When it comes to listening to the public, we here at Sub Pop like to stick our fingers into our ears and make a really loud humming noise, both literally and metaphorically. But, the recent hue and cry to resurrect our old “People Who Work Here” column has finally become too much for even us to ignore. “People Who Work Here” is, of course, the long-running and even longer-dormant column in which we crawl inside the heads of the weirdos who call Sub Pop HQ home for something like forty hours (give or take—usually take) each week. As the column’s original author is now too busy running our Licensing Department (way to go, Lacey Swain!) to be bothered with this sort of thing, we’ve drafted our new (and former) receptionist to take over as staff interviewer. His name is Derek Erdman and he claims to have a degree in English. You be the judge!
The first subject of the new “People Who Work Here” is, naturally, the newest (and, arguably, most famous) addition to the Sub Pop family, Ishmael Butler. Ish was no stranger to Sub Pop when he accepted the job; he’s also 1/2 of Shabazz Palaces! So far, a number of the ladies (and most likely some dudes, too) in the office have described Ish as “hunky,” and his commanding demeanor has office meetings running much more smoothly. We could go on and on, or you could just read more below.
Derek: Hello, Ish! Wait… I guess I should ask if it’s okay to call you Ish… Is it? Also, do you have any other nicknames? Anything from your childhood, or anything that you didn’t like to be called?
Ish: My friends call me Ish, you can call me Pookie or Carmine until friendship.
D: Did you have a favorite toy as a child? If so, what was it?
I: My favorite toy as a child: cigarettes.
D: What about cartoons, did you watch them as a kid? What did you like? What was your TV like? Mine was a giant wooden thing, it must have weighed 500 lbs.
I: Cartoons, of course, I’m normal. My favorites: all Looney Tunes; Sylvester, Yosemite, Daffy, Bugs, Foghorn. These beings laid the foundation for my philosophical outlook and also of course how I relate to women.
D: What about your first bike? What was it like?
I: I’d love to talk about my first bike but I’m under a sponsorship contract with Alex at 20/20 and I can’t mention any other bike or say the word bicycle.
D: One of my favorite things to know about a person: what is your favorite thing to eat? I’m really particular to Triscuits with cottage cheese on top. Do you have any food combinations that you’re fond of? Are there foods that you really don’t like at all?
I: I like to combine food with hunger, it’s a little something I do.
D: What about pet peeves about other people eating? I don’t mind when people chew with their mouth open, but I’m aware that it bothers some people. I floss my teeth while working at the front desk, does that bother you?
I: I don’t like when people say “sorry” for shit that there is no need to be sorry about. And yes, your flossing bothers us all, bro.
D: Do you remember your very first introduction to music? What was the setting? Who else was involved? Do you still re-visit that music today?
I: My first introduction to music: I was in the 9th grade and my girlfriend was in the 12th grade. She told me to walk her to her friend’s house during lunch. When we got there she had the key and we were the only ones there. She played a song for me that I had not heard until that day. Yes, I revisit that music. I’m going to listen to it when I get home.
D: What about your first introduction to Sub Pop—do you remember that?
I: The first time I came to the offices I chilled in Andy’s [Kotowicz] cube for Hella. He was playing cut after ridiculous cut. His eyes sparkling behind his glasses, talking about songs like I would talk about a girl I love.
D: What did you expect working at Sub Pop to be like?
I: I thought it would be like I had seen Tony K. doing it around town, you know, getting in free to shows, getting twisted backstage, throwing drinks in bouncers’ faces, making a fool of myself and it being ok because “I work at the Sub, bitch.” But there’re all kinds of meetings and shit.
D: How is being an employee at Sub Pop compared to being an artist on the label?
I: I expected working here to be serious and fun.
D: What advice would you give other new employees of Sub Pop? What about the ones that have been here FOREVER?
I: New employees: try to use the bathroom before lunch. Old employees: form a band called Power Trip but spell it PWr tRYp and whisper to the new employees how you should be “singin’ lead, man.”
D: Any advice you have for musicians who’d like to be signed by Sub Pop? How about for people who want to get a job here?
I: If you want to get a job here don’t try sleeping your way to the top. IT DOESNT WORK. You just get a few t-shirts and when they say you’re on the all access list, you’re not.
D: Do you have any ideas for new Sub Pop merchandise? I’ve been thinking Sub Pop shower curtains would be a good idea.
I: Sup Pop stem cell samples from bands!
D: Thanks, Ish! And welcome aboard this sinking (since 1988) ship!