Interview by Tobias Carroll
Will Brooks is a busy man. He recently released his first solo work under the name iconAclass: the album For the Ones, along with the EP I Got It. (Think densely produced, perceptive, searing hip-hop.) You may also know him via dälek, or for his work with the independent label Deadverse Recordings. In this conversation, we discussed his process for writing lyrics, literary influences and processes, and his upcoming book, The Written Word: The iconAclass Manifesto.
Where did the idea to write the book come from?
Well initially, back in 2002, the drummer, William Hooker mentioned that I should make my lyrics into a book. I guess that kind of planted the seed. After working on the album art for my new project, the graphic artist [and Create and Destroy Press owner] Thomas Reitmayer approached me about doing a book of the iconAclass lyrics paired with some of his images. It kind of all fell into place.
How collaborative was the process of matching images to lyrics?
I let Thomas run with what he felt worked with the lyrics. He ran it by me but I tried not to get in the way of his artistic vision.
Has there been a difference in your approach to writing lyrics for iconAclass from how the lyrics to a dälek song would come together?
Honestly, there isn’t any difference in the approach, as far as writing goes. It’s where my head is at right now. As an emcee I approach each track by feel. I listen to it for a while and the concept and words kind of form for me, if that makes any sense. It’s a difficult process to explain.
You directed the video for iconAclass’s “Long Haul” — have you been doing any other work in other disciplines?
Nah, I don’t think there are enough hours in the day for me to do anything else. I recorded produced and mixed the iconAclass records while working on other deadverse MC’s albums, I run the deadverse recordings record label with my label manager JR Fritsch, I DJ on deadverseTV, I run a monthly deadverse night in Brooklyn at Don Pedros with DJ Motiv, I worked on the book with Thomas, filmed directed and edited the music videos, reheased for an upcoming tour, and did a few remixes for Zombi and The Black Heart Procession along the way! I think that is enough for now!
What have you been reading lately?
I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and I am currently reading Malcom X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable and Wizard: The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla by Marc Seifer.
What are some of the books that have stayed with you over the years?
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, The Alienist by Caleb Carr, Blindness by Jose Saramago, [and] On the Road by Jack Kerouac.