Celebuzz’d Shot: A ‘Bittersweet’ Encounter with Questlove and Black Thought of The Roots

On Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016, guests of the launch of Stella Artois’ “Le Savoir” multi-sensory dining experience, curated by Bompas & Parr, were transported through four seasons with aural guidance from The Roots.

The hip hop band, formed by Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, produced an original song called “Bittersweet” in collaboration with Stella Artois based on research by Professor Charles Spence of the Unversity of Oxford, who found that there is a connection between all five senses, in that when one is stimulated, another is triggered on the remaining four senses. These findings on “crossmodal correspondences” inspired the band to arrange two versions of “Bittersweet” to complement the varying tasting notes in Stella Artois: “Side B” enhances the sweet, fruity notes while “Side A” corresponds with the bitter.

We sat down with Questlove and Black Thought for a shot-sized version of our podcast, Celebuzz’d, to discuss how “Bittersweet” came about. Questlove, whose book something to food about explores creativity in the culinary mind, says that this science-based artistic collaboration is the kind of project that the band has wanted to work on since their eighth studio album, Rising Down, which was originally titled Synesthesia based on the neurological phenomenon where the stimulation of one sense leads to involuntary sensory experience of another.

“The way that we create music, just as far as our vocabulary is concerned, we always use terms of smell and taste and color when describing music,” says Questlove of his own creative process. “I see stuff as dark blue or light blue or yellow or orange, like I can see it visually. Sometimes I get frustrated when people can’t see it. Like, ‘You can’t see this is orange??'”

Trotter, also a food enthusiast, says that food and music are “one in the same” when it comes to bringing people together.

“I feel like visual art, the culinary arts, the theatrical arts — the medium changes, the tools that you use to tell whatever the story changes, but you’re still all telling stories,” says Trotter. “It’s storytelling in order to bring about a specific emotion in the beholder, so to speak. That’s what we do. It’s about creating memorable experiences, whether you’re doing it with music or an eight-course meal.”

Listen to our full interview with Questlove and Trotter about “French Fry Lasagna,” Philly cheesesteaks, and more in the Soundcloud player below. If you’re interested in purchasing tickets to the Le Savoir event in Buenos Aires, head over to the Stella Artois website to view the schedule.

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