Monday, July 31, 2017

Trapped Under Ice & Angel Du$t Frontman Justice Tripp Speaks On 14-Minute HEATWAVE "Album" Recorded with Pissed Jeans' Wailer Matt Korvette & Producer Arthur Rizk (The Witzard Interview)

"10 years after their first release, Trapped Under Ice brings you Heatwave. This phat LP is short, fast, and Hardcore; the way Straight Ahead intended, but played more like Fury of Five and Breakdown at a backyard party. For Punks who've considered throwing a spin-kick in jean shorts. Rhythmically, Heatwave is like a trailer park Sepultura. Check it out if you f**k with what TUI has been doing for the last decade. The same, but different" is how Baltimore Hardcore Punks Trapped Under Ice describe their latest record, Heatwave within a Pop Wig Records pre-order. Heatwave consists of 11 rapid-fire tracks that collectively clock in at right around 14 minutes-worth of frantic, blistering well-executed Punk. It's been six years since Trapped Under Ice's last album, Big Kiss Goodnight (2011) and since then, its members have splintered off to form like-minded progressive Punk/Hardcore bands Angel Du$t, Turnstile, Diamond Youth, Down to Nothing, WARFARE, and Sai Nam, as well as number of additional side-projects. Now, don't get me wrong, Heatwave is without a doubt, a Hardcore album through and through, but it has undertones of an assortment of genres including Indie Rock, Metal, Hip-Hop, and even sampling culture peppered throughout.

"It's Hardcore, it's Punk, it's a variation of other things that are happening. But we wanted to present the idea of, 'do what you want, do it your way, put your own stamp on it.' Don't get me wrong—it's definitely a Trapped Under Ice thing. I think it's a hard-a$$ record. There's nothing wrong with loving ignorant music—put your own twist on it," Trapped Under Ice revealed to CLRVYNT within a recent piece fittingly titled 'ROBBING CARS FOR FUTURE PUNKS: TRAPPED UNDER ICE RETURN.' I've been in touch with Angel Du$t and Trapped Under Ice frontman Justice Tripp on-and-off over the course of the last year or so and after a couple failed attempts at doing an emailed interview, we finally linked up for a Heatwave-centric interview. Tripp tells me in addition to Heatwave, Trapped Under Ice are gearing up to unleash a few of the albums B-sides and leftovers, as part of a New Noise Magazine flexi-disc (now available for pre-order) and an inclusion on Triple-B Records' upcoming America's Hardcore, Vol. IV comp. due to be released this upcoming Fall.


The Witzard Founder & Punk Purveyor
Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz

I. Here's something I've always been curious about with Punk/Hardcore bands: how much material did Trapped Under Ice record during the sessions that ultimately birthed Heatwave or was that simply all you recorded... 14 blistering minutes?

We recorded three songs that didn't make the cut. One is coming out on a cool Triple-B Records compilation called America's Hardcore and another as a limited [edition] flexi-disc being released by New Noise Magazine. Those tracks are both sick, they just had a slightly different vibe than the record.

II. How did you guys go about recruiting Pissed Jeans frontman Matt Korvette to perform co-lead vocals on "Do It?" Who else is on your "wishlist" of potential collaborators?

We recorded with Arthur pretty soon after Pissed Jeans [finished WHY LOVE NOW]. Matt came in to see Arthur and we chopped it up about Hardcore favorites and stuff like that, before asking him to lend his talents for that quick moment of the record. We're fans of the band, so it was pretty convenient and cool.

III. What was it like working with Pissed Jeans WHY LOVE NOW? and Cold World producer Arthur Rizk? Did he have any particularly cool stories about recording with Sean Price, Meyhem Lauren, Kool G. Rap, Max B, etc?

Arthur has been a friend to all of us for a while, so it was very comfortable and organic. Arthur is full of cool stories, but he's also the type that doesn't make himself the center of attention too much, so you have to dig it out of him some. It was such a cool experience. I want to do it again, like right now!

IV. I have to ask... what's the deal with Heatwave's album cover? Where did you find or how did you come up with the concept behind its imagery? It's such a captivating image! I must say, I really dug your recent pre-album old school Punk-reminiscent show flyers, as well!

The only idea I had in mind was that it should be something that felt like a hot summer without being too direct or obvious. Also, it was important to us that it felt unlike anything else we've done before. I kept using that image (that my friend and photographer Alexis Gross took) as a reference for what I thought would look cool. Then, I realized that exact image accomplished just that; it feels hot and stressful, but fun. I hope that's how the record feels.

V. What would you say are some of the greatest similarities and differences between writing and recording an album with Angel Du$t vs. Trapped Under Ice?

With writing and recording Trapped Under Ice, you have stronger opinions and lots of different ideas going in different directions, but I've always thought that is one of the things that makes it special. We constantly challenge each other and create a cohesive way to include the broad spectrum of vision between us. Angel Du$t is a little more relaxed and open-ended. I think that has its benefits, too. No matter what I'm working on, recording is the most stressful and fulfilling thing.

Friday, July 28, 2017

"Britney Spears, Nicki Minaj & Boy George Walk Into a Dance Studio..." Krrum Unveil "Evil Twin" Music Video & Announce EVIL TWIN EP 2017 EDITION (37 Adventures/+1 Records)

"It's a summation of everything up to now; a nice way to present it before we release the newer sound of our more recent writing," Leeds-based producer and Krrum co-vocalist Alex Carrie wrote within a recent email. Carrie started Krrum as a sparse bedroom-produced solo endeavor back in 2010, after a stint playing trumpet in various British Ska bands, "a strange tenure working in a historical cave, and a dead-end job at a local Derbyshire butchery. Krrum quietly unleashed his debut Evil Twin EP in January 2016 and slowly trickled out a string of well-received Soundcloud singles and has since expanded to include Harrison Warke on lead vocals, drummer Charlie Webb, and Thomas Trueman on keys. Krrum's members collectively drawn influence and inspiration from fellow Pop-minded artists as far-spanning as Gorillaz, Metronomy, Justice, Hot Chip, Jai Paul, and Kanye. Although, they already released a simple cut-and-paste "Evil Twin" video about a year or so ago, Krrum premiered a new and improved, full-fledged "Evil Twin" video at Wonderland. Magazine just this past Thursday morning.

Director Camille Summers-Valli cast a handful of celebrity lookalikes (or "evil twins") to co-star alongside Krrum; it's almost like a behind-the-scenes or MTV's Making The Video-esque treatment with spot-on Britney Spears, 1990-2000's Boy George, Nicki Minaj, and "Thriller"-era Michael Jackson doppelgangers presenting their own unique renditions of "Evil Twin" to an incredibly unenthused Alex Carrie. Krrum quite fittingly describe "Evil Twin" as "toying with the duality of wanting to be healthy, productive, and find some long-term stability, but also wanting to throw that all away and indulge your vices. Individually, they are comforting, but are always competing with each other to come out. Camille's idea for the video was a strange realisation of that competition." Along with "Evil Twin," Krrum announced that they're planning to re-package and re-release their five 2016-17 singles—"Evil Twin," "Moon," "Still Love," "Hard On You," Alex Carrie-fronted "Get The Girl," and "Evil Twin" (Cazzette Remix)—together as EVIL TWIN EP 2017 EDITION to be released on 37 Adventures/+1 Records next Friday, August 4th.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

"Band of Gingers" Frontman Doug McFarlane Speaks On Bloodnut's Forthcoming Stoner-Sludge Metal Album ST. RANGA (The Witzard Interview)

Bloodnut are a self-proclaimed "Stoner-Sludge band of gingers" hailing from Auckland, New Zealand. I can vaguely recall, just a few short months ago, @BloodnutBand Tweeting a proposition for the senior vice president and creative director of a major music-minded network (which I wont name) to hear their then-forthcoming second album, St. Ranga; I believe said network SVP Replied something to the effect of he didn't listen to pre-release album advances. Needless to say, I saw all of this going down in real time and quickly jumped on the opportunity to score an advanced copy of Bloodnut's St. Ranga. I've been corresponding with Bloodnut founder, bassist, and frontman Doug McFarlane, via email for roughly two weeks now and on the heels of their recent Doomed & Stoned-premiered "The Space Orangutan," agreed we would do a short and sweet, yet informative 5-question mini-interview for publication here at The Witzard. Please feel free to headbang and rage accordingly to Bloodnut's St. Ranga teaser single, "The Space Orangutan" down below and delve into my mini-interview with bassist and frontman Doug McFralanee. Bloodnut's Blues from The Red Sons (currently FREE on Bandcamp) follow-up, St. Ranga, will be self-released by the band on August 1st with 10% of all album sales going to Melanoma NZ.

"The follow-up to the 2016 album - Blues from The Red Sons, St. Ranga is raw, visceral, and tuned even lower than their first offering. A Sludge-filled album that still has tongue-in-cheek elements, it endeavours to cover the darker side of what it means to be red of hair. With songs that cover religious persecution, the negative myths, and history surrounding the 2% you might even get a bit of an education of what it's like to be ginger. Recorded in a garage session-style by fellow ranga Elliot Lawless (of Greenfog) over one weekend and in a rare 4-piece variant of the band, St. Ranga is a clear evolution from their first offering and perhaps, a reaction to the polished bit-by-bit style of recording utilised on Blues from the Red Sons."

I. How did you initially come up with the concept of establishing a somewhat tongue-in-cheek "Band of Gingers" playing redhead and viking-themed Stoner Metal?

I was watching a Tim Minchin video on YouTube (he's a famous Aussie ginger musical comedian) and it was a song called "Prejudice" about how only a ginger can call another ginger "ginger. "At one part of the song, he goes through a big list of the things redheads get called and "BLOODNUT" was one of them. I had the thought that that would make a good Metal band name and wondered if I [could] fill this band with only redheaded people; turns out, I could and the band was formed.

II. What does your latest album title, St. Ranga mean and how does it correlate to Bloodnut's over-arching theme of redhead-ery?

The title works on two levels, really: the first track of the album is called "The Space Orangutan" and is a kind poke at religion, by making up a deity for the red of hair, so the name of the album applies to this deity. Also, our debut album was called Blues from The Red Sons, which was a reference to the classic Kyuss album - Blues for The Red Sun... so, we figured this album should be a reference, too to keep the trend going. Are we into Metallica [St. Anger] as much as we are in to Kyuss? Well, no, but the name was too good to pass up.

III. What were some of Bloodnut's greatest sources of inspiration and influence while writing and recording St. Ranga?

Kyuss... always Kyuss. but some Mastodon, Baroness, Windhand, and many other bands started to creep in as we wrote this lot of songs. Hence, the down tune to A (our first album is all in C.)

IV. How would you say Bloodnut's sound has changed and progressed between Blues from The Red Sons (2016) and St. Ranga?

The sound is more raw, visceral, and tuned even lower than their first offering. A Sludge-filled album that still has tongue-in-cheek elements, it endeavours to cover the darker side of what it means to be red of hair; with songs that cover religious persecution, the negative myths and history surrounding the 2%, and some more Norse mythology in there, too.

V. St. Ranga's CD tray has an inscription that reads: "This album is dedicated to all those who came before us. They lived lives filled with persecution and fire and we exist because of them." Would you care to further explain?

Without giving a long winded-explanation, redheads have actually been through a lot, through the ages. The recent bullying and name-calling pales in comparison to being burned at the stake, offered up as sacrifices, etc... hundreds of years back. The dedication is just to acknowledge where the gene came from and the tough people who passed it down.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Witzard Premiere: Baltimore's UllNevaNo & Jumbled Channel The Ghost of Len Bias On "86 Draft" (Harford & Reckord Tapes/MGNTK.)

"[Lonise Bias'] son, who in his senior season at the University of Maryland, was widely regarded as the best college basketball player in America, a can't-miss talent with absurd hang time. Her son, who had been drafted with the No.2 pick by the NBA Champion Boston Celtics on June 17, 1986. Her son, who would be described in an autopsy report two days later as a "well-developed young Black male," 6-foot-7, 221½ pounds, otherwise fit and healthy and clean, with the exception of the copious amount of cocaine in his system..." ESPN E-Ticket writer Michael Weinreb wrote within a piece fittingly titled 'The Day Innocence Died.' MGNTK.-affiliated Baltimore spitter UllNevaNo and "teacher, husband, beat-maker & dish washer" John Bachman (otherwise known as Jumbled) have teamed back up for an EP entitled The Ghost of Len Bias. Jumbled & UllNevaNo first worked together on "Hampden Session" from Bachman's entirely self-produced 2016 album, [I wish it was longer] AKA WIWL.

Now, they've reunited for a proper rapper-producer follow-up EP. The Ghost of Len Bias EP is loosely based on the life and death of one of the greatest basketball players to (n)ever play in the NBA, 22-year-old forward Len Bias; lead-off single, "86 Draft" is, as Jumbled & UllNevaNo simply put it, "an homage to the legendary Bias, who died before he could share his talents in the NBA." Jumbled's sparse piano-led production work on "86 Draft" is tediously littered with audio snippets of NBA announcers and radio personalities ranting and raving about Len Bias: "THE BOSTON CELTICS SELECT LEN BIAS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND... THERE HE IS, LEN BIAS!!!" While we patiently wait The Ghost of Len Bias EP, feel free to ch-check out UllNevaNo and Jumbled's latest releases: illien rosewell-produced Confidence Is Everything 2 (CIE2) and 11/2016-released Action Shots cassette EP.

"We are proud to release "86 Draft" the first single by UllNevaNo & Jumbled from Baltimore. This song is from their upcoming EP, The Ghost of Len Bias. This track is an homage to the legendary Bias, who died before he could share his talents in the NBA. UllNevaNo writes most of his raps at his night job, while Jumbled gets up early in the morning to make beats. This duo came together due to their mutual love of raw raps and Boom-Bap beats; tired of releasing random singles, they teamed up for a 7-song EP (due out early September 2017.) They first worked together on a track on Jumbled's solo album [I wish it was longer], which came out last year."

- Jumbled & UllNevaNo

Monday, July 24, 2017

Trenton-bred & Philly-based Brackish Revive Early 2000's "Pop-Punk"/Screamo Stylings On Coming Down EP (Black Numbers Records)

Brackish are a "Pop-Punk"/Screamo revival band hailing from Trenton, NJ and are currently based out of Philly—think Take This to Your Grave-era Fall Out Boy. Brackish attest they make "songs you can sit in your room and listen to" and readily list "burritos, tacos, chimichangas, and sandwiches" as Band Interests on their Facebook page. Brackish frontman and guitarist Connor Byrne, oddly enough, was introduced to by my older cousin (who also hails from North Jersey) and is also Facebook Friends with Evan "Darko The Super" Souza, Raymond "Ray" Strife, and Lt Headtrip. It appears as though I was put into contact with Connor because of this June 27 Facebook call-to-action: "Heyyyy, do you know a radio station/blog/podcast that might be interested in covering the Brackish record? Let me know." When asked how they knew @LtHeadtrip @DarkoTheSuper & @RaymondStrife, @brackishtheband simply replied: "Local music in Philly led us to @DarkoTheSuper, but we are all from Trenton, NJ, essentially; hence, @RaymondStrife (just saw'm!) & @LtHeadtrip." Brackish's second and latest EP, Coming Down was released earlier this past month on July 7th on Jersey City-based Black Numbers and is available in either Digital Album or Coming Down Flexi-Picture Disc 7-inch (with lyric sheet) formats.

"Brackish was formed by Connor Byrne and Nick Rosica in the spring of 2015. Joined by Chris Baranowski and Eric McConathey, Brackish released their debut EP, Young People that was pressed to tape by Good Sadie Media in October 2015. In the summer of 2016, Brackish recorded a 7-inch entitled Coming Down, out via Black Numbers on 7/7/2017," reads part of Brackish's emailed press release. "After the recording of Coming Down, lead guitarist Chris Baranowski tragically passed away and drummer Eric McConathey announced his amicable departure from the band. Since then, close friends Tim Fitzpatrick and Zach Miller have joined on lead guitar and drums. The newest iteration of Brackish is hard at work writing a debut full-length album slated for release in 2018." Brackish mysteriously tagged their Coming Down EP as bauhaus, diy, punk, black numbers, goth, industrial, and Philadelphia on Bandcamp; although, through Coming Down's three quick-strike tracks, I'm often reminded of early 2000's NJ/Long Island Punk bands like Taking Back Sunday, Senses Fail, Thursday, Glassjaw, and Brand New, as well as The Used, early Fall Out Boy, and New Found Glory. Brackish frontman Connor Byrne readily cites Saves The Day, Lifetime, The Get Up Kids, Mineral, and Thursday as "big influences" while writing and recording Coming Down EP. Byrne further detailed that Brackish have an acoustic gig at The Living Room Cafe in South Philly scheduled for tomorrow night, 7/25 with Hemingway from Oregon, Kevin Day of Aspiga, and John Bradley of Dads. Plus, in August, Brackish currently have a "Weekender Tour" booked with Greg Mendez (FKA Spiritweed) taking place 8/19-20 at Asbury Park Brewery and West Philly's Hole Foods (event link TBA) also featuring Ragged Lines, Prim, Clique, and steve.

"Coming Down is very special to us. Working with Andy Clarke & Tom May (The Menzingers) on these songs at Retro City Studios in Philadelphia was an incredibly positive experience and the album that come to be in result matches that. With the passing of our friend Chris Baranowski, the album commemorates the good times we had together and unique style he had on guitar. I'll always treasure the instrumental ending of the title track "Coming Down." Growing up together, we shared a love for the Post-Hardcore stylings of the Japanese band Envy and the Screamo bands of that era. The "wall of noise" that occurs at the end of "Coming Down" was something we were elated to finally do for ourselves after years of dreaming ourselves into that scenario as teenagers. With Andy Clarke at the board, Chris and I felt like kids in a candy shop creating huge delay noises, buzzsaw synths, and furious guitar strums. I'm genuinely so appreciative that memory is recorded."

- Connor Byrne (Brackish frontman)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Cap City Ent. Founder & Trenton-based A Mankind Complex/Ray Strife Producer iLL-Omega Currates Beat-maker Bedrock #6 (Omegatron Inst. Album)

"What's goodie!? My name is iLL-Omega. I'm a beat-maker from Trenton, NJ. This is my column [for] Beat-maker Bedrock! Here's three albums that inspired me to start making music. Salute to John "Jumbled" Bachman and The Witzard for letting me be a part of this!"

- Darnell "iLL-Omega" Storey

I. Wu-Tang Clan - "Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)

"This album is one of the first Hip-Hop albums that made me want to start doing music. The RZA delivers a cinematic feel with the Kung-Fu samples and crazy chopped-up samples. The hard-hitting drums shake your car and pound your chest on each track. I remember first listening to Wu-Tang in intermediate school. When I first played this tape, it felt like a movie that I didn't want to end. The contributions from all nine members of the Wu-Tang seemed like a big Kung-Fu fight scene with each line that punches you in the face."

II. Redman - Muddy Waters (1996)

"Being from "New Jerusalem" [New Jersey], you have to appreciate The Funk Doc! The Jazzy/Funk-style beats Erick Sermon contributed makes this album a pure smoke-out classic. Redman's lyrics and delivery are crazy dope and weave perfectly into The Green-Eyed Bandit's drums. Listening to this album brings inspiration when I'm working with my group, A Mankind Complex. We add a Soul-Funk vibe to our sound, which you can definitely hear the inspiration from this album."

III. J Dilla - Donuts (2006)

"Dilla, Dilla, Dilla. Let me tell you about Dilla: I F***ING LOVE J DILLA!!! I remember my bro Trino (A Mankind Complex) surprised me on my birthday with the vinyl of Donuts. I nearly cried. I can literally listen to this album top to bottom on repeat for a month straight. The beats are not that complex, but the love and feeling Dilla put into the production work gives you the feels. Each beat isn't very long, but has so much re-play value. Dilla made this album in the hospital, while he was battling Lupus, which unfortunately, he lost to. It was released on the day of his 32nd birthday and three days before his death; thus, making it the final album released during J Dilla's lifetime. I'm grateful he was well enough to bless us with this beautiful piece of Hip-Hop art. RIP Jay Dee."

Honorable Mentions:

Busta Rhymes - E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front (1998)
Daft Punk - Homework (1997)
Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... (1995)

"Cap City Records has its own master plan to resurrect New Jersey and the rest of The Beast Coast to bring the Rap game back to its birthplace, in an effort to change the game. "I don't even listen to the radio now. I listen to my own music," says an irritated iLL-Omega," reads part of Cap City Ent.'s Facebook Biography. Cap City Ent. is the label imprint of Trenton-based producer iLL-Omega and in addition to A Mankind Complex (Trino and iLL-Omega himself,) currently features artists Ray Strife, Rocky, and Alien. iLL-Omega's current production discography includes Ray Strife's recent Preface: I Will Never Be Beautiful EP, A Mankind Complex's D.R.E.A.M.S. and Destination EP, and Black Collar Biz's "Like a Sucka" with much, much more soon to come. Just this past Monday, July 17th, iLL-Omega unleashed a 14-track instrumental album titled Omegatron, which he self-described on Soundcloud as "#Album, #INSTRUMENTAL, #BEATS, #MUSIC, #RAP, #HIPHOP, #TRAP, #EDM, #RIDDIM, [#Dubstep], and #DRAKE, #KANYE & #JAYZ," seemingly implying some of its contained beats are intended for Mr. West, Mr. Graham, and Mr. Carter. Over the course of it's nearly 40-minute runtime, Omegatron teeters a vast array of genre-blending styles and influence; Omega's beat work echoes sonic earmarks of RZA's production work on 36 Chambers, Erick Sermon on Redman's Muddy Waters, and J Dilla's dusty sample re-appropriation throughout Donuts, as well as iLL-Omega's own Dilla-inspired 2016 EP, Dunkin' Donuts (Vol. 1.) iLL-Omega's Omegatron is currently available for streaming and download on Apple Music, CD Baby, Soundcloud, Spotify, etc. through Cap City Ent.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Kotolan Unleash Soul-Disco/New Wave-inspired Singles "Wallflower" & "Tokyo Subway" Recorded with Dan Ubick, David Ralicke & Jordan Katz (Junko & Otto's Inspirations Playlist)

"Video premiere!! Thanks to Otto Granillo and Junko Seki, I got to get my [New Wave] on producing this catchy tune, "Wallflower" for their group Kotolan. Mixed beautifully by my main man, Stephen Kaye at SunKing Studios," The Lions producer and bandleader Dan Ubick AKA Connie Price enthusiastically wrote on Facebook this past May; just about a month after "Wallflower," Kotolan unleashed their second Dan Ubick-produced single, "Toyko Subway." Trombonist, audio-visual artist, and "OTO" half of Kotolan, Otto Granillo recently told me that he and his wife/bandmate Junko Seki "have been writing an producing singles lately, instead of making an album." Although, Granillo says they're currently "throwing around the idea of releasing a full-length album in the future [with] a group of previously-released singles from a specific year/period" of Kotolan's recent work. Granillo currently plays trombone with Dan Ubick's Soul-Reggae revival group, The Lions and recorded trombone riffs for their third album, Soul Riot (2015) on Stones Throw. It appears as though Kotolan currently features only Junko Seki & Otto Granillo, as well as "honorary member" Dan Ubick. While "Tokyo Subway" only features Junko, Otto & Dan, "Wallflower" additionally highlights the talents of baritone saxophonist David Ralicke and trumpet player Jordan Katz. Kotolan's former La Tienda de Groove-era line-up showcased The Lions players Blake Colie and Eddie Felix, as well as guitarist Carlos Kuhlmann. I would like to bring particular attention an 80's New Wave, Synth-Pop, and 2 Tone Ska playlist featured down below, which was assembled by Otto & Junko, complete with songs that influenced and inspired them while recording "Wallflower," "Tokyo Subway," and their as-yet-unreleased recordings. Now, I'll let Kotolan frontwoman and synth-keyboard player Junko Seki take it from here!

"I met Dan Ubick through my husband, Otto, who is also a member of The Lions. Otto had just finished recording trombone at The Lion's Den (Dan's studio) for their second album, Soul Riot, when he brought up to me the idea of collaborating with Dan on our project. Otto and I started Kotolan in 2008. We explored an eclectic range of styles in our compositions, which you can hear in our first album, La Tienda de Groove, but eventually, evolved to our current sound. Otto and I have a passion for late 70's British and American Rock and early 80's New Wave. Artists like The Cars, Talking Heads, Ultravox, Gary Newman, The Police, Madness, The Jam, The Specials, The Clash, The Selecter, Blondie, Culture Club, Joy Division, Laid Back, and XTC, to name a few. After a discussion with Dan, we decided to collaborate on a couple of singles with a New Wave[-influenced] sound in mind and him taking the role as music producer. Our first single, "Wallflower" took on a Soul-Disco/New Wave sound with synth and guitar lines, along with the three-horn Kotolan sound (trombone, baritone saxophone, and trumpet) we've maintained, since the beginning. Dan played the guitar, drums, bass, and percussion..."

"Our second single, "Tokyo Subway" dug deeper into the New Wave sound with more synths being used. Otto came up with the Micromoog lines and I layered a variety of other synth sounds on top of it. Dan got in the mix, adding even more synth parts, along with playing drums, bass, and guitar. We chose to leave out the horns on this one. Both songs were mixed and mastered at SunKing Studios by Stephen Kaye (also, a member of The Lions) who's got a pretty impressive resume as a mixing engineer. Otto also has a passion for [film-making] and photography (which he did while at Cal Arts working on his master's degree in music) and filmed both music videos. "Tokyo Subway" was filmed in Tokyo, during our recent trip there. Our current plan is to continue releasing singles for now and we'll be collaborating with Dan on a couple more songs this year."

- Junko Seki (Kotolan)

Kotolan's Influences & Inspirations Playlist

I. Ultravox - "The Voice" (1981)
II. Ultravox - "I Want to Be a Machine" (1977)
III. The Jam - "Going Underground" (1980)
IV. Tubeway Army - "Are 'Friends' Electric?" (1979)
V. Gary Newman - "Cars" (1979-80)
VI. The Cars - "Moving In Stereo" (1978)
VII. The Cars - "Touch & Go" (1980)
VIII. Talking Heads - "Psycho Killer" (1977)
IX. Talking Heads - "Making Flippy Floppy" (1983)
X. Madness - "My Girl" (1979)
XI. David Bowie - "Ashes to Ashes" (1980)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Baltimore "Talk Singer"-producer Height Keech Compiles Beat-maker Bedrock #5 On The Heels of Shark Tank's Dan's House (Cold Rhymes Records)

"I'm Height Keech. I'm a rapper from Baltimore, MD. I grew up being the guy in the crew that didn't know how to make the beats I heard in my head... Now, I feel like I've found my own voice as a producer and I'm off to the races. These are some of the records [whose] production has inspired me, through the years."

- Height Keech (Shark Tank)

I. Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)

"A lot has been said about this album, so let me zero in on my favorite track: "Night of The Living Baseheads." The main sample is like a Jack-In-The-Box opening every two seconds. The change-up leading into the second verse feels like a transmission from another planet. Every little piece is perfectly executed, yet it feels like you’re on an insane train that could go off the rails at any second. It used to be way more labor-intensive to do all these weird one-off changes and flourishes; the level to which [The Bomb Squad] knocked it all out of the park floors me."

II. Ice Cube - Death Certificate (1991)

"There aren’t many Rap albums where the beats feel more like one solid statement. This album always made me feel like I was in California, before I had ever been there. I love how they freaked all these loops that are tied to LA music history in a very specific way. It feels like an Uncle Jamm’s Army party, but the hard-as-Hell drums and great mixes place you in what could only be Cube’s World."

III. Koopsta Knicca- Da Devils' Playground (1999)

"Three 6 Mafia have one million imitators, but I don’t think anyone has really captured the eerie, bleak, lo-fi sound of their 90’s releases. There’s a sadness and strangeness to it. It’s like a Psychedelic take on Southern Gangster Rap. DJ Paul is under-rated as a producer, both when unearthing unheard loops and when manipulating well-worn material."

IV. Quasimoto - The Unseen (2000)

"The summer this came out, I was in NYC on one of my first tours. I was crawling into a sleeping bag and my host suggested I pop this album into my Discman as I doze off. I instantly felt like I was floating around in someone’s cartoon dreamworld. All the loops are bananas, but that’s just half the story; even if you sliced up all the same samples and gave them to another producer, they would never come up with this totally unique world. It feels like Madlib spilled this whole universe out of his brain and on to the album."

V. Boogie Boy Metal Mouth - Boogie Boy Metal Mouth (2013)

"To me, these guys created a new chamber of Rap. It was only acknowledged by a few, but those few really cherish it. It doesn’t seem like they were trying to innovate, as much as if they were just compelled to do this unique thing. With these beats, I can’t always tell what I’m hearing. I’m never sure what’s a sample being triggered and what’s being cut up on a turntable. For me, that confusion makes it more mysterious and helps me get lost in the music. The meat and bones of the beats are all A-plus and then, they hit you with all these smaller, subtle change-ups that add up in big way."


I. Spoonie Gee - "Spoonin' Rap" (Prod. By Peter Brown)
II. Rammellzee & K-Rob - "Beat Bop" ("Prod. By" Jean-Michel Basquiat)
III. Man Parrish feat. Freeze Force - "Boogie Down (Bronx)"
IV. Fantasy Three - "It’s Your Rock" (Prod. By Master O.C.)
V. Schoolly D - "Saturday Night"
VI. KMD - "What a N***y Know?" (Prod. By Zev Love X AKA DOOM)
VII. New Kingdom - "Mexico or Bust"
VIII. Ghostface Killah - "Nutmeg" (Prod. By Black Moes-Art)
IX. Project Pat - "If You Ain’t from My Hood" (Prod. By Juicy J & DJ Paul)
X. Esham - "Nowimtalkinbout"

For maybe about 10 years or so, I've heard the names "Height," "Height with Friends," "Height Keech," etc. uttered throughout Indie Hip-Hop/Rap Blog circles and seemingly, always being rather highly-regarded. Although, for whatever reasons, I never really took the opportunity to delve in much deeper (now, I see that was a BIG mistake!) However, I do remember buying Height with Friends' ROCK AND ROLL CD (2012) from Baltimore-based Friends Records either along with WEEKENDS' Strange Cultures LP or Dope Body drummer (David) Jacober's Water Karaoke solo tape. Fast-forward to April-May 2016, when I received a fateful cold-sent email from John "Jumbled" Bachman concerning his latest producer album, [I wish it was longer], which just so happened to feature a who's-who of talented Baltimore emcees and beatsmiths, as well as recently re-branded Height Keech on "Lamplight." Around Feb. 2016, Stereogum's Senior Editor Tom Breihan premiered Height Keech's "DEAD RIDER RIDE ON" from his then-impending 4/25 album, MIND MOVES THE MOUNTAIN on his own label imprint, Cold Rhymes Records.

I really dug what I heard and figured, although, it was likely a shot in Hell, I would reach out to Height to see if he would want to potentially do a feature or interview for The Witzard. "Yes! The fourth Shark Tank album will be the next release on Cold Rhymes. Our mission this time was to steer away from the extremely zany/inside joke territory explored on our last album [Don't F**k with Us] and come with an concise album of straight heat," Height replied within our March 2017 The Witzard interview when questioned about his group, Shark Tank. Now, that fateful day has arrived; just a mere three months after MIND MOVES THE MOUNTAIN, Shark Tank AKA THE FUN YOUNGS' fourth album, Dan's House is here! I've taken it upon myself to embed wonderfully-titled album closer "Chris Isaak Can't Do a Thing (to Stop Me)" and "Dan's House (Shouts to Hell Rell)," as well as The Witzard-premiered "ACE," within this very Beat-maker Bedrock column. Shark Tank's Height-produced Dan's House is currently available on Cold Rhymes Records.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

THE NATURAL CURRICULUM's "Chief Producer" AVER Readies Latest Instrumental Hip-Hop Album, Die Berlin Dateien (Village Live Records)

"'Die Berlin Dateien' is the first fully Instrumental Hip-Hop album by AVER, the chief producer of THE NATURAL CURRICULUM (TNC). Created whilst living in Berlin, AVER developed the 16 tracks as part of an attempt to evolve traditional sample use with more complex rhythms and off-beat drum breaks. The album features scratching and [beat-boxing] by fellow members of TNC and is overlaid with German-language vocals that provide an abstract narrative to further embellish the dream-like, somewhat dystopian nature of the album," Village Live Records' Die Berlin Dateien Vinyl + Cassette Tape product description reads. AVER AKA Joey Average AKA Joe Mills is one of the producer-emcees behind Manchester-based THE NATURAL CURRICULUM, along with emcee Bill Sykes, rapper-producer Chalk, DJ-producer Omas, beat-boxer Jam, DJ El Statiko, and (sometimes member) DJ Ink. It's currently unclear which of Joey Average's fellow THE NATURAL CURRICULUM'ers are featured "scratching and [beat-boxing]" through out Die Berlin Dateien, but Village Live says orders will likely start shipping around 24/07/17.

AVER and I last spoke around the time he released January's similarly-minded INSTRUMENTALS.3, which he then described as "a collection of ideas I was experimenting with in 2016 that don't quite fit into a bigger instrumental project I am currently working on (you could say they are the off-cuts, I guess!)" It now appears as though this "bigger instrumental project" AVER casually mentioned is his first label-released album, Die Berlin Dateien. As of just yesterday—Monday, July 17th, 2017—Die Berlin Dateien is currently available for pre-order in a number of limited edition formats: 300 vinyl LP's, 50 cassettes, 1 now-sold out white label test pressing, and digital album download. Village Live Records have uploaded a few multi-media album teasers including THE NATURAL CURRICULUM DJ Omas' 14-minute "Die Berlin Dateien Promo Mix," Ja-a-mes-directed Die Berlin Dateien (Official Trailer,) and Facebook-shared "one-off Test Pressing" teaser clip tagged #Aver, #DieBerlinDateien, #Testpressing, #Hiphop, #Triphop.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Witzard Premier & Vinyl Review: Blacksonny & Red Datsun's "Tourniquet"/"Container Store" & "Korean Tacos" Split 7-inch (Persistence of Sound)

"The musicians in both Blacksonny and Red Datsun are all part of our collective of creative friends that fall under the Riding Mower Records umbrella. For example, Joel [Bernardo], who plays bass in Blacksonny is also P.I.C.'s bass player, Eric [Gonzales], who plays keys in Red Datsun is P.I.C.'s keyboard player, I play bass in Red Datsun, but am the DJ for P.I.C. Dave Canton, who plays guitar in Red Datsun has played guitar in Blacksonny and has joined P.I.C. on stage on occasion, as well, etc. Riding Mower Records is the record label that was started by P.I.C. to release their own recordings, but also those of our talented friends. Blacksonny and Red Datsun have released albums on Riding Mower Records in the past. The "label" that this specific release is on is Persistence of Sound, which is my personal imprint and was done with the blessing of Riding Mower Records with both groups retaining all rights to music and artwork accordingly."

- Mas Yamagata (Red Datsun)

DRUNKEN MAN SIDE: A1 Blacksonny - "Tourniquet:"

I had accidentally set my record player on either 33 1/3 or 78RPM speed, as opposed to standard 45RPM speed (which is a fun little trick, if you haven't tried it before) and Blacksonny's split 7-inch lead-off track "Tourniquet" sounded a bit creepy, at first before properly adjusting the setting. "Jesus was a barrister; Jesus was all clad in furs," Blacksonny frontman Micah Valdes eerily exclaims about 30-seconds into "Tourniquet." It seems to be about either infidelity, addiction, etc. in a relationship and vaguely sounds a bit like The Mars Volta/At The Drive-In and has an early 2000's Punk/Brit Rock type feel.

Red Datsun bassist Mas Yamagata tells me he drove Blacksonny's guitarist John Ariz to Lakehouse Recording Studios one day to track some additional guitar parts and who did they bump into, but none other than Bouncing Souls guitarist Pete Steinkopf; Mas wasn't exactly sure how, but simply says John and Pete are "old music buddies" and Steinkopf would work a day or two a week, between his own projects, recording with Blacksonny & Red Datsun's buddy Eric Bennett. "Tourniquet" and Red Datsun's "Container Store" and "Korean Tacos" were all recorded and mixed by Eric Bennett, Dylan McLean, and Pete Steinkopf at Lakehouse Recording Studios in Asbury Park, NJ. Brief story about the cover artwork from Red Datsun's Mas: "The photo was taken by Micah (Blacksonny) when he was in Japan visiting family. Apparently, the man on the street was super-drunk and was picking a fight with a police officer, before he passed out. The bike is believed to be his. He's lucky cops in Japan don't carry guns."

BIKE SIDE: B1 Red Datsun - "Container Store:"

I was expecting Hiphopfunkpunkmamboska stylings because of (DJ) Mas' past work with P.I.C. and Sulu & Excelsior, but I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised with Red Datsun's "Bike Side." It's the perfect blend of American Punk/Indie Rock and is perfectly suited for 7-inch vinyl format. "Container Store" is fuzzed out, fast, jittery, intentionally "sloppy," and very Punk Rock. I'm reminded of Henry Rollins-era Black Flag (is there really any other era?) The Misfits, Iggy & The Stooges, The Sex Pistols, and Dischord Records. Red Datsun expertly employ that age-old Hardcore effect wherein the music itself sounds like it's falling apart at the seams, as well as chug-a-lug bass. Arctic Monkeys-esque spiraling/wailing guitar riffs are heard within "Container Store"'s outro, before it abruptly stops. Although, before you know it, the needle goes right into Track #B2.

BIKE SIDE: B2 Red Datsun - "Korean Tacos:"

Little less fast-paced and frantic right from the intro, when compared against B1 "Container Store." It's very guitar-heavy with a crunchy guitar/bass/drums combo, slight Electronic noise, and a bit of twang is sensed in frontman David Miller's shouted vocals. "Korean Tacos" embodies more of a modern Hard Rock-type feel reminiscent of Queens of The Stone Age, Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, and Arctic Monkeys. Miller's "let's go commit a crime, as the midnight washes past us..." refrain is a bit reminiscent of either Iggy Pop or Stones frontman Mick Jagger. Bassist and Persistence of Sound founder Mas Yamagata tells me both sides of Blacksonny/Red Datsun's split 7-inch were ripped directly to audio MP3's and digitized into what you're now hearing on Bandcamp, which is why you can almost hear the vinyl arm click "OFF" at the end of Side B. Now, my only complaint would be that Blacksonny/Red Datsun's split 7-inch is extremely TOO SHORT and leaves me wanting more from both groups (but I guess that really isn't a bad "complaint!")

Leandro Gonzalez at Kenilworth, NJ-based Stereodisk pressed up a limited-run of 60 white label "show records" just in time for a December 2016 Red Datsun & Blacksonny gig, which we'll just call a "soft release" of their split 7-inch. Now, today, on this glorious Monday morning, I'm proud to present to you... the landmark second pressing of Blacksonny/Red Datsun's split 7-inch now available for purchase on Red Datsun's Bandcamp. There are a total of 500 records pressed at Stereodisk with what Mas Yamagata describes as "tons of variants; small hole, big hole, red vinyl, black vinyl, white label, official label, black and red vinyl swirls." Mas and his fellow Red Datsun/Blacksonny bandmates have recently been sending their split 7-inch around to members of the press, like myself, and now, you, the consumer, are also able to bask in the stereophonic glory that is "Tourniquet," "Container Store," and "Korean Tacos" for an extremely reasonable $5 price tag.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Philly DJ & Producer DJ Apt One Unleashes Amy Douglas, Bosq & DJ Bruce-assisted Neo-Disco EP Under "Latest & Greatest Pseudonym," Michael The Lion (Soul Clap Records)

"When Rap Dads collide, their Rap Sons win. Shouts to @djaptone and his boy! And shouts to Uncle @curlycastro in the background playing free safety on defense with my son running wild!" Career Crook Stevie Z. (@zillarocca) posted on his Instagram 5 DAYS AGO following an apparent chance meeting with fellow "Rap Dad" DJ Apt One AKA Michael The Lion and his son in West Philly's own Clark Park. I promptly Followed and reached out to DJ Apt One, figuring any friend of Zilla Rocca's was an instant friend of mine; @djaptone seemingly shared the same kind of sentiment, simply Tweeting back "a friend of Zilla's is a friend of mine. I'd be happy to talk about it." He was of course, referring to his upcoming debut as Michael The Lion, by way of aptly-titled Michael The Lion EP on Soul Clap Records. Michael Fichman AKA DJ Apt One has shared stages with "some of the best talents of this generation," including Diplo, Spank Rock, Wale, Dillon Francis, Peanut Butter Wolf, De La Soul, RJD2, The Budos Band, The Flaming Lips, Flosstradamus, and more and is the Founder and Executive of Young Robot Records. Michael The Lion's Michael The Lion EP is now available for purchase in a number of formats including shiny black Record/Vinyl and 5-track Digital Album; depending on preferred format, Michael The Lion EP consists of 4-5 tracks, an Earth-shattering vocal assist from Amy Douglas, "Get It On" (Bosq Remix) and a pair of digital-only DJ Bruce remixes. @bosqmusic told me over Twitter that he "played lots of instruments under Amy's killer vocals and it was fun!" I was lucky enough to attain additional statements from Michael The Lion himself and modern day Disco Diva Amy Douglas, which can both be read in full down below. Michael The Lion EP is now available digitally and on 12-inch from Soul Clap Records.

"The Michael The Lion project is the culmination of years of tinkering with classic Dance music sounds—adding live instruments and voice to the kind of production techniques I learned as a Hip-Hop producer and as a producer of DJ-friendly edits—kind of a Stetsasonic-type approach. I try to take the composition and textures of Disco and bring them into a modern context and let some gravity, soul, and positivity seep back onto the dancefloor. I'm aided greatly by Amy Douglas, who provides some amazing vocals on this record. The artwork by Rick Gabriele and the [total] package put together by Soul Clap [Records] are really first-rate and a great tribute to what we think has been lost in the digital age: a real piece of art for your eyes, not just your ears."

- Michael The Lion (AKA DJ Apt One)

"I get the opportunity to sing for a variety of different people; sometimes, these unions produce projects (mostly notably Peach Melba, which I do with Juan Maclean (DFA [Records]) but often, I'm hired to do very "stock" things that don't always let me go "all the way there," as a writer and a vocalist. Working with Michael is rewarding because we have such a similar vision in what we want "Disco" conceptually to be, retaining the great hooks and song-writing of the classics, but presented in a modern context. I really love being a part of this project. Plus, Bosq and DJ Bruce, they destroyed those remixes!"

- Amy Douglas (FEINTS Frontwoman)

"NO REST FOR THE WRETCHED:" Third Sight Emcee Roughneck Jihad Shares 3-track The Wretched of The Verse Playlist Sampler (Track-By-Track Breakdown)

It would appear as though, after tracing back through a number of rather clumsily chronicled Twitter DM's, tongue-in-cheek Replies, countless @'s, and emailed transmissions that I first met Third Sight emcee Juan Betts AKA Roughneck Jihad (@roughneckjihad) through Twitter personality and sometimes Rap critic Elmattic (@thisiselmattic.) While he still might be a relatively unknown "underground emcee," Jihad—formerly known as Jihad The Roughneck MC—has been spittin' fresh rhymes since high school, 1988; over the years, he's formed countless Hip-Hop crews including Un Cut Poets, Third Sight with DJ Du Funk, Smooth Tone, and D-Styles, The Incredible Torture Show (T.I.T.S.) with Trailer Trasher & Maestro Gamin, The Language Mechanics with Insomniac & Raggedy Andy, The Tarantula Brothers with Du Funk, Disco Sinisto with Turin, Italy-based producer IL Torsolo, newly-formed Echoes of Oratory Music, The Darc Bros. and currently runs label imprint Disgruntled Sounds. There's also a vinyl and cassette re-release of Third Sight's 2016 Orchids & Corpses compilation album originally recorded to 4-track between 1993-96 scheduled for this upcoming September.

Aside from his forthcoming second solo album, The Wretched of The Verse (A Microphone Murderer's Extended-play Response to Unabridged Wackness In Hip-Hop Music Today) Roughneck Jihad is currently working on anywhere from 8-10 additional projects with a wide array of beat-minded collaborators including, but not limited to those listed above. Just this past week, he uploaded a "3-track playlist sampler of The Wretched to hold you over until the official release of the 12-track album on digital, cassette, and vinyl next month [August]!" I've heard two versions of Roughneck Jihad's The Wretched of The Verse through various stages of completion and I can assure you, it's one Hell of a single-emcee Hip-Hop album! Jihad collected hard-as-nails beats from the likes of A-Bomb, Pryvet Peep Sho, Waxsmith, Frank John James, and BOOKS1. I would say The Wretched is stylistically reminiscent of Sean Price's Mic Tyson, Madlib & DOOM's MADVILLAINY, Wu-Tang Clan, and DOOM's Danger Mouse-produced [adult swim]-themed THE MOUSE AND THE MASK. Roughneck Jihad was gracious enough to offer up some EXCLUSIVE insight behind the tracks contained on his 3-song The Wretched sampler: "Blowhard" (Remix,) "H.O.M.D." AKA "Hands Off!!! (My D*ck,)" and "(I'ma) Smoke This Joint."

"'Blowhard" (Remix) is a diss song against bloviating conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Dennis Prager, Bill O’Reilly, Alan Dershowitz, and Sean Hannity. I take a unique approach to the diss by becoming the loud-mouth villain "Hurricane Harry Scrotum." This is the device I use to demonstrate and criticize fire-brand conservative righty talkers. Adding a little levity to the current political discourse that is so toxic in the process. Many emcees go after each other for one reason or another, but I choose a non-traditional target for Hip-Hop criticism providing a soundscape for my diatribe against these kinds of right wing talkers. [Pryvet] Peepsho provided the fresh beat an a vehicle for this critique. Originally, the songs he added to this album were ear-marked for a project we named 2-Dimensional Projection, but we ended up breaking that LP up and using five tracks from there on The Wretched [of The Verse].

"Blowhard" (Remix) Credits: Beat Production By Pryvet Peepsho, Mixed By Jerry D, Mastered By Steven Glaze at Tone Freq Studios, and Lyrics Written & Performed By Roughneck Jihad."

"'H.O.M.D." AKA "Hands Off!!! (My D*ck)" is a love poem to and about Hip-Hop. I open the song as if I am speaking to a lady I love, telling her that I am the best suitor. Waxsmith provided the dope track and some relevant cuts that add to the mix. The whole thing is underlined by live bass from The Dubulator.

"H.O.M.D." AKA "Hands Off!!! (My D*ck)" Credits: Beat Production & Cuts By Waxsmith, Mixed By Jerry D, Mastered By Steven Glaze at Tone Freq Studios, Bass Guitar By Dubulator, and Lyrics Written & Performed By Roughneck Jihad."

"'(I'ma) Smoke This Joint" is similar in emphasis to [Kendrick Lamar's] "B*tch, Don’t Kill My Vibe." I’m trying to communicate that certain things upset me and take me out of my zone. For instance, things like ignorance, stupidity, conspicuous consumption, love of money materialism, exploitation, and anti-blackness are a drag to me. So, in order to transcend the negative energies I often encounter, I self-medicate with medical marijuana. Of course, sprinkled in the mix are my wit and a little braggadocio, which are par for the course. All of this is layered over cuts and a dope track by Waxsmith, my Bay Area brother in the struggle.

"(I'ma) Smoke This Joint" Credits: Beat Production & Cuts By Waxsmith, Mixed By Jerry D, Mastered By Steven Glaze at Tone Freq Studios, and Lyrics Written & Performed By Roughneck Jihad."

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"LISTEN ALL Y'ALL, IT'S A... SESAMETAGE:" Beastie Boys "Sabotage" x Sesame Street Mash-up Edited & Created By: Adam Schleichkorn (Mylo The Cat AKA isthishowyougoviral)

"I'm available to edit all sorts of videos and create all sorts of content. I'm also available for interviews, shenanigans, or if you just need a friend -," reads part of the YouTube description for OutKast | "Ms. Jackson" | Muppets Version. Needless to say, after witnessing the sheer greatness that is Beastie Boys | "Sabotage" | Sesame Street Mashup on both Stereogum and NPR Music late last week, I quickly reached out to Mylo The Cat AKA isthishowyougoviral AKA Adam Schleichkorn just for sh*ts and giggles, thinking he most likely, wouldn't write back... but before day's end, Adam had already responded back to my email thanking me for contacting him and adding that "most websites just crank out articles" and generally, don't bother to reach out. From what I can piece together from the shattered shards scattered across The Internet, Adam Schleichkorn's storied history with "going viral" started back in 2006 on an unspecified YouTube channel wherein Schleichkorn was a "YouTube Partner" and readily admits he "got a little too caught up in generating views for ad revenue, which made my content suffer."

Soon after, Adam went on to form Hidden Track TV, which birthed Mylo The Cat AKA The Coolest Cat On The Internet and before too long, garnered wide-spread acclaim and featured appearances on 20/20, FOXNews, The Jimmy Kimmel Show, The Tom Green Show, ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, Extra!, and The Maury Povich Show. Adam Schleichkorn now runs a new, similarly-minded channel fittingly titled isthishowyougoviral and posts edited videos and content commonly referred to as either "Muppets Rapping" or "Muppet Mash-ups" videos. He's single-handedly created such side-splitting and meme-worthy content as Naughty By Nature | "Hip-Hop Hooray" | Muppets Version, Digital Underground | "The Humpty Dance" | Muppets Version, ODB | "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" | Muppets Version, Warren G-approved "Regulate" | Sesame Street Version, and Kendrick Lamar | "Swimming Pools (Drank)" | Rick and Morty Mashup. I'll just let Adam Schleichkorn take it from here:

"No prob. So, about three years ago, I created a Muppets/Beastie Boys mash-up that was my first "modern-day" viral video. People have literally been requesting another Beasties track since then, but I wanted to wait 'til I had an idea that could potentially top the original. The music video for "Sabotage" was always my favorite of all time. I remember being absolutely blown away when I first saw it on MTV all those years ago and it truly stands the test of time, as I still think it's incredible.

For a Beastie Boys song, though, it's very different from the others. Only one of the guys is rapping throughout, so I felt that a traditional lip-sync mash-up wasn't going to cut it. I also held off for years because that original was just so damn good. Once I came up with the idea to use clips from Follow That Bird, I was comfortable enough to attempt it. I knew it wasn't going to be an exact shot-by-shot re-make, but there are a bunch of scenes that align very closely with the original video."

- Adam Schleichkorn (Hidden Track TV)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sulu & Excelsior Frontman, Multi-instrumentalist, Producer & Director Steve "Sulu" Mallorca's Latest Chapter from Eddie Romero Visual Album "MISERY LUV" (The Witzard Interview 1.5)

"Here's another excerpt from the Sulu & Excelsior visual album and what will probably be the next official music video we'll be releasing (we still have to shoot a set-up.) Enjoy this clip of "Misery Luv," which I directed and shot along with @jbsankara - This vid took some serious digging in the Super 8 crates of my pops, who is also featured in this video, as well as a slew of family," @suluandexcelsior wrote on his Instagram back on MARCH 31. I'll never forget, when I first met Sulu & Excelsior frontman Steve "Sulu" Mallorca back in Nov. 2016, he described his rather unique Hiphopfunkpunkmamboska blend of music as "Johnny Mathis meets Mos Def meets Stevie Wonder meets Nat King Cole" and it's stuck with me ever since! Sulu & Excelsior's instantly catchy, foot-stompin' debut Eddie Romero was entirely "Produced, Arranged, Composed & Performed by Steven E. Mallorca."

Thanks to an introduction by Jamison Harvey AKA DJ Prestige at Flea Market Funk, I've been along for nearly the entire Eddie Romero "visual album" roll-up, so far; I featured lead video-single "Up to You" here on The Witzard, interviewed Sulu himself and premiered "Dam Foo's," and ranked Eddie Romero at #7 on The Witzard's Best of 2016 Countdown. Now, I'm ecstatic to be able to showcase Chapter III in Sulu & Excelsior's Eddie Romero "visual album," GhettoBlaster-premiered "Misery Luv." Steve Mallorca and I exchanged a number of texts, emails, and phone calls and collectively decided to take a bit of a new approach on his latest "Misery Luv" short film and attempt to really delve deep and get into the nitty gritty behind his creative concept and over-arching family/visual album narrative; without further ado, please feel free to jump head first into our comprehensive "Misery Luv" interview below, pick up a digital copy of Eddie Romero, and keep an eye out for Sulu & Excelsior's upcoming John Wong-designed Eddie Romero vinyl LP re-issue.


Your Hip-Hop Purveyor
Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz

I. How does the Super 8 footage, assorted film stills, and additional mixed-media used throughout "Misery Luv" and its like-minded predecessors "Dam Foo's" and "Up to You" correlate to Eddie Romero's forthcoming John Wong-designed vinyl re-issue packaging, as well as full-length "visual album?"

First and foremost, the album cover of Eddie Romero (both digital and the forthcoming LP) is an actual photo of my dad and his friend back in the day, listening to a record. That image already speaks volumes about the visual and audio style of album. We're in the design phase of the LP right now and the liner notes and sleeves continue in this same direction, so we always had this kind of visual in mind. But ultimately, this album was born out of a visual medium—I wrote the songs for a feature film that I was planning to produce and some of the songs even had specific places in the film already assigned to them (the first single, "UP TO YOU" would be the opening credits sequence and "MISERY LUV" would actually end the film.) Not saying that this feature film won't happen, but once these songs became their own stand-alone music project, they started to develop their own visual identity apart from my screenplay.

That said, Eddie Romero the album, has a Sci-Fi time travel element—it blends different eras of music and vocal styles, as well as references to films and film-making from different decades. I wanted to translate that audio theme into a visual theme and that's what you've seen in the first phase of the visual album. "Up to You" into "Dam Foo's" into "Misery Luv" all play with variations of "old movies;" with these first three videos, the old footage evolves from a fun vintage television performance in "Up to You," to a nod to pulpy late night television movies in "Dam Foo's," and finally, to "Misery Luv," where it flips everything and becomes a really very personal music video with actual footage from my family in the Philippines and 1970's Chicago inter-cut with my family now in NYC. And the current footage is the first time we step away from the old school 3:4 aspect ratio and see shots in the current standard 16x9 aspect ratio. So, it kind of wraps these first three songs as their own chapter of the visual album.

II. Now, I know they're not really a part of "Misery Luv'"s over-arching narrative... but would you care to speak a little bit on the Sulu & Excelsior full-band in-studio performance footage flashes from around 1:15-3:02, and interspersed throughout?

Obviously, this video is about family and the band shots are really a part of the NYC family representation. While I played everything on the album, these guys are what make the live show possible and they add a whole other element to the show. In addition, most of the guys in [Sulu &] Excelsior are my brethren from my OG mothership band, P.I.C. and P.I.C. is truly family.

III. Steve, who exactly is the older woman dancing within the archival footage between about 2:02-2:30 of "Misery Luv?" It's really such a fun-loving, charismatic scene!

It's basically the Philippines section where we introduce the Super 8 footage from my first trip to the Philippines as an infant. It features a montage of shots from different locations in the Philippines from Manila to my mother's hometown of Agoo La Union, to shots of the mountain city of Baguio. I love that shot of the dancing woman—it's actually a shot of my lola (grandmother) with her sisters and cousins. The one actually dancing isn't my actual grandmother, but her sister. Actually, in the quick cut preceding the dancing shot, you can see Baby Sulu with all the lolas!

IV. How about section 3:40 to roughly 4:00, what's happening here, Steve? It appears as though we're seeing three generations of sharply-dressed Mallorca men interacting and thoroughly enjoying themselves!

It's exactly that! This is the section of the video where everything ties together and brings it to the next generation. First, you see me in the hallway, then my pops joins in, then my two sons join us and we're out the door. I wanted it to be like the kinda typical Hip-Hop "walking with my crew" shot, but with my crew being my dad and sons. The other element here is where the boys take turns filming with the Super 8 camera and they're filming either me rapping or one of them rapping. This inter-cuts with footage of Young Sulu gripping that same microphone back in the day. So, timelines all start blurring, at this point and to make it even more blurry... my older son who is rapping in the shot, looks exactly like me, when I was a kid. We had a blast filming this section and the boys pulled out some moves!

V. Now, would you care to speak a bit on the props used throughout "Misery Luv," Steve? I believe you previously mentioned the stereo, head phones, Super 8 camera, mic, etc. had all belonged to your dad and appear within both the old archival and newly-filmed footage, correct? Sweet idea!

Luckily, my dad is a pack rat and ultra-practical—he doesn't discard technology, if it works. And being an engineer, mostly everything still works! So, the Fisher 125 you see him listening to in the current footage is the same exact stereo you see in the old Super 8 footage. The headphones that my dad and I wear throughout the video, are the same exact pair of headphones that my dad listened to back in the 70's. And to get ultra-layered with it, the Super 8 film camera that you see my sons filming with is the exact camera that my dad and mom used to shoot all the old Super 8 footage. The microphone you see attached to that Super 8 camera is the exact microphone that you see my baby self speaking into back in the day. Obviously, I was extremely lucky that my dad kept all this stuff in good condition—beyond enhancing the theme of the video, they were just so cool looking and added a lot of production value!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Jonti, Steve Lacy Director Daniel O'Toole AKA Captain Earwax/EARS Readies Electronic-Ambient Album Delicate Empires (The Witzard Interview)

"'Delicate Empires is about the fragility of power and looks to the story of Genghis Khan for inspiration. Genghis saw the weakness in a way of life that was removed from nature and confined by stone walls and governed by greed, the rise of the Mongol Empire was enabled by this realisation," reads part of a statement I recently received from Daniel O'Toole AKA Captain Earwax AKA EARS. O'Toole is an Australian-based multi-disciplinary artist who over the course of the last decade, has done work as a street artist, curator, gallery operator, esteemed painter, musician, and music video director. I actually met Daniel O'Toole because of one of his latest collaborations, Jonti & Steve Lacy's "Scrood," which was the basis of this very interview in its infantile stages; little did I know, EARS was a world-renown graffiti artist and multi-instrumentalist readying his latest full-length album as Captain Earwax, Delicate Empires. An esteemed musician in his own right, Daniel O'Toole has released two albums, Red Silhouttes (2012) and Porcelain Giants (2014), and EP's Floating Tokyo and Blue Temple, as well as a number of projects with fellow Aussie and audio engineer Jack Prest as Flight Recorder.

"On Delicate Empires, Captain Earwax blends his passion for nature and Earthly sounds with playful and emotive melodies, intricate percussion and crunchy textures. Delicately-weaved together with a varied, yet cohesive range of tracks—some which feature vocals from Jonti, Lou Millar, and Amy Kisnorbo—while others focus on unique instrumentation such as the title track which features the "morin khuur," or Mongolian horsehead fiddle, played by Sydney-based Mongolian musician Bukhu. What’s most notable about this album, though, is its accomplishment as a seamlessly-crafted long-player, a format that is becoming somewhat of a rare gem in today’s landscape of streaming services and playlists created by algorithms," Fifty Records' press release continues. Daniel "Captain Earwax" O'Toole's third album, Delicate Empires is currently available for pre-order on limited edition 12-inch vinyl and digital album formats. Ahead of Delicate Empires' Monday 8/14 release on Australian-based Fifty Records, Daniel O'Toole and label head Casey van Reyk have unleashed not just one, but two singles from the forthcoming album: Amy Kisnorbo-featuring "Black Rainbows" and "Vortex." Please feel free to turn on a few Captain Earwax jams, delve into my rather in-depth 10-question interview with Daniel O'Toole down below, and pre-order a vinyl or digital copy of Delicate Empires from Fifty Records!

I. How did you first manage to get in touch with fellow Aussie Jonti to ultimately film the music video for Steve Lacy-assisted "Scrood" from his upcoming Stones Throw album?

I had met Jonti going to the movies and watching that recent Tarantino film The Hateful Eight, he was part of a group of friends I went with being that mate Jack Prest had been working on the record with him doing the mixes. I had loved Jonti's music already, since I first heard Twirligig and was quietly stoked to meet him. I ended up going to some gigs he played with The Midnight Mutants and hanging with him a few times before I had the idea to do a film clip for him and mentioned to Jack P. over a coffee how much I would love to do a clip for him. Jack was like, "just hit him up, dude. He would probably be down and it's good timing with the record just about finished." So, I messaged [Jonti] and showed him a few previous [videos] I had done, like the Little May clip for the song "Remind Me," which it turns out, Jonti had already seen and loved. So, it was quite serendipitous, in a way.

II. Would you care to briefly explain (in laymen's terms) the various distortion effects, double exposure, and various camera trickery employed throughout "Scrood" to give it its utterly unique finished look?

Sure. I discovered a process through playing around with the materials I had in the studio, whereby I lay a mirror on the floor and then, layer a piece of transparent blue plastic over the top. I film the reflection of the subject in the mirror and the separation between the mirror and the plastic is what creates a splitting of the image or a double exposure-type effect. I sort of warble the plastic with my hand and this allows some rhythmic effects to fit with the music since I can sort of perform the distortions and ripples in real-time, while the track is playing and it looks a bit like tricky editing, but it's super-analogue.

III. What exactly was the filming and eventual editing process like for "Scrood?" It looks like you really filmed a plethora or material and then, had to meticulously layer it together to create the final product?

Yeah, I do a lot of gathering of imagery; filming things on my phone and using that as a texture layer, shooting stuff on the GoPro, using the 5D for some of it. It's a real mixed bag. I did some painting on bleached Super 8 film and projected it on my bedroom wall and re-filmed that for texture layers... loads of experimenting and playing with textures and colours.

IV. What type of assorted releases, if any, do you currently have lined up to be released on your online record label, Free The Beats this Spring/Summer?

I'm actually looking to release my next album with a different label. I never really looked at Free The Beats as a full-fledged label. It's more of a compilation series and has been a place to put some music that my close friends and I are making, but ideally, I would love to have a label behind me. So, lately, it's been all about sending the record to people and trying to find where it fits. My manager, John Macliver and I are pretty keen on [Australian label] Fifty Records. Casey van Reyk, who runs it, is super-cool and passionate about what she is doing. It's a vinyl-focused label and they push quite a lot of Underground Hip-Hop from The States, which is virtually unheard of for an Indie label in Australia. Generally, the labels here are focused on local artists, for obvious reasons, but I'm digging the idea of getting beyond Australia and collaborating with musicians/rappers/vocalists overseas. Fifty Records' most recent release was a split record with two rappers, Leaf Erikson & AC Pull [with producer dakim,] called momentum / unannounced. And at the moment, I'm making a bunch of beats to send over those guys [to] see if they would be interested in a collaboration.

V. What would you care to share, at this current point in time, concerning your forthcoming Captain Earwax solo album, Delicate Empires? I know you previously mentioned to me that Jonti, Louise Millar, mastering engineer Jack Prest, and Sydney-based Mongolian musician Bukhu were all involved and you were additionally working on a companion film consisting of footage shot on 8mm film while visiting Mongolia.

Yeah. So, "Captain Earwax" is the name I will be releasing under from now on. I have released under "EARS" for all the other stuff, but that name is more from my work on the streets and as a street artist, it was a quirky name... but in a music context, it's less so and there are two other artists on Spotify that use the name, so it was time to change it up. Delicate Empires should be out by the end of August; the single, "Black Rainbows" features UK-born/Australian-based vocalist Amy Kisnorbo and will be out next month. The record is quite influenced by my travels in Japan and Mongolia and my interest in foreign instruments from unique cultures. It's sort of a floating, glitchy, Ambient, Psych, Hip-Hop thing. The album was mastered by Jack Prest (same guy who mastered and mixed Jonti's new record) and yeah, I was lucky enough to work with Jonti on a track and am excited to get the whole thing out on vinyl soon! The album artwork has been done by Kit Bennett, a Melbourne-based artist doing really fresh illustration stuff, at the moment and I have had some really fun and surreal press shots done by Nicole Reed, who is an insanely talented photographer from Melbourne.

VI. What can you potentially tell me about your Drumsmuggler site, which will "showcase the sound of local [Sydney-based] producers and sell their sample packs?" Who are some of the artists currently signed up to be involved within this unique initiative?

Drumsmuggler is a project I'm working on to showcase sound packs of mostly local artists, Australian producers, who I am connected to that are doing super-interesting stuff. So far, I have Kid Fiction, Jack Prest , Jonti, Mohi, Monkfly, Patches, Elbee, and Kho. The idea is to profile the artists and have some links to their music and I am making videos with the artists, etc. It's just another way that we can make some passive income on the side of all the other creative stuff we do.

VII. Now, do you currently have any additional projects planned with either Jonti or any of his fellow Midnight Mutants bandmates?

I'm planning to do some photographic portraits on 35mm film in a similar style to the imagery of the film clip we did, so that there is some documentation of that project, since you can't print the 72 DPI video still. I feel like it will be nice for both of us to just have those photos for keepsake, later on down the [line].

VIII. What are some of your favorite current listenings (aside from your own material and Jonti's as-yet unreleased Stones Throw album) which my readers and myself might not yet be familiar with?

Really enjoying Allysha Joy from Melbourne. She is on a Neo-Soul sort of tip similar to Hiatus Kaiote. I just bought her recent 7-inch, which is exciting; been enjoying the recent Plutonic Lab album, Deep Above The Noise, too. He did a track with Guilty Simpson, which is pretty tight, but yeah, the whole record is dope.

IX. I know that in addition to your various musical and cinematic endeavors, you're also an extremely talented artist and painter... do you have any type of shows, gallery exhibits, etc. coming up any time soon?

Haha yeah, thanks, man. I'm juggling a few things, HEY. I have just had a solo show in Melbourne, which went really well and I'm doing a solo show June 22nd in Sydney at Stacks Projects. Quite a lot planned this year, various exhibitions, and in September, I'm planning to go over to France for a two-month artist residency in Lyon.

X. What else are you currently working on or reading for release that I may have neglected to previously mention—be it music, film, art, etc.—that you may want to promote within this very space, Dan?

I'm working on an EP with Amy Kisnorbo, since the recent track we did went so well and hopefully, put that out early next year. I'm doing a film clip for Kid Fiction later this month and I have just finished a film clip for a local rapper, Rapaport, who runs a label called Big Village Records, which will be out within the next week!