Q&A Feature: K. Sankofa

DSC_0367.MOV.00_00_35_09.Still003K. Sankofa isn’t your ordinary music artist. With a dab of hip, a splash of jazz, and a spruce of Caribbean flow, he surely knows how to keep his sound original, while eclectic in the ears of his listeners. That isn’t the norm produced in the music rooted from Wisconsin, or from the stereotype from Wisconsin, but here we are. K. Sankofa isn’t going anywhere else anytime soon. Music isn’t the only knowledge K. Sankofa possesses. He proves that with us in this recent interview with the young man, himself, as well as the song lyrics he creates for his content.

K. Sankofa is such a unique stage name, yet a beautiful name as well. Would you tell us the story of how you came up with that name for your musical presence?

K. Sankofa: For the most part, I learned of the term ‘sankofa’ while in college. It is a proverb from Ghana, Africa that means, “Go back and get it.”

Being involved in many social justice efforts I was able to see how the term was used in fighting for justice. Reclaiming culture and heritage in roots of indigenous, as well as, revitalizing the spirit of justice that swept over those who fought through momentous periods like the Civil Rights Movement.

For me, personally, it has become a motto for continued self-development, while never leaving behind the upbringing that made me who I am. I celebrate every part of my past and every lesson that I have learned. This includes being raised in south central L.A.,  and being raised to reverence God in everything.

I started writing and experimenting with music early on in life. However, when I got to college, I told myself that I’d have to leave music behind to focus on things that I believed to be more important. I soon realized that when times got hard it was music that could make me feel whole and revitalize me in the way that I needed to move forward and carry on. With that I took on the stage under the philosophy of sankofa, going back, and getting the music.

For someone who might not have listened to your music before, can you tell us a small description of what your music is about?

KS: My music is about liberation. For me, I feel a sense of freedom in the creation of my music. Even more, I hope to reflect the struggle of the people who may not have the voice to speak out against injustice. My music is spiritual. I try to keep God in everything I do.

My music reflects my own pain and my own adversity that I have experienced. I feel like it might have a blues feel to it with how saddening the content can be sometimes. My music is about rising up against the forces that are here to keep people in inequitable socioeconomic conditions. My music is about love, hope, truth, and justice.

DSC_0380How did you find your voice for the music industry and how did you find your gift for writing music and your ability to rap?

KS: I started rapping in the 7th grade. I first discovered my love for rap music during that time, because a friend of mine urged me to get into some writing sessions with him. I loved putting the pen to the paper and expressing my thoughts. I try to make sure I let my influences and life philosophy speak through me. I try to stay in tune with God. I think it is a confluence of these thing that helped to develop the voice that I have.

Are there any current musicians who have helped influence your style of music?

KS: Definitely. Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Jay-Z are a few people who influenced me the most, but even today I have been influenced by newer artist like Chance The Rapper.

Even though your music focuses on your life stories, music is actually not your priority goal is it? Care to tell us what is your main goal in life is?

KS: My main life goal is do what I believe is right. I want to do what God has set out for me to do in this world. I believe that encompasses organizing towards justice and being a voice for the oppressed and the unheard. I believe that it is our great mission as a race of humanity to serve our fellow man and put our focus into achieving a well-fare state. I know that the task is endless and bigger than any one individual but I believe that we all have a part to play. My main goal in life is figure out the part that I am best suited for and fulfilling the duties of that role to the best of my ability.

_DSC0008You’re not actually from Wisconsin, but you are originally from California. How did you find yourself in Madison?

KS: I got the Posse Foundation full-tuition scholarship to come to UW-Madison.

Not only are you gifted and talented, but you are a young, well-educated human being. Can you tell us what you are studying and/or majoring in for your Bachelors degree? What drew you to choose your field of study?

KS: Sociology was my major. I chose this, because I had a mentor who opened me up to the major. I fell in love with the pursuit of understanding the development of our world through a societal lens. I was drawn to how interdisciplinary sociology is. You will learn about the law, history, the economy, politics, and so much more. I graduated back in May.

Does Sociology have a part in your influence to make music?

KS: Most definitely. It gives me perspective. If there is one thing that I have learned it is that we are social creatures, and that people are generally a product of their social environment and upbringing. I try to equip a broader lens of understanding of this in my music.

_DSC0250In December, you dropped your first mix-tape album, The Audacity. I must say my top three songs on that album are “Young, Gifted & Black”, “Surrender”, and “Say Less.” What were your top three songs you enjoyed creating the most in the studio process on this album? Why?

KS: I enjoyed creating every song because they are all different and require different approaches in the creation process. But if I had to pick a top three it would be “Sing Sankofa,” “Surrender”, and “Go Down.”

“Sing Sankofa” was the first song I recorded for the tape, so it was exciting to jump into it with full intensity. I got to work with the brother, Lucien Parker, at Strange Oasis Entertainment. Lucien is cold with the audio setup and the vocal production.

“Surrender” was an interesting recording process, because we incorporated live instruments. I was literally rapping the track to the beat while the homie, Mandell, went to work with the saxophone. Then, later on, we brought in the home girl, Jada, to hit a violin outro. So overall, music collaborative process was just powerful in “Surrender.”I can’t forget to mention that I was able to record the first hook with DJ Pain 1 who actually made the beat for the song.

Last, but not least, I gotta go with “Go Down”, because of the intensity of the recording process. I felt like I put my all into the spitting that song in the booth.

With all the access to many independent artists on various music platforms like Spotify, ITunes, SoundCloud, and ReverBNation, I see a transition within the music industry in itself. Do you see or feel a change with the music industry changing or reconstructing?

KS: With social media and a wave of independence it seems like music is in the hands of the people. There is no telling what’s to come. Hopefully major labels don’t get to control what we listen to in the future. Hopefully that power is transferred to the hands of the people.

Do you feel the polarization of modern politics has an influence with the transitions of the music industry? Why or why not?

KS: Not really. I think the music industry changes are because of social media, technology, and massive access to information. However, I think these same factors have shifted modern politics too.

Where do you see the music industry in five years from now? Where do you see yourself?

KS: Nothing new is under the sun. I think the music industry will still reflect a variety of perspectives and thought. However, I do think as we evolve as a society drawing nearer knowledge, purpose our music will reflect that growth. Hopefully we elevate the musical leaders in such a society. I hope to be one of those leaders.

Majority of artists out there, whether it be actors, musicians, painters, singers, or whatever, always has that one role model or influence with their pathway in life and/or artistic missions. Who has been the most significant role model in your life?

KS: My older brother Eric. He was the first in my family to go to college. He was amazing. He lived a life of service and integrity. He was also a rap artist.

If you could write a letter to your younger self in one sentence, what would it say?

KS: Don’t let anyone try to define you and always stay tight with God.

This is simply a challenge, rather than a question. Give us a random playlist with the first ten songs that come to your mind.

  1.     Jay Rock: Win
  2.     Michael Jackson: Human Nature
  3.     Outkast: Ms. Jackson
  4.     Ice Cube: Today was a Good Day
  5.     Kendrick Lamar: Mortal Man
  6.     Tupac: Changes
  7.     Lauryn Hill: Ex-Factor
  8.     Cardi B: I like it
  9.     Beyonce: Halo
  10.     Bob Marley: Get Up Stand Up

Oh, there is plenty more coming from this young individual. Currently on a light tour, just to increase his presence in the scene. K. Sankofa also has a new album in the works! Stay tuned for how the founder of #RebelGang turns up!

For now, enjoy the new single, “State of Emergency.” Make sure to just hit play right down below and check it out.

It’s. That. Simple.

Just. Push. Play.

 

A 48 Hour Film Project Experience

“Lights, Camera, Action!”

“That’s the wrap!”

None of this shit was said. I guess none of that matters when you are in a small time slot to brainstorm, write, shoot, and edit a five to seven minute short film in exactly 48 hours, tops. Final editing being the final phase with figuring out the perfect score, sound, and/or music in the perfect slot in the film. Sweat spewing down your face, with anxiety and adrenaline pacing your heartbeat to that of a crooked thug running from the cops in a crime scene. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here, but you get the picture… …er scene image printed within your mind.

I was a bit nervous regardless of the research I did prior to the event. I never did one before, so where the fuck do I start? People. I start with people. The trick was to get just the right amount of dedicated individuals who were willing to be locked in an empty wing of the school over a whole entire weekend, where instead of going out and socializing and drinking with family and/or friends. I mean, it is summer… …isn’t it?

So it’s obvious that recruiting was a challenge. When I reached out to friends about wanting to do a 48 hour with me, I got only a few people interested, but only one fully committed. I felt defeated when we couldn’t get people interested. Especially individuals that were interested in film in the first place.

Then one morning I woke up for just another work day, look at my phone and BAM! A message from one of my mentors stepping in to help recruit a team endorsed by our college program and I was included! Faith restored! However, it was a damn roller coaster trying to keep those interested again. Of course even until the day before the kick off event, people would back out. It is what it is.

Five members of our team would show up to the kick off event. It was as hot and humid as a Vietnam jungle. Dripping sweat, adult beverages, and a crowd packed in an event room like a pack of sardines. What the fuck was this? How big are these six other teams? We have seven. Fucking seven! Producer, Michael Keeney, was NOT joking when he pushed the advice to RECRUIT, RECRUIT, RECRUIT!

FRIDAY NIGHT: KICK OFF EVENT — …Shortly after I arrive, I was informed that the six teams we thought we were up against, simultaneously turn into 29 other teams!! Plus, producers’, Michael Keeney and Katherine Thompson, has a waiting list! Now that’s success in such a small city of less than a quarter a million. My question is… where the hell did these aspiring filmmakers come from and where have they been?!

Two genres, two characters, one prop, and one line later, we find ourselves at a local coffee shop, Collectivo, to start our brainstorming and the espresso inducing for the weekend.

Untitled2(I am not going to get into the rules and run around on how the 48 hour film project works, so just check it out on their 48 Hour Film web site to learn more of this event. Especially for those who might be interested in doing one next year.) *smiling*

After we went our separate ways for the evening, I dove right into the Killer Tracks website to set the tone of the short film. Our two choices of genre were Spy/Espionage and Suspense/Thriller. There is nothing more soothing than to swing through sounds surrounding those genres on a Friday, the 13th evening. The irony, if I am even using it properly.

Let’s be real here, I thought irony was that of which came from Alanis Morissette’s song, “Ironic” growing up like majority of our population in North America.

SATURDAY: SHOOTING/EDITING – Day two was committed to shooting and rough editing. There’s not much to say, except that I did not expect to be a main character in this short film. In an odd sense, my anxiety decided to take a vacation that day. Not sure if it’s cause I was in such a familiar setting, or what, but I was in some kind of zen during the shoot. I can’t really explain it, other than it just felt right that I was there in the moment.

(I must note that the chemistry between the cast and crew was pretty epic. We had our fun, but we also kept the mission at hand; to get the shoot complete so we could get the rough edit done before Sunday.)

We were done shooting right around 8-830ish that evening.  I was kind of daydreaming of being on NCIS, working late nights, ordering Chinese, while working to find other music to possibly use for the film. My mind goes to different places, to different scenes.

katrina
Actress Katrina Fuchs as ‘Bitsy’

SUNDAY: EDITING/FINAL EDITS/SUBMIT – The final day was purely committed to editing, which I did not have a huge part in accept the title cards and the music choices.  However, we did get our film turned in on time to be premiered this past Thursday.

As for my followers and supporters who actually read my blog, here it is! The web premiere for our short film, “Surprise Party!” I must also let you all in on that a winner for hour 48 hour film project has not been announced yet. The rest of the films all were done real well and props to any of the filmmakers that may pass through this blog post. The networking and connections has just begun! I definitely have found my calling when it comes to film. I am just not sure if I will continue the acting sector of the industry. We will just have to wait and see.

(One last note before we watch the film. My character has no manners at a dinner table, swears, and smokes like a chimney. Like she grew up with no direction in life, because… well, find out when you watch the film! I, as a human being, only relates to the swearing trait of my character.. Fucking military.)*smiling*

Enjoy the film, y’all!

Q&A Feature: Patrick Barnitt

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Photo Credit: IMDb

Now let’s take a moment and get to know who Patrick Barnitt is in Patrick’s world and what else he is wanting to accomplish in his career.

In seven words, who is Patrick Barnitt?

Patrick Barnitt: Crooner, actor, recovering Borg, and occasional rascal.

How long have you been working in the film industry? What are some of your experiences you’ve had during your years in the industry?

PB: I’ve been in the film industry since 1990. I’ve been lucky enough to make it onto the Star Ship enterprise, run around in the desert in the movie Se7en, and sing on a Fred Savage television show, just to name a few.

What has been the most memorable memory in your career?

PB: That’s a tough one. Here’s a few. Working with Danny Trejo on Chronology, going round for round with Bruce Davison in Coffin, and working with the late, legendary Dennis Hopper.

Do you consider yourself more of an artist, or just an actor in the film industry? In your own words, what defines someone to be more than just an actor in the industry?

PB: At the risk of sounding like a complete tool, I would consider myself more of an artist. *he says as he adjusts his beret, and slowly takes a drag of a clove cigarette*

It kind of covers it all. I spend time acting and also singing, performing. Depends on the day, the project, or the gig. At the end of the day, it’s all performing. It’s all storytelling. It’s all art.

I was introduced to you by the character of Jack Samms from the Coffin franchise. Can you tell the readers about your character in the films?

PB: Jack is a man caught in a trap. A man of wealth. A guy who seemingly has it all. A

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Patrick Barnitt as “Jack Samms” Photo Credit: IMDb

great career, a beautiful wife. Lots of dough. Security. A lot to lose. He’s achieved quite a bit in life at the expense of his marriage.

Things are crumbling. Things aren’t always what they seem.

Coffin isn’t your first project that you worked with Derik Wingo and Kipp Tribble. You have worked with them before on Derik’s film, The Waiters. Was that the first time you have ever worked with the two? How has your experience with the guys been over the years?

PB: I go way back with Derik Wingo and Kipp Tribble. I met direct on First Contact on the lot at Paramount years back. We went on to work together on The Waiters up in Portland. Good times.

You can hear me on the soundtrack. Kipp produced The Waiters, but we didn’t meet until a few years later. They’re quite a team. They can finish each other’s sentences. It’s pretty hilarious. We always have a blast. Four projects later. Incredibly talented and great guys.

Is Coffin the first project you’ve worked with actor Johnny Alonso on?

PB: Yes, I met Johnny on Coffin. Terrific guy. A real East Coast cat. When I met him I felt like I knew him for years. It was a real rush working with him on Coffin 1 and Coffin 2. He is a tremendous actor and a real Paisan! We spent a most of our time together in the first Coffin with night shoots, including driving around Los Angeles, and one crazy kitchen scene. Check it out!

Johnny’s a great singer and guitarist. We sang duet at the Dresden at the party for the premiere of first Coffin film. It was great fun.

Here’s a snippet of Johnny Alonso and Patrick Barnitt
in the bar scene in the first Coffin film.
Enjoy the sneak peak if you have not seen the film yet!

As artists, acting isn’t the only thing you and Johnny Alonso have in common. You both are also musicians. How long have you been singing? What got you into music?

PB: As long as I can remember, I’ve been singing and listening to music. Great FM rock radio of the 70s and 80’s. My brothers had an intense record collection. The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Cars, Elton John, Chicago, The Police, etc.

I was also surrounded by a lot great musicians as a kid. We formed a band. My grandfather was a great singer and played the ukulele, so he was a big influence on me. I started singing standards in college, and then I got hooked on Frank and Tony Bennett, Chet Baker, Nat Cole, etc.

Particularly, you are known as a ‘crooner.’ Can you explain that term to the readers who may not be familiar with music terms?

PB: The term ‘crooner’ suggests a singer who sings songs of the great ‘American Songbook’ standards. (The Great American Songbook, also known as “American Standards”, is the canon of the most important and influential American popular songs and jazz standards from the early 20th century.)


Patrick’s music video for his Frank Sinatra cover,
“One for My Baby (and One More For The Road).”

What are your favorite genres to sing? What genres do you find yourself listening to?

PB: I love singing all genres. Especially Rock & Jazz. Recently, I’ve been singing more R&B. I’m currently working on a new record. I listen to everything from Jazz, to Rock, to Hip-Hop. Whatever suits my mood. 

What is on your bucket list for the film or music industry that you haven’t done yet in your career?

PB: As a far as a bucket list goes, I would love to do a Western, be in an Asian action film (I’m a big fan of Korean Action Films), play at the Hollywood Bowl, and work with David Fincher again.

Is there anyone in the industry that you haven’t worked with that you would love to work with?

PB: I would love to work with Spielberg.

If you aren’t acting or singing, what are you doing with your time?

PB: If I’m not working, I’m usually at the gym, playing basketball, traveling, people watching, or catching a new film. I also love live music, and I am a news junkie.

Do you have a ‘hidden’ talent that people are not aware of beyond your music and acting?

PB: I’m an excellent whistler. I’m also a Christopher Walken impersonator.

The closure of this interview: A simple, but fun questionnaire of this or that:

Pepsi or Coke? Pepsi
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
Superheroes: DC or Marvel? DC
Music Genres: Hip-Hop or Country? Hip-Hop
Movie Genres: Documentary or Action? Action
Dinning out or dinning in? Dinning Out
Acting or singing? Today, it’s singing. (smiling).

Thank you, Patrick, for taking some time with me and allowing me to ask you some questions and to get to know you more beyond the Coffin franchise. I can’t wait to hang out with you and interview you again on the set of Coffin 3 soon enough (smiling).

Film Recommendation: Nocturne

*Caution: May Contain Spoilers! Read at Your Own Will*

Saul Pincus. Who is the guy? Well, if you have a deep admiration for the show La Femme Nikita you would know. But for those who simply don’t, Saul is one of many individuals from the production team I met last year in Toronto for the Reunion Convention celebrating 20 years of LFN. He is now a Toronto-based editor and co-wrote and directed this independent cinematographic gem, Nocturne.
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I finally got around to watching this film, not once, but twice. Yes, I said twice. The opening few scenes was a continuous puzzle for your curiosity. I found myself wondering through the first five minutes like, “What the fuck is going on?”

This sophisticated story needs your undivided attention through and through for you to know exactly what’s going on. Multi-tasking when you hit play is not a fucking option, because guarantee suddenly the climax will catch your eye and you will just stop what you are doing in the forefront.

Picture it: One minute I am working on my photo editing from one of my current projects and then…. …BAM! Duct tape, screaming, and the screech of the tires from the car hit you. From that instant you walk away, mid-edit, grab your Smart TV remote and stop the film as you think to yourself, “What the fuck just happened? I thought this film was about an insomnia and sleep-walker?” That’s when you go back to the menu and click on the option, ‘play from the beginning.’

I should have known better. All the independent films I have saw over the years from Canada has been anything, but disappointments. It’s what I strive for with my very own storytelling. As for those who love to study film beyond the story-telling, let me tell you…

…the cinematography is on point and was so up close and personal with the scenes and the actors throughout the film. The original story itself is authentic. Nothing I ever expected from a film before. I love that. The articulate transitions between the backstories and the original story, the animations were brilliant. At the end of it all, this film was a brilliant masterpiece. A one of it’s kind. I highly suggest anyone with a love for film to take 90 minutes, give or take, of their time to watch it.

Saul, by chance if you read this. I cannot wait for more of your projects to blossom. An amazing job in the directing and writing of this film. You’ve shown you’ve learned so much in the art of film with the trail you have left so far in your career. Bravo!

Cover Release & Synopsis of Fallen Angel

I have a lot of good stuff going on for me including the continuation of my Q&A segments, as well as, updating my website & blog site. Growing my network at ease by my continuous writing and reaching out. What’s most exciting in my life, this fall is my last semester for my second college degree, then it’s off to California!!

But, let’s focus on my short term goals this summer. I am getting closer and closer with my fourth book to be published which will extend beyond just my poetry and include a few short stories I have written in a three-part installment. I am currently in the final editing phase of this book.

This collection of poetry reveals a deeper root of my seventh sense of this world. More of my spiritual side connected with my passion for nature, love, and mythology. Am I taking a bold chance? Possibly. It’s worth it though. This is me. The rawest side of all my layers.

Here is a sneak peak of a few poems & the updated and final version of the book cover that will be featured on my next book:


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