Sleep of Oldominion
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Sleep of Oldominion

Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | INDIE

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2000
Solo Hip Hop Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Q&A with Sleep"

Rare is it in the braggadocios world of rap that someone calls themselves a “failure”. Hip-Hop has customarily been about posturing and eschewing vulnerability. Pacific Northwest rapper Sleep will attempt to end that trend with his new album, Oregon Failure.

The title gives a glimpse into the ups and downs of the Oregon emcee. In stores on April 15, the album is produced entirely by Denver based producer Maulskull and features appearances by Pigeon John, Onry Ozzborn, Ceschi, Nyqwil, and X-Perience.

Sleep is currently on the road on the Oregon Failure tour with XP of Oldomion. The tour has remaining dates in cities throughout Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. spoke to Sleep about his current tour, overcoming adversity, and his new album, Oregon Failure.

SS: Why’d you title the new album Oregon Failure?

Sleep: [Laughs] That question has been coming up. I named the album Oregon Failure one because I like the play on words, two because I had taken a lot of lumps. I had just got home from the Warped tour, my personal life was in shambles because I was scrambling to get my finances together – I just ran into some hard times. I was feeling very much like a failure. I felt like giving up on music. My DJ brought his studio to my house to inspire me. Maulskull started sending me beats and I wrote myself out of a funk. I was feeling depressed and halfway through the album I started realizing that the only thing that keeps me together is music and making music. I started realizing that in order to succeed you have to fail and at least I’m taking the chances to fail. I started realizing how scared of the word “failure” that emcees are. I want to embrace it and learn from my mistakes. The record is actually about succeeding. I’m calling myself the Oregon Failure.

SS: How’d you hook up with Maulskull?

Sleep: I met Maulskull a long time ago. I met him when I first started touring a long time ago in Montana. He was living out in the mountains and making music. We always clicked – he was always my boy. A couple of years ago he hit me up to be a part of his project, Death By Thr33s. He would do three songs with different artists. He gave away over 50 songs. It was collabs he did with hella people. We clicked really well and I said, “We should work on a full-length project together,” and it just went from there.

SS: How was doing this album different from doing an album with Josh Martinez?

Sleep: First of all it’s always different when you’re collabing with somebody else. An album with me and Josh consists of a series of compromises until we’ve compromised as much as we can and that’s what we call our album. We have very different approaches to songwriting and music so when we work together we have to find a happy middle ground. With this record it’s all my own direction. It’s where I want to take it so if I want to get moody, hard, or emo it’s all on me. There is no compromise. There isn’t someone there to keep me grounded. If I wanna go too far with something I can. I felt like I was really grounded with this record but you have more freedom to do whatever you want. It’s a harder album too. It’s geared toward Hip-Hop heads. If you like my Christopher record this record is geared toward that. It’s positive and mostly upbeat, it has some dark songs but I tried to keep it upbeat on this one as much as possible.

SS: Is that hard for you?

Sleep: Yeah, I tend to like the dark stuff. I gravitate toward harder edged, dark music – I love it. With Oldominion I’ve worked so long with that. Our sound is signature, Northwest dark.

SS: Tell me about the single ‘Sinking Ship’.

Sleep: ‘Sinking Ship’, I wanted to highlight wordplay and cadence. I wanted to spit hard on it and give people a harder edged song that still feels good. It’s mostly just trying to assess my fails again and not letting myself be held down by other failures. It’s me overcoming the holes that I’ve dug for myself.

SS: On the song ‘Tumbleweed’ you speak about your children. How has being a father shaped your music and your career?

Sleep: It’s shaped me as a person. I’ve been a dad for a long time now. My daughter was born when I was 19 -- I’m much older now. You have to grow up when you’re responsible for the wellbeing of other people. You have to make decisions not necessarily based on yourself. I can’t jump on every tour. I have to be more calculated with my time and energy. I spend all my time doing business, touring, and writing songs. I have to balance that exact amount of energy into my family, being a dad, and providing a good life for my kids. When I’m writing a song it weighs into it. There are certain things I want to say every now and then that I just won’t say because I don’t want to have to explain that to parents at my kid’s school when they Google me [laughs]. It definitely shapes what I’m doing and how I approach my music. It’s made me grow up a lot as a human being. Before I was just a punk kid who didn’t know what I was going to do and didn’t really care. I only cared about myself and it gave me something else to care about when I had my daughter. Now with my son it’s that times four.

SS: What’s your opinion on the resurgence of West Coast Hip-Hop?

Sleep: Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

SS: In the early 90s the West Coast dominated Hip-Hop and it all went south, literally. Now you have your Kendrick’s and Macklemore’s. The top new rappers are from the West Coast now.

Sleep: I guess I never really thought about it like that – that’s exciting [laughs]. It’s really exciting to see Macklemore shoot to the top. He is a signature Northwest artist. He’s been a staple here for so long. We’ve played shows together for years. He rolls with kids from my crew – he’s a good guy. It’s really awesome to see somebody from the Pacific Northwest with a lot of shine, ‘cause we don’t get a lot of sunshine over here as everybody knows already. Especially in the public eye, there are not a lot of artists from here that make it to the caliber so it’s great to see somebody reach those levels. I hope it’s a trend and I’ll be the next up there with the heavyweights.

SS: What do you have in-store for fans on the Oregon Failure tour?

Sleep: I got lots in-store. I quit smoking cigarettes for two years and my voice has changed – so have my abilities. I’ve got my lungs back so I think you’re going to see a cleaner, crisper me. I think on this record I chose to show off a little more than I have in the past and it translates really well live. I think they’re going to get some hard spitting and lots of cool harmonies. Basically I’m trying to reinvent myself so hopefully they’ll see a brand new me.

SS: What do you mean by reinvent yourself?

Sleep: I feel like I’ve been holding back for a lot of years. I feel like I’ve kind of curbed my approach sometimes because it’s hard to digest. If I spit to what pushes me there’s only a very small amount of people that would even understand what I’m trying to do. I always felt like in the past that the stuff that everyone liked was the stuff that I didn’t try as hard on. Then I got to a point where that got in my head and I felt like I hadn’t really been trying at all – from the beginning. Now I am approaching this record from a place where I wanna show off. I wanna highlight my abilities and show people exactly what I can do. I feel like I’ve pushed the envelope on myself a little bit and continuing to do that. Oregon Failure was like cracking the shell on this new approach. Like I said, I have a brand new different voice. I had to re-learn how to use my voice when it came back. It got deeper so a lot of the high pitched stuff that I used to do I can’t hit that register anymore, but I can hit a lower register. I’ve learned to let my voice do some of the work and take it easy but still have the same rapid fire approach to my lyrics, it just comes off in a calmer version. So when you’re listening to it recorded it sounds a lot easier than it is to do and maybe when you try to repeat it you’ll realize that it’s a lot trickier than it sounds. When you perform that live it translates different and you can hear a lot of the syllables and wordplay and it comes at you in a rapid way. It gives you a cool dynamic. The recorded version sounds like an easy listening version of the live show.

In the process when I say reinvented myself I’m becoming a whole new different human being. It comes back to fatherhood, man taking lots of lumps the past couple years. I’ve had some pretty big falls, man. On the Warped tour my camp lost thousands and thousands of dollars on that tour due to other peoples lack of commitment. I’m not going to call people out or nothing but we had someone come into our camp who robbed us of thousands of dollars being a con artist. I have this clothing company and we were relocating to Oakland. We rented a U-Haul, parked outside of the house for a couple of minutes while we ran in and the U-Haul got stolen along with my whole entire company. The insurance wasn’t working out because we were covered for damaged good but not stolen goods. I had a series of losses that have been big for me. They’ve changed me as a human being.

SS: For the better or the worse?

Sleep: I think for the better. I’m a fighter. I don’t take lumps, curl up in a ball, and let ‘em kick me. I fight back. I try to better myself and whenever I get knocked that low I have this fighting instinct in me that wants to thrive. It really inspired me and opened up the flood gates for music. I have never been this musically creative in my life or inspired to make music. In the last year I’ve made 140 songs. I have this Oregon Failure project finished, I have another one in the can that I’m going to give away for free, I self-produced a 7-song EP, I did 23 songs for Chicharones album, I recorded another album with Smoke of Oldomion that’s 95% finished now and I’m not showing any signs of slowing up. The well is full and it’s inspired me at a whole new level.

Even my approach to making songs has been different. I noticed that I started having a tough time writing, maybe from typing on the computer all the time or getting old, I have no idea. My hands started going numb when I started writing. I created a different way of recording for myself where I started making it up off the top of the head. In the last year I’ve kind of honed that craft and I don’t even know what I’m going to talk about when I go into the studio and record now. I just know that I have a feeling inside of me and I want to get it out. By the time I’m done recording I have a finished song. Because of this new method I’ve been able to really play with my style and cadences and take a different approach with it. Also be hyper-productive on how many songs I’m able to crank out now. This Oregon Failure record I freestyled 90% of it, maybe 85% on the lighter side -- but most of it I freestyled as well as the new projects I’ve been doing. It’s just kind of the way I’ve been recording and creating music lately. I feel like it’s a real honest raw version of myself -- not so much filter.

SS: Why should fans buy Oregon Failure?

Sleep: As opposed to downloading for free? [Laughs] This is something I’ve been doing for my whole life. If you are a fan of my music you can help support me and help me to continue to make music. It cost money to make music. It cost money to go in the studio, mix it, master it, press it, even to go on tour. I have to support my family and at some point there has to be a give back. If I can’t see a return on it I have to rethink what I’m doing because I have to take care of my family. My fans can know that every time they spend money on a Sleep product, whether it be a CD, a shirt, or hat, that money goes to a good place. It helps me take care of my family and anybody that knows me personally knows that I’m a giving person. Any given time of the year I have somebody living in my basement that’s a youngster making an album and trying to do something new. It really pays it forward, man. I try to be a community person and when I receive help it goes a long way because I help a lot of people out as well, you know? -

"Crosscheck: Sage Francis & Sleep"

SLEEP: List for me the things that every grown man should own.

SAGE: Uhhhhh. Not sure I’m qualified to make a list like that. But in a very literal sense, a grown man should own devices that allow him to cook meals. A place to shower. Really, when I think about a list like this, I often think of things I don’t have. Like…I should have a bed. But if I include it on this list it makes it seem like I’m telling people if they don’t have beds then they aren’t grown up. I do have a car though. You don’t need a car, but a vehicle helps you do a lot of grown up stuff.
How about you? Are there things you don’t have but you think you should?

SLEEP: Yes, I think I should have a beard or at least sideburns! All I have is chin stubble and these boyishly good looks lol! Speaking of looks, I often get compared to Jonah Hill and Joe Pesci.
Are there any celebrities that people say you look like?

SAGE: I’ve never really understood the Jonah Hill comparison (I notice that comment from fans a lot), but I can see that more than Joe Pesci. I apparently look like any large bald person with a beard who has ever existed. Like when Zack Galifianakis shaved his head for Hangover 2.
Whenever I see you, you’re always laughing. I like that. Do you have any favorite comedians?

SLEEP: I’m a huge fan of laughing and love comedy. I still think that Delirious and Raw are the single best stand up performances of all time! Eddie Murphy was brilliant in them! A few years ago at SXSW, I didn’t go to a single musical performance. I just went to comedy shows with DJ Zone. I got to check out Aziz Ansari, Todd Berry, Eugene Merman, and Reggie Watts. It was awesome!
This year at SXSW, I watched you perform songs from your new album and I must say the new material blew me away! It was really powerful stuff! I walked away feeling like this is a very personal album to you. Am I right? Does this record sit a little closer to the heart strings than the others?

SAGE: Well, hmmm. I guess you caught me at the tail-end of an incredibly stressful period. With all the stuff going on in my life and with the album and then, bam, all of a sudden I’m at SXSW bringing it all on stage. I’m glad to hear that you liked it, but I felt lost in the whole mess. It just wasn’t the right time or environment for me to unveil all this shit that’s been coiled up inside of me. Haha. It was important for me to have that experience though because it gave me an idea of what I need to fix before the upcoming tour. The material is vulnerable in a lot of ways, but my goal was to commit to certain moods while letting my writing and delivery accentuate the whole feel. I do leave a lot on the table this time around, and people can walk away with whatever they want to take. It’s the first studio album that I’m debuting on my own label so it’s a huge deal for me. It’s all I’ve been able to think about. Your album is very upbeat and bouncy as hell, which is quite the contrast. It’s YOU. You know? Haha. It properly captures your overall vibe. It’s got those super positive moments but it also shows the struggle. It often seems like your trying to overcome parts of yourself that you think have been holding you back. And that’s a fight everyone can relate to. What do you think makes it different this time around than how it was with “Hesitation Wounds?”

SLEEP: It goes back to that laughing thing again. I was the oldest out of my brother and sister. We grew up not having much. Mom was a single mom and worked a lot just to make ends meet. I was a latch key kid and had to be the man of the house at an early age. I used to make jokes and songs about our situation to make my brother and sister laugh. It was all I knew how to do when they would get sad. It stuck with me and to this day, I’m able to smile and stay positive through the hard times. I just wanted to be my myself on this one, not what I think my fans want me to be. To be honest, there was a lot of self-imposed pressure when making “Hesitation Wounds” because I wanted to deliver to you a great album! I made “Oregon Failure” for the same reasons I made “Christopher.” j?Just because I love to do it and I had the itch! Maulskull’s production also made for an up beat album. It really set the mood right!
What is the meaning behind “Copper Gone?” Is there one song you can single out that best captures the overall theme?

SAGE: “Copper Gone” has a few different meanings, but you can find
those words spray painted on abandoned buildings around where I live.
What do you think your fans want you to be?

SLEEP: I believe they want me to just do me! It took me a long time to understand that.

SAGE: But you said you wanted to just be you and not what you thought your fans wanted you to be. Was that something you changed your mind about, in regard to your fans?

SLEEP: Yeah, man. I used to get in my head about what I wanted to do and what my fans seemed to like. It seemed like the songs I didn’t like as much were the ones everyone liked. I would hear that I rapped too fast by some fans and that I didn’t do enough double time songs from other fans. It left me confused on what my fans actually wanted out of me. I had to step out of that mindset and make music for the same reasons I did when I started in the first place: for fun; because I love it; because that’s when I feel the most like myself! I wasn’t thinking about being graded or how I fit into this or that box when I
made this album I just did me. I think the end result will make my fans happy….(insecurity sets in)…. I hope.. Lol

SAGE: You’re double timing like crazy on this album. It reminded me a bit of how I used to write lyrics in the early 90′s. I was on a major double timing kick and before long, I found it difficult to write anything that wasn’t in double time. Because it would make me feel like I was going too slow.
Do you find yourself ever thinking that when you do songs without double time now? As if you’re going in slow motion? The whole Chip Fu and Tung Twista thing. I couldn’t get enough of it.

SLEEP: Sometimes performing them feels like slow motion but I really dig slowing it down and focusing on tones and inflections rather than patterns and rhythms. I was lucky enough to join you for the west coast leg of the Know More tour. I remember how fast your double time was and how well you were able to perform it live! It is hella fun to do! I went through the same kick with only wanting to rap double time, but like you, I know that there is much more to being a well-rounded emcee than only spitting double time songs! I always try to find the pocket of each beat and approach it accordingly.
It’s been great interviewing you Sage! Can you please tell everyone the name of your album, when it drops and any thoughts you would like to add.

SAGE: Before you leave me, I wanted to pass along some career advice if you really intend on blowing up. “Mexican Kid Raps Fast” YouTube video…think about it. THINK ABOUT IT. Really play up the stereotype too. There’s lots to go on there. Until then, I’ll be looking forward to my official copy of Oregon Failure. My album is called “Copper Gone” and it drops June 3rd. Kisses, hugs, switchblade to your nuts.

SLEEP: Ha ha ha!!!’ That is way too funny que vato!!!!!! - URB

"Portland hip-hop alive, kicking"

Sleep (of Oldominion) took the stage next with DJ Zone and delivered an electric performance, showcasing his dizzying ability to change speeds over bass-heavy production. Zone -- also a member of the Chicharones -- was with him every step of the way, switching, dropping and scratching in a way that almost felt improvised. I thought Sleep nearly stole the show. - The Oregonian


  • Riot by Candlelight (2002)
  • Christopher (2005) 
  • Hesitation Wounds (2009)
  • Oregon Failure (2014) (with Maulskull)

The Chicharones (Sleep with Josh Martinez)

  • When Pigs Fly (2005)
  • Swine Flew (2012)

Oldominion (Sleep with JFKOnry Ozzborn, et al.)

  • One (2000)
  • Book of Fury (2000)
  • Make Happy (2008)

Collaboration albums

  • Seven Days (2001) (with Onry Ozzborn & Smoke, as Aurora)
  • Combination Locked (2007) (with Zelly Rock)


  • Oldominion Volume 1 (2001) (with Oldominion)
  • Oldominion Volume 2 (2001) (with Oldominion)
  • Oldominion Volume 3 (2002) (with Oldominion)
  • Boss Hogs EP (2003) (with Josh Martinez, as The Chicharones)
  • Chistopher Promo EP (2005)
  • Pork Rind Disco EP (2005) (with Josh Martinez, as The Chicharones)
  • Swine Country (2009) (with Josh Martinez, as The Chicharones)
  • While You Were Sl33ping (2012) (with Maulskull)


  • Por Que? (Pork Eh?) (2012) (with Josh Martinez, as The Chicharones)


  • Negative One and a Half (2004) (with Oldominion)
  • Toke City Special (2010) (with Josh Martinez, as The Chicharones)


  • On and Cracklin' (2006) (with Josh Martinez, as The Chicharones)
  • Live in Bozeman, MT (2009) (with Josh Martinez, as The Chicharones)


  • "Man in a Box / Cats Like Y'All" (2002)
  • "Say Goodbye / The Heat" (2005)
  • "Testimony" (2005)
  • "Sinking Ship" (2014)



No amount of imagecrafting can mask phony sincerity. Christopher Tafoya, a founding member of the Pac Northwest ground breaking hip hop crew Oldominion, known to his listeners as Sleep, is rare in that sense. A rapper, singer and songwriter whose entire dynamic seems to exist at the unlikely intersection of sincere humility and pop magnetism. A new millennium Springsteen chopping double-time over trap hi-hats, master of poly-rhythmic turnarounds, building up cadence the way Diplo builds toward the drop.
Sleep's potent pop sensibility and flawless rap mechanics are evidenced most recently on "Hi, Hey, Hello", a 5 million times viewed youtube advert for Samsung. Assuming you haven't already been following Sleep, "Hi, Hey, Hello" is an inviting trailhead. Notable tracks in his far-reaching, and consummate catalog include the songs "Guys Like Me" (from the Steve Buscemi film 'Interview') and "Little by Little" (which was featured on the NBA2k11 Soundtrack. )
Since about the time Kanye interrupted Taylor at the VMAs, Sleep has been regularly invited to play SXSW, Warped Tour and open main stages for perennial festival short-listers like Erykah Badu, Busta Rhymes, Snoop Dogg and Fiddy. Legends like Rakim to rising stars like Macklemore can testify to the bewitching rap spectacle that is having Sleep on the bill. Presently Sleep can be found applying a hard-hat and lunch pail ethic to his projects, clocking in and out of the booth for four hour stretches with no breaks, never once setting a pen to paper.
A growing catalog of big songs, a captivating live show and an unassuming, sneaky pop appeal, all supported by one big absurd element: a realness that is real, never efforted. That little accessory, like a pair of black Chuck Taylors, goes good with just about anything.

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