Friday, July 20, 2018

Detroit-based Producer & Beat-maker all these fingers (âtƒ) Returns with First "Real" Instrument-rooted Project UNITED VIZION As Gould '72



united vizion is the first release from the artist formerly known as all these fingers AKA âtƒ. Since 2008, the mysterious Detroit-based producer and beat-maker released 50 full-length projects, as well as various EP's, singles, etc. and worked with the likes of Bishop Nehru, Darko The Super, The Hell Hole Store, Hemlock Ernst, Infinity Frequencies, Jack Wilson, Mr. Muthaf**kin' eXquire, and Yzal The Praxis. Just this past March, all these fingers uploaded his 50TH and final release as âtƒ, 悪い受信. Along with 悪い受信's digital and cassette release, âtƒ shared an extremely heart-felt note to all of his fans and supporters, which you can read in-full at the bottom of this very post. Now, just a few mere months later, âtƒ has returned under a brand new recording alias, Gould '72, with the aforementioned united vizion. When compared against his past work as all these fingers/âtƒ, Gould '72 is far more instrument-based than Hip-Hop and beat-centric; united vizion was created and recorded suing only "electro harmonix, fender, casio, farfisa, crate, mxr, roland, rhodes, moog, yamaha, maxell, shure, gem & boss." united vizion is tagged on Gould '72's newly-minted Bandcamp page as 70's, 80's, rock, surf rock, children's music, dream-pop, easy listening, library music, new age, new wave, psychedelic, soft rock, soundtrack, synth, and video game music.


Gould '72 is, in fact, named after esteemed American actor Elliott Gould—yes, Ross & Monica Geller's dad from Friends—who has been acting since the late 50's and is best known for his roles in M*A*S*H, The Long Goodbye, California Split, Ocean's Eleven, Twelve & Thirteen, American History X, Ray Donovan, 9JKL, and much, much more. a few months ago, via email, Gould '72 described united vizion to The Witzard like this: "The loose direction of this project is [obviously] all original music played on "real" instruments. I guess, there's almost a New Age-type thing going on with these tracks, but overall, I just wanted to write nostalgic, evocative melodies." Speaking on united vizion's abundant musicality, Gould '72 stated, "I've been playing guitar more than anything, so I wanted to make some fun pieces built around that, too. Overall, I just wanted to get away from making beats, finding loops, rinse, Repeat, after doing it for so long and this is what came out of it." Let's just put it this way: if you liked âtƒ's more Hip-Hop beat-centric work, you may not dig Gould '72's united vizion and if you didn't really like Gould '72's past work as âtƒ, you'll probably love united vizion. We here at The Witzard, for one, are very much looking forward to hearing what else Gould '72 has been cooking up! united vizion is currently available to stream or purchase on Bandcamp and you can Follow Gould '72 (@gouldseventytwo) on Instagram.


"i released the first ATF album in 2008. this is the 50th release in 10 years. i didn't plan that, but it feels like the right place to stop. when i first got into this, the beat scene felt different, smaller; like, there were more places to go and endless crazy styles to absorb. it felt like i knew who all the people were (prob didn't obv.) but now, it's hard to feel like part of a community, when it's so huge. there's a lot of awesome guys still doin' it, but so much of what comes out just sounds the same to me. i'm in my 30's now—which might as well be 60's for anything hip-hop-adjacent—so, i may have no idea wtf is going on.

i'm always going to be making music. it's my favorite thing to do, but whatever comes next won't be ATF and won't be beats. i luv every real fan i have out there. the kindness and support u guys have shown me over the years is just f**king awesome. i can't say "i luv u" enough. shouts to all the homies too: [Darko The Super] for always being down 2 clown, Jack [Wilson] for being an ace-in-the-hole, Chris at Grappa for being the first to put me on, the Woozy crew, Christian & Jared at [Fuzzoscope] for being the best, and to all the other incredible producers and rappers i've worked with or admired. RIP ATF."

- Gould '72 (FKA âtƒ)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

3 Feet High & Rising: "Keeping Company" with Ferentz & The Felons' Frontman, Guitarist & Song-writer Zak Ferentz (The Witzard Interview)


"Today is the day that this gets released. There are so many people to thank for this and I hope you all know who you are, so "thank you" a million times. I sat in a room writing these songs on an acoustic guitar and every time I would finish a song, I would take my guitar and go see my mother. I would go into her apartment and play the song for her, letting her hear everything first. My mother loved every song, but all she asked for me to do was to always make sure that I kept the music real and pure with lyrics that people can relate to. "Put your pain out into the world, so others can heal, Zak." Those were her exact words. So, I just want to say that is what I will always do; I will always write music to help people feel less alone. I will always write music that will have a positive message for not only myself, but for every person that listens. To anyone suffering from anxiety, depression, family problems, mental illness, addiction, fear, or any other form of suffering: just know that you're human and you join 7 billion other people, who will suffer from one of the above, at some point in their life. We are all together and we are all Felons. Peace and love!" Ferentz & The Felons frontman Zak Ferentz wrote within a heart-warming Instagram post.

Just this past Friday, July 13, 2018, New Jersey-bred Folk Rockers Ferentz & The Felons unleashed their debut EP, Hudson County, which was premiered exclusively at Pop MATTERS. Zak Ferentz himself fittingly described Hudson County as something along the lines of "having Tom Petty & Neil Young write a record for Madball." Ferentz & The Felons' phenomenal 5-track debut, Hudson County EP is now available to stream or purchase from Apple Music, Google Play, Soundcloud, Spotify, and like-minded digital retailers, as well as directly from The Felons on the road. The Witzard was lucky enough to send a batch of questions to Ferentz & The Felons' frontman, guitarist, and primary song-writer Zak Ferentz; ch-check out our comprehensive interview below, which has been lightly edited for general clarity. Shout-out to Zak Ferentz for being so honest, open, and vulnerable and essentially, putting it all out on the table for the greater good of the music-loving world!


Sincerely,

Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Founder & Editor-In-Chief


I. How did you ultimately, decide on the group name "Ferentz & The Felons?" Who are your fellow Felons and what does each member contribute within the group setting?

I was going to go out as a solo artist, but I always wanted to have a solid band behind me and "Ferentz & The Felons" just sounded perfect, so it was an easy fit for the band and what I was going for musically and lyrically. As for The Felons, you have Matt Waz on drums, Robert Dudziak on bass, and Rich Catalano on lead guitar & backing vocals.

II. Now, I know you're a founding member of Metal/Hardcore band, War Story... but what were some of your greatest musical inspirations and influences while creating your Hudson County EP? I personally, sense elements of Johnny Cash, East Coast Punk/Hardcore, American tattoo culture, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and even fellow New Jersians The Gaslight Anthem throughout Hudson County!

You hit the nail on the head! I always loved a wide variety of music and all of the above are definitely influences for me. I come from an urban environment, so I always list that as an influence. There's something about being from a city that just separates you from the rest. But to better explain my influences with The Felons, it would be like having Tom Petty & Neil Young write a record for Madball haha.


III. What were The Felons' typical recording processes like while creating Hudson County? For example, how exactly was "Note to Self" created from beginning to end?

I wrote all of the songs on an acoustic guitar in my room and then, I showed them to the band and we put them together, as a whole. When we hit the studio, the songs were all about 90% complete and we took the time to put final touches on them, as we were recording.

IV. Ferentz & The Felons' debut EP, Hudson County, really seems like a deeply personal, multi-layered 5-track affair; would you mind briefly discussing the lyrical themes and real life experiences that helped shape each track, Zak?

I dug pretty deep with this first outing and, although, it seems personal, it is relatable to most people. I think of where everyone's problems start and it's usually at home with their family, so I made sure I spoke of my upbringing. I grew up in public housing with both parents battling heavy heroin addiction. Times got really tough and it took until only a few years ago to really get rid of a lot of my demons that were destroying me.

Last month, I lost my mother; she took her life with drugs and as much as I want to break down and let those demons back in, I have to think of how many people I can motivate and inspire to push forward by understanding and staying positive. There are so many people out there struggling with mental health, addiction, fear, etc. that I feel it's my duty, as a strong individual, to give back to this world with the most positive force and that's what this record is about. It's about putting my story out there, so others can feel less alone. It's about inspiring people to embrace their flaws and their demons, so that together, we can get over them.


V. If you could, hypothetically, pick just 5 "Desert Island" albums to from now until the end of eternity, which albums would you chose and why?

Tom Petty - "Wildflowers" (1994): This record should be the definition of American Rock "N" Roll. It has some of the best song-writing I've ever heard and it makes me think of the days I spent with my mother. Tom Petty will always go down as a family favorite for us.

Madball - Hold It Down (2000): Madball will always be one of my all-time favorites and to me, this record blends the old and the new. They define the DIY mentality and for that, I'll always love this band and record.

Neil Young - Harvest (1972): Lyrically and musically, genius. Neil is a man who stands behind his music, a man that lives his words, and Harvest defines his career. One of the best to ever do it!


Pantera - Vulgar Display of Power (1991): In my opinion, it's the greatest Heavy Metal album of all time. It has some of the best riffs, drums, bass lines, vocals, and lyrics ever written. This album helped mold me into the man I am today.

50 Cent - Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003): I was raised in the projects lol and when 50 hit the scene, this album blew us away. The hunger and pain in every word made me feel so much of this record. To me, this is easily, Top 5 Hip-Hop records of all-time, but for me it's #1.

VI. Now that your Hudson County EP has been effectively unleashed into the terribly unsuspecting world, what's next for Ferentz & The Felons?

We're out here pushing this release everyday. We have some really cool shows lined up and we just shot a video for a special song! I'm constantly writing and working with the band on new songs/ideas, but for now, we're going to just play this EP to as many ears as we can!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

SaIGO & 'i's Let Loose First Official Mugwampers EP 717 (Part I) & Joe Eaton-directed "The Word of God Is Recycled" [self-released EP 1/3]



Mugwampers are a Hip-Hop crew, collective, art-house, etc. hailing from Livingston, Scotland consisting of founding members, emcee SaIGO and producer 'i's. Over the course of the last few months, Mugwampers have unleashed a collection of "warm-up" projects, including 'i's failure.to.communicate and feature-filled .and then there was flowers and SaIGO's 'i's-produced spoken word project, ANOTHER TIME MAYBE . . Now, Mugwampers have returned with their first official long-form project, 717 (Part I.) A sprawling 5-track EP with sonic benchmarks and Bandcamp tags ranging from Electronic to Hip-Hop/Rap, Metal to Spoken Word, Abstract Hip-Hop to Ambient, Plunderphonics to Screamo. 717 EP1 is the first in a series of three planned EP's Mugwampers have recently recorded, which will each focus on various styles and sub-genres of Hip-Hop. Ahead of 717 (Part I) SaIGO & 'i's unleashed a music video for EP closer, "The Word of God Is Recycled" directed by Joe Eaton (@joeeverse) who, along with SaIGO, created the artwork for Mugwampers' debut EP. 'i's & SaIGO's 717(1) EP is currently available to stream or purchase from Mugwampers' Bandcamp page on a Name-Your-Price basis. I'll just say this: trust me, you're gonna wanna stay tuned because SaIGO, 'i's, and their ever-growing Mugwampers crew have a slew of releases and collaborative projects planned for the remained of 2018. Ch-check out The Witzard's EXCLUSIVE interview with both 'i's & SaIGO about all things Mugwampers, Scottish Hip-Hop, and, of course, "Denial-ridden Ambition."

Monday, July 16, 2018

Emerald Knights 2 Collaborators Mega Ran & Bag of Tricks Cat Team Up for Beat-maker Bedrock #19-20 (Respect The Underground/RandomBeats)


Bag of Tricks Cat AKA BOTC (@bagoftrickscat): "There aren't too many cats in Hip-Hop that have as many tricks in the bag as Felix. His grandma, Ann Bennett, sang the 1959 "Felix The Cat" theme song, so it was only appropriate to name himself after the iconic cartoon character. His music is relatable and honest and has gripped fans all over the world [...] Bag of Tricks Cat is currently working on his next project, The 9 Lives of Cat Daddy Kane."


I. Eminem - The Eminem Show (2002)

"This album came out when I was in 4th grade. I was an angry kid that got bullied at school, so songs like "Sing for The Moment" and "'Till I Collapse" got me through it. Definitely influenced me a lot."


II. The Roots - How I Got Over (2010)

"Not only was the band incredible, Black Thought's lyrics spoke to me on the project. When I was going to the gym a lot, "The Fire" [featuring John Legend] would play on my iPod and it felt like I had super-strength! I feel like it's [one of] the more slept-on albums in The Roots' discography."


III. JAY-Z - The Black Album (2003)

"I love this album because of how personal JAY got on it. It's also, one of those bodies of work that you can go back to years later and hear something new that you missed. "Moment of Clarity" still gives me chills."


IV. 2pac - Until The End of Time (2001)

"Even though it's not regarded as one of his best albums, it's the one that got me into his music in the first place. The emotion in Pac's delivery on "Ballad of a Dead Soulja" and "Lil' Homies" was so authentic. He made me want to be honest in the raps I was writing."


Mega Ran (@megaran): "Mega Ran's proven he can excel in story-telling, punchlines, poignancy, freestyling, and well, pretty much, any other way you can measure an MC," LA Weekly boasts. An incredible impromptu "freestyle" rapper, as well as prolific song-writer, the former teacher Ran's unique combination of fantasy and introspective Hip-Hop has found its way all over the world, into leading press outlets and most recently, into the Guinness Book of World Records. Now, that's Random."


I. Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

"In my opinion, simply the greatest Rap album ever. The beats, the rhymes, Chuck's delivery, Flavor Flav's humor. The message. It's the complete package. So hard, so [unapologetically] raw. I still listen to it once a year, at least, when I get into album mode."


II. Lupe Fiasco - Food & Liquor (2006)

"I still feel like the bootleg version of this was better, but Lupe wowed me with his simultaneously nerdy and cool swag over dope beats. I'd never heard anything like it, at the time. I remember him saying on his MySpace page back before this came out, for producers not to send him beats unless they were remotely close to the quality of Just Blaze's "Hovi Baby" track he did for JAY-Z... and that made me instantly close down an email of beats that I was about to send to him haha."


III. Nas - God's Son (2002)

"A lot of people choose Illmatic (1994) or even It Was Written (1996) from Nas and those are classics, no doubt, but there are a few songs on this record that get me going, when I'm in a tough spot... the James Brown sample and razor sharp story-telling on "Get Down," "Made You Look," and Nas trying new flows on the 6/8 timed "Heaven." God's Son is an essential Nas album."

Honorable Mentions:

MF DOOM & Madlib - MADVILLAINY (2004)
Daft Punk - Discovery (2001)
Gravediggaz - 6 Feet Deep (1994)
Blu & Exile - Below The Heavens (2007)
D'Angelo - Brown Sugar (1995)



Zilla Rocca feverishly rhymes: "Ayo, the bottom line is I'm a crook with a deal... nobody buys records, so we rob and steal. I caught B. Dolan, his pockets were swollen. I stuck Mega Ran for Nintendo controllers. I had Karma Kids takin' off their sh*t" on Career Crooks' 50 Cent-flipping "Crook with a Deal" from Thieving As Long As I'm Breathing. If nothing else, most people know Mega Ran FKA Random for one of two things: either his affinity for old school video games or his life-long affinity for wrestling. I personally, first "met" Mega Ran & K-Murdock AKA Bits & Rhymes during the roll-out for their 2010 collaborative album, FOREVER famicom and we've been working together on comprehensive write-ups and unique hands-on coverage, such as this, ever since. Bag of Tricks Cat AKA Felix Don Gato has been self-releasing music on his own imprint, Respect The Underground, since 2012.

Felix first encountered Mega Ran during the summer of 2015 and before long, they were touring together across The Northwest, Europe, Ireland, and Canada. Bag of Tricks Cat's 2016 debut full-length, Cat's Out of The Bag featured appearances and guest verses from the likes of Mega Ran, D12 & Bookie, The D.O.C. affiliate Justus, Bizarre, and executive producer Brian Gigerich. Now, exactly three years removed from their first meeting, Bag of Tricks Cat & Mega Ran have once again teamed up for the follow-up to 2015's Emerald Knights: The Album (EP) fittingly dubbed, Emerald Knights 2. Since it's June 22nd wide release, Mega Ran & BOTC's Emerald Knights 2 has already sky-rocketed it's way atop a number of Billboard's charts: #12 on Heatseekers, #01 on Heatseekers Mountain, #36 on Independent Albums, #32 on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and #22 on Rap Albums as of July 5, 2018. Emerald Knight 2 is currently available to purchase in either CD or digital album formats directly from Respect The Underground/RandomBeats Music.

Slumberland Records Presents - Nosh Lately​?​: A Tribute to Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty from D​.​A. Stern & Jacuzzi Boys (Artwork By: Bill McMullen)



"D.A. Stern, the solo project of David Aaron Stern, is the musical amalgamation of crossword puzzle obsession, Backgammon playing, and working as a recording engineer at Beastie Boy Adam "MCA" Yauch's studio," read a March 2017 Force Field PR press email. The Jacuzzi Boys AKA The JB's, on the other hand, according to their Facebook page, were "hatched inside a vulture's nest [and soon] emerged from deep within the Florida wilds, three radioactive chicks cawing for their piece of Electric Rock pie." It appears as though D.A. Stern & Jacuzzi Boys first worked together back in June 2017 on the latter's PING PONG REMIXED, wherein Stern provided a hedgehog-themed remix of "New Cross" from Ping Pong released on The JBs' own Mag Mag imprint the previous October. Now, as many of you may well know, this past Friday, July 13, 2018 was the 20th anniversary of the Beastie Boys' fifth studio album, Hello Nasty. It features guest appearances, as well as contributions, from Mario C. Mix Master Mike, Money Mark, Biz Markie, Bobbito Garcia, Jill Cunniff (Luscious Jackson,) Lee "Scratch" Perry, Lord Sear, Miho Hatori (Cibo Matto,) and Eric "Bobo" Correa. To help commemorate the monumentous occasion, Oakland, California-based Punk/Indie Rock label Slumberland Records decided to pair up kindred lo-fi spirits Jacuzzi Boys & D.A. Stern once more.


"20 after the Beastie Boys first said "Hello Nasty" to the world, D.A. Stern & Jacuzzi Boys are teaming up to celebrate it's birthday, in the form of a split 7-inch of covers brought to you by Slumberland Records," read a recent email announcing Nosh Lately​?​: A Tribute to The Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty from D​.​A. Stern & Jacuzzi Boys. "Focusing on two fan-favorite deep cuts, the "Three JB's & One D.A." chose songs that showcase the Beasties' unique versatility, while offering messages of mindfulness, emblematic of their later career," Force Field PR continued. Nosh Lately? is currently available to stream on both Bandcamp and Soundcloud, ahead of it's upcoming August 3rd wide release. D.A. Stern & Jacuzzi Boys' split 7-inch is now available to pre-order in both limited edition 7-inch vinyl and digital album formats with prices ranging from $1.75-7.00. I recently reached out to Daniel Gill at Force Field PR, who, in turn, got me in direct contact with Michael Schulman at Slumberland Records; over the weekend, Michael was kind enough to contact D.A. Stern & Jacuzzi Boys directly, who both graciously provided statements detailing the making-of Nosh Lately​?​: A Tribute to The Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty...


"Hello Nasty, while not under-rated, is never quite considered an absolute masterpiece, like Paul's Boutique (1989) or Check Your Head (1992), but I can't think of another album that even remotely sounds like it and draws from the same hodge-podge of influences. "I Don't Know," which has always been one of my favorite tracks of theirs, is one of the reasons why. Musically and lyrically, it is a complete outlier in the catalog: a Samba-based ballad about enlightenment that Adam Yauch SINGS! It blew my mind on an album that had already blown my mind with the 14 tracks that came before it. The Beastie Boys were always the best because of their fearlessness and experimentation in whatever arena they chose; "I Don't Know" epitomizes that!"

- D.A. Stern on "I Don't Know"



"Straight up, Hello Nasty was the first Beastie Boys record that I really partied to... I had been a huge fan since Check Your Head (1992), but I was too young to hook up with friends and really bug out to that or to Ill Communication (1994). At that point, I'd just listen to the albums in my room or dance and rap along in front of the TV, when videos would play, but Hello Nasty dropped in '98, my junior year of high school! It had been four years since they had released an album and I was so ready for it. I have a great memory of being at The Cameo Theatre on South Beach [Florida] in '98 for a Lyricist Lounge show...

Maseo of De La Soul was the host/DJ for the night and the moment he walked on stage for the start of the show, he dropped "Intergalactic" and the room just went nuts. It sounded incredible. Anyway, '98 was also, around the time my interest in Psych and Garage type stuff started to grow, so when [D.A. Stern] approached me with the idea of doing this split, I knew exactly which song we had to do. "Song for The Man" always stood out to me as one of their best non-Rap songs and I really felt Jacuzzi Boys could do it justice."

- Danny Gonzalez (Jacuzzi Boys) on "Song for The Man"


Friday, July 13, 2018

Japanese Salsa Ensemble Banderas Unleash "Luna" B/W "Kangaroo Boogaloo" from Frenzied Full-length La Bandera (P-Vine Records/Zainas)



Banderas are an 11-piece Japanese Salsa ensemble—yes, you read that correctly! Formed in November 2014 in Tokyo, Banderas consists of pianist Kazuma Koseki 小関一馬, vocalist, Yoshiaki Hagiya 萩谷嘉秋, choras/percussionists Yasuji & Tinnen, bassist Masaaki Otomo 大友正明, conga player Dategen 伊達弦, Izpon on bongos, takeshi ogawa 小川岳史 on timbales, trombonist Masayuki Nakayama 中山まさゆき, sax player Ichirou いちろう, and trumpet player Naohito'temjin'Yomoda 四方田テムジン直人. While I'll readily admit I'm not very well-versed in either traditional Japanese or Salsa music, it's great to hear Salsa/Latin/Afro stylings played through the scope of 11 frenzied and fun-loving, yet classically-trained Japanese musicians. Banderas have since, quietly released a number of 7-inch/digital singles including "Tema de Banderas" B/W "Banderas Mambo" on Zainas (2016)—later re-released on Swiss-based Matasuna Records in March 2018—and 2017's Bob Marley & The Wailers-covering "Turn Your Lights Down Low" B/W "¡ AY JOE !" on Banderas' own Zainas imprint. Now, Banderas have triumphantly returned this week with their third self-released single entitled "Luna" B/W "Kangaroo Boogaloo." A 2-track digital single featuring nearly 9 minutes-worth of audio, both tracks will be effectively re-released on Banderas' soon forthcoming proper album-length debut.


Now, to the best of my knowledge, the track on Side B, opposite of "Luna_RadioEdit," "Kangaroo Boogaloo," is one of Banderas' first partly English language releases; it starts off with frontman Yoshiaki Hagiya proclaiming: "Everybody say, "Hey, we want some boogaloo...'" followed by a characteristically "bouncy" call-and-response section. What follows is a jovial, yet surprisingly progressive track with elements of Salsa, Latin Rock, Cumbia, J-Pop, and a multitude of worldly genres with an added Japanese flair that's truly unique to Banderas. La Bandera will be released on Tokyo-based imprint, P-Vine Records this upcoming Friday, August 10th. Banderas' six singles released between 2016-18 will be littered throughout La Bandera, along with six additional, as-yet-unreleased Salsa-inspired compositions. "According to the album title of "La Bandera (banner,)" it is a work which seems to set out the flag of the new Salsa from this Tokyo," reads a rather rough translation lifted from Banderas' newly-updated site. "A yearning for admiration for Salsa classics, approach not bound by existing framework, destructive feeling with frustration, sweat and romance-packed, unexpectedly crying and laughing and dancing," it ecstatically continues. Banderas' album-length debut, La Bandera (sub-titled "Salsa Classics & Destroy") will be released on P-Vine Records in both CD and digital formats on Friday, August 10, 2018.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

"JAY-Z, Sample This:" Shawn Lee Talks The Soul Surfers, Ping Pong Orchestra, Young Gun Silver Fox & Much, Much More (The Witzard Interview)


"Shawn Lee is one of the most prolific musicians of his generation. A multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer/song-writer, and composer who has released [42] albums as an artist to date. He has played, produced, and written on hundreds of records. He has worked with a diverse range of artists, including Jeff Buckley, Kelis, Money Mark (Beastie Boys,) Amy Winehouse, Darondo, Adrian Younge & Venice Dawn, and Princess Superstar. Lee's music has been used extensively in both film and TV: Monuments Men, 20 Feet from Stardom, Oceans Thirteen, Eastbound & Down, Ugly Betty, Nip/Tuck, Confessions of a Shopaholic, Cinemax, Jaguar, BMW, Clarks Shoes, Head & Shoulders, and many many more. He has also, created bespoke music for Hermann Miller, Ace Hotels, and Wallpaper Magazine.

As a composer, he has scored two documentary films: Elevate and Under The Sun. Lee also created the original soundtrack for the feature film Save Angel Hope and composed the original score for the Rockstar video game Bully, which was nominated for Best Score twice - winning once. Shawn Lee is an American and has lived in London, England for the past 20 years with his wife and his two daughters," reads Shawn Lee's press one-sheet. For his most recent release, Shawn Lee has teamed up with Soul-Funk quartet The Soul Surfers "from cold heavy Russia" for a collaborative 9-track affair on Fat Beats/Silver Fox Records. The Witzard recently conducted a comprehensive emailed interview with Shawn Lee covering everything from The Soul Surfers to his work with Clutchy Hopkins. It has been lightly edited for general clarity.


I. How did you initially link up with The Soul Surfers for "Time Is a Gun" from their 2015 Ubiquity Records album, Soul Rock!?

I was asked by either Enrique [Estrella] or Andrew Jervis from Ubiquity [Records] to collaborate on one song with The Soul Surfers. They knew I dug their music, so the answer was a resounding "YES!" They sent me a basic backing track and I played vibes, percussion, guitar solo, etc. on it and then, wrote the song and sang it. I put a final mix on it and finito: "Time Is a Gun" !!!

II. How did you and your newly-formed label imprint, Silver Fox Records, end up teaming up with Fat Beats to release Shawn Lee & The Soul Surfers?

I mixed a Brownout EP [Over The Covers], which was released through Fat Beats. Adrian Quesada introduced me to Joe Dent, who works there, and it felt a logical way of releasing some new music in the future. So far, I have released my [Ping Pong Orchestra] Techstar album, Young Gun Silver Fox, and the album with The Soul Surfers to date. So far, so good!


III. How exactly was Shawn Lee & The Soul Surfers' self-titled album recorded, with you being based out of LA/London and The Soul Surfers hailing from Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia?

With the exception of the basic track for "Milky Way"—which was recorded in Moscow—the rest of the album was made by sending files back-and-forth online. The Internet can be pretty darn handy sometimes! Certainly makes the world smaller and makes these kind of International collaborations possible.

IV. Upon your recent trip to Moscow, Russia to play a festival with The Soul Surfers, you mentioned a documentary film entitled "Let It Soul" was filmed; sponsored by Levi's and filmed in London & Los Angeles, as well. What exactly does the film contain and when might it see a proper wide release?

The film is a 45 min. documentary called "Let It Soul" directed by Kirill [Kulagin]. It had it's premier on June 1st at a film festival in Moscow screened in Gorky Park. It documents our meeting in Moscow and shows the process of us writing and recording the song "Milky Way" taken from the album. It also, shows me in London and has Adrian Younge & Malcom Catto in it, as well. The film will be out in the winter. And as you said, it was sponsored by Levi's.


V. Now, I know you played a show together in Moscow for "Let It Soul," but do you have any immediate plans do play any more live shows with The Soul Surfers? How about a proper tour together?

As you said, I've already played a few shows with The Soul Surfers. There are plans in-the-works to do a show in LA. Hopefully, that works out and we can play some more shows. We'll see...

VI. You mentioned you've previously had the opportunity to work alongside the likes of Kelis, The Jungle Brothers, Brownout, Adrian Younge, Darondo, Clutchy Hopkins, Georgia Anne Muldrow, The Black Pumas, Amy Winehouse, and more—happen to have any particular unique stories or memorable moments you might be able to share?

You know, doing the first Clutchy record was really funny! So many great stories that I can't tell you about! Hahaha


VII. How did you initially come in contact with the (desert) man, the myth, the legend himself: Clutchy Hopkins? Have you been in touch with Clutchy in the years since yo 2008-09 collaborative releases, Clutch of The Tiger & Fascinating Fingers?

I discovered Clutchy, first, through an online album review and then, started watching all the [Clutchy Hopkins] films and became totally obsessed. It wasn't long before we began chatting on MySpace and then, next thing I knew, I was in The Mojave Desert making dusty jams with the cave-dwelling genius!

VIII. How did your collaboration with Adrian Quesada (Brownout) The Electric Peanut Butter Co. first come to fruition? Can we expect to hear Trans-Atlantic Psych Classics Vol. 3 (or Vol. 0) any time soon?

Adrian is such a cool and talented cat. I think, we operate in a very similar fashion; loads of different projects and keeping busy with both studio and live gigs. We both have two daughters around the same age, too. So, a lot in common. I think, we will do another Peanut Butter album. I think, next year sounds like a plan! Just got to find a window that suits us both.


IX. Now, I know your long-standing band is called The Ping Pong Orchestra, but what exactly is "Ping Pong Soho Radio?"

My Ping Pong Radio Show on Soho Radio is my way of me sharing my record collection and my tastes in music, both past and present. It connects the dots. I love doing it—I'm coming up to my 100th show soon! You can check it out on Soho Radio's mixcloud [page], at your leisure.

X. Shawn Lee's Incredible Tabla Band - "Talba Rock" is a full-album cover/re-interpretation of Michael Viner's Incredible Bongo Band - "Bongo Rock," correct? Who plays on your 2012 re-visioj of the iconic and oft-sampled 1973 album?

The Tabla album was absolute madness; such a crazy, geeked out project! I played everything on the album, except for Dominic Glover on trumpet and Andy Ross on sax and flute. And last but not least, Prithpal Rajput on tabla putting "tabla" into The Tabla Band!


XI. Your recent release, AM Waves your second release in just as many years as "Young Gun Silver Fox." How does AM Waves differ stylistically from it's 2016 predecessor, West End Coast?

AM Waves is a logical progression from West End Coast. I wanted to have more horns on it, but other than that, it was just a case of writing more material. I do think we had honed in on what we are doing and the second album is even better than the first. I love it and I'm really proud of it.

XII. With a whopping 42 albums released since signing with Giles Peterson back in 1993 where would you personally suggest new listeners ideally, start when delving into your plentiful back catalog?

Now, that is a good question! If you like songs, I'd suggest Young Gun Silver Fox, AM & Shawn Lee, or my Soul Visa album. For instrumentals, I'd say, any Ping Pong Orchestra albums like: World of Funk, Voices & Choices, or Bei Bei & Shawn Lee.