Some people in this world are “Firsty-Lasties.” This is a term I first heard several years ago to describe someone who when referred to, always seems to be referred to by their first and last name. “Firsty-Lasties” tend to be people with a certain air of mystery and mythology surrounding them. The case of Said Anwar Cato King seems to be a rare anomaly: the only person I’ve ever met who could be described as a “Firsty-Double-Middle-Lasty.” His personality exceeds those somewhat inscrutable qulities that make a person a “Firsty-Lasty.” On top of that, Said is a true Portland character – artistically driven, multi-talented, friendly, and ubiquitous. In anticipation of his upcoming set opening for Pile and Lina Tullgren at SPACE, we sat down (virtually) to talk about the past, present, and future of Bright Boy.
I remember hanging out at a small party after a Jaw Gems set back in 2015 and you were playing loops off Garageband and singing/rapping along in the background while people were hanging out. Were we witnessing the early stages of Bright Boy?
You talking about Wesleyan? Yeah, around that time I was really just trying to experiment with producing my own work. With my resources I wasn’t able to find anyone doing the particular sound I was really trying to put on display. So yeah, that was the early days, that was fun. I think I had a G4 MacBook at the time that was really struggling to stay alive… Had some bangers on that one, too. RIP.
How has Bright Boy evolved since that night?
It’s difficult to say how exactly It’s evolved – I think the easiest thing to recall is that more recently I’ve gotten comfortable with expressing many different styles and genres. I’ve just generally improved my musicianship over the years and have gone through so many changes, so that might just come out in my overall sound.
Was Bright Boy always intended to be a project performed live?
Yes it was. I love singing, but even more than that, I love listening to beats and showing off what I’ve made and if nothing else comes of any given show, at least people get to listen. And again, I’ve always wanted to have my own sound and my own act.
When I think of you as a musician I tend to think of your vocal versatility. Specifically, how you found your way so easily into the fabric of Jaw Gems when you collaborated with them. How has it felt as a vocalist to shift towards performing with full control of composition and production?
Jaw Gems has a great sound and it was awesome to go to so many places with them for a time. I would always hit up Local 188 when they would play jazz night and hone my skills on the microphone, but it wasn’t a challenge for me to vibe with those dudes. I’ve been brought up on neo-soul, so it was right up my alley as a vocalist.
The most fun by far I’ve had has been with my homies Altered Gee. We still work together and I’ve always had lots more room to collaborate (in more ways than vocally). l’ve always made beats on the side so when I felt ready to hit my stridem I felt confident and excited to share what l’ve been working on. I love making beats a thousand percent more than I love singing.
How do you feel about the Portland music scene right now? What has changed in the past several years for better and worse?
I’m not really out and about in Portland these days. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to offer and there are some great acts, but I find that in general, the scene seems a lot more constricted and a lot more cliquey than when I was younger. Before I started playing anything, there seemed to be a lot more street musicians. I would play in drum circles and the vibe was like that movie Kids. People were interacting with each other more. Now people don’t seem to mingle as much and it gets very usual. But that’s just my reclusive perspective. I’ve found in recent years that Portland has very little to offer as far as what I’m looking for. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough and I could be speaking too soon.
Memory of a classic Portland show that you went to that changed your life?
I’m not sure what year it was, but I was definitely a teenager… SPACE would have lots of cool beatmakers doing their thing. Way back I remember walking by and hearing some awesome sounds pouring out of the front door that was cracked. Two sweaty dudes headbanging to some awesome, analog hip-hop sounds. Slouch (Roach Dad of Altered Gee) and Adam B would play semi-often, as I remember it, and seeing them do their thing on all the equipment was a real mind-bending experience. “How could I make my stuff sound like that?” I thought to myself and have, since then, never stopped listening to and making beats.
Jake Lichter is a composer and performer from Portland, Maine. This summer he is spending his time sitting on his parents’ back porch, playing in a duo with Sigrid Harmon (aka The Asthmatic), and sharing the role of music programming intern at SPACE Gallery with his new friend Enrique.