Monday, April 30, 2018

"Illest Rapper This Side of a Comb Over:" OLD SELF Speaks On Nostalgia-filled Debut Word Art Gallery with Lt Headtrip (The Witzard Interview)

"OLD SELF, aging Millennial Rap man, finds himself at corner of nostalgia sickness and questionable materialism on his debut album, Word Art Gallery. Headtrip, of NYC Rap outfit The Karma Kids, provides beats, building a relic-filled funhouse to explore as you experience OLD SELF's "various styles." Word Art Gallery is an endearing excursion in Late-stage Capitalism Rap. The copious quotables and near-rhyming Pop culture references will have you reaching for the Repeat 1 setting," reads we are the karma kids' on-site Bandcamp description.

OLD SELF's Lt Headtrip-produced debut, Word Art Gallery is a zany nostalgic trip through his "various styles" chock-full of countless 1990's-early 2000's lyrical references and allusions including, but not limited to: Britney Spears, Sammy Sosa, Chuck D, Metallica's Lars Ulrich, Salute Your Shorts, N64 cartridges, Dr. Octagon, beginner skateboard tricks, The Illuminati, Mark McGwire, Blink-182, Wild Wild West... Pauly Shore, "Al Borland," White Chicks, Air Bud, Beethoven, Clue, Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man 1-2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of The Ooze, Vanilla Ice, Johnny Depp, and Mel Gibson (just on "Word Art!") As well as VH1 clips shows, Ja Rule, DMX, Sarah Palin, Wii Sports vs. mini-golf, Home Improvement, Young Jeezy, Kanye & Adam Levine's "Heard 'em Say," Pokémon, John McCain, Real World, Mrs. Doubtfire on VHS, Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, Boy Meets World, Puffy Daddy & Jimmy Page's "Come with Me," Walker Texas Ranger, Nintendo GameCube, "Working for The Weekend," ALL DENIM EVERYTHING, Bad Boys, I Love The 70's, Family Feud DVD Game, and The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. OLD SELF & heaDtrip's WCW vs. nWo: World Tour N64-referencing *Word Art Gallery* is now available to stream, purchase, or download from we are the karma kids' Bandcamp. OLD SELF and I recently spoke about the making-of Word Art Gallery, which you'll conveniently find transcribed below.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Sega Genesis World Champion

I. How did this collaboration with (Lt) Headtrip for Word Art Gallery initially start?

In 2008, I had a roommate who met Sarcasmo, Headtrip & Samurai Banana, hung out with them at Hofstra, and came back to New Haven [Connecticut] with a CD-R of Banana's beats. I then, downloaded all of the Headtrip or Sarcasmo music available online. This had to be 2010 or 2011; a couple years later, after we first met, we did some show trades. We had just played a show at The Velvet Lounge in Suffolk and I was rapping over "industry" beats, at that point, so I asked 'Trip to produce an 4-5 song EP for me.

II. What might you cite as some of your major sources of inspiration and influence while recording Word Art Gallery? It has a very nostalgic feel, which makes for a very fun listen for people between the ages of about 25-35!

I was a huge fan of the Beastie Boys growing up; their songs are packed with Pop culture references. During the writing of Word Art Gallery, it became clear to me that we are living a huge wave of nostalgia culture—movie re-boots, reunion tours, and the like. It's easy money for the entertainment industry and people gravitate towards it because life sucks. There's definitely "College Bro Rap" out there, where it seems like they just list a bunch of childhood references and it's corny and cheap. I wanted to do something, where I was participating in nostalgia culture, while analyzing it in a sarcastic way.

III. How did you go about choosing the features (Lt Headtrip, BIG BREAKFAST, Gruff Lion, BALD AFRO & Duncecap) for Word Art Gallery and how did you decide which artist to place on each corresponding track?

I didn't really choose them. They just sort of happened, but I couldn't be happier. All of those guys are very good friends of mine. 'Trip produced the album and it was also, recorded at his apartment in Astoria [Karma Kids Studios] and these rappers all come through his place.

IV. Who designed the Word Art Gallery artwork, ie: front cover, reverse cover, CD artwork, and N64-reminiscent cassette art? It really has a great style and seems to evoke the overall feel of the album well!

The CD and digital art was designed by Samantha McGiver. She recently did some artwork for Apathy and ChumZilla. She's a friend of mine. I sent her the album with no particular track order, asked her to come up with some ideas, and [she] produced some paintings. I gave her a lot of creative freedom with the artwork. MC Eleven did the cassette art—another friend of mine—he also, did the art for the BALD AFRO album. The J-Card is an imitation of the WCW vs. nWo: World Tour (1997) N64 box art, which is one of the first great wrestling games. My brother and I played that game a lot as kids!

V. Now, would you mind briefly discussing the "various styles" and themes seen throughout your recent "Word Art" video? How do the scenes relate to Word Art Gallery and its running lyrical themes?

Late-stage capitalism, suburban consumerism, Millennial struggle, and nostalgia culture. Mindplow directed the music video. They make some great Weirdo Comedy videos and they created the perfect visual introduction to this album.

Friday, April 27, 2018

MANIKINETER Unleashes Third EP Not As They Do In Just 2 Years & Announces "Weekend Tour" with STATIC BROTHERS (Cult Member Music)

Carl Kavorkian has returned with his third release as MANIKINETER in just two years; Not As They Do EP follows 2017's Missing & Mannequin Eater EP's, as well as a stand-alone single entitled "Shoot The Chalice." Kavorkian self-describes his MANIKINETER output on Bandcamp as "experimental, hip-hop, industrial, electronic, noise, and punk," but I've generally, just described it simply as Noise-Rap since first hearing Mannequin Eater. I've always enjoyed Punk/Hardcore and Hip-Hop concurrently without finding many releases successfully able to blend the two (very similar) genres in a natural, organic way, aside from Mos Def & Black Jack Johnson's 2004 magnum opus The New Danger, of course. It appears as though Carl Kavorkian had been toying with the idea of merging Hip-Hop, Punk/Hardcore, Industrial, and a multitude of genres on his releases prior to MANIKINETER's Mannequin Eater EP; for those who still have yet to experience MANIKINETER's unique genre-eschewing sound, I would compare it to something along the lines of Henry Rollins-era Black Flag meets Nine Inch Nails with the added fearlessness of DOOM. Kavorkian was actually, fortunate enough to work with DOOM on his 2004 album, (VV:2) Venomous Villain released as Viktor Vaughn.

First off, the implied dichotomy between single "Do As They Say" and EP title Not As They Do is sheer genius on Carl Kavorkain's part and trust me, that's merely just the tip of the iceberg. Not only is Kavorkian a rapper/vocalist and producer, he also handles the visual art and graphic/web design for all of his albums and recently took up painting as a hobby, as well. "I've pretty much done all of the artwork for my projects: the logos, album covers, websites, etc. I've also directed, filmed, and edited parts or all of most of my videos," Carl Kavorkian recently told Ghettoblaster Magazine. "Graphic/Web Design is my chosen career, so I've been lucky enough to have been able to take care of all that stuff. Video editing software is somewhat similar to Adobe Flash, so I was able to pick that up pretty easily," he continued. Not unlike its predecessors, MANIKINETER's Not As They Do EP consists of 5 Aggro-Rap tracks and is available either digitally or on limited edition cassette from Cult Member Music. It sounds similar enough to both Mannequin Eater & Missing, but you can definitely hear a difference in sound quality and recording technique on Not As They Do, largely due to Carl Kavorkian's recording set-up upgrade since his inaugural release. Kavorkain is heading out on a co-headlining tour with Darko The Super affiliates STATIC BROTHERS this weekend, April 26-29 for a string of feverish Punk/Rap sets across the Tri-State Area.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Boogieman Dela Joins Forces with Philly Producer Rolled Gold for Sample-less Broken Watch 02: Future Currents EP (Sensi Starr Records)

Boogieman Dela is a charismatic singer and and rapper hailing from Philly harnassing a unique sound "with a great balance between smooth and gritty and between Boom-Bap, Soul, and Trap sounds." For his latest release, Broken Watch 02: Future Currents EP, Boogieman has joined forces with fellow Philadelphian, multi-faceted producer, and The Witzard regular Rolled Gold. Future Currents is the second volume in a planned 4-EP series, which will be slowly rolled out over time; 2017's Broken Watch 01: My Time EP was produced by Deet The Beat Machine and as you can see, each cover is one quarter of a larger image that's gradually, begun to piece itself together with each new release. "Boogie & Rolled met only about six months ago and both having a strong, ambitious drive, they wasted no time in creating and developing these songs, mostly at Rolled's home studio," Rolled Gold stated within an emailed press statement. Boogieman Dela has shared the stage with many artists touring through Philadelphia including, but not limited to, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, DJ Premier, GZA, Margel The Sophant, Mobb Deep, and The Pharcyde.

In addition to collaborating on their Broken Watch 02: Future Currents EP, Boogieman Dela & Rolled Gold have assembled a full band to play live shows with in and around Philly. Boogieman Dela & Rolled Gold's unnamed band recently played a Broken Watch 02: Future Currents release party/show at Warehouse On Watts AKA W.O.W. this past Sunday, April 22nd. Boogieman Dela's live band for the W.O.W. Broken Watch 02 set included Margel The Sophant on keys, Harry Metz (Rolled Gold) on drums, and his cousin Ray Bailey on upright bass with sultry back-up vocals provided by Mouré & JayMarie. Boogieman Dela & Rolled Gold's Broken Watch 02: Future Currents EP is recommended for fans of Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, TDE crooner SiR, Kanye, D'Angelo & The Vanguard, The Roots, Nxworries, and of course, any classic Soul & Hip-Hop. Future Currents is currently available to purchase or stream on Bandcamp with physical CD copies of both Broken Watch 01-02 available directly from @boogiemandela. Rolled Gold is currently prepping his next project for release: a beat tape wonderfully entitled "Rolled Gold's Healthy A$$ Breakfast."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cooler Than The Other Side of The Pillow: Henry Canyons & Matt "Bones" Bowen Speak On Cool Side of The Pillow (The Witzard Interview)

Not long after publishing my review of Henry Canyons' La Côte West EP on The Witzard a couple months ago, I was fortunate enough to speak with Henry on the phone; it was at this point, which we formulated a tentative roll-out plan to publish this very interview. Henry Canyons was kind enough to send em a private Soundcloud stream of his then-unreleased album, Cool Side of The Pillow ("Cool Side," for short) and needless to say, I haven't stopped listening to the album since. Cool Side of The Pillow has since been released on billy woods' imprint, Backwoodz Studioz and was received to wide-spread critical/fan acclaim across "Rap Twitter." I'll personally, go as far as to say, Henry Canyons and his long-time friend and producer Matt "Bones" Bowen cooked up a solid contender for 2018's Album of The Year. It's easily one of the most simple, easy-listening, yet complex albums I've heard in a long time. "Bones" effortlessly weaves together a summery, densely-layered sonic backdrop for Henry's elaborate rhyme schemes that, in my eyes, can only be compared to an album as legendary and continually enjoyable as the Beastie Boys' The Dust Brothers & Matt Dike-produced Paul's Boutique (1989.) I won't go on much longer, but let me just say this: Henry Canyons & Matt "Bones" Bowen's Cool Side of The Pillow is without a doubt, the perfect album for Spring/Summertime—rollin' around in your topless "drop top," like Ice Cube in his 1993 "It Was a Good Day" music video. So, without further ado, here's The Witzard's comprehensive interview with both sharp-tongued emcee Henry Canyons and Cool Side of The Pillow beatsmith Matt "Bones" Bowen.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Hip-Hop Hooray, Hey, Ho-historian

I. How do you think you have lyrically and artistically grown between your La Côte West EP and Cool Side of The Pillow?

Henry Canyons: It's funny to think about; writing La Côte West was an amazing experience, man. I was in an artist residency in Biarritz, France for two months, but decided to stay in France with family, after it was over. I was incredibly focused and had brought a bunch of beats with me. More than anything, I had a lot of time. Time to read, write, run, explore, think, and just soak it all in. The goal of the residency was to create a body of work that reflected your experience there. Not only in the residency itself, but particularly, that region of France, The Basque Country. Having the time to myself away from my normal routine allowed me to be super-honest with myself and it translated into the music. I approached the residency as if I had been given an assignment. I was disciplined and just knocked out each song one at a time, all with the idea of making it into an EP.

Cool Side was written in two waves: the first six joints were made in 2015-16 during and directly after the release of Canyonland. I just didn't want to stop working and "Bones" was all about it. Life was good, the beats were upbeat, melodically-driven, I was in a productive and positive phase of my life, and what resulted, were playful and fun to make songs. We put the EP aside, when I went to France and after the residency, I wanted to work on something tangible. I mentioned making it into an album to "Bones" and we dove right in, but this time, our choices had the intention of a larger vision behind them. I was older, gone through a bunch of personal experiences, the 2016 Election had just happened and I was in state of reflective reaction to all of those things. I think the second half of the record is a little more realistic, mature, and honest than the first. I was in a similar head-space that I was in while writing La Côte West.

II. How was it working with your long-time friend and frequent collaborator Matt "Bones" Bowen on your first single-producer project, Cool Side of The Pillow?

Henry Canyons: Well, I see "Bones" as my little brother. He's my actual little brother's best friend and moved around the corner from us when he was six. Our backyards are connected. We're family. So, he's been mixing my records, since I started my solo career in 2012. This is actually, my second single-producer album; Canyonland was entirely produced by Keor Meteor from France.

This process was a little different, though. Since he has been involved from day one, he not only knows my sound and style of production that inspires me, but also, had a heavy hand in developing it. He's my right hand, my "consigliere" [adviser] of sorts. Aside from the process of making the album in two parts, working with my one of my best friends was amazing. There's no passive communication. We're completely honest and all the decisions we made always had the greater vision of the project in mind. "Bones" produced all the beats on the album, but I had a heavy hand in selecting a lot of the samples and crafting the sonic vibe of the album. Once he understood where I was trying to go with it, he brought it there. We both made personal and artistic sacrifices for this album. I think, because we have such a strong relationship, cutting through to the heart of certain things was easier for us. It's all love between us. I know [we] are both very excited for this to come out.

Matt "Bones" Bowen: This project is very full-circle for me. I grew up around the block from Henry. Our family houses' backyards in Brooklyn are literally, attached. Henry essentially, introduced me to Hip-Hop. I remember being 11 or 12-years-old listening to Non-Phixion, Jedi Mind Tricks, Atmosphere, etc... showed to me by Henry, via his younger brother Ollie [Chanin], who is one of my oldest and closest friends. I have known Ollie and Henry since I was 7-years-old. And almost 20 years later, we're dropping this project together. It's pretty nuts and awesome.

I'd also like to say, I'm super-proud of Henry and how far he's come, since I got involved about seven years ago. I've watched him work with the same passion and valor, since we dropped his first solo mixtape, Vignettes (2012) which I engineered, mixed, and mastered. There have been challenges, disappointments, and times of stagnation, but he keeps grinding; pushing himself to be better, pushing me to be better. The working relationship between me and Henry goes way beyond artist/producer. I give feedback on pretty much all things Henry Canyons. From creative end (I mix pretty much everything he puts out) to the business and marketing side; Henry runs pretty much everything by me.

III. In your personal opinion, what are the advantages/disadvantages of recording a multi-producer vs. a single-producer album? Having recorded a variety of both, which do you prefer ad why?

Henry Canyons: I think that each project takes on a life and process of its own. To predetermine liking one process over the other can be limiting or cast a shadow on the project, before even really getting into the heart of it. It's about what process fits where you are in your life—artistically, personally, emotionally, physically, etc. For Cool Side, working with "Bones" was really easy-going and fun. We just started making one song at a time. We hit a bit of a stride and rhythm of exchanging ideas, beats, samples, concepts, quotes, and I was eager to write to his production. I had just finished working on Canyonland (2015) and I was excited to make songs detached from a project. We were making songs for the fun of it and we both just kept it going. That was the process I was ready for, at the time and since we didn't know it was going to be an album, we were just working out of being inspired. We decided to make it into an album, while I was in France, after I finished the La Côte West EP. That's when it really took it's shape.

IV. During The Witzard's recent La Côte West EP feature, I loosely compared your body of work and lyrical delivery to that of Homeboy Sandman and Jonwaye (prior to hearing Cool Side of The Pillow.) What was it like working with Sandman on "Special Blend?" How did said collaboration initially come about?

Henry Canyons: Both Jonwayne and Sandman are super-dope and talented artists! Big fan of them both. Those are high praises, man, so thank you. I first met Sandman in New York in 2014 at a release show for a mutual friend of ours, Corina Corina. I was also, rocking [performing at] the show. I saw him in the crowd and just walked up to him, told him I was a big fan, and that it was a pleasure to meet him. He was super-cool and approachable; we started chopping it up and mentioned that I was also rocking and that if he had the time to stick around, I would appreciate hearing his thoughts. My set went great and we connected, after the show. We've stayed in contact since, and every time we have to cross paths in NY or LA, it's always super-chill.

Working with Sandman was amazing and super-easy/professional. I had already written the song and thought that not only would he sound great on it, but that it was something that he would vibe to. I shot it over to him, he dug it, we agreed on financials, and he banged out the track in a week or so. It was a smooth and really enjoyable process. I'm hyped and privileged to have him on the album.

Matt "Bones" Bowen: Getting the Homeboy Sandman feature on "Special Blend" was especially exciting. I've been a huge fan of his for years. I'll try not to come off as too much of a fanboy right now, but it really was a huge moment for me, based strictly on the number of hours I've spent listening to his catalog. I've seen him live a number of times, as well. He is truly one of my favorite rappers. He definitely, brought 100% to this verse, too. Classic Sandman humor and wordplay. Love it! I'd also like to mention: I learned about the production team 2 Hungry Bros. from their work with Homeboy Sandman. Funny enough, a handful of samples on this project came from a vinyl collection I inherited from Deep of 2 Hungry Bros. Shout-out Deep, that was dope!

V. What were some of your greatest sources of inspiration and influence while recording Cool Side of The Pillow? How about personal and cultural inspirations and influences, as well?

Henry Canyons: A lot of the inspiration came from "Bones'" production. That's how I write. The beat dictates a lot for me—vibe, cadence, flow, spacing, tone, subject matter, etc. For the first half of the record, the beats were Funky, upbeat, and gave me a sense of do-your-thing to have fun on these joints. That's what I did and I think "Bones" did the same. We were super-fluid that way. For the second half, I was drawn to some more pensive, darker, heavier tones in production and that translated conceptually, too. Culturally, the Election definitely had an influence on my thought process and had me thinking about what was going to happen. The second half of the album was pretty much written and recorded shortly after Trump was elected, so there are undertones of fear, skepticism, disgust, and disbelief that make their way into some of the songs on the album.

Matt "Bones" Bowen: Ironically, while Henry's inspiration came from my production, a lot of my production on this project was inspired by Henry's previous work. I was Henry's mixing engineer way before we ever made a record together (i.e. him on my beat.) Creatively, I found a lot of inspiration from the samples we worked with. I tried to let them speak for themselves, for the most part. In retrospect, this album feels like a montage of my favorite samples I've come across in the past four years.

Beyond that, as far as other producers I look up to, nothing should come as a surprise: J Dilla, Madlib, DOOM, Q-Tip, Kanye, Dr. Dre, [Timbaland], and 9th Wonder, to name a few. Real original list here! Some lesser-known producers I'm into: Jonwayne, 2 Hungry Bros. BoomBaptist, and Keor Meteor (producer of Henry's Canyonland project.)

VI. When did you decide to feature Homeboy Sandman, Zoe Rose Palladino, billy woods, and GooGiE on Cool Side of The Pillow and how did you go about ultimately, matching each featured artist up with their corresponding track?

Henry Canyons: For the features on this album, I decided to reach out to each artist, after I had written and recorded the majority of the song. In my head, I heard someone else on them. For these joints, I felt I needed someone to compliment the sound of the track, tone, content, dynamic, etc. As for who I chose for each song, it was all vibe and instinct of what I thought they would sound good on and what they would like. I'm big fans and supporters of all the collaborators on the project and had a strong inclination that they would dig what I sent them. Lucky for me, I was right.

Matt "Bones" Bowen: I think the features on Cool Side came out amazing. Firstly, Zoe Rose is a machine. I am in constant awe of her vocal range and ability to harmonize. I love the contrast between her and Henry's voice. I must say, mixing her voice into my own production was such a blast. Definitely, challenging to get all her layers to sound right, but also, rewarding, once I hit the sweet spot.

billy woods is a legend. Having the opportunity to have him on one of my beats ("It Don't Mean a Thing") is definitely a feather-in-hat occurrence for me. On top of that, his verse is fantastic: "I'm older than my father when he had me / not sure if that means I'm doing well or more badly." So hilarious and relatable.

Let's talk about GooGiE: I have a lot of admiration for this man. I was super-hyped, when I heard his verse on "Innate Communication." So much energy and attitude in his voice. And that's not the easiest instrumental to rap over... definitely, a lot going on. He KILLED IT and complimented Henry perfectly. Definitely, go listen to his album, 'Tis What 'Tis (2016.) Keep your eyes and ears open for more from Henry and GooGiE soon.

VII. Why did you chose to name this album "Cool Side of The Pillow" and how does its Quetzilla-designed artwork relate to your desired meaning for choosing said title?

Henry Canyons: So, after "Bones" and I had made a few songs, I was starting to think about what a potential title of the project would be. I wanted it to embody this mellow, laid-back, chill, Jazzy, and cool vibe. I started brain-storming and looking though old Jazz records. At the time, too, Stuart Scott of ESPN had just passed away. I grew up watching SportsCenter and his catchphrase, "cooler than the other side of the pillow," was something that always stuck with me. I think, it was amalgamation of that, pulling up Miles Davis' Birth of Cool and wanting the title to really convey the energy the music did, that had me land on it. I remember talking to "Bones," while I was walking to work and told him, "yo, I got the title: Cool Side of The Pillow." He immediately said, "dope! That's it." From there, even through the process of making it from EP to LP, it was always going to be Cool Side.

As for the artwork, I found Quetzilla (@quetzilla_artworks) on Instagram. I thought his style was dope. We started Following each other and when it came time to thinking about what I wanted for the art, I shot him a message and we started conceptualizing ideas. It took a couple of forms and we narrowed things down to the final version. I'm ridiculously hyped on the design. The vinyl is going to look and sound amazing and the other merch we have lined up, looks really cool. He's a champ; super-professional, really talented, and able to use his vision, while synthesizing themes from the album. It's gonna be dope!

VIII. What were your typical writing, recording, and collaborative processes with producer Matt "Bones" Bowen" like while recording Cool Side of The Pillow?

Henry Canyons: For me, writing always revolves around the beat. I get everything from the beat: the cadence, melody (both singing and rapping tone,) concept, vibe, structure, rhythms, etc. I play around with the cadence in a scat and figure out what pocket will work best for that song. Then, I work on opening ideas that I think correspond to that rhythm, but also, the mood of the beat and the mood I'm in. When I read or watch movies/TV, I take note of quotes, turns-of-phrase, and ideas that strike a chord with me. I flip through them and see if any of them correlate to that initial groove process. Then, I develop it.

As for finding beats for this project, I feel it was 50/50, in terms of samples that I found and sent his way, versus beats that "Bones" made and sent over. In some way or another, we always went back-and-forth. A lot of the structure of the beats and songs get tweaked, as I'm writing to them. I make note of what I altered and let him know. I do all my recording at home by myself. So, once I'm done with a session, I send it over and he structures elements of the song with drops and different beat alterations. He's got a really good ear and instinct for when to accent certain details in a song. We have a lot of trust in the other person and are very open about each person having creative license on crafting a song. If our visions don't line up on a certain detail, we work out what we think is the best option and go with it. We've been working on this project on-and-off for three years and are both very proud of it. We're excited to share it!

IX. How do the vocal tracks/sound bites heard throughout Cool Side of The Pillow (particularly, on "Poison Into Medicine Intro" and "Easy Come, Easy Go") relate to the overall them of the album and what type of personal significance, if any, do they evoke to you?

Henry Canyons: I always knew I wanted some interludes with quotes to help set the tone conceptually and sonically for the record. For the intro, I was looking through old Jazz interviews. I wanted to evoke that "cool" Jazzy vibe, but also, have something that I believe in and something that puts you in a mind-space to absorb the record. The moment I heard it, I knew it was perfect. For the intro on "Easy Come," I wanted something playful and fun to match the vibe of the song. Also, I knew right away that it would work. It's also, a nice thing to remember from time to time. Especially, for me, I get caught up in trying to do so much that it's refreshing to remember to do at least one nice thing for yourself once a day. I want people to find these quotes and shoot me where you think they come from. I think it's more fun that way.

X. Soon after first hearing your La Côte West EP, we spoke on the phone to discuss future plans (even this very interview, I believe!) Now, while I really dig the texture and inherent grizzly-ness of your rhyming voice, I was surprised to hear a noticeable difference in your speaking voice... how exactly did you first "discover" your unique rhyming voice?

Henry Canyons: To be honest, it took me a while to find the right vocal tone in the booth. When I first started making songs and recording them, I would go in with the same approach and fire that I had on stage. On-stage, I'm pretty hyped and direct a lot of energy into the mic. It doesn't translate the same way on record. LA is where I really began to focus on song-writing and recording. I began paying a lot more attention to my favorite records and why they were my favorite records. What about their vocal tone, cadence, pronunciations, and overall style drew me in. It all developed over time, along with my actual song-writing. As you write songs and learn what kind of things make a song effective (each one being different) then, you develop a way of using your voice along with the structure and vibe of each song. For me, Canyonland was the arrival of what I thought was my voice. Cool Side was a continuation and further development of it.

Matt "Bones" Bowen: My typical production style is definitely, a little more Electronic/Pop-oriented, but I actively, strayed away from that on this project. I tried to strip down to the basics, keep it lean, and used samples that spoke for themselves. Also, I tried to make the drums as organic as possible. Stayed away from quantizing to the grid as much as possible, in order to bring out the natural rhythms of the samples. Usually, after getting the drums in place, I'd bring out the bass, either by adding my own below or throwing a low pass on the sample and boosting it up to the forefront. I used a lot of side-chain compression in order to make the samples mesh with the drums and additional instrumentation. The production is actually, very simple on this project—lots of kicks on 1 and 2 and snares on 2 and 4. "Easy Come, Easy Go" is an exception... that track is actually, in 6/8 time. In the verse, Henry actually, says: "making this beat, "Bones" and I had a predicament." Very true... that one took a while to get the drum pocket to sound right.

XI. What type of projects and initiative do you currently have planned to be released and unveiled throughout the remainder of 2018? Any particular Cool Side of The Pillow singles, videos, remixes, tour dates, etc. or post-album projects you can speak on just yet?

Henry Canyons: So, I have a promo joint that I cut to help push the album and European SULTANS OF SPRING TOUR [with PremRock & Fresh Kils] that starts 4/18, right after Cool Side drops. I am in the middle of working on a variety of videos and I am very excited about what I have in store, visually. There is a variety of styles, production, narratives, and fun things coming out. I'm also, working on a few remixes. There will be a series of new album-related content coming out throughout 2018. Also, I will be hitting the road again... and again... and again. As soon as I get details on a Fall tour schedule, I will let people know about it!

XII. Now, this might be a bit of an odd question, with Cool Side of The Pillow just now being released... but who might be some "dream" collaborators for your next project? How close are any of those to realistically, coming to fruition?

Henry Canyons: I mean, there are some of my artistic heroes, that I would love to work with, that I grew up listening to like, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def,) Nas, Plug One [Posdnuos], Madlib, D'Angelo, Erykah Badu, The Alchemist, and Aesop Rock—that would a life-changing experience for me; there are a lot of artists that I listen to that are making some really amazing music, that I think would yield an interesting and fun collaboration. Busdriver, Nocando, Knxwledge, Samiyam, Quelle Chris, Jonwayne, doing another song with Open Mike [Eagle] would be awesome, milo, Elucid, and rocking with billy woods always pushes me to "raise the bar" in my writing. Toro Y Moi and Tom Misch would be awesome to work with. As for what can come to fruition, I’m just gonna keep working and we’ll see where things lead.

I just want to thank you for having me on The Witzard, man! It was a pleasure talking and working with you on this. I'm a fan of what you do and thanks again for the support.



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 Bad Brains 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$ 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.


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