"Last night in Nashville, I received the strangest compliment after the show. A young lady came up to me and said, "I don't even really like MUSIC, but enjoy what you do." I laughed and then, asked, "what DO you like to listen to, then?" "Mostly podcasts," she said. As a massive music nerd, even I have my mostly-podcast seasons. Today's Fake Four FREECEMBER EP by AllOne brings us the best of both worlds. AllOne re-interprets four True-Crime stories throughout a hyper-rhyming EP produced by Dope KNife (detailed booklet included for those who download,)" Fake Four Inc. co-founder Ceschi Ramos enthusiastically wrote on Facebook nearly two weeks ago. Prior to Ceschi's post, I honestly, had never heard of Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo before hearing his Dusty Dossiers EP and boy, was I in for a treat! I've always been a fan of CSI:/murder mystery-type shows and have consistently had somewhat of an interest in podcasts, which only seems to increase, the older I get.
AllOne's Dusty Dossiers is indeed just that: the perfect, unforced union of Hip-Hop, True-Crime tales, and podcasts. Dusty Dossiers EP kinda has an underlying crime-solving Hip-Hop vibe similar to that of Career Crooks emcee and producer Zilla Rocca's "Noir-Hop" sub-genre. Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo was kind enough to write me, via email, after Ceschi Ramos instructed me to "hit him up" on Facebook. AllOne and I have been messaging back-and-forth for a couple weeks now and I'm proud to present to you an all-encompassing, introspective Dusty Dossiers-centric interview. Happy holidays to all and if you enjoy what you hear here, head on over to Fake Four Inc.'s Bandcamp to ch-check out their series of FREECEMBER 2017 releases. You can earn more about self-described "writer-rapper-poet-singer-traveler-bookworm" AllOne and his Indie-Folk band, Almost Elijah, at his own personal Bandcamp page.
Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Murder Mystery/Hip-Hop Enthusiast
I. How exactly did the initial idea behind your Dusty Dossiers EP come to fruition?
I had the idea of doing an EP with that title for a year or so with a film-noir vibe and an all-narrative theme, but hadn't written much other than this song "The Case of Sydney Barringer," at the time, a song that ended up on my album I've Been Thinking... In April of 2017, I had done a month-long poem-a-day project for National Poetry Writing Month, adapting episodes of a podcast called CRIMINAL each day in various styles and forms. In September, when Dope KNife sent me the Folder of beats and asked if I wanted to make something with them, when I heard the nature of them—that Jazzy, dark, and occasionally, sinister tone they set—it occurred to me that I could use some of the more fitting or favorite pieces from my 30 poems in 30 days project and adapt them to interact with Dope KNife's production [work] more closely. When I was in the midst of that adaptation, I thought back to the name "Dusty Dossiers" I had written in a notebook somewhere and felt it was time to put that title to use.
II. How closely did you work with the CRIMINAL podcast crew when assembling your Dusty Dossiers EP? It's directly based off their True-Crime podcast episodes, correct?
While the songs are meticulously-detailed accounts and references to the shockingly real events presented in episodes of the CRIMINAL podcast, the only interaction I had throughout both the month-long poetry project and the invention of this [extended play] was that I had listened to each episode that corresponded to a song I was writing easily 10-20 times and took extensive notes on what feelings or themes and facts to include throughout the lyrics of the songs. I'd been tagging the CRIMINAL folks in just about everything I did online in conjunction with these two adaptation projects, but they're really busy people, so I wasn't miffed when they were silent. I again, emailed the CRIMINAL folks directly a few weeks before wrapping up the EP this winter to tell them about the album and also, to respectfully ask permission to sample their podcast intermittently in the songs, as I'd envisioned. I must have caught one of the producers at the right time because she responded quickly and was very enthusiastic about the idea and encouraged me wholeheartedly to use the clips however I liked. That was a fun little thrill for me, as I'm obviously, a big fan of their program and it felt nice to have their sanction, as well. Many thanks to them and their inspirational story-telling!
III. What did the various creative and recording processes behind Dusty Dossiers entail and how did you decide on Experimental Hip-Hop imprint Fake Four Inc. to release it?
To start, I was lucky enough to share the stage with Ceschi in 2015, when he came through Long Island on a tour; I set something up with him, played a fantastic show and resulting from this, we became friends out of a mutual artistic and personal respect. We kept in touch and I caught a handful of his shows in [Connecticut] and he made it out to events of mine, when [he] could. At the beginning of this year, he was gracious enough to invite me to do an EP for FREECEMBER. Fake Four Inc. is full of independent and expressive intent and celebrates the wide variety of ways in which exploratory artists experiment through various genres to create weird and great work. I applaud Ceschi and his cohorts for that and really value those intentions myself, so I think it's a great fit. I think the Fake Four Inc. demographic, while necessarily diverse, is probably perfectly in sync with my work, so I'm grateful to have such an appropriate platform that is as understandably respected as it is!
I initially had another idea in mind, when he asked me to make something for the label, but once Dope KNife sent me these beats over, I felt I needed to shelf the other project and pursue this, as I had a flash of inspiration. As I said, I already had the 30 meticulously-researched-but-hastily-written pieces for the National Poetry Month experiment, so when I listened to the instrumentals, I had to go back to that material and decide which writings I wanted to move forward with. With each concept and project, come a different set of "rules" or guidelines we creators subconsciously or deliberately set out to work within or meet; I didn't want to rely almost at all on puns or referential wordplay because it didn't feel appropriate or authentic for the dark non-fiction story-telling, so any wordplay had to be purely phonetic and lingual. The closest I come to a reference is in "Open Case:" "in the bathroom tub, Chuck tapped the blood like Dracula," but I'm alright with it since, it is such a widely-known literary reference and wouldn't alienate anyone. It's also accurate.
Another "guideline" was that I also wanted each song on the project to have a different approach and song-structure. For instance: "Jolly Jane" has a very dense and flowing rapping-based chorus, which is also a chorus, which opens the song. "Angie" is a straight-through set of lyrics with no choruses to interrupt the flow of the narrative. "Finding Sarah & Phillip" is a verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, but the choruses are more chant-based with repeated lines, where the latter two lines answer the first two lines with subtly-altered language in the choruses to play the different characters' perspectives represented in the chorus—Terri Knight in the first chorus, and Stephanie Dietrich in the second chorus—and "Open Case" is a melodic chorus that repeats 4 times, where I sing harmonies. The song is also comprised of three shorter verses (12 bars, 8 bars, and another 12 bars) that tell the initial mystery and then, a final giant 32-bar verse that tells the story of the couple, Hugh & Martha, who obsessively solve the case described in the first three verses and wraps up that story, as they came to decide it was solved.
As I said, I did a lot of listening to the [CRIMINAL] podcasts and note-taking on specific names, locations, characters, and scenarios that I wanted to include. I listened to a lot of Jazz, watched some Noir films, thought back to my experiences reading Dashiell Hammett, and did a bit of listening to the Jazzier story-songs of Tom Waits, as well. As for choosing the stories to get into? "Jolly Jane," "Angie," and "Open Case" were already written in a more rhythmic and rhyme-pattern way and "Finding Sarah & Phillip" was a spoken-word poem I wrote; it required the most re-working and I saved that for last, intimidated by the hastiness of the instrumental I used for that, not sure how I wanted to approach it. The least altered (not at all) piece was "Final Exit," which is the (SPOILER ALERT:) bonus track spoken-word piece about Fran, a self-described "exit guide." This was attractive to me because I really love that poem and its visceral nature, but also I was encouraged because both having a bonus track AND including a spoken-word poem on an album were unprecedented things for me. "Jolly Jane" and "Angie" were meticulous re-writes with structural changes. "Open Case," due to the immensity and complex nature of that story, took me the longest to write and figure out how it was going to go. I spent a day just writing the chorus, went into the studio and recorded that, did a demo of the lyrics I had, at the time, and then, went back and just wrote with the instrumental and chorus in place. Lots of hours spent nerding out with crazy scribbles of paper and notebooks at the library. My friend Frank [Bones] recorded me and we were actually, pretty expeditious with that. It only took a handful of sessions to get everything figured out, as far as tracking and mixing.
IV. Aside from (or in addition to) CRIMINAL's podcasts, what else might you site as some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while recording Dusty Dossiers EP?
There weren't a ton of musical influences on it, as I said, I tried to think more about the film-noir style of story-telling and aesthetic, as well as listening to a bit of Tom Waits to get an good feel for how some people are telling these sort of stories or successfully embodying these stories and "selling them." One thing I can say, also, was Kristoff Krane's Kairos - Part One project, only in that, he very bravely moves rapidly throughout a lot of different cadences rather brilliantly. It encouraged me to keep with my desire to do that, rhythmically, I always enjoy experimenting and I that project's unabashed creative display of Kristoff's juggling of deliveries was a reminder to just stay to true ideas like that and that being engaging in your inventive pursuits of what you feel personally interesting is probably more rewarding, than being more easily accepted, which has always been a mantra of mine.
V. How do you personally think Dusty Dossiers compares against/compliments Fake Four's previous and still-upcoming FREECEMBER releases: Anonymous Inc.'s BETA 1 EP and Oscar Goldman's Prevoid EP?
* EDITOR'S NOTE: Fake Four Inc. FREECEMBER Release #4 AKA OneWerd's phenominal Alive EP was also uploaded since this interview's initial conduction! *
I think the DIY, sort of off-kilter Hip-Hop and left-field musical excursions are the similarities in the FREECEMBER line-ups. the Beta 1 EP is all live music with elements of Jazz, Fusion, Prog, and so on, it feels like b-sides from WHY? practice sessions and is very dope. So, Dusty Dossiers is much more traditionally Hip-Hop-sounding than that project I think and is a little more refined recording-quality wise and more focused in theme. It's also more reserved/grounded than those wonderful experimental tidbits the Ramos Brothers offer in that Anonymous Inc. project. In relation to Oscar Goldman's fun and introspective Prevoid EP, I think he's a lot more loose and free-wheeling on that EP. His content is more personal generally, his presentation is more casual often, so I got more of a feeling of being there LIVE during the sessions in Prevoid EP, with Oscar Goldman "talking" to ME. Dusty Dossiers is more pedantic and dense than Prevoid EP and I think even in the darker moments like on "Youngins," you get a feeling of the relatable charm and openness that you can enjoy. Dusty Dossiers, a mystery-themed project, is almost a mystery in itself, requiring people to really listen and discern the stories. Each of the projects in this series is so diverse and I think that is the beauty of a label like Fake Four; the commonality, being a tenuous connection and deep-rooted respect for Hip-Hop, obsessively creative brains making things, and a desire to explore the depths of ourselves, as well as the possibly unseen areas of musical expression and pave new paths creatively.
VI. Do you have any particular releases planned for 2018? Maybe even some type of audio-video content to accompany Dusty Dossiers?
Over the years, I'm slowly learning not to talk about what I'm planning too much ahead of time because schedules inevitably, get derailed or other projects come up and take precedence. However, I plan on releasing several epic music projects, either independently (as I have mostly done) or continuing association and assistance with Fake Four Inc. or Dope Sandwich Records & Tapes or thus-far-unseen entities. I have a lot of different projects nearing completion: an EP with my Folk band, Almost Elijah called Halcyon Wonders that I'd like to record and release, an Experimental narrative AllOne album I've been working on for a few years now called Rapologues that every year I say I will release, but time invariably escapes me, as burdens and obstacles encumber me. The aforementioned original project I intended on doing for FREECEMBER, an EP tentatively called "Armor," was generously crowd-funded through GoFundMe this summer and so, I owe it to everyone's faith in me to put this project out, as soon as possible. Dusty Dossiers just became immediately obviously the better choice, at the time, and although, I struggled with shelving the "Armor EP" because I owed it to people who literally invested in me to release it, I think they also trust my vision and want the best for and from me, as supporters, so I had to do what felt right for me. I'm definitely thinking about how to do various degrees of video content to compliment and further express the themes and vibes of Dusty Dossiers, so it's certainly a goal of mine to release something very soon.