Freddie Joachim Mixology: DISCO! Psykhomantus - Interview 50! - Dub Tech
Free Nas Mixtape! DJ Psykhomantus
Robert Glasper +
Scottish Jazz, Nas, Oxmo Puccino, Hidden Orchestra
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CONTENTS XVII - The interactive eMag for Independent Creativity, Music, Culture, Art and Lifestyle around the world. Founded in Scotland 2012
Black Lantern Music
17thLetter Boutique Music Network
Edited & CURATED by
Matthew Quest & Chris J. Collins
Contributors & Thanks
Robert Glasper, Alison @ GJF, Soweto Kinch, DJ psykhomantus, Joe Acheson, Freddie Joachim, Oxmo, Hugo Abisset, Rasteri, Adrian Gomes, Deej Malik, Wayan Zoey, Colin Austin.
Designed & Published by
17th Letter - www.17thletter.co.uk Maverick & Co. - www.maverickandco.com
Maverick & Co.
Cover Image Robert Glasper
This issue was bought to you by the colour: Green joined by fonts - Trajan, Helvetica Neue, Blackout 2AM, Calluna, Code, Ostrich, Bebas, Museo, and of course, the number 17.
Disclaimer All works, trademarks, logos, photography, design and branding featured remains copyright original owner or creator where applicable. No aspect of this digital publication may reproduced, printed or copied without seeking prior permission. We endorse every word, every product and all opinions of guest journalists and featured content within. www.17thletter.co.uk / email@example.com
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Editorial Timing. From Theloniuos Monk to Dilla an intrinsic off-timing remains evident. It`s appealing because it`s human. Honest. Experimental, containing very little formula. Based on feeling.
I heard Lenny Kravitz walked out on an old session with The (legendary) Roots crew because the beat wasn`t `in-time`. Are you *$^king kiddin` me!? The lack of structure obviously affected the classically trained musician far beyond his normal comfort level of mediocre guitar solo`s and singing about American caucasion girls.
Still, even with this ethos deep within a plethora of the music we listen too, it dosen`t really justify
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Issue 3 being off-time. We are quartlery, but it`s essentially a month late. How can I justify it then? Maybe an exclusive interview with Robert Glasper and hanging out with the Experiment? A double Nas mixtape from DJ Psykhomantus, parralell article from Deej Malik and personal interview with the man beind the decks? No?
OK, a quick sit down with Freedie Joachim then? A mega Q&A with Hidden Orchestra? Dub Tech from DJ Rasteri? All this along with our usual sections - stay tuned for Nov issue. Hopefully a little more to the beat next time. Peace -MQ
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SCS.4DJ Look. This is gonna split the crowd, though essentially it`s an all in one DJ box, complete with screen. It`s also very well priced. If this isnt the answer, lets at least stop playing around with half cut technologies and hybrid mixers. Check out this offering from Stanton. www.stanton.com
Dilla Doll Dilla equipped with an MPC, a Detroit fitted cap, a pair of NIKE Dunks, a `Changed My Life` Tee - and a donut chain. The toy will be released by the J Dilla Foundation later this year. www.warmahorn.com
more tings next issue... If you have a product you would like us to feature or review send links / press release to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Jawbone - Jambox Jambox. Death of the iPod dock. Exceptionally well priced wireless speaker system from Jawbone. Ties up with your phone, iPad etc for music and games and also for speakerphone confernece calls if you need to justify a new gadget for the office. Loadsa colours. Lots of style. www.jawbone.com
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Who are you people, anyway? Black Lantern Music is a netlabel offering DRM-free, high quality mp3s completely free of charge. As independent musicians, we are beholden to nobody – we make and release exactly the kinds of music we want to hear. Why do you give your music away for free? We got tired of hosting our music on single-use download sites and social networking sites with crap functionality; of spending too much on CDs people were reluctant to buy and clutter up their houses with. We believe that in many ways liberating music from the necessity of a physical presence is a great leap forward – we want to embrace that. We don’t ask you to pay, subscribe, sign up to a mailing list, or log in to get our music. Our aim is to provide a hassle-free experience. How can we stay up to date with your latest releases? Glad you asked. Follow us on Twitter: add @blacklanterns now. Each new release is also added to the RSS Feed over at our sister site, Weaponizer. http://www.blacklanternmusic.com XVII - Q3 / September 2012 - 9
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August saw Jamaica celebrate its fifty years of independence, and to mark the occasion, and pay homage to the islandâ€™s continuing influence on modern music, our resident tech expert takes a look at perhaps the most important movement of the Jamaican sound â€“ dub. Dub as a genre is inseparable from the technology used to create it. Unlike reggae artists, who use traditional instruments, dub artists use a wide variety of studio-based technologies to create their records. 12 - Q3 / September 2012 - XVII
The initial dub records were usually just instrumental versions of popular reggae tracks, which were played at soundsystems while DJs toasted over them. Rather than releasing the tracks properly, producers recorded these to one-off records, called dubplates, which were made from glass or aluminium coated in a cellulose lacquer. These records sounded fantastic but were extremely non-durable and would only last 40 plays or so before losing fidelity. This was hardly a longterm solution, especially given that dub records would often be played 15 or more times in one night. As the popularity of dub became apparent, more and more artists started including dub versions of their songs on the b-side of records they released. As well as increasing the durability of the recordings, this raised the profile of dub even more, and made superstars of producers such as Lee “Scratch” Perry, Keith Hudson and, of course, King Tubby. King Tubby pioneered many innovations in music production, but his main “instruments” were a simple 12 channel MCI mixer and 4-track Ampex tape player. The core of his craft was in rearranging rather than recording - in fact, his studio didn’t initially even have a vocal booth. He would take tracks from other studios and turn them into dub versions using a number of different tricks - eliminating vocals, EQing to emphasise drums and bass, moving sections of the song around, and applying delay and reverb to short samples of guitars and vocals. Since Tubby was an electrical repairman, he was able to make many of the effects he used himself. Lee “Scratch” Perry brought even more technique to the table, adding effects like phasers and using samples from other records to add atmosphere. In those days, effects units were much more rudimentary than they are now. Unless the studio was lucky enough to have an echo chamber, reverb had to be obtained by storing the sound in some kind of material that would continue to vibrate at the same frequency - usually this was a spring or a large metal plate. The unique sounds associated with these mechanical methods, while not emulating real-world reverberation very realistically, are very musically and sonically interesting and have come to be associated with the dub sound.
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Perhaps the effect most associated with dub, however, is the delay unit. Tubby used this extensively to emphasise short snippets of instruments, and it soon became part of the standard dub effect repertoire. There were two major types of pre-digital delays - tape-based and bucket-brigade-based. Tape delays simply used a long section of looped tape to temporarily store the signal, whereas bucket-brigades used a chain of thousands of capacitors. Either way, to create the classic Tubby “dub echo”, the output of the delay unit was fed back into the input with a slight volume reduction, thus making the delay repeat endlessly until it got too quiet to hear. These days, many of the inconveniences of dub production have been eliminated with digital technology. Delay units are much more elegant and sound clearer than their older relatives, reverb units can provide near-exact emulations of well-known concert halls, and EQs can cut and boost precisely the frequencies the producer desires with no undesirable distortion. Dubplates are no longer necessary, as producers can simply burn CDs minutes before an event. Many people see these developments as a bad thing - the first generation of dub producers were practically regarded as magicians during their heyday, and given the sheer technical challenge of what they accomplished it’s certainly not an unfair description. However, newer technology democratises music production by making it accessible to those that don’t know or don’t care about the underlying technology, and the fact that more people are making dub music now than at any other time in history shows the value of this development. -RS
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UNMRKD CLOTHING NIGHTWARES http://unmarkedcreation.wordpress.com
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Freddie Joachim is a producer, DJ, designer and promoter working o whose been on the 17th radar for a number of years. His beats are a the best elements of the best producers from coast to coast – his ea nods to Premier and Pete Rock, his ability to chop it up and lace it ov bit of Dilla to it, and the warm climbs, sunshine and undercurrent of se out his work, similar to fellow Californian Dr Dre. We highly recommend beat collections, available for free download at freddiejoachim.bandca confidence in the new model which we wanted to hear more on.
As a self-releasing, independent artist and having tried multiple models fo releases, have you settled on an approach or can it alter per-release?
Have been around the block a few times, I can’t really rely on the same approa even including free releases. Times are constantly changing, especially now, w and distribute music, especially digital music. I (and Mellow Orange) can only h follow our music, continually support us, regardless of which avenue we decide projects. Bandcamp, as well as other “artists friendly” music stores, have made artists/label to have a platform where they can sell and self-monitor their projec Tell us about your forthcoming release(s)?
I have a new album entitled, Fiberglass Kisses, which will be releasing soon. It tiago, Miles Bonny, J. Mitchell, Mar, Carlitta Durand, and Eric Lau. It’s an album dedicated to LOVE. The good and bad aspects of it.
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out of San Francisco almost like a collage of ar for a sample gives ver off-kilter beats has a ex permeate throughd you check out his amp.com... and itâ€™s this
ach for every release, with the way we create hope that those who e down when releasing e it easy for the average cts with ease.
t features artists: L. Sanm
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Here at XVII we love the artists that see past genres and just make the music they want, and especially those who can give a switch up to the music around them. For us, one of the very best cats out there just now is composer and super-talented multi-instrumentalist Robert Glasper. Working with Glasgow Jazz Festival earlier this year, Matthew Quest cornered the man before his show at the city’s Old Fruitmarket. As to be expected, Glasper started the interview by asking the questions.... Robert Glasper: What’s the venue like we’re playing? Is it a good venue? Matt Quest: Old Fruitmarket? Yeah, great venue, one of the best in the city. RG: Is there a young crowd here? MQ: You’ll get a mix. Jazz here is still very much a 30, 40, 50 plus crowd... RG: Is there a hip-hop scene? MQ: There is one, but it’s mostly unconnected to the jazz scene, which is very academic thing here with outlets we have. Soweto Kinch [at King Tut’s] had the same thing – it was very much a sit down, 40 plus crowd, candle-lit affair.
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So you did the Apple store tour in the states recently? RG: Yeah, I wish I was doing that tour all the time! I got me a iPad2... If I did the Apple Store tour all the time I’d be stupid with new shit! MQ: Freebies, nice...! So, we got involved with the Jazz Festival to inspire the hip-hop crowd that’s here; there is that distinction here, very territorial, very Scottish, but still allowing those outside influences. We were able to pull quite a number of cats coming down on the hip-hop tip, we’ve been pumpin’ the videos, like “yo, check this out” RG: That’s good to know. I check on the crowd and it lets me know how much hip-hop shit to play. Sometimes I get a crowd and I look into the crowd, and if it’s an older crowd I’m like “oh, okay”, and I’ll stick to a more traditional jazz sound. <as to be expected in Glasgow, a man overhears this last bit and interjects>
Weegie: What would you class as and “older crowd”? RG: I’d say 45, 50 plus... Weegie: ‘Cause I’m 50, right, and I like hip-hop. I’m not an afficionado or that, but I like it and I like jazz, RG: But you’d accept that you’re not the norm, right? The normal 50 year old that comes to a jazz show is a jazz fan and not really a hiphop fan. I see you’re looking fly, you have on Converse, you’re a hiphop fan! Weegie: Aye, aye...fair... <back to the interview> MQ: When we talked to the Jazz Festival organisers, and they showed us the photos of you with the Dilla competition t-shirts, we were like “this tune here is a cover of this tune here, and this is a mash-up of these tunes”, and they weren’t really aware of it. These were the guys that booked you! We went through it, and took it back to the roots of what’s going on. We’re big on the neo soul movement. To us, it’s a very gospel-orientated, it’s like gospel-jazz-hop, and a lot of people are getting lost in categorising, saying “this is jazz, and this is hiphop”. RG: It’s all a collective yeah - jazz is the father of hip-hop, so they’re connected, and, I mean, if you really wanna get down to it, gospel is the father of jazz, gospel music is the parent of a lot of music. Blues, you know - it goes back really, really far - so that’s why it’s all related. Blues... that’s my brother. Jazz and gospel - you kna’ mean? - are related and hip-hop and rock music are brothers. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, they’re together. XVII - Q3 / September 2012 - 23
MQ: Did the experiment start as a complete concept? RG: Yeah - I just wanted to have a band that had no boundaries, like it could really go anywhere we wanted to go and do it in a way that was tangible, that was accessible to other people, and you can’t always do that with just instrumental with just saxophone etc. With instrumental stuff its harder; with vocoder, it’s easier, because we can do stuff with lyrics, and it lends itself better for the average ear that doesn’t know anything about jazz. If you play a song on saxophone, it’s like it doesn’t register, but when you do it on vocoder, you hear the lyrics, it’s like “oh, I know that song, oh ok”. Especially nowadays with T-Pain and all that, we’re giving the younger crowd that likes that stuff, cause in their mind T-Pain and Casey [Benjamin], my vocoder, are the same thing. MQ: The inclusion of vocoder gives the experiment project a unique tone. Tell us about it…
Badu, but then I fly to LA BET Awards - I got nomin then flying right back to It terson’s south of France f Festival, before heading t the essence festival, huge fly to New Orleans and lan soundcheck starts, we’re hotel, we’re going right to play right away.
MQ: You grew up in Texas what bearing did it have o
RG: Texas is really a gosp scene. I didn’t really do ja wasn’t really even playing because I went to an arts had jazz bands, dance an porations would hit up ou combo to play at their fun otherwise there’s no real j
RG: Casey searched for a while... actually his setup last year was broken. We were in Paris, the engineer plugged it in to the wrong thing and it exploded, and he didn’t know what sound he had. He spent hours jamming and created a sound; all this happened right before Black Radio was recorded. We had to find a whole new sound like, literally a week before the recording. He found this sound, and this sounds even better, because with a vocoder you have a problem sometimes with trying to say words to the point that people can understand them - because effects can sometimes obscure the sound and you have no idea what their saying - but like Herbie?! - Herbie has the best, like on Sunlight, that whole album, so smooth, you can hear it. And Casey is getting there, really close to that, so this one’s even better than the old one...so luckily his shit exploded - ha! of Europe than the States.
MQ: So you went to New
MQ: What are you doing after the Glasgow Jazz Festival?
Thanks to Robert Glasper The Experiment along wit Pendleton.
RG: Going to France, opening up for Erykah
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RG: Yeah, I was born in th and trained in the jazz in N met Bilal in college on like where it all started – playi his demo, meeting all the
MQ: Quite the list of artist Radio.... <the Glasgow J comes up and taps his wa soundcheck> So have yo next project yet?
RG: I’ve not planned anyt I’m gonna do a Black Rad different people. I may do fenders from the first albu it’s gonna be a whole new
really quickly to do the nated so I’m flying there, taly and then Giles Petfestival, North Sea Jazz to New Orleans - called e festival - we literally nd 15 mins before our not even going to the o soundcheck and then
s, what was that like and on your music?
pel, blues-orientated azz gigs in Texas. I g jazz – I only played jazz s high school, where they nd singing groups. Corur high school for our jazz nctions, so I did that. But jazz scene there. York...?
he gospel scene in Texas New York. That’s where I e my first day, and that’s ing with him, working on hip-hop cats.
ts that are on Black Jazz Festival driver atch to signal it’s time for ou started planning your
thing as yet, but I think dio Volume 2, but with o one or two repeat ofum, but other than that w roster of people.
r for taking the time and th the legendery B.J
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XVII has had a busy year on the jazz front, with our con roles in the delivery of Scotland’s major jazz festivals. W learned about jazz, its audience, and its place in Scotla
For too many and for too long, the perception of jazz is of a music and culture dead. Others view it as the preserve of an educated elite, or confined to aftern CD player in a bar for a few hours on a Sunday, or only appealing to crusty old
This couldn’t be further from the truth (though it is popular in Scandinavia!). W festivals held annually in Scotland’s major cities - Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Gla more far flung places in the country, it was made clear how important and vibra how it continues to influence and inspire a new generation of musicians bored of skilled musicianship in the overwhelming majority of modern popular music. Throughout the year, Scotland was able to attract some of the very best player the established names with less known talents and taken from across the jazzing the most of the many fantastic venues this country boasts. Highlights inclu Kyle Eastwood (yes, Clint’s son!), The Bad Plus with Joshua Redman, Dr John Kenny Garrett Quartet, Robert Glasper Experiment , Neil Cowley Trio, Pharoah Taylor Quartet to mention only a handful.
Alongside the bigger names, the festivals showcased the strength and ingenuit in Scotland. It is no longer all about one saxophonist who rose from a scheme and perform original works for Blue Note, but a collective of exceptionally talen broad cultural and societal background, collaborating and working collectively ing standards and challenging new works.
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ntributors playing prominent We reflect on what weâ€™ve andâ€™s cultural scene.
that is at best irrelevant and at worst noon sessions of three guys replacing a d musos and Scandinavians.
With significant jazz asgow â€“ as well as in ant jazz remains, and witless by the absence . rs in jazz, mixing both -inspired fields, makuded bassist/composer & The Lower 911, Sanders and James
ty of talent right here e (estate) to compose nted musicians from a on both crowd-pleas-
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Edinburgh-based Brazilian bassist Mario Caribe keeps the jazz traditions of his home nation alive while acting as ambassador, introducing musicians young and old to the sounds of samba and bossa nova. Meanwhile, critically-acclaimed musicians such as trumpeter Colin Steele and pianist Dave Milligan find the connections between cool jazz and traditional Scots song, introducing audiences of both to the other. Brian Kellock, another highly talented pianist, brings a new energy to a tremendous history of jazz music, performing his own works right through to the very early days of 1920s jazz. One of the benefits in the physical size of the county, and the size of the population, is that the musicians are regularly being brought together, and the younger players – such as the outstanding saxophonist Ruaridh Pattison and drummer Corrie Dick, the last two winners of the Young Scots Musician of the Year – are having the chance to learn from them, and to play to audiences who have paid to see the bigger international names. These guys have serious talent, and it’s hoped that this exposure will lead to them having the chance to go abroad and perform. Indeed, one of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival’s main activities is the Scottish Jazz Expo, pairing Scots musicians with talent from across the globe in unique collaborations. Knowing they have only played together for a couple days before taking to the stage with impeccable music really adds to the occasion! 28 - Q3 / September 2012 - XVII
There is evidently a stro sounds that owe their e rise in popularity of New bands, in part a result o change fed by the influx Eastern Europe and the summer music festivals tia and Czech Republic not only in the amazing for audiences for US ac Brass Ensemble, but als such as the brilliant Hor Orkestra del Sol.
Open-air events like Jaz erdeen saw venues pac top quality musicianship tinued with events such Edinburgh’s Grassmark are vital in sustaining th ward. It is a difficult fac formers the festivals att to playing big venues ac tickets are at a premium the stereotypical Scottis ing their wallets certainl simply isn’t an option fo ers to ask for £25+ for a opportunity to show no jazz is all about, especia who may very well have jazz, will become increa festivals are to survive. Edinburgh’s Queen’s Ha show of Hidden Orches that these Festivals will
ong appetite for the existence to jazz. The w Orleans-style brass of the cultural exx of immigrants from e rise in popularity of s in the likes of Croac, is demonstrated g energy and fervour cts such as Hypnotic so for the local talent rndog Brass Band and
zz on The Green in Abcked for four hours of p, and this trend conh as the Mardi Gras in ket. These free events he festivals going forct, but many of the pertract are accustomed cross the US, where m. When they get here, sh reticence for openly plays a factor, and it or venues and promota ticket. Having the on-jazz audiences what ally younger listeners e never even heard of asingly important if the The packed house at all for the dual headline stra and Floex showed l continue to survive
and thrive, that the audiences are there. However, this is sadly not the whole picture. Unlike the heavily-sponsored outdoor summer equivalents for more popular contemporary genres, jazz festivals for the time being still rely on public subsidy in order to exist, and these streams of income are quickly diminishing in number and amounts available. As with so much of the cultural scene in the UK, the audience and desire is there, but whether this will be enough to sustain it until the economy improves is an issue weâ€™ll have to sweat over for the foreseeable future. -CC
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Our resident funk, soul, jazz, blues and Jamaican sounds DJ was everywhere this year, soaking up all things jazz festival in Scotland. Here’s a selection of the acts that really caught his ear:
Tijuana Cartel – not a jazz band, but th
a room explode in such a wonderful and p Aberdeen’s Blue Lamp (a great jazz venue thralled with the super-tight horn section –
rhythms, flamenco guitar and driving elect they’ve created a truly world music. Look http://soundcloud.com/tijuana-cartel
Soulatino – when I say folk were dancin http://www.soulatino.co.uk/
Martin Taylor – okay, hardly a newbie, b
guably the greatest jazz guitarist alive, per stage as he is in the Dunfermline Town Ha ship coupled with a real charm. http://martintaylor.com/
Marcin Wasilewski Trio – from the ver
Edinburgh debut. Regarded by many as T and piano playing perfectly demonstrate t ecuted with terrifying perfection, it was a j --
Horndog Brass Band – I’d been a fan o
digging through more collections of New O band opened for Hypnotics and dropped this collection of highly-talented brass pla http://www.horndogbrass.com/
North Mississippi Allstars - I’d been
the back of RL Burnside’s re-appraisal - a Rock and seemed to be turning bland. I w Voodoo Rooms shook hard to their high-e washboard skills, and his guitar made out http://www.nmallstars.com
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his trio from Australia certainly come from the same family. Blending latin tronica that swings between house, Madchester-style samples and dubstep, k out for more on these guys from XVII soon….
ng on the tables, they literally were dancing on the tables! Seldom have I seen powerful frenzy of dancing as this latin-jazz-funk collective absolutely tore up e). I was with Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, and trombonist Cid was utterly en– a high accolade!
but if you’ve not seen this man live I order you to rectify this immediately! Arrhaps even of all time, he is as at home on Edinburgh Festival Theatre’s huge all (where he played for the Fife Jazz Festival). Simply breath-taking musician-
ry first second I heard his album January I knew I HAD to be present at his THE pre-eminent jazz composer in Europe, Marcin Wasilewski’s compositions the connection between jazz and classical music. Beautifully crafted and exjaw-dropping show.
of New Orleans-style brass bands for a while, and then watching Treme and Orleans music I started to get a real flavour for it this year. The Edinburgh a set that the US stars couldn’t match. Big, loud, fun and incredibly funky, ayers will be shaping jazz and funk in Scotland for years.
tracking these guys for about a decade. Their first two albums were hot on all dirty, distorted North Mis-sip country-blues. Then they went all Southern was a little sceptical, but within two bars, all fears were put to bed – the tiny energy stripped-down blues. Special mention must go to Cory Dickinson, his t of a soup tin and a broom handle – sensational.
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c O th ev
Like chew cal sp from i tion. T truly un
Though b brilliant a country. B album on T 32 - Q3 / September 2012 - XVII
From playing intimate sets in Edinburghâ€™s iconic Jazz Bar to earning global critical acclaim and tearing up some of the biggest music festivals, Hidden Orchestraâ€™s sweeping, jazz-inspired electronic soundscapes have propelled hem in to territory that perhaps only the mythical Boards of Canada have ver been reached by a Scottish-based band.
e their legendary peers, the band create instrumental music that esws the idea of simple genres, taking in influences from across the musipectrum to create epic, powerful soundscapes that carry the listener intimate moments of contemplation to explosions of energy and emoTo see them on stage, recreating and surpassing their recordings, is a nforgettable experience.
based in Edinburgh, and collaborating and performing live with a array of local talent, they remain a relative unknown in their own But with the pending release of their hotly anticipated sophomore Tru Thoughts, Archipelago, this could all be about to change. XVII - Q3 / September 2012 - 33
Chris J. Collins caught up with band leader and all-round musical guru Joe Acheson to find out more... For the as yet initiated, how would you describe your sound? What influences you? Hard to pin down - descriptive orchestral music with a strong pulse, some folk and jazz elements, deep bass lines, and complex drum arrangements; experimental but accessible, electronic music made by acoustic means......This might sound complicated or inaccessible or implausible, but actually the music is very easy to engage with. Essentially I’m just trying to find the sound that I want to hear, and trying to communicate something that will mean something to as many people as possible. There are no direct influences on out sound - I’m influenced by pretty much everything I’ve ever heard.
``experimental but accessible, electronic music made by acoustic means.`` You played for a while under the name Joe Acheson Quartet – what led to the switch, and did you at first find it difficult to maintain the momentum you had built up? Hidden Orchestra on record is essentially my main solo studio project, with the others joining for the live act; it has always been this way, so when I started playing my “Joe Acheson” studio stuff live, since I didn’t want to be pressing play on a CD, I put together a band and we added the “Quartet” bit to show that we were a group on stage and not just an individual. I never really planned it as a band name, it was just the way it happened - and we ended up with a name that was hard to remember, spell and pronounce, and unintentionally portrayed us as a jazz group. When we first signed to Tru Thoughts [in 2010], they suggested a name change, which was already something we were planning to get round to..Since it was timed with the debut album [Night Walks, released 2010], it was like a whole fresh start with a new kind of momentum, driven by promotion from the label, and the existing fan base adapted to the change with ease and enthusiasm, most thinking it a great improvement.
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What lead to the decision to have the two drummers? In the studio I usually program at least five or six layers of drum kit parts. When we first started playing live, we tried to condense everything down to a part for just one drummer, but it was a little bit intense.. The nature of what Iâ€™m doing usually means there are two main styles of drumming going on - some constant looping acoustic solo patterns, and some heavier beats underneath bringing out the groove - so it seemed natural to divide these two roles between two drummers; the second drummer at first just playing electronic pads, then adding a snare, then a ride, and then eventually a full second kit. And once you have two drummers, it opens up all kinds of possibilities with drum battles, question and answer, and so on. Take us through the construction of a Hidden Orchestra song. Usually I will start with a short percussive fragment, which I will play around with in the studio, reprogramming it and looping it until I have a nice eight-bar pattern. Then I add a heavier beat to lock in with it. Next I would add a bass line, or some little melodic
or harmonic ideas, trying out different samples of improvisation or any kind of sound. still just building up an eight-bar loop, until I have a good main section. Then I drag it out to have an intro, and start instinctively feeling out the structure for breakdowns and changes, filling out the texture with arranged and recorded orchestral progressions and field recordings. Work out an outro and then youâ€™re done... This process usually takes me several years. How did the connection with Tru Thoughts come about? How have you found working with Rob Luis and the Tru Thoughts team? Old-fashioned way: CD in the post... several CDs in fact, over several years...! Rob [Luis, Tru Thoughts founder and A&R] and everyone at Tru Thoughts have been great to work with. They provide an excellent global distribution network, good promotion, and theyâ€™ve connected us with some really useful and lovely people. They are also very open and supportive of letting us do our own thing creatively.
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You are regular visitors to eastern Europe, both to festivals and on your own tours. Why do you think you are so popular out there, and does it frustrate you that you’re not as recognised here? We love playing out there. There are all kinds of reasons why people there seem to have broader tastes in non-mainstream music, including abundant illegal downloads and national radio stations without playlist restrictions, but on the whole crowds seem both informed and discerning, and most of all appreciative and up for it. Not at all frustrated by our UK following, which is growing and dedicated - we actually find it harder to get gigs in the UK though. This kind of a project was always going to be more of a slow-burner in the grander scheme of things, but actually for a vaguely genred instrumental band on a relatively small independent label, we’re doing alright! You’ve played Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival the last few years – how important are the hometown festival dates for you? Do you get a chance to see other acts, and what’s your thoughts on the Scottish jazz scene generally? We’ve curated an event with the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival for the last four years, which has been fantastic, playing to a home crowd and getting to bring in some excellent acts who wouldn’t otherwise make it into the program, such as improvised instrumental band The Bays and Czech composer Floex. It’s always great to play in Edinburgh. We try not to do it more than a few times a year so people don’t get tired of us! You have recently been collaborating with the Czech producer/ composer/clarinettist Floex – how did this come about? I was introduced to Floex’s music about ten years ago by a friend who bought a CD off him at the Big Chill Festival – he’d been blown away by the sound this one man was making that just sounded so out there and unrelated to anything that was around at the time. Then, about a year ago, I was looking for people to do remixes, and I wondered what Floex was up to these days - googled him, sent an email, and discovered that he had just returned to making music as Floex after a ten year gap making interactive multimedia installations.
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We met at one of our gigs in Prague, then he made an incredible remix [of Dust, available here http://soundcloud.com/floex/hidden-orchestradust-floex], and it led to me asking him to record a few bits of clarinet for a tune, and then on to a collaboration. We’ve since played a few concerts together, which has worked really well, especially this year’s Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival gig at the Queen’s Hall. I have all sorts of things in mind for future collaborations, but going to take a few months touring and then maybe catch up on some sleep in December first! - CC www.hiddenorchestra.com
Joe Acheson Current Top 5 1. Visa fran Utanmyra - Jan Johansson 2. Half Broken Harp - Kelpe 3. Music for 18 Musicians - Section VI - Steve Reich 4. Whistman’s Wood - John Surman 5. Veronika’s Dream - Floex
Archipelago is released on Tru Thoughts on 1 October 2012, with the band touring across the UK in late 2012/2013. Expect to see them taking to the main stage at festivals across the globe next summer. XVII - Q3 / September 2012 - 37
Included with this and the previous issue of XVII (and a bonus between-mag Soweto Kinch drop tying in with Glasgow Jazz Festival) have been some dope mixes by multi-time DMC finalist DJ Psykhomantus. 38 - Q3 / September 2012 - XVII
Via a dodgy wifi connection and a web-based messaging service, I caught up with the Leicester-born, Birmingham-based turntablist hoping to gain a bit more of an insight on the man and his methods. Deej Malik As an introduction to our readers, who have no doubt been listening to the mixes that you have put together for XVII, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Psykhomantus Oh Lord. 21 years in the game as I started out by another name (Busta Skratch). I’m that cool dude from around the way, Like (all round hip-hop legend) Large Professor, I’m that live guy with glasses. The DJ that loves to spin on the ones and two’s, the battler, the entertainer, mixtape killer, boob watcher (Lol!)... But all in all, I’m just a fun dude that loves the hip-hop culture and music. DM I guess the question is, what was the thing that turned you from a hip-hop head to a DJ and then from a DJ to having a 21 year career? P Like everyone else I was a fan of hip-hop and I am still a fan of the culture. I was always surrounded by music as my father is from Jamaica and he was part of a sound man crew. My mother’s also a fan of music so we had loads of records around the house, so there was no question that I was going to get into hip-hop ‘cause as a young one back then, to me it was the next level from reggae with the two turntables and a mic. Seeing what DJs were doing with two copies of James Brown records blew my mind, and after my mother took me to see Beat Street back in 1983, the rest is history. I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. DM That’s a blessing; I think seeing parents or elders around who have done it really makes kids realize “I can do it too”. So you mentioned back then it was James Brown records and watching Beat Street; as you were getting more into the culture what else were you watching and listening to that inspired you? With the glasses gotta be Run DMC right?! XVII - Q3 / September 2012 - 39
P Everything. You can’t help but listen to everything cause it’s around you. Pop was big, and being brought up by black parents, I see both worlds. And that’s what hip-hop is, we reinvented everything. Nah! The glasses is because I can’t see shit. Lol! DM I’m with you on both counts! P But I do love Run DMC, because of Jam Master Jay. That is what also made me love the earlier rap records is because of the DJ. Jazzy Jeff, Cash Money, Terminator X, it’s because of them. I never did listen to the rappers, it was all about how they were cutting up on the turntables. Knights Of The Turntables, I bet a lot of people don’t know anything about them. DM Exactly! so do you want to educate them?... <Deej quickly searches Discogs for Knights of the Turntable so as to try to appear knowledgable next time we talk.>
P I educate by saying this, Knights Of The Turntables are the first turntablist group. C-Breeze, Gerard Burton, Charles Lamont and Lil Rocking G back in 1984. Check out their tunes Fresh Mess or Techno Scratch, way ahead of their time. That’s why I love this art, turntablism is so futuristic. DM Definitely, I remember sitting in my sound engineering classes arguing this point, turntablism turns the decks into as much of an instrument as any other; musicianship has just evolved. P It’s funny that you say that because back in 2005 the music teachers had to step up their game and learn the new technology. I got called in to by this company called Pedestrian that linked up with this project called Big About Music and I had to teach the music teachers the art of turntablism. It was an introduction to bringing in turntables as a musical instrument into school. I set it off for the schools in the UK. DM Brilliant! So because of you I can go back to college and say I was right?! P Yes you can go back to college and tell them. Lol! <Leicester College I’m coming for you!>
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DM So it’s always been about the DJ for you? I know you’re in the A Few Good Men DJ collective but were you ever in any other groups? Have you ever worked with MCs? P A Few Good Men, yeah! Much props to Roc 1, Rhize and E Double D. I only joined them officially last year but was always down with them back in 97/98/99. I was too busy finding a place for myself in this art. Have I worked with MCs? Well! Only now as everyone knows its all about being who I am and that’s a turntablist. But I have worked with Jonzi D, Rich Blk, Mad Flow and a spoken word artist name Sure Shot. Oh! I can’t forget shortMAN, too. DM With that experience from going into schools I take it you do workshops as well? Do you want to talk about that?
P I’ve not done any DJ workshops for a while as I’ve been used by the companies just to get their own way into the business. When they got what they wanted they didn’t need me anymore. I did do a few private ones but I’ve not done any workshops for a long time. I did get a call last month though - it’s fun when the students are into it. DM OK, so what are you working on now? P Well! This is it, I am always working on something. Even so, this is my job, so I’m always grinding to do better. I’m using my power to the third degree by getting involved with every music festival out there. A Few Good Men will always bring something entertaining. I’ve got a project called It’s A Brazilika Ting’ with Son Of Dan and Magoo; got some cool Psykhomantus products coming along for 2013 - tee’s, stickers, hats, the Yo! MTV Raps Remembrance nights are getting bigger, there are more juicy mixtapes to come... I’m still dipping in and out with theatre productions and am working on a turntablism album called Radio: Promotion Use Only. That should drop in 2013/2014. XVII - Q3 / September 2012 - 41
DM Hold on... theatre production?! Tell us more P Well, that started in 2003 with Kwesi Johnson [artistic director and a jazz dancer, not the dub poet and personal hero!- DM] as he introduced me to it as a musical director live on stage, giving you that real hip-hop theatre experience. From then on it was another skill that I put onto my belt and now I’ve done about ten theatre shows, two being big tours: A Hip-Hop Story (Looking For A Perfect Beat) with Kompany Malakhi, The Mic-Check Showcase with Arts Incubation Programme, The Early Years with Laba Laba, Project Noir with Peepul Centre, The Surgery with Jonzi D and Breakin Convention and Music Of Our Mind with Renaissance and Tilt Liming productions. I love that DJing has opened doors from DJing in a youth club, house parties, clubs, DJ battles to theatre, DJ Workshops and big stages showcasing my skills. DM So on showcasing your skills, tell us about your DMC experiences... P The mighty DMCs. Going back to being young and listening to rap records with DJs cutting it up, as I said earlier in this interview, it was futuristic to see what the DJ was doing to the turntable by the help of a mixer, and the fact that hip-hop has always about battling, seeing two DJs take each other out with turntables is the most bizarre thing ever in this world! When I first saw the DJ battles on TV I knew one day I’ll be on that stage. 2001 I got my first taste.2004 UK DMC Regional Finalist, 2005 UK DMC Regional Finalist, 2007 UK DMC Regional
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Finalist, 2009 UK DMC Battle of Supremacy Quarter Finals, 2012 UK DMC Regional 3rd Place Winner. And will I enter the DMCs you ask... Lol! No. Been there, done that, boob watching tomorrow. Lol! Nah it was fun but I’m not feeling the DMCs way anymore. The Gong Battle is more for me. That’s a real battle out there. T hat’s the one created by the late DJ GrandMaster Roc Raida of The X-Ecutioners. DM May he rest in peace. Just two more questions; on behalf of all of us at XVII, I’d like to say we’ve loved having you on board. I guess what I want to know is how did you make the link with us and honestly (but not too much so!) how have you found working with us? PI said to Matt; “If you don’t give me a page I’ll f*ck him up!” Lol! I’m joking! We met on Facebook and as I was posting up the next issues of Wax Poetics he was telling me about his project which is this mag and after I peeped the first issue out I told him if he ever needed any music mixed for the magazine just holla. And out came the mixtape, Mos Definitely Yasiin Bey.
DM Finally, is there anything you want to say to our readers? Any shout-outs? Where can they get your releases and products? And where can they find out where you’re playing? P No shout-outs because I’m mean like that. Peeps can check me on my blogspot www.psykhomantus.blogspot.com; for music check www.mixcloud.com/Psykhomantus, but you all have to be over 18 as I am very, very raw. All the links are on my blogspot page. A Few Good Men will have some more shows, I’ll still be here, I’m still standing, I’m still strong... Sorry I’m just going off like an Antwone Fisher. Enjoy the music that’s all I have to say. DM Good stuff, it’s been a pleasure Psykhomantus is about to release a Beatnuts / The Alkaholiks mixtape entitled ‘Liknuts’ available through the above website. -DM
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Half Man Half Amazing
In hip-hop there have been many great MCs, DJs, beatmakers, breakers, graff writers, label owners and managers... and even more claiming to be. However, amongst these talented and ambitious groups and individuals, there are a few who it is possible to say have had an impact on hip-hop which was so great that it could never again be the same. For MCs, like Melle Mel and Rakim before him, Nas embodies this genre-shifting impact, and continues to set the bar when it comes to rhymes. Versed in all of the Four Elements he has attained a semi-mythic status in the hip-hop community where he has been seen as a standard bearer for the “true school” resulting in the fact that when he say’s ‘Hip Hop Is Dead’ the debate following that statement is still alive and resonating in his contemporaries songs, outside rap gigs and on internet forums to this day half a dozen years later. Now, with over 20 years of growth since making his recorded debut on Main Source’s Live at the Barbeque (sic), it is nigh-on impossible to imagine hip-hop without the Queens, New York-bred lyricist’s influence. But, as Raekwon nearly said, it could have all been so different...
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New York State of Mind It is fair to say that in the early 90s New York hip-hop had found itself in a slump. Since the end of the first golden era, a date this writer will arbitrarily set as 3rd March 1989 (who’s nerdy enough to guess why?), the beating heart of hip-hop had for the first time moved away from the Five Boroughs to the Los Angeles of G-Funk, Death Row Records, Cypress Hill and, perhaps most prominently, Ice Cube. A city where for rappers, platinum plaques had become as ubiquitous as jheri curls had for their funk inspired predecessors in the 1980s. Meanwhile, in New York, record sales and confidence were low. As for the average listener, much of the city’s output was uninteresting, uninspired or, worse still, irrelevant. The home of hip-hop had to do something pretty spectacular to regain its crown, and in the year following the November 1993 release of the Wu-Tang Clan’s debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) the spectacular happened. A string of releases emerged from upstart New York acts, many of them debuts and from a breadth of styles, such as Digable Planets, Jeru the Damaja, The Notorious B.I.G and Organized Konfusion to name only a handful, that would become that most over-used of musical descriptors: classics. Yet even amongst this distinguished company Nas’ Illmatic stands as the creative high point which, like the Black Panthers’ core message, was delivered in a ten-point program that was brilliant, focused and set a bar by which all subsequent work can be judged by. The Outcome I’m Crowned the Best Lyricist In a recent interview with American radio network NPR NaS spoke on his intentions when creating ‘Illmatic’ stating that “When my rap generation started, it was about bringing you inside my apartment. It wasn’t about being a rap star; it was about anything other than. I want you to know who I am: what the streets taste like, feel like, smell like. What the cops talk like, walk like, think like. What crackheads do — I wanted you to smell it, feel it. It was important to me that I told the story that way because I thought that it wouldn’t be told if I didn’t tell it. I thought this was a great point in time in the 1990s in [New York City] that needed to be documented and my life needed to be told.”
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‘Illmatic’ opens with the track ‘The Genesis’ a sparse intro where a New York train is interpolated with a sample from the seminal hip hop movie ‘Wild Style’ and an almost ghostlike replaying of NaS’ ‘Live at the Barbeque’ verse create a bedding over which NaS his brother Jungle and AZ set the context for the album. Next up is the DJ Premier produced and much sampled ‘N.Y. State of Mind’ where NaS recounts without glamorizing inner city life including the gang and criminal activity surrounding him and the effect it has had on his life, mental state and lyricism. The L.E.S and NaS co-production ‘Life’s a Bitch’ follows neatly on in a melancholy tome which is notable for containing the only guest verse on the album (a much heralded effort by AZ which for a time made him the hottest property in hip hop) and NaS’ father Olu Dara on trumpet. The Scarface and Gandhi citing ‘The World Is Yours’ lifts the spirit somewhat as the lyricist uses a Pete Rock beat to reveal a more aspirational if far from unrestrainedly optimistic side of his personality. NaS’ 1992 single ‘Halftime’ produced by Main Source’s Large Professor allows NaS to serve up an example of his old school free associating
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style whilst simultaneously giving an opportunity to mention Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X. ‘Memory Lane’ built on a Reuben Wilson sample see’s our hero nostalgically reminiscing about the sights, sounds, rules and faces surrounding him as he grew up in Queens. The next track ‘One Love’, produced by A Tribe Called Quest member and fellow Queens native Q-Tip has NaS writing to incarcerated friends updating them on the news, events and heartbreak that they have missed since being locked up with the phrase one love asserting his continuing loyalty. Large Professor reappears behind the boards for the battle rhyming and braggadocio filled ‘One Time 4 Your Mind’ with a a subtext screaming yes, I’m new, yes I’m young but I will rule this city. The third and final production by DJ Premier on the album ‘Represent’ is triumph of crate digging as Preemo samples the 1924 released instrumental ‘Thief of Baghdad’ by organist Lee Erwin whilst NaS discusses the lifestyle of himself and peers reflecing both the hedonistic and depressing inducing elements, opening with the line “Straight up shit is real and any day could be your last in the jungle/get murdered on the humble, guns will blast and niggas tumble”.
NaS is back to theme’s of braggadocio on the album closer ‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ but by this time (and in a lesson that should be learnt by many others) he has already shown enough to justify any and all claims that he makes about his rhyming proficiency “Vocabulary skills, I’m ill” and has previously shown a vulnerability that makes the listener want to root for him. The fact that he drops lines about Aesop and the Leviathan also tells the listener that these isn’t another self-indulgent rapper, but rather, like Jose Mourinho, this is a special one. They say Nas done fell off with rhyming / He’d rather floss with diamonds
Following on from releasing arguably the genre’s greatest debut, his less than stellar financial situation and multi-million selling albums by contemporaries The Notorious B.I.G, 2Pac and Snoop Doggy Dogg, Nas’ new manager, Steve Stoute, and label, Columbia, somewhat understandably wanted to push Nas’ career in an increasingly commercial direction. This trend led to a string of releases, which, though solid sellers, seemed increasingly less vital, from the latterly rehabilitated It Was Written, The Album by short lived mafia-themed super-group The Firm, and 1999’s two-headed beast I Am and NaStradamous (do you see what he did there?!). This perceived loss of relevance, and a relationship with Nas’ ex, provided former New York bstringer Jay-Z the ammunition to go public with a long-standing animosity.
Nas – Illmatic Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu The Notorious B.I.G – Ready to Die Mobb Deep – the Infamous Method Man – Tical Pete Rock & CL Smooth – The Main Ingredient Jeru the Damaja – The Sun Rises In The East Black Moon – Enta Da Stage GZA – Liquid Swords Big L – Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous Digable Planets – Blowout Comb Raekwon – Only Built For Cuban Linx... AZ – Doe or Die Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Return To The 36 Chambers O.C – Word...Life Organized Konfusion – Stress: The Extinction Agenda Onyx – Bacdafucup
Top XVII New York Renaissance albums 1993-95 (No Paticular Order)
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Hate Me Now Enough has been written by others about the Nas/Jay-Z beef for me to largely ignore it in this article, fascinating though its history is (for those desperate for more see the Nas Jay-Z feud Wikipedia page and Nas’ Last Real Nigga Alive). What I will say, though, is that in the two central tracks in the conflict Jay-Z’s The Takeover and Nas’ verbspawning Ether, Nas found the passion and inspiration to take him back to the top of his game. The perverse, if not uncommon, facet of the jazz player’s son’s creative output has become a familiar theme to Nas watchers. It often seems that when life is ostensibly at its most difficult he produces his best work. For a brief study; Illmatic was written shortly after Nas’ best friend and DJ was killed, the Ether-containing Stillmatic was written during the aforementioned conflict and after the death of his mother. Untitled was produced during a nation-wide controversy with unlikely bedfellows Fox News (still sore following a feud with anchor/ “chump’ Bill O’Reilly about Nas’ suitability to perform at a concert in support of victims of the Virginia Tech shootings), and the NAACP attacking Nas about his original name for the album (clue, it’s a word that begins with N and ends with violence) and his two most recent albums - the diaspora-celebrating collaboration with Damian Marley, Distant Relatives, and latest opus the magnificent Life Is Good, both written during the separation and aftermath of his public divorce from singer Kelis. In a moment of pop psychology, I would suggest this aspect is why he and the late Amy Winehouse understood one another and got on so well. -DM
NaS recently released ‘Life is Good’ on Def Jam, and is rumored to be embarking on a pair of collaborative albums with Common and DJ Premier.
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This issue of XVII includes a two part Nas mixtape brought to you by our own DJ Psykhomantus which can of course be downloaded from www.17thletter.co.uk DJ Psykhomantus can be found at;W: www.psykhomantus.blogspot.com Facebook: Psykhomantus Music Twitter: @Psykhomantus Music: www.mixcloud.com/psykhomantus XVII - Q3 / September 2012 - 53
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Oxmo Puccino is one of those rare individuals who live through the harshest of environments to become the most innovative and creative of talents. Moving from Mali to Paris, Puccino grew up in the notorious Parisian Ghetto, 19th Arrondissement. As with most rappers, his skills developed as a teenager, out in his neighbourhood. It was a rough neighbourhood, the violence and theatre of which still inspire the poetic portraits he paints of urban Paris life. As part of the underground collective Time Bomb, Oxmo began featuring on recordings alongside the likes of Lunatic and the X-Men. In 1996 he contributed to the compilation L432 with his outstanding track Pucc. Fiction. This was the track that established him among the best wordsmiths of French rap in the late 90s. From his first album, Opera Puccino released in 1998 and an essential classic of French rap, Oxmo now has five albums under his belt.
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By imagining his own universe, Puccino uses his own gangster legend, part of the feared ‘Black Mafia’, as a device for portraying his experiences and relationships from growing up in one of France’s roughest ghettos. He takes the listener on a dark and melancholic path, with touches of humour and sarcasm he highlights the contradictions of our modern society against the backdrop and reality of everyday life in the ghetto. With his unique view on life and imaginative delivery making him a stand out lyricist and poet, it is no surprise Puccino is open to alternative flows musically and has begun to push himself out of convention. Nicolas Lug, from the prestigious Blue Note record label, contacted him in June 2005 with the proposition of an acoustic jazz project, the kind of genre blending that we at 17th Letter are very fond of.
``He highlights the contradictions of our modern society against the backdrop and reality of everyday life in the ghetto.`` In 2006 Oxmo formed the Jazzbastards with the help of Vincent Segal, an equally talented multi-instrumentalist. Considered a revolution by many, their first album Lipopette Bar draws heavily from jazz with lyrical storytelling at its heart. Continuing his journey to explore different ways of delivering his flow, Oxmo performed an acoustic tour with Vincent Segal and Edward Ardan, revisiting many of his songs accompanied by guitar and cello. It is hard not to feel inspired by this King of French Hip-Hop so the news starting to get us excited here at 17th HQ is Ox’s next release is due out on September 17th! The new LP, titled Roi Sans Carrosse (King Without a Coach). Check out his web page www.oxmo.net for the preview video Le Sucre Pimenté (Spiced Sugar). - HA 56 - Q3 / September 2012 - XVII
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TOTEM - Battle Mechanical Serifs. Graffiti artist Totem has applied paint to walls for 20 years. Totemâ€™s well known style and technique is renowned worldwide, most noted for his signature robotic armored letters and characters called the Mechanical Battle serif and his versatility in all aspects. Starting in Atlanta Georgia as his home he has traveled and painted across the globe - Spraying countries such as Japan, the Philipines, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, France, etc.and many others, with gallery shows in New York, LA, and Japan. His work has also been commissioned by many corporate companies looking to borrow street credibility from his art. Also the music industryâ€™s elite, commission Totem to paint works personal and for advertisement Usher Raymond, Outkast, Goodie Mobb, YingYang Twins, Lil Jon, are just a few of his patrons. Totem continues to bring graffiti art into the mainstream light to show its potential, and is striving to push the limits of his style farther and beyond. mr-totem.com
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BY ADRIAN GOMES
Drinking and music have been synonymous with one another since the invention of both. In the third of a four-part series for XVII; Adrian Gomes from bar consultancy 10 Dollar Shake will take a look at some of the colourful periods in history that pull together two of the worlds favourite pass times. 60 - Q3 / September 2012 - XVII
D.I.S.C.O Disco: Delirious, Incredible, Superficial, Complicated, Oh-Oh-Oh D.I.S.C.O. I can’t think of a word that aptly describes both a style of music and a style of drinks all in one. A few years ago when I was a music geek/DJ (now I’m a drink geek), there was a huge gulf between what my parent’s generation would consider disco (think Chic, weddings and handbag dancing), and what we considered disco (nu-disco, Italo-disco and disco edits/re-rubs/re-edits). When it comes to disco drinks however, there is no such gap to be bridged. Disco drinks are disco drinks. Blue Lagoon, Pina Colada, Screwdriver (vodka and OJ to you…and me for that matter), Sex on the Beach, Frozen Margarita...you get the idea. We still get asked for these, I kid you not. Disco has a lot to answer for. The 70’s weren’t all bad. They gave us soft-porn (you know the kind, with the sleazy music and gripping storylines), Studio 54, Margaret Thatcher (it has been said that Margaret Thatcher will have to be buried under a disco in order to accommodate all those who want to dance on her grave), atomism, the Iranian Revolution, the Jonestown Massacre, the Sony Walkman, Discovision, the Honda Civic…essentially, life as we know it, started in the 70’s. Swings and roundabouts is the general theory in life, and all trends usually come back round for at least one more existence. The murmurings from London-Town are that disco drinks are back. I’m sceptical, but London has enough of a grip on cocktail culture and the drinks media to really make this happen. Along with the Hawksmoor restaurants and Portobello Star in Notting Hill, one of the chief instigators is Alex Kratena, Head Bartender of the impressive and extravagant Artesian Bar at The Langham Hotel, Soho. Alex is launching his ‘Twisted Disco’ campaign, reduxing retro ‘favourites’ into the Sex on the Beach No. 2, Pina Colada Slush Puppy-style and the Bubble Tea Blue Lagoon, complete with sencha tea percolation, tapioca pearls and ponzu vinegar. XVII - Q3 / September 2012 - 61
Nightjar in Shoreditch, East London have also included on their menu a classic disco drink in the form of a barrel-aged Pina Colada, a blend of rum, secret ingredients, fresh coconut milk, pineapple and sugar, all aged in French limousine oak barrels. I’ve actually tried this one – it’s nice, but perhaps a touch on the bland side. Garnish-wise however, it’s dressed up in true splendid Nightjar fashion: pineapple leaves and toasted coconut chips, amongst the ornate decoratives. The afore-mentioned pioneers of the re-movement may be about to experience what nu-disco experienced not too long ago, a stream of copycats and sound-alikes diluting the scene and putting fans off the sub-genre. For the time-being though, consider yourselves on the tipping point of the drinks trend, head to one of the afore-mentioned bars and download this, a (roughlyblended) nu-disco mix from FKA Snoop Dogg (yeah, that’s right – the D.O-double.G): NKA Snoop Lion! www.urb.com/2012/03/21/download-snoop-doggs-nu-disco-dj-mix
Just don’t start saying ‘groovy baby’… - AG 62 - Q3 / September 2012 - XVII
Sex on the Beach No. 2 Alex Kratena, Artesian Bar at The Langham
60ml Liquorice-infused vodka 50ml Cloudy pear juice 15ml freshly-squeezed lemon juice 15ml freshly-muddled apricot 1 passion fruit Glass: Coupe (chilled) Method: Muddle, shake, double-strain Garnish: Â˝ passion fruit, mint sprig, glitter and silver pearls Ice: Straight up XVII - Q3 / September 2012 - 63
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This issue the Visual Showcase falls to Hype Williams Director.
â€œI wanted to be Basquiat or Keith Haring of the streets.â€? Born in Queens, New York 1970 - Hype started as a Graffiti artist, and from 1991 has directed for 2pac, Biggie, Kanye West 19 times, Busta Rhymes 16 times and of course Missy Elliot in the phenomemal Supa-Dupa-Fly. Jay-Z, Left Eye, Coldplay, Jack White, Aaliyah and Nas on three videos also rank in his portfolio, covering a wider realm that also delves heavily into Film. Hype was oringinally asked by Warner Bros. to Direct Speed Racer, later completed in 2008 by Wacowski Brothers. Walt Disney also purchased a script for Thrilla from him in 2003. An immediately recognised music video style, irrelveant of which chapter of his career you are to check and a whole heap of awards, Award for Black Music Achievement (1997) - Best Director (2006) - wether you like him or not , Harold `Hype` Williams is cemented in Hip Hop history. No Doubt.
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NASOGRAPHY - Double Mixtape You can download here > soundcloud.com/17thletter You can stream the mix here > www.mixcloud.com/17thletter You can check news here > www.facebook.com/17thlettermusic www.psykhomantus.blogspot.com www.mixcloud.com/psykhomantus www.twitter.com/psykhomantus
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XVII is out every quarter. Issue 4 will be out in November 2012 and we hope to bring to you more of the same, whilst constantly evolving and developing our distrubution, advertising and further interactive features. We are currently on the look out for contributors with articles, interviews, designs, products or even just audio and video links we should be checking out. Wherever youâ€™re based in the world, get in touch, let us know what you think, what you would like to see and what you enjoyed about this second edition. - XVII facebook.com/17thlettermusic twitter.com/xviiletter soundcloud.com/17thletter email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org XVII - Q3 / September 2012 - 69
ORIGINAL TEA LIQUEUR WWW.KARLOFF.SK 70 - Q3 / September 2012 - XVII