John Kenneth Dunkin better known as Pigeon John is a gifted lyricist based in Los Angeles, California who brings a sound described as a mesh of pop and hip-hop. His career has spanned 13 years with 5 studio albums, with “Encino Man” his 6th album hitting streets April 29th. Currently on a US tour Pigeon John played the Highline Ballroom in New York, New York where I sat down with him for a few questions.
The Pace Press: What were your inspirations?
Pigeon John: Whatever my mother played on the piano she used to play “Eleanor Rigby” a lot and it really stuck with me as child. My early years were filled with soul bands thanks to my mother she loved Miles Davis and Stevie Wonder. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I heard about KDAY radio station in LA that introduced me to hip hop. I didn’t know what it was but it made people comfortable and uncomfortable but I was comfortable listening to it and just wanted to do something like that.
TPP: How did you get into to hip hop?
PJ: I got into it with my friends early on just rapping but it was nothing serious until I got involved with the High Life Café which I am so thankful for as it got me out of my group of friends and gave me an audience. It was basically a co-op with such a diverse crowd of all ages. I kept going back every week to the cafe which did not allow cussing. That was the number one rule that we couldn’t cuss and it made us adapt to that. It was intimidating but a very welcoming crowd, which felt like it was family and was such a comfortable environment. If you said any swear you had to get off the stage this forced us to get better.
TPP: How was the atmosphere of the café among performers?
PJ: No competition between players during the co-op age. We were inspired from each other. Freestyle fellowship opened doors. Will I am back in the day with up and coming artists with a four year period of great artists before I started making my own music and recording.
TPP: Where is the new place for up and coming underground hip-hop like the cafe
PJ: This place Bananas is the spot for low end underground music. I actually checked in there as the old timer just to see what kids were talking about and to see the stuff they were performing, and these kids are so talented that it just left me blown away.
TPP: You’ve had your music called a mesh between hip-hop and pop how do you feel about that title?
PJ: I don’t care what people call it. The first time it was called pop was when I was in France. They thought of me as a singer but in my mind it’s always been hip hop.
TPP: What’s next for Pigeon John?
PJ: I think of “Encino Man” as a second step to “Dragon Slayer.” I love collaborating and hope to do more in the future. With my own stuff I want to take hip hop into a forest without the electronics just to see what happens. When I hear certain types of music I always wonder what it would sound like with straight mc over it. I’m writing the same way now but I’m excited to look for a new producer for this following record, I love my current producer but I want to hand it over to someone new and see what we can do differently.
TPP: How has the tour been?
PJ: We went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because we’re still nerds and it was cool to see kids still thinking about that kind of stuff. Idolizing rock stars and musicians and then growing up making new music. It inspired us when we went and brought back that that cares sort of mindset that liberated us to just have fun with music, be as weird as possible and see what it sounds like.