Thursday, July 20, 2017

Kotolan Unleash Soul-Disco/New Wave-inspired Singles "Wallflower" & "Tokyo Subway" Recorded at The Lion's Den with Dan Ubick, David Ralicke & Jordan Katz (Kotolan Inspirations Playlist)

"Video premiere!! Thanks to Otto Granillo and Junko Seki, I got to get my [New Wave] on producing this catchy tune, "Wallflower" for their group Kotolan. Mixed beautifully by my main man, Stephen Kaye at SunKing Studios," The Lions producer and bandleader Dan Ubick AKA Connie Price enthusiastically wrote on Facebook this past May; just about a month after "Wallflower," Kotolan unleashed their second Dan Ubick-produced single, "Toyko Subway." Trombonist, audio-visual artist, and "OTO" half of Kotolan, Otto Granillo recently told me that he and his wife/bandmate Junko Seki "have been writing an producing singles lately, instead of making an album." Although, Granillo says they're currently "throwing around the idea of releasing a full-length album in the future [with] a group of previously-released singles from a specific year/period" of Kotolan's recent work. Granillo currently plays trombone with Dan Ubick's Soul-Reggae revival group, The Lions and recorded trombone riffs for their second Stones Throw album, Soul Riot (2015). It appears as though Kotolan currently features only Junko Seki, Otto Granillo, and honorary member Dan Ubick on guitar, drums, bass, and percussion. While "Tokyo Subway" only features Junko, Otto & Dan, "Wallflower" additionally highlights the talents of baritone saxophonist David Ralicke and trumpet player Jordan Katz. Kotolan's former La Tienda de Groove-era line-up showcased The Lions players Blake Colie and Eddie Felix, as well as guitarist Carlos Kuhlmann. I would like to bring particular attention an 80's New Wave, Synth-Pop, and 2 Tone Ska playlist featured down below, which was assembled by Otto & Junko, complete with songs that influenced and inspired them while recording "Wallflower," "Tokyo Subway," and their as-yet-unreleased recordings. Now, I'll let Kotolan frontwoman and synth-keyboard player Junko Seki take it from here!

"I met Dan Ubick through my husband, Otto, who is also a member of The Lions. Otto had just finished recording trombone at The Lion's Den (Dan's studio) for their second album, Soul Riot, when he brought up to me the idea of collaborating with Dan on our project. Otto and I started Kotolan in 2008. We explored an eclectic range of styles in our compositions, which you can hear in our first album, La Tienda de Groove, but eventually, evolved to our current sound. Otto and I have a passion for late 70's British and American Rock and early 80's New Wave. Artists like The Cars, Talking Heads, Ultravox, Gary Newman, The Police, Madness, The Jam, The Specials, The Clash, The Selecter, Blondie, Culture Club, Joy Division, Laid Back, and XTC, to name a few. After a discussion with Dan, we decided to collaborate on a couple of singles with a New Wave sound in mind and him taking the role as music producer. Our first single, "Wallflower" took on a Soul-Disco/New Wave sound with synth and guitar lines, along with the three-horn Kotolan sound (trombone, baritone saxophone, and trumpet) we've maintained, since the beginning. Dan played the guitar, drums, bass, and percussion..."

"Our second single, "Tokyo Subway" dug deeper into the New Wave sound with more synths being used. Otto came up with the Micromoog lines and I layered a variety of other synth sounds on top of it. Dan got in the mix, adding even more synth parts, along with playing drums, bass, and guitar. We chose to leave out the horns on this one. Both songs were mixed and mastered at SunKing Studios by Stephen Kaye (also, a member of The Lions) who's got a pretty impressive resume as a mixing engineer. Otto also has a passion for [film-making] and photography (which he did while at Cal Arts working on his master's degree in music) and filmed both music videos. "Tokyo Subway" was filmed in Tokyo, during our recent trip there. Our current plan is to continue releasing singles for now and we'll be collaborating with Dan on a couple more songs this year."

- Junko Seki (Kotolan)

Kotolan's Influences & Inspirations Playlist

I. Ultravox - "The Voice"
II. Ultravox - "I Want to Be a Machine"
III. The Jam - "Going Underground"
IV. Tubeway Army - "Are 'Friends' Electric?"
V. Gary Newman - "Cars"
VI. The Cars - "Moving In Stereo"
VII. The Cars - "Touch & Go"
VIII. Talking Heads - "Psycho Killer"
IX. Talking Heads - "Making Flippy Floppy"
X. Madness - "My Girl"
XI. David Bowie - "Ashes to Ashes"

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Baltimore "Talk Singer"-producer Height Keech Complies Beat-maker Bedrock #5 On The Heels of Shark Tank's Dan's House (Cold Rhymes Records)

"I'm Height Keech. I'm a rapper from Baltimore, MD. I grew up being the guy in the crew that didn't know how to make the beats I heard in my head... Now, I feel like I've found my own voice as a producer and I'm off to the races. These are some of the records [whose] production has inspired me, through the years."

- Height Keech (Shark Tank)

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

"A lot has been said about this album, so let me zero in on my favorite track: "Night of The Living Baseheads." The main sample is like a Jack-In-The-Box opening every two seconds. The change-up leading into the second verse feels like a transmission from another planet. Every little piece is perfectly executed, yet it feels like you’re on an insane train that could go off the rails at any second. It used to be way more labor-intensive to do all these weird one-off changes and flourishes; the level to which [The Bomb Squad] knocked it all out of the park floors me."

II. Ice Cube - Death Certificate (1991)

"There aren’t many Rap albums where the beats feel more like one solid statement. This album always made me feel like I was in California, before I had ever been there. I love how they freaked all these loops that are tied to LA music history in a very specific way. It feels like an Uncle Jamm’s Army party, but the hard-as-Hell drums and great mixes place you in what could only be Cube’s World."

III. Koopsta Knicca- Da Devils' Playground (1999)

"Three 6 Mafia have one million imitators, but I don’t think anyone has really captured the eerie, bleak, lo-fi sound of their 90’s releases. There’s a sadness and strangeness to it. It’s like a Psychedelic take on Southern Gangster Rap. DJ Paul is under-rated as a producer, both when unearthing unheard loops and when manipulating well-worn material."

IV. Quasimoto - The Unseen (2000)

"The summer this came out, I was in NYC on one of my first tours. I was crawling into a sleeping bag and my host suggested I pop this album into my Discman as I doze off. I instantly felt like I was floating around in someone’s cartoon dreamworld. All the loops are bananas, but that’s just half the story; even if you sliced up all the same samples and gave them to another producer, they would never come up with this totally unique world. It feels like Madlib spilled this whole universe out of his brain and on to the album."

V. Boogie Boy Metal Mouth - Boogie Boy Metal Mouth (2013)

"To me, these guys created a new chamber of Rap. It was only acknowledged by a few, but those few really cherish it. It doesn’t seem like they were trying to innovate, as much as if they were just compelled to do this unique thing. With these beats, I can’t always tell what I’m hearing. I’m never sure what’s a sample being triggered and what’s being cut up on a turntable. For me, that confusion makes it more mysterious and helps me get lost in the music. The meat and bones of the beats are all A-plus and then, they hit you with all these smaller, subtle change-ups that add up in big way."


I. Spoonie Gee - "Spoonin' Rap" (Prod. By Peter Brown)
II. Rammellzee & K-Rob - "Beat Bop" ("Prod. By" Jean-Michel Basquiat)
III. Man Parrish feat. Freeze Force - "Boogie Down (Bronx)"
IV. Fantasy Three - "It’s Your Rock" (Prod. By Master O.C.)
V. Schoolly D - "Saturday Night"
VI. KMD - "What a N***y Know?" (Prod. By Zev Love X AKA DOOM)
VII. New Kingdom - "Mexico or Bust"
VIII. Ghostface Killah - "Nutmeg" (Prod. By Black Moes-Art)
IX. Project Pat - "If You Ain’t from My Hood" (Prod. By Juicy J & DJ Paul)
X. Esham - "Nowimtalkinbout"

For maybe about 10 years or so, I've heard the names "Height," "Height with Friends," "Height Keech," etc. uttered throughout Indie Hip-Hop/Rap Blog circles and seemingly, always being rather highly-regarded. Although, for whatever reasons, I never really took the opportunity to delve in much deeper (now, I see that was a BIG mistake!) However, I do remember buying Height with Friends' ROCK AND ROLL CD (2012) from Baltimore-based Friends Records either along with WEEKENDS' Strange Cultures LP or Dope Body drummer (David) Jacober's Water Karaoke solo tape. Fast-forward to April-May 2016, when I received a fateful cold-sent email from John "Jumbled" Bachman concerning his latest producer album, [I wish it was longer], which just so happened to feature a who's-who of talented Baltimore emcees and beatsmiths, as well as recently re-branded Height Keech on "Lamplight." Around Feb. 2016, Stereogum's Senior Editor Tom Breihan premiered Height Keech's "DEAD RIDER RIDE ON" from his then-impending 4/25 album, MIND MOVES THE MOUNTAIN on his own label imprint, Cold Rhymes Records.

I really dug what I heard and figured, although, it was likely a shot in Hell, I would reach out to Height to see if he would want to potentially do a feature or interview for The Witzard. "Yes! The fourth Shark Tank album will be the next release on Cold Rhymes. Our mission this time was to steer away from the extremely zany/inside joke territory explored on our last album [Don't F**k with Us] and come with an concise album of straight heat," Height replied within our March 2017 The Witzard interview when questioned about his group, Shark Tank. Now, that fateful day has arrived; just a mere three months after MIND MOVES THE MOUNTAIN, Shark Tank AKA THE FUN YOUNGS' fourth album, Dan's House is here! I've taken it upon myself to embed wonderfully-titled album closer "Chris Isaak Can't Do a Thing (to Stop Me)" and "Dan's House (Shouts to Hell Rell)," as well as The Witzard-premiered "ACE," within this very Beat-maker Bedrock column. Shark Tank's Height-produced Dan's House is currently available on Cold Rhymes Records.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

THE NATURAL CURRICULUM's "Chief Producer" AVER Readies Latest Instrumental Hip-Hop Album, Die Berlin Dateien (Village Live Records)

"'Die Berlin Dateien' is the first fully Instrumental Hip-Hop album by AVER, the chief producer of THE NATURAL CURRICULUM (TNC). Created whilst living in Berlin, AVER developed the 16 tracks as part of an attempt to evolve traditional sample use with more complex rhythms and off-beat drum breaks. The album features scratching and [beat-boxing] by fellow members of TNC and is overlaid with German-language vocals that provide an abstract narrative to further embellish the dream-like, somewhat dystopian nature of the album," Village Live Records' Die Berlin Dateien Vinyl + Cassette Tape product description reads. AVER AKA Joey Average AKA Joe Mills is one of the producer-emcees behind Manchester-based THE NATURAL CURRICULUM, along with emcee Bill Sykes, rapper-producer Chalk, DJ-producer Omas, beat-boxer Jam, DJ El Statiko, and (sometimes member) DJ Ink. It's currently unclear which of Joey Average's fellow THE NATURAL CURRICULUM'ers are featured "scratching and [beat-boxing]" through out Die Berlin Dateien, but Village Live says orders will likely start shipping around 24/07/17.

AVER and I last spoke around the time he released January's similarly-minded INSTRUMENTALS.3, which he then described as "a collection of ideas I was experimenting with in 2016 that don't quite fit into a bigger instrumental project I am currently working on (you could say they are the off-cuts, I guess!)" It now appears as though this "bigger instrumental project" AVER casually mentioned is his first label-released album, Die Berlin Dateien. As of just yesterday—Monday, July 17th, 2017—Die Berlin Dateien is currently available for pre-order in a number of limited edition formats: 300 vinyl LP's, 50 cassettes, 1 now-sold out white label test pressing, and digital album download. Village Live Records have uploaded a few multi-media album teasers including THE NATURAL CURRICULUM DJ Omas' 14-minute "Die Berlin Dateien Promo Mix," Ja-a-mes-directed Die Berlin Dateien (Official Trailer,) and Facebook-shared "one-off Test Pressing" teaser clip tagged #Aver, #DieBerlinDateien, #Testpressing, #Hiphop, #Triphop.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Witzard Premier & Vinyl Review: Blacksonny & Red Datsun's "Tourniquet"/"Container Store" & "Korean Tacos" Split 7-inch (Persistence of Sound)

"The musicians in both Blacksonny and Red Datsun are all part of our collective of creative friends that fall under the Riding Mower Records umbrella. For example, Joel [Bernardo], who plays bass in Blacksonny is also P.I.C.'s bass player, Eric [Gonzales], who plays keys in Red Datsun is P.I.C.'s keyboard player, I play bass in Red Datsun, but am the DJ for P.I.C. Dave Canton, who plays guitar in Red Datsun has played guitar in Blacksonny and has joined P.I.C. on stage on occasion, as well, etc. Riding Mower Records is the record label that was started by P.I.C. to release their own recordings, but also those of our talented friends. Blacksonny and Red Datsun have released albums on Riding Mower Records in the past. The "label" that this specific release is on is Persistence of Sound, which is my personal imprint and was done with the blessing of Riding Mower Records with both groups retaining all rights to music and artwork accordingly."

- Mas Yamagata (Red Datsun)

DRUNKEN MAN SIDE: A1 Blacksonny - "Tourniquet:"

I had accidentally set my record player on either 33 1/3 or 78RPM speed, as opposed to standard 45RPM speed (which is a fun little trick, if you haven't tried it before) and Blacksonny's split 7-inch lead-off track "Tourniquet" sounded a bit creepy, at first before properly adjusting the setting. "Jesus was a barrister; Jesus was all clad in furs," Blacksonny frontman Micah Valdes eerily exclaims about 30-seconds into "Tourniquet." It seems to be about either infidelity, addiction, etc. in a relationship and vaguely sounds a bit like The Mars Volta/At The Drive-In and has an early 2000's Punk/Brit Rock type feel.

Red Datsun bassist Mas Yamagata tells me he drove Blacksonny's guitarist John Ariz to Lakehouse Recording Studios one day to track some additional guitar parts and who did they bump into, but none other than Bouncing Souls guitarist Pete Steinkopf; Mas wasn't exactly sure how, but simply says John and Pete are "old music buddies" and Steinkopf would work a day or two a week, between his own projects, recording with Blacksonny & Red Datsun's buddy Eric Bennett. "Tourniquet" and Red Datsun's "Container Store" and "Korean Tacos" were all recorded and mixed by Eric Bennett, Dylan McLean, and Pete Steinkopf at Lakehouse Recording Studios in Asbury Park, NJ. Brief story about the cover artwork from Red Datsun's Mas: "The photo was taken by Micah (Blacksonny) when he was in Japan visiting family. Apparently, the man on the street was super-drunk and was picking a fight with a police officer, before he passed out. The bike is believed to be his. He's lucky cops in Japan don't carry guns."

BIKE SIDE: B1 Red Datsun - "Container Store:"

I was expecting Hiphopfunkpunkmamboska stylings because of (DJ) Mas' past work with P.I.C. and Sulu & Excelsior, but I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised with Red Datsun's "Bike Side." It's the perfect blend of American Punk/Indie Rock and is perfectly suited for 7-inch vinyl format. "Container Store" is fuzzed out, fast, jittery, intentionally "sloppy," and very Punk Rock. I'm reminded of Henry Rollins-era Black Flag (is there really any other era?) The Misfits, Iggy & The Stooges, The Sex Pistols, and Dischord Records. Red Datsun expertly employ that age-old Hardcore effect wherein the music itself sounds like it's falling apart at the seams, as well as chug-a-lug bass. Arctic Monkeys-esque spiraling/wailing guitar riffs are heard within "Container Store"'s outro, before it abruptly stops. Although, before you know it, the needle goes right into Track #B2.

BIKE SIDE: B2 Red Datsun - "Korean Tacos:"

Little less fast-paced and frantic right from the intro, when compared against B1 "Container Store." It's very guitar-heavy with a crunchy guitar/bass/drums combo, slight Electronic noise, and a bit of twang is sensed in frontman David Miller's shouted vocals. "Korean Tacos" embodies more of a modern Hard Rock-type feel reminiscent of Queens of The Stone Age, Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, and Arctic Monkeys. Miller's "let's go commit a crime, as the midnight washes past us..." refrain is a bit reminiscent of either Iggy Pop or Stones frontman Mick Jagger. Bassist and Persistence of Sound founder Mas Yamagata tells me both sides of Blacksonny/Red Datsun's split 7-inch were ripped directly to audio MP3's and digitized into what you're now hearing on Bandcamp, which is why you can almost hear the vinyl arm click "OFF" at the end of Side B. Now, my only complaint would be that Blacksonny/Red Datsun's split 7-inch is extremely TOO SHORT and leaves me wanting more from both groups (but I guess that really isn't a bad "complaint!")

Leandro Gonzalez at Kenilworth, NJ-based Stereodisk pressed up a limited-run of 60 white label "show records" just in time for a December 2016 Red Datsun & Blacksonny gig, which we'll just call a "soft release" of their split 7-inch. Now, today, on this glorious Monday morning, I'm proud to present to you... the landmark second pressing of Blacksonny/Red Datsun's split 7-inch now available for purchase on Red Datsun's Bandcamp. There are a total of 500 records pressed at Stereodisk with what Mas Yamagata describes as "tons of variants; small hole, big hole, red vinyl, black vinyl, white label, official label, black and red vinyl swirls." Mas and his fellow Red Datsun/Blacksonny bandmates have recently been sending their split 7-inch around to members of the press, like myself, and now, you, the consumer, are also able to bask in the stereophonic glory that is "Tourniquet," "Container Store," and "Korean Tacos" for an extremely reasonable $5 price tag.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Philly DJ & Producer DJ Apt One Unleashes Amy Douglas, Bosq & DJ Bruce-assisted Neo-Disco EP Under "Latest & Greatest Pseudonym," Michael The Lion (Soul Clap Records)

"When Rap Dads collide, their Rap Sons win. Shouts to @djaptone and his boy! And shouts to Uncle @curlycastro in the background playing free safety on defense with my son running wild!" Career Crook Stevie Z. (@zillarocca) posted on his Instagram 5 DAYS AGO following an apparent chance meeting with fellow "Rap Dad" DJ Apt One AKA Michael The Lion and his son in West Philly's own Clark Park. I promptly Followed and reached out to DJ Apt One, figuring any friend of Zilla Rocca's was an instant friend of mine; @djaptone seemingly shared the same kind of sentiment, simply Tweeting back "a friend of Zilla's is a friend of mine. I'd be happy to talk about it." He was of course, referring to his upcoming debut as Michael The Lion, by way of aptly-titled Michael The Lion EP on Soul Clap Records. Michael Fichman AKA DJ Apt One has shared stages with "some of the best talents of this generation," including Diplo, Spank Rock, Wale, Dillon Francis, Peanut Butter Wolf, De La Soul, RJD2, The Budos Band, The Flaming Lips, Flosstradamus, and more and is the Founder and Executive of Young Robot Records. Michael The Lion's Michael The Lion EP is now available for purchase in a number of formats including shiny black Record/Vinyl and 5-track Digital Album; depending on preferred format, Michael The Lion EP consists of 4-5 tracks, an Earth-shattering vocal assist from Amy Douglas, "Get It On" (Bosq Remix) and a pair of digital-only DJ Bruce remixes. @bosqmusic told me over Twitter that he "played lots of instruments under Amy's killer vocals and it was fun!" I was lucky enough to attain additional statements from Michael The Lion himself and modern day Disco Diva Amy Douglas, which can both be read in full down below. Michael The Lion EP is now available digitally and on 12-inch from Soul Clap Records.

"The Michael The Lion project is the culmination of years of tinkering with classic Dance music sounds—adding live instruments and voice to the kind of production techniques I learned as a Hip-Hop producer and as a producer of DJ-friendly edits—kind of a Stetsasonic-type approach. I try to take the composition and textures of Disco and bring them into a modern context and let some gravity, soul, and positivity seep back onto the dancefloor. I'm aided greatly by Amy Douglas, who provides some amazing vocals on this record. The artwork by Rick Gabriele and the [total] package put together by Soul Clap [Records] are really first-rate and a great tribute to what we think has been lost in the digital age: a real piece of art for your eyes, not just your ears."

- Michael The Lion (AKA DJ Apt One)

"I get the opportunity to sing for a variety of different people; sometimes, these unions produce projects (mostly notably Peach Melba, which I do with Juan Maclean (DFA [Records]) but often, I'm hired to do very "stock" things that don't always let me go "all the way there," as a writer and a vocalist. Working with Michael is rewarding because we have such a similar vision in what we want "Disco" conceptually to be, retaining the great hooks and song-writing of the classics, but presented in a modern context. I really love being a part of this project. Plus, Bosq and DJ Bruce, they destroyed those remixes!"

- Amy Douglas (FEINTS Frontwoman)

"NO REST FOR THE WRETCHED:" Third Sight Emcee Roughneck Jihad Shares 3-track The Wretched of The Verse Playlist Sampler (Track-By-Track Breakdown)

It would appear as though, after tracing back through a number of rather clumsily chronicled Twitter DM's, tongue-in-cheek Replies, countless @'s, and emailed transmissions that I first met Third Sight emcee Juan Betts AKA Roughneck Jihad (@roughneckjihad) through Twitter personality and sometimes Rap critic Elmattic (@thisiselmattic.) While he still might be a relatively unknown "underground emcee," Jihad—formerly known as Jihad The Roughneck MC—has been spittin' fresh rhymes since high school, 1988; over the years, he's formed countless Hip-Hop crews including Un Cut Poets, Third Sight with DJ Du Funk, Smooth Tone, and D-Styles, The Incredible Torture Show (T.I.T.S.) with Trailer Trasher & Maestro Gamin, The Language Mechanics with Insomniac & Raggedy Andy, The Tarantula Brothers with Du Funk, Disco Sinisto with Turin, Italy-based producer IL Torsolo, newly-formed Echoes of Oratory Music, The Darc Bros. and currently runs label imprint Disgruntled Sounds. There's also a vinyl and cassette re-release of Third Sight's 2016 Orchids & Corpses compilation album originally recorded to 4-track between 1993-96 scheduled for this upcoming September.

Aside from his forthcoming second solo album, The Wretched of The Verse (A Microphone Murderer's Extended-play Response to Unabridged Wackness In Hip-Hop Music Today) Roughneck Jihad is currently working on anywhere from 8-10 additional projects with a wide array of beat-minded collaborators including, but not limited to those listed above. Just this past week, he uploaded a "3-track playlist sampler of The Wretched to hold you over until the official release of the 12-track album on digital, cassette, and vinyl next month [August]!" I've heard two versions of Roughneck Jihad's The Wretched of The Verse through various stages of completion and I can assure you, it's one Hell of a single-emcee Hip-Hop album! Jihad collected hard-as-nails beats from the likes of A-Bomb, Pryvet Peepsho, Waxsmith, Frank John James, and BOOKS1. I would say The Wretched is stylistically reminiscent of Sean Price's Mic Tyson, Madlib & DOOM's MADVILLAINY, Wu-Tang Clan, and DOOM's Danger Mouse-produced [adult swim]-themed THE MOUSE AND THE MASK. Roughneck Jihad was gracious enough to offer up some EXCLUSIVE insight behind the tracks contained don his 3-song The Wretched sampler: "Blowhard" (Remix,) "H.O.M.D." AKA "Hands Off!!! (My D*ck,)" and "(I'ma) Smoke This Joint."

"'Blowhard" (Remix) is a diss song against bloviating conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Prager, Bill O’Reilly, Alan Dershowitz, and Sean Hannity. I take a unique approach to the diss by becoming the loud-mouth villain "Hurricane Harry Scrotum." This is the device I use to demonstrate and criticize fire-brand conservative righty talkers. Adding a little levity to the current political discourse that is so toxic in the process. Many emcees go after each other for one reason or another, but I choose a non-traditional target for Hip-Hop criticism providing a soundscape for my diatribe against these kinds of right wing talkers. [Pryvet] Peepsho provided the fresh beat an a vehicle for this critique. Originally, the songs he added to this album were ear-marked for a project we named 2-Dimensional Projection, but we ended up breaking that LP up and using five tracks from there on The Wretched [of The Verse].

"Blowhard" (Remix) Credits: Beat Production By Pryvet Peepsho, Mixed By Jerry D, Mastered By Steven Glaze at Tone Freq Studios, and Lyrics Written & Performed By Roughneck Jihad."

"'H.O.M.D." AKA "Hands Off!!! (My D*ck)" is a love poem to and about Hip-Hop. I open the song as if I am speaking to a lady I love, telling her that I am the best suitor. Waxsmith provided the dope track and some relevant cuts that add to the mix. The whole thing is underlined by live bass from The Dubulator.

"H.O.M.D." AKA "Hands Off!!! (My D*ck)" Credits: Beat Production & Cuts By Waxsmith, Mixed By Jerry D, Mastered By Steven Glaze at Tone Freq Studios, Bass Guitar By Dubulator, and Lyrics Written & Performed By Roughneck Jihad."

"'(I'ma) Smoke This Joint" is similar in emphasis to [Kendrick Lamar's] "B*tch, Don’t Kill My Vibe." I’m trying to communicate that certain things upset me and take me out of my zone. For instance, things like ignorance, stupidity, conspicuous consumption, love of money materialism, exploitation, and anti-blackness are a drag to me. So, in order to transcend the negative energies I often encounter, I self-medicate with medical marijuana. Of course, sprinkled in the mix are my wit and a little braggadocio, which are par for the course. All of this is layered over cuts and a dope track by Waxsmith, my Bay Area brother in the struggle.

"(I'ma) Smoke This Joint" Credits: Beat Production & Cuts By Waxsmith, Mixed By Jerry D, Mastered By Steven Glaze at Tone Freq Studios, and Lyrics Written & Performed By Roughneck Jihad."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"LISTEN ALL Y'ALL, IT'S A... SESAMETAGE:" Beastie Boys "Sabotage" x Sesame Street Mash-up Edited & Created By: Adam Schleichkorn (Mylo The Cat AKA isthishowyougoviral)

"I'm available to edit all sorts of videos and create all sorts of content. I'm also available for interviews, shenanigans, or if you just need a friend -," reads part of the YouTube description for OutKast | "Ms. Jackson" | Muppets Version. Needless to say, after witnessing the sheer greatness that is Beastie Boys | "Sabotage" | Sesame Street Mashup on both Stereogum and NPR Music late last week, I quickly reached out to Mylo The Cat AKA isthishowyougoviral AKA Adam Schleichkorn just for sh*ts and giggles, thinking he most likely, wouldn't write back... but before day's end, Adam had already responded back to my email thanking me for contacting him and adding that "most websites just crank out articles" and generally, don't bother to reach out. From what I can piece together from the shattered shards scattered across The Internet, Adam Schleichkorn's storied history with "going viral" started back in 2006 on an unspecified YouTube channel wherein Schleichkorn was a "YouTube Partner" and readily admits he "got a little too caught up in generating views for ad revenue, which made my content suffer."

Soon after, Adam went on to form Hidden Track TV, which birthed Mylo The Cat AKA The Coolest Cat On The Internet and before too long, garnered wide-spread acclaim and featured appearances on 20/20, FOXNews, The Jimmy Kimmel Show, The Tom Green Show, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Extra!, and The Maury Povich Show. Adam Schleichkorn now runs a new, similarly-minded channel fittingly titled isthishowyougoviral and posts edited videos and content commonly referred to as either "Muppets Rapping" or "Muppet Mash-ups" videos. He's single-handedly created such side-splitting and meme-worthy content as Naughty By Nature | "Hip-Hop Hooray" | Muppets Version, Digital Underground | "The Humpty Dance" | Muppets Version, ODB | "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" | Muppets Version, Warren G-approved "Regulate" | Sesame Street Version, and Kendrick Lamar | "Swimming Pools (Drank)" | Rick and Morty Mashup. I'll just let Adam Schleichkorn take it from here:

"No prob. So, about three years ago, I created a Muppets/Beastie Boys mash-up that was my first "modern-day" viral video. People have literally been requesting another Beasties track since then, but I wanted to wait 'til I had an idea that could potentially top the original. The music video for "Sabotage" was always my favorite of all time. I remember being absolutely blown away when I first saw it on MTV all those years ago and it truly stands the test of time, as I still think it's incredible.

For a Beastie Boys song, though, it's very different from the others. Only one of the guys is rapping throughout, so I felt that a traditional lip-sync mash-up wasn't going to cut it. I also held off for years because that original was just so damn good. Once I came up with the idea to use clips from Follow That Bird, I was comfortable enough to attempt it. I knew it wasn't going to be an exact shot-by-shot re-make, but there are a bunch of scenes that align very closely with the original video."

- Adam Schleichkorn (Hidden Track TV)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sulu & Excelsior Frontman, Multi-instrumentalist, Producer & Director Steve "Sulu" Mallorca Latest Chapter from His Eddie Romero Visual Album "MISERY LUV" (The Witzard Interview 1.5)

"Here's another excerpt from the Sulu & Excelsior visual album and what will probably be the next official music video we'll be releasing (we still have to shoot a set-up.) Enjoy this clip of "Misery Luv," which I directed and shot along with @jbsankara - This vid took some serious digging in the Super 8 crates of my pops, who is also featured in this video, as well as a slew of family," @suluandexcelsior wrote on his Instagram back on MARCH 31. I'll never forget, when I first met Sulu & Excelsior frontman Steve "Sulu" Mallorca back in Nov. 2016, he described his rather unique Hiphopfunkpunkmamboska blend of music as "Johnny Mathis meets Mos Def meets Stevie Wonder meets Nat King Cole" and it's stuck with me ever since! Sulu & Excelsior's instantly catchy, foot-stompin' debut Eddie Romero was entirely "Produced, Arranged, Composed & Performed by Steven E. Mallorca."

Thanks to an introduction by Jamison Harvey AKA DJ Prestige at Flea Market Funk, I've been along for nearly the entire Eddie Romero "visual album" roll-up, so far; I featured lead video-single "Up to You" here on The Witzard, interviewed Sulu himself and premiered "Dam Foo's," and ranked Eddie Romero at #7 on The Witzard's Best of 2016 Countdown. Now, I'm ecstatic to be able to showcase Chapter III in Sulu & Excelsior's Eddie Romero "visual album," GhettoBlaster-premiered "Misery Luv." Steve Mallorca and I exchanged a number of texts, emails, and phone calls and collectively decided to take a bit of a new approach on his latest "Misery Luv" short film and attempt to really delve deep and get into the nitty gritty behind his creative concept and over-arching family/visual album narrative; without further ado, please feel free to jump head first into our comprehensive "Misery Luv" interview below, pick up a digital copy of Eddie Romero, and keep an eye out for Sulu & Excelsior's upcoming John Wong-designed Eddie Romero vinyl LP re-issue.


Your Hip-Hop Purveyor
Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz

I. How does the Super 8 footage, assorted film stills, and additional mixed-media used throughout "Misery Luv" and its like-minded predecessors "Dam Foo's" and "Up to You" correlate to Eddie Romero's forthcoming John Wong-designed vinyl re-issue packaging, as well as full-length "visual album?"

First and foremost, the album cover of Eddie Romero (both digital and the forthcoming LP) is an actual photo of my dad and his friend back in the day, listening to a record. That image already speaks volumes about the visual and audio style of album. We're in the design phase of the LP right now and the liner notes and sleeves continue in this same direction, so we always had this kind of visual in mind. But ultimately, this album was born out of a visual medium—I wrote the songs for a feature film that I was planning to produce and some of the songs even had specific places in the film already assigned to them (the first single, "UP TO YOU" would be the opening credits sequence and "MISERY LUV" would actually end the film.) Not saying that this feature film won't happen, but once these songs became their own stand-alone music project, they started to develop their own visual identity apart from my screenplay.

That said, Eddie Romero the album, has a Sci-Fi time travel element—it blends different eras of music and vocal styles, as well as references to films and film-making from different decades. I wanted to translate that audio theme into a visual theme and that's what you've seen in the first phase of the visual album. "Up to You" into "Dam Foo's" into "Misery Luv" all play with variations of "old movies;" with these first three videos, the old footage evolves from a fun vintage television performance in "Up to You," to a nod to pulpy late night television movies in "Dam Foo's," and finally, to "Misery Luv," where it flips everything and becomes a really very personal music video with actual footage from my family in the Philippines and 1970's Chicago inter-cut with my family now in NYC. And the current footage is the first time we step away from the old school 3:4 aspect ratio and see shots in the current standard 16x9 aspect ratio. So, it kind of wraps these first three songs as their own chapter of the visual album.

II. Now, I know they're not really a part of "Misery Luv'"s over-arching narrative... but would you care to speak a little bit on the Sulu & Excelsior full-band in-studio performance footage flashes from around 1:15-3:02, and interspersed throughout?

Obviously, this video is about family and the band shots are really a part of the NYC family representation. While I played everything on the album, these guys are what make the live show possible and they add a whole other element to the show. In addition, most of the guys in [Sulu &] Excelsior are my brethren from my OG mothership band, P.I.C. and P.I.C. is truly family.

III. Steve, who exactly is the older woman dancing within the archival footage between about 2:02-2:30 of "Misery Luv?" It's really such a fun-loving, charismatic scene!

It's basically the Philippines section where we introduce the Super 8 footage from my first trip to the Philippines as an infant. It features a montage of shots from different locations in the Philippines from Manila to my mother's hometown of Agoo La Union, to shots of the mountain city of Baguio. I love that shot of the dancing woman—it's actually a shot of my lola (grandmother) with her sisters and cousins. The one actually dancing isn't my actual grandmother, but her sister. Actually, in the quick cut preceding the dancing shot, you can see Baby Sulu with all the lolas!

IV. How about section 3:40 to roughly 4:00, what's happening here, Steve? It appears as though we're seeing three generations of sharply-dressed Mallorca men interacting and thoroughly enjoying themselves!

It's exactly that! This is the section of the video where everything ties together and brings it to the next generation. First, you see me in the hallway, then my pops joins in, then my two sons join us and we're out the door. I wanted it to be like the kinda typical Hip-Hop "walking with my crew" shot, but with my crew being my dad and sons. The other element here is where the boys take turns filming with the Super 8 camera and they're filming either me rapping or one of them rapping. This inter-cuts with footage of Young Sulu gripping that same microphone back in the day. So, timelines all start blurring, at this point and to make it even more blurry... my older son who is rapping in the shot, looks exactly like me, when I was a kid. We had a blast filming this section and the boys pulled out some moves!

V. Now, would you care to speak a bit on the props used throughout "Misery Luv," Steve? I believe you previously mentioned the stereo, head phones, Super 8 camera, mic, etc. had all belonged to your dad and appear within both the old archival and newly-filmed footage, correct? Sweet idea!

Luckily, my dad is a pack rat and ultra-practical—he doesn't discard technology, if it works. And being an engineer, mostly everything still works! So, the Fisher 125 you see him listening to in the current footage is the same exact stereo you see in the old Super 8 footage. The headphones that my dad and I wear throughout the video, are the same exact pair of headphones that my dad listened to back in the 70's. And to get ultra-layered with it, the Super 8 film camera that you see my sons filming with is the exact camera that my dad and mom used to shoot all the old Super 8 footage. The microphone you see attached to that Super 8 camera is the exact microphone that you see my baby self speaking into back in the day. Obviously, I was extremely lucky that my dad kept all this stuff in good condition—beyond enhancing the theme of the video, they were just so cool looking and added a lot of production value!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Jonti, Steve Lacy "Scrood" & Rapaport Director Daniel O'Toole AKA Captain Earwax/EARS Readies Electronic-Ambient Album Delicate Empires for Fifty Records (The Witzard Interview)

"'Delicate Empires is about the fragility of power and looks to the story of Genghis Khan for inspiration. Genghis saw the weakness in a way of life that was removed from nature and confined by stone walls and governed by greed, the rise of the Mongol Empire was enabled by this realisation," reads part of a statement I recently received from Daniel O'Toole AKA Captain Earwax AKA EARS. O'Toole is an Australian-based multi-disciplinary artist who over the course of the last decade, has done work as a street artist, curator, gallery operator, esteemed painter, musician, and music video director. I actually met Daniel O'Toole because of one of his latest collaborations, Jonti & Steve Lacy's "Scrood," which was the basis of this very interview in its infantile stages; little did I know, EARS was a world-renown graffiti artist and multi-instrumentalist readying his latest full-length album as Captain Earwax, Delicate Empires. An esteemed musician in his own right, Daniel O'Toole has released two albums, Red Silhouttes (2012) and Porcelain Giants (2014), and EP's Floating Tokyo and Blue Temple, as well as a number of projects with fellow Aussie and audio engineer Jack Prest as Flight Recorder.

"On Delicate Empires, Captain Earwax blends his passion for nature and Earthly sounds with playful and emotive melodies, intricate percussion and crunchy textures. Delicately-weaved together with a varied, yet cohesive range of tracks—some which feature vocals from Jonti, Lou Millar, and Amy Kisnorbo—while others focus on unique instrumentation such as the title track which features the "morin khuur," or Mongolian horsehead fiddle, played by Sydney-based Mongolian musician Bukhu. What’s most notable about this album, though, is its accomplishment as a seamlessly-crafted long-player, a format that is becoming somewhat of a rare gem in today’s landscape of streaming services and playlists created by algorithms," Fifty Records' press release continues. Daniel "Captain Earwax" O'Toole's third album, Delicate Empires is currently available for pre-order on limited edition 12-inch vinyl and digital album formats. Ahead of Delicate Empires' Monday 8/14 release on Australian-based Fifty Records, Daniel O'Toole and label head Casey van Reyk have unleashed not just one, but two singles from the forthcoming album: Amy Kisnorbo-featuring "Black Rainbows" and "Vortex." Please feel free to turn on a few Captain Earwax jams, delve into my rather in-depth 10-question interview with Daniel O'Toole down below, and pre-order a vinyl or digital copy of Delicate Empires from Fifty Records!

I. How did you first manage to get in touch with fellow Aussie Jonti to ultimately film the music video for Steve Lacy-assisted "Scrood" from his upcoming Stones Throw album?

I had met Jonti going to the movies and watching that recent Tarantino film The Hateful Eight, he was part of a group of friends I went with being that mate Jack Prest had been working on the record with him doing the mixes. I had loved Jonti's music already, since I first heard Twirligig and was quietly stoked to meet him. I ended up going to some gigs he played with The Midnight Mutants and hanging with him a few times before I had the idea to do a film clip for him and mentioned to Jack P. over a coffee how much I would love to do a clip for him. Jack was like, "just hit him up, dude. He would probably be down and it's good timing with the record just about finished." So, I messaged [Jonti] and showed him a few previous [videos] I had done, like the Little May clip for the song "Remind Me," which it turns out, Jonti had already seen and loved. So, it was quite serendipitous, in a way.

II. Would you care to briefly explain (in laymen's terms) the various distortion effects, double exposure, and various camera trickery employed throughout "Scrood" to give it its utterly unique finished look?

Sure. I discovered a process through playing around with the materials I had in the studio, whereby I lay a mirror on the floor and then, layer a piece of transparent blue plastic over the top. I film the reflection of the subject in the mirror and the separation between the mirror and the plastic is what creates a splitting of the image or a double exposure-type effect. I sort of warble the plastic with my hand and this allows some rhythmic effects to fit with the music since I can sort of perform the distortions and ripples in real-time, while the track is playing and it looks a bit like tricky editing, but it's super-analogue.

III. What exactly was the filming and eventual editing process like for "Scrood?" It looks like you really filmed a plethora or material and then, had to meticulously layer it together to create the final product?

Yeah, I do a lot of gathering of imagery; filming things on my phone and using that as a texture layer, shooting stuff on the GoPro, using the 5D for some of it. It's a real mixed bag. I did some painting on bleached Super 8 film and projected it on my bedroom wall and re-filmed that for texture layers... loads of experimenting and playing with textures and colours.

IV. What type of assorted releases, if any, do you currently have lined up to be released on your online record label, Free The Beats this Spring/Summer?

I'm actually looking to release my next album with a different label. I never really looked at Free The Beats as a full-fledged label. It's more of a compilation series and has been a place to put some music that my close friends and I are making, but ideally, I would love to have a label behind me. So, lately, it's been all about sending the record to people and trying to find where it fits. My manager, John Macliver and I are pretty keen on [Australian label] Fifty Records. Casey van Reyk, who runs it, is super-cool and passionate about what she is doing. It's a vinyl-focused label and they push quite a lot of Underground Hip-Hop from The States, which is virtually unheard of for an Indie label in Australia. Generally, the labels here are focused on local artists, for obvious reasons, but I'm digging the idea of getting beyond Australia and collaborating with musicians/rappers/vocalists overseas. Fifty Records' most recent release was a split record with two rappers, Leaf Erikson & AC Pull [with producer dakim,] called momentum / unannounced. And at the moment, I'm making a bunch of beats to send over those guys [to] see if they would be interested in a collaboration.

V. What would you care to share, at this current point in time, concerning your forthcoming Captain Earwax solo album, Delicate Empires? I know you previously mentioned to me that Jonti, Louise Millar, mastering engineer Jack Prest, and Sydney-based Mongolian musician Bukhu were all involved and you were additionally working on a companion film consisting of footage shot on 8mm film while visiting Mongolia.

Yeah. So, "Captain Earwax" is the name I will be releasing under from now on. I have released under "EARS" for all the other stuff, but that name is more from my work on the streets and as a street artist, it was a quirky name... but in a music context, it's less so and there are two other artists on Spotify that use the name, so it was time to change it up. Delicate Empires should be out by the end of August; the single, "Black Rainbows" features UK-born/Australian-based vocalist Amy Kisnorbo and will be out next month. The record is quite influenced by my travels in Japan and Mongolia and my interest in foreign instruments from unique cultures. It's sort of a floating, glitchy, Ambient, Psych, Hip-Hop thing. The album was mastered by Jack Prest (same guy who mastered and mixed Jonti's new record) and yeah, I was lucky enough to work with Jonti on a track and am excited to get the whole thing out on vinyl soon! The album artwork has been done by Kit Bennett, a Melbourne-based artist doing really fresh illustration stuff, at the moment and I have had some really fun and surreal press shots done by Nicole Reed, who is an insanely talented photographer from Melbourne.

VI. What can you potentially tell me about your Drumsmuggler site, which will "showcase the sound of local [Sydney-based] producers and sell their sample packs?" Who are some of the artists currently signed up to be involved within this unique initiative?

Drumsmuggler is a project I'm working on to showcase sound packs of mostly local artists, Australian producers, who I am connected to that are doing super-interesting stuff. So far, I have Kid Fiction, Jack Prest , Jonti, Mohi, Monkfly, Patches, Elbee, and Kho. The idea is to profile the artists and have some links to their music and I am making videos with the artists, etc. It's just another way that we can make some passive income on the side of all the other creative stuff we do.

VII. Now, do you currently have any additional projects planned with either Jonti or any of his fellow Midnight Mutants bandmates?

I'm planning to do some photographic portraits on 35mm film in a similar style to the imagery of the film clip we did, so that there is some documentation of that project, since you can't print the 72 DPI video still. I feel like it will be nice for both of us to just have those photos for keepsake, later on down the [line].

VIII. What are some of your favorite current listenings (aside from your own material and Jonti's as-yet unreleased Stones Throw album) which my readers and myself might not yet be familiar with?

Really enjoying Allysha Joy from Melbourne. She is on a Neo-Soul sort of tip similar to Hiatus Kaiote. I just bought her recent 7-inch, which is exciting; been enjoying the recent Plutonic Lab album, Deep Above The Noise, too. He did a track with Guilty Simpson, which is pretty tight, but yeah, the whole record is dope.

IX. I know that in addition to your various musical and cinematic endeavors, you're also an extremely talented artist and painter... do you have any type of shows, gallery exhibits, etc. coming up any time soon?

Haha yeah, thanks, man. I'm juggling a few things, HEY. I have just had a solo show in Melbourne, which went really well and I'm doing a solo show June 22nd in Sydney at Stacks Projects. Quite a lot planned this year, various exhibitions, and in September, I'm planning to go over to France for a two-month artist residency in Lyon.

X. What else are you currently working on or reading for release that I may have neglected to previously mention—be it music, film, art, etc.—that you may want to promote within this very space, Dan?

I'm working on an EP with Amy Kisnorbo, since the recent track we did went so well and hopefully, put that out early next year. I'm doing a film clip for Kid Fiction later this month and I have just finished a film clip for a local rapper, Rapaport, who runs a label called Big Village Records, which will be out within the next week!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Darko The Super, Hemlock Ernst & Mr. Muthaf**kin' eXquire Producer âtƒ AKA all these fingers Compiles Beat-maker Bedrock #4 On The Heels of C.U.LATER (Bandcamp Album)

"Hello, I'm âtƒ (AKA all these fingers) and I make beats and play music. There's a lot of dudes who have influenced me as a producer, but these are probably the ones I owe the most to... in particular, these records," Michigan-based producer all these fingers wrote within a recent email. I actually believe I met âtƒ through my buddy and frequent collaborator Darko The Super—they've collaborated on a few albums, as both Darko The Super & all these fingers and Doc Fingers. âtƒ has self-released a whopping 52 albums, mixtapes, cassettes, EP's, beat tapes, and digi-singles on his personal Bandcamp page since 2011. He's collaborated with the likes of Darko The Super, Mr. Muthaf**kin' eXquire, and Future Islands frontman Sam Herring's rapping alter-ego Hemlock Ernst, as well as creating remixes for Roc Marciano, Sean Price, Beastie Boys, Nas, Raekwon, Biggie, and Slick Rick. all these fingers' latest Super Mario Kart-inspired album, c.u.later was entirely "played, programmed, mixed & mastered by ATF" using only an SP-303 Dr. Sample, Rhodes piano, Moog synthesizer, beat-making laptop, guitar, and Farfisa electronic organ. It's currently available in either Cassette + Digital Album or Digital Album (ie: Streaming + Download) formats; a limited edition of 50 numbered one-of-a-kind clear c.u.later cassette tapes (complete with "hand-drawn illustrations") are currently available for pre-order and are estimated to ship out within five days.

I. Quasimoto - The Unseen (2000)

"Madlib is probably the guy I've been most influenced by as a producer, over the years. This record has some simple and some complex beats, but they all use the samples to their fullest potential. There's no reason to go near any loop that Lib has used because they're just done, at that point. This record is dude at full powers (in my opinion.)"

II. Dr. Dre - The Chronic (1992)

"This is the album that first made me realize what a producer even was. Probably around 12 when I got this CD. It wasn't until I saw the videos with those [Parliament-Funkadelic] clips in it that I figured out that Dre was using old music in his music. I've never tried to make a G-Funk beat, but this record is pretty foundational to me."

III. GZA - Liquid Swords (1995)

"So many RZA beats I could pick as "influential," but this record has a somber kind of tone that I like. I think the sound fits the rapper best on this [Wu-Tang Clan] album. You can learn how to do a lot with very little, the style of the beats, the sample choices, the lo-fi sound... just an amazing bit of producing."

IV. Yesterday's New Quintet - Angles Without Edges (2001)

"Another Madlib joint, but he's a case where it's impossible to pick just one. This is the album that made me want to get a Rhodes piano. He's not the first Hip-Hop producer to make "live" Jazz music, but I think this record blends the two styles in a unique and seamless way. I listen to this record all the time."

V. Dr. Who Dat? AKA Jneiro Jarel - Beat Journey (2006)

"I guess most people would know this dude [Jneiro Jarel] as the guy who made the JJ DOOM record with DOOM. This is one of my favorite current producers, who does future sh*t that pushes beats forward. This album is sort of under-appreciated, too; people don't talk about it much, but it's killer front to back. It works really well as an album, too, which can be hard to pull off with beat tapes."

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

First Impression Review: PremRock & Fresh Kils - Leave In Tact: The Remix Collection vs. Leave In Tact (2016 Originals) URBNET

"[Leave In Tact:] The Remix Collection boasts a strong addition to the pair's already robust resume, and as they set their sights on another ambitious tour with contemporaries' billy woods and Henry Canyons, their prospects only continue to grow. If you missed Leave In Tact, due to the avalanche of the election fallout or perhaps, because of the shared release date with a comeback album from the greatest group of all time, you are forgiven, but do take this chance to catch up," reads a Remix Collection-accompanying statement uploaded to PremRock & Fresh Kils' Bandcamp. I recently got a pre-release version of Leave In Tact: The Remix Collection and producer Fresh Kils (@freshkils) told me, he "would love to hear [my] comparative thoughts on the remixes vs. the originals;" with that said, here's a very laxly-structured first impressions review of Leave In Tact: The Remix Collection. PremRock & Fresh Kils' latest 7-track release is currently available on their Bandcamp page in either Cassette + Digital Copy or basic $7 Digital Album formats and consists of remixes from fellow beatsmiths Chicago's Maker, Blockhead, Willie Green, Elaquent, 2oolman, and veteran of The Six, Junia-T.

I. "Losing My Mind" (Maker's Mix) vs. "Losing My Mind"

Leave In Tact: The Remix Collection lead-off track. Very atmospheric, Glitchy, Dream-Pop. Expertly inter-woven amidst PremRock's vocals. Almost Run-D.M.C./LL Cool J Def Jam-era sound. Summery, sunny.

ORIGINAL: More sparse and skeletal-sounding. Tinny 808's. Eerie feel reminiscent of Yeezus (intro.) "Think I'm losing..." underlying Miami Vice-esque sample. Beat shift at 1:15. Broken Atari/Super Nintendo feel. Beat continually shifts and progresses. Warble effect!

II. "Bring Your Bad" (2oolman & Junia-T Remix) vs. "Bring Your Bad"

Indie Rock feel. Almost sounds like LCD Soundsystem/Kid Cudi. Cymbal and piano beat. Stuttering beat effect. Randy Newman-esque piano licks. Video/Album Edit... "Just need you to turn it out" (background.)

ORIGINAL: Electronic, Reggaeton, Congas... Miami Sound machine? Fast-paced, 80's Techno. Very rapidly-paced. Sparse, yet progressive. Rock undertones. LOUD DRUMS! Guitar riffs. Very syncopated. Feedback? ZZ Top-esque. Electro-warble effect. Drops at end!

III. "Saudade" (L'Orange's Flip) vs. "Saudade"

Tape rewinding/assorted "radio" samples. MADVILLAINY-type feel into old school piano/woman crooner-led/Boom-Bap drum beat. Disney-esque beat? Almost has a sample back-and-forth with PremRock's bars. Different type of warble/echo... "you lied?" and "life ain't worth livin.'" Tape effect on outro/DJ cuts? Sample self-deconstructs into outro.

ORIGINAL: Very spacey/ghostly intro. Kanye-type effect. DJ cuts/feedback into beat. Bruce Haack/robot effect. 1970's/80's beat. Calms down with piano beat/echoed backing vocal samples. Electro-beat. Boom-Bap drums. Beastie Boys Paul's Boutique, Dilla, Madlib, jj kills? "GO!" sample. Indie Rock guitars/video game feel.

IV. "Ether" (Raistlin's Rendezvous) vs. "Lost In The Ether"

Chimes for beat/piano? Very simple and sparse. Seldom horns in background? JAY-Z/Thor references? More prominent drum beat at 1:30 -> chimes out. Added elements throughout... Rewind-type effect/sirens in outro. New beat at 2:30? Spacey warble 'til end.

ORIGINAL ("Lost In The Ether"): OG album outro. DOOM "Accordion"-type sound. Piano/accordion/drums? 80's Def Jam feel. Very sparse. Extremely simple, yet effective outro section.

V. "Play On, Band" (Willie Green's Take) vs. "Play On, Band"

Spoken word intro/sample -> directly into PremRock's vocals. (0's Phil Collins/Peter Gabriel drum-led beat... like "In Your Eyes." Very sparse and simple. Voice sample inner-cut throughout. Spiraling/warble effect into outro.

ORIGINAL: Boom-Bap beat, soothing whistle/piano? Extremely simple. Dilla-esque drums/rewind effect. Same vocal sample... gets slightly more "Hip-Hop." Effective, but doesn't really go anywhere.

VI. "Rewind" (Elaquent's Spin) vs. "Rewind" [-feat. Moka Only]

Very 90's Biggie/Puff Daddy-type feel. 8-bit Glitchy beat. Summery, sunny vibe. Dream-Pop with echoed 90's R&B-esque hook. Vaguely reminiscent style-wise of Ghostface, Ne-Yo & Kanye's "Back Like That" (Remix) "Hey, you outta my life, but not outta my mind..." "It's a sign of the times." Fades out...

ORIGINAL: Starts with same ghostly vocal sample crooning... slightly more Dilla-esque. 8-bit Glitchy beat. Metronome slightly off... Soulquarians. Sparse production work. Wu-Tang Clan-type vibe. Extremely catchy! "Flight of The Conchords"/Condors? Warbled fade out...

VII. "Winter On Broome St." (Blockhead did this one) vs. "Winter On Broome St."

Sciency, Glitchy 007/Dexter's Lab-sounding intro sample/effect. Water drip-type drum. Hi-hat? Beat builds and progressively evolves. Sa-Ra Creative Partners/tAz Arnold vibes. Marimba beats? Warbled effect. New background sample at 2:20? Eerie outro.

ORIGINAL: Squalling horns/50's Lounge intro with heavy Boom-Bap (slowly building) drum hits. 90's/early 2000's East Coast/Mafioso Rap feel. Maybe, the most explicitly "Radio-friendly" of both collections. Eerie Screwed & chopped-esque echoed backing vocals on outro hook.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Bristol-based Animator & Director RUFFMERCY Speaks On His Latest Creations, "Time Off" & "Zonked" from Washed Out's "Visual Album" Mister Mellow (Stones Throw)

"Around the beginning of 2016, Ernest [Greene AKA Washed Out] and his management got in touch and sent me a handful of songs to listen to from his forthcoming album, Mister Mellow with the intention of me choosing one to make a video for. I'd really enjoyed his previous albums, so I was definitely into the idea of working on something for him. A bit of time passed and in that time, Ernest decided he wanted me to work on a particular track which turned out to be "Time Off." That was cool with me, as I really loved the laid-back vibe and the YouTube sample of a kid letting the world know that you need to take time off now and again... and sometimes, that involves smoking a huge joint. Ernest gave me a little direction, starting with what work he liked of mine and what kinda vibe he felt the video needed. In fact, he [was] quite specific about the importance of slowing down the pace, as the previous song was quite lively and the one after, too was pretty upbeat. I think Ernest was aware I like to experiment, as I build my videos, so he never saw any style frames upfront, but we both agreed that it would cool to use the YouTube visual from where he got the original sample," Bristol-based animator and director RUFFMERCY wrote within a statement sent exclusively to The Witzard. RUFF is amongst a collective of directors and artists assembled by Stones Throw and Washed Out frontman Ernest Greene to help bring his latest "visual album," Mister Mellow to life; a newly-assembled visual arts collective including The Mister Mellow Show director Ross Harris, Eric Coleman, Winston Hacking, Drew Tyndell, Jonathan Hodgson, Daniel Brereton & Morph Animation, Sophia Bennett-Holmes, Harvey Benschoter, Robert "Parallel Teeth" Wallace, Jason Miller, and Ernest Greene himself on "I've Been Daydreaming My Entire Life."

"I went away and built the video, took me around a week, I think. I then shared a few slightly different versions, from which he chose one. He suggested writing some of the spoken words on screen to gel it all together, so I finished up a the video with a little bit of cell animation. It's only a small video, but it was fun to make and I dug how Ernest had a vision, but also respected mine. After we wrapped up that video, a few months later, Ernest came back asking if I was up for doing one more small video for the track "Zonked." The process was pretty similar, as it was with the "Time Off" video; with Ernest giving me a general direction of what the overlying vibe of the video should feel like and explaining how it sat amongst the tracks [on] either side. For this video, Ernest wanted to overwhelm the viewer with imagery related to stress, so I set about building a collage-based video that crammed in as much as possible. Along the way, we changed a couple of things, but pretty much I felt like we were on the same page throughout the process. It was the kind collaboration that doesn't happen too often," RUFFMERCY continued concerning his The Mister Mellow Show creations, "Time Off" and "Zonked." RUFFMERCY has previously worked with the likes of Pusha T, Disclosure, Run The Jewels, Kiefer, Danny Brown, The Lions, Blu, and Nxworries' "SIDEPIECE," which was featured and thoroughly broken down right here at The Witzard. Washed Out's Mister Mellow—his first since 2013's Paracosm—is now available for purchase from new label Stones Throw in digital and CD+DVD complete with "visual album" formats. Mister Mellow is also currently available for pre-order on "mustard-yellow vinyl" LP, which is expected to ship by or before August 11th.

- cheers russ

Friday, June 30, 2017

E. Grizzly Preps Beat-maker Bedrock #3 Ahead of 6/30 The Pharmacy Show with THE SH*THAWKS, FELIPE PUPO, MANIKINETER, PLANET 88 & KING ANI MAL (Producer-selected Playlist)

"When you're a DIY musician/producer, you do everything; you write the songs, you record, you compose, produce, and mix. I look at production as a finished product, not just a beat to sell to an emcee. And really, I don't sell beats. I produce my own albums and EP's. It's so time-consuming that it's hard to do it for someone else, unless I'm a huge fan. But when I first started making music back when I was a wee-lad, I had these cliché ideas of how an album is produced. I was an emcee, so I needed beats and I started sampling. It was pretty simple stuff. Mostly, a couple samples chopped and Copied together as a few loops on Reason. Then, I would put a drum beat on it; either Reason drum sounds or drums I sampled, chopped, and Copied together. There's certain albums that helped change my whole perspective about production, though. These aren't my favorite albums, but they definitely influenced how I make music."

I. Kanye West - The College Dropout (2004)

"There [were] a few things about this album that changed my perspective about production. The first thing was the whole issue with Lauryn Hill and the song "All Falls Down." I didn't understand why he had to re-create the whole song without the Lauryn Hill sample and a new girl singing the hook. It sounds like the same song! But I realized when I tried to release my samples, the labels and distribution didn't want to touch it. They said I either had to buy the samples or re-create the exact same thing. It was the last time I ever worked with samples. The other thing I didn't know was even though Kanye West produced the album, all the cool piano riffs were done by John Legend. It's when I realized that most producers have production teams. There [are] a few producers that are amazing and can do everything themselves, but most producers have help. So, I found a bunch of musicians and we started making music together. We'll jam a few things until we found something we liked."

II. The White Stripes - Elephant (2003)

"This album taught me a valuable lesson about recording and mixing. I always thought you had to record with the best equipment available in a big studio and try to get the cleanest sound. When I read Jack White recorded Elephant with no computers on an 8-track, it blew my mind. He made a Platinum[-selling] album in 2003 on an 8-track. Sh*t's unbelievable. And I love the way it sounded. Such a dirty, analog sound. I never recorded in an expensive studio again and until this day, I try to re-create the dirty mixes and recordings that Jack White does; haven't completely figured it out yet, but it's a work-in-progress."

III. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver (2007)

"I always thought you had to have complicated melodies with production: 6-7-note riffs. Many people would tell me all you need is 3 or 4 notes. Then, a few albums made me get into minimalism. One Day As a Lion and Queens of The Stone Age did simple riffs that were catchy. I was into it. Then, when I really studied James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, he does this thing where he plays 1 or 2 notes and puts layers and layers of similar things on top. It's simple, yet complicated. And it's all up-tempo. This album really made me move in a minimalist/up-tempo direction."

IV. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (2010)

"This album changed the way I looked at production and song-writing. The Suburbs is a concept album with a common theme. It influenced me to make entire projects with a similar theme, which forces me to think in terms of a body of work, rather than one song [at a time]. This affects everything: the production, song-writing, mixing, recording, art, etc. but I really can't make an album any other way now and it's mostly because of The Suburbs. There [have] been concept albums before this, but this is the one that influence me the most."

"So, I evolved from sampling and Hip-Hop beats to what I'm doing now, which is the band Felipe Pupo. We are a "Synth-Calypso-Punk band," which is a mix of Calypso, Punk, Reggaeton, Hip-Hop, Hardcore, and Metal. All the production so far, has been done by me and my homie, Scott Labenski. I tell him the direction I want to go. He comes up with these crazy ideas. Usually, genius and all over the place. I'll organize these ideas, subtract some things, add synth, move things around, write, and produce a song out of it. Then, we both record and mix it. His biggest influence is Tom Morello and Rage Against The Machine. Zack de la Rocha was also a big influence on me, but as far as production, these albums I mentioned helped me get to this point."

- Erik "E." Grizzly (Felipe Pupo)

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Britain's Latest Rollickin' & Risin' Rock "N" Roll Revivalists Dean Fairhurst & Louis Menguy Talk How Animal Are You? EP, The Who, Eddie Vedder's Words of Praise & More (The Witzard Interview)

"Hailing from Britain's North-West, a thriving hub of musical heritage, Slydigs are a charismatic four-piece leading the rebirth of Rock "N" Roll music by bringing a fierce modern edge to a classic sound. Consisting of four school friends who grew up together in the industrial wasteland between Liverpool and Manchester, Rock "N" Roll music became an effective escape from their seemingly pre-ordained destinies in the factories and building sites of the North-West," reads the intro to Quite Great!'s recent Slydigs press release. Slydigs founding members Dean Fairhurst, Louis Menguy, Pete Fleming, and Ben Breslin readily cite The Rolling Stones, Oasis, The Kinks, and The Black Keys as sources of both classic and contemporary sources of influence. They've previously supported Rock legends THE WHO ON TOUR in 2016, as well as played gigs supporting Catfish & The Bottlemen, The View, The Libertines frontman Pete Doherty, and two full European tours backing Vintage Trouble. I was lucky enough to get ahold of Slydigs frontman Dean Fairhurst and lead guitarist Louis Menguy to speak about their latest How Animal Are You? EP, touring with living legends Pete Townshend & Roger Daltrey, receiving words praise from Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, their "Give It Up, Brother," and much, much more; with that said, feel free to delve in, turn on a couple "chunes" from How Animal Are You? EP, and learn a wee-bit about one of Britain's finest risin' and rollickin' young bands, Slydigs!


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Rock "N" Roll Historian/Scribe

I. How would you say Slydigs' sound has progressed and evolved since you 2012 Flicknife Records full-length Never to be Tamed? How would you best describe the current Slydigs sound harnessed on How Animal Are You? EP?

Louis Menguy: The new EP really showcases our diversity when it comes to our song-writing, I think that's where you can really notice the evolution of the band and see how far we have come. On this EP, we have straight-up Rock "N" Roll tunes, some Bluesy tracks, and a few more mellower anthems. We wanted to give a snapshot of what we could do, when we eventually come to record a full album. You can also really notice how we have progressed as musicians, too. It's an EP we are really proud of!

II. What might you cite as a few of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence on your How Animal Are You EP?

Louis: Both me and Dean have contributed to the song-writing on this EP. From my side, I would say bands such as The Kinks, Jet, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, and The Rolling Stones, from a lead guitarist/band point of view... and Bob Dylan, Donovan, and Jack White, from a song-writing angle. There's definitely many more sources in there, as every song and artist we adore influences the music we write in some way.

III. Your recent Quite Great! press releases states that you've recently toured with Rock legends The Who, as well as Catfish & The Bottlemen, The View, Vintage Trouble, and The Libertines frontman Pete Doherty. Were you able to play them your How Animal Are You EP? If so, what type of feedback did they give you?

Louis: We only actually got the EP compiled and completed at the beginning of this year, but we have been playing most of the tracks live for a few months. Whilst trying to narrow down tracks for the EP, we tended to choose songs that were getting the best reactions, whilst performing them in stadiums across North America and Europe, whilst supporting The Who. After leaving the stage whilst supporting The Who, there was many a time that we were congratulated by The Who members, who had been watching from the side of the stage. Pete [Townshend] & Roger [Daltrey] were very complimentary towards us, saying they were impressed with how well we were going down with the fans; to hear that from your musical idols, is just a dream come true and it really cemented our belief in the music we are making.

IV. Upon meeting Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder at a Who show in Seattle, he complemented Dean Fairhurst's voice, saying and I quote: "from that performance, I can see why you're excited about your future in the business!" Now, did Eddie have any other particular words of advice for you fellas, as your career progresses?

Dean Fairhurst: He was very sweet, really; however, I had to rush off to sign CD's after The Who show at our merch [table,] so sadly, I didn't get enough time to speak to him. But having him see us perform was amazing in itself and our brief conversation gave us the boost that advice couldn't. He seems a very humble guy, so I suspect he wouldn't be a man that would be giving advice out, like some artists do. I hope I meet him again! I'd love for us to support him one day.

V. While writing these very interview questions, I saw that you guys just released your latest "Give It Now, Brother" music video (which might I add, is incredibly infectious!) However, what's next for Slydigs?

Louis: Thank you! Well, we have just recently finished our first UK/European headlining tour and it was such a great experience. We played a lot of towns we hadn't ever visited before and it was so encouraging to see fans turn out in force to support us. I would
certainly like to re-visit these towns again on another tour in the near future and build on the great fan-base we are establishing. Also, we have a few more festivals in the pipeline. We have a huge amount of material that we want to get out there; ideally, we would want to be releasing it through a label that can help get our music out to as many people as possible.