He wants to be a normal boy, you know what I’m sizzlin? Just the wish to be with one woman. That was a dream of mine come true. I became that guy, that normal boy. I’m still abnormal, but my life is more singular.
How did you come up with that voice?
I heard him. [In “Pinnochio” voice] He talks with a smile but he’s sad at the same time. Oh please, oh please, oh please!
That could be a horror movie right there. Man, I don’t know how you got that sound effect at the end, but that was so disturbing.
The chomping sound? Yeah, it’s crazy. Me and my engineer Ben, we call him Benjineer, we actually put sounds together and create sounds. Make it sound exactly how we want it to sound. We take the sound of biting an apple and pitch it down, it sounds like a big chomp.
What was the studio energy like when you were laying that down?
I can’t remember. It was before 09. I can’t remember the session, but I remember doing KOD. That’s why I’ll never do another totally dark album again. I didn’t know that I had that many dark stories to tell that were real. That album took a lot of my energy, of my light. I didn’t like it. But I loved the music.
That’s one of my favorites of your albums. I can imagine it was a heavy one to make.
I ran from songs like “Low” when writing them. Delayed the album three times because I ran from songs like “The Martini,” “Killing You,” all the stories were hard man. I ran from them, cause I knew that was going to take me further down the hole.
On a lighter note, how’s your Halloween costume game these days?
I work every Halloween, so I’m usually Tech N9ne. But I’m having trouble figuring out what I’ma be this year cause I had them not book me for Halloween. I’m going to Honolulu to celebrate, me and my lady. I have no idea, I’ve been looking on Instagram at this clown skull, I don’t know if it costs five thousand dollars. I want it! I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. I have no idea. I’ve been looking at the costume from The Strangers. I like the bag head. People won’t know who I am. I can still kick it.
That’s a pretty iconic costume. Strangers was a pretty good movie.
Yep. I just didn’t like the fact that Liv Tyler got killed like that. Or maybe she lived, because she screamed at the end. I can’t watch Liv get done like that.
It’s not easy. They gotta protect her at all costs.
Exactly. That’s Liv fucking Tyler.
What about some of these newer, critically-acclaimed horror films like Hereditary or the VVitch? Have you seen those?
I got The VVitch. It looks like it says The V’Vvvitch. [Laughs] I bought it. Hereditary, I saw that. I haven’t saw 3 From Hell yet, cause they only put it out for one day man! My good friend Sid passed away and I didn’t get to say bye to him. It’s hard.
Sorry to hear.
Thanks. [Unintelligible chatter] Sorry, I was actually in an Uber. I’m getting dropped off at the airport right now. I’m on my way to Arizona to see Chris Brown, to see if I can get him on this new album.
Nice. You’re really checking off all the boxes. Like you said you were going to do back on “Absolute Power.” You really made it all happen. What you built with Strange Music, it’s unprecedented.
Thank you, man. Thank you so much.
Look, I’ve got one last thing. Top three Halloween icons. Michael Myers, obviously…
Michael Myers is number one and number two. Michael Myers is everything to me, but if I had to choose a two and a three I would say Pinhead from Hellraiser is my next one. My third would have to be Pennywise.
Nice. Did you ever read It?
I write books, I don’t have time to read them. I used to read a lot of them in my past, but now I write my life as a book. It’s hard for me to sit down and read, and not right, you know?
Makes sense. Thank you so much for taking the time, and have a happy Halloween. I’m happy you get to finally celebrate it.
Thank you bro!