Questlove took a break from his duties as talk show bandleader to travel down to Austin, Texas, for SXSW, where he’s been performing alongside Theophilus London. Here, the Roots drummer took a time out to answer some questions about his obsessions, sunsets, and his oldest possessions.
What is the oldest possession that you are carrying with you?
For the past 10 years I have been carrying over 400 archival episodes of Soul Train, from 1971 – 2001.
What is your most important piece of equipment?
Technically my black Kipling Bag I have been carrying for 15 years, it is my Linus Blanket. It was a singular computer bag, now it holds 5 necessary computers, and 18 terabyte hard drives. It never leaves my side.
Describe the last sunrise that you saw.
Everyday I’m in bed around 5am; one of the rare, unfortunate “benefits” of living in a building designed by Frank Gehry is the inability to turn a room completely dark when sleeping. All windows. And I’m a vampire so it’s not a good mix.
What is the first piece of visual art that comes to mind?
This morning someone forwarded me a link to an artist’s website who not only designed the only known Prince doll, but also managed to duplicate in photo all of the album covers to a tee. That’s the email thread that keeps on giving.
Who was your hero at the age 5?
What were your obsessions at age 17 and what are they now?
At 17, the “unattractive” portion of my fathers record collection that I deemed old and out of touch but suddenly when contextualized from Public Enemy’s sophomore album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. His whole entire record collection started making sense to me. In other words, I discovered how samples were made. But now, ensuring that I live to be 94, that’s my goal. I’m obsessed with the fact that 90% of all black celebrities cannot manage to survive past the age of 53, either by getting shot in their twenties or destroying their body or their heath by their fifties.