Monday, January 30, 2017

WEEKENDS Multi-instrumentalist Adam Lempel Liberates Utrecht University of The Arts-filmed Frankenstein Lovesong, "Tape a Twenty" & Bob Dylan-esque "Boo Radley" (The Witzard Premier)



"I recorded myself actually, ["Tape a Twenty" is] one of the few songs that I recorded everything and mixed everything myself on ["STILL LIFE"]. And it was done in Amsterdam. It's kind of a love song about making the imperfect work; like there's nothing perfect, but everything is imperfect/perfect. The video, I made at at the beginning of last year at my school HKU (Utrecht University of The Arts), where I'm doing a Masters in Music Design. It was the first two weeks of school—we just had this time to work on a project and I kind of decided I wanted to run around the school with a video camera and make a music video. It was funny 'cause I was in a music program, where I could do anything I wanted for the first time of my life, and I spent my time working with video. I built these kind of weird temporary sculptures out of junk and strapped a smartphone on the top to create these weird junk people."

"I imagined a guy, like working in an drab office environment with like these co-workers that he constructed himself out of junk; kind of like his weird robot friends. I thought it was a funny concept for a love song, someone singing to the projection of his own mind... kind of like falling in love with your own Frankenstein. Maybe all love is somewhat like that—we fall in love with our own projections of who people are. Anyways, I kind of edited this video last year and sat on it for a long time not knowing if it was "done enough" or whatever and I think in keeping with the concept of the song, it doesn't make sense to try and make this perfect thing, but rather it is imperfect/perfect and it's "done enough,'" Adam Lempel, one half of experimental Baltimore Art-Pop band WEEKENDS, continued. Lempel has taken a bit of a self-imposed sabbatical since WEEKENDS' last full-length release, New Humans (2013) and relocated to Amsterdam, where he's currently perusing a Masters in Music Design at HKU. Adam Lempel's most recent solo release, from which "Tape a Twenty" stems, "STILL LIFE" is currently available for streaming, download, and purchase in a number of physical formats from Soundcloud, Baltimore-based Friends Records' Bandcamp, etc. Lempel tells me he's currently putting the finishing touches on his next solo release, which is tentatively titled Happiereally... as well as WEEKENDS' New Humans follow-up "that's been recorded and mixed already" and seemingly, just awaiting a proper release.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Philly Rapper-producer Lushlife Assembles a Collection of Musicians, Activists & Academics for Anti-Trump Mixtape, MY IDOLS ARE DEAD + MY ENEMIES ARE IN POWER (The Witzard Interview)


"Idols + Enemies is a raised fist in the face of a president that openly threatens our most basic constitutional freedoms; to that end, all proceeds from downloads of this project will benefit the ACLU. They’ve had our backs, defending civil rights for nearly 100 years. As the Trump transition team seizes power, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will be a strong ally in preventing the President Elect's unlawful and unconstitutional campaign promises from becoming a reality.

November’s dystopian Presidential Election sent all of us looking for answers. MY IDOLS ARE DEAD + MY ENEMIES ARE IN POWER brings together artists, activists, and academics to explore how we got here and what to do next. We stand with poor folks, Muslims, people of color, the LGBTQ community, and all Americans against any attack on our civil rights."


- Lushlife (Raj Haldar)




I. What was your initial motivation behind assembling MY IDOLS ARE DEAD + MY ENEMIES ARE IN POWER (Idols + Enemies)? What do you hope to achieve by releasing it out into the world?

The whole idea for an "inter-disciplinary mixtape" came out of the stress and confusion I was seeing on social media and in my community, in the wake of last year's Presidential Election. Honestly, I felt like I needed to do something to work out my own feelings about how we got where we are, but also, I wanted to provide some kind of platform for a diverse group of voices to do so, too. Now that it's out in the world, we're really stoked that it's raising funds for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization that's gonna be Hella important, as the new administration signs executive order, after executive order aimed at curtailing our civil rights. Beyond that, I want Idols + Enemies to be a living, breathing project and it's great to see users heading to the site, checking out the resources, and annotating/discussing the lyrics on our Genius-powered "LYRICS" page.


II. How did you go about selecting and ultimately, recruiting the artists, activists, and academics involved in IDOLS + ENEMIES' creation?

Well, getting an entire album-length project together was no small feat, given the 10-week timeline. Basically, my homie Brendan Lee ([who] acted as co-executive producer) and I wanted to cast a diverse net of folks to include on the project. Generally, I think we honed in on notable people, whose existing books, music, lectures, etc. had inspired us and we thought would be relevant to the conversation.


III. I understand that 100% of the mixtape's proceeds will be donated to ACLU research, but what sorts of information, media, resources, etc. are available in your newly-established IdolsandEnemies.com?

The IdolsandEnemies.com website is going to be continually updated with relevant information and resources to help folks process and react in meaningful ways to our current situation. As a baseline, we wanted to offer a good starting point in terms of books, documentaries, and organizations that are proactively working to counteract the policies of the Trump Administration. In the future, we'll be building on this and users can submit ideas using the submission form at the top of the "FIGHT BACK" section.


IV. How did you go about placing the involved artists and activists such as Victor "Kool A.D." Vazquez, Jewel-runner Killer Mike, Sad13 (Sadie Dupuis), Jedediah Purdy, and Sut Jhally on their corresponding tracks... or did you more so let them choose where they preferred to contribute?

Some of it was hyper-curated—with certain contributors, I knew exactly where I wanted to place them in the context of the mixtape. In other situations, people sent us stuff with no prompt that just magically fit into the context of the record. With Iranian-American author, Porochista Khakpour, for example—we didn't tell her much about the project and she sent us a recording where she described seeing an Iranian protester in LA set himself on fire in the early 1980's and it just so happened that Billy Woods and I were working on a track where we talked about the Iranian Revolution and the kind of birth of suicide bombing in the region around that time. There were a lot of magic moments like that where the puzzle pieces just came together.


V. You mentioned within a recent Facebook post that "MY IDOLS ARE DEAD + MY ENEMIES ARE IN POWER's [...] proceeds [will] go to ACLU Nationwide in the face of an incoming administration that threatens our basic civil rights;" what do you think American citizens' best course of action will be onward?

I'm glad to really see it happening with all of the protests and marches. I think ultimately, we have to be unrelenting. There can't just be a big action followed by us going back to our lives and venting on Twitter or whatever. In the face of a narcissistic baby piece of sh*t like [President] Trump, we have to be vigilant and persistent in our discontent in the months and years to come.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Washington Post Pop Music Critic & Former Q and Not U Guitarist Chris Richards & Pissed Jeans Drummer Sean McGuinness Unleash Long-gestated STREET STAINS Album Recorded 2008-17 (The Witzard Interview)


"In the summer of 2008, Chris [Richards] took the bus from Brooklyn to Philadelphia every Thursday afternoon to jam with Sean [McGuinness] and watch The Olympics. They wrote more than 30 songs. Then, they forgot about them until January of 2013. Chris was now living in D.C. and Sean convinced Aaron [Leitko] to cart his Tascam-388 up to Philly for an afternoon of recording. Captured on tape for the ages, these songs were quickly abandoned once more—until the summer of 2014, when Chris finally recorded the words with Aaron back in D.C. Everybody forgot about the songs one more time, before reconvening to mix them in the spring of 2015. And them—after another two years had vanished into oblivion—PRESTO! Street Stains was released in January 2017 and can finally be forgotten forever," reads the description attached to Street Stains 14-track debut. Long-time friends and frequent collaborators (unbeknownst to the rest of the world) Chris Richards & Sean McGuinness finally unleashed their self-titled Street Stains album, which was recorded in spurts over the past 8-9 years.

Richards currently writes for The Washington Post as a Pop music critic, was once a member of D.C.'s beloved Post-Punk/Hardcore band, Q and Not U, and released a lone 2005 solo album as Ris Paul Ric; Sean McGuinnes, a former pro wrestler, currently drums with Philly Noise-Rock/Hardcore Punk band Pissed Jeans and Justin Geller's new-found Remote Places project and has previously worked with Rat Fist, Birth Control, Ultramantis Black, Navies, Air Conditioning, and A Day In Black & White. Pissed Jeans are currently gearing up to unleash their fifth Lydia Lunch & Arthur Rizk-produced full-length, WHY LOVE NOW? on long-time label Sub Pop Records this upcoming February 24th; with that said, it's really as good a time as any for Street Stains to liberate their self-titled debut! I was lucky enough to shoot an email over to Chris Richards, after leaning about their sheer existence, and within a matter of about a day and a half, here we have this very Sean McGuinness-approved 10-question interview covering Street Stains' long, twisted, slightly stop-and-go journey. Street Stains is currently available from Richards & McGuinness' just-launched Bandcamp page for an incredibly reasonable $3 USD or more fee. It's quite honestly, the perfect record to roll down the windows and rock out to on these unseasonably hot January days!


Sincerely,

Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Punk Rock/Hardcore Purveyor

I. Would you mind going through the slightly scattered, stop-and-start story of Street Stains' stories sessions?

It was definitely more stop than start. I think we took about eight years to do a couple weeks[-worth] of musical work, but long-story-short: we wrote all of the tunes in 2008, sat on them until 2013 when our friend Aaron Leitko urged us to record them, recorded the vocals a year later, mixed it a year after that, and got it mastered a year after that (insert Chinese Democracy joke here).


II. How did you two initially meet and come to decide to record an album together as Street Stains?

We met in the D.C. Punk scene in 1999 and have been tight ever since. As for forming this particular band, I was living in New York in the summer of 2008 and I was feeling low, having just been fired from a job, so Sean, being the lovely human soul that he is, invited me down to Philly, so we could make some music together. The idea was to write as quickly as we could; all spontaneity, nothing precious.


III. How would you say your past work with Q and Not U, Pissed Jeans, Rat Fiat, Paint Branch, Ris Paul Ric, Birth Control, and Ultramantis Black ultimately ended up affecting and influencing Street Stains?

For me, the point of doing different bands is to work with different people who you love and honor the collaboration, so they should never really sound like each other.


IV. Your ONE-SHEET press release says that you guys originally wrote some 30 songs during The 2008 Olympics and 14 ended up on Street Stains; what do you intend to do with the remaining 16? How close or far would you say they are from completion?

As much as I hate to waste music, I fear our left-overs might be lost to the ages.


V. How did you settle upon the band name "Street Stains?" What does it mean and what were some of the most note-worthy rejected names?

No rejects! The song title came first and it felt good as a band name. I wrote the words to "Street Stains" when I was living in Brooklyn and walking around all the time. The sidewalks were just filthy and to keep my brain busy, I started wondering if there might be hidden messages or omens in these splotches of mystery gunk—reading tea leaves in the street, as it were. I really disliked my time in New York, so when I saw a puddle of dog wiz in the shape of Florida, it made me wonder if the universe was telling me to relocate to Miami.


VI. How exactly do the themes of "reflexive desire, rotten nostalgia, petty anxieties, fallible omens, miscellaneous scene vibes, and spirited participation in civilization" play into Street Stains?

We put that line in our email blast just to give people some context for where the lyrics are headed. I've always loved Punk's ability to transmute life's [pet] peeves into something interesting. Stand-up comedians do that, too.


VII. It's up on Bandcamp, but do you have any current plans to re-release Street Stains in various physical formats (CD, LP, and cassette) on either of your past and current labels, such as Sub Pop and Dischord Records?

I think we'll print up some cassettes, so we have something to put in people's hands at shows, which leads to your next question...


VIII. I'm sure both of you are exceedingly busy and preoccupied with Pissed Jeans, Washington Post, your families, etc. but do you have any current plans to tour together behind Street Stains?

We'd like to do a short little East Coast thing this Summer or Fall.


IX. Aside from Pissed Jeans, Q and Not U, Ris Paul Ric, and your own past projects, what were some of your greatest sources of influence and inspiration while recording Street Stains (2008-17)?

I don't think this music was the result of outside influences so much as the trust we have in one another. That sounds corny, but I'm serious. The songs took a long time for us to record and release, but we made them very quickly. And it's not like my guitar riffs are masterpieces or anything, but they all came effortlessly because Sean's drumming is just so alive. So, even if the music sounds crude and quick, I hope people can feel that we were really listening to each other.


X. Let's just say, for argument's sake: you were able to assemble a super-group containing yourself and any additional musicians of your choosing (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

How about we keep Sean on drums... and then have ["Deep Listening" composer] Pauline Oliveros do an accordion drone, [Talking Heads keyboardist] Bernie Worrell on synths, Sade is the frontwoman, and I end each song by striking the biggest gong you've ever seen?

Rex Orange County Premiers Jangly Horn-assisted Second Single, "BEST FRIEND" On Zane Lowe's Beats 1, Announces May Brooklyn/London Shows & Teases "big announcements at 3pm" Friday



"I could have made you mine. But no, it wasn't meant to be and see, I wasn't made for you and you weren't made for me... I'm on my own sh*t now. Let me tell you how it feels to be f**king great. I feel great," Rex Orange County laments on his latest Zane Lowe-premiered #ROCKMUSICFOREVER second single, "BEST FRIEND." Rex Orange County is the recently adopted alter-ego of Alex O'Connor, a self-loathing 18-year-old "bedroom" musician hailing from the outskirts of London in Haslemere, Surrey. "Being in a picturesque, but culturally void town didn't stop him from admiring fellow do-it-yourself producers Thundercat and Toro Y Moi, or falling in love with Frank Ocean's Channel ORANGE; "if I could do anything close to that musically, then that's it," O'Connor beamed within a recent press release. I would best compare Rex Orange County's unique half-sung half-rapped style to "Loser"-era Beck, fellow genre-melding London upstart King Krule, Kid Cudi, or even equally self-loathing 808's & Heartbreak-era Kanye.


"BEST FRIEND," however, is a bit more upbeat, jangly affair when compared against Rex's previous works—November released "UNO" and 2015 mixtape bcos u will never b free. It almost evokes the same kind of Jamaican Ska, Reggae, and Hip-Hop-leaning vibe as Lily Allen's Mark Ronson-produced debut, Alright, Still (2006). I'm thinking maybe it's the "dreamy guitar licks and elevator [music] pulled into a frenzied brass outro" that kicks in right around the 3-minute mark, which likens itself to Ronson's commonly used The Dap-Kings-assisted horn fills and 2 Tone Ska-leaning back beats. Nothing has yet been 100% confirmed, but it appears as though Rex Orange County is currently gearing up to release his full-length follow-up to bcos u will never b free, which would likely feature both "UNO" and "BEST FRIEND." Friday morning, following "BEST FRIEND"'s Wednesday Jan. 25th release, @rexorangecounty teased "ANNOUNCEMENTS IN ONE HOUR !!," which ended up being two upcoming shows: "a special evening with..." Rex Orange County at Peckham Liberal Club in London on May 11th and the second, just a week later at Brooklyn's Sunnyvale on May 18th. Rex's Facebook page additionally teased that there will be more "big announcements at 3pm" (London time?) Friday, Jan. 27th, so stay tuned, chaps!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Hemlock Ernst Liberates Captain Murphy & Earl Sweatshirt-flipping "Bluebells Set Wet In The Moss" from The Vault (Flying Lotus Freestyle)



"[I] wrote this in the Fall of 2014 and recorded vocals for a demo to shop around in the bedroom June '15; tried to find another home for it, since the beat wasn't mine, but never did. Been sitting on it all this time and figure it may never see the light of day, so why not just put it out. I've never put up somebody else's beats without permission, which has always held me back. Got tons of songs written over other people's beats I don't know. Orphan rhymes. So, if [you're] mad at me FlyLo, you can find me easy," charismatic Future Islands frontman and long-time emcee Sam "Hemlock Ernst" Herring recently wrote on Soundcloud. "Bluebells Set Wet In The Moss" was released Tuesday morning without any prior murmur of release rumblings and appears to have been completed sometime between Fall 2014 and June 2015 and was in fact, skillfully freestyled over the Flying Lotus-produced beat for Captain Murphy's Earl Sweatshirt-assisted 2012 [adult swim] single, "Between Friends." Fingers crossed, maybe we can even expect a Funky fresh Hemlock Ernst & Flying Lotus collaboration in the not-so-distant future because of this leak!


Sam Herring appears to have first recorded his vocals over Captain Murphy's villainous instrumental to "shop around" to various producers and beat-makers, attempts which may have fallen through or might have never gotten off the ground. It seems as though Herring has been collecting beats and rhymes, whilst collaborating with everyone from Busdriver to Baltimore greenhorns Bond. St. District, for his long-rumored debut full-length as Hemlock Ernst. Prior to "Bluebells Set Wet In The Moss," he's quietly leaked out "Barzan Freestyle," "My Myopia Freestyle," "In The Land of Cats," and "Mazatlan Flex Freestyle" with Fat Tony, who came through "all the way from Mexico." I was lucky enough to recently speak with Hemlock Ernst beatsmiths All These Fingers, Butch Dawson, and Chris ('i's') McCormick about their assorted collaborations with the storied Trouble Knows Me emcee himself. "I know exactly why he is doing what he is doing right now, but [I don't know] if I'm allowed to say anything haha, but basically, he has a Hip-Hop project dropping at some point," ('i's') revealed, as recently as October 2016.

Monday, January 23, 2017

LOVETURL & Passerby Presents: THE UNSEEN (A DETROIT BEAT TAPE) Documentary + Soundtrack Trailer, "Everyone Gets a Doughnut" & Sterling Toles' "Re-wiring Self" (A/V Installation #1)



"The Unseen (A Detroit Beat Tape) explores the soul and roots of Detroit Hip-Hop production, mirroring the sketchpad-style format of a beat tape. Loosely acting as a prequel to the LA-based All Ears documentary, The Unseen provides rare insights into a scene that has remained distant from the public eye, while giving birth to some of the culture's richest and most influential sounds. The film [provides a] glimpse [into] the hidden and elusive characteristics inherent in a city often depicted in a one-dimensional light."
The Unseen (A Detroit Beat Tape) is just as it says, a beat tape-stylized documentary directed and edited by Gus Sutherland with a companion Detroit-centric soundtrack composed and arranged by Ta'Raach and produced by his label collective, LOVETURL along with Passerby. "Ta'Raach is a multi-faceted artist, producer, rapper, painter, and more—originally hailing from Detroit, MI and currently based in Pomona, CA," according to his Discogs page and has released two full-length albums, The Fevers and EL-O-VEE: A Sound Collage (2006) in addition to a number of singles and EP's released between 2005-14. Ta'Raach is currently putting the finishing touches on a long-rumored album with The Lions emcee Black Shakespeare LLGL TNDR to be released this upcoming spring/summer. The Unseen (A Detroit Beat Tape) was previously scheduled to be released back in September 2016, but is now being officially released world-wide on Friday, February 3rd.


The Unseen, at its core, is largely about underground "Detroit producer philosophies and techniques" and its expansive 24-track companion soundtrack features compositions from J Dilla, Waajeed, Mello Music Group rapper-producer Quelle Chris, House Shoes, Dilla's mentor Amp Fiddler, Ghetto-Tech producer Nick Speed, Sterling Toles, BLK MRKT producer Big Tone, Dakim, DJ Dez, Hugh MacLennan, ILLingsworth, and Ta'Raach himself. While I can fully attest that The Unseen's soundtrack is indeed chock-full of 24 cold as steel Hip-Hop bangers, LOVETURL has recently unleashed the Gus Sutherland-presented film's first commercially available single, Sterling Toles-produced "Re-wiring Self;" it has been accompanied by a unique Stuart Sloan-filmed A/V Installation #1, which is essentially, a nearly 3-minute shot of grainy unknown objects, dripping condensation, fuzzy audio fragments, and Sterling Toles' own tough as nails Electro-Hip-Hop beat. For good measure, "Re-wiring Self" was preceded by Rafael Statin's infectious Electro-Jazz-indebted "Everyone Gets a Doughnut (bounce 5)," which for whatever reasons, was left off The Unseen soundtrack. However, it's been properly unleashed as a "bonus select" and packaged along with LOVETURL's latest promo releases of the film. The Unseen (A Detroit Beat Tape) will be released everywhere come February 3rd and will become available for purchase from LOVETURL.NET using the VHX (Vimeo) platform. The Unseen Soundtrack will become available for purchase and streaming through Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, and various digital platforms on February 3rd, as well.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Rock Against Trump: United Nations Return with New Frontman & Pummeling Screamo Powerviolence Anti-Trump Anthem "Stairway to Mar-a-Lago" (Temporary Residence)



"HUNGER BELOW US
THE HEAVENS ARE DEAD
BAFFLING REASON
YOU WANTED CANDOR, NATIVISM,
WHITE INDIFFERENCE, AND NO SHINING CITY
TRAGIC PAPACY
DIMWITTED BIGOT MISPLACING SYMPATHIES
FROM ON YOUR CROSS TELL THEM WHO MATTERS
POLICING CITIES IN RUIN..."

And that's just the first gut-wrenching 46-second burst of United Nations' latest anti-Trump single, "Stairway to Mar-a-Lago," which is being sold at a Name-Your-Price fee at their Temporary Residence Bandcamp; "an Inauguration Day transmission from United Nations. All proceeds will be donated to American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood." President Trump (what a cringe-worthy phrase!) has only been in The White House for just about a day now, but there have already been countless Rock Against Bush-evoking musical protests either announced or released: David Eggers' planned 30 Days, 30 Songs-esque 4-year-long 1,000 Days, 1,000 Songs "evolving playlist," Chris Cornell's recent reunion with Prophets of Rage [Against The Machine] members as Audioslave at an Anti-Inauguration Ball, an unannounced set by Dirty Projectors frontman Dave Longstreth at No Thanks: A Night of Anti-Fascist Sound Resistance In The Capital of The USA, and a new President Trump-slamming note penned by Frank Ocean and posted to his FRANK OCEAN • PREZA • 555 Tumblr. I'm sure these are just the first of many, many peaceful protests through song, which is truly the only way I can honestly foresee us "making America great again."


"United Nations has gone through some changes since the release of 2014's The Next Four Years. Namely, singer Geoff Rickly has stepped down from vocal duties. But recognizing that these are dark times and the world needs UN's brand of satirical political commentary now more than ever, the band is soldiering on and has recruited a friend to fill in on their new song, "Stairway to Mar-a-Lago,'" Noisey scribe Dan Ozzi recently wrote within a recent United Nations-premiering piece. Ozzi further noted that United Nations wishes to keep their new singer anonymous, for the time being—only revealing that it may, in fact, be "someone who fronts another Post-Hardcore band you may have enjoyed." Eager Hardcore-loving Internet sleuths have already begun to speculate that Geoff Rickly's replacement may either be Glassjaw frontman and long-time rumored United Nations member Daryl Palumbo or former Blood Brothers frontman Johnny Whitney. It does appear, however, that @GeoffRickly is still involved with United Nations to some extent, as he Tweeted "Hit that ACLU donation" Friday, January 20th along with a link to a recent Brooklyn Vegan write-up; as well as posting "In 24 hours, Trump has already broken as many promises as Obama did his whole first term..." in reply to Lip Synch Battle co-host @chrissyteigan and two of her Followers. It's currently unclear as to whether or not United Nations and their new unnamed frontman will release a proper follow-up to The Next Four Years (2014) or if "Stairway to Mar-a-Lago" will remain a stand-alone Temporary Residence single.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Self-proclaimed "Puddle of Vanilla Pudding" Darko The Super Reviews The Fabulous Downey Brothers' TURF EP "Transmitted from a Far Away Dimension" (Swoon Records)



Darko The Super is a close personal friend and frequent collaborator here at The Witzard, whom I'm met through our mutual friend John "Jumbled" Bachman; I've been lucky enough to premier his Halloween-themed project Put Down The Candy & Let The Little Boy Go! wrote about his 10 album-encompassing "2016 Sucked, But Darko Released 10 Albums & That's Pretty Cool" (Mix, Mix, Mix), showcased BLKrKRT's U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART-premiered Okinato Black, as well as a number of various projects in-between releases. Darko is hearing up to unleash what may arguably be his Rock sample-based "commercial breakthrough," Apocalyptic Bastard on Already Dead Tapes this upcomingFebruary 24th. We're currently putting the finishing touches on an Apocalyptic Bastard-centric interview to be published right here at The Witzard to coincide with its release. While we patiently await The Fabulous Downey Brothers five TURF-spawned music videos, here's Darko The Super & ialive's "Mellow Yellow 2" from their forthcoming The Return 2 The Hell Hole Store, which they've submitted to NPR for inclusion within their beloved Tiny Desk Concert series. The Fabulous Downey Brothers' latest Alternative Electronic Experimental New Wave Pop Rock ZOLO Cyberpunk Goth Pop Punk Rock Synthpop Synthwave-blending release TURF is currently available for just $7.00 in either digital download or CD formats on Swoon Records. For those interested in Darko The Super's unique brand of Alternative Hip-Hop, there are roughly 49 albums, mixtapes, EP's, and Doc Heller instrumental releases available for your purchasing and streaming pleasures from his personal Bandcamp page. I recently suggested Darko review The Fabulous Downey Brothers' TURF EP and man... is it one interesting, yet informative read!


"Get ready to smack your pappy; today we have a new EP (that’s an extended play for those who aren’t in the biz) titled TURF from The Fabulous Downey Brothers. I’m writing this article from the standpoint of not knowing anything of the origin of this band or the label releasing it—only the music itself, Which is maybe a bad idea to base a whole "review" off of, but I play by my own rules. The Witzard himself sent this album to me, saying it screams "DARKO," insinuating that I’m a weirdo and would love this warped, yet beautiful music. For once, he was right. This album is incredible, as the promo insisted, it did melt my face to goop. I am a puddle of vanilla pudding right now transmitting these thoughts from a far away dimension. The Fabulous Downey Brothers have a tiny little man hiding in their teeth and want to tell you all about it. Maybe you’re a prude dork and that doesn’t interest you, but I am very intrigued. Here are some bands I think of upon hearing this EP: Devo, Frank Zappa, Oingo Boingo, and Beck—all the best bands! Some stand-out tracks would be: #1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. "Ditch" is simply audio milk and honey and The Downey Bros. are pouring it all over you, baby. "The Bottom" seems fit for one of those brilliant new Indie Horror films; someone get Adam Winguard on the line! "Don’t Do It" feels straight out of an 80's coming-of-age movie or maybe one of a dystopian future; something like Kung Fury, but with a young Molly Ringwald. "Counting Crows," which I assume is better than every Counting Crows song in existence, is a truly bizarre experience. It makes me wanna bash someone's skull in at a bowling alley. Sorry, I just read Catcher In The Rye again. Where’s Ronald [Reagan] when you need him? Obviously, I highly recommend this incredible piece of art. I, for one, am going to learn everything there is to know about these Fabulous Downey Brothers. Til then, give them all your money on January 20th, when TURF is released to this undeserving world."

- Penned By: Darko The Super

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Witzard Premier: BLKrKRT Serves Up a Batch of Freshly-cooked Precious Metals, Heavy Gems II; Hand-crafted Post-Dilla "Microwave Beats" Recorded, Tracked & Mixed 1/11-18 (self-released)



I've been corresponding with frequent Darko The Super collaborator and Fort Worth, Texas-based Instrumental Hip-Hop producer Phil "BLKrKRT" Ford through Twitter Direct Message, Facebook Messenger, and Gmail for a few months now. I was lucky enough to premier BLKrKRT's 40th U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART-released project, Okinato Black right here at The Witzard. Okinato Black is amongst BLKrKRT's final 3-4 projects scheduled to be released before he plans to retire from beat-making all together and pursue a potential career in fashion design later this year. Today, I'm happy to be premiering Phil Ford's whopping 41st project, Precious Metals, Heavy Gems II (PMHG II), which is meant to serve as a warm-up collection of "line drawings/illustrations" or quick improvised sketches showing his progression between Okinato Black and his forthcoming BLKrKRT LP II. PMHG II is a quasi-sequel to Ford's similarly-minded 2013 Precious Metals, Heavy Gems; believe it or not, PMHG I-II were both single-handedly recorded, tracked, and mixed in full over January 11-18th 2013 & 2017. BLKrKRT's cites his sources of inspiration and influence behind Precious Metals, Heavy Gems II's sonic direction as The Incredible Bongo Band-centric documentary Sample This, The Cardigans' Gran Turismo, Shuggie Otis, Oxnard emcee Kan Kick, Tonto's Exploding Head Band, Grand Puba's 1995 album 2000, Brian Eno, and Camille Saint-Säens' world-renown The Carnival of The Animals movements, "The Swan" and "Aquarium" (1885-86).


"All sketches/songs produced by BLKrKRT. Microwave beats made by sketching in FL Studio, editing pad-to-pad in the Roland SP-404, and EQ'd through Behringer Tweakalizer to Audacity... simple set-up and the Oblique Strategies app for iPhone. Sketches could not exceed an hour to create, start to finish. The full project was done in a week from January the 11th to 18th, the last day reserved for tracking. Mostly funky or synthy sample material and vintage [Virtual Studio Technology] with clean drums. The aim was to make a few selections that feel like the audience is along for the ride, as sonic landscapes are being explored and objects are being produced. [...] Lots of layering. Lots of playing with artificial environment beds for the beats to sit on; giving a different breath to each moment. A lot of playing with how the sound travels speaker-to-speaker, attack, delay, and limiter high compression on widely spread sounds. I was highly informed by The Cardigans' Gran Turismo record (1998) in constructing the drums sounds: tight and slightly metallic."

- Phil "BLKrKRT" Ford

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

3 Feet High & Rising: Chris McClenney Sonically Paints D'Angelo "Left & Right," OutKast, Mayer Hawthorne & The Vincent Guaraldi Trio-evoking Portrait In Two EP (McClenney Music)



"When I first read this phrase at 16, it blew my mind: "all songs written, performed, produced, and arranged by D'Angelo." After that point, I knew [that was] exactly what I wanted to do for my debut: write, produce, and play all the instruments on my project (I recently learned, it was Prince who inspired D'Angelo to do this). To express myself to the full capacity of my abilities and strive to take a similar challenging, but rewarding, journey as one of my idols to create the debut that I truly wanted," singer, song-writer, producer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist Chris McClenney wrote within A Written Note On Portrait In Two. McClenney's self-released Portrait In Two EP, which was just released this past Friday, January 13th and followed by a Saturday Blue Not Jazz Club release show, was preceded by critically-acclaimed singles "Headlines," "Otherside," and "What You Mean to Me." McClenney has previously released a Soulection White Label: 014 EP and submitted production work to Atlanta-based emcee Rome Fortune and "Outta Sight / Dark Lavender Interlude" from D.R.A.M.'s recent Atlantic Records debut, Big Baby D.R.A.M.


Ahead of his Portrait In Two EP, Chris McClenney unveiled two unique re-imagining remixes of his own productions, "Tell Me" and "Pearl" (featured within the EP) on which "fans will hear a familiar Dance music styling from Chris reminiscent of his earlier more Club-tuned works." Portrait In Two EP really is one Hell of an expansive, seamlessly genre-blending effort, which at times throughout, reminds me of OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, D'Angelo, Method Man & Redman's "Left & Right," The Roots, Mayer Hawthorne's A Strange Arrangement, and The Vince Guaraldi Trio's beloved Peanuts-popularized compositions. Portrait In Two EP is currently available for your streaming, downloading, and general enjoyment on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Music, Google play, AmazonMP3, etc. from Chris McClenney's own McClenney Music imprint in all of it's genre-blending 10-track glory. I'm sure this isn't the last we'll be hearing from The Talented Mr. McClenney and maybe, with any hope, we'll get a full-length Chris McClenney-produced Rome Fortune project!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

THE NATURAL CURRICULUM Emcee-producer AVER Unleashes El-P & Company Flow, DJ Shadow, Portishead & A Tribe Called Quest-influenced INSTRUMENTALS.3 (self-released)



"INSTRUMENTALS.3 is 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!) I put it up as a FREE download, so people can see progress in the beats I'm working on, but really just so they aren't [sitting] around on my hard drive. My girlfriend told me I should stop being a perfectionist pr*ck and release them, so I did. It's her fault," THE NATURAL CURRICULUM (TNC) rapper-producer AVER replied within a Twitter DM, when I asked for a bit of background information concerning his latest project. "All Musical & Visual Excretions by AVER; Except cuts on Track #3 by El Statiko; This sh*t is not really mixed or mastered, soz," reads INSTRUMENTALS.3's rather fitting Bandcamp description. THE NATURAL CURRICULUM consists of AVER, emcee Bill Sykes, rapper-producer Chalk, DJ-producer Omas, beat-boxer Jam, DJ El Statiko, and (sometimes) DJ Ink; they've collectively released a whopping 17+ EP's, solo releases, group albums, and mixtapes since initially forming back in 2004—although, DAYSE & AVER EP 0001 wasn't released until 2011.


AVER readily lists his personal sources of influence and inspiration throughout INSTRUMENTALS.3's creation as El-P's pre-Run The Jewels group Company Flow, Cannibal Ox, DJ Shadow, Portishead, A Tribe Called Quest, Herrotics, and of course, his "mates in TNC and a [sh*t-ton] of Jazz!" Flea Market Funk proclaimed: "these instrumentals are super tight; from the Jazzy "Cheese Evils," to the Boom-Blip of "Experiments In Peanut Butter," to Melvin Van Peebles-esque "Touching The Frog," these instrumentals are something you might want to grab up. Sometimes dark and brooding, sometimes drunk Dilla-type drums, sometimes futuristic [Drum 'N' Bass] meets broken beat, we like the cut of their jib" within his Friday INSTRUMENTALS.3 review. I can personally attest that there are about 100 original compositions, rhymes, and instrumentals available for FREE download and mass consumption at THE NATURAL CURRICULUM's Bandcamp page, this including INSTRUMENTALS.3, as well as their first proper full-length, The Best Fertiliser Is The Gardener's Shadow, which was released in September of last year.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Cardigan-wearing pigWar Guitar Player Teddy Presberg Talks DoveDriver, The Resistance Organ Trio, Outright Music Aspirations & Inspirations (The Witzard Interview & "Bad Man" Premier)


"We're mashing up classic 1960-70's Soul grooves with the 80's synth-aesthetic of guys like Lucio Battisti and the heavy guitar riffs found in Modern Rock by guys like Jack White," says Teddy Presberg. After spending five years steeped in the St. Louis Jazz and Soul scene, collaborating and touring heavily with organ player LeClare Stevenson, the two decided to move back to Portland to launch a new project. When they landed in Portland and fired up their experimental organ trio project DoveDriver, they sought out an unlikely vocalist and songwriter to tighten that sound and launch pigWar: Garett Brennan," reads a fragmented chunk of pigWar's recent Outright Music press release. Presberg's latest and main band, pigWar list Teddy Pendergrass, Led Zeppelin, Lee "Scratch" Perry, The Faces, J Dilla, and Parliament-Funkadelic amongst their greatest sources of influence. DJ Prestige at Flea Market Funk further notes that "there are elements of Modern Rock, as well as spacey synthesizer grooves from the 80's, all wrapped up into a different shape, size, and sound that is pigWar. Like they said, they want to take people to the edge and are inspired by those who do so." I've been corresponding with Teddy Presberg and pigWar's booking agent Adrian Jones since before the holidays and I'm proud to present The Witzard's first full-length published interview of 2017 with the living Soul-Funk legend himself; a comprehensive conversation, which covers everything from listening to Lucio Battisti's 1977 Ital-Disco classic Io Tu Noi Tutti for inspiration to once having bandmate LeClare Stevenson "touring under his name and playing his tunes." Please feel free to sit back, relax, and delve deep into my interview with modern day Soul-Funk revivalist, Teddy Presberg! Happy New Year, my friends!


Sincerely,

Matt Horowitz
The Witzard Funkateer

I. Would you care to briefly run through the various members and players responsible for pigWar's sound, detailing each members' role within the confines of the band?

I'm Teddy Presberg and the main writer in pigWar. I wear cardigans and play guitars, some synths, and bass. Garett Brennan is my [lyricist]/vocal co-writer and the main singer on the album. Although, we've recorded and toured with several different lead singers, Garett had a big part in shaping the sound of our new album. LeClare Stevenson does the vast majority of keys and synth bass. He also wrote the music for "Hard Livin.'"

Also featured on the album: David Coniglio on drums, Josh Thomas on trumpet, and Reid Neuman on the reeds. Plus, a handful of guests and friends here and there.


II. How would you say your music, as well as your personal artistic vision, as evolved since your 2007 Ropeadope Records-released Blueprint of Soul LP?

I'd say a couple of big things have changed with my music in the last couple of years: the first is that I am collaborating a lot more on the compositions upfront, where in the past I would pretty much just write everything. The second thing is that I [used] to write the melodies first and just fill in the rest. Now, I'm tending to start with the basslines to make sure the groove is first and foremost; that hasn't necessarily happened with the pigWar songs, but I think as a result of doing that in other formats, it has made these songs tighter, as a result.


III. How do your assorted projects, such as The Resistance Organ Trio, Soul Rub, FU*K MONSTER, DoveDriver, and your own solo work, play into the genre-defying sound harnessed by pigWar?

These are all unique projects/bands with their own concentrated focus (or lack thereof)! I guess the main thing with having different musical outlets is that I am able to satisfy my brain and write and play different types of music. I've got a band that will play my weird Jazz tunes with The [Resistance] Organ Trio, I've got a band like DoveDriver that does the hard groove stuff, and I've got a band like pigWar that I can write words and tight Soul songs for. And then some, as well!


IV. What were some of your greatest stylistic and artistic influences while writing and recording pigWar's self-titled Make Love, Vol. I-II follow-up that may have leeched its way into the album's overall sound?

A chunk of those songs were influenced by the Leonard Cohen album I'm Your Man. I also listened a lot to Lucio Battisti's Io Tu Noi [Tutti], as well. Trying to take that vintage 1960's-70's Soul vibe, but add synths and darker or party lyrics is what I'm going for. There is a lot of great Soul records from the 60's and 70's and now there are a lot of great bands playing that style tight and true. We're trying to f**k up that style for the better and do something different!


V. What exactly is the band's name, pigWar, a reference to? I see pigs prominently featured across the covers of your recent Make Love, Vol. I-II Bandcamp releases.

The Pig War is a war the happened in our neck of the woods, the San Juan Islands [British Columbia, CAN], in the 1860's that is the only war in the history of the universe in which there was no actual bloodshed. It lasted for about 12 years and soldiers on both sides of the war just hung out and made love and cooked and enjoyed the scene.


VI. I've read within your Outright Music press material that you're a fan of J Dilla; how exactly does Dilla's music, as well as Hip-Hop music in general, play into pigWar's sound?

It doesn't really... I think anything you listen to will come [through] a bit in your music. The Dilla influence is probably more prominent in what we are doing with DoveDriver these days.


VII. I know it's a little late now... but what might you likely cite as some of your absolute personal favorite releases of 2016? Anything that might particularly surprise my readers or your fans?

The Michael Kiwanuka album Love & Hate is a beautiful thing. I think Danger Mouse did a brilliant job with it!


VIII. What's next for pigWar and your outer-band musical endeavors? Do you have any immediate plans to tour, record new material, release any more singles, vinyl pressings, music videos, etc?

Please do an email sign-up at one of our websites: www.teddypresberg.com / www.pigwarmusic.com / www.dovedriver.com and keep up with us! You can also purchase or download some free music from us at one of those sites and leave your email address. Or find us on social media. We are always releasing new music, videos and doing shows. These days I pretty much keep all of my bands along the West Coast, since I've got a young family and it's nice to be at home as much as I can.


IX. What kind of role did DoveDriver have in you meeting organ player LeClare Stevenson and now-frontman Garett Brennan and ultimately, forming pigWar?

LeClare and I are musical life partners. We've been playing music together for eight years now. We did a rough estimate at one time that we've played over 500 shows together. It's actually probably way more than that, but we don't have time to figure stuff like that out. In the good old days, he was in my band, touring under my name, and playing my tunes. In DoveDriver, we have a Lennon-McCartney partnership going on there.

I [used] to play in Garett's band 15 years ago doing his Folky Americana stuff. So, we've known each other for a long time. I encouraged him to make the leap to sing Folk music ['cause] I just knew that his gravelly voice would make a nice addition to the Soul music community!


X. "The self-titled album [pigWar] was co-produced by Teddy Presberg & The Monophonics and recorded in November 2015 at Transistor Sound Studios after a set of rowdy shows at pigWar's favorite San Francisco venue: The Boom Boom Room;" who exactly are The Monophonics and how long did it take you guys to fully record and produce pigWar?

The Monophonics are a Soul band based in San Francisco. They didn't produce the album, but they did record it and mix it at their studio. We cut the album live in two days in November of 2015. Then, I did all the edits and over-dubs for the next few months and then, back to them to mix. Erik Wofford mastered it and boom... one year later it was complete.


XI. You've previously said that "there's an incredible throwback thing happening in Soul music right now..." who might you deem as some of the best/most note-worthy young Soul bands actively functioning in and around (or even outside of) Portland?

Daptone Records really sets the bar in that world with their releases. The Monophonics are also doing a justice to keeping it real. Sonny Knight & The Lakers, Rachel Modest, Durand Jones, and the way deep sounds of Pat Van Dyke are some of my favorite contemporaries doing it.


XII. Now, correct me, if I'm wrong... but are you part owner of your own record label, Outright Music along with pigWar's booking agent, Adrian Jones? If so, what prompted you to start your own imprint and are there any additional Outright-signed acts?

Outright Music [is] fully owned by me, so please don't offer Adrian any money or contracts because he'll sell me out for a hard-shell potato taco! Outright has moved and changed over the years, but right now it's functioning as a boutique licensing agency for me and a handful of my friends and our musical catalogs. You can check out the www.outrightmusic.com website to learn more or see the acts on it. THANKS!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ATLien Rome Fortune Reunites with Samantha & VVORLDVVIDE PIMPSATION Collaborator Toro Y Moi for "BOO MOBILE II" & "Leotard;" Teases Forthcoming Beautiful Pimp III (self-released)



"Yeah, that's my grandfather. My grandfather's side of the family is a bunch of Jazz musicians. Nat & Cannonball Adderley, my grandfather's Richard Adderley, they played with Miles Davis... and my grandfather, he's a beast," Rome Fortune ecstatically revealed to THE HUNDREDS writer Senay Kenfe during a 2015 Small VVorld EP-centric interview; Kenfe was inquiring about a suspicious underlying Jazz/Hard Bop influence running through his Beautiful Pimp I-II mixtapes. It makes a bit more sense, taking his Jazz roots into account, that Rome Fortune has worked with such a wide array of genre-spanning producers and musicians such as Neo-Soul-minded multi-instrumentalist Chris McClenney, Jazz-inclined Electronic producer Four Tet, Grimes-affiliated song-writer and producer BloodPop (formerly Blood Diamonds), and Haitian-Canadian Hip-Hop/R&B producer KAYTRANADA. Rome Fortune can easily be categorized as a by-product of fellow ATLiens OutKast & Goodie Mob and has vehemently embraced many young Atlanta-based emcees including iLOVEMAKONNEN, OG Maco, Dun Deal, and Childish Major.


After teasing "new toro y rome" in a series of Tweets shared on Monday, January 9th, @romefortune proceeded to unexpectedly upload two new Toro Y Moi-produced tracks on his Soundcloud. He and Toro Y Moi frontman Chaz Bundick had previously worked together on a number of occasions over the years: first, on his 2013 FKi-produced non-album cut "Grind," which sampled a composition of the same name from Bundick's Les Sins side-project, "Pitch Black" and "Benjiminz" from Toro Y Moi's 2015 Hip-Hop-leaning Samantha mixtape, VVORLDVVIDE PIMPSATION-featured "Long Days," and now, a newly-remixed version of "Boo Boo Mobile" fittingly titled "BOO MOBILE II" and "Leotard." It's unclear as to whether or not we'll ever get a full-length Toro Y Rome project or if we'll just keep getting randomly placed loosies like we've been getting, not entirely unlike Rome Fortune's scattered output with Four Tet... regardless, it seems as though Beautiful Pimp III—the proper follow-up to Rome's critically-acclaimed 2016 Fool's Gold debut, Jerome Raheem Fortune—should be expected sooner than later. "BEAUTIFUL PIMP 3 2017," reads Rome Fortune*'s updated Soundcloud tagline.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Zilla Rocca Lets Loose Son Raw-produced "98 Avirex Flow;" Inspired By Scaramanga, Raekwon & Terror Squad's Complex Style-ranked 1990's Outerwear (Wrecking Crew)




"My temple is half gun metal, other half Buddha smoke and coke sold to runnin' rebels, watch the devil," Philly-based emcee and writer Zilla Rocca ferociously quips within his latest Son Raw-produced throwback single, "98 Avirex Flow." Zilla shared a bit of information about its genesis and inception, via email:

"I made this song after listening to a lot of Scaramanga's classic album Seven Eyes, Seven Horns. I've always been a fan of Five-[percenter] Rap and I came up as an emcee in 1997-98, so I wanted to pay homage to that style. My man Son Raw sent me that beat probably 7-8 years ago and it always had that Raekwon/Terror Squad vibe to it. I never knew what to do with it, but I always wanted to use it. So, one day for fun, I thought "what would I sound like, if I wrote a straight up 1998 East Coast Rap verse?" There's some [Kool] G Rap in there, some Nas/AZ/Raekwon/Prodigy, and obviously, Scaramanga and Big Pun. I miss the days when a rapper would cram in 30 words per bar about being fly, being wise, and speaking slang I couldn't even comprehend. So, that's the birth of "98 Avirex Flow." Also, because I always wanted a black Avirex leather jacket, too like DMX used to rock!"

"10 years ago, I made a beat. This year, Zilla made a classic Rap song out of it. Listen to this 🔥," producer @SonRaw ecstatically Tweeted the afternoon of "98 Avirex Flow"'s release; that would place Son Raw's beat creation around 2007 and Zilla Rocca told me he's been sitting on it since about 2009. It's Zilla's first piece of new music this year (and arguably, one of the strongest Hip-Hop tracks anyone has heard in quite a while) and his first piece of new original music since The 5 O'Clock Shadow Boxers' 2015 album, No Vacation for Murder. Zilla has however, uploaded a whopping three mixtapes-full of remixes since No Vacation for Murder... ZR vs. QB: Zilla Rocca Remixes The Best of Queensbridge Rap (2015), Anything I Touch, I Bruise Vol. 1: Ten Years of Rap Remixes, and Anything I Touch, I Bruise Vol. 2: The Superior Foes of Zilla Rocca (2016). He's currently busy shopping a full-length album billed as Career Crooks with long-time friend and fellow Philly-based producer Small Professor, a project which can be properly previewed across their Sin Will Find You: The Collected Works comp. mixtape. Career Crooks' utterly awesome TINY MIX TAPES-premiered first official single, "Least Important Most Important" can be viewed above.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Lions "The Magnificent Dance" Director Ross Harris & Animator RUFFMERCY Reunite for Nxworries "SIDEPIECE" in the dungeon REMIX (The Witzard Interview)


While my recent Best Albums, EP's & Mixtapes of 2016 List didn't include any type of "Honorable Mentions" section, if it had, it would have likely included the likes of De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Blink-182, Nxworries, and J-Zone (for Fish-n-Grits). Aftermath crooner Anderson.Paak and beat-maker Knxwledge's full-length debut as Nxworreis, YES LAWD! It's equal parts The Roots, D'Angelo, J Dilla, and Drake; a perfect mix of Hip-Hop and modern day R&B, easily one of Stones Throw's absolute strongest, most cohesive releases in years. I really haven't given Nxworries' YES LAWD! a whole lot of coverage here at The Witzard (aside from the early singles) and have really just been waiting for the perfect opportunity to write about Anderson.Paak & Knxwledge again... until this past Thursday afternoon, when I heard about Nxworries' "SIDEPIECE" music video filmed at Stones Throw "in the dungeon" by director Ross Harris and animated by Bristol-based artist Russ "RUFFMERCY" Murphy. Early Friday morning, I reached out to @imrossangles on a whim via Twitter Direct Message and quickly attained a brief statement on "SIDEPIECE," followed by a similar emailed conversation with animator RUFFMERCY. Although, I soon realized that their was much more to their fateful "SIDEPIECE" collaboration and past works together, so I proposed a slightly more in-depth emailed interview, and promptly sent a batch of 5-6 questions to Ross & Russ. Please, feel free to read, watch "SIDEPIECE," re-read, and enjoy my interview with Ross Harris & RUFFMERCY down below. Happy New Year, my trusty readers and followers!


Sincerely,

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


I. How did you two gentlemen initially meet? You've, in fact, previously worked together on on a number of occasions, correct?

RUFFMERCY: Stones Throw had asked me to make a video for Knxwledge ["Flying_Lizrds"] and and they suggested I use some footage of him that they had, these turned out to be snippets from the [in the] dungeon sessions Ross had recorded. I'd seen Ross' work before, but didn't know he'd made certain things that I had liked. Lazily, I never looked up who made them. On a side note: anyone reading this should check out his documentary films, brilliant work... also, turns out he was in one of my favourite films as a kid, Airplane! Anyway, after that, Ross asked me if I'd work on a video for the band The Lions ["The Magnificent Dance"]. We did that together and it was fun and after that, I kinda thought that we might work together again, at some point. He did try tempt me with a couple of things, but the timing wasn't right. Hopefully they'll be more collaborations.

Ross Harris: We met on The Internet. For all it’s faults, I love the fact that two artists can link up and collaborate this way. I’m old enough to know how it was in the old days (i.e. the 90’s). This kinda of sh*t was impossible.


II. What was the creation process(es) like for Nxworries' "SIDEPIECE?" I would assume Ross filmed the initial film reel and RUFFMERCY went back in and "scribbled" all over it afterwards in post-production.

RUFF: Yeah, Ross said he had this third film from those [in the] dungeon sessions and that it if I wanted I could give it a remix. I think I started the moment he sent me the footage. I'm a big fan of Nxworries and also, I'd really enjoyed the first two [in the] dungeon session videos of them. I just began messing with it... I did about 10-15 seconds, then showed Ross to see if he was down with it. He was into it and suggested maybe have a drawing of a couple of girls on the mic. Instead of drawing them, I found a Betty Boop snippet that I thought was perfect and fitted that old Soul vibe. In the end, Ross went back in and remixed the vocals for the final version.

Ross: I was sitting on this footage for almost two years. I’d been so busy that I had never taken the time to try and edit it. I finally banged one out and was blown away by the performance. I remembered it had been good, but it was the first thing we shot that day, so it kind of got over-powered by the performances of "Suede" and "Link Up" that we shot right after. Think about that. This is [Andersom.Paak] "warming up" on a tune in the early demo stages. Incredible! So, yeah, I put together a basic edit. Shot it over to [RUFFMERCY] and told him to go nuts. I’m actually not a huge effects guy. I feel a strong performance should stand on it’s own. I like to shoot hand-held, so I can add my touch to things. It’s like a dance with the performer, if it’s done right. But RUFF’s work feels like that to me. It’s hand-drawn. It’s very organic. I think it enhances, rather than detracts. I’m a big fan!


III. I know "SIDEPIECE" was filmed by Ross Harris a few years ago "in the dungeon" at Stones Throw along with "Suede" & "Link Up," but how did RUFFMERCY come to get involved within the process, as well?

Ross: I was like, "Hey RUFF, you want to work really long hours on a video that may or may not see the light of day?" ha. I kind of went out on a limb, but that’s what you have to do sometimes, if you want to make sh*t happen.


IV. I believe you had previously mentioned, Ross that you fellas had done "SIDEPIECE" "on [your] own and didn't show [Anderson.Paak & Knxwledge] or Stones Throw until it was done;" what compelled you to do so and what did the ultimately think of the final product?

RUFF: The music and being creative for the f*ck of it because I can and could. Mainly for the love of music.

Ross: I watched the performance and thought that it was such an "L" [loss] that it was just going to sit on my hard drive. No one [would] ever see/hear it. I knew the fans would love it. I was trying to not be selfish ha. In the end, seemed like everyone was cool with it. Reactions ranged from "love it" to "cool." But yeah. it wasn’t going to see the light of day, if we didn’t go rouge on it. The general consensus was that since we put out two [in the] dungeon sessions previously that the look was kinda played. That’s where [RUFFMERCY] came in. I knew he could take care of that issue quite nicely.

So, there is a bit of back story to this video: the [in the] dungeon sessions started years ago with Jonti. Stones Throw (ST) asked me to do a video for him, so I went to the warehouse to grab his CD to listen to potential songs. When I walked in, I thought why not shoot it in here. It’s visually interesting and intimate and I knew that ST fans would love to have a look into that world. I mean, it’s nirvana for the ST heads. We put up that [video] and people dug it, like I thought. Hard to go wrong with Jonti, though. He’s a genius!


Anyway, I got busy and didn’t do many more videos for ST for a while. Finally, got some time and we quickly decided to do some more in the warehouse with other ST artists. So, we scheduled a day to do as many of them as we could in one day. I think we shot nine videos that day, maybe ten. We shot from 11:00 in the morning to midnight; Nxworries, Mild High Club, The Lions, and we made an attempt at a Knxwledge [video]. At the time, I was battling this mystery illness that made me feel like I was going to pass out at any moment. Nausea, dizziness... the works. The only thing that seemed to help was to keep shooting. Anytime I put the camera down, I thought I was going to die. The performances that day were like life support. First up was Nxworries and "SIDEPIECE." From the jump, I was like, "who the f*ck is THIS?" I’ve been doing this a long time. Been there at the start for artists like Beck and Elliott Smith. I’ve seen what true greatness looks and sounds like and these guys had it! Didn’t matter how sh*tty I felt. I was capturing this, if it meant heading straight to the hospital at wrap.

I ended up shooting a traditional music [video] for "Link Up" that got shelved. It was a total clusterf*ck. We literally got hit by a mini-hurricane ha. I kinda f*cked up, too. It’s hard as a video-maker. Musicians have hard drives filled with demos and songs that don’t quite cut it. No big deal. Video directors are expected to strike gold every time. Nxworries ended up getting CALAMATIC to take a stab at it and he KILLED it. So, it was all good. I was happy for them. I learned a long time ago, a rising tide raises all ships. That’s the attitude I had when I hit up Russ [RUFFMERCY] to [collaborate] on this. He gets it. It’s a win-win. No worries.


V. Do you have any immediate plans to create any more collaborative "ROSS AND RUSS FILMS" in the immediate future? And if not, what sort of projects are each of you currently working on that may be nearing release?

RUFF: Love to go there again with Ross on another project... Mm, I have a couple of videos coming out soon... not sure I can talk about them, [though]—sorry.

Ross: I hope so! I owe him. I want to do a 360° video with him. I’m currently working on some music of my own, posting weird stuff on my Instagram, working as a camera op and director/editor in the advertising industry, taking care of my 85-year-old parents and my autistic son, writing ideas for more music videos, and buying junk from the thrift store—not entirely in that order, though.


VI. What exactly is your process called... scribbling? How does it start and how does it ultimately end up transposed on top of the film reel?

RUFF: Scribbling will do... I have slightly different approaches to how I draw over videos and it's changed a bit over the years to try shake off my imitators. This Nxworries one is a freestyle, where I just start at the beginning and just draw without planning anything. I like to keep it raw and loose, keeping any mistakes there are; after I draw everything in Photoshop, I then composite in After Effects, where I played around with double-layering and multiple images and crops of the original footage.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Marvin Nygaard & Vidar Landa of Norwegian Metal Band Kvelertak Unite with Børild Haughom & Espen Kvaloy to Form Gaslight Anthem-reminiscent Beachheads (Fysisk Format)



"Beachheads is a Power-Pop band from the west coast of Norway. This is their self-titled debut album. The spark that became Beachheads was first ignited on a tour bus, as Kvelertak members Vidar [Landa] (guitar) and Marvin [Nygaard] (bass) fantasized about the endless potential of fuzzy guitars, energetic drums, and good melodies. The two hard-working Kvelertak musicians had little time off and Beachheads endured as more of a favourite dream band on days off, than a "real" band," reads a fragmented chunk of BEACHHEADS' press text. While they've received wide-spread critical acclaim and have already garnered comparisons to "Big Star, Teenage Fanclub, and Punkier fare like The Replacements," as Stereogum Senior Editor Tom Breihan perfectly puts it, but no one has seemed to compare Beachheads to their most fitting stateside musical counterpart, as I see it: New Brunswick, New Jersey's own Heartland Rock/Folk Punk pride and joy, The Gaslight Anthem! "Beachheads is the kind of band that will stay with you through life’s many twists and turns. The track sequence manifests life’s unpredictability and sharp contrasts, going from classic love songs to moments of deep despair. The album is brimmed with the sense a euphoric companionship, the power of trusting yourself and following your heart... truthfulness and honesty will get you through anything," Fysisk Format's on-site Beachheads bio enthusiastically continued.


Beachheads is rounded out by Espen Kvaløy, drummer of Norwegian Metal band Overthrow, and Synth-Pop singer Børild Haughom, both of whom Vidar Landa & Marvin Nygaard met following a fateful 2013 demo session. Then newly-formed Beachheads "knocked out three single tracks that quickly made a mark on playlists on both Norwegian and British national radio. The sudden success and interest came as a surprise for Beachheads, who had no big plans, except for "maybe recording an album sometime."' It seems as though these three singles ultimately turned into Beachheads' May 2015 Bandcamp double-single, "Shadow of a Man" b/​w "Get Away" (neither of which appear within their forthcoming Fysisk Format debut). However, "Shadow of a Man" and "Get Away" are currently available for streaming on a TigerFysiskFormat-compiled playlist simply titled Beachheads Singles; album tracks "Moment of Truth," "Break Me Down," and "Your Highness" are additionally included within the 5-song sampler. "Get Away" and "Shadow of a Man" were both mixed by Larry Crane at Jackpot Studios in Portland, Oregon, while Beachheads' self-titled album was recorded in their hometown of Stavanger, Norway and was mixed by Øystein FrantzvĂĽg in Oslo studio Nabolaget. Beachheads' self-titled debut will be released on Oslo-based Tiger Records' in-house [read: basement] imprint, Fysisk Format this upcoming February 3rd.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Darko The Super Unleashes "2016 Sucked, But Darko Released 10 Albums & That's Pretty Cool" (Mix, Mix, Mix) & BLKrKRT-produced "A Very Darko Christmas" [U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART]




"I chose my favorites and most important songs. Made sure I added most of the ones I do at shows. I made the [2016] mix because I believe strongly in what I do, and know most of the people I send these albums out to, don't listen. I wanted to recap my year of releases, to prove to whoever listens and to myself, how hard I work," @DarkoTheSuper detailed within a recent statement sent to The Witzard. Like the title "2016 Sucked, But Darko Released 10 Albums & That's Pretty Cool" suggests, Darko The Super did in fact, manage to release a whopping 10 albums over the course of the past 12 months: starting with February 2016's CREEPAZOID!, The Hell Hole Store with fellow rapper-producer ialive, Stomachaches & Heartbreaks, All These Fingers-produced Carve a Happy Face On My Tombstone, We all pay for life with death, so everything in between should be free, Take Me to Your Computer, Your Mouth Is Bigger Than Your Entire Brain, a collection of Beercan beats under his Doc Heller production alias, The Witzard-premiered Put Down The Candy & Let The Little Boy Go!, and most recently, Take Me to Your Computer (Instrumentals). While Put Down The Candy... was included within The Witzard's recently-published Best Albums, EP's & Mixtapes of 2016 list(s), Darko still decided to take it upon himself to compile his own year-end mix of sorts, tediously distilling his 10 U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART/Already Dead Tapes-released 2016 releases into one comprehensive 1.5 hour-long sampler.


"People tell me it can be a daunting task to listen to all the albums I released [in 2016], so I helped you pansies out and made a mix of my favorite songs I put out this year. I even hosted it in my knock-off Fatman Scoop voice. I put a lot into what I create, so I hope you can take something out of it. ialive, All These Fingers, Already Dead Tapes, Gloam, Mr. Pope, and everyone else who contributed musically to my 2016, you are appreciated. Happy New Year!" Darko The Super tells me he's currently preparing a number of forthcoming releases including, but not limited to an ialive-produced Hell Hole Store follow-up and his Rock sample-based Apocalyptic B*stard project, which already spawned All These Fingers-produced single, "The Day I Beat Yao Ming," as well as politically-charged anthem, "Donald Trump S**ks C**ks In Hell."