GET FAMILIAR: IAME of Wool See

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Rapper / producer Iame has been in the game for awhile now. For instance, his first solo LP dropped in 2005 — and I know that because the man has his very own Wikipedia page. A member of two legendary underground crews — Sandpeople and Oldominion — in recent years, his main project has been the “one man band” Wool See. His range is vast, veering from 90’s bangers to EDM symphonies to experimental, uh … post-hop indie ballads? Folk industrial performance art? You’ll have to listen to decide for yourself.

After getting back from a West Coast tour — and dropping a new project, Ewe Gross — he took a minute to talk turkey about his old haunts, his new process, and living in one great big small town.

VTHH: HOW WAS TOUR, MAN? Was it weird going from NEK splendor back into living gig to gig, or was it natural as could be?

IAME: It was definitely a little weird because I’ve been somewhat isolated out here in the NEK for about a year and a half, away from all my Northwest homies and with much quieter surroundings compared to how it was living in Portland. So to go back to all of that kind of felt like being reintroduced into the wild.

But I was kind of surprised at how naturally I slipped back into tour mode…you’re just on autopilot after a few days. Really, it was just a great opportunity to see some familiar faces and places. I’ve put in a lot of work and have been touring the West Coast for over a decade, so it’s always cool to see some of that lasting impact. 

VTHH: How has your process been evolving since the Wool See experiment began? Do you make albums approximately the same way Iame does/did?

IAME: On my earlier albums, I was just rapping and relying on others to make it sound good in terms of hooks, beats, and mixing…now, I do it all, for better or worse. But rapping was my first love. I didn’t start making beats until after I had put out a few albums and then it was just something I did in the background for a long time. I was working with Sandpeople and Oldominion and there was no shortage of great producers around so I left that to the professionals.

The Wool See experiment began during a weird phase of my career where I sort of hit a wall. I had put out what I felt was some of my best music to date but a lot of my previous listeners weren’t feeling it and I was constantly running into roadblocks. Plus I was becoming more interested in learning music and production than I was with writing rhymes. So I went all in with beat-making for a while with absolutely no expectations or plans other than to hoard it and see what happens... This led to me forming a band with no other members.

For a while now, the Wool See process has been to produce all the time and only write lyrics when I’m inspired. What usually inspires me the most is coming up with a theme or title for a full project. Once I can kind of see where I want to take it, I reach into the beat stash and start crafting full songs. The words just sort of pour out naturally from there. With Ewe Gross, the difference was that I didn’t want to write or say as much. My previous album ended up being very personal and the things that I had to say ended up driving the process. So I needed a change of pace this time and I thought a beat-tape type of thing mixed with some full songs could be cool.

VTHH: Do you feel like you're integrating with a Vermont "scene" or do you feel like a hermit in the woods, yelling at kids?

IAME: I’m definitely a hermit in the woods but I’m not yelling at the kids quite yet... I don’t know. I’m not super concerned with integrating into any scene at this point but I still like to pay attention to what’s happening around me. Vermont has some dope artists and this site has put me on to a handful of them….I appreciate the work you do.

Skysplitter was the first dude I met out here that was part of the scene…I only knew him because he mixed a project I was featured on, but he spread my name to Mister Burns & Anthill Collective and they’ve been very welcoming. I’ve done some shows and built with Jarv, Jibba, Boomslang to name a few. I guess I’m integrating exceptionally well for a hermit in the woods.  

Wool See will be appearing at The Monkey House in Winooski on Thursday, Oct. 18th for the latest edition of Anthill Collective’s legendary 3rd Thursday series. The bill is absolutely packed and the show, as ever, is free.

Justin Boland