Q&A: Das Racist's Dapwell On Tibetan Independence And Playing Carnegie Hall

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Every day this month, Sound of the City has been publishing pieces about Philip Glass turning 75 years old, in conjunction with the Voice's cover story on the composer. Naturally, of course, this has led to an interview with Dapwell (Ashok Kondabolu) of Das Racist, who's performing Monday night at the annual Tibet House benefit at Carnegie Hall. Glass has curated the lineup for the past 22 years, ever since he co-founded the non-profit. Also on the bill for Monday: Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, Rahzel, James Blake, and Dechen Shak-Dagsay.

The questions we asked Dapwell sometimes prompted answers as sparse and spare as Glass's early composition (alas, he had jetlag). Still, we thoroughly enjoyed our chat about Tibetan independence, smoking up in Carnegie Hall, and what he imagines Philip Glass probably thinks of "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell."

So, Tibet House. How did you wind up playing this benefit?

I have no idea. I think someone emailed us. I don't know how it was set up.

Do you have any thoughts on Tibetan independence?

Do I have thoughts about that? I mean, I read about it, but it was awhile ago. From what I know, Tibet was a pretty much a serfdom until the earlier of the last century. And then I read a long thing that the Chinese, the Chinese government came in and did what they often do in far-flung parts of the republic, which is they moved in Han Chinese, which is the ethnic majority. And they made the region more like mainstream China.

I'm not an expert on it. There's more nuance. But Tibetan independence is probably a good thing.

Philip Glass curated this event. Did you meet him?

No, but I think we're setting up a Twitter interview with him beforehand. [Note: as far we know, Glass himself doesn't tweet. Maybe @dasracist will interview @fakephilipglass?]

I wonder what he'd make of "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell."

Probably not much.

Do you have any thoughts on his music?

Am I familiar with it? Not really. I've heard bits and pieces here and there, and I know he's lived here in New York for some time. But I'm not overly familiar with his music.


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