An Interview with Seattle Hip Hop Artist Cody Foster (Sadistik), on Films

“If I was an actor, I would only ever play villains.”  – Cody Foster

Interview by Anna-Lynne Williams

Cody Foster Sadistik

Cody Foster (rap artist Sadistik) appeared at one of my concerts in Seattle about two years ago and gave me a copy of his debut album, The Balancing Act. He was young and his hair was shaved down and it was hip-hop and I set it aside, assuming I wouldn’t be into it. Months later he emailed me again about collaborating with each other and, as I should have done the first time, I listened to the album and instantly loved it, watched some of his videos on YouTube and realized he wasn’t just a local musician putting out his own records, that he was doing something new and had a hardcore fan base who got it, that he was incredibly comfortable with words and in front of the camera. After meeting up a few times to work out some songs we could do together, our conversations became 8-hour marathons about love, death, and films. I recently invited him over to watch American Psycho (one of both of our favorites) and drink smoothies, with an old tape recorder I got for free at a garage sale. I paused the movie intermittently for us to chat, and in the midst of a discussion about Lars von Trier’s recent film Antichrist I realized I should press record. I’ve tried to transcribe all that was comprehensible on the ancient cassette tape.

I also recorded a more music-focused interview with Cody after we’d finished American Psycho. You can read that interview, with discussion about his upcoming tour and albums, here.

ANTICHRIST, IRREVERSIBLE, DANCER IN THE DARK

Anna-Lynne Williams – I’m going to tape our film conversation… OK.

Cody Foster – Watching Antichrist was exciting because it was like the most pompous pretentious director making a shout-out to a ’70s exploitation flick.

AW – Like what kind of movie?

CF – Exploitation.

AW – Yeah like what movies? ‘Cause I can’t think of anything else I’ve ever seen that was like that.

CD – Exploitation would be like Cannibal Holocaust or Thriller: A Cruel Picture. All those weird drive-in movies.

AW – Yeah I thought it was… well the end of the movie was horrible. It was like a test of will.

CF – And the acorns falling in slow motion…

AW – There were some really beautiful shots.

CF – Yeah they had all these pretty things, and then they cut a vagina with scissors.

AW – There’s supposed to be a bunch of symbolism and stuff throughout the movie too, just visual shots. If you slow it down there are hidden reflections and stuff like that.

CF – Yeah I’ve got to see it again. I bought it, actually.

AW – I don’t know if I could… sort of like Irreversible. The sort of movie that I loved, but I didn’t like loving it and it makes you feel kind of ill. I watched it with somebody who actually got sick, he got a fever immediately after seeing the movie.

CF – The first 20 minutes are supposed to make you nauseous with the camera work… Did you seen his new one? Gaspar Noe’s new one?

AW – What’s the new one?

CF – Enter the Void.

AW – I ordered it from the library. ‘Cause I think I saw you mention it.

CF – Yeah. It’s crazy.

AW – Is it as difficult to watch as Irreversible?

CF – No. It’s his tamest one, which isn’t saying a whole lot. But it’s exhausting to watch. It’s pretty slow in parts. The first 35 minutes are completely nihilistic. It’s nuts.

AW – Irreversible feels horrible watching the movie but then maybe because of it being in reverse the end of the movie feels really celebratory and beautiful. And, what is it again, Beethoven? It’s “Ode to Joy” at the end?

CF – I think so… that makes it even worse though. It’s just one more kick while you’re down, showing how happy they were. That being said, I haven’t seen it that many times…

AW – Right. I saw it twice, I guess, yeah.

CF – Yeah I saw it two or three times. But it’s not something I’m like, “Oh, I’m gonna watch a movie, I’m gonna watch Irreversible.”

AW – Yeah, if I’m going to watch something that’s really difficult I want it to be such a good piece of art… like Dancer in the Dark was another one where I kind of sat around with it for awhile and decided that it was time to watch it, a few years after it had come out. I loved the movie, at the same time it was horrible. I saw it by myself and after I finished watching it I curled up in a ball for awhile and I cried. I probably haven’t done that after any other movie. Ever since that experience I have to make sure that it’s really going to be great, enough people really liked it, there’s someone involved in it, like the music or the writer or somebody that’s going to make it worthwhile. So then watching Antichrist and kind of just wanting something a little bit dark, a little bit sexy, and you end up watching people cut each other’s bodies apart.

CF – Yeah it’s definitely bleak. It’s really polarizing. Nobody kind of likes it.

AW – No. If it was a horror film and people were like smashing each other’s genitals I probably would’ve laughed. But because it was a couple, and you’re kind of trapped with them for a few hours… it becomes a lot more horrifying. And it maybe just seemed kind of unnecessary to show everything that they showed or have as many things in a row…

CF – That’s why I thought it was cool, though. That’s where the exploitation comes in. It’s super artsy. Like the acorns, and that crazy tree, and all that, they’re super pretty, and then…

AW – …baby suicide in slow motion.

CF – Yeah, yeah. Basically the whole movie is like that. But then there’s like zoom-ins on extreme gore… but I’m pretty biased, so…

AW – I mean I guess the woman-hating thing makes it harder to like it for me too. Just like we’re all evil, we’re all not to be trusted and we’re all crazy… And everybody says that about Lars von Trier movies in general, that everything’s very anti-woman, but I’ve never really felt it before until watching Antichrist. I mean, I guess primarily Manderlay was the most…

CF – I didn’t see that.

AW – The female character didn’t really have any strong point at all. She just goes into this community, kind of fucks everything up by accident, she’s trying to help them and ends up ruining their livelihood, leaving them all to deal with their own problems kind of thing…

CF – Yeah, bitterness coming in.

AW – He never has anything good to say about women.

VERTIGO, BLACK SWAN, OLDBOY

CF – My favorite woman hating moment (laughs) if I had to choose. Um…Vertigo. You’ve seen Vertigo, right?

AW – Yeah, but not for a long time.

CF – The very end, you remember?

AW – No.

CF – He just pushes her off the bell tower, and that’s the end of the movie.

AW – You just ruined it.

CF – You said you’ve seen it.

AW – (laughs) I have seen it, I have seen it. I didn’t remember that he did that. Had she done something bad to him? Did she like cheat on him or something? Why did he…

CF – She was deceitful.

AW – OK. And he was the one afraid of heights or she was the one afraid of heights?

CF – He was.

AW – He was.

CF – Yeah. You remember that detail, but not the end?

AW – Yeah.

CF – Well I guess that makes sense, ’cause of the title.

AW – I often forget the ends of movies.

CF – I actually do a lot too.

AW – Sometimes I’m like, do they die at the end, and I don’t remember, is usually my problem. I’ll remember little things, like I was saying I remembered the pizza that I ate on the day I watched Dune but I don’t remember Dune. I just remember the spice of life… which is a strange name for worms…

CF – I’ve never… I haven’t seen it.

AW – I don’t remember anything else about it. Just the spice of life, and pizza.

CF – That’s a weird memory.

AW – Mmhmm. Yeah often I’ll read a book and I’ll love it, I’ll recommend it to someone and then they’ll start talking to me as they’re reading it and it’s like a whole other story…

CF – I do that too, all the time.

AW – They’re like, yeah the part where she uh… cuts her hand off… or something. And it’s like… what?

CF – Especially ’cause I watch so many movies that are similar, like so many ’70s giallo and so many mystery movies. And it’s like I don’t even remember the characters anymore and then I watch it for the third time and it’s brand new again. I usually just remember what a scene looks like or what colors they used and stuff like that. More like the mood they put me in, more than the actual story.

AW – Yeah. Probably half of the time I don’t actually remember what the resolution was of the film. Whether the person did what they set out to do, if they died, if someone else died…

CF – The endings are usually the boring part anyway.

AW – Yeah I guess so. The last 15 minutes of the movie usually just feel like the obvious unraveling or they just go crazy, like they explode and everything kind of stops being clever or the pacing is too fast. But every now and then you’ll see a movie that has such a good ending that… and sometimes there are movies like American Psycho where the end is so open-ended that you can kind of walk away with whatever impression you want to.

CF – Yeah, I like open endings and I like it when it’s not predictable. Like I just watched a Jean-Luc Godard movie and the ending was completely bleak and out of nowhere. It was exciting just because I didn’t expect it.

AW – What movie did you see?

CF – Vivre sa Vie. It was awesome. You’ve seen Breathless?

AW – I’ve seen Breathless.

CF – So you know how it ends with the main character being killed and the woman betraying him and all that. It’s sort of the same thing. Which is kind of weird because this movie seemed to really celebrate women. But then they always ruin everything at the end.

AW – What was the genre of movie you were talking about, you said you had seen a lot of… what was the word?

CF – Giallo?

AW – Yeah, what does that mean?

CF – It’s Italian for yellow because it was based on old mystery books that had bright yellow covers. That’s where they got the name from and so.. they’d take mysteries, and they’d like overstylize them. And it’s usually beautiful Italian women and then they get killed in really artistic, over-the-top, brutal ways. And it’s like… I love it.

AW – Like Paris Hilton in House of Wax. (laughs)

CF – I did not see that. It’s safe to say I’ll never see that one. Yeah a guy named Mario Bava, he invented like the slasher movie. And he did westerns also, stuff like that… But so in his mysteries there’d be like a bright green light in one room, just the whole room’s green. And then they walk into the hall and it’d be just bright red, for no reason. Just everything looking cool.

AW – Sort of David Lynch-ish.

CF – Yeah, exactly. Yeah, Lynch, a lot of times I don’t remember the plot at all but I remember the lighting.

AW – What other movies have open endings that you like?

CF – Um… Black Swan.

AW – Oh yeah.

CF – Black Swan has a really good ending.

AW – I saw that for the second time in a theater. Yeah I was like crying this time. The first time I watched it by myself, on a laptop, really late. But yeah seeing Black Swan in the theater… it’s definitely the best movie I’ve seen in years.

CF – Yeah I loved it. Oldboy has a really good open ending.

AW – That movie was powerful.

CF – Yeah, it’s probably my second-favorite movie I’ve ever seen.

AW – Wow, ever. What’s your favorite movie?

CF – A Clockwork Orange.

AW – A Clockwork Orange.

CF – Yeah everything that Chan-wook Park makes is so pretty. Did you see Thirst?

AW – No. Is that the same director {as Oldboy}?

CF – Yeah, yeah. It came out two years ago and it’s like a vampire movie. It’s really good.

AW – I have to see that. It seems like it was the thing for awhile… when did American Psycho come out? 2000 maybe? It seems like there were a bunch of movies that had more of the non-ending ending. Maybe they did it, maybe they didn’t. Which was right after there were all the twisty endings, like Fight Club and Sixth Sense and all that stuff.

CF – Audiences hate open endings.

AW – Yep.

CF – It drives them crazy. I think they feel betrayed or like they invested so much time. But I think I would rather enjoy the ride than worry about when that ride’s gonna end.

Cody’s DVD collection

FIRE WALK WITH ME, MULHOLLAND DR., LOST HIGHWAY

AW – Mmhmm. Maybe with David Lynch it feels like it’s OK that at the end of one of his movies there’s an open end, because you feel like once you see his next movie it’ll be… it’ll somehow explain the previous movie in a way. And all of the shows and all of the films together create a sort of theory about life and… mankind. Or I liked to think that way when I was young. I always think that because I didn’t have religion growing up, certain writers and filmmakers seemed like they had some sort of secret to the universe that I was never going to get in church or anything. That these wise men were kind of giving us little clues, and David Lynch was one of those people. And… yeah I really felt that after watching Twin Peaks all the way through the second time, and Fire Walk With Me.

CF – I’ve never seen Twin Peaks.

AW – Oh my god.

CF – Isn’t that ridiculous? I’ve seen Fire Walk With Me.

AW – It’s cool to see Fire Walk With Me, then watch the whole show, then watch Fire Walk With Me again. And to me it was like – I was like a teenager too when I saw it I guess – so I was still in that place where you’re just trying to come up with your own ideas about what the world is and why you’re here and what you believe in. And that just kind of inspired this belief in the mystical, like there’s good and evil, and there are maybe angels and devils somehow, even if there’s not heaven and hell. Which I guess is a weird thing to say. But in David Lynch it’s like… everything is happening here on earth but there are all those big mystical things that you learn about from your parents or at church. But it’s just next door in a… warehouse or something instead. Or behind the alley.

CF – Drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon in a black car.

AW – Right. But yeah I always felt like if you watch enough David Lynch movies and you watch them carefully enough then you’ll figure it all out. But I still haven’t figured it all out. So I have to wait for his next movie.

CF – Yeah I can’t even figure out one of his movies.

AW – Yeah. But that’s why when I first started watching Mulholland Dr. I was so excited, because it was maybe 40 minutes in a row where I felt like I was getting everything he was trying to say. And then all of a sudden it was like {onomatopoeia}, ‘never mind.’

CF – Do you have a theory on Mulholland Dr.?

AW – I guess I know more stuff about Lost Highway than about Mulholland Dr. What are the Mulholland Dr. ones?

CF – I don’t know, I’ve seen Lost Highway more too.

AW – I like… somebody said that if you watch Lost Highway you should start with the Balthazar Getty part and then watch the Bill Pullman part. Like the actual movie starts with the end and then you get the beginning afterward and that’s why the movie begins and ends with the same dialogue with the guy talking into the –

CF – Oh yeah.

AW – It’s not like it makes the movie necessarily make any more sense. It just makes it make different sense, and it opens your mind to the other things it could mean. That it’s not like Bill Pullman in fantasy becomes Balthazar Getty but maybe Balthazar Getty becomes Bill Pullman. I don’t really know what that means. (laughs) I unintentionally went to one of the Twin Peaks festivals. ‘Cause I saw that Lost Highway was playing in a museum so I was like, “Oh, I’m going to go to that.” And this guy was talking about some of David Lynch’s intentions, supposedly. That Bill Pullman is on death row for the entire second half of the film, and it’s just what’s going on in his mind while he’s in jail. So he never escapes from the prison cell. And in the scene at the end where he’s driving away and the whole screen kind of lights up, his head is alight, they’re saying that’s when he gets electrocuted. Which I thought was really cool. Did I tell you that I gave him a cupcake?

CF – David Lynch?

AW – Mmhmm.

CF – Oh my god. When did you give him a cupcake?

AW – He came to Seattle 4 years ago maybe…

CF – To Scarecrow {Video}?

AW – Yeah, yeah. I went the day before to his talk at Town Hall.  It was great. I mean I wasn’t a Transcendental Meditation follower but just hearing his enthusiasm was really exciting. Just he believes in it so much and it’s been part of his life for a long time. And then the next day he was at Scarecrow. Yeah, so I waited in line and I got him to sign Mulholland Dr.

CF – My buddy got Eraserhead signed for me.

AW – Nice. And I brought him a lavender cupcake. And I gave him a copy of Having. I didn’t say it was mine even, I was just like, “You might like this music.”

QUINOA, BROWN RICE, BURRITOS

CF – He’s really into music. Did you listen to that Dark Night of the Soul? It’s Danger Mouse, the singer from Sparklehorse, and it’s produced by David Lynch.

AW – Oh yeah! I haven’t heard it.

CF – I have it in my car.

AW – Is it really cool?

CF – It’s OK. Especially for the talent involved… but David Lynch sings like two of the songs on it. It’s pretty weird… It’s weird how on Inland Empire there’s a special feature that’s just him teaching you how to cook quinoa.

AW – Yeah! Oh I went and saw a documentary about David Lynch and that was in it… and yeah he’s really into Bragg’s amino acid stuff and quinoa. It was this whole deal. (laughs)

CF – Yeah I was watching it and like ten minutes into it I was like, “Why am I watching this?”

AW – It’s funny when an artist is fixated on a certain product or food. There’s this comedic musician guy named Harvey Sid Fisher that started off as sort of a YouTube sensation. He writes these astrological songs. Did I tell you about him?

CF – Yes you did.

AW – He talks about brown rice all the time. ‘Cause he’s a macrobiotic so he can only eat certain things. Brown rice is like his whole thing. My friend Robert {Gomez} interviewed him. Robert always asks people what they would want their last meal to be. Anyone who came over to his house he would take a polaroid of you and on the back he would write your last supper. And uh…Harvey Sid Fisher said, “Brown rice, well chewed.” (laughs) What’s your last supper, what would it be?

CF – Can it be from anywhere?

AW – Yeah. Or it doesn’t have to be a specific one.

CF – There’s a burrito at this taco stand in Yakima. It’s like the greasiest, most disgusting, unhealthy thing in the world, right? It’s like this (gestures) big, and every time I go there I eat two of them til I get physically sick.

AW – What’s on it?

CF – It’s just – you’ll hate it – it’s just full of carne asada and cheese and…

AW – I like carne asada. If I was going to eat meat I would eat carne asada.

CF – Yeah. It’s the shit. There’s a little old lady in the back who I’d always try to talk to in broken Spanish, she’s cute. When I was in high school we used to go there. It’s just a little tiny place. And we’d all sit around the curb eating it. And I was late all the time. I think I got suspended or detention or something. But when one of us didn’t have money she’d be like ‘What do you want? We’ll give it to you.’ And they would just give us food.

AW – Are they still there?

CF – Yeah. They moved two doors down. It’s in a rough neighborhood. It’s so dingy.

AW – I used to drive an hour to get a carne asada burrito… ’cause I lived in the desert and there wasn’t really any good food. So sometimes we would just want to eat something good. And there was this one specific burrito place in San Bernardino, California. We would drive all the way out there and eat carne asada burritos.

CF – Yeah, that’s worth it.

AW – And they had the best hot sauce. I’m glad that I ate a lot of meat before I became a vegetarian.

CF – So you know what you’re missing out on?

AW – Well, I got my fill I think. I’ve tried it, I’ve had it, I enjoyed it.

CF – I would be a terrible vegetarian. ‘Cause it’s like a chore for me to eat vegetables. What would your last meal be?

AW – Hmm. I have a hard time thinking of my favorite food ’cause I kind of like all food. My favorite food used to be bangers & mash. English sausage, mashed potato, and peas. 

CF – Bangers & mash? I’ve never heard of that.

AW – Yeah, I can’t eat that anymore ’cause I’m a vegetarian. It’s like English pub food, you know, like sausages, so I can’t eat that. There’s no good vegetarian bangers. And then… oh, you know what, my last meal would probably be that breakfast at SeƱor Moose or something. Plantains, peas, eggs…

CF – That we went to?

AW – Yeah. Spicy salsa. With some avocado. Yeah. Eggs and avocado and hot sauce and cheese and all that stuff.

CF – My god, you’re killing me. That sounds really good. The last four days like 75% of my meals have been breakfast food.

AW – Yeah. I like breakfast. And nopalitos, have you had those? I’ve been making quesadillas with a little cactus in it…

CF – That sounds like something they’d eat in this movie (American Psycho). Arugula…

AW – Oh yeah, what was that? Charcoal arugula and mud soup or something…

Sadistik on Facebook: www.facebook.com/sadistik

Anna-Lynne Williams is Identity Theory’s music editor. She sings in the bands Trespassers William, Ormonde, and Lotte Kestner. She runs the record label Saint-Loup Records and lives in Seattle.

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