Wayne Manor Hip Hop Interview with Wes Cowan

Art is life. I’ve built a hashtag – #ArtIsLife – and a small social media blip around that premise. A lot of you know, for me at least, literature is my little corner of the art world. While an avid admirer of other forms of art, I been remiss to really branch into fields, other than illustration, on my blog and that is just unacceptable to me. 

In an effort to broaden my artistic palette, and also to bring my readers fun and interesting things, I interviewed musician Wes Cowan of Wayne Manor Hip Hop. Here’s what he had to say about music, life, and thoughtful stuff.



Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions, Wes. We’ll kick off with some general questions to get a perspective on the way you think.

_____ IF YOU HADN’T BEEN BORN IN THIS CENTURY, WHEN AND WHERE WOULD YOU
LIKE TO HAVE LIVED?         To be honest, looking back there isn’t anything other century that I would rather be born. I was born in 1980, so maybe a decade earlier so that I could have been a part of the music scene during the golden age of Hip Hop, but not another century.

I can certainly agree with you. I haven’t a need to live or be born in another century, but there are tons of time frames I’d certainly enjoy visiting and getting a real look at them.

_____ WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?     I like to spend time with my family. I’m a stay at home dad with 3 boys under 5 (and another on the way). So in all actuality, music would be what I do in my spare time.

I think we’re all a bit like that. Almost superheroes by duality. ‘By day mild-mannered dad, but by night hip hop superstar…’ you know. lol

_____ ARE YOU POLITICALLY ACTIVE? Very! I am a big advocate for a Resource Based Economy and equality. A lot of my music is politically motivated and bringing focus to the injustices in the world.

I’ve noticed that about your music. It’s very involved and current. You certainly focus on the world around you.

_____ DO YOU DO ANY VOLUNTEER WORK?  Being a stay at home dad I don’t have much time but I would like to. Most of the shows I do are for charity and I give 50% of my music sales to the United Pompe Foundation as well.

Yes, the United Pompe Foundation. Wes and my biggest link. So here’s where I come clean to my readers about how I know Wes specifically. I wished it was as simple as my having discovered he is a phenomenal musician. But, as is usual in life, the story has a touch of tragedy

I met Wes through my cousin, Amber Burgess-Cowan, when they were married. During their marriage, my cousin was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Pompe’s Syndrome, or glycogen storage deficiency disease. Unfortunately Amber didn’t survive the devastation this disease inflicts. But I can say that Wes has gone on to transform the pain of her loss into music and raising awareness for Pompe’s Disease. (Please visit the link to learn more about Pompe’s and the research being done to treat and cure it. – Also look for my upcoming novel, A Sight Unseen, dedicated to Amber that will include a character struggling with Pompe’s.)

No many how many years it’s been, Amber’s loss is a difficult thing to discuss so now onto less painful subjects, please and thank you.

_____ HOW HAS AMERICA CHANGED IN THE LAST TEN YEARS? We have progressed in many ways but have dropped the ball as well. I think technology is growing at amazing rates, but cures for diseases have grown stagnant. This is again why I advocate for RBE. It’s more profitable to treat diseases and not cure them.

How sad it is that this is the case. People would rather profit financially from a devastating illness than be humanitarians and cure and disease. The only true profit they see is money, whereas the real profit lies in the happiness and humanity of curing the disease.

_____ HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED? Well, I lost a spouse in 2009 to Pompe disease (hence the donations to United Pompe) and I am now remarried and have my kids. Being a family man has changed me a lot. I have grown more interested in changing the world. I hope to leave it better than I found it.

I’ve often thought that artists change with every moment that passes in their lives. Often times because we seem to truly meditate on the events so that we can accurately portray them to others. Like in your case, your loss made you focus on the gain but didn’t make you forget. If anything it made you more cognizant of the juxtaposition.

_____ WHAT’S THE SIDE OF YOU THAT THE PUBLIC NEVER SEES? I’m an open book really. I say what I mean and don’t pull punches. Some might think I’m an asshole because of it, but you know…

Haha. I’ve been accused often of ‘being a bitch‘ when, in fact, I’m just being honest and not pulling punches. While I do believe diplomacy goes a long way in life, it can also cloud the issues. Honesty and being direct has gotten me more in the long run (including some enemies if we’re being honest) than beating around the bush.

Okay, now we’ll get a little more specific. Which is, in your case, about music and what it’s like being a musician.

_____ WHAT’S THE FIRST SONG YOU EVER REMEMBER HEARING? That’s a hard one. I don’t remember a specific song, but I know my mom used to play a lot of 50’s & 60’s music growing up. I still like it and use plenty of those old sounds and instruments in my music today.

I understand the draw toward older styles. They are definitely my fall back, feel good music, and so many of them paved the way for modern sounds and are still used.

 I, on the other hand, remember a specific song. While probably not the first song heard, it stuck out in my mind since my mother played it so often. It was Patsy Cline’s Walking After Midnight.

_____ WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO LATELY? I just checked out the new Kendrick Lamar album which was pretty good and surprisingly since Nick Jonas started making solo music his songs aren’t that bad.

I’ll have to look into both of those. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Scroobius Pip and Die Antwoord. Typically not my favorite style of music, both are fantastic with lyrics. And, well, words are so important to me.

_____ WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ALBUM BY ANOTHER ARTIST? Atmosphere’s “When life gives you lemons” is up there as well as Sage Francis’s “Human the Death Dance”. I like so many though it’s hard to pick a favorite.  

Well, you know we share an appreciation for Sage Francis. Again, the words he uses are sublime and his phrasing has such immense power. I haven’t heard of Atmosphere, so I will definitely give them a listen.

_____ WHAT SONG OF YOURS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF? It would definitely be The Painter.

It is a beautiful song. To by honest I have some trouble listening to it because of Am. It’s one of those drawn-to yet fearful-of type of things, you know. 

_____ WHY? It took me forever to finish. I wrote the 1st verse a month after my wife passed away and the 2nd verse almost 5 yrs later after my son Tyler was born. It’s an abstract look at how loss affected me and how my family made life worth living.

It is a great song with a lot of hope and love in it.

_____ ARE THERE ANY SONGS YOU’VE DONE THAT YOU WISH YOU HADN’T? Not at all. Every song I have done reflects the way I felt at that moment or what I was thinking about. It’s almost like a scrapbook of me.

Much like my writing. There are things I wish I’d done differently, or written better, but nothing I wished I’d never written. They’re all snapshots of my life, in some manner.

_____ IS THIS YOUR FIRST ALBUM? Yes EST1980 is my 1st album as Wayne Manor. I was in a group as a teenager but it was very different from what I do now.

I think that just goes to show how you’ve evolved over time, grown from experience and been influenced by the world and ideas.

_____ OTHER THAN THE PEOPLE YOU’RE WITH NOW, IF YOU COULD GET ANY
MUSICIAN, LIVING OR DEAD, WHO WOULD BE IN YOUR “DREAM BAND?” I would love to be in a Hip hop super group. The Roots, KRS-One, Brother Ali, Common, Talib Kweli and me. Like a conscious Wu-Tang clan.

Wow, talk about a super group. I’d love to see what that musical genius could come up with.

_____ HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT CENSORSHIP? I don’t agree with it at all. I may not agree with what some people say but have no problem with them being allowed to say it. Sometimes it just shows the world who these people really are and helps us stay away from them.

I had a feeling this might be your answer. It seems to hold pretty standard with anyone who truly expresses themselves in their lives.

_____ DO YOU CENSOR YOURSELF? HAVE YOU EVER WRITTEN ANYTHING AND THEN
DECIDED IT WAS TOO HARSH? Never and no. Others may think it’s too harsh, but that’s the point. When you are fighting for a better world you can’t hold back.

What is the saying? The only evil in this world is good people doing nothing. Or something to that effect at least. 

_____ WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? I’m working on my 2nd album “The Cambrian Period”. I don’t have a date yet but I have all the music done for it and have a lot of writing done. The 1st single has already been released. It’s a Hip Hop rendition of Zombie by the Cranberries. No samples, just a new telling with a more modern attack. I am also working on a charity event where all proceeds go to United Pompe. It’s June 27th in Terre Haute Indiana.

Zombie by the Cranberries is one of my favorite songs. In fact, and this makes many musicians cringe, I karaoke it all the time. It’s the closest a hearing impaired chick like me will ever come to feeling like a real musician. 

I’ll also get the info out there about the 27th event. The more people we draw into it, the more you will benefit in the long run, and the more Unite Pompe Foundation will benefit that night.

_____ WHO ARE 3 ARTISTS YOU CURRENTLY KNOW (PERSONALLY) YOU’D LIKE TO GIVE A SHOUT OUT FOR? I gotta show some love to Silenze & The Almighty Spit from Indianapolis. They will be on the charity show with me and have been very cool. I also need to mention The Eyeconics. They have been very helpful and I hope to work with them on a show in the future. They are very busy with touring right now with KRS-One in Europe. The group consists of DJ Predator Prime who is the son of KRS & SB the Anomaly and amazing MC and poet. Check them all out.

Check. All on my list to check out.

Now for some random, yet deep questions.
_____ WHAT’S THE MEANING OF LIFE? Life itself doesn’t have a meaning. It just is, but our purpose is simple. Make this world better than we found it and always remember we are one planet.

A similar philosophy to my own. My aren’t here for a reason; we are here to do. And that is to improve upon what has been done before us.

_____ DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS INTELLIGENT LIFE OTHER THAN EARTH? I would hope so. That is a horrible waste of space for us to be the only intelligent life out there. You never know though, too many random scenarios in evolution to know what is possible.

I agree, it’s possible there is nothing…but it does seem a terrible waste if there isn’t. Plus, I suppose it’s the romantic in me, or the dreamer, but I fancy the notion that someone else somewhere is enjoying life as much as I do.

(This next question, I would like to note, was a typo on my part, but I liked the answer Wes gave so much that I decided to keep it in for the chuckle and the produced result.)

_____ DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS INTELLIGENT LIFE ON EARTH? On Earth… of course. People like Carl Sagan, Aron Ra, Jacque Fresco, & Christopher Hitchens have proven that. But, people like Ted Cruz, Michelle Bachman & Pat Robertson make you wonder sometimes.

Yes there are times people make you wonder. Then you see the brilliance of other minds…. My mom had a saying: “Before you’re born, there are 3 lines and you only get to stand in two of the 3 to determine who you are. The lines are Beauty, Brains, and Talent.” While she meant it as a joke, I’ve sometimes wondered if there isn’t a bit of truth to it. Because there are people in this world I am convinced chose to NOT stand in the brains line. 

_____ WHEN THE ALIENS LAND ON EARTH, WHY WILL YOU BE THE FIRST PERSON
THEY TALK TO? Hopefully they have heard my music somehow and realized I am a man who believes all life is important and they have a similar beliefs. If they don’t share those beliefs then they know I am a threat to the master plan and have come to kill me.

Dang, damned if you do and damned if you don’t, huh? lol

_____ DO PEOPLE THINK YOU’RE MACHO? Probably not. I’ve never been overly macho. I’m not a big sports guy and I don’t hunt or anything. I am a man of principles and a unique moral compass and maybe that is better in some ways.


_____ IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL…WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE? The only animal I would ever want to be is human, but I wouldn’t mind having some other animals’ attributes added to my current abilities. Being able to fly or breathe underwater would be pretty amazing.

I have to agree with both of those assessments. Flying and breathing underwater would be amazing traits to possess. Not to mention the addition of certain traits would add unique perspectives.

Although, since I’m a huge nerd (I mean, #NerdGirl after all), we’re going to get done to some specific dorkiness with these next questions.

_____ STAR TREK OR STAR WARS? I like them both but I have to give it to Star Wars as a favorite.

Well, can’t blame you for liking both. I’m on board with that. Although I am more of a trekker than a warsian.

_____ KIRK OR PICARD? Picard… Next Gen baby!!!

That’s my man! No one trumps Picard in my book as Captains go. Of course I think most people know my heart belongs to Spock however, and I give major props to Sisco from DS9 for a unique take on a Federation Captain.

_____ HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT ABRAMS DIRECTING THE NEW STAR TREK FRANCHISE? I actually liked the concept but then again I was more of a Next Gen fan than the original, so an alternate telling made me appreciate it more than a simple remake.

Agreed. While it may have ticked off hardcore fans, the remake was better than simply rehashing the genius of the old series.

_____ DID YOU EVER PLAY DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS? No I have not. I never had friends that were interested in it growing up so it never came into my life.

Interesting. I’ve found a lot of musicians didn’t play D&D, while a ton of writers did. Most say it’s because it didn’t interest them, but your point of view is different: it simply didn’t happen because it wasn’t introduced.

_____ WHAT TYPES OF GAMES DID YOU PLAY? I did have friends who played Magic the Gathering and I played a bit. I was more into computer games though.

Yeah I’m pretty sure none of us born in the 80s and growing up in the 80-90’s escaped Magic the Gathering. lol

_____ HOW MUCH DO YOU READ? I read some but not as much as I would like to. If I do it’s usually non-fiction or books related to philosophy or religious study.

Well, with multiple kiddos and your alter ego life it’s a wonder you get any reading in at all. It is good to see you do make time for reading, especially for educational purposes. I don’t think enough people make time for reading, but I’m sure that’s just related to me being a writer and considering reading akin to breathing air. lol

_____ BOOKS, MAGAZINES, OR WEB-ONLY CONTENT? I like books but I spend more time reading web content than anything. Never been a magazine kind of guy though.

Yeah I’m not so big on the magazine bit either. I have a few I like, but they are mostly for writing or backpacking. Otherwise I find them too boring. I’m also a big book person. There is something viseral about picking up a book to read. Also, to a lot of people’s dismay, I can write in the margins of a books, underline passages or phrases that strike my fancy or pertain to me or just plain make me think, and you can’t do that easily in an electronically formatted book. Given the nature of our society and its dependency on technology, there are few of us who can get away without doing a ton of web based content reading. It’s simply…everywhere.

_____ WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE WRITER, LIVING AND/OR DEAD? David McAfee

I’ve only read one thing by him so far but it was really good and made me think.

_____ WHY THAT WRITER? He is really good at pulling you in. If you have interest in religious study and learning the origins of beliefs from an unbiased point of view his books are great. He is also an Atheist so he has several books about overcoming issues relating to religious family and friends.
I don’t think I realized he was an atheist. That might explain the unbiased neutrality of his writing.

And, finally, the end of the interview. To me, it is often the most important part of an interview. It usually sums up who a person is nicely. Or, at least, it sums up their core mind set nicely. Which, when you get down to it, is who we are – a core mind set, ever changing, ever evolving, as we infinitely learn around a centralized thought focus.

_____ WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO TEACH CHILDREN AS THEY GROW? Love and respect for life. Without it they will just continue the plundering of this world and the separation of humanity.


Beautifully said. Thank you for letting me grill you today, Wes. I encourage everyone to listen to Wayne Manor Hip Hop’s work. 

BIO:

Currently in Terre Haute Indiana, but originally from Chicago, Wayne Manor puts all of himself in every track. “Dreams” gives you a glimpse of what it is like trying to make it in the music business, while having life and responsibility pull you away. In the end realizing that it’s all made him who he is and that is what drives him music. “The Painter” gives and abstract look at the death of his spouse. As his life went on he describes how finding love again, not only brought him back to reality, but gave him the children he could not live without. Stating, “My tears have come and gone and come back in a different way.” Due to the death of his wife to Pompe Disease 5 years ago, he donates 50% of all his musical proceeds to the Unite Pompe Foundation.www.unitedpompe.com The track “The Truth” shows his activist side. He exposes our monetary system, religion, and our human history of class/racial separation. “The truth hurts, but that’s always the deal. And if we’d all get on the wagon we could finally heal.” With so much more to give, he released his full length LP “EST 1980” on 9/3/14. This is a reboot for Hip Hop. Bringing back story telling, complex lyrics, and the fight against social and financial injustice. It’s time to take our genre back.

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