Monday, April 23, 2018

3 Feet High & Rising: Portland's Bloodmoney Perez & B!LLY WH?T Join Forces to Form Hip-Hop Duo Bouquet of Bones (Damn That Noise Music)



Bouquet of Bones (@wearebouquet) are a Portland-bred rapper/producer duo in the same vein as Jaylib, Run The Jewels, Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman, Career Crooks, and their like-minded peers; consisting of the tag-team lyrical assault that is Bloodmoney Perez & B!LLY WH?T, Bouquet of Bones recently unveiled their inaugural release, "Sonic Truth" B/W "Flex Pistols." "@wearebouquet is a new group aiming to deliver gritty, sonically thick Hip-Hop throughout the remainder of the foreseeable future," Bouquet of Bones wrote Instagram post teasing their 4/20 debut release on Damn That Noise Music. Bloodmoney Perez (@DrBloodmoney) & B!LLY WH?T (@_murn_) list their collective interests as beat-making, writing rhymes, and drinkin' beer. "Sonic Truth" has been billed as both a mini-EP and 1990's-evoking maxi-single backed with "Flex Pistols" on Side B. Bouquet of Bones attained a neck-snapping instrumental from long-time friend and fellow rapper-producer Blu for "Sonic Truth," as well as a "rugged-as-f**k" verse from Tomorrow Kings & War Church emcee SKECH185 for Bloodmoney Perez-produced B-side "Flex Pistols."


It seems as though "Sonic Truth" B/W "Flex Pistols" was merely a call-to-arms, as Bouquet of Bones write within a press statement: "the maxi-single is just the beginning for the duo in 2018." Bloodmoney Perez & B!LLY WH?T vehemently "promise to deliver another maxi-single, again, assisted by Blu on production, with B!LLY WH?T handling the sonic canvas." Following Bouquet of Bones' second maxi-single will be their untitled debut album coming this summer, which "will be filled with every bit of fire, dedication, and swagger that the forefathers demanded of a gifted emcee." Bouquet of Bones promise a slew of expectedley neck-snapping releases to be dropped throughout 2018, including, but not limited to, various group and solo releases, namely, Bloodmoeny Perez's upcoming solo album TIME IS A MOTHERF*CKER co-produced by Messiah Musik coming out 6/29 on Damn That Noise Music with features from Curly Castro (Grift Company,) Sleep Sinatra, and MCF. "Sonic Truth" B/W "Flex Pistols" is now available to stream or purchase from Bandcamp, Spotify, and like-minded digital retailers across the Hip-Hop-loving Internet.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Baltimore/DC Punk Vets Form Power-Pop Band Blue Streak & Release "No Guns On TV Hill" B/W "Dog" 7-inch Single (Painter Man Records)



Blue Streak is a DC/Baltimore-based "super-group," of sorts, consisting of current and former members of local area Punk/Hardcore bands Angel Du$t, Give, Pure Disgust, and Red Death... although, they're playing jangly Power-Pop, rather than your typical Hardcore/Punk fare. Blue Streak consists of guitarist/piano player Ben Schultz (Give,) drummer/percussionist Robin Zeijlon (Red Death, Pure Disgust, Lackluster,) bassist Nick Heitman (formerly Angel Du$t,) and vocalist/guitar player Mike French (Angel Du$t, In Between.) French, Heitman, and Zeijlon previously played together in "Throwback Pop-Punk" outfit Dizzy Pleasure Club (DPC) with Pat McCrory of Turnstile & Angel Du$t, who released a 5-track EP entitled D.C.P. on Photobooth Records back in 2016. As you might have already gathered, Blue Streak is named after 1999 Buddy Cop Comedy film Blue Streak starring Martin Lawrence, Luke Wilson, and Dave Chappelle; "Nick thought it would be funny to name a band after a painfully average Comedy, instead of a painfully average Hardcore song," frontman Mike French told The Witzard, via email. "Also, a lame band from the UK [already] took Gun Shy." French readily cites XTC's Andy Partridge and Big Star's Alex Chilton as two of his personal musical heroes—"people who can write a song and play their instrument."


Blue Streak recently played their first show together as part of acclaimed DC music festival Damaged City 2018, which was held April 5-8th, along with the likes of BLACKSAGE, Limp Wrist, Nosebleed, Primal Rite, and Wildhoney. Coinciding with their debut show, Blue Streak released a 2-track EP entitled "No Guns On TV Hill" B/W "Dog" recorded with esteemed Minor Threat, Q and Not U, Fugazi, and Minor Threat producer Don Zientara at his Arlington, Virginia-based Inner Ear Studio. Here's Blue Streak's origin story, as told by Mike French: "Nick and I ran a label together and toured together in Angel Du$t. I wrote "No Guns [On TV Hill]" in 2015 as a joke song, but he liked it too much, so here we are. A year later, I moved into Nick and his girlfriend's guest bedroom and we wrote "Dog." Ben and I met over some hot gossip on my last Angel Du$t tour. Robin played in a regionally important band called Lackluster that I love." French says Blue Streak are currently planning a West Coast tour, as well as "hopefully, a sequel." Blue Streak's "No Guns On TV Hill" B/W "Dog" is currently available to stream or download on Bandcamp, Spotify, and like-minded streaming platforms, as well as limited edition black/blue 7-inch on Seattle's Painter Man Records.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Stones Throw Records Quietly Unleash Homeboy Sandman & Edan's First Collaborative Single "#NeverUseTheInternetAgain" (Sand & Edan)



Last month, Stones Throw (@stonesthrow) mysteriously posted "@edanexists & @homeboysandman are working on some music together, which will debut at our SXSW showcase this Friday" on their Instagram page, which has since garnered 2,667+ Likes. As should be expect, for anyone interested in Indie/Underground Hip-Hop, a few of my writer friends and I went nuts on Rap Twitter. About for weeks have passed with no additional mention of Sandman & Edan's rumored collaborative efforts from Stones Throw. Just this morning, on a whim, I decided to check Stones Throw's home page and BAM! there it was: "Homeboy Sandman & Edan #NeverUseTheInternetAgain"—right there in the middle column of the front page. It seems as though no one (aside from RAW DRIVE) had noticed or even checked Stones Throw's site for the past 7 hours or so, this including myself! While on a roll about the downsides of The Internet, Sandman jokingly(?) rhymes: "Internet journalism, here's what you're gonna find / Everyone who can't get paid for it, does it online / Most of the ones online that's getting paid suck, too / F**k you!!!"


Despite his apparent disdain for music writers, I actually, had the rare opportunity to meet Homeboy Sandman at Union Transfer, Philly after his 2016 "LICE Tour" stop with Aesop Rock and he was kind enough to sign my LICE EP 12-inch. I seriously, can't express how stoked I am to finally hear what Edan & Sandman have cooked up together; especially, after hearing "#NeverUseTheInternetAgain," as well as "Talking (Bleep)" from Homeboy Sandman's 2016 album, Kindness for Weakness. Judging by these, as well as Edan's recent work with Your Old Droog & Wiki, Mr. Lif, Memory Man, and most recently, Cut Chemist's DIE CUT, this unspecified collaborative effort from Sand & Edan is likely going to "Break The Internet!" Homeboy Sandman & Edan's "#NeverUseTheInternetAgain" is now available on Spotify, Google Play, DEEZER, junodownload, YouTube, and like-minded digital streaming platforms. For now, here's a bit of Hip-Hop Forum speculation on Sand & Edan from UndergroundHipHop's message boards, as well as some cell phone footage of "EDAN & HOMEBOY SANDMAN @ Empire Garage (Stones Throw Showcase) 3.16.18 SXSW" and "Rock And Roll" [Excerpt], as filmed by tech-savvy concert-goer Jeremy Cargill.

Grass-roots Canadian Imprint Wandering Who Recordings Unleash Easy Ruckus' Glitchy Single "Pretty Face" (New Label Profile)



Easy Ruckus (or "ESY RKS," for short) are a Canadian Acoustic/Blues/Folk band hailing from Golden, British Columbia. While, at one point in time, it consisted of 3-6 members, ESY RKS currently features founding members Landon Bushell & Matt Downie. Matt & Landon, actually, both grew up in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada and oddly enough, attended the same elementary, junior high, and high schools, but didn't really connect until after graduation upon forming Easy Ruckus in 2011. Landon Bushell & Matt Downie have collectively, recorded, produced, and self-released two EP's—entitled Winter, Part 1 and Take Me Away—through 2016-17, after a nearly 3 year-long hiatus; as far back as Summer 2012, Easy Ruckus was holed up in Golden, British Columbia recording their first proper full-length, when Matt accidentally, spilled a cup of coffee across his laptop and the nearly completed album was lost for good. Since then, Matt Downie taught himself how to play drums and ESY RKS effectively recorded and independently released over 40 original tracks on their Soundcloud page, which have collectively garnered them a staggering 50,000 plays on the platform. Easy Ruckus producer, sound engineer, and drummer Matt Downie partnered with Australian alpine ecologist, botanist, and music enthusiast Brodie Verrall at the start of 2018 to form an artist-driven grass-roots independent record label dubbed Wandering Who Recordings.


The label's inaugural release, "Pretty Face," is the latest single from Easy Ruckus, which will be featured on their proper full-length debut, TANGO, coming out on Wandering Who late April-May 2018. Wandering Who Recordings plans to release four additional albums from artists based in or around The Canadian Rockies by Summer's end. "Take the time to appreciate you; find the light and find your own truth" is the first phrase heard on "Pretty Face," which seemingly marks a stylistic shift for Easy Ruckus or at least, a more Electro/Indie/Dance-Pop-driven sound that hasn't been heard since their Electro-minded 2013 Sean Ash-assisted single, "Skys Are Blue." Although, ESY RKS' Facebook page has always described their musical output as, "a unique sound, fusing between Rock, Blues, Folk, Reggae, and Psychedelic—resulting in a style and feel yet to be truly shaped." Landon Bushell & Matt Downie readily cite The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, The Black Keys, LCD Soundsystem, and Current Swell amongst their greatest sources of inspiration and influence. However, I would personally, compare "Pretty Face" to a bit more Indie Rock/Pop-minded fare, such as short-lived The Postal Service, Owl City, Death Cab for Cutie, and even Beck's notoriously genre-eschewing output. "Pretty Face," as well as a 6-track Easy Ruckus Compilation (Special Edition) are currently available to stream or download from Wandering Who Recordings' newly-launched label site, as well as select digital streaming services.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dragon Fli Empire Return with "Hold Down The Fort" B​/​W "Right On Time" 7-inch (Beats House/Radio Krimi/Makebelieve Records)


Dragon Fli Empire (DFE) are a Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based rapper-producer duo consisting of emcee Teekay AKA Tarik and producer DJ Cosm AKA Cosmix. "Keepin' the Funk alive since 2002..." DFE have released four albums on Calgary's own Makebelieve Records since 2004—Conquest, The Invasion LP, Redefine, and Mission Statement—as well as a slew of singles, EP's and compilations on Bigfoot, P-Vine, and Traveller Records. Dragon Fli Empire's last proper full-length, Mission Statement (Deluxe Edition) featured a coveted guest verse from Brand Nubian's Sadat X and an incorporated sample from Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," as well as a collection of bonus remixes and edits; Teekay & DJ Cosm have previously collaborated with the likes of Cadence Weapon, Djar One, Moka Only, and Masta Ace. Throughout the course of their storied 16-year career, Dragon Fli Empire have shared the stage with De La Soul, Jay Electronica, Joey Bada$$, Mos Def, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Public Enemy, The Roots, and even, Joni Mitchell.


Dragon Fli Empire have returned this week with their first release since 2013's Mission Statement, "Hold Down The Fort" B​/​W "Right On Time" released digitally and on limited edition 7-inch available through Beats House/Radio Krimi/Makebelieve Records. DFE deliver a nostalgia-inducing one-two punch of Boom-Bap-inflected Hip-Hop on their freshly-pressed 7-inch/digital single: Side A - "Hold Down The Fort" was produced by Beats House Records founder and frequent collaborator Djar One with cuts throughout from DJ Cosm and sounds like a Jazz-inflected "lost" Native Tongues or Soulquarians posse cut from the early 90's. Side B - "Right On Time" was produced by DJ Cosm & Metawon and alternately, features cuts from Djar One with vocal assist from Tanya Morgan/The Lessondary emcee Von Pea, which is a bit more of a laid-back, smooth crooner of a Hip-Hop track with squalling horn sample accents. Dragon Fli Empire's "Hold Down The Fort" B/W "Right On Time" is now available digitally and on limited edition 7-inch via Beats House/Radio Krimi/Makebelieve Records.


"We had already been working on a new full-length album, so we decided to approach a few labels about releasing a vinyl 45. We weren't that confident that we would get replies, but we ended up getting interest from Beats House Records and Radio Krimi in Europe, plus, another label in The States. So, we decided to do a unique vinyl 45 with each of them. For the Beats House/[Radio] Krimi release, we custom-made a couple of brand new songs with them in mind; this is why you can hear the shout-outs in the hook for "Hold Down The Fort." When I heard that beat, it immediately made me think of "Don't Sweat The Technique" by Eric B. & Rakim, so that song is essentially, an homage to them, but also, kind of acts as a mission statement for our "comeback." We're here to keep that Boom-Bap spirit alive that made us fall in love with Hip-Hop, in the first place. It's becoming viewed as a relic in the mainstream, so I think another active example of that style serves our purpose to "hold down the fort" for this artform.

As for "Right On Time," we wanted to have a guest on each project that we respected and also, could help more people, who would probably enjoy our music, discover us. There's a bit of strategy involved there, too. So, DJ Cosm and I were bouncing around potential guest ideas and one of us brought up Von Pea, as a possibility and we both agreed that he would be a great fit for this song. "Right On Time" is a kind of a playful braggadocio joint, which I felt Von Pea could vibe with, given the humor and style of Tanya Morgan and also, his solo projects. So, through a mutual music industry connection, we hit him up and he was down with it. He hit us back with the verse right away and we both were extremely stoked with the flow, the vibe, and the wordplay. We knew he was the cherry on top to really make this joint special. "Right On Time" is kind of a cheeky preemptive answer to the question, "where have you guys been?," as if we were "late" with new music and the answer is: "No, we're right on time and we're just picking it up where we left off." When I say in the song, "I went to India, I went to South America", I actually did; it was for my day job in I.T. working as a trainer for off-shored call centers. General life stuff that kind of gets in the way of being as productive as you'd like."

- Teekay (Dragon Fli Empire)

Monday, April 16, 2018

All-around Breakdown: Drew Scott Breaks Down Bedroom/"Basement Pop" Debut As Giddeon Gallows - CRITTER (ILL VESSEL MUSIC)


"Navel gazing in my basement for a decade plus / I f**kin' lied when I said it wouldn't take long / Hope you got all day maybe two / It's work, it's hard work / It took two weeks to climb down this hole," Drew Scott sings on "Avoidant" from his debut as Giddeon Gallows, CRITTER. I've been hearing about Scott's Giddeon Gallows side-project for about 6-8 months and now, it's finally out in the world and I'm able to write about it; to my ear, it sounds something like a stylistic mix of Kanye's "Auto-Tune album" 808's & Heartbreak, The Postal Service's Give Up, and early TV On The Radio à la Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes. "Giddeon Gallows is basically, just a pen name, it's not an alter-ego or anything. I have a deep appreciation for Pop music, not in a mainstream sense, but more as a vehicle," Drew Scott wrote, via email, describing CRITTER. "While I was finishing ILL VESSEL, I was experimenting with Auto-Tune, feedback, and delay on my vocals as an "instrument," while using these beats that I didn't want to necessarily, rap on," he continued.

While it's been half-joking referred to as his "singer/song-writer" debut, Scott admits, he can't play guitar... so, Giddeon Gallows' CRITTER is just him, an SP-404SX, and a vocal effects pedal. Although, it's technically, been touted as a Bedroom Pop/Chillwave/R&B-minded album, Drew Scott affectionately calls it "Basement Pop;" he's been recording and largely, self-producing his own music starting with BLACKSAGE's SIXTAPE (2014) with Josephine Olivia in his basement studio; since SIXTAPE, such projects as Luvadocious with Al Rogers, Jr. Pale Spring EP's 1-2, Vans_Westly's QUILLS, Warmest Regards (BLACKSAGE & Owen Ross,) as well as all of his solo efforts, have been recorded in Drewcifer's Basement, Baltimore, MD. "There's a vulnerability involved when you can feel the cobwebs, the chill in the room, the creaking floor above. When recording, I like to keep the "less desirable" take, if it works and conveys a certain emotion," Drew Scott further detailed. Giddeon Gallows' CRITTER is currently available to stream or download on Apple Music, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify, and like-minded digital retails. Below, you'll see a rather in-depth track-by-track CRITTER breakdown penned by Drew Scott himself exclusively for The Witzard.


1. "Perpetually" [-feat. Owen Ross]

"This beat is a couple years old and I nearly forgot about it, but I did it in one take, after strewing together some random notes I had typed in my phone. Bounced the acapella, ran the vocals through my [SP-404SX] and recorded that glitchy stuff live, as I recorded. It's a song about fear, but it has an optimism to it. I think, it's about severing ties with toxic elements in your life. Whether that's a person or the constant f**ery that the world operates on or all the above. Owen Ross really gave the ending atmosphere and momentum."


2. "Foxglove"

"This song is many things, kind of like a stream of consciousness dream sequence; by the end, I'm wishing I never woke up buried in all this feedback. The opening line is an apology to my partner for the way the world makes women feel and it spirals from there."


3. "Avoidant"

"Some days, just leaving the house is hard work. It's an ode to anxiety and I like juxtaposition, so I made it laid-back and vibey."


4. "Forbid (Further)" [-feat. Al Rogers, Jr.]

"This is about self-sabotage. I like to blame my lack of happiness on outside elements, but usually, it's a self-made coffin I've built myself. Al comes through with some spirituality and brightness. "Tread lightly, pack lighter" is some advice an old man once gave me. Made this beat on my episode of FLIPS."


5. "Cell Division"

"This may have been the first track I did; the chorus was meant to be this repetitive thing I say to myself. How many times have I said, "this is the last time you do this sh*t to me..." ? Splitting cells is a nice thought, but easier said than done."


6. "Static" [-feat. Pale Spring]

"I really love this track. It's like a ballad, but such a bummer. I think, in relationships, we tend to end up in the same place over and over, like static. Eventually, you get through it or you don't, but you know when you're in the sh*t. The verses are pretty much responses to one another. * Sidenote: Pale Spring should, technically, be Executive Producer of this album; from background vocals to actually, pushing me to sing more, she was a huge influence."


7. "Shoreline" [-feat. Infinity Knives]

"It's about drowning. I grew up near the beach and almost drowned a couple times in my life, so I know the feeling well. It's also, about how a town or city becomes small, after a while, no matter where you are. Infinity Knives is really a brilliant musician and knew exactly the mood to bring out, in the end, with that guitar part: nightmarish and frantic."


8. "Critter" [-feat. 83cutlass / co-prod. Jumbled]

"I asked for some "sad-a$$ beats" and Jumbled sent me the first half of this. I kind of just freestyled it. I thought back to all the times I would just wander around manically in the night in a drunken haze feeling less than human. I made the second part of the beat and 83's voice just made sense in my head and I knew he’d be perfect."


9. "Foggy"

"Recorded this with my sh**ty scratch mic in a real dark moment on-the-spot and I just kept it the way it was."


10. "Cell Division (Reprise)"

"I like to put reprises on albums as a sort of "bookend." Plus, I tend to make a few versions of a beat. I guess, this one's about acceptance, reckoning with yourself about all the mistakes you’ve made, and all the pitfalls we succumb to. "This is the last time..." plays in reverse thoughout."

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Action Bronson & The Alchemist Reunite On Lunch Meat EP Single "The Hopeless Romantic" (Original Artwork Created By: E$ @theedollarsign)



Action Bronson and long-time friend, collaborator, and food travel cohort The Alchemist have once again teamed up for 2 minutes and 47 seconds-worth of Jazz-inflected Boom-Bap bliss; previously having worked together a number of times since Blaxploitation-like Rare Chandeliers (2012) but not on a proper collaborative full-length project since, Bronson & Alchemist have reunited for "The Hopeless Romantic" from the latter's Lunch Meat EP. The Alchemist also drafted sharp-tongued emcees Roc Marciano, Westside Gunn & Conway (Hall N' Nash,) Styles P, and Benny The Butcher for his Lunch Meat EP, which features instrumentals for all four emcee-assisted tracks on Side B. To coincide with the release of Alchemist's Lunch Meat EP this past Friday, Action Bronson & Alan The Chemist recruited artist E Money (@theedollarsign) AKA E$ to create a series of original illustrations and pieces of artwork inspired by Bronson's excpectedly zany "The Hopeless Romantic" rhymes schemes for a collaborative black-and-white music video.


"When I met [Alchemist], he mentioned doing an audio/visual collaboration and I could not be more excited that it came to fruition and this was the end result," E$ (@theedollarsign) charismatically wrote on Instagram. Lunch Meat EP is currently available to download or stream on The Alchemist's Bandcamp page, while Season 3 of Action Bronson's F*ck, That's Delicious is poised to debut on VICELAND this upcoming Monday, April 16th at 10:30pm. Since December 2017, Alchemist has released a series of Bandcamp-only releases including French Blend, The Good Book: Chapter 1 (Joyful Noise,) French Blends Pt. 2, Big Body Bes' solo debut "Homicide," Paris x LA x Bruxelles Instrumentals, and now, Lunch Meat EP. Rapper's Best Friend 4: An Instrumental Series, Budgie-assisted The Good Book, Vol. 2 and Moving Parts EP with TNGHT producer and DJ Lunice were additionally, released exclusively on Spotify. Action Bronson's latest release was 2017's Blue Chips 7,000, which showcased production work from Party Supplies, The Alchemist, composer Woody Jackson, Harry Fraud, Knxwledge, and Daringer.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Witzard Premiere: NotForgotten's Cryptic One-produced "Against All Odds" from Debut Album (Mixed & Mastered By: C MONEY BURNS)


"Keepin' grubby hands out my lane—I guess I'm McClane / Rap game's—my Nakotomi Plaza / I tip-toe through broken glass to rescue my oldest passion / bet it all against the house in the hopes it'd let me out," Baltimore emcee NotForgotten ferociously rhymes on "Against All Odds," the first single from his as-yet-untitled debut album. NotForgotten is the emcee alias of Ricky Robertson, Jr. a self-described rapper, comic book artist, and illustrator; Robertson's been writing raps for the past 15 years and has been a self-taught artist for just as long, plus, 10 years prior. As NotForgotten tells "Against All Odds'" origin story to The Witzard, he "reached out to Cryptic One in response to an offer he posted on Twitter announcing that he had beats available." I have to admit, however, I'm still mildly intrigued to hear what NotForgotten & Cryptic One's Indie Hip-Hop-laden rendition of Phil Collins' 1984 Soft Rock Power Ballad, "Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" might sound like!


Even though he "assumed these were reserved for established artists," NotForgotten took a shot and reached out to Cryptic One (@cryp_uno) and to his surprise, attained the skeletal, multi-layered beat that would eventually, become "Against All Odds." Once NotForgotten wrote and recorded his rhymes and the time for mixing and mastering approached, he spotted a similarly-minded post from C$BURNS (@cmoneyburns) stating he was available to do mixing/mastering jobs. "As I had previously purchased an instrumental from him that—SPOILER ALERT!—if all goes to plan, will lead into this track on the album. It seemed like a perfect fit," NotForgotten further detailed, via email. "C$B turned in a mix that was much less abrasive to the ear and ensured that all the nuances of Cryptic's incredible beat remained audible," he continued. "Against All Odds" is now available to stream on NotForgotten's Bandcamp page, along with a collection of album demos and rough cuts still available to hear online. Ricky "NotForgotten" Robertson, Jr.'s illustrations and artwork can be viewed at his Behance artist profile, as well as his not_forgotten_ Instagram page.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

French Mash-up Producer ToToM Blends Together El-P & Queens of The Stone Age Songs On 'El-Q' Remix Album (The Witzard Interview)


"someone did a mash up album of @qotsa vocals over various music i've made and it's kind of awesome. thanks for this weird gift @boototom," el-p (@therealelp) wrote within an enthusiastic April 3, 2018 Tweet. To be honest, I hadn't heard about ToToM's El-Q album either, until El-P Tweeted about it, but once I delved in and started listening, I thoroughly enjoyed it! ToToM is the production alias of Paris-based "bastard pirate producer" Thomas Boivin; after a bit of investigative journalism, I was able to get in direct contact with the mysterious producer himself. ToToM has been constructing genre-eschewing mash-ups AKA bootlegs AKA "Bastard Pop" since about 2005-06 and readily lists DJ Zebra, Nine Inch Nails, La Phaze, and LCD Soundsystem amongst his greatest sources of influence. He's released collaborative mash-up albums with SpareElbowSkin, Fissunix & Colatron (B.I.M.A.) MichMash, Shoefiti, MsMiep, and La Phaze, as well as online mash-up community Crumplbangers/The Crumplbanger Orchestra.

Thomas Boivin's past mash-up subjects have included Bob Dylan, Nine Inch Nails, Death Grips, Queens of The Stone Age, Kanye, Lana del Rey, Iggy Pop, Lady GaGa, and a slew of other contemporary artists. While most of ToToM's bootlegs are still available on Bandcamp, he's graciously uploaded alt. streaming and download links to MEGA, Soundcloud, Sowndhaus, and soon hopes to be on streaming services. ToToM was gracious enough to answer a few of my impromptu questions concerning El-Q, via email, which turned out so good... we collectively decided to re-visit our conversation and publish it as the comprehensive interview you now see below. ToToM's El-Q is now available to stream or download for FREE on Bandcamp and MEGA; you'll also, find a handful of his audio/visual mash-up creations embedded throughout.


Sincerely,

Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Mash-up/Bastard Pop Enthusiast


I. How did you get the initial idea behind your El-Q mash-up album?

Back in late 2015, I released an album called Kanye of The Stone Age (KOTSA,) which got some attention from the fans and a few media [sites], like The A.V. Club and Noisey. That was the first time I put real effort into promoting my stuff and trying to contact the right persons, through emailing (specifically, targeting authors, who already wrote about mash-ups.) Back then, I was already trying to be more focused in my productions; the counter is way past 600 single mash-ups, by the way! Instead of just picking the last trending acapella or Internet meme and mashing it up with the first thing that fits or funny enough, I'd rather pick a popular enough artist, for which enough material is available and follow a concept that's interesting enough, musically speaking. Important point: I consider a clash of genres is mandatory 99.9% of the time. The intro speech by El-P for the album's first track, "Request Denied In My Head" illustrates very well that opinion; I'm still a kid, who "just likes sh*t," only, I'm 36 years old. After all the recognition I got from KOTSA, I made an Iggy Pop vs. QOTSA EP to fit with his Post Pop Depression release. In the meantime, my [assistant] Ed Zitron told me something like, "you should make a whole mash-up album with El-P and Queens of The Stone Age (QOTSA.) Especially, as El-P is a huge fan of them. That's a sure win!" I started looking at the potential of it, produced 4-5 tracks in a few weeks ("No One Knows El-Q" being the very first one,) two years passed and voilà!


II. What exactly did you use for your source/sample material?

Various different sources exist "out there:" promo instrumentals released from time to time by labels or artists themselves, songs' multi-tracks ripped from video games, which require the use of separate tracks to work, surround sound from DVD or broadcasting...

El-P—just like many Hip-Hop producers usually do—released all of his solo albums, plus, Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music and the 3 Run The Jewels (RTJ) albums in their instrumental form. Most QOTSA material comes from video games. For instance, I was about to release the album, when I put my hands on vocals for "The Way You Used to Do" and "My God Is The Sun." I HAD to do something with both songs, although, "My God Is 2100's Sun" almost didn't make it to the final tracklist for technical reasons.


III. What type of feedback have you personally, received so far from El-P, Queens of The Stone Age, or their camps?

Well, after El-P [@therealelp] shared my mash-up album, he started Following me on Twitter and sent me a very nice message, followed by a very nice conversation. He also, shared the few videos I released after that. Videos are clearly, not my main focus, but audio-only mash-ups are no longer enough to get noticed nowadays, whereas, ironically, many YouTube plays are for ears only, anyway.

About Queens of The Stone Age, I've been told during my "early career" around 2005-06 that QOTSA got to listen to one mash-up I made and liked it (one that's called "Regular Blues.") In 2015, I had a few people around them, who seemed to like my Kanye of The Stone Age album—including their A&R from the Interscope era—and it’s highly plausible they got to listen to the album. Even if I told myself they wouldn't be much happy being paired with Kanye West, the choice of Kanye back then was really meant in making an album that could get enough buzz; find a buzz-worthy artist I appreciate enough to spend hours working on his/her music. The idea was to put out an album that feels like a real release, have an illustrator friend of mine to draw a cartoon on purpose, and someone else to finish the colouring. Both have been paid, which is ironic, for an album I put out for free! It had to look as professional as possible.

For El-Q, I had the artwork concept idea from the start, but I had to ask a designer friend—that's his real job, not a hobby for him—who, improved it and took that simple mashed-up logo idea to a level I'd call "awesome." I've seen too many mash-up albums released with no track order, no ID tags, multiple [pieces of] artwork per track, barely any quality selection for compilation albums... B.I.M.A. (as in Bon Iver Mashup Album) was almost released as a Zip with a dozen of (great) mash-ups, if I [hadn't] told my "colleagues" there had to be a track order, so I took care of that, plus, the tagging... These points may sound trivial to the geeky home producer behind his computer, but you could produce the best mash-up in the world, these are specific details that make you look more professional and show how you value your own work. I can really see the difference from before and after, especially, in the artists' feedback, they've gone through that self-promotion process (and sometimes, self-production) most of the time, so they see what's been put into this self-release, it's like DIY 3.0.


IV. Why did you decide to mash-up El-P/Run The Jewels & Queens of The Stone Age?

Ed Zitron, who's been an ally for many years now, whispered the idea to me and it seemed like a really great idea: feasible (probably, the single most important point in mash-ups.) It's actually, a better and more relevant idea than picking Kanye West, which was an easy choice, even though, I love Yeezus and I'm really proud of the Kanye of The Stone Age (KOTSA) album. With KOTSA, mixing Hip-Hop acapellas with the Rock band who single-handedly wiped the whole "Nu-Metal" scene [from] the surface of The Earth was a vicious and guilty pleasure and in the end, a way to demonstrate nothing is sacred. Also, Kanye's nervous rapping sounds great on Rock!

About El-P, I've really loved Run The Jewels, since I heard RTJ2. Then, I started to passionately crawl back in time and dive into the two protagonists' discographies, that includes El-P's solo career and Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music, an album I find as wonderful as RTJ (an "RTJ #0," somewhat.) El-P's style really fits well with Rock music—you just have to look at a few collaborators: Trent Reznor, The Darkness, The Mars Volta, Tunde Adebimpe... I'm a huge fan of QOTSA since Rated R. I saw them live a bunch of times. They're probably my favourite band, along with Nine Inch Nails (NIN) and also, The Smashing Pumpkins.


V. What do you currently have in-the-works or plan to release next following El-Q?

I have something I really can't talk about at all that's my main focus for the next [few] months (ie: the few hours per week I'll be able to pull out of my spare time.) I also tried to start a collective mash-up albums series around Franz Ferdinand 2-3 years ago, but it never really took off; I produced 2 mash-ups for it, maybe, I should release them or maybe, I'll find time to produce a whole concept album because some ideas are great. I'm also, currently involved in a community called Crumplbangers and we are currently producing an album. [It's] like an "exquisite corpse"—from the French expression "cadavre exquis"—where a dozen people involved just happen to play or program a piece of music without knowing what the others do and then, a few volunteers try to mix a song with all the pieces that were submitted. It's like a sum of chaos leading to a weirdly wonderful harmony. I think it's the most exciting thing I'm currently involved [in], whereas, it's a very small effort for me to provide monthly (8 measures of a lead synth melody here, a snare track there...)

Aside to that crazy experiment, I keep on making videos for more El-Q tracks. It almost feels like a chore, but in the end, with the buzz around it and both artists considering my work positively, that ends up being a pleasure. I'm also, considering uploading, as legitimately as possible, the El-Q album on streaming platforms, as it's been asked a bunch of times

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"Like Elvis, They Film Him from The Waist Up:" Andy Cooper Returns with Kid-friendly "Do The AndyPuppet" Video (Rocafort Records)


"I asked AndyPuppet to appear in the "Rock Rock" video and to be honest, I found him far more entertaining than myself," Long Beach rapper-producer Andy Cooper replied when The Witzard asked where his inspiration for "Do The AndyPuppet" came from. "Since that point, I've featured him in a few other videos and it's pretty obvious that he's a natural super-star, so I decided it would be smart to acknowledge his greatness with a track. If you listen to "layers upon layers" (the LP mega-mix) you can hear AP make his microphone debut, as he and I cover [Masta Ace's] Rap classic, "Me & The Biz"' Cooper enthusiastically continued. I first got acquainted with Andy's music late last year, when Flea Market Funk premiered BlabberMouf-assisted "Here Comes Another One" from his then-unreleased album, the layered effect. Many of you might recognize Andy Cooper's name from his critically-acclaimed work with Ugly Duckling, The Allergies, or Djar One or even these very pages of The Witzard; leading up to the layered effect, I was lucky enough to conduct and publish a comprehensive interview with Andy Cooper himself.


Soon after, I was inspired by Andy's "Here Comes Another One" B/W "The Perfect Definition" digital '12-inch' complete with instrumental and acapella stems, as well as Bonus Beats. I reached out to a slew of past collaborators, beat-makers, and online Friends to coordinate The Witzard's Andy Cooper "THE PERFECT DEFINITION" Remix Comp. Soundcloud Playlist, which featured original submissions from Naturetone, Djar One, Broken Machine Films Presents... Dros, Mike East, UncleRussie, and Getro. Following behind "Here Comes Another One," "Can't Be Satisfied," and "Last of a Dying Breed," his Daniel Ruczko-directed "Do The AndyPuppet" is the fourth video culled from last year's Rocafort Records released the layered effect. "Do The AndyPuppet" is a kid-friendly song and video that's been self-described on YouTube as: "AndyPuppet's skyrocket ride to world-wide fame wasn't everything he thought it would be but, fortunately, and despite his deepening sadness, he developed a fun new dance along the way." Andy Cooper's the layered effect is currently available for purchase in a multitude of packages and formats from Barcelona/Switzerland-based imprint Rocafort Records.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

RTF WRESTLING FANZINE APRIL 2018 #7: 1-Page Interviews with "Wrestlepunx" Ultramantis Black & Jeff Cannonball (RTF Records)


RTF FTW! (@rtfrecords) MARCH 27, 2018:

"Hey Wrestlepunx, the April RTF 1-Page Fanzine is done a few days early! This issue contains interviews with @ultramantis.black & @jeffcannonball + drawings from @andyconwaaay... slam that link in the Bio!"





"RTF 1-Page Zine
Interviews with:
Ultramantis Black
Jeff Cannonball

Drawings By:
Andy Conway"

Purchase RTF WRESTLING FANZINE March 2018 #5-6 & April #7 at RTF ENTERPRISES' Big Cartel page. RTF FANZINE Issues #5-7 are currently available singly for $1.00 a piece or buy ALL THREE issues bundled together for just $2.00, Jabronis!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Bones & Beeker Producer & Multi-instrumentalist Brendan "BK-One" Kelly Talks Making-of Inside a Different Mind Remix EP (The Witzard Interview)


"This music makes me wanna make more children. It makes me feel like things are gonna be alright," Atmosphere emcee Slug once proclaimed concerning Minneapolis-based duo Bones & Beeker. Consisting of Anthony "Tony" Newes (vocals, guitar, keys, and other sounds) and Brendan Kelly AKA BK-One (production, drum programming, keys, glockenspiel, kalimba) Bones & Beeker released a self-titled 2015 album on Wax Poetics Records. While it's hard to peg Bones & Beeker's output as one distinct genre label, they draw influence from Jazz, Funk/Soul, Indie Pop, Hip-Hop, and a multitude of genre-eschewing sounds; however, the most fitting descriptions of Bones & Beeker's overall sound I've found comes directly from the band themselves—Tony describing it as "The Toys meet Hip-Hop" and BK-One likening their sound to "a sample-based Paul Simon"—during a 2015 video interview with THEOREMATIC. Bones & Beeker also features instrumental assistance from bassist Chris Bierden (Poliça & Pony Trash) and guitarist Nate Collis (Atmosphere & Attracted to Gods) in addition to BK-One & Anthony Newes, throughout their 2016 Wax Poetics Records debut.

Now, Bones & Beeker have returned with a 6-track remix EP entitled Inside a Different Mind featuring material culled from their album. BK-One has served as Brother Ali's DJ and touring partner for a number of years now and has released a few projects in collaboration with Slug & Siddiq's Rhymesayers imprint. Following the 2015 of Bones & Beeker's Wax Poetics album, BK-One recruited a slew of Hip-Hop-minded friends and collaborators to remix tracks from their album; Inside a Different Mind EP showcases contributions from Cut Chemist, P.O.S. ZULUZULUU AKA astralblak, Brother Ali, Open Mike Eagle, J-Zone & Prince Paul's SUPERBLACK, and BK-One himself. Upon initially hearing Bones & Beeker's Inside a Different Mind EP about two weeks ago, I sent an email to a nameless 'Wax Poetics Info' email on a whim and to my surprise, got an email back from Editor, Staff Writer, and Adrian Younge Executive Producer Brian DiGenti. Long story short, DiGenti was kind enough to get me in contact with Brendan "BK-One" Kelly and now, we have the comprehensive Inside a Different Mind EP-centric interview you now see transcribed below. Enjoy and if you like what you hear, you can pick up an Inside a Different Mind EP 12-inch at Fat Beats through Wax Poetics Records.


Sincerely,

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


I. How did you initially, get the idea for your recent Inside a Different Mind EP, effectively remixing, re-editing, and re-imagining tracks from your 2015 Bones & Beeker full-length?

So much of what made the original Bones & Beeker (B&B) project fun for me was the unpredictability. Tony and I came from completely different musical backgrounds, so when we started trying to write music together, we quickly found that we didn't have the same vocabulary, the same approach, or even, the same goals in mind. We each brought in ideas that were precious to us and we had to learn how to trust each other with them. What we took away from the experience was the lesson that a good collaborator doesn't just execute your vision, they expand it into places you weren't even thinking about. This EP was a chance to to take that idea one step beyond... handing the album off and trusting our new partners to do right by it.

II. Were you personally, responsible for the re-edits of both "Heartbroken In Love" and "A Song for Al's Dead Mother?" How did you go about selecting emcees Brother Ali & Open Mike Eagle to, respectively, spit hard-as-nails rhymes atop your fresh re-edits?

Yes, I did the re-edit on "A Song for Al's Dead Mother." I learned about re-edits listening to the work of Danny Krivit, Tom Moulton, MAW, and Kenny Dope. I continue to be inspired by modern editors like Kon & Tom Noble. I love the idea of taking an already great song and trying to make something new using nothing but the source materials. It's like making a remix with one hand behind your back. When I originally made the music for "Al's Dead Mother," I took a cut-and-paste approach to the production. The whole song just moves back-and-forth between two chords, so it was easy to create dozens of 2-4 bar loops—drums, percussion, organ, guitar, etc.—that worked great with it. Assembling them all was the last thing I did and the arrangement could have gone a hundred different ways, so it was really fun to take a second pass, at that stage of the process.

There are two more songs called "re-edits" on the EP: "Heartbroken In Love" and "Each Time I Die." Despite their names, they're not technically "re-edits." It's a long, boring story, but the short version goes like this: Spotify insisted and I was too busy to argue. Brother Ali & P.O.S. are both emceess that I've worked with in the past. They're very different as people, but I think each is talented, versatile, and a lot of fun to create with. I put them over the two most popular (and easy to rap over) tracks from the album, but I wanted to make sure we included some oddball song selections in this collection, too. I always thought "Al's Dead Mother" was a hidden gem on our record and it has some big, bouncy drums hiding behind all those layers of melancholy, but it's [also,] a strange song for a rapper. The tempo, mood, and structure made it challenging, but Open Mike Eagle was perfect for the job. He's made a career out of bringing technical skill and emotional gravitas to unconventional production. Mike was on the road when I reached out, but he was kind enough to find the time and energy to contribute exactly what the track needed.


III. To my knowledge, "Lupin" (SUPERBLACK Remix) is only the second, maybe third, overall release from J-Zone, Prince Paul & Sacha Jenkins' group, SUPERBLACK. How did you collectively get them on board for this Bones & Beeker Remix EP and might you have any particular updates on their impending musical releases?

I reached out to J-Zone, who had enjoyed our full-length release. He went back to the group and worked everything out. I've always tried to incorporate some humor and some oddness into my various projects and that can definitely be traced back to lessons that Prince Paul taught me, via De La Soul Is Dead on cassette tape. J-Zone taught me that you don't have to have the most expensive records or the newest gear to make great music. And Ego Trip (Sacha Jenkins and crew) were my Bible for many years. So, getting to work with them, collectively, was a dream. Unfortunately, I am not at liberty to confirm or deny any details regarding their upcoming project or lack thereof.

IV. "One of [your] favorite bands," Minneapolis-based Afro-Futurist collective ZULUZULUU (now, known as astralblak) contributed their own, completely original take on "Wind-Up Dolls," correct? What can you potentially add concerning ZUUZULUU's remix/re-arrangement?

I'm a huge fan. I had pitched them to Wax Poetics as a potential article and sent an early stream of their debut EP, hoping to get them some shine outside of The Twin Cities. Wax Poetics didn't bite and I was disappointed, so I asked Greg Grease & DJ Just Nine, if the band would be interested in hopping on this project. I wanted to position them alongside all these other, more recognizable names. The catch was that we were turning the project in at the end of the week, so they only had three days to pick a song, decide what to do with it, write, and record. I told them they could choose any of our songs and they could do anything they wanted with it. I was shocked when they picked a weird little 1 ½ minute-long interlude, then, completely re-wrote it, but I couldn't be happier with the result. It's taken a while for the EP to get a release and in that time, ZULUZULUU has changed their name [to astralblak], released several more projects, and earned plenty of recognition without my help!


V. If you were to assemble and release a second similarly-minded Bones & Beeker remix EP/album, who might you reach out to to participate?

What a great question! I loved that the Bones & Beeker album (2015) really married the sounds of our two respective worlds. This EP plays to the Hip-Hop side of our sound. It would be fun to do a version of this EP that played to the quirky Pop sound that's also so present. Without over-thinking it, here are the first six names that jump to mind: tUnE-yArDs, Brittany Howard (of The Alabama Shakes,) Paul Simon, Sinkane, Rostam Batmanglij, and The Dust Brothers. Damn, now, I kinda want to hear that EP; someone else has to do all the hard work, though!

VI. What's next for either Bones & Beeker or yourself and bandmate Anthony Newes' upcoming separate solo/side projects?

Tony has demos done for a solo album and I've got everything done for my next Hip-Hop project, except finding the right emcee for it. As for Bones & Beeker, we have two projects that are each a little over halfway done. I think, we'll be ready to start sharing info and teasers from one of them within the next several months. The other, should be done by late 2018 or early 2019. Although, I run a radio station, Tony is a teacher, and we've got five kids between our two families, so timetables have to be a little flexible these days!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

E. Grizzly's Felipe Pupo Returns with ORISHAS EP Single "NOGAF" & Announces 4/27-28 Release Weekend Shows (A-Ha! Records & UDDTBA)



Genre-eschewing Philly rapper, producer, and graphic designer Erik "E." Grizzly has returned with the latest single from his self-described "Synth-Calypso-Punk" experiment-turned-band, Felipe Pupo. "NOGAF" seamlessly blends Afrobeat, Punk, Hip-Hop, Calypso, Hardcore, and other miscellaneous genres that don't generally, belong together, much like E. Grizzly's 2016 Felipe Pupo full-length. First, started out as a Scott Labenski-produced solo project from E. Grizzly, Felipe Pupo has now, morphed into a proper genre-less quartet featuring E. Grizzly on vocals and keys, along with Labenski on guitar, bassist Aaron Gross, and drummer Carl "Sha'ron" Scott. E. Grizzly's A-Ha! Records has joined forces with Darko The Super's U DONT DESERVE THIS BEAUTIFUL ART (UDDTBA) imprint to release Felipe Pupo's new EP and first as a full-fledged band, ORISHAS. "NOGAF," which stands for "No One Gives a F**k," is an ode to the short attention span of social media amongst today's youth, forever memorialized within its accompanying meme-filled video.


It will be released digitally, as well as on exclusive limited edition cassette, on Friday, April 27th and will be memorialized with two ORISHAS Release Weekend Shows to be held 4/27-28 at LAVA Space and The Pharmacy, respectively; said Release Weekend Shows will feature not one, but TWO top-billing performances by Felipe Pupo, as well as supporting slots from Throwdown Syndicate, Sh*thawks, Ronnie Vega, Torito (twice,) Hardhealth, Bucko/Cunningham/Adams Trio, and Darko The Super. "The last album was dedicated to Jason Pupo," says E. Grizzly. "He was a good friend of mine, who passed away. It inspired me to write about ghosts and being haunted by memories. We wanted to keep the spirit theme going with this new EP. Orishas are spirits in the Yoruba and Santeria religions. It's a part of my [family's] history and it's something I wanted to explore. The first single is called "NOGAF." It's inspired by social media and one of these Orishas," he continued. Felipe Pupo's ORISHAS EP will be released Friday 4/27 on A-Ha! Records & UDDTBA.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Violin-driven Philly Punk Rock Trio The Deadeyes Re-surface with Double A-side Digital Single "No More Later / Narco" (Paddy Wax Records)



Ever wonder what a "screaming violin" haphazardly nestled atop a feverish medley of "scorching guitars" and a pummeling drum/rhythm section filtered through a Punk/Hardcore lens might sound like? If so, look no further than Philly-based 3-piece band, The Deadeyes. Consisting of violinist John Coursey, vocalist and guitar player Patrick McHugh, and drummer David McMullin, The Deadeyes play a unique brand of violin-driven, Soul-tinged Punk that's been fittingly described as if "The Black Keys had a love child with [Nick Cave &] The Bad Seeds." The Deadeyes' members have previously played with long-standing underground group Grubstake, as well as High Hearts, The Mikroknytes, and McHugh & McMullin's hilariously-named 90's college band, Connie Chung. John Coursey, Patrick McHugh & Dave McMullin have collectively played gigs in support of classic Punk bands such as The Dead Milkmen, Dean "Clean" Sabatino's Milkmen side-project I Think Like Midnight, Dischord Records' Alarms & Controls, Cheap Dinosaur, and many more. The Deadeyes' next scheduled show is June 16th at Jerry's On Front (2341 N Front St. Philadelphia, PA 19133) with PLOT.



"THE DEADEYES COME OUT OF HIBERNATION ARMED WITH TWO TRACKS," reads an assertive emailed press statement I recently received from Philly-based cloud entertainment. Double A-side single "No More Later / Narco" is actually, The Deadeyes' first proper studio-recorded release since their 2014 debut, Demonstrationals and Remixes recorded with Hop Along's Joe Reinhart at North Philadelphia studio, The Headroom. I would personally, equate The Deadeyes' sound harnessed on "No More Later / Narco" as reminiscent of Rock "N" Roll-indebted Slovenian-Croatian duo 2CELLOS meets frenzied Seattle Indie Rockers Modest Mouse. "'No More Later" pulls together a lot of very primitive smashing rhythms and a stripped down arrangement that pulls influences from Ty Segall and Sonic Youth, though, it's not meant to be recognizable anymore," Patrick McHugh said. "Lyrically, I borrowed ideas from Soul songs to mash-up dance moves and paranoid behavior, hopefully, it'll resonate on both of those levels!" However, "'Narco," on the other hand, is a sneering Punk ballad taking inspiration from likes of The Ramones, The Dirtbombs, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, and The Replacements. "This one is a lot of fun to sing, definitely, has a sense of humor to it," says McHugh. The Deadeyes' "No More Later / Narco" is currently available to stream or purchase from the band's Bandcamp for $2 USD or more FREE download, along with the rest of their violin-driven discography.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Director & Animator Kendra Morris Discusses Stop-motion Music Video for CZARFACE & MF DOOM's "Bomb Thrown" (The Witzard Interview)


"Kendra Morris recalls singers who straddled Soul and Rock during the early 70's, such as Ruth Copeland and Chaka Khan, while her contemporaries include the likes of Charles Bradley, Alice Russell, and Mayer Hawthorne," reads Kendra Morris' on-site Biography. Morris, who's band consists of Jeremy Page, Sam Merrick, and Jeremy Siegel, has recorded two full-lengths—critically-acclaimed Banshee and 2013 covers album Mockingbird—for Wax Poetics Records since joining the label's roster in 2011. Kendra Morris has worked with the likes of DJ Paul Nice, Chico Mann, DJ Premier, Zack Martin, Godforbid, and most recently, CZARFACE, DOOM & Open Mike Eagle. Morris was also, a member of Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson's short-lived 2013-15 band, The Singles, along with Holly Miranda, Julia Haltigan, and Este Haim (1/3 HAIM) on drums.

One of Kendra Morris' non-musical hobbies and passions is stop-motion animation, as seen on her hand-made #Babble50 12-inches and recent promotional videos. After recording a feature along with emcee Open Mike Eagle for Esoteric, DJ 7L & Inspectah Deck's CZARFACE Meets METAL FACE project, Morris was contracted to direct and animate a music video for album single, "Bomb Thrown," which she and I will discuss extensively within the space below. Kendra's gearing up to release her latest single, "Playing Games," set to be released digitally tomorrow, Friday, April 6th. "Playing Games" will be accompanied by a similarly-minded stop-motion video, as well as a remix created by Greg Nice of East Coast Hip-Hop duo Nice & Smooth and a surprise cover song as a special "bonus treat."


Sincerely,

Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Saturday Morning Cartoons Enthusiast



I. How did you initially get involved in the directing and making-of CZARFACE Meets METAL FACE (AKA DOOM)'s recent "Bomb Thrown" music video?

I got involved with "Bomb Thrown" because I had been singing a little bit on the CZARFACE Meets METAL FACE record and we had been following each other on Instagram. I had posted a little stop-motion collage video did for myself and Esoteric & 7L reached out asking who did it. When I told them it was me, things sort of unfolded from there and next thing knew, I was knee-deep in paper and toys for the next two months working on the "Bomb Thrown" video.

II. After getting the CZARFACE & DOOM figures molded and manufactured, what did you and your co-conspirators do next?

Originally, the idea was to have the guys send me photos of the toys that they had made and I would [incorporate] them into the collage world-style stop-motion medium that I work with most often. However, when I saw the toys, I knew immediately that it would be more fun to build a world for the toys, as well and work out the third verse as a completely different art style...

I spent Christmastime at my parents' house in St. Petersburg, Florida and decided to take advantage of my late nights there by hitting craft and aquarium stores in the area for supplies to build what I decided would be a sort of retro-space world for the toys. It took a good day and a half to build and then, I used the other nights there to film the entire third verse. I also "forced" my entire family to help, at some point or another. I think my mom was really annoyed... hahaha. Later, Jeremy Page came in and added all the laser beams and explosions, too.


III. What were your sources of inspiration behind your treatment for "Bomb Thrown?"

I am obsessed with imperfection, analogue, and craftiness. I love old stop-motion and B-Horror or Sci-Fi movies from 50's to the early 80's. I love anything where you can actually see the love that was put into something and usually, that love comes from the little nuances and imperfections. I started out doing stop-motion as a way to extend my creativity and connect visuals to my own music. I love the work that goes into [it and] the way it forces you to think outside-the-box, in order to get from one move to another. I kept doing it because I feel like the more I push myself, visually, the better of a writer and a musician I become and vice-versa.

With "Bomb Thrown," Esoteric approached me with the original concept of two boys reading comics and their imaginations going wild... bringing them into another world together and battling villains. Esoteric had only known about my collage stop-motion stuff... and so, originally, the video was just going to be 2-D, however... I am always excited to push myself and an idea and after storyboarding and listening to the song over and over, I thought it could be great to take the characters into different art worlds. Verse #1 focused [on] the boys and the collages. Esoteric had Lewis Holiday photograph tons of pictures of the boys for me that I printed, cut out, and animated by hand with all my tons of magazine clippings, etc. For the second verse... Esoteric sent me some illustrations their usual illustrator Gilberto Aguirre Mata [AKA El Ultimo Codice] did of CZARFACE, DOOM, and [the] villains. I was originally, going to print and hand-animate with collages, as well, but decided it could be great to bring in even another dynamic for the second verse and had my friend Josh Mac do his After Effects wizardry on the illustrations. I love when cartoons go into real world visuals, so I plotted that out for the second verse and had him set the cartoons various Apocalyptic backgrounds.

IV. I would be curious to know: what type of reaction have you received from Ecsoteric, 7L & Inspectah Deck, as well as DOOM upon "Bomb Thrown"'s release? Have you been lucky enough to personally meet DOOM face-to-face mask?

Esoteric & 7L are the only guys from the project that I have been in contact [with] regarding the video and they've been involved, constructive, and super-positive people to work with. Inspectah Deck & DOOM, I have-not met yet... but I am gonna be pretty excited, when I finally do!


V. I know you recently released a Spotify single and instrumental entitled "Nothing," but what else do you currently have planned to be released throughout 2018?

I have a new track dropping on April 6th called "Playing Games" with Greg Nice from Nice & Smooth on it. I actually, made a little stop-motion promo video for it using Scrabble pieces, a checkerboard, and tiny ME's dancing around. It took a good two days of doing absolutely nothing else, but I'm excited to share that. Every time I work on my stop-motion stuff, I get better and then, come up with something else I want to push myself to do. Planning to release more music and of course, more visual projects, as the year unfolds, so keep your eyes and your ears open. Thanks again!

VI. We've already discussed it a little bit, but would you mind breaking down each section/verse of your "Bomb Thrown" video and briefly describe who did what on-screen?

Esoteric approached me with the original concept for the "Bomb Thrown" video. His idea was a stop-motion video where two boys are reading comics and become CZARFACE & DOOM, as their imaginations run wild. I kinda took his great idea and just kept building on it... I created storyboards for the video, before I did anything. I did these on color-coded memo notes and listened to the song over and over with my eyes closed trying to imagine what would happen as the song unfolded.


Breaking down the three verses of "Bomb Thrown," I started with collage stop-motion. I already had tons of old magazines and books, as well as pre-cut image clippings that I've collected over the years for my collage art. Esoteric sent me pictures of the boys doing different timed out poses and action shots. From there, I went through the enormous file of photos he sent and selected the images that worked best with both my timeline of the verse and action shots that made sense with animating. My dad and uncle are both quick in Photoshop lay-outs, so I put them to work with sizing each photo to three varying sizes and converting them all to the best grayscale tone for printing. After I had all 300 or so photos of the boys organized and ready to print... I printed and spent a good few days cutting out and labeling them. Over time with doing stop-motion projects for myself, I have learned that the better prepped you are, the smoother and quicker the project will go, when you get to the actual animating. After I had everything cut out I spent a good couple of weeks living in my kitchen with a small lighting area set up for the stop motion. I had all my CZARFACE & DOOM cut-outs and random collage pieces laying on about every surface imaginable, as well as my filing drawers of organized pre-cut collage objects, animals, landscapes, etc. and a huge bucket of magazines. My friend, Julia Small, came over and brought me coffee and helped to assist me on some animation a couple of the days. From there, I lived like a zombie on pizza and caffeine and tackled Verse #1. I try not to ever think too much ahead with the details in collage animation, as I like the art to tell it's own story, so other than following the basic storyboards and timeline, I let the finer details tell their own story.


I decided, while I was storyboarding, that each verse transition would need a unifying visual transition. Maybe, part of the reason the video meshed so well with the song is because being a musician as well, when I hear a song... I tend to go to a visual place and vice-versa. The transition was a break-away from the song's catchy hook, so I used that to do another break-away in the storyline and create some simple visuals that could link each verse together.

On Verse #2, I was originally going to print, cut out, and hand-animate the illustrations that Esoteric sent me that El Ultimo Codice did... I wanted to do the illustrations against video green screen of Apocalyptic scenes. I love the strong dynamic of cartoons vs. real life images, however, as I thought more about the necessity of stepping out of my comfort zone and also, knew that if I built a strong team to divide up some of the work... it could be that much greater of a video. I then, reached out to my friend Josh Mac, who is great with the program [Adobe] After Effects. After showing him the concept and my storyboards, he came on board to animate the second verse, as well as all the other smoother animation bells and whistles that you see throughout the video.


Verse #3 is where the characters become toys. This, originally, was going to be stop-motion animated photos of the toys battling in "collage world," but I decided to once again, push myself and the project further. I messaged Esoteric and asked if he could send me the toys that Killer Bootlegs had made and that was that. This was actually, the first thing I filmed, while I stayed at my parents house in Florida over Christmas. My parents have been watching my nephews lately, so I knew there would be a bunch of extra toys around the house and I wanted, originally, to film this scene in a boy's bedroom, where all the toys could come to life, but this proved to be extremely difficult with a full house and not a lot of control over the outside elements and with stop-motion... the biggest thing I come to realize is having complete control is a major factor. I actually, scrapped the entire first day of work that I shot in my nephew's bedroom and had to start Verse #3 from scratch. That's when I started thinking about how much I love all those cheesy Sci-Fi movie sets of the 60's. After spending numerous trips to Micheal's Crafts and the pet store near my folks house... I wound up buying anything neon, flashy, wacky, crafty, furry... anything that would look good under a black light or that I could be imaginative with. I incorporated colors that I love and that would pop out and bring the images into a world of their own. I even bought one of those Discovery Science project volcanos and created lava and ooze out of spray insulation. My husband is a tattooer, so I put him to work drawing the scrolling backdrop that moves with the characters. Then, every night, after full days with my family... I would go out to my parents garage and film the third verse. My dad's identical twin has been my parents roommate for a bit and he would come assist me with the stop-motion every night. Stop-motion is so time consuming and tedious... you start to lose your mind, after a while, so if a friend can help you or even bring you coffee... all the better! A few of the nights, my brother came and helped out, too... (he'd want me to mention that he made the dinosaurs eat the little purple guys!) After I finished the third verse, Jeremy Page came in and added all the laser beams and volcano smoke, etc. Esoteric sent the phrases that he thought would fit best as word bubbles and Josh also, added them in.


Closing out the song... going with the concept that CZARFACE & DOOM become boys again at the end, I decided to actually, animate the first verse backwards. This was actually, super-tedious and I even felt a little dyslexic having the collage world build itself backwards... somehow, pulled it off, though and I never slept better! The video was one of those projects where I definitely had moments of "what am I doing?!" but as a fan of never cutting corners, always pushing new boundaries within myself and building a team and an incredible experience to look back at... I feel really great about what it became. Also, it's pretty awesome how so much of this video revolved and involved family from all ends. Esoteric's son played Little CZARFACE and Lewis Holiday, who photographed the boys, son played [Little] DOOM. There was really just so much involved and so many people that helped to make "Bomb Thrown" so special. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat, but next time, maybe, more coffee...