Mike Shinoda’s side project, Fort Minor

Okay, first off, how did you get into music?
I studied piano for about 10 years, then got into keyboard and hip hop production. After making beats and rapping for several years, I started Linkin Park with a couple of my friends, one of them being Brad Delson, our guitarist.
Some people simply referred to you as “the guy from Linkin Park.” Do you try to break away from this label? If so, how?
I can’t change that, so I won’t fight it. But I hope that through the music I put out, people realize that I can’t be defined by labels. Fort Minor is a wholly unique project, and is different from Linkin Park. All it takes is for a person to give the music a chance—listen to some songs—and he’ll understand.
Are you going to break away from Linkin Park?
I know it would be great press for me to say “yes” because of the scandal, but unfortunately the answer is no! In fact, I’m writing new music for the next album in the bus while I’m on tour with Fort Minor. The new Linkin Park album will be out this year.
Describe the music of Fort Minor.
I like to call the music “organic.” A lot of hip hop right now is based on rigid keyboard parts, so I wanted to base the album on hand-played instruments. Lyrically, I tried to tackle themes that were a little less common than most hip hop out there, as an alternative to the topics revolving around guns, money, girls, and drugs.
What can you do with Fort Minor that you can’t with Linkin Park?
Fort Minor is more of an individualized personal thing. A song like “Kenji” in Fort Minor’s first album The Rising Tied, which is about my family being interned during WWII in the US, would have been inappropriate on a Linkin Park album, because the rest of the
band can’t stand behind it—it didn’t happen to their families.
Why did you choose to work with different guest artists for Fort Minor’s first album?
I worked only with people I already knew on this album. I thought that since it’s such a personal album and the concept is so specific, working with people who don’t know me might mess it up. So, from Common and Black Thought and Jay-Z to Styles Of Beyond and Holly Brook, I chose to work with the friends that I thought the song called for.
What is most enjoyable about collaborating with different people?
Everyone’s studio approach is a little different. The variety is great. Plus it’s good experience for me as a producer.
What can we look forward to in your coming concert? Any special guests?
There are 11 people on stage. It’s me, Ryu, Tak, and Cheapshot from Styles Of Beyond, a drummer, three string players, and three backup vocalists. It’s a big group, because I thought that’s the only way to bring the music to life on stage.
Who are in your CD or mp3 player right now?
U2, Apathy, old LL Cool J, Pat Benatar, Thrice, Styles Of Beyond, and System of A Down, among others.
What do you think of the hip hop and rock music industry now?
I am a big fan of both, and I buy CDs all the time. It’s really one of the best ways to truly understand a group—owning the CD, with the artwork and everything. I think a lot of good music is out there, and it’s up to us to find it.
Any words of wisdom for individuals who hope to make it in the music scene?
Treat your fans with respect, and never underestimate them.
Complete this sentence: Fame is my greatest enemy because…
I value my personal privacy, and sometimes it endangers that.