SIFF “Face the Music” Event Preview: Emerald City Visions (A Hip Hop Reinterpretation of The Wiz)

Emerald City Visions (A Hip Hop Reinterpretation of The Wiz)
Performing live at The Triple Door on Saturday, June 1
7:00 PM (All Ages) and 9:30 PM (21+)

One of the most interesting elements of SIFF’s “Face the Music” program is their pairing of live music and film in a special one-night-only event during the festival. Over the years, we’ve seen The Album Leaf, No Age, The Maldives, and Damien Jurado perform live scores to silent films from a by-gone era. This year, “Face the Music” curator Marco Collins wanted to take a different approach and incorporate hip hop artists into the festival. The past few years Seattle has seen a surge of hip hop artists coming to the forefront on a local and national level and Collins wanted to find a way to introduce the hip hop community to the festival and vice versa.

The result of this brainspark is Emerald City Visions (A Hip Hop Reinterpretation of The Wiz). It’s a collaboration between the OC Notes, Don’t Talk to the Cops, Metal Chocolates, and DJ DV One that takes a different look at the 1978 musical The Wiz, an iconic film that featured the music of Quincy Jones and memorable performances by Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Richard Pryor.

One of the folks that has been involved in Seattle’s hip hop uprising as an artist, a DJ, a music columnist, and a policy maker is KEXP’s own Street Sounds host Larry Mizell Jr. He was a member of the acclaimed duo Cancer Rising and most recently They Live and (currently) Don’t Talk to the Cops; he writes for The Stranger; and he’s a member of the Mayor’s Seattle City of Music Commission. He seemed the perfect person to bring together members of the hip hop and film communities and to talk to us about the Friday performances.

KEXP: How did you get involved as the curator in this project?

Larry Mizell Jr.: Marco Collins and Michelle Quisenberry, two awesome humans, approached me about doing something with them for SIFF. I instantly thought of local genius OC Notes, who’d come up with what he calls the Emerald City Sequence, a live re-scoring and visual remix of The Wiz. His connection to music is unreal and you will feel it. The whole show is not the Wiz remix however, it’s a showcase of Seattle hip hop visions—the Sequence is the centerpiece of Emerald City Visions.

Do you have any childhood memories of either The Wizard of Oz or The Wiz that made an impression on you?

I never got to see it as a kid, unfortunately. The Wiz always impressed me because of all the insane talent in it, of course. The Wizard of Oz is one of my lady’s favorite movies too.

How did you start this process? And how long have you guys been working on this?

This is the first time I’ve curated anything like this. We had to get going on it pretty quick, I was out of town for a month with Shabazz Palaces, so we’re still working it out—that’s hiphop for ya.

Were you involved in bringing in all the musical/video talent (the OC Notes, Don’t Talk to the Cops, Metal Chocolates, and DJ DV One)?

That is exactly what I was involved in—the real creativity comes from those artists. I’m really excited for folks to see it.

What themes from The Wiz fit into your own life today or what characters do you identify with?

Whenever I’d forget something, which was a lot, my mother would sing at me, “if I only had a brain”. I don’t think things have changed much since then.

What do you think (or hope) Q would say if he could see this version?

I think he’d say “I would never in a million years sue these guys! In fact I think I’m going to take OC Notes under my wing and impart upon him my vast knowledge and resources because it’s clear that his talent is major and his inspiration is pure, just a hella filthy-ass brother. Town bidness!”

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