Monday, October 30, 2017

The Witzard Premier: Purple Dialect Unleashes Halloween-themed PLANET PUMPKIN & Teams Up with Shawn Johnson & Spook Novel for "Cocoa" Video (GHOST VOLCANO)

"Purple Dialect answers an ad on Craigslist to raid PLANET PUMPKIN. The orc hives are a little more lit than they appeared [in] the brochure. Zane has to decide if the job is worth it when he finds out it only pays in candy corn and Samba 45's," Zane Rice AKA rapper-producer Purple Dialect wrote within the Bandcamp description for his latest album. PLANET PUMPKIN is sub-titled, "GHOST VOLCANO: SEASON 1; EPISODE 4" and an impassioned Rice asserts, "this is a mixtape. It's raw as f**k. Hopefully, you like it." Purple Dialect's CAMPFIRE EP follow-up, PLANET PUMPKIN, as you might have already deduced, is a largely Halloween-themed and inspired album from Philly's own Purple Dialect. PLANET PUMPKIN consists of 13 spook-tacular tracks from Purple Dialect, who said he simply "just tried to make music that [he] liked." He then, called in frequent collaborators Luke "Spook" Novel (1/2 of GHOST VOLCANO) and Shawn Johnson AKA oldsoulbrother1 to help create the album art/"Cocoa" video—both of whom Purple Dialect worked closely with on his last project, CAMPFIRE EP.

PLANET PUMPKIN was largely produced by Purple Dialect himself with one track each from Chameleon Sessions, DJ Prominent, Nimzo, Reckonize Real, and SiM. PLANET PUMPKIN showcases features from B. Moore, Manny Marko, Vas Vigoda, and one-time Das Racist emcee Kool A.D. which as "Veggie Lasagna" (2006 flip phone mix) seemingly alludes, were "called [in] from overseas on flip phones." "Cocoa" director Shawn Johnson (oldsoulbrother1) had this to say on his latest creation: "This was my first time collaborating on a project. Spook sent me about 80 different scanned images; each star, figure, title, dot, etc. I made animations out of them in After Effects. Zane sent me footage of him in [his laundry room] through email and I was able to "Rotoscope" out the background. I also created the background in After Effects. A lot of the images are literal interpretations of the lyrics. After all the editing of the clips, it was a matter of plugging everything in and making each quote transition smooth into the other." Purple Dialect's latest, PLANET PUMPKIN, is now available for streaming and download on Bandcamp from GHOST VOLCANO, just in time for your ghoulish Halloween festivities.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Philly Punks DARK THOUGHTS Unleash Ghoulish HALLOWEEN TAPE with 4 "Rough Demos" from Upcoming Second Album (self-released)

It really makes complete and total sense for a band entitled "Dark Thoughts" to make a spook-tacular Halloween-themed mixtape just in time for All Hallows' Eve. I'm actually, a bit surprised they haven't done it sooner; considering Dark Thoughts are a self-described Pop-Punk-minded band "dressing up" as their beloved The Ramones nearly each and every day. Dark Thoughts have already opened up for fellow Philly Punks Blank Spell, Pissed Jeans, and SHEER MAG and are currently working on the follow-up to their critically-acclaimed self-titled 2016 debut. HALLOWEEN TAPE showcases four rough demos currently slated to appear within Album #2: "NO GOOD," "DON'T WANNA," "HATE THIS SONG," and "LITTLE THING," all of which collectively clock in right around the 5-minutes mark. Then, the remaining nine or so minutes housed on Dark Thoughts' HALLOWEEN TAPE consists of festive sound effects and "spooky noises" guitarist and frontman Jim Shomo says the band actually "didn't make" themselves and rather, simply discovered, edited, and tacked on after their rough tracks from their recent DARK THOUGHTS AT WORK sessions.

HALLOWEEN TAPE is currently available for streaming and download from the band's Bandcamp page on a Name-Your-Price basis, just in time for your weekend festivities; limited edition cassettes are also available for purchase via mail-order by emailing for $5.00 plus shipping and handling. Dark Thoughts currently have gigs scheduled for tonight, Friday, OCT. 27TH at LAVA Space in PHILADELPHIA with Dialer, Jenna & The Pups, and "THE GERMS" (cover set,) as well as OCT. 28TH at YG in CLEVELAND, OCT. 29TH at TCC Gallery in CHICAGO, OCT. 30TH at Jumbo's in DETROIT, and finally, OCT. 31ST (Halloween) at Rock Room??? in PITTSBURGH. HALLOWEEN TAPES will also be available for purchase at all of the aforementioned stops on DARK THOUGHTS' HALLOWEEN MID-WEST TOUR 2017. Simply put, Jim Shomo recently told me, via email: "we're just a Punk band from Philadelphia. We like The Ramones a lot; got one record, working on another. 🎃"

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

East Bay-based "4th Wave" Ska Punk Band Jokes for Feelings Let Loose "Sweet Song" from Too Much Too Hipster EP (Coming January 2018)

Jokes for Feelings are an East Bay-area Ska Punk band consisting of drummer Tony Acosta, vocalist/keyboardist/violinist/guitar player Bill Raphael, trombonist and back-up vocalist Allie Miller, bass player Dave Garcia, trombonist Noah Ortiz, sax player Michael Booker, and guitarist and back-up vocalist Josh Raphael. Jokes for Feelings regularly play gigs at 924 Gilman St. Alternative Music Foundation AKA "Gilman" in West Berkley, California. Throughout their brief, yet plentiful career, the "4th Wave" Ska band's members have played with Punk/Hardcore luminaries such as The Ramones' 1989-96 bassist C.J. Ramone, Agent Orange, Mike Watt of The Stooges and Minutemen fame, Voodoo Glow Skulls, The Specials (Roddy Radiation & Neville Staple,) The Aggrolites, and Guttermouth. Since forming in 2006, Jokes for Feelings have self-released three EP's—One of Us Sucks, Sleeping Giant, and We Don't Need Your Label Anyways—and one full-length album, 2014's The Island of Pissed Off Toyz; the band’s tracks have been featured on various esteemed Punk Rock/Ska compilations including Gilman Ska Night Comp. Vol. 1-2, Hellcat Records & Smelvis Records Presents... Dale la Bota (Give 'em The Boot,) and California Love on Quote Your Pulse Records.

"We have always been a DIY band, never been on labels, and put out all our own shows, records, events, merch, and artwork. We have been heavily involved in the Ska scene up here and love finding great bands to play our music with," guitarist and vocalist Josh Raphael detailed within a recent press release. Jokes for Feelings list Nuclear Rabbit, NOFX, Blue Meanies, Agent Orange, and Assorted Jelly Beans amongst their greatest sources of influence. Although, to my well-trained Punk/Hardcore and likely damaged ears, Jokes for Feelings' latest single, "Sweet Songs" sounds something more to the effect of now-defunct Motion City Soundtrack, Less Than Jake, 2 Tone Ska, and 1980's Hardcore pioneers Bad Religion. "Sweet Song" stems from Jokes for Feelings' upcoming and wonderfully-titled Too Much Too Hipster EP, which is expected to be released on 7-inch vinyl (2 songs/side) and across digital platforms in early 2018. "As the title suggests, the track is a mid-tempo, feel-good Ska romp punctuated by lively brass about "stage fright and following your dreams,'" the press release continued. Jokes for Feelings' next gig is Sunday, January 14th at 924 Gilman in support of MUSTARD PLUG with Buck-O-Nine, Neverlyn, and Honey Orbison. It's being billed as a proper "Record Release [Show] of Too Much Too Hipster EP" and is an ALL AGES show with a $15 COVER + $2 MEMBERSHIP, DOORS AT 4:30PM.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Leather Bull Mask-wearing Emcee Torito Unveils "Glowing Clothes" from Upcoming Self-produced Fabric Scraps Album (U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART)

"Nice Rhymes. Leather Bull Mask," is how Torito fittingly describes his musical approach within his Facebook About Me section; a full-time baker by day and masked emcee by night, Torito harnesses the ferocity of "a bull in a china shop." His latest single, "Glowing Clothes" is the third teaser from his upcoming self-produced album, Fabric Scraps, which will likely be released on rapper-producer Darko The Super's label imprint, U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART, at the top of 2018. "The beat is a little sample from "This Is Sally Hatchet" by Father John Misty, plus, me playing guitar and keys. It starts with a news [report] of a wild story about a bull that escaped from a Philadelphia slaughterhouse," Torito wrote via email, describing "Glowing Clothes." His frequent collaborator and Philly-based producer Johann Sebastian helped "beef up the drums a bit and offered some production guidance" and is also mixing/mastering the entire Fabric Scraps project. Torito & Johann Sebastian previously collaborated on the former's Crushing Rhymes Eviscerating All Matadors (C.R.E.A.M.) EP, which they co-produced together and released about three years ago. Fabric Scraps was initially planned to just be a quick 4-song EP, but as he started making and producing his own tracks, Torito decided to effectively re-appropriate the ever-growing batch of songs as a full-length 9-10-track album. "I'm producing the whole project, which is a bit outside of the norm for me, but I've really enjoyed it," Torito further detailed. Fabric Scraps will showcase contributions from Darko The Super & ialive (AKA The Hell Hole Store,) New York-bred emcees samsa, Mello Music Group sharp-spitter Quelle Chris on a track titled "Breakfast Loops," and a couple additional surprise guests. "They're all people whose music I love and respect, and I'm really happy that they're part of the project," Torito enthusiastically continued. In addition to "Glowing Clothes," Fabric Scraps will also featured Torito's recently released singles "Golden Briefs" and "ensueño" from his collaborative its all down south from here. 2017 tour tape/sampler along with The Hell Hole Store.

Friday, October 20, 2017

"Ladies & Gentlemen, It's My Honor & My Privilege & My Great Joy to Introduce This Next Band & Please, Give It Up for The Future of Hip-Hop:" Places & Spaces' Debut ALIVE (self-released)

Places & Spaces are a self-described "Hip-Hop Rap Boom-Bap Golden Age" production duo hailing from Switzerland consisting of old friends Naturetone and Zooki. "For the past 20-some years, Naturetone & Zooki went places, different places. In the early 1990's they made beats together and pioneered Swiss Hip-Hop as part of the group Three Tree Posse [AKA 3TP]," reads Places & Spaces' Bandcamp description. Places & Spaces' first song, also titled "Alive," initially appeared on now-defunct label, World Around Records' final compilation, We Are World Around Vol. 6. I actually had the opportunity to speak with Patric (Naturetone) as part of my label-encompassing We Are World Around Vol. 6 double-header piece earlier this year. Naturetone & Zooki first worked together as 3TP between 1993-95 and met back up again in 2016 at "some beat-making sessions run by a mutual friend for another project" and they decided then, to reconvene and record music together for the first time in 20 years, as Places & Spaces— in fact, named after Donald Byrd's critically-acclaimed 1975 Blue Note album, Places and Spaces. At the time of The Witzard's We Are World Around Vol. 6-centric piece, Patric told me he and Zooki "already [had] about 30 beats ready," which they "planned to release in the coming months;" information concerning their proper ALIVE follow-up should come around the first of November.

Now, it's been nearly eight months since World Around Records folded and Places & Spaces made their soft debut with "Alive" and we have their slightly scaled-back full-length, ALIVE, self-released last Saturday, October 14th. ALIVE is a refreshing 22-track slab of Instrumental Hip-Hop, reminiscent of Jaylib's coveted 2003 album Champion Sound, Clams Casino's Instrumentals I-IV comps. The Dust Brothers' multi-layered production work on Paul's Boutique, DOOM's Madlib-produced MADVILLAINY, and College Dropout-era Kanye. Places & Spaces have effectively inter-woven a handful of recognizable vocal samples from some of music's finest including Mos Def AKA Yasiin Bey, Kanye, Beastie Boys, James Brown, Nas, Biggie, Diana Ross, Les McCann, Sun Ra, Richard Pryor, Rakim, Digable Planets, and a few others. Naturetone additionally told me, via email: "we have also used some voices from the Wattstax: [Highlights from The] Soundtrack. You know, I am a big fan of The Bomb Squad and Wattstax was used heavily on Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation [of Millions to Hold Us Back] album. Just love this one!" Naturetone & Zooki's soaring reunion/debut as Places & Spaces, ALIVE, is currently available for streaming and download on a Name-Your-Price basis from their newly-launched Bandcamp and Soundcloud pages. If you dig what you hear, throw them a couple "bones" and feel free to Follow Places & Spaces on Twitter (@plcsnspcs,) Instagram (placesandspacesmusic,) and Facebook (@placesandspacesmusic.)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

ialive & Height Keech Join Forces for Forthcoming Rapper-producer Album TIMEWAVE ZERO & Cody Jones-directed "THE OUGHTS" Music Video (Cold Rhymes Records)

The Witzard regulars should almost instantly recognize the names "Height Keech" and "ialive," but for those who might not be familiar, here's a quick refresher: Height is a seasoned Underground Hip-Hop rapper-producer, Cold Rhymes Records founder, and 1/3 of Shark Tank, while Donovan "ialive" is a self-proclaimed "rap-singer-songwriter" who's affiliated with fellow Philadelphians Darko The Super (The Hell Hole Store) and Cody Cody Jones (Four to The Floor.) I'm sure ialive & Height's paths have previously crossed within their various East Coast-based Underground Punk-Rap circles and now, they've teamed up for a proper full-length on Height's Cold Rhymes Records; quite simply put, TIMEWAVE ZERO is ialive's rhymes over Height's beats and marks the first time the latter has produced a whole project for someone, aside from himself. Height Keech has been co-producing his own records on-and-off since 2009's Baltimore Highlands, credited to "Height with Friends," and this year's MIND MOVES THE MOUNTAIN was his first fully self-produced solo record. This would, then, effectively make TIMEWAVE ZERO the third Height Keech-produced record of 2017—including Shark Tank's recent fourth album, Dan's House. ialive & Height's first proper rapper-producer collaboration, TIMEWAVE ZERO, will be released Monday, October 30th on Cold Rhymes Records and it appears as though we'll be getting album teasers every Monday until its release. TIMEWAVE ZERO will feature a couple collaborations with rapping friends like Darko The Super on "Psychedelic Primates" and Yikes The Zero, Cody Cody Jones, and Height himself on "The Four-Man Correct Style."

Monday, October 2nd, Height Keech posted this very Facebook status: "This is the cover art for TIMEWAVE ZERO, the next Cold Rhymes Records release. It's a collaboration between ialive and myself. It's his rhymes over my beats. It will be my first time producing a whole project for someone else. The record comes out on Oct. 30th. Sneak peaks and pre-orders start next week," along with the Donovan ialive-designed TIMEWAVE ZERO cover art. The following Monday, October 9th, ialive & Height unleashed the album's first proper audiophonic teaser with "These Days." Dualling as TIMEWAVE ZERO's 13th and final track, "These Days" offers a unique perspective into Height & ialive's newly-minted working relationship. Height tediously places a crisp, horn-led beat beneath ialive's "These Days" rhymes, which echo Asher Roth's post-RetroHash output and ialive himself describes the album's contained content as "drawn from various points of my life and observations in others lives. I think a lot of it has to do with our relationship to one another (as people.)" It appears as though, through their first collaborative endeavor, both ialive & Height Keech have been able to express themselves unlike any of their previous projects—free of any constrains or preconceived expectations. Finally, this past Monday, October 16th, Cold Rhymes Records let loose their latest TIMEWAVE ZERO teaser by way of "THE OUGHTS" music video. Directed by ialive's Four to The Floor touring partner and fellow Philly-based emcee Cody Jones, "THE OUGHTS" is a simple, yet effective fisheye-oriented shot of ialive spittin' his laid-back rhymes; meanwhile, a scene of party-goers including The Hell Hole Store emcee Darko The Super, STATIC BROTHERS' Quinn AKA Riff Quantum, and horned rapper Torito ensues, while ialive appears largely unfazed throughout the on-screen festivities and assorted shenanigans.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Baltimore Sharp-spitter UllNevaNo Teams Up with Jumbled for Basketball-inspired The Ghost of Len Bias EP (MGNTK./Harford & Reckord Tapes)

It would be safe to say that the immense musical diversity and sheer success seen published across the pages of The Witzard within the last year or two is largely due in part to one man, John "Jumbled" Bachman; a self-proclaimed "teacher, husband, beat-maker, and dish-washer," Bachman has been a long-time champion, supporter, featured artist, talent scout, and most recently, idea man behind Beat-maker Bedrock here at The Witzard. Jumbled has either produced beats for, set up shows, introduced, or simply referred me to an ever-evolving crew of head-nodding East Coast-based emcees and beat-makers since we first met, after he sent me his 2016 album, [I wish it was longer] AKA WIWL. John Bachman and his wife recently welcomed a beautiful baby girl into their family and started a new school year at a new school, all the while, simultaneously working on a number of extracurricular projects: The Ghost of Len Bias, Bully Preston with emcee Dwell, and an instrumental Bmore Club-minded solo EP. The Ghost of Len Bias EP rhymesmith, UllNevaNo was actually featured on the first Jumbled track I ever heard, WIWL intro "Hampden Session," which I had no idea, at the time, but was a solid sampling of what the two could do together.

I've been hearing about UllNevaNo & Jumbled's untitled/The Ghost of Len Bias EP for at least 6-8 months now, maybe even a year, which I would imagine, is likely as long as it's even been a formative idea. "There's been a lot of talk in the press lately of rappers returning to the one-producer album. The spirit of collaboration has been replaced with Soundcloud singles," reads The Ghost of Len Bias EP's press release. Jumbled & UllNevaNo indeed appear to be single-handedly resurrecting the lost art of the tried and true rapper-producer album, evoking sonic notes of Champion Sound, Johnson&Jonson, MADVILLAINY, Gang Starr, Erik B. & Rakim, and THE MOUSE AND THE MASK. The Ghost of Len Bias features—in addition to Logic Marsellis-assisted "BIAS VS. JORDAN" and The Witzard-premiered "86 Draft"Baltimore emcee Ashley Sierra on "Shoot Your Shot," UllNevaNo rhyming over a "Bluesy guitar riff with ease" on "How Does He Do It?" cuts from DJ Blaze Daily, and a neck-snapping Jumbled instrumental, "Magnetik," towards the end of the EP. The Ghost of Len Bias EP is currently available on MGNTK.'s Bandcamp page in partnership with John Bachman's own Harford & Reckord Tapes with super-limited red and black cassette tapes "#importedfrom[the]UK" coming fairly soon.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dwell & salk.'s clint. Forms Baltimore Grindcore Band Constituents with Fellow Hip-Hop Heads Zap, José & Thor (Death, Agony & Screams Cassettes and Vinyl)

"Heavy, Fast, Loud & Grinding. Powerviolence Forever. Grind or Die. Reppin' Baltimore, Maryland," reads Constituents' Facebook About description. Constituents (AKA CNSTS) is a newly-formed Baltimore Grandcore band consisting of clint. on guitar, frontman JosĂ©, bassist Thor, and Zap on drums. Three of the four members being part-time rappers themselves: clint. AKA salk. of Dwell & salk. Zap/Zach moonlighting as Futurama-referencing sharp-spitter zap brannigan, and JosĂ© being emcee no way jose—the latter two joining forces with DJ bobmaldad as Hip-Hop crew, Pleasant Boys. CNSTS are the latest in a recent trend... or maybe, just a mere coincidence of emcees starting/reverting back to their Hardcore/Punk-minded roots, such as: Ray Strife's OVER EVERYTHING (formerly DAD D*CK,) Carl Kavorkian's minimalist side-project MANIK|NETER, and Justin Mayer's DOOM & UK Crust Punks Doom mashing Old City EP, as well as clint.'s own homage to British Grindcore pioneers Napalm Death, Napalm Def, or simply, NxDEF, with producer buddy John "Jumbled" Bachman formed around 2006. Constituents have recently been making a number of release rumblings on both their Facebook (@constituentsgrind) and Instagram (@constituents_grindcore) pages and over the weekend, quietly unleashed their aptly-named 2017 DEMO EP on Bandcamp. While it consists of a total of four tracks, 2017 DEMO barely constitutes as an "EP," clocking in at a combined total runtime of 3:05 with two "micro-songs" each under 35-seconds. CNSTS will be selling an extremely limited run of Death, Agony & Screams Cassettes and Vinyl-pressed 2017 DEMO cassettes at their upcoming live debut on 10/29 at HELLZAPOPPIN' in Baltimore City. Constituents strongly suggest, those interested in attending, simply "Ask a Punk" for further details concerning their 10/29 gig and second show at Harm City on 11/7.

"We started nameless, obviously. We began as a hook-up between Zap (Zach) and myself (clint.) that John Bachman (Jumbled) facilitated, via an email exchange. Zap and I emailed and texted about ideas. We jammed out the initial nine [songs] I had written, in preparation. We clicked extremely well. We both loved fast, brutal stuff. Zap came from a more Hardcore and Metal background with myself, coming from a Grindcore background," clint. recounted over an email exchange sent directly to The Witzard. clint. added that both he and Zap initially bonded over a mutual love and admiration for "true Hip-Hop." clint. continues that "next, came the addition of José on vox. Again, he fit right in. His vocal style borrowed from a mixture of [Hardcore] and his listening to Brutal Truth. Again, he has a love for Hip-Hop; another puzzle piece in place. Finally, the cement was cured with the addition of Thor on bass. His mega-hammering, fuzzed-out tone and presence in the same DIY Grindcore scene as myself worked out perfectly. I have know Thor for years and Zap was contacted to try him out. Pretty dope to work with a cat whose old band (Clay Davis) was a local [favorite] of mine. And yes, another member very into Hip-Hop..."

- clint. (Constituents Guitarist)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Cowboys & Frenchmen's Baritone/Alto Sax Players & Co-band Leaders Owen Broder & Ethan Helm Talk Bluer Than You Think (The Witzard Interview)

Cowboys & Frenchmen (C&F) are a wonderfully named, New York-based Modern Jazz quintet that describes itself as an act who "produces music that is expressive and fiercely creative, taking co-improvisation to new heights," as their Facebook About section fitting describes. I'll be the first to readily admit, I'm not the most well-versed on Jazz's formative late greats, but I've always enjoyed a Jazz-minded Hip-Hop sample and the Neo-Jazz stylings of Flying Lotus and his BRAINFEEDER crew, BADBADNOTGOOD AKA BBNG, Wu-Tang Clan-indebted El Michels Affair, Polish Jazz septet EABS, and even "The Greatest Band In Late Night," Philly's own The Roots. I received a cold-sent email last month from Massachusetts-based PR company Braithwaite & Katz Communications high-lighting the title track from Cowboys & Frenchmen's innovative, alto sax-led sophomore album, Bluer Than You Think—to be released today, Friday, October 13th, on Outside-In-Music on Amazon, Bandcamp, iTunes, Spotify, and like-minded digital retailers. Bluer Than You Think sounds something to the effect of Herbie Hancock & The Headhunters' 1973 Jazz-Fusion masterpiece Head Hunters, The Vincent Guaraldi Trio's cartoon-accompanying soundtracks and scores, and BBNG's unique brand of Canadian-rooted, Hip-Hop-indebted Neo-Jazz. About two weeks ago, I sent a batch of questions over to Cowboys & Frenchmen's co-band leaders, composers, and baritone/alto saxophonists Owen Broder & Ethan Helm, which can now be read in its complete, fully unedited glory down below the break, for all you Funk-tastic Jazzcats out there.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Jazzcat Cub-In-Training

I. How long have you and your Cowboys & Frenchmen (C&F) bandmates been playing together and how did you fellas initially meet?

Ethan Helm: We’ve been a band about five years now. We all met in school, either during our undergrads at Eastman School of Music in Rochester or during our graduate study at Manhattan School of Music.

II. How would you personally say C&F's overall sound and style has progressed between Rodeo (2015) and Bluer Than You Think?

EH: Between Rodeo and Bluer Than You Think, I think our sound has stayed similar, but all of our new compositions have a much stronger identity; we get to [the] point. We also have more control, both as a band and as individual improvisers, over some of the crazier musical ideas we tackle.

Owen Broder: There is a similar personality to both albums and we maintain the character we presented in our debut album. The music, though, was written with more inspiration from within the band. Ethan and I borrowed compositional ideas from each other and—after playing with these guys for five years—had a much stronger sense of how to write for their voices, which gives the album a more cohesive sound.

III. What might you cite as a few of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence during the making-of Bluer Than You Think?

EH: For this album, I was greatly influenced by my fellow band members. I really try to write for their voices and showcase their many strengths. But our influences run the gamut, musically and extra-musically, from Ellington to the band Zs or from impressionist painting to daily life in New York City.

IV. What made you guys decide to link up with GRAMMY Award-winning producer Ryan Truesdell for Bluer Than You Think and how did he ultimately, influence the album's sound?

EH: Ryan has been a huge help to us all, even before C&F. He was a guest artist at our school [Eastman School of Music] in undergrad and has remained a wonderful friend and a huge advocate of us, as players and composers. In the studio, he kept us focused and had some really great ideas to loosen up the tunes and add interesting textures and was also an invaluable resource for picking the best takes. We know he doesn’t like to talk about that GRAMMY, but it’s obvious why he won it.

V. Now, this is a question I typically ask rappers, producers, and Hip-Hop-minded acts... but what do Cowboys & Frenchmen's typical writing, recording, production, etc. processes generally entail?

EH: Owen and I write separately, bringing in ideas for compositions or sometimes, full pieces. Since the written material is always pretty ambitious, it takes us a while to feel out the tune and make it flow naturally, sometimes, months or years! We’re hyper-organized in the studio, though, just to save money. We go in well-rehearsed and have a schedule for doing takes and overdubs. For production, our focus is mainly on clarity and acoustic balance, since the compositions are meant to be heard on recording, as they’re heard live (with some exceptions.)

OB: Ethan and I separately write each of the compositions, but almost all of them involve some level of work-shopping, which brings all five of us into shaping them. We try to grow into the music in performances, rather than in rehearsals and then, bring that energy into the recording studio.

VI. It's just about that time of year for publications and websites (The Witzard included) to start assembling year-end lists; now, with that said, what might you be inclined to include on your "Best of 2017" list?

OB: From this year’s releases: I’ve particularly enjoyed Matt Wilson’s latest, Honey & Salt—a wildly creative and fun musical presentation of the poetry of Carl Sandberg—and Kneebody’s Anti-Hero. Kneebody is a favorite for Cowboys & Frenchmen—we learn a lot from them, as a band and are big fans of their music, so we follow their recording career closely. A few great CD’s have come out from our Outside-In-Music label family, too; Paul Jones’ Clean features stellar writing, borne from his residency at the Banff Creative Arts Centre and inspirational playing from several of our friends and colleagues. The label’s founder, Nick Finzer, also released his [album] Hear and Now this year, which is a fantastic album featuring his sextet.

EH: I get so far behind with new releases! I’d be better qualified to write a "Best of 1959" list. Although, I do love Andrew Schiller’s album, Tied Together, Not to The Ground; a two-tenor band, so they’re like C&F version 2.0. For non-Jazz albums, I have to throw Alarm Will Sound’s Splitting Adams. It’s half-album, half-podcast with impeccable recordings of John Adams’ Chamber Symphonies and in-depth interviews about the pieces. A new album format and so well-done.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Philly-based Producer Old City Readies Debut Mash-up EP Black Bastards Showcasing DOOM & UK Crust Punks Doom (The Witzard Interview)

"I think a lot about genre-blending, so the relative novelty of mixing (MF) DOOM & Doom made a lot of sense to me. I've been a fan of mash-ups like Jay-Z at Studio One, WUGAZI, Leftöver Kanye, and Yeezer, but nothing that really touched Hardcore/Punk Rock," Justin Mayer AKA Old City wrote within a series of Facebook Messages. Just a matter of days ago, I got a cold-sent email, which started off by saying, "Old City, stage name of Philly-based musician/producer Justin Mayer, announces Black Bastards, a mash-up EP between rapper MF DOOM and Birmingham Crust Punk band Doom." Old City is currently prepping the release of his villainous Black Bastards EP—presumably named after KMD's 1993 pre-MF DOOM album, Bl_ck B_st_rds—to be unleashed this Halloween and has been preceded by "the first and only" DOOM & Doom-melding single, "Air Crimes;" a frenzied mash-up consisting of DOOM's oft-remixed verse from Dabrye's 2006 Ghostly International single, "Air" and "War Crimes" from Birmingham-based Crust Punk pioneers Doom's perfectly "crusty" 1988 debut, War Crimes - Inhuman Beings.

I've always been a fan of rather off-kilter genre-blending releases that linger somewhere on the blurred line in-between Punk/Hardcore and Hip-Hop; be it Loud Records' 2000 Loud Rocks! comp. the Judgement Night Soundtrack, Lil' Wayne's Rebirth, or Travis Barker's Give The Drummer Some—some, slightly more full-formed and sincere than others. Although, with that said, I've never heard anything quite as intentional and meticulously-constructed from the dreaded "Rap-Rock" category as Old City's as-yet-unreleased Black Bastards EP. I was lucky enough to hear a pre-release copy of Black Bastards EP and send a batch of questions over to the "Hip-Hop/Punk Rock Provocateur" himself, Justin Mayer, which you'll see published below in interview Q&A format. Old City's DOOM & Doom mashing-up Black Bastards EP will become available for streaming and download on either his Old City PHL Bandcamp or MFDOOMBOT (Black Bastards) Tumblr this Halloween.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Your Ghoulish Hip-Hop Guide

I. Aside from the very obvious reason, what made you ultimately decide to start creating an EP mashing up DOOM and UK Crust Punks Doom? Where did you even begin when crafting your Black Bastards EP?

I’ve been in the middle of a larger-scale project for about two years and the DOOM mash-up was a novel idea that popped up and seemed "crazy" enough to work. I did a quick search, downloaded some DOOM acapellas off YouTube, and did a few simple beat-matching tests. The first one that clicked was “Air Crimes” and I basically, built up the track under the acapella one bar at a time. It was really fun because that’s a completely different approach than I usually take, when creating a track.

II. What might you cite as some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while (and even prior to) recording Black Bastards?

Danger Mouse is probably the biggest source of inspiration. I’ve been into his stuff for years, from Pelican City and The Grey Album to his work with Damon Albarn [Gorillaz], James Mercer [Broken Bells], and Daniele Luppi [Rome]. I downloaded Adele’s 25 just to hear "River Lea" and then, deleted it after. Mark Ronson, as a producer, is second to Danger [Mouse]. I’ve followed his catalog since Version. There’s a group out of Sweden I’m into called Teddybears; they make Dance music and get people like Iggy Pop, Eve, and Reggae toasters to put up vocals. Funny thing is, they started off as a pretty good Grindcore band [called Skull]! They play huge shows wearing full suits and giant matching bear helmets. Girl Talk, Jay-Z at Studio One, and WUGAZI were direct inspirations for the mash-up.

III. Are there any particular DOOM acapellas, verses, etc. you attempted to use for Black Bastards, but couldn't exactly figure out that you might consider re-visiting for a potential future release? I'm just curious!

In that initial spontaneous search, I found... seven(?) acapellas, but didn’t use all of them. I figured Doom's EP's are only four or five songs, so I’d keep it consistent. About three songs in to the EP, someone on Reddit posted clean vocals from MADVILLAINY, but I chose not to dive into them, trusting myself with those early-set limits. "Meat Grinder" and "Change The Beat" were songs I worked on, but scrapped and while I would have wanted to work with the lyrics from "Accordion," the acapella wasn’t clean enough. I don’t think I’ll do another mash-up. Never say never, but I want to branch out artistically. The Grey Album inspired WUGAZI and both inspired me. My hope is this inspires someone else.

IV. Now that your Black Bastards EP's nearing a Halloween release, what else are you currently working on? Any type of full-length Old City "debut?"

I’ve got a got a couple of "dirty fingers" in a couple of "dirty pies." I’m interested in genre-blending and exploration. The main project I’m working on is a "Punk" album, for lack of a better word. If Black Bastards is my Grey Album, the debut will be my THE MOUSE AND THE MASK. It’s a much more collaborative effort—working with vocalists and musicians that I revere. I’m finishing up the arrangement on a Jazz song for it now. I described it to Steve Pavlovic as "The Avalanches meets with The Living End," a fairly Australian explanation haha. My future projects list is a little out there. After the Old City debut, I may work on a few Folk songs with Days N' Daze or produce an Oi! [Punk Rock sub-genre] record. I want to make weird sh*t that excites and even scares me a little.

V. You recently mentioned to me that you single-handedly directed and edited together your recent "MF DOOM Black Bastards" AKA "Air Crimes" video, as well. What was the process like behind creating the video and how did you get the Metal Face Villain mask on The Peanuts Gang's Franklin?

The germ for the video came from seeing an image on someone’s Facebook of Pig-Pen with a Doom logo pasted on top of him. It was funny: Pig-Pen re-contextualized as a smelly Crust Punk. Instantly I remembered that DOOM sold those shirts of Charlie Brown with the mask on and thought, "oh sh*t, thematic continuity." Peanuts memes are actually sort of a thing in some Hip-Hop circles; there are a bunch of Peanuts-characters-rapping-Wu-Tang comics online [Mark Drew's DEEZ NUTS]. There seemed to be interest and with it enough inspiration to move on it.

I knew absolutely nothing about video editing, so I approached the video like I approach just about every other project and started with research. I went to Reddit to ask Peanuts fans for specific episodes where characters played musical instruments, but scrapped the idea of it being an all-music video. There are [Wikia] pages that detail what episodes and specials each character is in, so I found all of the ones with Franklin and Pig-Pen, specifically, and made notes of which clips I liked the best. Part of the problem is that while Franklin was several episodes, he spoke in only a few of them. I only have a couple of clips of him with a Metal Face mask on because he didn’t have much of dialogue, as a supporting character.

Chopping up the clips to sync the dialogue is simple enough in a still scene, then, it’s just getting the mask to line up the right way. I designed the mask really cheaply and easily in Photoshop, took a screenshot of the video clip, and just drew on top of it in an empty layer. A simple blur filter later, it looked remarkably authentic. I thought I’d have to add a bunch of grain filters, but those old [Peanuts] episodes used pretty basic cell animation, so there wasn’t much to it. The main problem was getting the mask to look naturalistic, when the video played, since the frame itself moves around under it. That goes back to clip-selection: I chose clips where Franklin was talking, but his head was fairly still. The mask is important! I spent more time than I’d like to admit to get the mask animation right.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Walter Gross & k-the-i??? Reunite for First Youth:Kill Release Since 2012, A Hunter's Moon with 50 "Individually Hand-made" Cassettes for Harvest Moon (self-released)

Berlin-based multi-instrumentalist, producer, and Baltimore transplant Walter Gross has been steadily rolling out extremely limited edition, thought-provoking cassette releases all year; starting with Black Box Tapes-issued VESTIGE this past March, then, its SUPER BASIC companion piece two months later, and now, Youth:Kill's A Hunter's Moon EP unleashed today, on the Harvest Moon. Walter Gross also recently assembled "FBR SummerSchool GuestMix 3" for FilthyBroke Recordings' Summer School 2017 series. Youth:Kill consists of Gross along with Big Dada/Fake Four Inc-affiliated emcee Emmanuel "Kiki" Ceac AKA k-the-i??? A 2008 Dusted Magazine review once fittingly described Youth:Kill as "the Underground Hip-Hop version of Black Dice." A Hunter's Moon is their sixth overall release and first since a self-released 2012 split EP with sole, titled sole/Youth:Kill split. Not entirely unlike its 2017 predecessors, A Hunter's Moon is essentially, a frantic sound collage-style Experimental Hip-Hop mixtape, just this time, with a sharp-tongued emcee atop Walter's unique, sample-laden self-destructive-sounding beats.

"I suppose, it should be noted @OptimisGFN and @kthei split the difference on a 10-min. track. in true yk fashion... ["calm down psycho"] was recorded 2 years ago. the beats were used for the angels dust remix and then, remixed the base into the grinder and then, the files... got corrupted. and it took 2 years to figure out a solution... in short, this album is a chronicle of this immigrant personal pathway," @waltergross wrote within a series of A Hunter's Moon-minded Tweets earlier this week. It almost seems as though A Hunter's Moon is anchored by and almost built around one single track, the aforementioned 10-minute "Calm Down Psycho" with Berlin-based emcee OptimisGFN AKA Gold HolyWater; essentially, a re-work of a planned remix for Angels Dust's 2015 HIT+RUN-released album, Slow Tapes, which after two years-worth of painstaking re-assembling and "[reviving] with some ghetto magic," has morphed into an entire Youth:Kill EP of its own. There are currently 30 (give or take) "individually hand-made," cassette copies of Youth:Kill's A Hunter's Moon available on Walter Gross' Bandcamp page—with 20 additional copies available at k-the-i???'s upcoming live dates—and unlimited digital copies available online, as well. Walter Gross' next proper "solo" album, RIPPERS ONLY, is somehow, still expected before year's end.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

3 Feet High & Rising: Guillaume Destot AKA Vim Cortez Re-emerges As NATION with Future Soul-minded Baltimore Rising EP (Kromatik Records)

"NATION is a Paris-based project that combines Pop song-writing with futuristic R&B influences. It showcases a synth-heavy, brooding brand of Future Soul and some of their preferred themes like complicated love, existential doubt, and the way music can repair our souls," read part of an email I recently received from MusigaMy founder Philippe Manivet. NATION is just the latest alias of French song-writer and multi-instrumentalist Guillaume Destot AKA Vim Cortez AKA Vim le Commodore. Destot's latest release and first billed as "NATION" is a 2-track EP titled Baltimore Rising, which I would fittingly describe as a stylistic mix between The Postal Service and Mayer Hawthorne & The County with a hint of "Get Lucky"-era Daft Punk thrown in, for good measure. NATION's Facebook page (The Sound of NATION) readily lists Guillaume & Co.'s influences as Little Dragon, D'Angelo, Jai Paul, Ben Khan, James Blake, NAO, Jamie Lidell, Mura Masa, Raphael Saadiq, Prince, Nina Simone, Otis Redding, and Bill Withers. NATION's Future Soul-minded debut, Baltimore Rising EP is currently available for streaming and download on Apple Music, Google Play, Soundcloud, Spotify, YouTube, etc. as well as Bandcamp as part of the subscription-only NATION Club; "for the first 30 subscribers, you'll also get a cool, super-limited edition cassette with hand-printed, numbered linograph artwork. Side A is [the Baltimore Rising] EP and Side B, an audio slice of NATION's offline life."

"'Baltimore Rising" was inspired by the 2015 events in Baltimore following Freddie Gray's death. I was deeply moved by Freddie Gray's story, of course, but also, by the reaction of the community and the sense of human tragedy that seemed to pervade the atmosphere; although, I watched it from very far away. I started imagining what could happen, in the mind of a cop, in front of such grief, shared by so many people (the "heaving tide" in the song) as he realizes that he's on the wrong side of history and humanity. Musically speaking, it's hard to pinpoint where the riff came from; although, there are always traces of my obsession with 80's synth music, but the riff's bittersweet—insistent presence translates the mixture of despair and hope that the events inspired me [in Baltimore]."

"'Computer Purple" is, similarly, a combination of several sources of inspiration. The title might remind the listener of Prince's song, "Computer Blue" and this is no accident, as Prince was, and still is, a huge influence for me. I think I hear something of Prince, especially 80's Prince, in the beat and the way I used the synths. But the lyrics are also inspired by Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, a movie that was extremely influential for me and that still fuels my imagination. The theme of trans-humanism is coming back under the spotlight and the question of how we'll deal with machines that might have more "soul" than many humans we know. I find the notion of "soul" complex, fascinating, and problematic and looking at it it through the prism of humans/machines relationships, makes it even more thought-provoking for me. Especially, when love is thrown into the equation!"

- Guillaume Destot (NATION)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

South London's Charles Edison Readies Reception EP & Discusses Work with Delusionists, Substance Abuse, Rehab & Recovery (The Witzard Interview)

Charles Edison is a sharp-tongued rapper-producer and beat-maker hailing from South London with a ferocity similar to that of a College Dropout-era Kanye West and a healthy vernacular comparable to either The Streets (Mike Skinner) or Dizzee Rascal. Edison has been actively producing and making beats since about 2013 or before and one of his earliest note-worthy productions was "Messiah Complex" for Delusionists—a self-proclaimed "Hip-Hop group who probably won't shoot you"—as well as his accompanying "Poison" Remix on the B-side. Charles Edison has released and self-produced two EP's, an instrumental beat album, and a handful of singles since 2014. He's currently gearing up to release his latest EP, Reception, this upcoming November 3rd, which features Delusionists' Ben Black on EP single "GALLERY." I first heard about Charles Edison when fellow Londoner and writer Hairy Fraud (@GingerSlim) premiered "GALLERY" on his site, I soon reached out to @Charles_Edison on Twitter, and here we are now; I'm proud to present to you a no-holds-barred, introspective interview with Edison himself candidly discussing everything from his substance abuse, rehab stint, and recovery to his upcoming Reception EP, which "coincidentally," is now available for pre-order ahead of its 03/11/17 release. Then, if you dig what you hear and read, feel free to pick up one of 50 limited edition Reception EP cassettes, while they last!


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Bringing You The Platters That Matter

I. Where does the title for your latest EP, Reception, stem from and what does this collection of songs personally mean to you?

The title actually comes from another release I’ve got planned for the near future. I only moved to London last year to a flat in a really interesting 1920's building with this great Art-Deco design everywhere and a really intriguing history. That’s the building that’s on the EP artwork, actually and it’s a listed [historic] building, so it’s pretty much as it was when it was built. When I moved in, my dad said it felt like a conduit for something really creative and that’s exactly how I feel about it. I’m up on the 7th floor, so I had this idea to put an instrumental album out and call it Beats from The 7th Floor. As I was putting beats aside for that, I found I was getting more ideas for fully-formed tracks and my last EP, Waking Up, was such a deep, heavy, and dark project that I just felt like making sh*t I wanted to listen to and that’s what formed the basic tone of Reception. The name was purely as a kind of precursor to Beats from The 7th Floor, but there’s also a double-meaning in there because there was a conscious decision to not be too concerned with what kind of "reception" it would get. I feel like coming back to making music again—even after only five or so years of being inactive—so much has changed with how to promote yourself and the "who's-who" of the scene is completely different now, so I feel like I'm kind of coming back in from the ground floor. Personally, it feels very much like a fresh start for me in a lot of ways, after airing everything out and putting a lot of things to rest with Waking Up EP, it was really liberating to just make beats, pick the ones I loved, and write whatever I felt like writing. That being said, it-s less concept-heavy than the stuff I usually make, so it was also a welcome challenge.

II. What might you readily site as a few of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while recording your upcoming Reception EP?

As predictable and clichĂ© as it might be... DJ Premier was an influence for this one. On at least two tracks for sure, anyway. Premo beats always have that perfect bounce and pocket combo to really just let the rapper plot their way through the track and the way he chops samples, can be genius. There’s one track, in particular, "BFT7F" that he was definitely in my mind for, when I made the beat. I didn’t even time stretch the samples, I just cut them and played the chops. Possibly my favourite "album of this year" was Kanye’s The Life of Pablo (TLOP.) I know it came out last year, but I’m saying "this year" because that’s when I finally got around to listening to it and I don’t think I listened to anything else for at least six weeks. I feel like it’s the perfect culmination of all his albums and that kind of ties in with what I was saying about combining samples and synths and making it all gel. I’ve also become a lot more open-minded with regards to where I get my samples from and there’s samples from all over the place on TLOP. There’s a track on Reception called "Good As It Gets," where I sampled from a track that was on a compilation of daytime TV library music that I stumbled across on Apple Music. I sampled it straight from my phone out of the headphone jack into the line-in on my laptop. So, just that "if it sounds good, do it" mentality that I think is inherent on The Life of Pablo.

III. What can you potentially tell me about "GALLERY"-featured Ben Black and his London-based band, Delusionists? What's your working relationship like with them?

"GALLERY" is the first track I wrote for the EP, when I was putting those initial beats aside. I had no idea what I was going to say on it, at first, but I loved how the beat turned out and just really wanted to record on it. Originally, when I first heard the sample that comes in right at the start, that rising vocal, it was going to be a laid-back Dilla-esque thing until I threw those distorted 808’s on and it took a completely different turn. I was toying with a few ideas for what I might say on it and one night, I was watching a David Bowie interview on YouTube, when I caught that soundbite that’s on the intro, where he says "never play for the gallery. Never work for other people at what you do" and that just encapsulated the exact mind frame I want to try to maintain. I think a lot of artists work so hard to try to guess the next trend or they spend their whole career chasing whatever the current trend is that they forget why they started making music, in the first place and it’s got to be because you love it or what’s the point? I never want to be in that position, so I have to really focus on not getting side-tracked by whatever is getting attention because it’s all to easy to be tempted to do that. As far as how Ben got involved... how much time have you got? Because I’d wanted to do a track with Ben for a long while... about eight years ago, I used to run a blog called Strictly Independent and I got sent a link to an album called The Prolusion by a group called Delusionists and I loved it. They were a group of three guys: two emcees, Ben and DBF and Slim Pickens, who shared beat-making duties with Ben.

It was exactly the kind of music I wanted to make because it had this really Earthy and organic feel to it that I love so much about artists like MF DOOM, Common, Dilla, and [A Tribe Called Quest] and it sounded complete. A lot of the stuff I got sent during the time of doing that blog was either really lifeless or didn’t fit the sort of stuff I reviewed and was clearly sent to me as part of some blanket spam email, so this was really refreshing. Also, the line-up and who in the group did what wasn’t expressly explained, it was something you kind of worked out as you listened to them and I loved that because once you had, it felt like you were "in" on something. I think people try to emulate that organic sound sometimes, but it just seems obvious and cobbled together and ironically, it comes out sounding the complete opposite of organic, but this was fully realised and done really well. It was something I wanted to be a part of in some way, so I sent Ben [Black] some beats. One of them was this Disney sample I had chopped up in an MPC-500 I was using, at the time; I think the drum break was even from the Mickey Mouse song, so shout out to Walt [Disney] for that one! Anyway, Ben really liked it and ended up using it for a track called "Messiah Complex" that wound up being a really popular track of theirs and was played on BBC Radio 1 by a DJ called Rob Da Bank. Shortly afterwards, Ben asked if I’d be interested in putting a beat tape out on their label [Beats Laying About] and that was my first release, called Lightbulbs. It was around this time that a few problems in my personal life led me to put music on the back-burner. Similarly, DBF had moved abroad and Ben’s output had slowed to a stop. Meanwhile, my problems got worse, until I was in a cycle of substance abuse, which led very quickly to full-scale active addiction and as it progressed, my interest in music and subsequent output gradually became non-existent.

Eventually, things got to a point where I woke up in hospital having to be resuscitated, following a seizure and I made the decision to spend 12 weeks in residential rehab. When I left, I’d basically assessed my life, addressed, and dealt with everything I’d been holding on to and had this new surge of creative energy. So, I started making beats again and put together a kind of biographical concept EP that became Waking Up, which charted everything from the catalyst that started my downward spiral to what led to my overdose and my eventual decision to get clean. I reconnected with Ben and he was happy to put it out on the label and I went back to sending him beats for a potential new project of his and some snippets here and there of what became Reception. I could just hear him on "GALLERY," as soon as I made it and he loved the beat, too, so, he was happy to jump on it with me. Eventually, we had plans to do a full project together with the beats I’d been sending him and when the discussion of what name we would put it out under came up ("Ben Black Ft. Charles Edison?" "Delusionists Ft. Charles Edison?") Ben asked if I’d like to fill the empty space left by DBF and be part of Delusionists permanently with him and Slim and I was all too happy to oblige. Our working relationship is great to be honest, we’re all really easy to bounce ideas off and have different strengths that seem to compliment each other perfectly. We’re on the same page quite often, which makes things 10 times easier. On the odd occasion that we’re not, we’re all open to trying new things to get tracks to where they need to be and it’s worked out pretty well, so far.

IV. How did you generally go about hand-crafting, fine-tuning, producing, and ultimately, recording the beats/songs contained within Reception EP? From what I can tell, your beats always sound very intricate and multi-layered!

I use a lot of EQ these days. I feel like if you break beats down to the most basic level—it’s signals and waveforms, so if you can learn how to manipulate on that level, it opens up a lot more options for flexibility with where you want to take the sound and I’ve definitely used this kind of approach, when it comes to combining elements. I always envied producers who could do that seamlessly, to a point where you can’t tell what’s sampled and what’s played. Where even when you know it’s something artificial, it’s still got that grit and warmth to it. I always wanted to be able to do that well and EQ is how you achieve it. So, on "GALLERY," for instance, there’s this harpsichord on the choruses that is from a VST [plug-in] in FruityLoops called Sakura, but it’s got enough warmth and distortion on it that it sounds sampled. I was writing to the beats, as I was making them, which I think is why they came out sounding so layered because I could kind of build my own pockets and fine-tune, as I went. It’s the same way I like to work with other artists: I’ll send a beat, they’ll record and send back, and I’ll build the beat up around them, so it just made sense to do the same approach with myself.

V. How have your struggles with addiction and substance abuse positively affected your musical career and continued output? Congrats on being clean and sober 378 days and counting, Charles! I've never struggled with such matters myself, but I could imagine how difficult it must be and that's really something to be proud of, my friend!

"Massively" is the easy answer! Rehab isn’t a holiday [vacation], as some people think; you literally have nothing for three months. There’s no contact with anyone outside, except for a limited number of phone calls per week and a few hours visiting on Sundays, no mobile phones or Internet, and no TV. All you’re left with is yourself and the actions that led you there and if you don’t grasp the opportunity to better yourself, there’s a good chance you’re not ready. In which case, you won’t realise it, until you’re either back in rehab or it’s too late. This gives you perspective, which is something I lacked for a long while. I couldn’t see far enough past my own problems to realise that they were problems I’d created! In short, everything I learned in rehab has extended to how I live my life every day. I’m an honest person now and I respect myself a lot more, which feeds right into how I approach what I make because I’m a lot more thorough and critical. I used to rush to put stuff out, when deep down, I knew it wasn’t ready or good enough, but I was too lazy or impatient to really challenge myself and put the work in, which I’d end up regretting later. Using drugs dulled and eventually, killed every creative impulse I [had] and then, the longer I stayed clean, the more concentrated those impulses became again, until I’ve just been having the most creative period of my life that started with Waking Up EP and hasn’t stopped yet. It comes a lot more naturally now, which has been a huge boost to my confidence and allowed me to give myself the credit I never could. Ultimately, it’s led me to working with a group I watched from the outside, as a fan and can now say I’m part of, which would’ve been completely inconceivable to me a year ago.

VI. What else do you currently have planned to tentatively be released later this year or early next year? Anything else planned for your Reception EP roll-out?

At the moment, we’re working on a Delusionists project that will, hopefully, be ready for early next year. I don’t want to say too much about it, but we’re very happy with where it’s going and I’m really excited to put some new stuff out as a group. I’m also, back to putting beats aside for Beats from The 7th Floor, as it’s still something I’d like to put out, but I don’t have a date in mind. As for Reception, it’s the first release I’ve gone to the trouble of getting physical copies made for and I decided to get 50 cassette tapes pressed (is "pressed" the right term for tapes? "Wound?") Anyway, I’ve got 50 individually-numbered tapes ready to go and I’m interested to see what happens there. I mean, either people will buy them or they won’t, but I’m always interested to see how people are consuming music and how it changes and I think with vinyl's resurgence, there’s certainly an argument for a cassette comeback, too, which I think we’re beginning to see with JAY-Z's 4:44 getting a cassette release. Digital is great, but I think people are gradually reverting to the desire to "have" something, you know? Something physical you can hold in your hands and keep. That’s how I feel about physical releases, anyway and since my whole approach was to make stuff I wanted to hear, it made sense to carry on with that mentality for the roll-out.