Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chance The Rapper's Social Experiment Band Mates Nico Segal & Nate Fox Re-imagine Paul Simon's "The Clock" & "The Werewolf" as "Stranger" (Concord Records)

Never since Paul "Rhymin'" Simon boldly recruited ferocious emcees Biz Markie & Big Daddy Kane to introduce his re-released "Me & Julio Down By The Schoolyard" (1988) music video did I think the Newark, New Jersey native would produce something so, dare I say... hip! "Honored to work on this re-imagination with my brother [Nate Fox] for @paulsimonofficial. I have been a fan of Mr. Simon since I was a little kid listening to Graceland and Songs from The Capeman. I did history projects on this mans music in high school! So cool to say we aren't "Stranger"s anymore," Chance The Rapper affiliate and Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment frontman @nicosegal ecstatically wrote within a recent Instagram post. "Strangers" is Nico Segal's first piece of music released under his given name, since denouncing his former moniker in light of Donald Trump's incredibly unexpected 2016 Presidential Election victory; "what began as a joke, a silly play on words, is not funny anymore. I don't want to be connected to Trump’s hateful tone or his hurtful message. I don’t want to be misrepresented or misunderstood. Trump’s beliefs are not mine!" Interscope/Eardrummer Records Art Director Wan (@IrwanAwalludin) designed the companion werewolf-evoking "Stranger" single artwork.

Along with his Social Experiment band mate Nate Fox, Segal has crafted a unique remix—better yet, re-interpretation, or almost even a mash-up of two recent compositions from Paul Simon's latest album, Stranger to Stranger: "The Clock" & "The Werewolf." Nico Segal has added his signature trumpet flairs and effects, heard throughout his Chance The Rapper-assisted SURF and even his earliest work with critically-acclaimed (and now-defunct) Kids These Days, to Simon's Stranger to Stranger quasi-interlude "The Clock" merging it with once stuttering "The Werewolf."

"Milwaukee man led a fairly decent life, made a fairly decent living, had a fairly decent wife. She killed him... uh, sushi knife. Now they’re shopping for a fairly decent afterlife. The werewolf is coming," Paul Simon eerily croons over Nico Segal & Nate Fox's self-described "beautiful re-imagination of "The Werewolf" & "The Clock,'" now fittingly re-titled "Stranger." It's an incredibly unexpected, yet extremely welcomed, collaboration with an almost Hip-Hop-reminiscent feel, which somehow manages to blend Jazz-Fusion stylings and Simon's signature Folk-Rock sound. Paul Simon's latest album, Stranger to Stranger is currently available via Concord Records, as well as Nico Segal & Nate Fox's newly-revised "Stranger."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Emmy-winning Film & Television Composer Silas Hite Unleashes The Beach Boys, Ben Folds & Weezer-evoking Love & Loss EP as "Satin Cowboy & The Seven Deadly Sins" (self-released)

"This is the oldest song on the [Love & Loss] EP. I wrote the lyrics on a plane ride almost eight years ago and I recorded the majority of the music back then, as well. The guitar solo I played on my uncle, Mark Mothersbaugh's sweet '72 Telecaster, when I was still working for him. He was nice enough to share his fantastic guitar collection. The chorus of this song (with beautiful harmonies sung by Sam Nelson, Ricky Nelson's son) came together just a few weeks before the release. I sat on the song for years before realizing the obvious problem—it was missing a chorus! I played all the instruments myself on this one and the vocals were my first take. Something about that first pass just had the right emotion," Silas Hite wrote within a recent emailed statement concerning his composition, "Not Afraid of The Knife." Hite is a self-described "Emmy-winning film and television composer" and illustrator, as well as the frontman of awesomely-titled Satin Cowboy & The Seven Deadly Sins; his previously work includes music which has appeared within a wide array of mediums such as Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Shaggy & Scooby-Doo Get a Clue!, Netflix original series Chef's Table, Catfish: The TV Show, The Sims 4, The Simpsons Game, Skate 3, and New York Museum of Modern Art. Silas Hite's latest release, billed as "Satin Cowboy & The Seven Deadly Sins," Loss & Love EP—through its five contained songs—touches on a number of various styles evocative of The Beach Boys, Ben Folds, Johnny Cash, Foo Fighters, and Weezer. Love & Loss EP is currently available for unlimited streaming at Silas Hite's Soundcloud page and is additionally available for purchase in either digital or $5 CD formats from Satin Cowboy & The Seven Deadly Sins' Bandcamp page.

"The lyrics are the real story though: my wife and I met when we were children. She lived in Ohio and I would visit Ohio in the summers to spend time with my family there. I had a crush on her when we were kids, but we lost touch for about 15 years. I went back to Ohio eventually and when we reconnected, it was like Cupid was taking it personally that we waited so long to figure it out. We spent four very intense days together; at the end of that time, I had to fly back to LA to mix a record. As soon as I got back to LA, I knew I was making a mistake leaving her behind. In a fit of romance, I hopped on a plane and flew right back to be with her. I just couldn't help it. The lyrics for "Not Afraid of The Knife" were written on that plane ride back. We were both nervous and anxious as Hell because even though we wanted to be together, it still seemed like a crazy thing to do and we really didn't know what to expect. Anyway, turns out, it was the right thing to do. We are happily married to this day and she means the world to me."

- Silas Hite (Satin Cowboy)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Philly Rapper-producer Duo Uncle Crimson & Rolled Gold Unleash Collaborative The Great Fallback EP (Rolled Gold Beats)

"Basically, since Uncle Crimson and I hang out often, one day he walked in the door and I was chopping up a sample; he literally just started rapping a verse he had just started writing and it sounded so perfect, we decided to just put together a short project. Then, I put one of my simple drum breaks on that sample, which became "Book of David." The rest of the project fell together very naturally and we recorded all the verses in one Saturday afternoon. Looking forward, since our chemistry is so great, our future work will hopefully come together just as naturally, but with live instrumentation replacing the samples," Harry Metz, otherwise known as Philly-based producer Rolled Gold, wrote within a recent emailed statement. Metz was of course, talking about his recently released The Great Fallback EP recorded with fellow Philadelphian Dante D. Hill aka sharp-tongued emcee Uncle Crimson. Rolled Gold further describes The Great Fallback as "a 5-song EP that tells colorful short-stories over a soulful, Jazzy backdrop. With a balance between reality, spirituality, and comedy, [Uncle] Crimson’s lyricism works perfectly with Rolled [Gold]’s obscure selection of samples. For fans of DOOM, Ghostface [Killah], Roc Marciano & Earl Sweatshirt."

I have to say, while I do for sure catch notes of the aforementioned emcees, I would almost compare The Great Fallback EP to something slightly more along the lines of Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman's Lice EP or its recent follow-up, Lice 2: Still Buggin' EP. Rolled Gold tells me he's currently working on a wide array of projects including, but not limited to: cleverly-titled Extra Salty & Extremely Salty follow-ups to his SALTY EP, an upcoming Soul, Jazz & Gospel-influenced project to be recorded with live instrumentation, singers, and rappers, his Vol. 2-3 of his proposed Triple Truth Ruth instrumental series, and as Harry Metz himself puts it, "there's no telling what could happen... hopefully, orchestral movie soundtracks, Barbershop Quartet experimentation, and [Duke] Ellington & [Charles] Mingus-influenced Jazz compositions are a few things that I plan on doing at some point!" Rolled Gold & Uncle Crimson's The Great Fallback EP, as well as Metz's SALTY EP, are currently available for download and streaming from either Rolled Gold Beats or Uncle Crimson's Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

"Wake Me Up" Retro-Soul Crooner Aloe Blacc Reunites with Homeboy Sandman & Snoop Dogg Producer Exile for Emanon's First Project In 10 Years, Dystopia EPx2 (Dirty Science Music)

“There’s a song on there called "Shine Your Light" ["This Little Light"] and it’s about people being more aware about things happening in their government and the society around them. Using that awareness to spread light to other people about what’s going on,” Aloe Blacc revealed during a 2011 interview with Cuepoint @ Medium Managing Editor & Co-creator Mike "DJ" Pizzo. Blacc was referring to his Joanna Newsom "The Book of Right-On" (or The Roots "Right On")-sampling "Shine Your Light," now slightly re-titled "This Little Light," from his long-rumored comeback with 1999-2006 rapper-producer group Emanon. It appears as though Aloe Blacc's Exile-produced Dystopia EPx2, which was somewhat surprised released this past Blacc(k) Friday, has been completed in some form since around 2011 and back then, may have been called either Bird's Eye View or Bullet; "Emanon’s Bird’s Eye View has not seen the light of day yet and in fact may now be called Dystopia, according to Exile, along with an accompanying mixtape tentatively titled Bullet. At least one of these projects is expected this year, Mike "DJ" Pizzo wrote within a 2015 piece titled The Search for Aloe Blacc’s Secret Children’s Album. Pizzo's piece thoroughly examines Aloe Blacc's career-spanning venture from Exile-assisted emcee to Stones Throw Retro-Soul crooner to How to Make It In America theme song-writer to "Country-House" crossover hit-maker, as former Stones Throw label manager Egon put it and even touches on a few of the little-known corners of Blacc's discography including: his Quasimoto-type unreleased 2005 "children's album" as Mr. Squiggles, an American-Brazilian Folkloric Black Orpheus-covering album, and a "dark, Wild West meets Gothic, Grim Reaper meets old Gospel hymns" album under his alias, Nathan Yell (who's credited with vocals on Emanon's 2004 The Waiting Room 2xLP) all of which were seemingly submitted and rejected by Peanut Butter Wolf ahead of his commercially successful 2010 album, Good Things.

Although, most people likely know Aloe Blacc from either his aforementioned Avicii-assisted "Country-House" record "Wake Me Up," Lift Your Spirit chart-topper "The Man," or his recent Zedd-produced commercial-featured revision of M+M's theme, "Candyman." @aloeblacc mysteriously Tweeted, "#Dystopia - new Double-EP from #EMANON in anticipation of forthcoming album #BirdsEyeView. Available on #BlaccFriday" on November 22nd, which was accompanied by one minute's-worth of audio and a GIF with inlaid text reading, "the first release of new music from EMANON (aloeblacc/exile) in over a decade." Emanon's Dystopia EPx2 is currently available for free download upon sending an email with the subject "DYSTOPIA" to or for those who like something a bit more tangible, Exile's own Dirty Science Music imprint has pressed up Dystopia LP's available from Fat Beats along with a complimentary flexi-disc featuring Aloe Blacc's latest solo single, "Real Slow." It appears as though a proper follow-up to Emanon's lone 2004 album The Waiting Room, now seemingly titled Bird's Eye View, should be expected before too long. "Fire burns water soothes. The sun heats and the moon cools. The Earth filled with beats. The beasts all fools... Kings floss jewels. The wise teach with old tools; in a land with no peace, no one rules."

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Minneapolis Emcee Analyrical & @RapBooklets Curator Egypto Knuckles Unleash Background Noise Crew's Remix-ready "Swan Song," The Heartbeat EP (Bandcamp Deluxe Digital Edition)

It all started with one fateful Passion of The Weiss-published Rework The Angles piece re-arranging Mos Def's pummeling Bad Brains & Living Colour-assisted The New Danger (2004) penned by Zilla Rocca. I soon realized, through a number of conversations with the man himself, that Zilla was in fact, a Philly-based rapper, producer, and Noir Hip-Hop originator; along with Minneapolis-based producer and music critic Egypto Knuckles, Zilla Rocca recently started a nostalgic 90's-leaning inner CD booklet highlighting @RapBooklets Instagram and Twitter page. I recently discovered Egypto Knuckles' Soundcloud page, which showcases a number of 2-5 year old instrumentals and assorted compositions, as well as "TV Party," which somehow miraculously manages to sample Black Flag's similarly-titled 1982 12-inch EP. "10 years. Sometimes, you pour everything into an idea: money, time, effort, energy, and focus all of it into a greater good. Sometimes, those opportunities will be successful; other times, you appreciate the small victories hoping they will out a bigger victory within your sight. There are other times it will be utter chaos and total failure. In 2006, me and several people started a collective called Background Noise [Crew]. We've had a ton of releases, performed with most of the local scene large and small, have had a good amount of local and national press, and celebrated the release of each project like a newborn into the world. This coming Friday, me and Analyrical will release The Heartbeat EP, a project that has been about four years in-the-making," Egypto Knuckles wrote within a recent emailed statement.

Egypto has decided to team up with fellow Minnesotan Analyrical to release, The Heartbeat EP the final project on his label imprint, Background Noise Crew (BNC). "This was also during an experimental phase in my production process where I started to learn what it really means to produce an artist from the top down, which is essentially all I've been doing and collecting knowledge of for 10 years. On my side and Analyrical's side, we've both been through a lot of personal trials and tribulations and all of it culminated into this project here. This is the last release in BNC's history, our proper burial of the collective that was started 10 years ago. In essence and hindsight, the closing of this chapter is nevertheless, a tough one. It's one I would be remiss in not saying that if it weren't for BNC, the other opportunities that arose from those ashes I have been fortunate to have wouldn't have been as plentiful, fun, or as abundant as what I've been taking part in now," an impassioned Egypto Knuckles continued. The Heartbeat EP will become available on Analyrical's Bandcamp page this upcoming Black Friday, November 25th in a whopping 27-track Deluxe Digital Edition package; complete with The Heartbeat EP's seven contained tracks and a bonus track, clean versions of "Face It," "The Heartbeat," and "Stealing Sundays," eight instrumentals, and eight acapella edits. It'll be interesting to see if any zealous, beat-minded fans come up with any interesting Heartbeat EP Remixes, if so: please feel free to send them to me at and I'll happily FWRD them to Egypto Knuckles & Analyrical. Happy remixing, guys & gals!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Kanye's "MONSTER" & "New Slaves" Collaborator Ben Bronfman's Band/Production Collective TEACHERS Premier Ocean Single, "Mannequin In Heat" at okayplayer (Green Owl Records)

"Leading with dream-like panpipes floating over TEACHERS' signature Tribal percussion; "Mannequin In Heat" is a breezy cut that will transport the listener to warmer climates. Speaking on the track, experimental and innovative lead singer Ben Bronfman says: "This is one of those tunes that wrote itself, sometimes you struggle to find the right melody, sometimes it just comes through you and all you have to do is get out of the way. "Mannequin In Heat" is one of those tunes, just step aside and let it be. We got some Caribbean vibes mixed with Afro-polyrhythmic Pop that stays true to our leftist/Punky swagger! We do it for the love!"

- TEACHERS Frontman Ben Bronfman

"'[Ben] Bronfman first collaborated with [Kanye] West in 2010, when he flew out to Hawaii to work on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. (You can hear a mangled sample of his voice weaving in and out of the mix on "MONSTER," plus a keyboard melody he contributed). This time, he says, West didn't give him much direction. "He kept saying, 'just make it hot, make it really dope,'" recalls Bronfman," Rolling Stone wrote within an October 2014 profile; staff writer Simon Vozick-Levinson is referring to Bronfman's band, TEACHERS' skeletal "New Slaves" demo, "©O1DW1N†3®∞," an early song sketch hand-crafted for Yeezus, which they premiered within said profile. TEACHERS have been a loosely-formed band/production collective that's sporadically released nearly an entire album's-worth of material over the course of the past seven years, staring with 2010's Eli Bush-assisted "GOLD." Then, around 2011, on the heels of Kanye's impeccable Dark Twisted Fantasy, TEACHERS quietly released RMX1-5 of "MONSTER," which were soon compiled within their IPO // Album (Initial Public Offering) Green Owl Records mixtape. Next was their first Bruno Ilgoti-directed "CRØSSED OUT" music video, as well as "Wicked Witch," "GOLD" JOANN REMIX, and "Detroit Falls" scattered throughout 2013, and a number of additional compositions rolled out over the years.

Just as recently a November 15th, Ben Bronfman and band mates Scottie Redix, Steve Borth II & Matthew Kranz unleashed a 13-track "collection of the music inspiring [them] right now" to TEACHERS' Soundcloud page, which includes the likes of shlohmo, Tycho, GOAT, Pretty Lights, Slightly Stoopid, Blood Orange, KAYTRANADA's "Cranes In The Sky" Solange Remix, Flume's Gravez x Ta-ku Re-remix, Four Tet, Cut Copy, SBTRKT, and Tycho's SPOON "Inside Out" Remix. "As TEACHERS, the group offers us “Mannequin In Heat,” a throwback track fueled by those memories of back-in-the-day, imbued by a high-level of Funk that is sure to get your feet tapping from left-to-right; the first single from TEACHERS’ debut effort, Ocean, we’re extremely ecstatic at seeing this group getting off the ground. This follow-up to [their] previous effort is totally worth pressing play on," okayplayer scribe KEVITO wrote within a recent "Mannequin In Heat"-premiering piece. It seems as though TEACHERS' long-awaited Green Owl Records debut, Ocean, is seemingly in-the-works and finally nearing completion, but until then, "Mannequin In Heat" and its predecessor, "Ocean" are currently available to purchase from a number of online digital platforms.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dublin-based Singer-songwriter Keith Cullen Talks High Strung-featured "Say Something," Opening for Hozier & Working with Beyoncé & Michael Jackson Producer DJ Mike Cruz (The Witzard Interview)

"In this time of worldly confusion, Ireland’s Keith Cullen takes a stand for integrity in word, action and song. "Say Something" is the first single from Keith’s upcoming album Dear Future Me (Spring '17), a collection of catchy Alt-Pop tracks with inspired lyrics, lushly-produced to showcase an impressive vocal range not often heard in a male performer. Keith Cullen calls his music "Honest Pop." "There is a lot of noise in our world today," he says. "There is such a need for someone who says something genuine. My lyrics are about authentic stories—people don’t always get to the point of being honest with each other, much less themselves,'" read part of an emailed press kit I received from Magician Media back in late October. Keith Cullen has been actively composing and recording his own music since around 2011-12; having released his self-described "debut track," "Losing my way" to Soundcloud nearly five years ago, trickling out a number of songs over the years leading up to his latest "Honest Pop" single, "Say Something." Last month, DJ Mike Cruz, who has produced chart-toppers for everyone from Madonna to Jennifer Lopez, submitted an Electro-Dance-inflected remix of "Say Something," which recently broke into Billboard Dance Chart's Top 30. I was lucky enough to conduct a brief, albeit thorough, 6-question interview with Keith Cullen ahead of his forthcoming full-length debut, Dear Future Me, which can now be read, enjoyed, and endlessly re-read within the space below. Here's to a safe and Happy Thanksgiving Weekend, guys and gals!


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
The Witzard Founder & Turkey Enthusiast

I. What significance does "Say Something," the first single from your upcoming album, Dear Future Me, ultimately have? How did you go about getting it featured within the companion soundtrack to Michael Damian's recent film, High Strung?

Actually, I think this is one of the most significant songs I have written, so far. Not only is it significant in my life, it is significant for many listeners; as its main message is about a need for human connection, which I personally think is something that is often lacking in today’s world, as we get deeper into this digital age. This song is a message to listeners to speak their mind, to live life with a kind heart and [most of all], to be ourselves in world that’s constantly trying to change us into what is perceived as "right."

As for "Say Something" being featured in High Strung, you could call this “The Luck of The Irish!”​​ W​hile I was recording ​"Say Something" ​in a studio in L​os Angeles,​ the producer of the ​film​, Michael Damian​,​ happened to be ​the studio next door and over-heard the song.​ ​He ​knew immediately that the song was a fit for the movie​!​

II. How did you go about initially getting in touch with DJ Mike Cruz for his recent "Say Something" Remix? Do you currently have any similar-minded remixes lined up?

I’m extremely lucky to work with many amazing people, who are always putting me in touch with others who can push me and my music to the next level. My manager, Phil Quartararo, is the main man when it comes to this. Honestly, when I first spoke with Mike, although I knew he was amazing... I was unsure of what he would be able to do with "Say Something," ​ but he absolutely blew me out of the water with this remix! He has an exceptional talent for taking a song and changing it ever so slightly to appeal to a different audience. As you guys probably know, he has also worked with Michael Jackson, Beyoncé, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, and many other chart-toppers; the track is a now ​Top 30 ​on the Billboard Dance Charts​.​ I was majorly impressed with the work that he did and I’m really hoping to work with him again in the future.

III. What would you likely cite as some of your greatest influences on Dear Future Me and your overall sound?

I grew up in a very musical house, so I have to say, it’s a mix of pretty much everything. My dad was big into Sting & The Police, America, Bread, and Chicago. My mum loved Motown. Mum loved all the divas, so I grew up being able to hit some of the big diva notes, so I (laughs) I thought that was normal for a male voice to be able to sing those big notes, but I learned when I grew up, it wasn't quite as normal as I thought it was. My influences are far and wide. I don't think there's been more an individual person that's influenced me. I kind of draw inspiration from everything around me: life, people, friends, the stuff I listen to, the stuff I watch, art, and traveling—that type of thing.

IV. What else can you tell me about your forthcoming album, Dear Future Me; what producers did you work with, any fellow collaborators, any forthcoming music videos currently in-the-works, etc?

This album is mainly based on honesty. There is a lot of noise in our world today. There is such a need for someone who says something genuine. My lyrics are about authentic stories—people don’t always get to the point of being honest with each other, much less themselves. The album has been produced by the amazing Robert Cutarella, who has had hits with Chaka Khan, Michael Jackson, Air Supply, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, The Police, Elton John, and Celine Dion, to name but a few​​—this should give you an insight into what this album has in store for listeners​!​

We’re currently working on a music video for "Say Something." It’s going to be pretty special. ​So, keep your eyes pealed for it. With regards to fellow collaborators, I’m always open to working and sharing with people, so we shall see what happens. My door is always open and I’m excited for what the future holds.

V. What was it like opening for Hozier recently? Did he happen to have any advice for a rising Irish singer-songwriter like yourself?

It’s always amazing playing to such a large crowd and even better, when you can open for someone who is one of your own personal inspirations. ​​H​ozier​ was so supportive and encouraged me to keep doing what I’m doing. Hard work and talent always win out in the end. ​​It’s always great to see a fellow Irishman doing so well—it goes to show that anything is possible. Irish people are really making their mark on the musical world​, and I’m excited and honoured to be a part of this Irish musical movement.

VI. Your press release says you've dubbed your own music as "Honest Pop." What does that ultimately mean and what do you intend to convey with your music, Keith?

My music falls under the "Honest Pop" category, but to my friends, I usually describe it as my personal autobiography. It’s a collection of songs that sums up my past, present, and my future. I'm told ​​my message is​ ​strong​​ ​throughout my songs​: "say something that's real..."

LION BABE Deliver ROOOAARING Message of Self-empowerment, Health & Acceptance with Latest Julian Branciforte-directed Begin Single, "Got Body" (Interscope/Polydor Records)

"I got body, no matter what I wear." "Got Body" VIDEO IN BIO! Directed by Julian Branciforte. Celebrate your difference, your individuality, your heritage, your family, your love, your hair, your ancestors, your growth, your skin, your organs, your fat, your bones! We really don't need to look, act, or be the same. It is a distraction. Celebrate life and the changes that come with it. Surround yourself with love!" @lionbabe recently wrote within an exuberant, self-empowering statement accompanying their latest Begin single, "Got Body." LION BABE consists of sultry songstress, dancer, and H&M & Pantene model Jillian Hervey and multi-instrumentalist and record producer Lucas "Astro Raw" Goodman. "Hervey dances in the streets, record stores, and subway train cars, while Goodman purchases and makes a beat on what appears to be a Roland SP-404 sampler; the duo eventually meets up with friends for a chill session," okayplayer scribe Abel Shifferaw detailed within a recently penned write-up. LION BABE's latest release is a stand-alone Neo-Soul cover of Tom Jones' gold-certified "She's a Lady," which they composed for H&M.

Jillian Hervey is actually the daughter of like-minded singer, actress, model and former Miss America 1987 Vanessa Williams and notorious manager and executive producer Ramon Hervey II. Williams, oddly enough, makes a brief cameo "appearance" within LION BABE's latest "Got Body" video—around 2:21 minutes into Branciforte's rather eclectic Brooklyn-shot treatment, her 1988 Wing Records 12-inch single "The Right Stuff" can be seen held up by a cheeky smiling Hervey. "Got Body" is the fourth released single (behind "Wonder Woman," "Impossible," and "Where Do We Go?") from LION BABE's critically-acclaimed Interscope/Polydor Records full-length debut, Begin. Since its February 2016 release, LION BABE unleashed a self-described "special project for the summer time '16," by way of their aptly-titled Sun Joint mixtape, which just might be the perfect no-strings-attached introduction for new-found fans. "Got Body" is a telling, and long-overdue, sign of the times—especially since Sports Illustrated recently crowned their 52nd and first "plus-sized" (read: average-sized) 2016 Swimsuit Issue cover model, Miss Ashley Graham.

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Nagoya" & "Samurai" Collaborators Hodgy & Jonti Reunite for Somber "BARBELL" Music Video Ahead of Fireplace: TheNotTheOtherSide & 'Midnight Mutants' Album (Columbia/Stones Throw)

"Yoooooo! Back in 2011, @monkmiyagi [Hodgy] and I connected and put out some music. When we dropped "Nagoya," it really helped me out a lot. Since then, our friendship has grown and we have a lot more music together; "BARBELL" is the first song to come from that. It is also the first single from Hodgy's debut solo album, Fireplace: TheNotTheOtherSide. Hodgy, I'm grateful for your friendship and I hope you like it because there's a lot more music coming from both of us JD X," @jontidanimals wrote on Instagram over the weekend on the heels of Hodgy's first single from his forthcoming December 2nd full-length debut. "Recording "BARBELL" back in May—often, I sit around with my acoustic [guitar] and record harmonies, as a kind of meditation process. I find it soothing; this was one of those, which I then turned into a beat, which @monkmiyagi turned into a track," Jonti continued late Friday night. Fireplace: TheNotTheOtherSide, in addition to Jonti, will feature the vocal talents of Busta Rhymes, Lil' Wayne, Salomon Faye, and likely Canadian songstress Nelly Furtado, who's recently been seen posing alongside Hodgy on his Instagram; as well as production work submitted from BADBADNOTGOOD, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Knxwledge, 88-Keys, and Nottz, amongst a few others. "BARBELL"'s companion Hunter Lyon-shot clip is a rather cheery, in contrast to Jonti's almost hymnal-esque beat, sun-soaked treatment, which showcases Hodgy dressed in stark white from head-to-toe "chillin' out maxin' relaxin' all cool" on a boat in the middle of a lake fishing, then dragging his boat through the woods, rhyming atop a rooftop, aimlessly walking through the woods, and end up on a cabin stoop. Fireplace: TheNotTheOtherSide's mission statement is to "trade the past for a never ending story. Trade the end for a new beginning. Trade hatred for a better understanding. Trade slavery for freedom. Trade anger for artistic expression. Trade like for eternal love 8."

Friday, November 18, 2016

Jumbled Unveils "action shots" EP: Introducing Dwell-assisted Bully Preston & Featuring Jack Wilson, Dot Com Intelligence, Nyoka Ny-D & JBerd (Harford & Reckord Tapes)

"Action Shots is the new EP from Baltimore beat-maker Jumbled. Living in a Soundcloud world, collaborations between producers and emcees are trickled out as singles—so in an effort to avoid that, Jumbled compiled [six] new songs together in this EP," Baltimore producer, Power Pop drummer, and high school engineering teacher John Bachman (aka Jumbled) wrote within a recent emailed press release. Maybe most notably, Bachman's Action Shots EP marks the premier of his latest rapper-producer duo, Bully Preston formed with one half of Dwell & salk. from his The Witzard-premiered [I wish it was longer] single, "Train of Thought." "He misspoke when asking about a Billy Preston beat and it stuck (pretty obvious), but I think he's recorded 4-5 songs already and more to come," Jumbled said, as he detailed the origins of Bully Preston's name; a minor faux pas on Dwell's part, when once referring to "Fifth Beatle" and legendary Rock "N" Roll and Soul-Funk electric piano and keyboard player, Billy Preston. It seems as though in addition to "Bang The Bongo," Jumbled says that he and Dwell have about 4-5 more songs recorded and stashed, which may eventually end up turning into either a proper Bully Preston EP or full-length.

Action Shots EP additionally features the sharp-tongued rhyming talents of Southern Maryland emcee Dot Com Intelligence—whom Jumbled met at a recent MGNTK. Champion Sound label showcase, ferocious femcee Nyoka Ny-D, Frederick-based spitter JBerd, and long-time friend Jack Wilson, who selected "Time to Shake 'em"'s beat "ages ago, but revisited it recently." Now, I have to admit, I'm a bit biased, as John Bachman is a close personal friend, frequent collaborator, and generous Baltimore music-funneling business associate; since meeting Jumbled earlier this year, we've worked closely together on a number of projects, including a profile on his recently revived Power Pop band Soft Peaks, an interview surrounding his impeccable [I wish it was longer] album, and its companion Dwell & salk.-assisted "Train of Thought" music video, which I was proud to be able to premier right here at The Witzard. Jumbled's Action Shots EP is currently available for streaming or download from his Boom-Bap-laden personal Soundcloud page, just in time for the weekend, and be sure to keep an eye and ear out for Bully Preston's impending EP or album-length project!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

RESISTANTMINDZ Founder & my trippin' mojo's Johannes Riedel Talks German Deep Funk, Edda's Garden & More (The Witzard Interview)

"my trippin' mojo is a raw tape recorded Funk "N" Soul band from Leipzig, Germany. Impressed by the sound and style of the 60's music, they are presenting a current refreshment with their debut called Edda's Garden. Every moment [breathes] the smell of the late sixties and [early] 70's, where the essential of this genre have been defined in a formula which exists nearly unchanged since then. Heavy drums, Funky basslines, hot brass sections, and an extra portion on the guitars wah-wah pedal. On the top of this rhythmic basement, you got Sabrina Bornmann with her powerful voice—sometimes complaining, sometimes demanding. All in a mix which is characteristic for the time before Soul music got straight and more Disco-like. This orientation consistently impacts on all fields of the musical production of the album. And so, Edda's Garden has been recorded complete analog with old mics and a dusty tape machine. 10 tracks full of love, emotions, Soul, and heavy kicks. Available physically and digital in all shops at 4th of November," reads Resistant Mindz's Edda's Garden Englisch PRESS SHEET. Thanks again to my colleague and friend, DJ Prestige at Flea Market Funk, I heard about German-based Soul-Deep Funk ensemble my trippin' mojo and their powerful Live at ZweiTakte EinKlang-recorded "my world;" over the course of the past couple months, I've been in contact with my trippin' mojo's bassist, guitar player, and Resistant Mindz founder Johannes Riedel, who was kind enough to partake within the rather comprehensive 10-question interview you now see transcribed below. If you don't already have a CD or LP of my trippin' mojo's "Soulful as Hell" Edda's Garden, please head on over to Resistant Mindz, pick up a copy on your preferred format, and feel free to delve into Riedel's endless Deep Soul ancedotes waxed throughout our recent interview!


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Avid Crate-digger & Scribe

I. Your press release details that Edda's Garden contains "10 tracks full of love, emotions, Soul, and heavy kicks... recorded [completely] analog with old mics and a dusty tape machine;" would you care to further describe the techniques, instruments, etc. used during its recording sessions?

We luckily, have the best playground to play around in my studio and so, we used old mics like Sennheiser MD-421, MD-21, RCA 77-D, some crappy Beyerdynamic Mic and old amps like Fender Twin, Roland Jazz Chorus, and Fender Studio Bass; caught on a Tascam 85-16 Tape Machine and mixed on a Mackie 32-8 Bus Console with its nice EQ's, using a dusty spring reverb from an old Farfisa Amp and a DBX Tube Compressor for some cosmetics and that's it. We usually play 2-3 takes [for] each song and later, decide which one to take to make the over-dubs like the voice, some percussion, or extra horns.

II. From my understanding, Edda's Garden is my trippin' mojo's first album, correct? How long have you been a band and how did you come to meet and recruit its members?

That's right! Edda's Garden is our first piece of music as my trippin' mojo. Most of the members have been together in a freestyle combo called Mengoolious Funk and at the time, I have built up my studio, we decided to write own songs and search for a singer. Luckily, we met Sabrina and she perfectly fit into the band; that's two years ago now.

III. What might you likely cite as some of your greatest influences on my trippin' mojo's sound harnessed within Edda's Garden? I personally, sense notes of Aloe Blacc, Mayer Hawthorne, and Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.

Ha thanks for your [personal] equation! I would say there have been a lot of influences during the time of Hip-Hop, breaks, sampling, and record-collecting, but Daptone [Records] was one of the greatest [of] all. Especially, Gabriel Roth's article about how to record a "raw 45" Soul & Funk piece made it completely into my mind; his work is one of the biggest influences on our sound!

IV. my trippin' mojo has released two music videos ahead of Edda's Garden's release, "make 'em pass" and "unconditional love;" would you care to briefly describe the concepts and filming processes behind these clips?

We have chosen those two songs as they were both the best for us to describe our sound. "make 'em pass" is more into a story of a life situation and our man on the cam René [Eckert] has found this nice, dirty location with its huge space to express the best of the song. We decided to have the lyrics in the front and get some catchy impressions by the flugelhorn parts in the video. "unconditional love" was more a day trip of catching good vibes on the cam to express our love to the music, [people], and nature; a documentation of getting out of the studio, into the world, and sharing our love with her. It is not that big [of a] story behind it.

V. Here's something I've always wondered: how do you decide on which songs to include "hot brass section"-accompaniment? If it were me, I think I would add a horn section to every minute of every song haha.

That's true; I feel exactly the same! It depends on the song, the lyrics, the melody, and the arrangement of the song. Most of all, we keep it easy and simple, so we don't squish the song too much, but this could be different within the next songs. We are still developing our sound.

VI. Now, I love the greenery-framed image on the reverse of Edda's Garden's CD & 12-inch LP, but I must admit, I'm very perplexed by the album's front cover image... what exactly is it?

Hehe, it's an owl looking back from the cover front. It's a nice shot by Dominik Wolf, who created the artwork and we decided to take it as a kind of looking back feeling. Owls are also nocturnal, as we are, too and it reflects a bit the feeling we had in Edda's Garden at night.

VII. Since Edda's Garden has now been properly released, what do you guys and gal have planned next... any plans for a tour, any more music videos, 7-inch singles, or anything else of that nature?

There are some! Right now, we are damn happy to play a few gigs after a long studio term. There is a little tour around Germany, [at] the moment and we will have a next run in February 2017. That's around 15 gigs we are looking forward to [playing]. Next step, [might] be getting back in the studio, recording some new songs, and maybe pressing them on a "raw 45" record. That would be wicked!

VIII. We, here at The Witzard, are a primarily Hip-Hop-centric publication with one foot firmly planed in Indie/Punk Rock and the other in Soul-Funk; with that said, what might you cite as a few of your favorite Hip-Hop releases of the past 12-18 months?

That might be a bit difficult, as I'm not that up to date, but in the last months, I really [dug] Golden Rules (Paul White & Eric Biddines)' Golden Ticket, Jneiro Jarel's Lost Pieces, and Jeremiah Jae's The Decline of Black Anakin EP.

IX. In addition to my trippin' mojo, who else is signed to your Resistant Mindz label, Johannes?

Actually, we are not signing them. Each artist on our rooster stays free to whatever he wants to do with his music. Right now, there are 16 artists on our label, like Chris Medleigh, Duktus, Konglomerat, The Brothers Nylon, DFKT (Defekto & Mr. Beef), DYZE, and many more.

X. This may, however, persist to be an invalid question; but do you or any of your fellow band mates have any sort of side, projects, solo projects, or outer-band endeavors you would like to promote within this space?

We do have: Christoph [Mengel] is makin' left-field Electronic music with his project Chris Medleigh & X Cluding The Shapes (including a drummer). Lukas [Kamutzi] also plays a lot in Brass ensembles, Jazz ensembles, and others. I'm doin' beats by sampling and playing along under the name of REEDFLAVOR, but also other productions like library music, breaks, and stuff. Plus, I'm promoting and booking, via the label Resistant Mindz and the network Golden Ticket to push artists I like and love.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Run The Jewels, Adele & Johnny Cash Guitarist Matt Sweeney Reunites with Clay Tarver, Scott Marshall & The James Lo for First Chavez Release In 20 Years, "The Bully Boys" (Matador Records)

"It’s been 20 years since Chavez released their second and final studio album Ride The Fader (1996), but in late 2015, Matt Sweeney, Clay Tarver, Scott Marshall & The James Lo resumed operations; once again ensconcing themselves with John Agnello at NJ’s Water Music, ignoring the label’s demands for a full-length album and instead delivering three knockout punches that prove these Godfathers of Art Metal (for f*ck’s sake, please don’t actually call them that—or tell them we said it) are as idiosyncratic, inventive, and anthemic as THE LAST TIME THEY TOLD US THEY WEREN’T GOING TO TOUR..." Matador Records wrote within a rather tongue-in-cheek Chavez Cockfighters EP press release. Chavez have been neither active nor inactive over the course of the past 20 years, reuniting sporadically—first, on a Stereogum-sponsored concert at Brooklyn venue Warsaw back in 2006 and a TV appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon back in 2011. Matt Sweeney has gone on to form Superwolf with Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Zwan with Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, toured as part of Iggy Pop's Post Pop Depression backing band, formed "anti-band" super-group Soldiers of Fortune, and has worked as a session musician for everyone from American V: A Hundred Highways-era Johnny Cash to Run The Jewels. Pitchfork further details that "Clay Tarver has spent his time a screenwriter for the HBO series Silicon Valley; bassist Scott Marshall has worked as a film-maker; and drummer The James Lo has worked in sound design for contemporary dance." Now, I can't say I've heard it in about 11 years, but I can remember first hearing Sweeney and Bonnie "Prince" Billy's 2005 Superwolf album, which I can honestly say, helped shape my very first dabblings with "Indie Rock." Chavez's first release in 20 years (excluding their 2006 Better Days Will Haunt You compilation) "The Bully Boys" is one of just three tracks contained within their forthcoming January 13th Cockfighters EP, which is currently available for pre-order in both 12-inch vinyl and digital formats from Matador.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Pissed Jeans Announce "Gutter-scraped Amalgamation of Sludge, Punk, Noise & Bracing Wit" Materialized On Lydia Lunch & Arthur Rizk-produced WHY LOVE NOW? (Sub Pop Records)

"'The Bar Is Low," which, according to [Matt] Korvette, is "about how every guy seems to be revealing themselves as a sh*thead. It seems like every guy is getting outed, across every board of entertainment and politics and music. There’s no guy that isn’t a total creep,'" reads a fragmented chunk of Sub Pop's latest WHY LOVE NOW-announcing Pissed Jeans press release; "WHY LOVE NOW picks at the bursting seams that are barely holding 21st-century life together," describes Sub Pop's press release, which additionally refers to "The Bar Is Low" as a "grinding rave-up." It can only be assumed that Korvette is likely referring to one-time men of power and current American disgrace stories like Bill Cosby, Swans frontman Michael Gira, fallen Indie Rock PR heavyweight Heathcliff Berru, and our newly-elected President Trump. Pissed Jeans recruited New York No Wave pioneer Lydia Lunch, who's worked with everyone from Teenage Jesus & The Jerks to one-time Mars Volta frontman Omar Rodríguez-López, to produce WHY LOVE NOW along with fellow home-grown Philly Metal legend Arthur Rizk (Eternal Champion, Goat Semen, Sumerlands). Pissed Jeans fifth album and proper follow-up to their critically-acclaimed Honeys is currently available for pre-order from Sub Pop's on-site Mega-Mart ahead of its soon impending February 24th release; steadfast fans will receive WHY LOVE NOW as part of Sub Pop's Loser Edition lavender-colored vinyl package, as well as pre-release downloads of any and all advanced tracks and exclusive access to stream the full 12-track album one month prior to its release day.

"Pissed Jeans have been making gnarly noise for 13 years, and on their fifth album, WHY LOVE NOW the male-fronted quartet is taking aim at the mundane discomforts of modern life—from fetish webcams to office-supply deliveries. “Rock bands can retreat to the safety of what Rock bands usually sing about. So, 60 years from now, when no one has a telephone, bands will be writing songs like, 'I’m waiting for her to call me on my telephone.' Kids are going to be like, 'Grandpa, tell me, what was that?' I’d rather not shy away from talking about The Internet or interactions in 2016,” says frontman Matt Korvette... The lyrics on WHY LOVE NOW are particularly pointed about gender relations and the minefield they present in 2016... As they did on their last album, 2013’s Honeys, Pissed Jeans offer a couple of “f*ck that sh*t type songs” about the working world."

- Sub Pop Records
Legendary Grunge Label

Monday, November 14, 2016

Smoove & Turrell Singer, Lyricist & Melody-maker John Turrell Talks Hot Chocolate Frontman Errol Brown's Afghan Coat, McEwan's Lager "The Chinheads" Advert, Your Old Droog & Latest Album, Crown Posada (The Witzard Interview)

"Bringing their Northern Coal Music to the masses once again, Smoove & Turrell, our favorite Newcastle bunch return with a new record, Crown Posada, and a new single "You Could’ve Been a Lady." Today, we premiere the video for the track, produced by David Macgill and directed by Smoove & Turrell themselves. These chaps have been holding their own for quite sometime, broadcasting a blend of Soul and Electronic music that has propelled them from their North East base to international festival favorites. They are working-class to the soul (pun intended), and this first track on the record is a beautiful re-working of the Hot Chocolate track. While the original, slower and sweet with it’s heavy guitars can move you like it’s 1971, and the April Wine version is a little more upbeat and 70’s radio style, the Smoove & Turrell version is updated, more Dance-friendly, and has that back beat that knocks. Let us not forget the organ that winds itself in and out throughout this massive choon. On this latest effort, which comes out on Jalapeno Records October 14th, they turn out a wellrounded LP that would make your mum get up and dance. From the Disco bassline of “No Point In Trying” to the Hip-Hop influence on “Slave to The Blues” and the massive Soul influence throughout the entire record, Smoove & Turrell are indeed one of a kind.

Let’s get serious here, there are 11 tracks on this record and they all bang on. It’s working-class music for working class people, but you are all invited to the party. John Turrell’s voice is really one of the greats of our times. Whether you are familiar are not, you can’t deny the talent when this guy opens his mouth. It doesn’t sound of this era, but blends perfectly with a contemporary record that pays an homage to so many things. From childhood memories to relationship woes and a local, legendary watering hole, Crown Posada has something for everyone. His voice has the range to take you on a journey through influences, beats, and back. Check out the video for “You Could’ve Been a Lady” and pre-order the full-length below. This tune (along with the LP) will sweep you off your feet like Bobby Moncur did to Geordie supporters way back when. The band is defending the Northern Coal Music in the same fashion, get to know these chaps," Flea Market Funk founder and scribe DJ Prestige wrote within his recent "You Could've Been a Lady" premier. I recently reached out to Jalapeno Records and 9PR, who eventually, got me in direct contact with self-described "singer, lyricist, and melody-maker" John Turrell. One half, and partial namesake, of Smoove & Turrell, John Turrell thoroughly answered my emailed questions, which you can now see transcribed and thoroughly enjoy within the comprehensive 10-question interview below.


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

I. How did you initially go about choosing Hot Chocolate’s “You Could’ve Been a Lady” to cover for Crown Posada and what made you decide to include it as the album opener?

It was my best mate Jay, who sent me link on YouTube with the live footage of the [Hot Chocolate] track. He said that if Smoove & Turrell did a version he would buy me an Afghan coat like Errol Brown was rocking in the video. I immediately fell in love with the track. We tried it out at a rehearsal and everyone loved it. As far as it being first track on the album, it just seemed to fit as a great intro—we had been away for two years and it seemed the right one to say, "hey, we're back!"

II. Would you care to talk for a minute about the though process behind and creation of your self-directed chin-faced “You Could’ve Been a Lady” music video, which was very recently premiered at Flea Market Funk? It’s such a fun visual!

It gets to the point with videos where you have to start thinking a bit left-field. I was trying to get ideas that could involve the whole band, but not your standard moody guys standing around trying to look cool—we're a bit old for that now. When I was little, I always loved the McEwan's Lager advert and I'd never seen it done again since. Then, when I was on holiday, my daughter Charlie had me creased by doing finger dancing to some seriously bad Italian Pop. That was it really, I just said to the lads we need to do this "sh*t good," in other words, totally home-made, but still crisp enough to pass as a real video; I think because of this, it's a lot funnier than, if it had of been done really [professionally].

III. For those who may be unfamiliar, would you care to briefly describe each members’ role in Smoove & Turrell: Smoove, John Turrell, Mike Porter, Andy Champion, Lloyd Croft, and Lloyd Wright?

Smoove is the producer and beat-maker, in essence, the man that puts in the hours to bring it all together. He always has a vision of how we are going to eventually sound. We don't have an Abbey Road to go to, so our sound is directly down to him; what he can do with a bit of crisp equipment and a good laptop is no one's business!

John Turrell: I am the singer, lyricist, and melody-maker. I work between Smoove and the lads to create the ideas ready for recording.

Mike Porter can only really be described as a one-off, he's the mascot of S&T. He's obsessed with analogue keyboards and Stone Island coats. He's a great lad and I don't think you'll find another one anything like him.

Andy Champion is the man who holds it down, whether that's in his writing capability or in his on stage presence as the band leader. I really think if anything has changed this band for the better, it was his joining on a full-time basis.

Lloyd Croft is a killer drummer; he works so hard to be the platform the rest of us work from. I love how tight our rhythm section is—that's what it's all about live on-stage.

Lloyd Wright is the newest edition to S&T. He has brought so much to us in the last couple of years, both in writing skills and with his on-stage presence. He is a man that truly loves his instrument and revels in the joy of pushing it as far as he can.

IV. What might you list as some of your greatest influences during the writing and recording process attached to your latest album, Crown Posada?

The imagination and skill that the Smoove & Turrell band members bring to the table.

V. We, here at The Wizard, pride ourselves as being a primarily Hip-Hop-centric publication with “an ear on the ground” for any and all genres; with that said, what would you likely name as a few of your favorite Hip-Hop albums of the past 12-18 months?

Your Old Droog's Your Old Droog [LP]

VI. How would you say Smoove & Turrell’s overall sound, recording process, aesthetic, band dynamic, etc. have changed since your last Jalapeno Records album, 2014’s Broken Toys?

No, not at all. We are working-class lads doing the best possible recordings with the limited means available. We love writing music so for us there is no other thing we could do. We are who we are, we wear our riches in our match day clothes cut the cloth so much, it's cold!

VII. I see that for your previous CD and 7-inch single releases (dating back as far as 2009) you’ve included a few in-house and outsourced remixes on the B-side of each. Do you currently have any plans to cook up and release any remixes of Crown Posada’s tracks?

I generally leave that for Smoove and the [label] to sort. They are the guys with their ears to the ground, as far as remixes are concerned. They've had some belters in the past, so I hope so.

VIII. Now that Crown Posada has been widely released, what do you fellas have planned next? Are there any immediate plans to tour, release any more singles, music videos, or anything of that nature?

We are currently looking to release our next single, which is "No Point In Trying;" to coincide with the album release, we are starting a UK-wide tour. For all dates, have a look at Next year, we have a European tour planned with some dates even further afield later on that year.

IX. I’m curious to learn… what was the typical writing and recording process behind Crown Posada like—especially being a 6-piece band?

Very simple really: if any of the lads have an idea, they either work with one of the others to get it sorted or they come direct to me. We generally map things out first, then go to the studio to see Smoove. Other times, Smoove will start with a loop he has found, then calls us in to write.

X. If you were hypothetically able to assemble a super-group consisting of any artist, musicians, vocalists, producers, etc. alive or dead, who would you choose and why?

Why would I want any one else? As far as I'm concerned, I've found the perfect set-up. I'm just thankful that they all chose to work with me!

Photo credit: @timschnetgoeke

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Hemlock Ernst Beatsmith & "Electric Wizard" All These Fingers [âtƒ] Unleashes Hip-Hop, Jazz & Electronic-indebted 44th Mixtape, golden pears (ATF Sound, self-released)

"I wanted to make a full, lush-sounding album that retained lo-fi aesthetics... something that works as one big piece, instead of just a beat batch. Tried to mix everything together like I would a DJ set, hopefully it works. Also notable that I included a no-sample, guitar-based track ("duckling") and worked with an artist (Jared Pittack) on the cover. I usually don't included my non-beat music because it feels out of place, but it just felt appropriate to put it on there. Letting someone else design the cover was awesome, Jared came up with all that on his own and I think the tape is the better for it. Thx for the support man, cheers," self-described "electric wizard/cave-dweller" All These Fingers (âtƒ) wrote within a recent email containing his latest, and 44th released, mixtape: golden pears. I recently got in touch with âtƒ after hearing Future Islands frontman Sam Herring, aka sharp-tongued emcee Hemlock Ernst, ferociously rhyming over his Secret Places track "Bonfa Situation"—now, quite fittingly re-titled "My Myopia Freestyle." âtƒ additionally produced my friend and frequent collaborator Darko The Super's Already Dead Tapes-released Carve a Happy Face On My Tombstone, as well as it's companion B-side out-takes A Denial.

"Sam hit me up and sent me the track, asking if he could post it. I obviously thought it was great and gave my permission... apparently, he had been a fan of my stuff for a while, which was kinda crazy. I knew his work with Madlib, but honestly, never made the Future Islands connection, since I'm not up on a lot of non-rap/beat music. My roommate was like, "hey, his main band is really awesome and pretty well-known!" I'm stupid," All These Fingers said of his collaboration with Sam Herring, whom he didn't previously know was Future Islands' erratically dancing frontman; âtƒ added that he hopes to release more material with Hemlock Ernst in the near future, as he " just hit him with a batch of new stuff recently." All These Fingers' staggering 44th release, golden pears, is currently available for your streaming and listening pleasure for just $1 (or more) from his personal Bandcamp page. It's an eclectic Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Electronic-indebted 22-track instrumental beat collection, which I would likely equate to the collected works of Lil B & A$AP Rocky beatsmith Clams Casino or even The Grey Album and Gnarls Barkley mastermind Danger Mouse.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Jaubi's Ali Riaz Baqar Waxes Poetic About The Deconstructed Ego EP, J Dilla's Influence, "Lahore State of Mind" & Forthcoming EP2 (The Witzard Interview)

"Jaubi is a collective of musicians hailing from Lahore, Pakistan who aim to create whatever sounds good and whatever feels good. The emphasis is on amalgamating different musical styles such as Indian Classical music, Jazz, and Hip-Hop into short musical pieces," producer, guitarist, and kalimba player Ali Riaz Baqar wrote within a recent emailed statement. Jaubi (جو بھی) is an urdu word, which roughly translates to "whatever;" a sentiment that has directly influenced their band mantra of "creating whatever sounds good and whatever feels good." I recently stumbled upon Jaubi while researching for a then as-yet-unpublished interview with Basement Donuts mastermind and She's So Rad frotnman Jeremy Toy. Stones Throw wrote, within their piece titled LEONARD CHARLES - BASEMENT DONUTS - J DILLA TRIBUTE: "our friend DJ Mehdi, who passed away in 2011, was among the first to create a whole album inspired by Donuts, his 2006 mixtape Loukoums. The Roots gave the world Dilla [Jawns]. As far away as Pakistan, the band Jaubi covered "Time: Donut of The Heart." Following my since-published interview with Jeremy Toy, I reached out to Jaubi, via their Bandcamp-listed email address and Ali Riaz Baqar wrote back. After a few weeks worth of emailed exchanges, here's a comprehensive 10-question interview conducted with Baqar; spanning everything from covering Dilla, their The Deconstructed Ego EP and its forthcoming follow-up, seamlessly blending Middle Eastern and Western styles of music, and covering everyone from Nas & DJ Premier to MADVILLAIN... trust me, I've heard Jaubi's early home demo rendition of Nas' DJ Premier-produced "NY State of Mind" (cleverly re-titled "Lahore State of Mind") and it's most definitely something to keep an eye and ear out for!


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Dilla Diehard & Pastry Enthusiast

I. How did you first come to hear J Dilla's music and ultimately, decide to include your Indian Classical-influenced covers within The Deconstructed Ego EP?

It was actually through D’Angelo that I discovered J Dilla. I was listening to Voodoo (2000) non-stop and started to research about everything involved in making that album because for me those songs are like gems and are the epitome of contemporary musical excellence. During that research process, I listened and read a lot of interviews about Voodoo and the whole Soulquarians [collective] and one of the recurring themes/names mentioned was Dilla, especially his drumming style. Then I went back and delved deep into the Dilla catalogue and my ears were opened to not only a new sound, but also a new approach to music. The decision to include “Dilla-esque” songs on the EP was never the plan because it didn’t really fit the Indian Classical music vibe, plus the emphasis for the EP was original music. “Dilla Taal” came about after listening to [Slum Village's] “Fall In Love” repeatedly and jamming over that simple motif in different taals (time signatures). Since it sounded right, it was left on the EP. After discovering Dilla and realizing his death anniversary was coming up, I posed to the others to record a short dedication covering one of his songs; in fact, that was the last song that was recorded.

II. How have "Dilla Taal (For Dilla)" aka "Fall In Love" and your unique rendition of "Time: Donut of The Heart" been received by the greater Hip-Hop community? Has Jaubi gotten any note-worthy feedback over the past few months?

“Time” was released in February 2016 in memory of Dilla passing away 10 years ago. When it was released, I remember saying to myself “I would be happy if only 50 people viewed it” because no one knows us musically and we didn’t have any other songs that were released, at that time. Then, within a few days, it started to get some attention. It was surprising, but gratifying, when Madlib Tweeted us and when The [James Dewitt Yancey] Foundation Facebook page shared our cover. “Dilla Taal” got some attention, but not as much as “Time."

III. "Jaubi is an Urdu word roughly translating to "whatever;" creating whatever sounds good and whatever feels good is the goal," as outlined within your Bandcamp page. How do you typically go about discovering and presenting styles to your band mates to add into to Jaubi's ever-evolving sound?

Discovering new artists is a process of trial-and-error, after constant listening and researching. It can sometimes be a long journey with a low yield, but when you find someone’s music that moves you, it is as if they define your whole essence. Presenting different styles to the others is easy because they guys are so technically advanced, they can try anything. More importantly, they have an open mind and willingness to try anything. The difficult part comes when trying to find that balance between East and West and doing justice to each song.

IV. While I love the title "The Deconstructed Ego" and its companion EP artwork, what exactly is it intended to mean or signify?

The fundamental philosophy during this EP was to put egos aside and create without any egotism; doing the songs justice, rather than our ego justice—leaving arrogance and technical pomposity outside. When you deconstruct or break down the ego, then only can you achieve musical purity. The cover was inspired by an anatomy drawing of a cadaver, where the vessels and muscles were exposed. I really liked that picture, as I felt it signified the philosophy. Anne Selling worked her magic!

V. What's next for Jaubi... do you have any current plans to record any more J Dilla covers or similar-minded material from any additional Hip-Hop luminaries? And how about a proper follow-up to The Deconstructed Ego EP?

We’re just about to start working on our next project and it will be mainly Hip-Hop-based with some horns and vocal harmonies, but coming from an Indian Classical music perspective. One song that will be recorded is “N.Y. [Lahore] State of Mind” by Nas & DJ Premier. It is in pure classical music style, staying within a raga and taal. Another song that we’re working on, at the moment, is J Dilla’s “Alien Family." Other’s may be MADVILLAIN’s “Figaro” and/or “Shout” by ONYX. I’ve also produced some beats that may sneak through; who knows!

VI. What's your typical recording process like? From what I've seen within your "Time: Donut of The Heart" video, it almost looks like a live in-studio or largely improvised set-up.

It’s a combination of both, but largely depends on the song. The percussion-based ones are virtually entirely improvised, whilst the more melodic ones have the structured main melody and then, everyone is free to do whatever they want.

VII. You previously mentioned your "love for Dilla + Hip-Hop," so what would you likely name as a few of your favorite Hip-Hop releases of the past 12-18 months (be they from America or other parts of the world)?

One of my favorite recent releases is Cold Radish Coma by a band called 30/70 hailing from Melbourne, Australia. It doesn’t have any emcees rapping on it, but it’s a fusion of all the good musical styles. Also, I’ve recently discovered the lo-fi Hip-Hop beat scene and really like that, especially some producers from Japan (e.g. Youtaro). For the new EP, I’ve mainly been going back into 90’s Hip-Hop and really digging Lord Finesse, A.G. etc.

VIII. What are the names of each member in your band and what role do they ultimately play in the Jaubi writing and recording process?

The current line-up is Zohaib “Zebi” Hassan Khan (sarangi), Qammar “Vicky” Abbas (percussion), Kashif Ali Dhani (tabla), and myself, [Ali Riaz Baqar] (guitar). The writing process usually begins at my house, when Zebi and Vicky come over and I present ideas to them and we jam and try and structure them into a certain raga or taal. It is very much a collective writing process; we’re open to everything! We then record them on my laptop, listen to it, and decide which songs we like and record them properly in the studio. Often times, we have to copy ourselves from the home demos because of the improvisational nature.

IX. What would you likely cite as some of your greatest sources of influence on The Deconstructed Ego EP and its currently in-the-works follow-up?

For The [Deconstructed] Ego EP, Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, and Pat Metheny were probably the biggest influences for me, but for the next EP, definitely D’Angelo, Dilla, Bill Evans, Parliament-Funkadelic, and Sun Ra are perhaps the main influences.

X. I'm always open to hearing music from all parts of the world; however, I can't say I'm familiar with much World Hip-Hop... could you likely turn myself and my readers on to any sharp-tongued emcees hailing from in or around Lahore, Pakistan?

The music industry within Pakistan isn’t that commercially viable and most people release music independently. There are only a handful of full-time musicians; majority of them stick to Pop stuff for a variety of reasons, so there’s hardly any Hip-Hop artists out there (or at least hardly any artists that are releasing music,yout anyway). Adil Omar is perhaps Pakistan’s most famous emcee. He hails from Islamabad and has recorded with Xzibit.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

P.I.C. Emcee & Musician Steven E. Mallorca Re-emerges As Sulu & Excelsior with Eddie Romero Single "Up to You" (Slow Jam King Productions)

"One of the running themes [throughout] Eddie Romero can be heard in the opening and closing tracks of the album, when I rhyme: "shall I croon or shall I spit?" Basically, I wanted to play with the image of an old school crooner, "a slow jam king," that all of a sudden flips his ballad on its ear and starts rhyming all fast and frenetic. On the first single, "Up to You" this idea is in full effect; to me, I feel like the melody is really sweet and romantic, but I wanted to contrast this with a fast and somewhat hectic beat that hits hard and could be equally at home with Big Daddy Kane rhyming over it."

- Steve Mallorca (Sulu & Excelsior)

New York-based trumpet player, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, producer, rapper, and film-maker Steven E. Mallorca's Sulu & Excelsior Facebook page self-describes his music as "Johnny Mathis meets Mos Def meets Stevie Wonder meets Nat King Cole;" a long-time member and driving force behind genre-blending Hiphopfunkpunkmamboska group P.I.C. since 2000, Mallorca has finally decided to branch of onto his own unique solo venture dubbed Sulu & Excelsior, which has been further described by Steve Mallorca as a quasi-name for his live backing band, a homage to 1950-60's old school Doo-Wop & Soul group names, as well as a thinly-veiled Captain Sulu-Excelsior (Star Trek) reference. "Building on the genre-bending Hip-Hop of his work with P.I.C. Mallorca takes Sulu & Excelsior further into hyphenated musical territory, as he plays all the instruments and vocal performances with nods to influences that span 1940's and 50's crooning, 60's and 70's Soul, and 80's and 90's Hip-Hop... Mallorca was in the process of writing songs for a new film project, when he decided to develop them further, and this collection of tunes eventually became Sulu & Excelsior's debut album, Eddie Romero," Steven E. Mallorca wrote within his on-site Bandcamp description of his latest project.

Eddie Romero's 14 contained tracks were entirely "produced, arranged, composed, and performed by Steven E. Mallorca; all vocals and instruments performed by Steven E. Mallorca," reads Eddie Romero's Bandcamp liner notes. I think the best way I could possibly attempt to describe Sulu & Excelsior's approach is by describing his Flea Market Funk-debuted "Up to You" as an utterly infectious Neo-Soul/Funk banger, which I would likely compare to what an imagined Stones Throw emcee-assisted Mayer Hawthorne Hip-Hop album might sound like. Steve Mallorca's debut as Sulu & Excelsior, Eddie Romero, is currently available for $7.00 (or more) from his personal Bandcamp page; while "Up to You," the first of roughly seven planned music videos from an accompanying "visual album," was premiered over at Flea Market Funk just the other day. "'Up to You" has Sulu crooning over serious upbeat Soul drums with haunting organ behind and a driving bassline that will no doubt get them dancing. Harmonies all around, Sulu has some influences near and dear to him, and when he drops the mic to spit a rhyme, you see the extent of his musical abilities. The horn stabs are killer too, Mr. Sulu plays the Hell of that trumpet, as well. This is definitely a fresh, genre-bending long-player no doubt," Flea Market Funk founder DJ Prestige exuberantly wrote this past Monday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Lee Fields & The Expressions Pianist Toby Pazner On The Olympians' Daptone All-Stars-assisted Self-titled Debut (The Witzard Interview)

"After repeatedly being visited by a strange messenger in his dreams while on tour in the islands of Greece, Toby Pazner became consumed with a vision to tell the stories of The Olympians through music. Chosen by the gods as a messenger for not only his musical gifts, but for his unique position at the center of the Daptone family, Toby built a home studio from scratch and employed some of the top Soul musicians in the world to help him breath life into this album," reads a fragmented chunk of The Olympians' on-site Bandcamp press release. Tobias "Toby" Pazner's musical journey with the Daptone/Truth & Soul/Big Crown Records-affiliated family dates back as far as 2005 and his piano-vibraphone credits include records by Lee Fields & The Expressions, Lady, El Michels Affair, Lady Wray, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Menahan Street Band, Aloe Blacc, Bronx River Parkway & Candela All-Stars, Ultimate Breaks & Beats, and The Bushwick Philharmonic. Toby Pazner then assembled a revitalized version of his short-lived 2008-09 solo project, The Olympians "featuring the talents of Thomas Brenneck (Menahan Street Band, Budos Band, Charles Bradley), Dave Guy (Tonight Show Band, The Dap-Kings) Leon Michels (The Arcs, Lee Fields), Nicholas Movshon, Homer Steinweiss (The Dap-Kings), Michael Leonhart, Neal Sugarman (The Dap-Kings), and Evan Pazner (Lee Fields)." It's been about a month in-the-works and now, upon the recent release of their bohemoth of a self-titled Daptone Records debut, I'm proud to present my interview with The Olympians' keyboardist, percissionist, and general mastermind, Toby Pazner; sit back, read through our intervew, and enjoy the Ancient Greece-evoking instrumental magic of The Olympians!


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

I. How did you go about hand-picking and assembling your band for The Olympians self-titled Daptone debut? What role does each member play in the band?

I grew up with several of the members of the band. The other members, I have met through my years of playing music in NYC. Each musician brought [their] role in different ways. Primarily, the horn players helped craft the melody and the rhythm section helped shape the chords to the compositions. However, they all influenced each other, as the tracks were recorded. We’ve all been playing music together for many years in one band or another, so we know how to work together to create something new and distinct.

II. How does this iteration of The Olympians differ from its 2008-09 incarnation that previously released two Truth & Soul 45’s?

The main difference was the recording technique. Many of the same musicians play on the album and the 45's. However, recording equipment changed significantly; I upgraded from a 1/4 Tascam-388 to a 1-inch Tascam MS-16. A lot of the mics and gear that was used to record the album were not available to me when we recorded the 45's. I also had more tracks to work with, so I could make the sound bigger more [comfortably].

III. “After playing the famous Acoropolis in Athens and swimming in the Agean Sea, Pazner dreamed he was visited by a toga-clad, curly-haired figure who told him to travel across the great sea to his home and build a “Temple of Sound;’” how did these dreams help influence the writing, recording processes, and overall narratives of The Olympians?

It really served as a beacon; a point to move towards. It helped coalesce the album around a certain theme and push it towards its completion as a singular album of songs with a mind set, not merely a collection of random instrumentals.

IV. What was a typical recording session for your Olympians LP like, let’s say, for example, “Sirens of Jupiter?” Was it especially challenging with everyone’s rather hectic schedules?

Well, generally, we’d start with myself and the drummer. Sometimes a bassist, as well. I would have an idea for a song then we would work it out. I or the bass player would come in and track the bassline. I would [then] bring the reel over to Dunham or Diamond Mine Records and Thomas Brenneck would lay down some guitar. The horn players would come over and put the melody down. Last, I would add strings, harp, and any other auxiliary instruments. All along, I would be recording and re-recording keyboard parts.

V. How did you ultimately decide on the (quite clever) band and project name, The Olympians... any correlation to Paschalis Arvanitidis-helmed The Olympians from Thessaloniki, Greece active from roughly 1965-71?

It actually was the idea of my friend and drummer Homer Steinweiss. It was originally named in 2008 while the Beijing Olympics were taking place.

VI. “Pazner shared the fruit of his long venture with his long-time friends and co-owners of Daptone Records Gabriel Roth & Neal Sugarman, who jumped at the opportunity to release it,” reads tour recent press release. Exactly what type of roles and overall influence did Neal & Gabriel play within The Olympians’ creation?

Gabe was actually the one who approached me about releasing it on Daptone and mixing it. I went out to California to his studio there and we spent 10 days mixing it. Was a lot of fun! I’ve known both Gabe & Neal for years. They are responsible in a lot of ways for the development of Soul music out of New York for the past two decades. Daptone is a quality label that has brought Soul music back into the fold for a new generation of listeners.

VII. What might you likely cite as some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence on The Olympians’ Daptone debut—outside of inspiration drawn from your fellow band mates?

There are several influences; everyone from The Beatles, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, and Marvin Gaye, to Ramsey Lewis, Miles Davis, and Horace Silver.

VIII. How do you think your years of experience playing with Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Lee Fields & The Expressions, El Michels Affair, Aloe Blacc, and Lady, just to name a few, has played into dictating the overall sound and vibe harnessed within your long-awaited “solo” debut, The Olympians?

I’ve spent a lot of time learning about making albums by sitting in on writing sessions and recording sessions; sitting there and watching the great producers for these albums work and craft the sound has been a huge influence on the making of my own album. Also, listening to music I love and studying [it] has allowed me to find my own sound.

IX. Following The Olympians wide release this upcoming Friday, October 28th, what do you currently have planned next… any immediate plans for any more 7-inch singles, proper music videos, and Olympians “All-Stars” tour, etc?

The plan is to put something together with a singer for the next album. Instrumental music is great and a lot of fun to make, but working with lyrics and a vocalist brings a more personal touch to an album and makes it so much easier to reach people and have your listeners relate to the songs you’ve written.

X. Now, since we’re a primarily Hip-Hop-centric publication here at The Witzard with one foot firmly planted in Punk/Indie Rock and another in Soul-Funk… do you currently have any vaulted tracks recorded with sharp-tongued emcees awaiting release? And if not, who would you ideally, like to work with?

I feel a lot of the tracks on this album could be sampled pretty easily. [I] would love to have someone like Q-Tip work over one of the tracks. One of the great things about Hip-Hop is its ability to take an existing work and change it into something different by building upon what's already there. I would love to see an emcee take a shot at these songs!

The Olympians are...

Toby Pazner - keyboards, vibraphone, bass, and percussion
Nicholas Movshon - drums and bass
Homer Steinweiss - drums
Evan Pazner - drums and percussion
Thomas Brenneck - guitar
Leon Michels - saxophone
Neal Sugarman - saxophone
David Guy - trumpet
Michael Leonhart - trumpet
Aaron Johnson - trombone
Fernando Velez - congas and percussion
Megan Conley - harp
Antoine Silverman - violin
Anja Wood - cello