Friday, May 11, 2018

All-around Breakdown: Moodie Black Noise-maker Chris Martinez AKA Kdeath Dissects Their Latest Noise-Rap Album LUCAS ACID (Fake Four, Inc.)

"Recorded over two years between Van Nuys and Minneapolis, LUCAS ACID is 45 minutes of pounding, unsettled intensity with intermissions of fractured melodic beauty. As the namesake implies, Moodie Black are masters at establishing mood, via richly textured backdrops that coil around K's delivery. There is a vocal clarity on LUCAS ACID that was somewhat lost in dense pockets of Noise on previous releases that allows for K's prose and story-telling to shine, with wraith-like wails and jarring screams filling in the negative space. Ceschi Ramos and French singer Pierre Mottron, also, provide guest vocals.

On LUCAS ACID, K is coming to terms with life as a trans person of color in a country increasingly predisposed to pushing such individuals further towards the margins of its narrative; backed by their own meticulous production, a cacophonous collage of Shoegaze, molded distortion, sinister guitars, and Industrial Hip-Hop, Moodie Black speaks on identity, paranoia, love, and its absence. K's Moodhouse podcast, which often explores her experiences as a non-binary trans femme individual and struggling musician, has informed her lyrical approach, as she navigates the universal process of finding comfort in one's own skin. The "brilliant and formidable" (Noisey) Moodie Black will be releasing LUCAS ACID, their first full-length in four years, on April 6, 2018 on Fake Four, Inc."

- Dylan Owens (Fake Four, Inc.)

1. "v a n o w e n" [f. p i e r r e m o t t r o n]

"This is the very first song I wrote and recorded for LUCAS ACID. I made it almost immediately after moving to LA, after a brutal [European] tour that lasted six weeks. We lost our drummer after that tour. It was too much for him. The demands of being in MB [Moodie Black], in terms of practice and my expectations vs. the lack of being able to make a good living will do that to people. In the wake of his absence, I was also, struggling to re-adjust and dealing with my own personal growth, as well as relationship issues with my long-time partner. The move to LA was supposed to enhance our career, but mostly, it put it on hold, while life took over and I was left with having to create a new record on my own with barely anything in the tank. The song is as transparent as most on the record. Literally, stating my location in LA in the words down to the streets and I fill the rest with what was left of my old braggadocios self with the looming reality just under the surface."

2. "f r e e d o m"

"I always want to establish and make sure we represent the loudest and best of Noise-Rap and I think, this song is that one. I made it to be, anyway. Like most of my songs, I wrote the music starting with those keys on accident; looped that, hit the drums, some bass, and sat there with it. Then, kind of got lucky on those guitar chords through our outboard rig. Then, the beat sat... and sat... and sat. I would re-visit it, knowing that I wanted to use it, but couldn't figure out the vocals to do it justice. I created and worked on maybe half of the other songs, until one day, I forced myself to write this out. Got lucky with that, too. After the first verse is written, it's usually, super-easy from there, but I know this needed something more. As with many songs on this album, I enlisted my brother [Jermaine Martinez] for some of those atmospheric guitar leads.

I laid out a rough structure of this 6-minute plus song and he played whatever he wanted. One take. I arranged the pieces, editing and chopping along the way, and the bones of "f r e e d o m" were built. Again, the themes, in terms of writing, center around coming back from Europe, only this time, dives deeper into some relationship issues getting worse; losing trust with a partner, rage and anger about that, and how that anger bleeds into other areas of your life and can make you angry about everything else. Then, the second verse happens and the entire mood shifts. It becomes introspective: talking about loss, mourning a vision of a life I thought I would have by now, and living in a country that does not value who and what I am. This... and underneath the awareness of my identity and how it relates to all of it. I filled in holes in the music with wails and vocal chops, effects, and delays. I just wanted to get out the anxiety, rage, and hurt all over the track."

3. "l i p s" [f. c e s c h i]

"Actually, a late addition to the record. I needed to get things done and decided to just make something from the ground up. After the beat was made, the first thing that happened was the hook. Something akin to Kendrick Lamar, I thought. I like to do a lot of tongue-in-cheek biting of current styles to help mock it, while using it's appeal with our style. The writing is all about being marginalized, not being satisfied with my country, paranoia based on trust in relationships, and gender identity. Not only do I feel lesser because I can't be the person my partner thought I was, but it's the same in terms of society. There's a lot of shame associated with being a trans femme, but at the same time, a lot of pride. It's wild. I had Ceschi help me out on this because I knew his style would enhance it and help me finish this song. At this point in the record, I was scratching for ideas to finish it. At the end, I had my brother add those guitar pieces and let it be what [it] became."

4. "s w a y"

"This was another later-into-the-record song with production that sat around like "f r e e d o m." I came up with that simple guitar riff that is the foundation and built around it with even more guitars and feedback to beef it up. This is a newer and better take on an older song for us called "W h i t e B u f f a l o" from N A U S E A. I don't think I set out to make a trans-centric anthem, but in hindsight, this is kind of it. I wanted something people could dance to, but I also, wanted to highlight how tough it can be being trans in 2018. Especially, trans femme or a trans woman. I talk about cis [cisgender] people's obsession with genitalia and the often misguided perception that body parts equal gender. I also, point out the absurdity that gender correlates to sexuality, etc. I talk about insecurities and gender dysphoria, which, ironically, could be about body parts. I kind of, ask questions in the verse, stating that I want to see more variations of gender expression normalized and included in society. In the second verse, I pay homage in respect to trans women of color that have been murdered or harassed for being trans. I highlight the absurdity of it all. Then, we build to a Dance-Noise party because ultimately, I want to own this identity and not allow the fear to be the dominant narrative."

5. "p a r i s h e d"

"For anyone that has followed us over a decade, I think, this song is really important. At this time, I was really into slow, but groovy beats and just made this stomp drum pattern that felt super-cold to me. I wanted to have a verse, where I just laid it out there. Most of my writing is really stream-of-consciousness style with lines that seem to defy one another back-to-back. This is a real honest vulnerable song letting go of my ego and the chip on my shoulder that I'm owed something. I used to create out of this well and over time, I just lost interest and realized that it wasn't healthy not engaging for me to try and flex all the time. I've already taken MB from my bedroom to overseas and to labels; I think, what I set out to prove, initially, has been proven. There's some social commentary in here about taste-makers around more of my insecurity around my identity. For me, all these things bleed together and are all tiny rivers that comprise my entire mentality. By the end of this long talk, I point out the absurdity of caring this much about anything and how it really pales in comparison to what life is about. Again, at the end, I let my brother handle the lead guitar duties and came out with this Surfer Rock sort of feel."

6. "p a l m t r e e s"

"This is a love song. Every album I make has a love song. This one, however, was made after a near break-up of a long-term relationship and a commentary on what it takes to repair. Always wondering if it's the right thing. Trying to figure out if relationships are about breaking and fixing. I made this one in LA, while my partner had left back to Minneapolis. I was incredibly sad, confused, and hurt. I was having a great time discovering more about myself and working on a taco truck that lived on Hollywood Blvd. I pretty much ran the truck. At the same time, I would be crying over the flattop grill mourning at the very least changes in our relationship that, at the time, I was certain was over. So, the song was a homage to our time together sprinkled in with the rage of broken trust. As for the beat: I was feeling very "LA," hence that synth lead on the hooks. A tribute to Roger Troutman on vocal effects in the third verse. I'm seriously corrupt. I swear I'm making Pop. What's wrong with you people!?"

7. "t u e s d a y"

"This was a beat I wasn't even going to use and a song I made that wasn't going to be on the record... but I liked the Screwed hook and figured, the kids would like it. It's about isolating. At this time, I was back in MSP [Minneapolis/St. Paul], after vowing that I would never return. I did so, to save my relationship. Nothing else. Good or bad, I still don't know about the decision, but it brought a sense of comfort mixed with a ton of paranoia."

8. "b l a c k"

"This continues that theme of paranoia and isolation, but it's more a day-in-the-life. I have a small, tiny single-window in the basement that I look out of when I'm creating. From that window, I can see gray skies and some tree branches. I hear the kids I hate playing in the streets, birds chirping, and I feel like I dislike all those things. Mainly, because I'm not where I want to be; because I'm relegated to working on a shoe-string budget trying to make a name for myself amongst these other musicians and bands that always seem to get the opportunities I'd kill to have. I think, there is self-hatred there, too. Not only for my identity as a person, but for my music. Self-pity about this static that people say is so great, but can barely pay the bills. Even in that world of static, we are hardly credited with a dent. We know we have done more than what is known, but the mind can start to believe the popular narrative. This is just a big fun woe-is-me song, but it's honest. And by the end, I still have my conviction that I will right the ship. As long as your working your a$$ off, I think, pity party days are a good time."

9. "s c r e a m i n g"

"Just a simple, quick response to popular culture. I call out bands that have had things handed to them and put them on notice that our day will come and when it does, it will last longer than a year or two."

10. "b u r n"

"This was the last song I made for the record. I don't even remember much about making the production. This was after a lot of what I've talked about was settling itself out: my relationship had gotten to a better place, I enjoy the house I live in, and the music and album was almost done. At the time, I didn't like the record at all—I was just trying to finish it. I realized how long it had been and I needed to will myself to finish it ASAP. In that, I found something unique to MB. The ability to not curate too long our work. To let it go. In this song, I come to terms with myself and where I am and that I'm just letting it go: my identity, my music. I'm owning it, while giving it up at once. As usual for this record, my brother laid down the final guitar pieces and we ride it out. Since Kanye stole our sh*t, I stole his and if you listen close enough, you can hear the chanting from the song "POWER" on that Noisey slow breakdown at the end. This ties up the vox sample of Kanye being a diva on "v a n o w e n." It's also, the first time I feel comfortable in my trans identity; no longer [questioning], but asserting who I am. I end by letting people know that while I am a musician and artist, none of what happened on the album is a gimmick. There's no flexing or stunting on this project. Ultimately, we leave them as we always do: with Noise!"


  1. Thanks for commenting, 33eighth! Mind if I ask: how did you find The Witzard? Please, give us a Follow, if you like what you see!