Nicolas Jaar Interviews Andre 3000

Two musicians have a candid conversation. “I felt like a sell out, honestly.”

December 03, 2014

Forty-seven jumpsuits Andre 3000 created for Outkast's 20th anniversary tour are now on display in Miami. They're being shown as part of a show, i feel ya: SCAD + Andre 3000 Benjamin, which will run from today through December 14. Andre's had a relationship with SCAD, the Savannah College of Art and Design, for years. "I was actually supposed to go to SCAD before I started rapping. I actually draw and paint for real and I was gonna go to art school, and then me and Big Boi started rapping. So that went down the drain," he told Nicolas Jaar, reporting for The FADER. More recently, SCAD students worked with Andre on designing clothes for his Benjamin Bixby line.

Jaar, the musician and GEN F alum, also happened to be in Miami this week on an impromptu stopover to see friends in town for Art Basel. During a walk through of the exhibition last night, he and Andre spoke about the jumpsuit project. The conversation between two touring musicians—Jaar did his own festival circuit in 2014 with Darkside—was brief and remarkably candid.

"I didn't start the tour like, Yeah, I'm gonna do all of these suits," Andre explained. He started performing in them after the tour's rocky first performance, using each jumpsuit as an opportunity to bring something fresh to an endeavor that he said felt uncomfortably familiar, at first. "My first Coachella show, which was a horrible show, I wore something like [my outfit right now]. I didn't know what to wear on stage, so it was my overalls."

"Honestly, just, you know—I didn't wanna do the tour. We hadn't performed in 10 years. It was old songs," he said. "I'm like, How am I gonna present these songs? I don't have nothing new to say. So I was like, maybe I can start saying new stuff while doing these old songs. It became a theme where I was more excited about this than the actual show. This is fun, running out in these."

Andre has no Twitter or Instagram account; Jaar asked if the jumpsuits were a physical way, for him, to communicate in the truncated and direct way people do on those networks. "I live my life out on stage and everywhere else, I don't necessarily have to tweet it out," Andre said. "But I felt like it was cool that I could say crazy thoughts or fun stuff. And I think it actually gets more attention because it is what it is instead of tweeting it. And Twitter, from what I know of, you only have a certain amount of characters, like 150. My space was just right here," he said, pointing to his chest. "Everything had to go here. So I had to squash and edit words."

There were a couple suits that didn't ever appear on stage, he continued. "There were ones you didn't see that were too hardcore, they would have pissed a lot of people off." Explaining one of the more opaque slogans that did make the stage, "Wet Poseidon," he said: "That was a sexual thing. Just another way to say sloppy wet pussy. Sloppy wet poseidon, just a funny way of saying it."

"I felt like a sell out, honestly. So I was like, if I'm in on the joke, I'll feel cool about it."—Andre 3000

Andre paired each word-scrawled suit with a platinum wig and a cartoonish price tag, which read 'SOLD' on one side. He told Jaar the tag was his way of letting fans know more about the thought process behind his decision to head back out on the road.

"I felt weird about going out on stage and doing it again. I felt like people would be like, 'Y'all are doing all these festivals, y'all are just doing it for money,' he said. "And I felt like a sell-out, honestly. So I was like, if I'm in on the joke, I'll feel cool about it."

"It was a decision," he continued. "I'm 39, I got a 17-year-old kid, and I gotta support certain things. And my partner Big Boi is like, 'This is a great thing for all of us.' So I felt like there was a certain sell-out in a way, because I didn't wanna do it—I knew I was doing it for a reason. So maybe if I'm telling people, 'I am selling out,' then it's not as bad as pretending. It's being honest about it like, 'Shit, I did these songs when I was 17 and I'm out here pedaling them now.' But it's the honest thing, that's what it is."

Lead image: Tim P. Whitby / Getty Images

Jumpsuit detail: Theo Wargo / Getty Images

Nicolas Jaar Interviews Andre 3000