Saturday, June 7, 2008

Atjazz interview

Martin Iveson has come a long way since he unleashed his Atjazz monker onto our ears through his own Mantis Imprint in 1996. He has since released two albums including the exceptional work ‘Labfunk’ in 2001 and he has recently released his third opus ‘Full Circle’, where he has collaborated with the mighty Robert Owens on tracks such as ‘Love Someone’, which has found favour with tastemakers the world over. He has recently started the Version project with dance music royalty Charles Webster and judging by the fruits of their labour over the past few years this is going to keep Martin at the very precipice of quality music for years to come. Martin Iveson is certainly someone who puts swing in all his music and his records invariably have kept me entertained on dancefloors the world over.

To read the interview click here.

Crue-L Grand Orchestra - Spend The Day Without You

This track is from the re-issue Crue-L Future Series that was released a few years back and is incredibly difficult to find now, and it is ridiculously expensive should you take the plunge as are most Japanese records. It is even harder to find if you want it off its original release The Crue-L Grand Orchestra I. The Crue-L Grand Orchestra has been around since the mid-90s laying down their traditional disco grooves juxtaposed with, at times, killer house beats. They've been remixed by everyone from Prins Thomas to Recloose to Harvey to the Idjut Boys but even once they've lent their touch to the tracks I always seem to stump for the originals as they are incredibly true to the blueprint put down by the likes of Arthur Russell, Leroy Burgess and the like. The late Mel Cheren famously said that house music was disco on a budget and when you listen to cuts like this you can't help but agree. Quality stuff.

Crue-L Grand Orchestra - Spend The Day Without You

Friday, June 6, 2008

Howard Johnson - Say You Wanna - James Pants re-edit

James Pants gets ahold of a track by Howard Johnson, who is probably best known for his collaborations with the likes of Charles Mingus, Hank Crawford, and Archie Shep, and what James has done is throw in his own electro-flavored twist to the disco flavour for a reworking that could find favour with the hip hop heads and the boogie obsessives. Be warned though, this will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Howard Johnson - Say You Wanna - James Pants re-edit

p.s. To read an interview that I did with James Pants why not click here? James has also released his new album Welcome, which you can buy from here - it's well worth the money and is easily one of my picks for 2008.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ryan Hunn : The Follow-up

I've interviewed Ryan three times now; once for Basic Soul, which you can read here and he did the One Hundred Project, which you can read here, and the reason why I keep on coming back to Ryan is the fact that he is never one to stagnate, he's always got something on the go that needs to reach a wider audience. I learnt a lot about DJing and record collecting during our many conversations out and about and he's definitely one of my DJ heroes - if you can find his September mix from a year or two ago then your ears will be rewarded. There are some exciting developments in the coming weeks for Ryan and as soon as they're confirmed I'll let you know. Big up to a true music man.

What does the name Hoya:Hoya mean?

It's Japanese for 'fresh'. Well, that is according to an internet Japanese translator! We had to hand over all the press to the Music Box and the deadline was 2pm. We were sat in Common, searching the internet for ideas at 1.50pm! We were typing in all kindsa stuff into a translator and one of the results for 'fresh' was 'hoya-hoya'. I loved it straight away, as did Barney, whereas Jon wasn't so keen. So we just replaced the dash with a colon and voila, 'hoya:hoya'!

Do you think Hoya: Hoya would work in London or New York? Why?

I reckon so. In theory, it should be able to work anywhere. However, we've only just started it, and we kinda capitalised on the Sketch City reputation to get people in. In London or New York we wouldn't have that reputation to capitalise on so it would be more difficult. I'm a believer that a good night would be able to work in the majority of places, as long as you tweak it slightly to better suit its surroundings.

What does the future hold for the night?

After the Daedelus and Mark Pritchard show in May we've taken a break for the summer, and we are actually relocating to The Roadhouse, where we start up again on September 27th. We really can't wait to get there!

What do you think of the new beats scene coming out of LA?

I'm really, really into it, although I wouldn't say that it's a 'new' scene. In my opinion (as an outsider) it's been around for years, but is just evolving, and the new 'generation' of this scene has started to get noticed quicker. We've been lucky enough to hook up with guys like Flying Lotus, Gaslamp Killer, Samiyam and Daedelus, who are all ridiculously gifted. FlyLo's album is gonna propel his career forward so much, Willie's (Gaslamp Killers) album's due, Sam's signed to Hyperdub, Daedelus' new album's out next week, I think, and they're all getting mad props, and rightly so. However, you've also got people like Daddy Kev, Kutmah, Sa-Ra, Poly, Ras G and Carlos Nino all heavily involved in that scene, it's crazy!

Daedelus has, without doubt, the best electronic live show I have ever, ever seen. It's like, truly mindblowing the first time you see it. I'd love to see him booked to play before someone like Soulwax, because I really think he could cross over into that market. All those guys fully deserve the success I hope they achieve.

When you're making a beat, describe your process.

It varies, to be honest. Sometimes I just mess around and come up with something that I reckon is a goer and it gets done really quickly. But, recently, I have been going over undeveloped ideas from like a year ago and finding it quite fun. However, it usual starts with my thinking of a killer riff or something, and then trying to get that down as soon as possible before forgetting it!

How has your music making ability/techniques changed in recent years?

Ummm...I think that I've just learned how to use my gear better. I haven't got the most advanced studio in the world, and it is still essentially a bedroom setup, but I've just learned how get the results that I want with the setup I've got. Also, about a year ago, I bought a load of hardware and that helped me heaps, as I much prefer the hands on approach that hardware offers as opposed to soft synths etc.

What are your ultimate aims for your productions?

Ultimately, I'd like to develop to the standard I want to get to in the various genres that I want to make. For example, at the moment, what I'm essentially making is hip-hop, but with a different feel. However, I've also dipped into making House, Techno, Dubstep and heaps of other stuff, but not to a standard that I'm happy with yet. But, one step at a time, eh?

Tell us about Sketch City's gallery Upper Space.

Well, obviously Sketch City is half art based and half music based. We (Jonny Dub, Barney Francis and I) built Upper Space, along with the help of some very good friends, to add more emphasis on the art side of things. It's the first street art gallery in the North West of England and is one of the biggest ones, space-wise, in the country. We've currently got an exhibition by Chris Drury, of Fingathing fame, which runs til the end of June. Barney's the main man in terms of gallery stuff. He's pulled out all the stops and lined up some killer shows that will be made public soon, he's proper got it locked. Check here for more info.

Are there any artists at the moment that are particularly impressing you?

Some of the artists who regularly paint at Sketch City are properly doing the business at the moment. I'm a bit reluctant to call them 'Sketch City' artists, as they are just residents at the night, but artists in their own rights. Bollops did an incredible piece at Eurocultured and all her stuff is super good. Guy McKinley's 'Dead Japanese Warrior Girls' are one of the best things I've seen, really feeling them right now. Eight-Bit, Mr. Gauky and Will Flawn have come up to paint loads recently and all dropped killer pieces at Hoya:Hoya in May. Apart from that, I'm really into people like James Roper, a local Manchester boy. Shit, there's loads of really incredible artists around, I feel a bit spoilt for seeing it as often as I do.

Sketch City has opened a branch in Australia, are there any other cities that you see the night happening in? Why?

Yes, there is now a Sketch City in Melbourne, run a by a girl called Rachel who used to come down when she was in Manchester. It's doing really well out there and has the key elements that what makes Sketch City, but with it's own take and personality. We hoping to start up in Sydney through the help of an artist we know out there, as well as Rachel's links. Hopefully, after that would be LA, as we've made good links with a lot of the music guys there. Then after than, New York, Tokyo, and even places like Rio, which has a killer graff scene. It's all gonna take time and a lot of hard work to do this, but I think the formula is pretty appealing and if it's done in the right way, and tweaked according to each climate, it can be as successful as Melbourne has been.

What makes a great DJ? What makes a great producer?

I'm not really sure, to be honest. When I think of all the DJs I consider great, they all have different styles, or play different music etc. Some are established but some are farely new to it y'know? In terms of great producers, I think consistency is the key. In my opinion, making one great tune doesn't make you a great producer. Also, just because you've put out 12 albums, doesn't make you a great producer, if the quality isn't there. When you think of Jay Dee, he had such a ridiculously high output and had an incredible range, whilst keeping his quality higher than most hip-hop producers. The same can be said for the likes of Axelrod, King Tubby and the Mizells, all of which I consider to be great producers. But, in all honesty, I'm not entirely sure if I'm qualified to answer such a question!

When you get artists such as Dabrye to come and play at your nights, do you ever seek out advice from them on your music? What sort of influence has he had on you?

Tadd's had a huge influence on me. When he was last over, he was here for five days, so we hung out and I played him some stuff, which was a big deal for me. He gave me feedback and also some real encouragement, which was ace. 'Two/Three' is one of my favourite ever hip-hop albums and I see him as an integral part of pushing the genre forward. I don't quite think people realise how important an artist he is and how unique he is. There's very few people that are so accomplished in so many genres as well as trying to keep these aliases very separate. He doesn't compromise on anything, music-wise. For example, he has stopped doing Dabrye live shows, because of the complexity of the new Dabrye stuff. However, this doesn't mean he will DJ as Dabrye, because he doesn't consider himself a hip-hop DJ and therefore only DJs as James T. Cotton. You've gotta respect that.

You've said that you'd like to go into the Live realm. How would you go about this? How important is the performance aspect to you?

I think it's really important to be honest. For example, if Daedelus or Lotus toured as DJs, I don't think their shows would be as good. Now, that's not dissing their music tastes, but it's just that their live shows are memorable. I think transforming and doing something live is just a bit more exciting than DJing. But at the same time, I do love DJing, so I would never abandon it. In terms of live setup, I'm just looking into it at the moment. But, hopefully when I get a few bits out, I'd like to be fully ready with a live show by then.

What was the last little gem that you dug up on your digging sorties?

To be honest, I haven't had a good dig for ages. But, I did get a couple of Syliphone bits in wicked condition for cheap cheap, stuff like the Les Keletegui et Ses Tambourinis LP and that. Umm... a couple of Brazilian things have turned up, couple of reggae bits. Nothing major.

Do you find Manchester to be evolving in any way?

It kinda evolves all the time really. At the moment, as with a lot of places, everyone's dubstep mad, which isn't a bad thing but gets a bit funny when you see DJs who were out and out electroclash DJs 18 months now only playing dubstep! But there's some incredible music being made in that scene, so it's all good. I think people are getting a bit bored of the super big nights and are starting to go to more grassroots nights, if you will. Nights like Hit n Run, Hot Milk and Bass Camp have got a core following, which is wicked, as all those guys are awesome. I think because there's no Electric Chairs a lot of the more experienced clubbers haven't been to many of the new nights, which is a shame, but then again, you can't please everyone.

Music wise, there doesn't seem to be heaps of stuff coming through. There's a few people who I know are making pretty decent beats, Dave Trusme's doing well, Broke'n'English too, but there's not a wave of talent breaking through like in Glasgow with HudMo, Rustie and the LuckyMe crew, although it's only a matter of time.

Tell us about your working relationship with Jonny Dub.

We don't have one. To be honest, it never really feels like work with Jonny, because we're on the same page 99% of the time. Then on the rare occurance that we're not, we talk about and it all gets resolved pretty quickly. He's immensely supportive if I wanna do anything outside of Sketch City and has become one of my closest, most trustworthy friends. In all this time we've only properly kicked off once, and that was at Sketch City about 18 months. Jonny wanted to put the decks 3 feet back from the front of the stage, and I wanted them right at the front. So we argued for ages about this rather important three foot of space and then realised how fucking stupid it was! In all seriousness I think it's a huge testament to him that he let me do so much straight away. For example, when he first asked me to get involved it wasn't like he was asking me to work for him. He just said outright, 'co-run Sketch City with me, 50/50 responsibility'. The same thing happened when Barney got involved. Now we each look after our own areas within Sketch City and Upper Space.

Photography is another skill of yours. What attracted you to the medium and who are your influences?

My ex-girlfriend, Ellie, is an amazing photographer. I started pretty much getting into it just after we started seeing each other. I bought a digital SLR which she taught me how to use it and all I wanted to do was take photos like hers! So I copied all her techniques until I figured it out for myself a bit more. She bought me an amazing Practika SLR for my birthday last year, and then I picked up a few more cameras, mainly lomos, and started to really explore it. It was like the photographic equivalent of holding onto a kid's bike the first few times they ride without stabilisers. I don't really want to pursue any kind of career in it, it's just a hobby, but i do really enjoy it.

How did you come to take some photographs for Stones Throw?

By accident really. Recently, Guilty Simpson, Percee P and House Shoes were playing Manchester and Leeds on the same night. We know both promoters who did the shows, so we were gonna drive them from one gig to the next. It ended up not happening that way, but I got offered to jump in so I went prepared with a camera so I wasn't just tagging along some wide-eyed kid. It ended up being a really great night hanging out with those guys, who are all really nice, taking photos at gigs etc. Although, the best photo I got was one of House Shoes and Guilty in a beige service station, 4am, buying cheese. Ace. I then sent Egon and Jeff the photos and they used them on the site. I then ended up taking a few for Wolf and James Pants when they were over at the Warehouse, which they used also. As with most of the stuff I do, pure fluke!

Sketch City
Sketch City on Myspace
Ryan Hunn

Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom - Relevee - Carl Craig remix

Delia Gonzalez and Gavin Russom are two fairly well-known artists who have exhibited their continuous outstreaming of video, performance, theatrical, musical, and visual art. New York had a performance art boom in the mid-90s to the turn of the century, and thankfully it has come screeching to a halt as the majority of it is pretentious bullshit, and Delia and Gavin ran in similar circles but were never really introduced. Apparently they met at a painfully hip party in a loft one night and these two kindred spirits have been together ever since making films, for which they'd do their own soundtracks heavily influenced by Terry Riley, Klaus Schültze, Vangelis and the like but tellingly, and this is where you can tell they've had to regurgitate endless streams of bullshit to appease the art world, their music is 'more humanistic than gender-based.' Whatever the fuck that means.

The original of this track is off their The Days of Mars album that came out in 2005 and is worth picking up for Black Spring, which is an incredible piece of work - the rest of the album is more hit than miss and if you ever see a copy you should pick up a copy. They see the music they make as putting them ' in a place where we're really receptive and open to inspiration, and we'd like that sensation to arise in our listeners', which is fair enough.

What Carl Craig has done however is taken them kicking and screaming down to the club for a proper hands in the air screamer. I've heard this record played by everyone from Andy Peek to Moonboots to M.A.N.D.Y. in various settings and it has gone off each and every time - Andy, Paul and I even chose it as our record of the year for 2005 on how collective radioshow and it was a unanimous decision from the outset when we were putting our top 50 together.

I'm sure you've all heard it before but if you haven't then stop fannying about and get on it.

Delia Gonzalez & Gavin Russom - Relevee - Carl Craig remix

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

J Dilla - Trucks

This is James Yancey's take on Gary Numan's Cars. James is of course better known as J Dilla who emerged from Detroit hip hop group Slum Village in the 90s and immediately started leaving his undeniable mark on music in a way that in many ways changed the way how people produced records. Quite literally anybody you care to mention in the realm of hip hop and soul holds Dilla in the highest regard, he is quite literally your favourite producer's favourite producer. Unfortunately Dilla passed away in February 2006 but his legacy lives on through his music. Kelvin Brown once told me that whenever he was influenced by a new genre of music, be it hip hop, techno, brasilian, soul, latin etc. there was always a Dilla record that he could turn to that would compliment his new discoveries. Benji B recently kicked off one of his shows with this and it is certainly one of those records that immediately grabs your attention whether or not you know the original. It is particularly pertinent now as General Motors has just closed four SUV plants in the US as a backlash to the increasing gas prices and what they see as a result as a permanent change in the amount of SUVs people are going to buy in the coming years. Driving in LA in a standard size car, as I do, you do realise how many huge trucks there are when you're dwarfed on the 405-S by a plethora of soccer moms driving Hummers. Play this one stupidly loud and watch the dancefloor explode.

J Dilla - Trucks

Oh, and I just realized that this is my 250th post. All done in under a year, someone needs to get out the house more often.

dãm-funk - Don't Make Me Funk You Up

dãm-funk is a very interesting new artist, well to me at least, emerging from the very healthy Los Angeles scene at the moment. With a list of influences that include the likes of Slave, Aurra, most things on Prelude records and all points in between, dãm-funk has been exploring the outer cosmos of the boogie sound by merging it with a healthy dose of space funk as evidenced by his frankly brilliant sets at Funkmosphere. His music is sample-free and incredibly he used to play the keys for Ice Cube back in the day - I'd love to hear Ice Cube collaborating with dãm-funk on a boogie record. This record isn't out yet but it'll drop soon enough, so I'm not going to keep it up here for too long. It's just the sort of record Sa-ra wished that they could make and it is easily my favourite track at the moment by quite some way. He's recently released a double A-Side single on the might Stones Throw, Burgundy City/Galactic Fun, and it is ridiculously good and is available from all the usual suspects. I can't wait to hear what dãm-funk has in store for us next.

dãm-funk - Don't Make Me Funk You Up

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Gaslamp Killer feat. Gonjasufi - Kobwebs

The Gaslamp Killer is the resident DJ at Low End Theory out here in Los Angeles, and you can watch a trailer to the documentary that they made here. The scourge of gaslamps everywhere is an integral part of the burgeoning LA beat scene alongside the likes of Daedelus, Nobody and Flying Lotus. His work, from what I have heard, is an amalgamation of rock posturing with hip hop sensibilities with a solid dose of psychedelia thrown in for good measure. I don't know all that much about him beyond from the videos of his that I've watched on Youtube and like many of his contemporaries he looks like an incredibly forward-thinking DJ. This track Kobwebs is off From LA With Love (thanks for reminding me, Ryan). This is just the sort of thing I wish I had more of, so any recommendations please hit me up.

The Gaslamp Killer feat. Gonjasufi - Kobwebs

The Gaslamp Killer is playing at Sketch City's 3rd birthday celebrations on Sunday June 15th along with Samiyam. Both he and The Gaslamp Killer are part of the forward-thinking LA scene, alongside artists like Daedelus, Kutmah and Flying Lotus. Both brilliant producers and DJs, they have releases on Dublab and Fat City to their name, as well as Samiyam's forthcoming EP for Hyperdub, one of the best dubstep labels around.

This month Sketch City will have more art than ever before, be staying open later than ever before and probably drinking and eating more than ever before, so make sure you join Sketch City to celebrate their birthday in style!

On the decks:
The Gaslamp Killer (Low End Theory, LA), Samiyam (Hyperdub Records), Ryan Hunn, Jonny Dub, Neil Trenier

On the boards:
Laurie Pink, Benjamino, Lispensie, Pavi, Inka, Mr Gauky (Darkside Farmers), 30DZ (Gameover Crew), Eight-Bit, Yeti, Tankpetrol, Hammo and more!

Sunday 15th June
Contact (Behind The Academy)
Oxford Road

£6/£5 NUS/Under 18s
5pm-later than usual!

For more info on the event why not join the Sketch City group or confirm your appearance at the event.

Elmore Judd - We Float In Time

London-based Jesse Hackett aka Elmore Judd has gone from flogging his debut album outside Honest Jon's to being signed to the store's EMI backed imprint and doing it all with a dash of humour sounding a bit like the bastard child of Liquid Liquid, Captain Beefheart and Prince having far too much fun and not following any of the rules - I can imagine music theorists spitting out their tea all over their Rachmaninoff albums when they wrap their ears around Elmore Judd. Jesse has been invited to tour Mali with Damon Albarn and has gone from being a solo artist to having a full band, which isn't bad going I'm sure you'll agree. His biggest bit of luck came when he was recording Insect Funk, from which We Float In Time is gleamed, in Camden in London the studio he was using was vandalized and burnt to the ground but incredibly the master tapes were salvaged but unfortunately that prevents me from describing the music as smoking hot - you win some, you lose some. There is something incredibly original and playful about this music and it is easy to see why people such as Gilles Peterson have backed the album. Hard to categorize but all the better for it.

Elmore Judd - We Float In Time

Monday, June 2, 2008

Lykke Li - Little Bit

Geoff B over at the excellent Pass The Feeling On blog put me onto this one and to be honest he had me at 'Swedish bird', which lets face it always gets my attention. Little Bit is as balearic as anything I've heard in a long time and if it comes out with a dub then you know that the whole Aficionado/Bears axis of joy will be killing it at the various haunts that they play at.

Lykke Li who real name is the tongue-twisting Li Lykke Timotej Zachrisson is a Swedish chanteuse who grew up with artistic parents who apparently spent their winters in Nepal and India, as you do I suppose, and that is genuinely all that I know about her, so I'll add Piccadilly's blurb to make this look like I put in at least a bit of effort here, "There's more than a degree of inevitability to Lykke Li's debut single. Firstly, it's being released on Moshi Moshi Singles, a label which is rapidly earning a reputation for unearthing future hits (they've successfully launched the careers of Kate Nash, Late of The Pier, and Friendly Fires in the year or so since their inception.) But to get down to the artist and track in question, Lykke Li is an independently-minded artist who's been causing the A&R fraternity on both sides of the Atlantic to get all hot and bothered. Joining a few of the dots between Feist, Robyn, Peter Bjorn and John (she is in fact produced by Bjorn Yttling of the trio), and her own particular strain of otherworldliness, Lykke Li's "Little Bit", is a cute, quirky, breathy smash."

I really like this track, and she seems like an artist to keep an eye on in the future.

Lykke Li - Little Bit

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Doug Pray

Doug Pray is a documentary film director, cinematographer, and editor whose films explore subcultures and more importantly the psychology of the protagonists and especially getting people to be brutally honest in their assessments of themselves and their set.

Some of you will probably know him for Scratch, a documentary about turntablism and DJ culture that is easily the defining film on the subject matter and in addition he has made Hype! a documentary about the Seattle grunge scene of the early '90s, which is also quite easily the defining work in a sea of films made on the subject matter. I just finished watching Infamy which is a documentary about graffiti culture told entirely from the viewpoint of the artists with very little criticism of the scene coming from anyone bar the artists and their families. He also made Big Rig which uses truck drivers as his subject matter and it's next on the list of must see films.

His new projects are Surfwise about the nomadic, 11-member Paskowitz family who are often referred to as the 'first family of surfing' and a film that I hope to see in the coming week as well as The Alchemists, which is a film featuring five creative people and their creating processes. Doug Pray is quite easily the best documentary film-maker out there for the sheer reason that his films are refreshingly all about his subject matter and not just mere vehicles for the film-makers' egos, a trap that a lot of documentarians seem to fall into.

This is an interview with Doug Pray.

Here is a bit of Infamy.

This is the trailer to Surfwise.

I implore you to watch all of his films.