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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Pan Amsterdam Speaks On Working with Iggy Pop, Malik Ameer Crumpler & Open Mike Eagle for Elevator Music Vol. 1 EP (The Witzard Interview)


"Surreal, absurd, abstract, shot through with a E.E. Cummings sense of the vibrant and a Le Guin style comic abstruseness." - The Wire

"If it was already written, well, then, shall I not have scorn / A Jazz musician died and Pan Am was born," Leron Thomas / Pan Amsterdam

"One of the best horn players around today. [He] realizes the imperative to be more than just a horn player," Iggy Pop.

"Elevator Music Vol. 1 marks the first in a three-part series of EP's, which will be released this year. In this installment, we have collabs with Open Mike Eagle & Iggy Pop! Not one for keeping things predictable or even sensical, Pan Amsterdam plans to drop three very different projects this year, all under the banner of "Elevator Music." There will be more surprises to follow, as this plays out..."

- Def Pressé Press Release (@DefPresse)



I. How did you first meet The Godfather of Punk himself, Iggy Pop? What, then, made you two decide to record "Mobile" together?

I met Iggy through a very trusted friend and music critic, Ben Ratliff. Ben had been writing me up in The [New York] Times for years. He really has a good understanding on what it is that I do. So, NYC got too heavy and I thought that I was going to leave, due to financial constraints, after my girlfriend left. I decided to hit Ben up and meet at a bar and have a decent sit-down and talk. My initial intentions were to just thank him for writing [about] me throughout the years and supporting what I did because I was about to straight up disappear, Jack.

Through another great friend, I was able to not only stay afloat with my rent financially, but also, finance my next projects. Don't want this person to be hit up by too many other starving artists, so we'll just call them "Special K." One of the projects was a character that I was developing called Pan Amsterdam. Ben Ratliff gave it to Iggy Pop. Iggy, thank goodness. really dug it and featured the track "Plus One" on his BBC Radio 6 Music show, Iggy Confidential. From there, I was hooked up with airplay on BBC6. Also, a label my friend Malik was on, took me in, as well: Def Pressé. After that, I became really cool with Iggy and we started hacking away at many musical ideas. One of them that just came out, happens to be "Mobile."


II. Iggy Pop once went as far as to call you, and I quote: "one of the best horn players around today..." Now, are you a fan of his music, as well? If so, what might you cite as a few of your personal favorite releases from throughout Iggy's rather expansive catalog?

Man, I really appreciate that he said that! Yeah, I am definitely a fan of his music. It's really hip to hear the echos of Jim Morrison on his early songs like "Gimme Danger" on the album Raw Power (1973) with The Stooges or even "The Passenger" on the Lust for Life (1977) album. And then, he goes from there to a world like "Bang Bang" on his PARTY (1981) album. Man, if you've ever seen that video, I love it. Prince totally copped Iggy's vibe in Purple Rain from that "Bang Bang" video. I tried to bring the Prince thing to Iggy's attention one day and he didn't even dwell on it for 15 seconds; just went back to talking about the present musical task at hand.

That's how humble and focused he is in art. He's totally always pushing forward. If you listen to [Jamie Saft, Steve Swallow & Bobby Previte]'s 2017 album, Loneliness Road [with Iggy Pop] you get this total crooner side of him with the dopest edge. My favorite is "Don't Lose Yourself." I really dig that track because that's totally a part of Iggy's vibe. He'll laugh and joke with you, but be careful, he's studying the absolute f**k out of you. There are many more I dig, too, but we'll be here for a while, but just know... yeah, man, I'm definitely a fan!


III. In addition to Open Mike Eagle, Iggy Pop & Madison Washington's Malik Ameer Crumpler, who else is set to appear on your upcoming Elevator Music, Vol. 1 EP?

There's my French band. A really dope band to perform and record with. I hope life will never throw them off from the energy they create as a group. I'm gonna go 'head and say their names and instruments: you've got Greg F. on guitar, Florian Pellissier on keys and sounds, Kenny Ruby on bass, keys, and sounds, and then, Tibo Bandalise on drums. You ever hear these super-bands that get put together and they just don't gel live? Well that ain't the case here with these guys and you'll hear that on a song we produced as a collective on the track called "Bobcat."

It's supposed to be the track that I come out of amnesia and realize who I am or some sh*t I wrote as a press release to give the press people a laugh that may have back-fired in my face, who the f**k knows... but the track is unapologetic in it's 12 minutes [in] length. I don't know what to think, as far as how the "gate-keepers" and "hip gate-keepers" might take it, but hey, we try to make the world a better place and no good deed goes unpunished.


IV. How was working with Iggy Pop, Open Mike Eagle & Malik Ameer Crumpler different than the recording process behind your 2018 Def Pressé EP, The Pocket Watch EP?

Oh yeah, that was totally different because on The Pocket Watch EP there was only one beat-maker. This one has different beat-makers including Mr.Shn & Leron Thomas for "Mobile" and Malik Crumpler for "15 Seconds." So, the vibe that's curated becomes immediately more left-field than what The Pocket Watch supporters would be used to. I was self-aware of that. I guess, we're a restaurant and not a fast-food chain. We'll try and create a drive-thru, window though. That's for damn sure!

V. Elevator Music, Vol. 1 is just the first in an ongoing 3-part EP series dropping throughout this year, correct? What exactly can we expect from Vols. 2-3?

Well, Pan Am will go to another direction and different projects, but Yves Sane Leron will pop up in the picture; that's Volume 2. I hope the Pan Am people will dig him. Then, Leron shows up in the third [volume]. I can't reveal too much on that because it'll spoil the sh*t.


VI. Any idea where the inspiration behind Iggy's "2 scratches, beef jerky, and a Powerball..." refrain come from? Also, how did trumpet player/producer Leron Thomas initially get involved with "Mobile?"

Iggy and I were trying to find an angle to this piece for a little while. I like how "dirty" the track is. The delayed fourth beat. It's "funky." I get a kick out of people rendezvousing in funky areas and not acknowledging the funk. Like subways, smelly water of water theme parks. We some funky-a$$ people sometimes, but my favorite is the gas station and truck stops. The funky oil smell. Using funky energy, instead, of clean energy, to fuel our funky vehicles, to go work a funky job. The funky prostitutes at truck stops and gas stations. The funky sausages baking out in the open for people to put their funky hands on and then, drop the sausage on the floor and put that one back on the machine and get another funky one. Yeah, well, we needed to shorten my funky outlook on it all, so that's how we came up with those lyrics.


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