THE SCION xB
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Vehicles shown are special project cars, modified with non-Genuine Scion parts and accessories. Modification with these non-Genuine Scion parts or accessories will void the Scion warranty, may negatively impact vehicle performance & safety, and may not be street legal. For more information, call 866-70-SCION (866-707-2466) or visit Scion.com. ÂŠ 2009 Scion, a marque of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. All rights reserved. Scion, the Scion logo, and xB are trademarks of Toyota Motor Corporation.
BIG UP PEOPLE
Contributing writers and editors: Kush Arora, Noah Bennett, LB, John Dawson, Lud Dub, Stephen Floor, Katya Guseva, Alex Incyde, Kendo, Mac, Justin Shields, Justin Stephenson, Adriana Sparkuhl, Sam Supa, Josephine Tempongko, Jasmin Tokatlian, Errik Tyler, Donnie Valdez, Yuan Zhou. Photographers and illustartors: Ashes 57, Lisa Businovski, Regal D, Rick Egan, Rita Lux, JThree a.k.a. Jared Nickerson, Bertrand Prevost, Michael Ramirez (Shoebox Foto), Guillaume Simoneau, Landon Speers, SPG, Brian David Stevens, Mikey Tnasuttimonkol, Julia Tsao, Colin Young-Wolff.
Jus Wan has been involved with the San Francisco underground music scene since 2002 when he was representing the forward thinking sounds of broken beat and early dark garage, both of which led the way for what we now know as dubstep. Donnie Valdez is a freelance web developer and aspiring music composer who grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and returned to his native city, San Diego to chase the dream. Find him with a glass of bourbon at a show near you.
Yuan Zhou is a graphic designer, who lives in San Francisco. She wants to live in a big warehouse, make her signature hot dogs, and sell them after midnight on Saturdays.
BIG UP FIVE Sara Ajiri, Kush Arora, Lauren Banks, Drew Best, Griffin Boggl, Beau Cephus, Sarah Chambliss, Whitney Champion, Karen DaVanzo, Lud Dub, Peter Gorman, Dean Grenier, Sean Horton, Jon Lippincott, Anthony Parchment, Ryan Romana, Taso Skalkos, Ivy Something, Lorin Stoll, Starkey, Surefire crew, Lee Taylor, Jasmin Tokatlian, Donnie Valdez, and Anna Wachter.
Josephine Tempongko (Pandai’a) really likes reading the ingredients on bottles in the bathroom, watching dumb crap on YouTube, deep sea nature films, and murkin’ crowds in the face with sick mixes. Check her deejaying around the US and as resident DJ for BASSIC in Boston, MA.
A graduate of Berkeley’s Ethnomusicology department with a severe case of OCD when it comes to grammar and sentence structure, Jasmin Tokatlian a fi murder any tinpan article ‘fore come to print... seen?
Adriana is an SF-based designer and artist. As a supporter of the local music scene, she has been hosting Soundpieces – a mind-expanding contemporary electronic showcase that brings in left-field artists – every month since 2006. Some people call her a wizard, but her friends call her Sparkuhl. sparkuhl.blogspot.com
Dials loves to remind people that he’s been deejaying for 13 years. He plays all genres except trance, and collects rare MP3s. Currently, he resides in San Francisco. Catch his mixtapes at www.rivaldials.com or add him on facebook.com/djdials Kendo is a Bay Area bass connoisseur and dance floor therapist.
Alex Incyde does music stuff in NYC. He spends at least 87% of his time indoors (duh) working on beats, co-running Hotflush, holding it down at Dub War, doing PR for Surefire, and pondering universal theory.
Lud Dub is an analog guy stuck in a digital world. When he’s not procrastinating his next mix tape, he is either trying to make sense of 1’s & 0’s or can be found behind the 1’s & 2’s.
Justin Stephenson a.k.a. Puppy Kicker is a musician from San Diego. His interests include making music, pushing buttons and helping old people take their groceries to the car. You can usually find him loitering around the ladies restroom at local dubstep shows. *Puppy Kicker would never kick a puppy. Errik Tyler is a NYC-born ’n raised, San Francisco based, music junky, artist, nomad, and thinker. Deejaying for 5+ years as Dj Munk and recently producing as Mr. Munk. Currently wandering the planet with dnb and dubstep residencies and radio shows in San Francisco, CA and Aukland, NZ.
ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES: firstname.lastname@example.org ART SUBMISSIONS: email@example.com
Kush Arora was born and raised in the Bay Area on a nice diet of underground music and culture. His production and tastes are that of culture, experiments in sound, and simple good fun.
Stephen is the writer of SF-based dubstepped.net and a science graduate student. He’s a former college radio DJ and currently produces a podcast out of his living room. Meet you at the bass weight. Man like Mac – hustler of culture, prognosticator, repositioner and purveyor of lowend essentials. Konkrete Jungle since 1994.
WRITING CONTRIBUTIONS: firstname.lastname@example.org MUSIC REVIEWS: email@example.com
TO JOIN STREET TEAM: firstname.lastname@example.org GENERAL INQUIRIES: email@example.com
LB lives on a 30 acre horse ranch in Santa Cruz where she teaches riding lessons and kicks around road apples. When not wranglin’, she is pushing Santa Cruz dubstep events into the mouths of venues whether they like it or not.
Sam Supa lives in the SF Bay Area and spends his time with music writing and the promotion of bass all over the States, repping Surefire, Brap Dem and Grime City. Check out his new record label Brap Dem Recordings.
John Dawson, aka DJ Fidelity is a UK-based experimental DJ and producer with a deep founded respect and appreciation for good music.
The advertising, features, and reviews appearing within this publication reflect the opinions of the respective contributors, and not necessarily those of the publisher or its affiliates. All rights to art, writing, photos, design, and/or likeness and copyrights are property of respective owners, and no assumption of ownership is made by this publication or the publishers. The publisher will be glad to correct any mistakes or omissions in our next issue. The content may not be reproduced in part or in whole without written permission from Big Up Magazine and the respective contributors. ©2009. Big Up Magazine.
Big Up Magazine, PO Box 194803, San Francisco, CA 94119, USA
6 - ALBERTO SEVESO
48 - KITO
Life itself forms the people and the artistic tastes, and there aren’t tutorials that teach these things.
When you have stuff in your head and constant ideas, but don’t know how to execute them, it’s insanely frustrating!
12 - EL-B
52 - SORIN BECHIRA
Ghost Records started this dubstep thing man, and we’re gonna finish it. That’s what it is in 2010.
...in my dreams I can control my flight. It’s fantastic! It’s pure freedom! I hope someday I will be able to fly again.
18 - J3CONCEPTS
58 - POIRIER
People idolize artists and designers, but essentially we draw stuff with a pencil or with a mouse: we are not saving lives!
Trust your taste. Don’t always trust the hype, but trust your taste. Cause your taste will stay defined for your life but the hype will always go away.
24 - NOSAJ THING
64 - 12TH PLANET
I did some sound design. It was very challenging, but I learned from it that what I like doing most is just writing music.
My vision of the future for us is that we will all be individual pillars in music, while keeping the sound together.
32 - JUSTIN BUA
68 - ISE
I think anyone who grew up in New York has a very bizarre distortion, a “filter on their lens” in terms of how they see the universe.
...I treat drawing as a friend. I know everything about my art and my art knows everything about me. We trust each other and I can be totally free and let my imagination flow.
38 - HATCHA
74 - RUYICHI SAKAMOTO
Let’s just not break up the sound. It all falls under the term dubstep which makes it interesting. When you start to categorize it like other scenes have, it all goes downhill from there.
I can’t translate those feelings in literal language. I believe that my music speaks for me.
42 - FESTIVAL SEASON
76 - ALVA NOTO
...I only walk towards specifically low frequency bass and drum patterns around 140, and 180 bpm.
Strong low frequencies on a low level of sound could affect our bodies in a way that you never experienced before.
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HARD GRAFT WALLET
Sometimes it’s good to keep things simple. The Sporting Pocketwallet is the clean cut alternative for keeping your cards and cash in one place. The tidy form of the leather pocket offers ample space for a few dollars and your credit cards. Price: $40-$50 www.hardgraft.com
BURTON RIDER’S PACK
If you were like an octopus and had four extra arms, you wouldn’t really need the Burton Rider’s Pack. You’d have an arm to carry one board horizontally, an arm to carry your other board vertically, an arm to carry your Burton S-Series™ splitboard, an arm to carry your shovel, an arm with fleece-lined hand to protect your goggles or music, and yet another arm to carry 25 liters of miscellaneous equipment. If you don’t have that many arms, maybe you should just try the Burton Rider’s Pack. Price: $85 www.burton.com
Small in size, big on sound, the Orbit USB gives your laptop the speaker it’s always deserved. Powered by your USB port, the ultra-portable Orbit unleashes your sound wherever it’s needed. With audio alignment technology the Orbit dishes out astonishing volume, clarity and depth. Built to survive, this tough little speaker can travel the distance. When finished, the Orbit winds tight with space designed to tuck away the integrated USB cable. Beautifully simple, this no-frills speaker lets your laptop finally do the talking. Price: $50 www.alteclansing.com
Much better than an empty liquor box, DJs can now elevate their laptops with the Crane Stand, a portable and versatile device that provides an infinite number of height and angle positions. With no assembly or loose parts to misplace, the newly redesigned Crane Stand is a useful tool for the performer on the go. Producers from Bassnectar to Bluetech appreciate its lightweight aluminum construction that sets up quickly, locks into place, and then collapses to about an inch thick for easy travel. The newly redesigned Crane Stand can also be used to elevate CDJs, MIDI devices, projectors and other types of equipment, and can also slide under a mixer or turntable to give the DJ more room to maneuver on stage. Receive a $10 rebate on the Crane Stand with the purchase of Rane’s Serato Scratch Live. www.cranehardware.com
DIESEL VINYL DREAMS
A new “spin” on good old sheets, blankets and pillow cases. With these black and white mixers, tape decks, control panels and cables you can mix, beat match, and certainly rewind your sweet vinyl dreams. Available at Diesel. www.diesel.com
part of A
me mi piace la gnocca!
ALBERTO SEVESO Italian-born Alberto Seveso is a man of few words. But his illustrations speak for him louder than anything else Iâ€™ve seen in a long time. In the age of digital art and computer illustrations filled with imitations and heavily photoshopped images, Albertoâ€™s work stands alone as a manifestation of an original minimalistic style, fluid tasteful sensuality, striking beauty, and outstanding mastery. The man is a true artist. interview by Katya Guseva 6
I was browsing through all your work on your site and clicked the “About me” section. I was pleasantly surprised by the phrase “Does not really matter who I am or where I come from, the world has no borders. My illustrations speak for me...” So very humble of you! So I’m not gonna start this interview with the standard “Tell me about yourself.” But I’d rather ask: What do your illustrations say for you, if you can try to put it in words? I can tell you that I am a normal simple guy who lives an almost normal life in a strange world! Just like everyone else. When I say that my illustrations speak for me, I mean that I don’t think we need to speak too many words about who I am, where I come from and what I do. If you want to know me, look at what I do. Most people don’t want to know me, they want to know what I do. Then who should speak are the illustrations, not me. And then again I don’t have many interesting things to say to the world.
Most people don’t want to know me, they want to know what I do. Then who should speak are the illustrations, not me. Fair enough. Let’s talk about your illustrations then. Can you describe “A me mi piace la gnocca!” in five words? Innovative, random, sexy, boring, old. You used the term “sexy.” Is there a sexual connotation to all of your illustrations? What’s with the “sperm shaping” technique? Is it supposed to carry any sexual meaning?
What do you think about many artists trying to imitate your style? Well, initially I was jealous and very protective of my style. I used to be disappointed to see people imitating my artwork. But I grew to think of it as a form of gratification.
With the graphics software nowadays I can keep any project “alive” and open, for a new update tomorrow... I think this is a beautiful thing, because my artwork can grow with me. How do you choose the models with whom you decide to work? I focus a lot on the face, I seek the finest expressions but not perfection, because nobody’s perfect. Do you usually have a finished project in your head when you begin working or does it just appear as you go? When I start a new project, I don’t know how it’s going to look like when it’s finished. I have an idea of how it could turn out, but it just appears as I go. How do you decide when it’s done? Do you come back to a piece and rework it often? For me a project is never finished. With the graphics software nowadays I can keep any project “alive” and open, for a new update tomorrow... I think this is a beautiful thing, because my artwork can grow with me. Love the selection of music on your site! What role does music play in your creative process?
The term “sperm shape” was born by chance, as a joke. Some friends asked me how I’d call the patterns and shapes I made, and I didn’t have a better response!
I like music very much, and personally I find it a major source of inspiration, because I try to convey what I feel in what I do.
So the term was born simply because some shapes in my illustrations are reminiscent of the sperm. But there is no intended vulgar or sexual meaning at all.
What did you feel when you were making “Inverno” and how does it compare to “The Renaissance of Colors”?
I think this a good opportunity to say that I have a great respect for women, and the work I do is not intended to offend the femininity or the role of women, but rather the opposite.
Well, these two illustrations are born on the same day, and represent a change of mood. My mood often changes during the day, I sometimes can wake up happy and go to sleep sad or in a totally different mood.
“Inverno/Winter” is about those moments of loneliness and sadness, but doesn’t really refer to the season, it is more a reference to the kind of feelings that we can transmit in a gray day. “The Renaissance of Colors” on the contrary is the hope that everything can change, like a gray day that can become a colored new day, a renaissance.
Life itself forms the people and the artistic tastes, and there aren’t tutorials that teach these things. What are the things or moments in time that shaped your artistic taste? The world I live in, people, music, nature, air, sea, sand, rain... Life itself forms the people and the artistic tastes, and there aren’t tutorials that teach these things. What do you consider your biggest achievement as an artist? [Laughs] I think I still have many things to do! Haha! What needs to happen for you to consider yourself an accomplished artist? A small room at MoMA, with a bathroom and a coffee maker!
ALBERTO SEVESO’S PLAYLIST 1: “Untitled” - Daedelus Remix Bovine Rearrangement 2: “Nibble O” - Khonnor Softbo EP 3: “Clark” - Growls Garden Growl’s Garden 4: “Untitled 10” - Aphex Twin Melodies from Mars 5: “Grandfathered” - Nathan Fake Drowning In A Sea Of Love 6: “Any Waken Sly Blonda” - Kettel Whisper Me Wishes 7: “Cyclotron” - Harmonic 313 When Machines Exceed Human Intelligence 8: “Plinks and plonks for stonks” - Bitbasic Leonard 9: “LSK” - ilkae Light Industry 10: “Sea Pen Meets Anglerfish - Beak Hard Nights 11: “Happy up Here” - Royksopp Datasette Remix
For more on Alberto Seveso go to www.burdu976.com
Camera Con Vista
The Renaissance of Colors
photo by Brian David Stevens
EL-B The name El-B is a brand of quality assurance with over fifteen years of dance floor satisfaction – it all starts in the club. El-B has absorbed every bit of “what makes people want to move” from every musical experience he has encountered in life – salsa, hardcore, jungle, techno, jazz, funk... He then blends it into honest dance music that is easily digested. Organic. No pesticides or growth hormones, just whole beats and hard grooves. Read forth for insight from a man who is just honestly working to make you dance.
interview by Donnie Valdez
How did your music career start? Giving out demo tapes! That’s how it started out business-wise. Giving out demo tapes to no avail for about a year. Until Noodles picked me up. He picked me up in about ‘96, and around ‘97 we had our first record out under the name Groove Chronicles, and that was it! That was the start of us man!
Giving out demo tapes! That’s how it started out business-wise. Giving out demo tapes to no avail for about a year. So how did you guys get your music out for people to hear? We didn’t cut it straight away, we just gave the first couple of tracks to the right DJs. Noodles is the master of that, creating rumors or whispers in the street, you know; he’s good at creating hype. And when one DJ finds out that another DJ’s got it, and he didn’t get it, then he wants it bad. And the other guys wanna catch on because these guys are playing it – it creates hype and demand for it. Kind of social engineering? Yeah that was Noodles, man. He did all that. I was nothing, just a 17-year-old kid that was skilled at computers. That’s all. You know what I mean? I was a little snotnosed punk. So I heard you are getting together with Noodles for Groove Chronicles part 2? Now, yes, for the first time in ten years. And we’re gigging, we’re doing DJ sets and we’re back in the studio again. For the first time this week, actually. It’s kicking off this week for the first time in ten or eleven years. That’ll be interesting because we’re both always coming from completely different backgrounds. So we’ll bang heads together, and it always creates some magical crossover in the music, you know what I’m saying? Yeah, definitely. Does your earlier work with Noodles have a lot of influence on what you produce today? Or is your process completely different? No, I was into music before Groove Chronicles. With my dad being a musician,
with Incognito and Cayenne and Gonzalez and stuff. So you know, I had a big jazz, funk, and salsa upbringing. I was in the music scene and touring around with my dad since I was a baby. He said I used to fall asleep in his saxophone case. The big one of course, the baritone. [Laughs] Anyway, before I was with Noodles, I was hanging around on the drum n bass kit a lot. Jungle. Hardcore before that. Techno before that. So that stuff, as you can hear in the music, has influenced it a lot, more than that soul, kinda garage shit that we were doing before. That was just the sound at the time, that’s all. And we wanted to push the boundary at that. But now it’s all different, a completely different sound now.
I was in the music scene and touring around with my dad since I was a baby. He said I used to fall asleep in his saxophone case. The big one of course, the baritone. Between you, Oris Jay and Zed Bias and a few others – you all kind of set a sound that has had a ton of influence, but hasn’t really been successfully imitated – are you gonna put out any more dubstep tracks in this flavor? That old school sound? Yeah. Well, we’re always doing it. But, bearing in mind, you gotta keep up with the time, with the sound, and what is selling at the moment. It’s a lot more intense than what we used to do. I’ve always said we were about the grooves, rather than about the noise. But we’ve gotta incorporate the noise nowadays, a lot of the time, with the groove, because noise is what’s selling. I call it noise, I just mean angrier basslines, and more intense sounds. More... harsh programming is going on these days. But yeah, we’re always on that old school vein. What happened to Karl Brown and El-Tuff? Well, as people do, we had a couple of differences. And I’m never one to look back. It’s the same thing with Groove Chronicles, the same thing with El-Tuff man. You know, as soon as there is a difference in the camp... I’ve always got my fingers
in other pies, so I won’t think twice about dropping it in a heartbeat. And that’s how Groove Chronicles and El-Tuff finished, we cancelled the whole thing within about ten seconds over the phone. You know what I mean? I’m like that... [Laughs] I’m not like that with the women in my life! But I’m like that with the music. I won’t hesitate to have bin it, in a minute, if it’s going stale. BIN IT IN A MINUTE! “Bin it in a minute!” I like that! What’s your favorite tune you have put out? My favorite tune I’ve ever made, would have to be “Stone Cold” on Groove Chronicles. To this day, people always scream out when they hear it coming, when they hear it played. Like, “oh yeah, it brings back so many memories and good times.” Good feelings for everybody. So many girls have rushed to me and said something like “it’s my favorite tuuuuuuune!” You know what I mean? Not for the money side of things, although it is still selling today and it’s ten years old, but for the love. For the love, and the effects that it’s had on people’s lives. That’s why it’s my best.
I’m not like that with the women in my life! But I’m like that with the music. I won’t hesitate to have bin it, in a minute, if it’s going stale. What element do you think your DJ sets bring to the rave? When I do a DJ set, I play like 90-95% my stuff. When I say “my stuff” I don’t mean my tracks, I mean tracks that are coming from our camp. There are a lot of producers here. There’s roughly... and this is off the top of my head... There are about six of us here. I’m never without a brand new track, I’m always polishing up stuff and finishing up stuff for them and playing the new stuff. There’s loads of stuff. That’s how we carve ...no, that’s how any DJ can carve his own sound. Just play his and his boys’ stuff. And that’s it really. It’s the same with Joker. I was with Joker on KISS FM recently, and he was playing just his own stuff and it really gave an individual sound to his set. So that’s how we do it man, it’s hard grooves. You don’t really hear anybody playin a set like I do, or any of the boys at my camp. Our stuff has that same kind of sound, so it gives us that signature sound on the decks. It’s hard grooves rather than hard noise.
photo by Brian David Stevens
What’s your favorite part of all of this? The whole lifestyle. Well, apart from the fact that money is unreliable... yeah, if you stop moving the money stops moving... That’s the only downfall. Gotta look after yourself, stay in health. But apart form that, life is good! Life is good! I’m really excited as to what’s gonna happen next year. We’re putting in a lot of work, and it’s coming back because the tracks we are working on are really fucking kick ass. I keep an eye on everything out there, all the Bengas and the Skreams, all the Ruskos and whatever. I watch all that and listen to all the 14
It’s only a matter of time now, only a matter of months and days before all the biggest, all the most skillful producers, start bringing in vocals. stuff they got coming out and it rarely cuts the mustard for me, I’m afraid to say. I big them boys up all day long though. They’re paving the way for everybody. But releasewise, man, they need to give it up for the daddies, man, because they are not putting
into production what we’re putting in, man. All this really organic, moody shit we’re dealing with, as opposed to a lot of the stuff – but these kids kinda grew up on our music anyway, so I can’t start criticizing. They’re young, they’re all in their early 20s, and I’ve been doing this shit for like 15 years now, you know what I’m sayin? It’s no joke, man! I’ve worked with many and many a vocalist and songwriter, stateside and UK, so all that stuff is beyond the level of, fucking pushing the buttons, and some bleepy noises come out to make a dubstep tune. It’s on a lower level, all this dance music. That’s what we’re really about, man, writing songs, and RnB production, and just songwriting in general.
Every time we’ll be near the track, we’re like, oh my god! Anyway, Nu Levels coming out March. Vinyl pack, and CD, and there will be a sampler floating about around Christmas just for UK DJs. Have you had a good response from Roots of El-B so far? Yeah! When it dropped about four or five months ago or whatever, it totally opened the door for me to do all the DJ sets I’m doing now. It’s been crazy since that came out.
I’ve worked with many and many a vocalist and songwriter, stateside and UK, so all that stuff is beyond the level of, fucking pushing the buttons, and some bleepy noises come out to make a dubstep tune. It’s on a lower level, all this dance music. Do you think the more organic sound of your music makes it more accessible to listeners from other genres? It’s not so electronic...
What’s going on with the new Ghost album? A compilation album. We ain’t even all tracks in, it’s like half tracks in. It’s coming out early March, 2010. Tracks from Burial, Zed Bias, Narrows, possibly Skream, MRK1, Ramadanman, Jay da Flex, and El-B. Three new guests – Opus, Karmine, and the mighty YOOF. Y - O - O - F, yoof. This motherfucker is crazy! The boy is crazy! This is the only boy I heard on the circuit that gets me scared, and we’re just lucky enough to have him signed to Ghost. We’ve been previewing his first track, which is taken from the new Terminator film, it’s fucking fantastic, absolutely fantastic!
Yeah, because like I say, that’s what I do best, is song. Bringing in vocals, working with musicians. But... big fucking “but”... all the decent talent is busy. We got this new album to concentrate on, and I’ve just moved to Apple/Mac Logic from Cubase/PC. And I’m really slow on it and stuff. And we’re bringing in vocalists, the vocalists we work with are doing things. One of them just got back from tour with De la Soul, she’s really busy man, so you gotta get them only for serious things. I won’t even mention names, there’s a few of ‘em now, there’s three vocalists that we’re working with at the moment. Who are you working with these days? Production-wise at the moment? Who we messin with? I’m not doing tracks with anybody at the moment. There are some requests for me to get in the studio with loads of different people, you know. Chef, Slaughter Mob, Zed Bias, Burial – me and Burial are supposed to be in the studio next week to do something for the Nu Levels album, he’s a definite guest on there. Which we’re excited about because he never shows his face or nothing, and he’s the biggest face in dubstep, you know what I mean? Worldwide anyway. I’m putting out a track
in the new year called “We Don’t Play.” With different mixes, serious artists. There’s a reggae artist I’m working with in Jamaica at the moment on a really bouncy, funky house tune. It’s really good, we’ve been playing it in the dubstep clubs, and they love it. The reggae artist’s name is Mirikal. From your perspective, where do you think dubstep is headed? To that crossover market. It’s only a matter of time now, only a matter of months and days before all the biggest, all the most skillful producers, start bringing in vocals. Skream’s done it a couple of times, you know, full vocal song, on the hard, hard dubstep stuff. Yeah, get that crossover going. There’s already loads of crossovers at the moment, but not on a mainstream scale. You know, you got Heny G and Silkie and a couple of others, who take care of the different side of dubstep, you can say, the musical side. The stuff where you hear live flutes and sax and all that. The lightweight side. So there’s already different fractions coming off of it. Last time I talked to you, you said something like, “You won’t ever hear me listening to dubstep in my place, on my personal time.” No. Salsa, man. Salsa, and reggaeton. Any day, all day, every day. Big Up to: My peoples. Obviously, I want to big up Donnie and Katya. I wanna say look out for DJ Raggs. She’s been the female face on Ghost Records, coming next year. Awesome tracks. She’s got tracks coming out, and she’s a DJ, so she’ll be gigging around and stuff, and supporting our music. She’ll have tracks coming through Ghost Records next year for definite. She’s big. She’s a very angry lady. One to watch out for. Is there any question I didn’t ask you that you always want to ask yourself? Yeah, when are you ever gonna grow up, El-B?
Ghost Records started this dubstep thing man, and we’re gonna finish it. That’s what it is in 2010.
You donâ€™t really hear anybody playin a set like I do, or any of the boys at my camp. Our stuff has that same kind of sound, so it gives us that signature sound on the decks. Itâ€™s hard grooves rather than hard noise.
photo by Brian David Stevens
J3CONCEPTS Jared Nickerson a.k.a. J3concepts lives in Seattle, collects vinyl toys, spends a fortune on Lego, works for clients like MTV, Nike, Mad Decent and Nintendo out of his living room with a puppy Apollonia, listens to quite an eclectic selection of music, and is generally “doing good.” He doesn’t think his art will save the world, he just likes to draw apples with vampire fangs and cute milk cartons with bloody knives.
interview by Katya Guseva
How are you?
What does J3 mean?
It’s one of the most uninteresting stories. It’s a handle that I used to play video games when I was 14. I started using it online to sign up for everything and then for all my designs. It just kinda stuck. And I can’t get rid of it. No matter how hard I try. J is my name Jared and 3 was my favorite number at the time, and concept was just a cool word to add.
I was hoping you’d say, “doing good, thanks.” [Laughs] No no, I wouldn’t do that! It would be too obvious. It would be funny though, ‘cause you use that a lot in your art. It adds this feeling of irony to all of your pieces. Do you take yourself seriously? I always try hard not to take myself too seriously when it comes to my art. I like to repeat that artists are not gods; they will not save the world. People idolize artists and designers, but essentially we draw stuff with a pencil or with a mouse; we are not saving lives! I think it’s kinda funny, how some artists have a fan base, they start having this following and they turn into this hot shit. I try not to become like that. But you are the hot shit already! [Laughs] Thank you. I always try to create art for myself. I create stuff that I like. With that said, I usually only like it for about a week. That’s what 99% of the artists struggle with. You create something, then in two weeks you’re tired of it, you want to do something else and try something new. But that’s also what makes an artist an artist – constantly wanting to grow, improve, and output your work. What would need to happen for you to feel accomplished as an artist? I don’t think there’s really going to be a point when I will be like, “you know what, I’m a really accomplished artist. I got this down.” I don’t think I’m ever going to be at that point, but I think that’s what keeps me going, too. I always want to create something new, work for a new client, different clients. I want to work for a skateboarding company, create movie credits and video games... But if I actually think about it, I pay my bills with what I do, so it might be an accomplishment in its own. What’s your biggest achievement so far? Going freelance was quite a big step for me. It required some guts to do that and decide to depend entirely on myself, which is tough. And also the fact that I’m constantly trying to grow and do new things is a big thing in my eyes.
different techniques. I’ve always loved working with color. I think I just sat down one day and played around with colors and different tones of colors: blue, purple, different tones of purple. I ended up realizing how much depth it brought, just this single option. I started playing with it more and more and it went from there. I think the very first piece that I did that fully had this kind of exploration of using 20-30 different colors was my self-portrait. But now all my work is full of color, each piece has about 20, 30, or 40 colors.
People idolize artists and designers, but essentially we draw stuff with a pencil or with a mouse: we are not saving lives!
What is “Psychedelic Apples of Death” about? I want to know since it’s on the cover of our magazine.
What does your workspace look like?
Oh no! You gotta make something up!
We just recently moved to downtown Seattle. I moved my studio into a fairly large living room in the new house. I’m now able to be in the studio with my wife and my puppy. So it works out perfectly!
Ok, ok! The patterns are really tough to work with, because I manually line them up so they are consistent throughout the layout. They take a lot of time and... I honestly hate doing patterns! But I try to sit down and make myself do it, because I always like the result. So for this one I took different elements from about 10-20 works I’ve done in the past six months or a year, and turned it into one pattern. It became pretty popular, it’s been requested on t-shirts, on umbrellas...
Is there anything special you have to do before you start a new project? I always set up a playlist, I start with music that inspires me. I don’t just listen to one album of one artist, I listen to a lot of singles form different artists. Different elements of different sounds inspire a lot of different things in my artwork. What have you been listening to lately? The Juan Maclean, A Mountain of One, Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve, Air, Daft Punk (Homework), Dead Man’s Bones, The Knife and/or Fever Ray, Metronomy, Retro/Grade, Serge Santiago, Sally Shapiro, Unkle. How do you choose the color in your work and how would you rate the importance of it in your art? Actually my experimentation with color began about six months ago. I used to be very nervous working with different types of color. It always seemed like if you screw it up you can really mess up the whole artwork and I think choice of color is super important depending on what you’re going for. But what happened six months ago for you to start these crazy color experimentations? [Laughs] Well I go through stages with my artwork and I find different styles and try
You’ll be disappointed but there’s honestly really not much meaning to it...
The actual title of it... I wish I could give you something cool to say about it, but it’s just a ridiculous name for it. I’ve been using apples a lot in my designs lately. I’m not sure why, but I started drawing these apples with knives, apples with vampire fangs, melting apples and other elements from the design such as the rainbow that says “pretend it’s ok” and “doing good, thanks.” The idea behind it is pointing out how artists think so much of themselves and they’re like celebrities or musicians, when they get hyped up by their fans. “Doing good, thanks” is a way to say, “you know what, I’m just like everybody else; artists are people, they just happen to have a different sort of talent, they just happen to draw well.” I love how you choose the titles of your pieces. What is “Every Suitcase is a Bomb” about? That’s actually Paddy Considine from Dead Man’s Shoes – an incredible movie, so well done and so disturbing as well! I just watched the movie and I liked the atmosphere of it, so I started drawing Paddy with the drawing technique I’ve been using in the past years, where instead of rounded lines I use all 19
Every Suitcase Is A Bomb
These Diamond Days Of Oblivion
Country Club Rerub
straight lines to make a shape. So that’s what I did with his hair, all straight angles, and from there I made it all look like it’s falling apart, like it was all falling apart in the movie. “Every Suitcase is a Bomb” was about this feeling of discontent, paranoia, and chaos. There’s a juxtaposition of the funny cute characters and what they are doing or saying. Like this little cute kid saying “Fuck yeah! ice cream!” Who are these characters? How do you relate to them? I’m a 27-year-old guy, drawing little kid cartoon characters with knives, vampire teeth, and zombies... I’m kinda still in my element of little kid stuff. I still collect little vinyl toys like Dunny and I just spent a couple 22
of hundred dollars on Lego last month. I don’t know if I’m just trying to grasp on being a kid or I just really enjoy these types of things. I always wonder looking at older people – when will it get to the point when I’m not going to be interested in music, toys, or video games anymore? At some point these things just get cut off, and all of a sudden you’re interested in “more important” things, you have different priorities. So it’s an exploration of trying to hold on to these moments. Essentially I enjoy making these characters, I have fun with them. They can be cute, they can be aggressive, and they can take your mind off of real life. Tell me about “Blood Sweat Vector.” Me and my friend here in Seattle
were thinking one day that established vector artists don’t really have a place I always wonder looking to show off their work. at older people – when There’s nothing specific for showcasing their work will it get to the point and having a place where when I’m not going to be they could post what they interested in music, toys want. We wanted to have a place where we would see or video games anymore? only the work that we like. So we kept it elite in some sense, Whom would you like to Big Up? the artists there are by invite only, but anyone can post comments of I’d have to say my wife Jennifer course. We are having a show in just ‘cause she’s sitting like six Berlin coming up in winter actually. feet from me. Any artists and So that’s great! fans, the whole art community, that has been a huge huge Anything I didn’t ask you? support! I couldn’t be where I’m at without the support of the You didn’t ask me about my artist community. inspiration. Thank you! It’s such a hard one to answer. Inspiration is so vague and general. It can come For more on J3concepts go to from everything and from nothing. www.j3concepts.com (duh!)
Beats Not Bombs
Temper, Temper, Tamper
photo by Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
I first met Nosaj Thing over Gmail. After hearing a few of his songs, I contacted him and begged him to send me some beats. Over the past two years Iâ€™ve watched his music both rock crowds and profoundly inspire other artists and musicians. Nosaj Thing is now, without a doubt, one of LAâ€™s finest producers in the scene. Recently in June of 2009, his debut album Drift came out on Alpha Pup, and received global critical acclaim. He has traveled around the world performing his amazing live show, and is now about to add a haunting and cinematic visual show to his live sets. We sat down in San Francisco over a cup of Blue Bottle to get the scoop on his unique sound... 24
interview by DJ Dials
When you first started making beats did you ever think you were going to get this far? Was it a hobby or an ambition since day one? Definitely it was an ambition. I started production when I was 13. By then I was deejaying too. I started deejaying when I was 12 with my best friend (her older brother had a setup). But when I got into production it changed everything. I was actually listening to more mainstream hip hop, and this was when the producers were getting more attention. Like, Timbaland did this, or the Neptunes did that. Before that I didn’t know who was making the beats or how they were doing it. An older friend of mine hooked me up with a bootleg copy of Reason, it was my dream, but I didn’t know how to get my music off the ground. At the same time MySpace was spawning, so I just kept at it. Later on in high school I got into indie rock and experimental music. Kinda went a different direction than just hip hop beats. I never knew that you had been deejaying for so long. So would you consider hip hop to be your root? Yeah, totally! When I was in fourth grade my parents enrolled me in YMCA, and there was a small bus that would pick us up from the elementary school and drive us there. The driver always had the local radio station on, like power 106 or 92.3 The Beat in LA. This is when most of the beat junkies were the resident mixers and they did so much crazy shit to the music – trick mix, beatjuggle and skratch, and I was like, “How are they doing this?” It really caught my ear, and I would try to mess with the bass and the treble on my mom’s stereo. I wanted to do something to it, cut it out. That’s how I got into it, mainstream hip hop from the 90s. That was a major influence in my music. Did your parents ever hip you to music? Well when I was growing up, middle school and high school, I got into KROCK for a while, and all 90’s music was a big influence. I actually went to my first rave when I was in eighth grade. I really fell in love with drum and bass, and later got into house. I used to spin drum and bass and house, and then got into skratching. I used to watch all the turntable TV shows. Who was your favorite drumn and bass producer? I never really had a favorite, but I really like Ed Rush and Optical. Yeah! I loved them, and KONFLICT too! Bacteria!
Yeah and I really liked DJ Hype, I always loved his sets. As I listened to more underground dance music, I got into electronic music in general. Then came the Warp stuff and more indie rock through a friend of mine at school. But my parents listened to a lot of Beatles, and Simon and Garfunkle, and Dylan.
As funny as it sounds, I’d work with Kanye. I think he is a great producer. If you could produce for any MC - dream MC - who would it be? Busta Rhymes man. Busta Rhymes!!! That’s tight! I wanna work with Busta Rhymes! I think it would be sick to work with Doom too. As funny as it sounds, I’d work with Kanye. I think he is a great producer. If you were going to collaborate with another producer, who would it be? With Lorn. We actually started something, and I’m sure it will happen eventually. And we are both on the same page with that. What do you think of dubstep?
It’s not a Bach sample, it just reminded me of Bach. I didn’t want it so obvious, ‘cause I think people, just like you said, think it’s a Bach sample. So I changed the name to “1685,” which was the year he was born. But since that track came out on the Turntable Lab compilation as “Bach,” I just called it “1685 Bach.” I dont really care if people think it’s a sample. I really like the snares in that song. It has a nice gravel or metal clunk to it. Yeah that metal sound is me throwing the keys on the ground!
...often times electronic music can sound too cold. So you don’t work with samples; you are more synth-based, right? Yeah, but more and more I am doing field recording. I’m trying to do that because often times electronic music can sound too cold. Yeah I love it when people make unique or textured drum parts. That’s what really sticks out to me with your songs, the percussion is really good. I’m sure you get this all the time, but what kind of genre could you classify yourself in?
I think its dope, man! Honestly dubstep is still pretty new to me. I used to be really into drum and bass and I know there is some relevance there, but I just think it’s super dope club music. The really crazy stuff like that Rusko makes. I can’t really listen to that much with headphones, because it’s meant for the club, but if I’m at Low End that shit is dope! I really like the more deep stuff, the stuff that Burial makes.
People do ask me that all the time, and I just say electronic music. But it’s definitively backboned in hip hop. The craziest classification I heard was in Vienna. You know how people call it wonky, or whatever? One guy started calling it fantasy metal. That’s pretty dope!
If you could collaborate with any dubstep artist, who would it be?
I hope so, I was born and raised there. Wherever I go it feels naturally like home. I love the weather, and the comfort.
Probably Burial or Martyn. I like that stuff. What’s crazy is that I just found out last week that 16bit is going to remix the “1685” track. That’s crazy! Speaking of that, how did that song come about? Did you think it was going to be such a big single? No man, I just made it in my room one day. It all started with that main riff, the bassline, and the reason why I called it “Bach” was because it kind of had a mathematical melody line.
How do you feel about LA? Is it a place you are going to stick around for a while?
What do you think of the LA underground beat scene, as people are calling it... And how did that come about... Can you describe it? Oh man I think it’s great – it’s really motivating and inspiring... I go to Low End Theory almost every week. Not even to talk about music, just to hang out with other like-minded musicians and talk about regular stuff. That is really inspiring! And then also to be able to hear really good new music.
Yeah a lot of people think that it’s a Bach sample, or that you took a Bach song and...
I love that song! That’s the one! 25
Name an artist from LA that you feel is on the up and up, that is underground – someone to look out for! I’ve been really into the My Hollow Drum crew. They are really doing some interesting things right now. They are all younger dudes and I think they are the most up and up on what’s going on. They are the ones who tell everyone about new music. They are going to be the next big thing! What about in the world? I like the Mount Kimbie stuff, and I’m really interested in checking out Dorian Concept. I heard some of his music, but everyone tells me about his live shows. I’m very excited to check that out. Are you classically trained in any instruments? I’m not really good at one instrument. I started out in fourth grade with the sax, and then went on with the clarinet. It seems kind of sissy, but then in high school I joined the drumline. We had a piano at the house and I’d always mess with it... It was in the living room, so whenever I heard a TV theme, I’d try to replay it.
Danny Elfman actually inspired me for Drift. You know the intro track, it has the celeste bells and the oz? So what exactly is the front image of Drift? It’s just an abstract image. The original concept of the front was a photo from B+ (he took the photo to the front cover of DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing). But he was really busy and his schedule couldn’t allow it. I was pretty bummed about it, but then my girlfriend (she goes to design school) and two of her classmates were all at my apartment, and in one night we just knocked it out... Basically it kind of looks like abstract origami. Let’s talk about a few songs from the album. Daedalus and I were hanging out talking about it and we both agree that our favorite track is “IOIO.” We love that one... There is just something about that track that’s really special!
Oh that means a lot! I look up to Daedalus a lot! Just watching him is incredible. I saw his live show in 2003, and that was my senior year in high school and I was just blown away by his live performance! That’s what changed it for me. It’s so hard to perform electronic music and he did it so well! He inspired I did some sound design. It was me to change it up and start a live show.
very challenging, but I learned from it that what I like doing most is just writing music. Do you ever think about doing scores? I’d definitely get into it. I did a few projects already for my friend’s animation company. I did some sound design. It was very challenging, but I learned from it that what I like doing most is just writing music. With design you aren’t 100 percent in control of everything and it starts feeling like a job. Do you have any scores that you love? Edward Scissorhands! I know it sounds funny, but that shit is dope. 26
But about “IOIO”... I had a lot of frustration at that time – normal things were getting to the point of bad, hating my job and so on... Whenever I felt like that I would just write music... That’s what inspired me – being miserable!
That’s what inspired me – being miserable! And I was like, “Man, I haven’t used my Juno for a second!” So I started playing with the parameters, the attack and the release. I was like, “Man that’s a nice sound!” It had a slow attack and a long release, so I laid down the chord progression and I just
looped it, a basic four chord progression. It wasn’t until months later that I had to finish the album and I was going through my songs finding the ones that had the most potential. So I was going through all the songs, and I realized they all had the same sort of tempo, so I laid down the drum programming to be a little more upbeat and kept on building it from there. It was one of the later songs that I finished for the album.
I’ve been to a lot of concerts and parties and the ones that always stand out to me are the ones that I walk away from having some sort of emotional connection – more of a conceptual experience. It’s really good. I feel like that song is the one that I listen to a lot, and then the one I play out is “Lords.” That’s my banger. Speaking of bangers, are you planning on making any? Actually yesterday on the plane I started something at 120 bpm. It was after talking to Daedalus – we had played a show last weekend in South Carolina. The thing about him that got me motivated was that he just has fun with his performance, and sometimes that’s not the case for me, ‘cause some of my songs are more melancholic. I told him I was into house and he just suggested, “You should bring that out, that’s part of you...” So on the plane I bumped that shit up to 120 bpm and there you go! But I want to explore different tempos and rhythms and still apply the emotional quality to it, you know! I feel like that is something that makes your music really unique in this scene, because you have a deep connection with the music you make. Especially in the live shows. You really take people to a certain place, yet you still rock the party.
Thanks! I’ve been to a lot of concerts and parties and the ones that always stand out to me are the ones that I walk away from having some sort of emotional connection – more of a conceptual experience. What changed it for me was seeing Cornelius, or even Daft Punk. I mean that is party music, but it wasn’t just a show, it was an overall experience, and that’s what I want to do, and that’s what sparked the visual show conceptually. Yeah, talk about the visual show, ‘cause it’s really awesome! Yeah, ok, so some major news on this one. After seeing acts like Cornelius, I wanted to do something like that, maybe even interactive, something to connect with the audience. And my girlfriend and our friend Adam Guzman – who is an amazing graphic designer – came up with this concept of projection. On the test video it’s just one, but we want to have like four or five projectors. Like in the “Jogger” song when that color swipes it will swipe across the whole audience! Ok, so crazy news: I got booked for the Pop Montreal annual festival, and this show is with Megasoid and Thunderheist for the Red Bull showcase. And actually one of the staff from Red Bull saw the video, and I got a call from my agent and he said, “Hey man, they want to do this show the way you want to do it, and they are willing to fly out Julia and Adam! They are are serious about it too.” And I was like, “Man this is a blessing – they can provide some crazy shit!” It’s going down for the first time beginning of October! I think it’s really clean and minimal and it really complements your music, it allows the music to breathe, and also gives depth, color and space to it as well. Especially “Lords” when the particles are coming off your head. That was mainly Julia and Adam who came up with that stuff. I feel grateful for all the attention it’s been getting – especially design blogs. It’s not a new idea at all.
photo by Julia Tsao
Electronic music naturally started from experimentation with all these tools that people have. It’s exciting – you can create such good music with a laptop! It’s very elegant and has a visual poetry that a lot of visuals don’t have. A lot of club visuals have irrelevant video of like chicks and machine guns or something cornball. Yeah not to talk shit, but a lot of shows have a VJ, but they’ll play something that isn’t very relevant to what I’m doing. It can be too typical sometimes. The cool thing is the way that I’m doing this live video is that they’ll make a short clip and trigger it live while I am playing live. That’s cool, so it’s an interaction between you guys. Is there any point in experimentation where you feel like you have gone too far? I don’t think you can ever go too far with it. Electronic music naturally started from experimentation with all these tools that people have. It’s exciting – you can create such good music with a laptop! I’m always excited to hear the next new thing. Word! Ok man, who do you want to Big Up? Everybody! The whole community – all the people in LA and SF, all the people who have supported me... Thanks!!!
photo by Mikey Tnasuttimonkol
Asylum Jacket // $79
Entropy Knit // $206
JUSTIN BUA Much of Justin Buaâ€™s work is embedded in all of our heads; his stylized characters with their elongated fingers playing instruments, the distinct underground hip hop scenes that just suck you into the painting and wonâ€™t let you walk away until the image itself becomes a long-term memory. His work is perfectly captivating, welcoming us into his universe and perspective. A true master of classical technique and probably the most eye-catching scholar of hip hop culture, Bua has exposed himself for Big Up Magazine to share some of his intellect and also some of the momentous parts of his life that have made him so pivotal to art progression and utterly unique to the world as we know it. 32
interview by Adriana Sparkuhl
How did you get started in the commercial industry? It was about 1992 or ‘91, when I started doing spit-bomb skateboards for New Deal and Plan B, for professional skaters. I lived in this roach motel of an apartment next to these skaters who really liked my work and said, “you should really do something for us.” So I got in touch with the head of the company and next thing you know, I was doing paintings that were being reproduced on all the spit-bomb skateboards. Then, right around that time I started getting into record covers, the early Safir, Hobo Junction, Quad City DJs; a lot of the older stuff.
What is your favorite place to travel to? Denmark! I went to Scandinavia not too long ago. It was really beautiful and really fun. You were around when pretty much the birth of hip hop was happening. How was that?
What ended up being your favorite commercial job?
Yeah, I’m probably like third generation birth of hip hop, but I was there, you know, stirring the infliction. As a little kid I went to a lot of block parties up in South Bronx and I was right there where Rock Steady park was. I was on my block and hung out a lot in the Douglas Project. It was really crackin’ and goin’ off; I was a professional b-boy for years so I kind of navigated that world.
Doing a music video was pretty awesome, the video “Tainted,” by Slum Village.
So you were more a b-boy than a graffwriter back then?
How was going to school in Pasadena? Were you still kind of in the graffiti scene at that time?
Yeah, I was an artist, I wrote graff, but I was more into b-boying.
I was more into the classical painting scene by the time college rolled around. I was in school for three years before that, so I was really ready to get a formal education by that time. It was good; it was intense and very structured. What were you doing before you came to the West Coast? I was actually an English major, I was in a school in Massachusetts and before that I was in New York; I spent my whole life between Harlem and East Flatbush.
Did you find yourself more drawn to doing characters than actually writing? Yes, exactly! Both my mom and my grandfather were graphic designers, and my grandfather was actually a pretty well-known, respected letterer, so you would think I would have done that. I respected letters but it wasn’t like that was my thing. There were so many kids around me who were so talented at it that I got much more into personalities and characteristics. I was more into the expression, much like the Baroque painter, Frans Hals; observing the character, and directing the character.
So what brought you to Pasadena? It was just school that brought me. I had no desire to go to California at all. And you’re still in California… I stayed. The weather’s better… When you get away from New York long enough you start realizing you’re on a treadmill that doesn’t stop, and then when you get off the treadmill you think, “okay, this is cool.”
I think anyone who grew up in New York has a very bizarre distortion, a “filter on their lens” in terms of how they see the universe. Where does your distorted style of the character come from? Is it evocative of music, how it makes you feel or move?
How did you end up becoming a teacher? I had an opportunity. A friend was teaching a class and asked me if I wanted to come in and next thing you know I was teaching. I have been teaching for eight years now. Have you lived anywhere else since you moved to California? No, I travel a lot and my daughter is out here, so I’m here.
Music has an influence on my work and my work is very musical just by virtue of the fact that drawing is a very rhythmic thing. Everyone draws at a different pan of syncopation and rhythm but my work is really about the depiction of urban culture the way I that I perceive it, to accentuate things that are often times overlooked. It’s stylized because the culture is highly stylized; the way people dress, the way people speak, and you know, just the nature of how
intensely cool hip hop can be. The renditions are very cool, and very exaggerated, and can also be very distorted because I grew up with a distorted view of the world. I think anyone who grew up in New York has a very bizarre distortion, a “filter on their lens” in terms of how they see the universe. It’s not as crazy and violent out there, as maybe it is in my neighborhood, my neck of the woods.
There’s too much negative information about graffiti for it to be acceptable. There’s too much money spent on anti-graffiti campaigns for it to be acceptable. We have a machine that’s thwarting a philosophical reality. Distortion is also a way to captivate the viewer to make things a little bit more awe inspiring and the exaggeration can really bring the eye to where you want to focus it. So I think a lot of my exaggeration is used as a compositional tool, it’s used as an emphatic tool to define certain things that are key elements. Is there an artist that really inspires you, a visual artist, or even a musician? Rembrandt is one of my favorites, because he was able to kind of dig into the soul of his characters and bring out a lot of the personality. He brought a mood to his work that’s really interesting; kind of the same way Frans Hals or Velasquez bring moods to their portraits. It really evokes the soul or the spirit, at least you feel like it does. Who knows if he really ever captured it but you feel like it captures the spirit of the person. It’s always very inspiring for me seeing an artist that captures mood, like Toulouse-Lautrec does, similar to what I’m doing, painting the underworld, depicting the scenes that he was privy to, like the Moulin Rouge and all of the brothels and prostitutes, and all the crazy circus stuff that was going on, kind of this underworld landscape. The same that I’m doing is circa now as opposed to circa 150 years ago. I’m painting underground basketball scenes, the b-boy, the MC, the baller, the DJ, the graffiti writer; those are the people that I was exposed to and it’s a very real portrayal because those are people that are really in my life and are really embedded in my imagination.
Do you still listen to hip hop? Is there a musician you’ve been listening to lately? I’ve been listening to a lot of Michael [Jackson] as everybody has. I just did the Michael painting to celebrate MJ. But also, for example, I’ve been listening to James Brown all morning. Without James Brown there is no hip hop. Every break beat, every song, everything is so influenced and part of every culture in our hip hop generations. James Brown is probably the most sampled person in the hip hop world. Why did you become vegan? I think because it’s a very, very, very poor quality food source. I think dairy and meat in this day and age are a very poor source of protein. When I could be eating super foods, why would I eat crappy foods? How has your book, The Beat of Urban Art, been going for you? It’s good. The hard covers sold out and we’re in the soft cover edition so it’s going well. I’m just working on my new book called The Legends of Hip Hop where I am
painting all the legends of hip hop culture. Do you still check out the b-boy scene a little bit and go to any competitions? Yeah, I just went to a museum and saw a bunch of b-boys from Korea and a bunch of b-boys from LA, I know a lot of the people.
I think anytime you interact with a space, it is going to be frowned upon because that space is a competitive space where people want to do something with it for capitalistic reasons. So anytime you then mark that space, even if it is beautiful, you’re going to have too many people who oppose it. Besides there are too many people who are inherently sheep, right?
Do you have a favorite dancer? Yes, definitely, Mr. Wiggles. He is the best popper in the world. He is my favorite dancer. Do you think there’s a way for graffiti to ever become a more acceptable form of art? No. Any time you do some thing like that it’s going to be perceived as irreverent and subversive. So, whatever justification you use, whether you talk about the institutionalized co-option of public space, taking back what is rightfully yours, in terms of interaction with public space, that’s kind of what brings a unique aesthetic to the city because you are interacting with it, as opposed to the homogenization of public space where your just kind of making it very bland.
It’s the same thing with veganism, people eat meat because where do you get your protein? Meat is on the pyramid, it’s in the five food groups, its’ on the pyramid on the back of the milk truck. The dairy industry and the beef industry pay for all the ads. They have the “Got Milk?” campaigns, “you need to drink milk to survive.” Everyone’s onto that and it’s the same reason that people put out the anti-graffiti things. Because it’s money, and money moves mountains and that’s what our culture is based on. There’s too much negative information about graffiti for it to be acceptable. There’s too much money spent on anti-graffiti campaigns for it to be acceptable. We have a machine that’s thwarting a philosophical reality.
photo by Michael Ramirez
HATCHA In the past two years, dubstep has become a vast musical landscape. There are so many different styles and sounds. There is one man, who you can almost bet has unlimited access to the world’s biggest tunes. Hatcha has heard things most of us will never hear. His dubplate graveyard is filled with years of tracks that have been played to death. During my last trip to London I was lucky enough to sit and pick through his dead dubs. I shuffled through dozens of plates with black sharpie marker all over the labels with nicknames for unknown tunes. In this crazy musical mausoleum I was amazed to find and handle one of the first dubplates of Artwork “Red.” It was so battered, it looked like it has been rinsed into retirement... Hatcha has helped pioneer the dubstep sound worldwide. He has been there since day dot. His Kiss FM Radio show hosted by Crazy-D is a weekly dose of the best tunes and producers currently on the scene. Hailing from South London this badman is always traveling all over, shaking bassbins and making dancers sweat. Big Up had a chance to catch up and check in with Hatcha between his travels. 38
interview by Sam Supa
Hatcha! How are you?! What’s going on with you right now? What have you been up to? At the moment I’m just pushing the Sin City club night and label, which I run with N-Type. It’s not that easy when we are mental busy all the time, but we do our best! You seem to always be traveling. What countries have you played in lately? Well, recently I have gone to Croatia, Switzerland, Spain, Poland, Sweden, Budapest, Italy, France... The list goes on, but you get the picture – with the sound growing so fast gigs are popping up everywhere! What has been the most enjoyable gig in the past year?
Let’s talk about Sin City. You and N-Type have really picked lots of great tracks. The Chimpo Jakes 12” is my favorite so far. Good I’m glad you like it! That one is doing really well at the moment.
Artists, promoters, and even major labels from all over the world – all helping to push fresh music forward with their own interpretation of the dubstep sound.
That sounds sick! Also Exit Festival! we had a Sin City stage there this year that was brilliant!
How is the night doing? How often do you throw it?
How is your Kiss show doing? You have had so many amazing guests in the last year!
The night is doing really well! We try to throw them bi-monthly with really strong lineups of different influences involved in the scene.
Yeah the Kiss show is rocking! I’ve been there four years now and going strong. I like to get as many different guests up there as possible to show the listeners how many different sounds are involved in the dubstep scene.
We have actually had to do our sets there and then fly off up the country to do other gigs, which is a pain when it’s your own party! As you know dubstep is so special because it’s not like all the repetitive sounding dance music that’s out there. Now you got your drum and bass and house etc... but it’s all kind of repetitive. With dubstep you got all kinds of influences. You got the dubby sound, half-steppy dark vibe, techy vibe, and you got your hard tear-out vibe. It makes the scene special because you can have a nice lineup of DJs all playing their own sound all under the same term – dubstep.
How do you feel about the current state of dubstep? At the moment it’s brilliant. We have so many producers and DJs coming through. Artists, promoters, and even major labels from all over the world – all helping to push fresh music forward with their own interpretation of the dubstep sound.
What’s next? The next release is another double pack featuring Skream, Loefah, Hatcha, Kromestar, L.D., N-Type, and D-Code. Watch out for this one! It will probably be the last double pack that we do. Later we are going to just focus on the single releases and the club night.
It’s got to be Global Gathering. Me and N-Type did a two-hour set. The crowd was wicked and the outside stage we were on was kicking!
in interviews, “what is this new sound?” I said, “dubstep, mate” and the name stuck from there. It was nothing but good vibes down the shop. All the boys would come down and just jam for hours going through beats. We would wait to close and have our own little parties in the shop. To tell the truth, it happened more than often! It was a good meeting place, a social place and we all miss it big time.
We have a good PR company working on the nights with us now, called Hyponik. They do take a lot of weight off our shoulders. With me and N-type being so busy, it can get a bit hectic. We have actually had to do our sets there and then fly off up the country to do other gigs, which is a pain when it’s your own party! But yeah... we are doing well and hopefully can only get bigger and better! As a pioneer you have been there from the start. You have watched the music grow, change, and evolve. What was it like before all this madness? In 2002 I was working in Big Apple Records. Big Apple Records was the place at the birth of dubstep in Croydon. In 2002-03, we had Benga, Mala, Skream, Artwork, J Da Flex, El-B, Benny Ill, and Zed Bias, all coming in to the shop. They were all making this dark, 2-step, dubby vibe which we later formed into the sound known as dubstep. At the time I was deejaying at FWD and other clubs and doing my radio show pushing this deeper 2-step. People started to ask me
Let’s just not break up the sound. It all falls under the term dubstep which makes it interesting. When you start to categorize it like other scenes have, it all goes downhill from there. What do you like and dislike about the sound or the scene? Where do you think it’s going? In the scene there is not really anything for me to dislike. I love it all! Let’s just not break up the sound. It all falls under the term dubstep which makes it interesting. When you start to categorize it like other scenes have, it all goes downhill from there. Share with us the tunes that are burning up your record bag right now. Ahhh… So you want some of my secrets! [Laughs] It’s cool! ‘Cause by the time this is out I’ll have a fresh bag of plates! Benga – “The Drumzz” Skream – “What’s the Point” Distance – “Tell Me” Remix Jakes – “Hands Off” Bassline Smith – “R U Ready” For the rest contact secret services or M.I.-5 What more can we expect productionwise from you in the near future? Plenty! I’ve been working with Benga, Skream, Mala, Lost, Kromestar, and my own stuff... 39
But getting time to finish everything is the hardest thing. Keep your eyes out there, stuff is floating around. Can you tell our readers how you got the name Hatcha? It came from a film called Marked for Death with Steven Segal. I was a very young gun when I saw this film and I loved it. The top chap was called the white man Hatcha! 40
Whom would you like to Big Up? Benga, Skream, Artwork, N-Type, Kiss FM, Mala, Crazy-D, Loefah, Coki, Distance, Youngsta, Sarah at Fwd>>, Coda Agency, Zinc, Hype, Joe Nice, Miro at Surefire, Sam Supa, Sam XL, Juan BassHead, Jakes, Chefal, and biggest shout goes out to all the dubstep ravers worldwide! Itâ€™s all love!!
FESTIVAL SEASON OR
photo by Rick Egan
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER
BLACK ROCK CITY, NEVADA I could go on and on about the event, its 45+ thousand attendees living on an alkali salt flat with no water, food or electricity provided, and the art and lifestyle they create, but I’ve been asked to write about the music. So I’ll do my best to stay on topic, however, I find it my duty to quickly explain for those who have, for some reason or another, decided to ignore modern culture for the past 10+ years. Burning Man is a rare place, I can best describe it as an art festival in a desert, where, for seven days, everyone is encouraged to be a “participant not an observer,” where “radical self-expression,” “self-reliance,” a ridiculous amount of creativity, a “leave no trace” mentality, and a “gifting culture,” lead individuals to the realization and re-evaluation of self, and a little bit of reassurance in humanity itself. Some come out of the place re-assured in their loves and beliefs, while others leave with a whole new outlook on life. But as I said, I’m going to attempt to describe my musical experience, everything else you wish to know about the festival, well... There’s always go ogle... and next year... I had just spent eight months traveling abroad through New Zealand and Thailand, deejaying drum n’ bass and dubstep live and on radio. In late August I found myself ending “year one” of my “three years abroad adventure” and as planned, back in the US on my way to Black Rock City... (the fifth largest city in Nevada... for a week) for the Burning Man Festival 2009. It was my second Burn, so with a bit of experience, a backpack, and some water I headed in, this time I was prepared. Or so I thought... Now, when I say I was prepared, I am particularly talking about the music and expectations. At last year’s Burn there was good mixture of all genres of electronic music and some pretty good live bands as well, but the general vibe did lean more towards the
electro-house, trance and breaks genres, which although not my cup o’tea, would have to do. But for 2009, I was prepared. Ready to tolerate some psy-trance, some generic breaks, mixed in with some cheesy house beats and thinking if I was lucky, very lucky (maybe, just maybe) I’ll hear something I really like. Possibly some dubstep. Maybe, just maybe, even some drum n bass. “Oh no, don’t want to get my hopes up. I’m ready, I can cope, I can deal! Not going to be closed minded, that’s not what this festival is about. I’m ready, bring on your 4/4! Lay your cheesiest trance vocal on me, I’ll still dance!” I say to myself, ready to shock myself and friends with my diversity in musical tastes. But low and behold, to my great surprise, Burning Man 2009 was packed with bass based music! Before I go on I must admit, there is soo much room, soo much space, that one cannot possibly see all the art, the people, and definitely the music at this gathering. Maybe I heard mostly dubstep and drum and bass and their many sub genre cousins because subconsciously I only walk towards specifically low frequency bass and drum patterns around 140, and 180 bpm. I mean, I know for a fact there were house, trance, and techno DJs in domes, at camps, and on art cars spread across 150 square miles, I just didn’t run into them much. Bass Camp from Utah had a massive geodesic dome and a proper sound system featuring the likes of Djunya, Roommate, Meat Katie, Freq Nasty, and many more; and right across the way was State Side Dubstep Camp out of San Francisco, featuring the talent of Sam Supa, Mariposa, and many more. Both camps were showcasing some of the west coast’s finest DJs and producers and representing the worldwide dubstep bass culture massive six steps beyond properly.
Now, the difficulty here is that unlike other festivals, the Burn isn’t about its musical acts. You don’t come to Burning Man for the lineup, for the sound systems, for the rare set by so-n-so. Heck, no! Most people don’t find out who’s playing until they get the guide at the gate, then rumors fly, and try as you might, trying to plan a night based on set times and locations rarely work out. I’ve heard the rumor two years in a row that Daft Punk was going to play, and after a while this year I joined in with the “hey-did-youhear-Daft-Punk-is-going-on-in-an-hour?”club. Shamefully I felt good to be in on the joke. Don’t get me wrong, if you like, you can easily wear a watch and make a nice little schedule on some piece of paper (that you’re going to lose eventually) and plan out you entire week, seeing the specific acts you choose. And I sincerely wish you luck. But in my humble opinion, music at the Burn is to be stumbled upon. The music at the Burn is some of the best in the world, but it’s just that I find the best thing is wandering around through the art projects, glowing bikes, and wanderers, faintly hearing a bassline, and walking toward it and realizing, you’re not walking anymore, you’re strolling to the beat like some jive 70s cartoon character, then the smile on your face gets bigger, you feel the bass more than you hear it, the treble organizes the beat and before you can even find the source, you’re grooving on a b-line towards the beats... only to encounter a dome, art car or camp with a massive sound system, filled with people, bass heads, burners, flowing, bouncing, steppin’ on the same groove, covered in dust and sweat, hands in the air, “reaching for the lazers... safe as fuck.” DJ Munk
SYMBIOSIS YOSEMITE, CALIFORNIA
Once there were trees, birds, lakes, squirrels, meadows, frogs and streams, then there came the freaks, bass cabinets, new age hipsters, crystals and laser beams, to gather at Camp Mather at the base of Yosemite to create a symbiotic moment to last an intergalactic life time. Although the hype all summer long was the off-the-hook lineup at a breathtaking landscape, it was the synergy of nature and the elaborate interactive art installation stages that created the energy of the five-day symbiotic atmosphere. Blowing it up in early September, The Do Lab accomplished simultaneously constructing two beautiful art installation sound systems – one at Burning man, and the other at Electric Picnic in Ireland. Again using recycled wood pallets, The Do Lab was able in one-weeks time to construct the surreal work of art, dubbed the Lake Stage. Friday Mimosa set the crunk stepin’ energy of the night, leading into a unique Flying Lotus set, and a dubstep take over by Caspa and N-Type. Sunday was the day to charge the lake, with a 9 am set by Crying Over Porcelain for No Reason; a downtempo set by edIT and Ooah of the Glitch Mob mixing in the use of live instruments. Then amping up for the evening, long before sunset, West Coast Lo-Fi delivered a more downbeat earlier 90s hip hop influenced set remixed and mashed with the west coast whomp, showing the continued innovation of Bassnectar. R/D, Babylon System, and Beats Antique with Souleye intertwined in the
mix, ended the amazing weekend for the Do Lab’s Lake Stage. By Saturday night after the opening of the Field stage, a massive interactive Symbiotic Creation art installation, Alex and Allyson Grey painted away to the likes of Les Claypool, Bassnectar, and many other performances, giving us insurance that the Symbiosis Gathering was the place to be. Pha-droid, an Andrew Jones and Phaedra Ana collaboration, was the talk of festi-goers hanging out at the Field Stage Sunday night, performing what has been called 4th dimensional dance, an interactive digital projection experience combined with interpretive dance and channeling. The amazing Shrine, and the way he’s able to build art installations basically from what many may call trash, set the vibe with the temple-esque Forest Stage. While all weekend the Forest Stage had its moments, it was Sunday late night, Vibesquad, ill gates, and many others threw down dust stomping performances. To truly understand, one had to be there to take a breathe of its greatness, so Big Up to all the people, creatures, flora, and spirits that allowed us to take in this wonderful weekend. Big Up to The Do Lab, Shrine, and Big Up to all the Symbiosis Crew, for coming through with one of the most beautiful northern California festivals yet! Kendo
DECIBEL FESTIVAL SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Seattle is a city of fresh air and fresh water. Hence it is a city of tall people and good sushi. Let me rephrase that – excellent sushi. I could go on forever about sushi breakfasts and sushi happy hours at 2 am, but the quality of music at Decibel Festival in Seattle wins even over the excellent sushi experiences. Once the lineup of over 100 performers and 30 music showcases was announced, it was definite – if you miss Decibel in Seattle, you miss the music event of the year! And I’m talking about electronic bass music, which seemed to be a major skew of the whole festival. So no wonder I packed my bags a week before my flight and even skipped on a few local parties featuring some of the talent I was going to see at Decibel. Let’s cut to the chase. Day one of the festival, or should I say night one, kicked off with a major success – Mad Professor brought the heat to the crowd and Benga with N-Type on the mic set it on fire. Literally. The speaker to my left (which sounded so clean by
the way) was smoking at the end of the show. And only the smell of burnt cables made the ecstatic crowd leave the club when the show was over, otherwise they would have kept demanding for more. I thought it would have been hard to top the first night, but I wasn’t ready for the second night that besides the massive rave with Caspa, N-Type, Boxcutter and hundreds of kids (and one 40-year-old man) with glowsticks was also the night of SureFire showcase featuring Pinch, DJG and Moldy. You know that kind of a night when you leave the club and you have that sweet feeling of satisfaction not as much from dancing to banging tunes, but from the way the music made you feel, and close your eyes, and slowly sway your body from side to side enjoying the warm blanket of sound... Juakali (who was absolutely genius host for that night) called it “Zombie Skank.” And I would have to agree – people were hypnotized and carried out of this world by the music, yet dancing away and having the best time of their lives.
And then came Saturday night that many people flew down for specifically. No wonder – Mary Anne Hobbs, Mala, Megasoid and Nosaj Thing. Who in their sane mind would have missed that?! Some technical difficulties made it a bit less magical than what it could have been, but overall – sweating bodies, smiling faces yelling for more bass, and pure good vibes. We cut the night short only to get up early, have some sushi, and head to the park for chill time with performances from notso-chill Sub Swara and Gaslamp Killer. Both sets brought people (who seemed to be fading away after three nights of parties and three hours of sleep total) back to life. For the closing of the festival we chose to see some experimental and techno performances, and we were not disappointed to say the least. Highly interactive Tim Exile’s performance blew us all away and Alter Ego reminded me why I still love techno music... um... good techno music. Decibel Festival, we’re coming next year. Seattle, hide your sushi! Katya 45
All photos by you
photo by Lisa Businovski
KITO Kito landed on everyone’s radar as soon as Skream first introduced her tune, ‘What If’ into his sets last year. Later released on his label, Disfigured Dubz, in March 2009, it sits comfortably among the works of such dubstep figureheads as Skream and Digital Mystiks as one of it’s deepest, heaviest 12”s to date. It is her forthcoming release though, “LFO,” which has been causing a lot of buzz well before its scheduled drop. In this, Kito’s impressively produced integration of Reija Lee’s accessible electro-pop vocals, with twisted Joker-like synths and gnarly basslines has a wholly unique sound which, frankly, could make anyone move. The fact that 22-year-old Maaike Kito hails from Perth, Western Australia is only further testament to the fact that refreshing perspectives often come from the most disparate of sources- and if “LFO” is any indication of what’s to come, she is certainly a producer to keep a close eye on. 48
interview by Josephine Tempongko
You’re going to have to give me a little background on where you’re from, you know, you’re 12 hours in the future and halfway across the world and all that, all I know is that the toilets flush in the opposite direction (maybe).
I left Denmark as soon as I finished school and moved to Perth to study fashion, which I quit after about a month to work at a record store and study music.
[Laughs] Yeah, I grew up in the middle of nowhere... five hours south of the most isolated city in the world, Perth. It’s a town called Denmark with about 5000 people in it. I lived like 17 kms out of that.
I think I just got too wrapped up in music! Got my first gigs and thought I’d “made it” or something. “I don’t need a back up plan!” [laughs] What an idiot! Just kidding, I don’t regret quitting fashion. It’s the same kind of thing, I guess. It’s a hobby and I had to give it my 100% if I wanted to get anywhere with it. So I chose music.
I grew up in this mud brick house in the trees, wood fire for heating, no microwave etc... hippie parents. Tell me about this mud brick house, and fishing and hippie parents? I grew up in this mud brick house in the trees, wood fire for heating, no microwave etc... hippie parents. My dad’s a mead maker (honey wine) and apiarist and my mum is an artist. Pretty creative household. I’m half-Dutch, half-Aussie. My dad comes from Holland and my mum Australia. I think I’m kind of Dutch in the way I think – all my Dutch family are really driven and slight workaholics, Aussie side of the family are really down to earth and quite laid back. I am curious, you said that Perth was quite isolated, and Denmark even more so. How does a girl living in a mud brick house with a fire stove get into deejaying and electronic music production? Ahh... yeah sometimes I wonder this myself. Not having much to do down there, I spent most of my time listening to music. All my friends were the same. I had some mates with turntables, and we used to just muck around and play at parties and stuff. Then I started buying records off the net, mostly drum and bass, and saved up for some decks myself. And how old were you then? Like... 15. Wicked.
Fashion didn’t do it for you then?
I haven’t been in Perth the whole time since school though. I spent a year traveling around and living in London for a year, and have been back in Perth almost two years now. What prompted the trip? Well honestly, it was a combination of wanting to explore and see the world, meeting a boy from London and the local scene slightly doing my head in.
I’d be out on some hippie farm in Portugal in a veggie garden listening to Burial, Luke Envoy, etc. Those are all good reasons. Yes, I think so. And travel made me love music for the right reasons again. Not that I didn’t in Perth, but I was pretty young and a bit overwhelmed by how serious everyone took it. Was being in London what got you into dubstep? Yeah it was, kind of. I had just started listening to it right before I left Perth, and it’s what I had on my iPod when I went traveling in Europe. I’d be out on some hippie farm in Portugal in a veggie garden listening to Burial, Luke Envoy, etc. Luke Envoy was actually the first dubstep I heard, “Honour Kill.” Ah yeah that was one of my first favorites, too.
Yeah, I thought I was pretty cool. [Laughs]
How so? And for what reasons? I guess when I was living in Perth, I was playing a lot and my musical intake was predominantly drum and bass. So instead of listening to lots of different stuff because I loved it, I was like, “What is everyone else gonna like?” I know it didn’t have to be like that, but that’s what my state of mind was like – thinking about how people would react to what I was going to play, and if they’d like it... Thinking too much, basically.
I know it didn’t have to be like that, but that’s what my state of mind was like – thinking about how people would react to what I was going to play, and if they’d like it... Thinking too much, basically. In a way as a DJ you have to keep that in mind though. It can be hard to find the right balance. Definitely. Anyway I think I just overdosed on one style of music. So traveling was cool and I wasn’t thinking about gigs, I was just listening to what I loved, and I think I’m in a pretty good space now. I listen to all sorts. What sorts of music were you listening to out and about then, if not drum and bass? Lots of bands, actually. Stuff I grew up on. And hip-hop. A bit of everything really, even some pop. I love Mike Patton, DJ Shadow, stuff on Mo’ Wax, Kool Keith.
...So traveling was cool and I wasn’t thinking about gigs, I was just listening to what I loved, and I think I’m in a pretty good space now. I listen to all sorts. DJ Shadow is retarded to watch. The whole time I was like “Are you fuckin’ kidding me?!” I think he was playing four turntables or something. With five arms and like, his toes.
Such a tune, I still love it! You grew up your whole life in Denmark then? And now you live in Perth?
So you said traveling made you love music for the right reasons again.
Bahaha! Skills! Serious.
I’d like to see him in the studio. He’s probably like, super mellow. One finger moving.
When you have stuff in your head and constant ideas, but don’t know how to execute them, it’s insanely frustrating!
why I started writing at 140. That’s just what happened, probably because I was listening to it at the time. So you really buckled down then, took it seriously. When was this? Hmm.. end of 2006 I think, I’m not sure. Months I’m okay with as I go by the weather, but I forget what I did in what year. Actually, it was end of 2007 as it was when I started studying Multimedia. I finish this November.
So it seems you’ve got pretty eclectic taste – drum and bass, hip hop, live bands, pop... Yeah for sure, just good music. Whatever genre it falls into. I don’t care for categorizing things much. My sister’s boyfriend had a band called The Dirty Whittle and they did an album called, wait for it... Groovecoreambientgrindbeefdiscorapefunkschwang
I sent Ollie a message on MySpace asking if I could send him something. I’d just finished “What If” and thought maybe this is actually not shit.
Woah! And yes, that’s “rape” and not “rap,” I think [laughs]. They had the best track names, too “Russian Polesmoker,” “Angelique in Revolt.”
I sent Ollie a message on MySpace asking if I could send him something. I’d just finished “What If” and thought maybe this is actually not shit. I hadn’t been sending anyone what I’d been working on, so I wasn’t sure.
It is very much not shit! I love that tune.
Ha! I should use these names!
Ooooh noooooo what are we talking about?! Hahaha! Whatever, it’s awesome! I endorse this conversation.
Thanks! Having [Skream’s] validation was wicked, got me motivated to do more at 140. Or more fullstop, I guess. I’ve been making other stuff too, not just dubstep. The new material is a bit all over the place. I’m really picky though, so not sure what will actually make it out there.
Okay, so how did you end up at 140bpm?
What kind of stuff have you been making?
After travel and what-not I got back to Perth, and was like, “Right, I’m gonna do this or I’ll regret it forever.” Get good at making tunes, that is, as I was shit for years.
Well the other day I started something at 110. It’s kind of an electro-pop thing. I’m working on material for Reija Lee, the girl that sang on “LFO.” We want to do some sort of EP together. There are three dubstep possibilities already, one that I love and two more that I like, but don’t love just yet so we’ll see what we end up using. We’re going to record vocals next weekend and see what works best.
Oh man. All winners!
I dare you to use “Anal Leakage.”
Yes! I love that mentality. Yeah, it’s good, isn’t it? So anyway I got myself a Macbook, got Logic, borrowed some monitors off a friend for a bit (before getting my own). When you have stuff in your head and constant ideas, but don’t know how to execute them it’s insanely frustrating! You just have to grind out the boring stuff and it’s so worthwhile. There’s no other option! And I’m not really sure
How did you end up connecting with Skream, Disfigured Dubz, etc.?
“LFO” has gone in a pretty different direction than “What If” and “Cold.” You and Reija seem to have found a winning combination.
Yeah definitely, and the new stuff is probably a bit more like “LFO.” Although I do have a lot of unfinished projects that are deeper, vibey tunes like “What If.” Right now I’m hooked on my hip-hop and poppy stuff though, so I keep doing more party tunes. Plus they’re vocal tracks as I’m writing them with Reija in mind. Your music has a really refreshing quality, that it seems to reflect the wide range of your musical interests... Quite a lot of recent dubstep releases these days are a bit stylistically redundant and here you’ve created something that has a very self-aware popular sensibility without losing attention to production quality and bass-weight. What have you been listening to lately that’s inspiring you to do that? Yeah for sure, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Lately I’ve been getting into a bit of minimal. I love Stephan Bodzin, and Trentemoller. Oh gosh, Trentemoller. It’s so damn good! Yeah sooo good! Every tune is win. I’m also getting back into hip hop, but like the hip hop I listened to in high school. What kind of hip hop? Dr. Dre! I can’t stop listening to “2001!” It’s like the soundtrack to my early high school years. How about Snoop Dogg. Doggystyle? Seriously. Oh yeah Snoop is a legend, I love him too. My love was rekindled when “Sexual Seduction” came out. OMFG! TUNE! Did you ever see him in The L Word? YES! Sooooo funny!!! And remember that porn thing he did? Where he just walked around in his house or something like, “Yeeeeah, I’m Snoop this is what goes down in my pad.” Yes! Did you see the porn music video for “Sexual Seduction?” Oh my... No! I can’t believe I haven’t seen that! I will be searching after we finish talking, trust!
photo by Lisa Businovski
This is nice how we’re talking about porn and anal leakage in between interview questions. Hahaha! We’re all class. Now what are your plans for the future? Do you think you’ll ever move to the UK? Yep! I plan on moving to London end of February next year. Very exciting! A lot to look forward to! Any releases people should look out for? My EP on Disfigured Dubz will be out really soon, October/ November I’m told. I also did a pop remix for an artist called Primary 1 on Phantasy, I’m not exactly sure when that’s coming out.
KITO’S TOP TEN PLAYLIST
Finally, is there anyone out there you’d like to Big Up? I’ll take this opportunity to big up my housemate Caroline for putting up with all the noise coming from my room! photo by Laurence Ffrench
1: LFO - Kito featuring Reija Lee 2: Outside - Primary 1 (Kito Remix) 3: Tron - Joker 4: Fields Of Emotion - Skream 5: Why Like This- Teebs 6: Siberian Poker - TRG 7: Watch The Sun Come Up - Example (Joker & Ginz Remix) 8: Cold - Kito (Vaccine Remix) 9: Someone - DJ Madd (Breakage Remix) 10: Don’t Wanna Lose You - Kito
The Neverending Story
SORIN BECHIRA Some may say black and white images look dull, but Sorin Bechira obviously proves them wrong. In fact he makes his images so inviting yet mysterious that it’s hard to stop looking at them and try to decipher all the symbols and stop the neverending flow of his compositions. Instead of using millions of hues, Sorin works with millions of shades of grey, making the viewers adjust their eyes and minds to shift from looking to seeing... Drawing his inspiration from the likes of Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock, Sorin blends traditional techniques with contemporary media into his signature style of imagery. Melting horses, dragon heads, time pieces, interwinding masks and hands – you really have to look closely to see what it’s all about. Sorin gives us a little hint...
interview by Yuan Zhou
What’s your background and what are your main influences?
Yes, I am. I don’t think that you can make it in this industry if you are not a perfectionist.
I’m Romanian and I live in Romania, a former communist country in Eastern Europe, now part of the EU. I improved my skills a lot since I became a slashTHREE [popular online art collective and community] member, but mosly I am influenced by deconstructivism, art nouveau and surrealism.
Some artists speak about art belonging to the process, others are more focused on the finished work. Which camp are you in?
From your earliest memories of making art, do you remember what your first works were like? My first artworks were abstract too, but I used completely different techniques: non-acid engraving (monotype, linotype, drypoint, etc). Back then I was in love with traditional graphic techniques and I’m still in love with them but I don’t manage to make any free time for it. But I was experimenting with those techinques too. I’ve always liked to combine different mediums in order to get a unique result. As a young artist, whose work did you admire? I’ve always admired the work of Salvador Dali, H.R. Giger, Zdzislaw Beksinski, Picasso and Jackson Pollock. Was there a moment of personal achievement when you decided to make art your profession? Well, art is not my profession yet, graphic design is. But I hope to make the switch one day.
It’s all about our continuous inner battle in order to obtain the balance. Tell us about your piece “The Neverending Story.” Where does this piece start and end? I don’t think it has a begining or an end. It’s all about our continuous inner battle in order to obtain the balance. It’s the continuous battle of our fears, frustrations, disappointments and dreams until we can reach perfection. But I think we can never reach perfection. So it is a neverending story! So I assume you’re a perfectionist?
I’m 100% the process kind of guy. I love to experiment with different ways of visual expressions and I like to mix various techniques and mediums in my works. I like to discover and I’m always ready to change something if it doesn’t work for me. And because I’m so thrilled about the process, I often lose myself working hard at various details. I’m always looking for a certain composition, flow and rhythm. If I’m satisfied with the composition and the flow, everything else will be fine.
I’m not afraid to change in the middle of the process if I think of something better. So there are no rules and that is why I have so much fun creating art. So how complete is the idea in your mind, when you begin a new piece? Almost every time I start something, I have a rough idea in my head and I’m playing with it for a while, sometimes for weeks, until I’m happy with it. Only when I’m happy with it I begin to lay it down. And here the fun starts. Here is the part when all the details come together. But sometimes I start with one idea and end up with another. I’m not afraid to change in the middle of the process if I think of something better. So there are no rules and that is why I have so much fun creating art.
...in my dreams I can control my flight. It’s fantastic! It’s pure freedom! I hope someday I will be able to fly again. Do you dream a lot? What are you dreams about? Lately I don’t remember my dreams in the morning, maybe because I’m too tired. But I always like to remember my dreams where I fly. And I like them because
in my dreams I can control my flight. It’s fantastic! It’s pure freedom! I hope someday I will be able to fly again. Do you have a vision that you want to manifest in your life? Not really. I like to go with the flow. I try to live in the moment and not think about tomorrow too much. At least not yet. But I would love to travel around the world for a few years, to see new places and to meet new people. Unfortunately I don’t have the luxury to travel a lot. But every time I get the chance, I always refill my batteries thinking about new projects and new ideas.
Never stop experimenting. Be a perfectionist, be restless, but always be a dreamer. Where would be your dream place to live? Somewhere warm, where the mountains met the sea. What advice would you give to younger designers who aspire to be like you? I have a motto that works everytime: “Never stop experimenting. Be a perfectionist, be restless, but always be a dreamer.” This is all you must know and all you must do. You are the art director of x3 studios. What are you guys currently working on? We are working on some interesting websites based on heavy hand drawn illustration in Flash. It will be awesome when we finish it. And also we are working on a little car racing online game, also in Flash. We hope to release them this year. And in the near future we hope to launch some user experience applications. So stay tuned because some nice things will happen. What’s your plan after this interview? I’m going to meet my friends and have a couple of beers to celebrate the first day of a brand new weekend!
To see more of Sorin Bechira’s beautiful work go to www.bechira.com
The Time Has Come
This Is Not What You Think It Is
Do Not Disturb
(with Paranoid Park)
Let It Melt
photo by Guillaume Simoneau
POIRIER Based out of Montreal, Canada, Ninja Tune recording artist Poirier has been making a name for himself in the world of bass music for years. With numerous remixes under his belt, notably Lady Sovereign, Busy Signal, and Erup; his versatility and creativity extend throughout multi-genre dance floors far and wide. His two latest EP’s Soca Sound System and Run the Riddim showcase his signature dancehall and soca influenced production that borders between electro and glitch; while the third Ninja Tune EP Low Ceiling is set to drop in January ‘10. As if his production and touring schedule are not enough; his Montreal-based party “Karnival” recently kicked off showcasing his attraction to diverse sound system culture which Poirier chats ‘bout on this exclusive interview with Big Up Magazine.
interview by Lud Dub
A lot of people have a hard time pinpointing your style of music. How would you describe it yourself? The answer is always different depending on what time you ask me about. At the beginning of my career it was mostly ambient music. Then it moved towards abstract hip-hop. Soon afterward I integrated reggae dancehall. Now I’m comfortable with many styles. I guess I’m confident enough about myself where I can do a dancehall EP; but also do soca or more electro stuff and can take dubstep and kuduro influences and integrate to my sound. It might sound different for all the people around, but basically I’m influenced by many styles and not trying to jump 100% in one style. I believe music is always influenced by other sources and a genre that is only influenced by its own genre is kind of going to a “cul de sac” or dead end. If you just look at Jamaican dancehall right now musically speaking there is almost no more links to reggae. The link is the patois, the singing. You can hear a Jamaican artist over a gospel riddim, dancehall riddim, electro riddim, or over hip-hop and we’re all gonna call it dancehall, ‘cause it’s singing in the patois Jamaican style. But musically speaking if you delete the voice you will have a pretty hard time to label it as dancehall.
I believe music is always influenced by other sources and a genre that is only influenced by its own genre is kind of going to a “cul de sac” or dead end. Being based out of Montreal, what is your connection with Caribbean music? And why were you drawn to it? It was [developing] slowly but surely. I guess the first influences were listening to The Orb. In ‘91 they had reggae and dub influences on the album The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld which was almost 20 years ago. From then I started listening to King Tubby and was really into the Blood & Fire label re-issues. Then I started looking into the genealogy tree of reggae and fell into the early digital dancehall sounds of the late 80s – early 90s. I can say I pretty much like everything. My projects started in 2003 with two dancehall riddim collaborations. The lyrics were more like rap over dancehall riddims
and at that time Kid 606 and DJ/Rupture spotted the music and Kid 606 asked me to collaborate on the Shockout series of 12” on the Tigerbeat6 label. I was really focusing on digital ragga and working with electro producers to work with dancehall acapellas. I can say that was pretty much the beginning. The soca arrived later through hearing Bunji Garlin, as he pretty much has a dancehall flavored vocal delivery, and that was the best introduction to me. What are some of the unique aspects of the Montreal or Canadian music scene? I would say we’re open-minded. Quebec and Canada are places without enough strong internal markets so that means we’re keen on listening to what’s going on abroad. I was always following what was going on in my country, the States, UK, France, Europe, and also the Caribbean stuff. So it’s not about just following what’s down on my street but what is going on in the world. Being able to speak French and English I was open to other kinds of music. For example I really dig the dancehall coming out of Guadalupe and Martinique. These people are the driving force for the French market in the last couple years. That’s not something that maybe the American audience knows really well. Most of your original tracks feature vocals. What is your process of creating these tracks? How is it different from standalone tracks without music? It all starts by making a loop and driving it by myself. Sometimes when I step back a little bit I find some riddims where I think to myself, “Oh, I can hear someone on this riddim” and that the riddim can be sufficient by itself or fit well with vocals. Then I think about which vocalist would fit well on the riddim; as you can have the best riddim ever but you have to find the right vocalist to fit over the riddim. After that I reach the vocalist, either someone already around me or someone I’ve never collaborated with before. For example YT was featured on the Run the Riddim EP and that was the first time we collaborated and I was really happy about the outcome. 95% of the cases, the way I work with the vocalist is I send them a loop which translates the main idea of the song, but I don’t give them the song structure or direction so they can go with their own length of verses, bridges, choruses, etc.
So it’s a lot of confidence in them. They kinda have the skeleton of the song but not the structure; they have the main bones to work with. The moment after they record the structure of the songs I may have them tweak a couple things. It’s a lot of back and forth. It’s not about me making a riddim and just recording a vocalist but about making a song together.
...when I bought the first Dizzee Rascal CD Boy In Da Corner I was like, “I don’t know if I understand it” but it was so fucking new that I had to! I’ve been a big fan of Burro Banton for years. How did you go about choosing Burro for the “Run the Riddim” EP? And how was it working with him and his unique vocal style? It was the first time I did a vocal collaboration without being lyrically involved with the vocalist. Ninja Tune had the hookup and they made everything possible in reaching Burro and sending him my riddim. It went pretty well actually. The moment Burro had the riddim it took two weeks before getting the acapella; it was a pretty fast turnaround. Even vocalists in Montreal can take four months to finish the track. So it was really a professional Jamaican way; get the riddim, turn it around, and finish it up. It was really a dream working with Burro! As a DJ sometimes I play like two of his tracks, three or sometimes even four and sometimes I ask myself “Am I playing too much Burro?” Then I say, “Fuck it!” I can’t think of many artists who have successfully created their own rendition of soca. Tell us your motivation behind the “Soca Sound System” EP? Was there a learning process or did it come naturally? Yeah soca is still really Trinidad-related and most of it is produced on the island. It was a slow process but it started for real when I bought a compilation called Lift Up Your Leg And Trample on Honest Jon’s record label from the UK. When I bought the compilation I didn’t know if I liked it, but I was curious about what it was and didn’t know how to really understand it.
photo by SPG
Don’t put the music in a certain category. It’s just music. Maybe you don’t understand some of the words or where it’s coming from but it doesn’t mean you can’t like it. It’s the main philosophy that has been driving me. Kinda like when I bought the first Dizzee Rascal CD Boy in da Corner I was like, “I don’t know if I understand it” but it was so fucking new that I had to! So I was listening to Lift Up Your Leg and Trample and I decided to play a track in my DJ sets once in a while when I was feeling a really high peak energy moment and thought maybe we can go faster. It started like that and even sometimes I would start playing maybe two soca tracks; but mainly to nonCaribbean people where it was kinda hard 60
to sneak in these tracks and find the right time and momentum. So I started doing some bootleg remixes and found some soca acapellas on the internet. I was like, “What if I tried to do a soca riddim” and did a Bunji Garlin and JMC Triveni bootleg of “Doi Festival.” It was the first time where I was not doing a double time 160 bpm track but a real 160 bpm track, and it was really my trial. I was real happy with it and got good feedback.
Doing bootleg remixes was a nice step but the real step was to make original production with original vocals, with real artistic value for me. That’s why I tried the Soca Sound System EP and kinda challenged Face-T and MC Zulu to do something on these really fast riddims that they never did before. I liked how it showed the different levels of soca; the raw energy of it with the instrumental track, the cross over dancehall with Face-T, and the Trinidad vocalist Mr. Slaughter.
What can we expect from Low Ceiling, the third EP on Ninja Tune? Well, the EP project is actually a whole album dispatched in three EPs. The whole project is Electro/Caribbean music. Soca is one aspect, dancehall is one aspect, and the third EP is all instrumentals mostly around 125 bpm. Some of them will have a Caribbean feeling but on a slower tempo. Some will be really electro which will blend nicely with the soca and the dancehall. This EP will be the link between all that. It’s really Caribbean electro, and from the most electro to the most Caribbean track. That’s really the goal.
For me deejaying is about playing tracks that people have never heard, brand new tracks I’ve done, and also brand new stuff my producer friends give me. It’s all about sharing music. Tell as about your new party “Karnival.” What made you want to start it and what can people expect? It’s going to be in a huge venue with 900+ people capacity. It’s going to be in the same point of view as my albums with Caribbean music versus electronic music. The main catch phrase is “happy and intense music,” which I want to play and share with people. It could be Caribbean music or even African music like kuduro. Or even baile funk, which I will likely not focus too much on. It won’t be a dubstep night even if I play some dubstep. I want to focus on syncopation. For the first party we have Dub Boy from Bristol, Paul Devro from Mad Decent from LA, and a bunch of MC’s playing with my set. It’s about the music and about giving a certain place for the MC’s, sound system style. We will have cameos and surprise MC’s to jump on the stage. For example I might play a vocal track and do a rewind and introduce the MC on the stage to jump on the mic. It will be more seasonal like maybe four times a year; more of an event so that people will be really excited about it.
Tell us a little about your live performances and whether you plan on incorporating other elements?
What other projects do you have in the works, what can we expect from you going into 2010?
It’s straight deejaying with CDs and sound system style. I play a lot with Face-T and MC Zulu. I really enjoy deejaying with MCs. Not only cause I have tracks with them but I play a lot of vocal music which I find is the best combination with the music I like. For me deejaying is about playing tracks that people have never heard, brand new tracks I’ve done, and also brand new stuff my producer friends give me. It’s all about sharing music.
Finishing the third EP and putting all three of the EPs together in an album with a bonus CD. I’m working on the bonus CD and gathering remixes and new vocal versions. I already have someone voicing one of the “Run the Riddim” versions. I have Mikey Dangerous from Montreal, winner of the Juno Award last year, which is the equivalent of the Grammy’s in the US.
Which producers and musical genres are inspiring and shaping your sound right now?
I sometimes feel like I’m at the ice cream shop. Do I want that flavor or that flavor? There is a time for every kind of music really.
Starting with Caribbean music Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor is really pushing the sound, really wild! I find it really challenging that it’s happening on a pop scale. I find it almost unbelievable. I really like Black Chiney production as well. Outside of that I’ve been a fan of Roots Manuva, even more of the dub versions of his albums. I like Buraka Som Sistema. I sometimes feel like I’m at the ice cream shop. Do I want that flavor or that flavor? There is a time for every kind of music really.
Trust your taste. Don’t always trust the hype, but trust your taste. Cause your taste will stay defined for your life but the hype will always go away. What artists would you like to remix or work with that you haven’t already? Mr. Vegas is one of my favorite artists that I would like to work with. Sometimes it’s a little like Burro Banton, that I play too much of Mr. Vegas and have no choice. I like Buju Banton a lot too. Dizzee Rascal, Roots Manuva. I would actually like to do something with Busta Rhymes. He is wild and can flow on any riddim. Would love to have a session with him! Even Missy Elliot. What I like most about these dreams is that it’s possible.
I’m gathering the remixes and I might put some dub versions or different tweakings of some of the riddims as well. Maybe somewhere between 10-15 tracks on the bonus CD. I’m also working on releasing something in Argentina with a Spanish rapper in Montreal called Boogat, a track that is cumbia-reggaeton on the Zizek label. Right now we’re working on an EP together. Got some vocalists and remixers lined up for a vinyl and digital release in January. I’m also gonna be touring in Brazil, Mexico, Europe, the States, and Canada. If I have enough time I wanna jump to Kingston, Jamaica in December. Any words of wisdom to aspiring DJs and producers? Trust your taste. Don’t always trust the hype, but trust your taste. Cause your taste will stay defined for your life but the hype will always go away. Be open-minded and be able to challenge yourself and people who listen to you. Also don’t put the music in a certain category. It’s just music. Maybe you don’t understand some of the words or where it’s coming from but it doesn’t mean you can’t like it. It’s the main philosophy that has been driving me. It’s the bridge between different communities and genres of music.
LONDON CALLING RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY “Without further ado... Here’s the deal, yo. Log out of Facebook for a second, make yourself comfortable, get old-school grabbing pen and paper, and dip deep into the questions below. Be creative, be funny. But above all, be real – frontin’ is only for those at the back. It might take some time, but good things come to those who wait.” That’s how the application to attend the Red Bull Music Academy begins. 2000 people from all over the world (and we mean ALL over the world, including kids from Angola, Ghana, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, and South Korea) did exactly that – logged out of Facebook, took their time and turned in applications to be a part of four-week life-changing experience that is called the Academy.
Applicants to the Red Bull Music Academy don’t need to “own a modular synth museum, demonstrate their diploma in audio engineering, or prove that the editorial team of allmusic.com couldn’t keep up with them.” But they definitely would have to be doing something special with whatever talent they have – only 60 applicants were selected to become participants of the Academy in London from February 7 to March 12, 2010.
Applicants to the Red Bull Music Academy don’t need to “own a modular synth museum, demonstrate their diploma in audio engineering, or prove that the editorial team of allmusic.com couldn’t keep up with them.”
Scanning through 2000 applications, the Red Bull Music Academy concluded that London’s small but influential dubstep scene continues to send ripples of influence to beatmakers around the world, with many experimental electronic producers incorporating sub-bass sounds into their work. Likewise, rap artists such as Kanye West and KiD CuDi continue to influence hardcore US hip hop producers in opening their minds towards European electro.
With previous participants like TRG, Mike Slott, Cardopusher, Hudson Mohawke, Flying Lotus, and lecturers like Adrian Sherwood, Benga, Mala, David Rodigan, and Kode9, the Academy is constantly bridging the gap between the accomplished and the talented. We have a feeling that the Academy 2010 in London – the world’s capital of “forward” music – will not disappoint. The Red Bull Music Academy has been changing lives for over ten years – and not only the lives of 60 ...London’s small but lucky participants every year but influential dubstep scene also the lives of the hungry music lovers all over the world, through continues to send ripples combining the many worlds of of influence to beatmakers musical genres in the galaxy of the around the world, with many Red Bull Music Academy Radio. Relaunched in 2009, the Red Bull experimental electronic Music Academy Radio boasts a producers incorporating subcollection of 2000 exclusive shows from across the musical spectrum, bass sounds into their work. including DJ sets, country related weekly shows, live recordings, and of course our all time favorite documentary-style stories from artists. You can now take a virtual walk through London with Mala, listen to what’s in Freq Nasty’s headphones, and hear hung-over M.I.A. talk about her conflicts with the Department of Homeland Security – all available through the vast resources database of RBMA radio. To see the latest happenings directly from the Red Bull Music Academy, follow the Red Bull Couch on the Big Up website.
was a life changing and mind blowing experience to say the least. The Academy put people in front of me that
I would never have dreamt of working with, so
you couldn’t help but learn something new from each person. Also the lectures we had were really
inspiring and gave me tips on my creativity, the music industry, and everything in between. I heard music I never would have listened to and worked with people I never would have thought to work with. I came home a changed person!” Andreya Triana, Participant, Academy 2006, Melbourne was in the Academy in 2003, when it was in Cape Town. I remember coming away
from it feeling really
refreshed musically. I went in thinking ‘This
is this kind of music’ and ‘This goes here,’ and after two weeks in Cape Town I realized, ‘Music is music.’ It
opened my ears to all kinds of music.”
Mike Slott, Participant, Academy 2003, Cape Town 63
photo by Regal D
12TH PLANET According to Wikipedia “the growing disruptions in our present day weather patterns, increased earthquake and volcanic activity, the gradual slowing of the Earth’s rotation, reports of magnetic deviations, and other anomalies are being precipitated by unique and unrecognized forms of energy being released from the core of the Earth due to the approach of the 12th Planet.” If we are talking about John Dadzie a.k.a. 12th Planet, Wikipedia is not lying – global warming on the dancefloor, bassline earthquakes, volcanic eruptions in the crowd, slow head-bopping, and low frequencies causing magnetic deviations in the club are common symptoms of every 12th Planet public appearance. Having hustled in the bass music industry for a decade, 12th Planet is now well-equipped to bring the heat, causing explosions all throughout the universe. Shortly after one of his mind-blowing performances, we had a chat with him on the roof of the Standard hotel (standard for John). How was this planet born? What course of orbit is he planning to travel? And how on earth does he always manage to get free drinks?!
interview by Katya Guseva
Have you done this before? No, this is my first time. So you gotta help me out. Tell me what’s going on with 12th Planet? I’ve been doing a lot of dubstep projects, if you want to be genre-specific. I’ve recently done a track with the legendary lyricist Ras Kass, I also helped write a song on Tiesto’s new album Kaleidescope. I’ve done a load of official remix work for the likes of NORE, Kid Cudi, MSTRKRFT, Little Jinder, Nadastrom... I’ve also been busy doing collaborations with Datsik, Antiserum, Flinch, and Deathface. I’ve got a lot of other projects coming in, which I keep top secret just in case. Top secrets are my favorite! [Laughs] All I can speak of is what is done and out there. How did you get the links with all these big producers?
means necessary. I’ve worked hard on it for so long, I want everybody to hear it! How long have you been doing this? Well I think I first identified myself with music when I was three or four, being at my grandmother’s house and hearing my cousin play 1080KDAY and old Eazy-E albums. I think it was that energy that hooked me into the music and subculture. I can remember my mom buying me my first singles when I was about five or six – Michael Jackon’s “Bad”, Young MC’s “Bust a Move,” and Kool Moe Dee’s “I Go To Work”. As I got older I started playing in bands and writing lyrics for fun. I discovered the rave culture when I was about 14, and I started really gravitating towards hardcore/gabber and jungle/ drum & bass. I think I got the passion for dubstep about three-four years ago through the inspiration of the Mary Anne Hobbs radio show, and Tech itch. Then I got into Skream, Benga, and the DMZ movement and from then on I was sold.
A lot of the links started coming through with my new management. My manager Danny, who runs Media Contender, was one of the first guys who tried to take a management type of role with me. He’d go out there and seek remixes, seek artists, seek gigs. And then he teamed up with Adrian Martinez who manages MSTRKRFT, The Bloody Beetroots, Wolfgang Gartner – a whole assortment of electronic DJs. From that they started really pulling strings and that was the beginning of the new 12th Planet.
I’m just trying to make music that makes people happy, or gives them some sort of experience – happy, sad, mad, anxious...
...my intention is to share my art with everyone by any means necessary. I’ve worked hard on it for so long, I want everybody to hear it!
Yes, I actually put it out myself, when I was 19. It was right after 9/11, my first year out of high school and no one wanted to release tracks made by people from America. (I don’t think it was so much of nationalist thing, but at the time there were just too many great producers from the home of D&B.) So I decided to release it myself and not get into politics. So my partner Lith and I rallied $1000 of our own money and got the vinyl pressed, steeled, and boxed in USA. The label was named after the street in LA I grew up near – Imperial.
You do seem like the new 12th Planet with all your music being more accessible these days.
Was your first released track dnb?
What happened with that label? Yes, it’s definitely more accessible to the public now, as opposed to the earlier routine – making a song, trying to get it signed, hopefully finding someone to get you a deposit for it, finally 10 months later it comes out... Now the only label I release with is SMOG and sometimes I’ll blog it, “Here it is for free, take it!” ‘Cause I’d rather have 20 thousand people download it than 500 people buy it on vinyl. I still like it to be preserved on vinyl but my intention is to share my art with everyone by any
My partner who was involved in it moved to Hungary to become a doctor, so we kinda put it on hiatus and then dubstep came around. So you started putting out dubstep tracks then? YES! My first dubstep track “28 Hours Later” was released on a Swedish label – Red Volume. It came out around the same time as the DMZ 3 year in March 2008. Shortly after
that release I approached Drew Smog about the idea of starting up a record label based on the local brand of events he was promoting. At the same time Nick Argon and Matty G gave me a release on Argon entitled “Element 16.” What’s cool about Nick is that he was one of the first people to even play any sort of song I made, about 10 years ago. Then XI, Bombaman, Plastician, Joe Nice and Tes La Rok started playing my tracks, and from there a giant snowball effect began. One of my fondest memories so far was at WMC [Winter Music Conference] and SXSW [South By Southwest] this year. I think I went to most of the dubstep shows and I could have sworn that I heard at least one of my songs in each of the DJ’s sets! It was an honor to see the likes of Skream, Rusko, Benga, Kutz, Plastician, Mala, and more – all playing my songs, and getting rewinds with them. It made two years of hard work feel rewarded! What does 12th Planet mean? It’s actually taken from the Babylonian Creation Epoch called the Enuma Elish and refers to the Planet Nibiru. This story of creation is one of the earliest of all traditions and is the pretext for the creation story in the Talmud, the Vedas, the Greek Pantheon, and the Bible. The story of the 12th Planet was popularized by Zecharia Sitchin, who was a specialist in the Sumerian, and Hebrew language. According to his theory the 12th Planet revolves in a bi-eliptical orbit between two Solar Systems, and only returns to our solar system once every 3600 years. I always wondered where the terms “Adam & Eve” or “Garden of Eden” all derived from. And it was from this book “the 12th Planet” my persona was formed. I wanted my music to be different and off axis. Hence the name, and reference to an entity that only returns to our solar system once every 3600 years. I identified myself with the story, and it influenced my way of writing music. I wanted to stand out from the norm, you could say. I feel there’s only so many ways to make dubstep, there are some constraints in terms of bpm etc. My idea was to present dubstep in a more happy and celebratory manner, as opposed to mellow and laid back, but with an intergalactic twist. No I’m not trying to turn it into party music, although I would be hypocrite saying it. [Laughs] I’m just trying to make music that makes people feel something, or gives the listener some sort of experience – happy, sad, mad, anxious etc... How do you start your process in the studio? Do you have to be in a certain mood to make music?
Usually when I start I have no idea where it’s gonna go. It all depends on how I feel that day when I wake up in the morning. If I’m happy I most probably will make a song that’s gonna make you wanna dance; if I’m mad, the music will come out angry. But at the end of the day it’s all about playing it out live and making people go through emotions I identify it with. So do you feel different about every song you make? I definitely feel very connected with my music. I try and get my tracks out to the world without loosing what’s behind the ones and zeros. I tend to choose very strange names for my songs as well. I sometimes leave the names of the files as they appear in my filing system. Like “68” was the 68th track that I wrote as 12th Planet. “28 Hours Later” was the 28th song and it took me 28 hours straight to finish.
I just want to see dubstep appeal to all kinds of crowds. I want everyone to be accepted and included in the magic of this movement we are a part of. Wow! 28 hours! How do you know when the track is finished? I feel like the Universe is telling me, when it’s done. “You’ve done enough work on this one, John. Now move on” [Laughs]. “68”was a big project for me. It was completely influenced by my trip to DMZ 3 year. It was the first time that I heard dubstep outside of USA, and it was the best comradery that I ever experienced! It was probably only 25-30% percent of the English, and the rest were from all over the world – USA, South Africa, Japan, New Zealand, Slovenia, Russia, Austria, Belgium! It was then, I saw that there was a universal appeal for the movement and there was some sort of unspoken connection between everyone. Would you say you are more influenced by the international music or the stuff that’s coming out of the States? I think I’m more influenced by American club music culture. Although I produce dubstep, I draw inspiration from the producers of house, Baltimore club, hip hop, electro, 80s funk, and UK d&b. I try to crossover that same energy into dubstep, because it’s something different. There are so many people trying to sound like Skream, Caspa, Rusko, or Mala, but I want to do something 66
kinda different. I am inspired by what I see around me every day. I come from a town where there’s an electronic music party every night of the week with large attendances! ! In my opinion I live in the home of the next generation of the party scene. It is only in my competitive spirit to want dubstep to have the same success as the indie/electro movement. I just want to see dubstep appeal to all kinds of crowds. I want everyone to be accepted and included in the magic of this movement we are a part of. What about the underground nature of the scene? Some say it will destroy the very essence of the independent underground sound... I’ve been making underground music for so long now and when I sit the studio I’m always thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool if Snoop Dogg was on this track?” And now it’s happening; people like Rhiana and Chase & Status are working together. I did a track with one of my favorite lyricists of all time Ras Kass, Roots Manuva has just done a track with Breakage, and Rusko is making tracks for movies... In order to push the boundaries of the music, we have to experiment with new ideas! And if you jump on it earlier you’ll be at the top when it gets big! Making it to the top is definitely a good goal, but at the end of the day it’s all about making music that people can relate to. True. How would you describe your work process in the studio? I go on a mental trip (to the point I even forget to eat sometimes), and all I can think of is this story I’m creating. The exposition starting at the intro, the rising action is the breakdown before the drop, the climax is the one second right before the sheer bass pounds! I’m seeing it as somewhat an audio story and every sound is a character in the story.
Do you want to write music for movies?
Making it to the top is definitely a good goal, but at the end of the day it’s all about making music that people can relate to.
Do you have a day job?
What’s your favorite one? The Lead! The Leading man. He’s always the guy I come to! I always try to make him larger than life, yet easy to connect with. He always stands out.
I do! It’s really my ultimate goal. But at the moment I haven’t mastered my craft. I wanna be able to go to someone like Enio Morricone or Danny Elfman and say, “This is what I need done,” and I can have it scored in four parts for an orchestra. But I think I gotta go back to school for that. [Laughs]
No, music is my full time job. I’m making money off gigs, licensing and remixing. It takes so much work! And a lot of favors! [Laughs] When I started doing gigs I’d get $100 a gig and I ended up having three gigs a night! So I got into this mentality of partying every day of the week and getting paid for it! I wouldn’t have it any other way!
photo by Colin Young-Wolff
Chris (Plastician): You obviously like your fedora hat. If you could own a fedora hat made of any material in the world, what would it be? I think chimp skin would be nice. YEEEEEEEAH a Monkey hat! That would be mad! Or a fedora made out of Doritos! No! Fedora made out of macaroni and cheese!
Drew: What corporate sponsor would it take for you to admit that you’ve totally sold out? I think some cigarette company. Maybe even a weapons defense company. Now that I think about it, if Weapons Defense approached me, I think I’ve officially sold out.
Ivy: What is your secret recipe for getting everyone to buy you a drink? A magician never reveals his secrets. [Laughs]. You have to start with a hearty “Daaamn, duuude, bro...” and then make Drew buy it.
ISE Ratinan Thaijareorn a.k.a. ISE is a 24-year-old artist born and raised in Bangkok,Thailand. ISE’s beautiful illustrations with aerial rendering style and clever use of pastel colors seem to only show off the gentle female nature; however, if you take your time to notice the intricate details of her paintings, you’ll see layers of symbolism that ISE describes as “visions, illusions, madness, genius and poetry.”
interview by Katya Guseva
Please introduce yourself. I’m just an ordinary illustrator who has personal preference for drawing pictures of females. Your work is very gentle and airy, almost floating in space... Does it reflect your personality in a way? I thought that you could tell a lot about my character looking at my work, but actually, it’s more about my mood and emotions... Sometimes if I’m happy I will make my illustrations in pastel colors and flowing, but if I’m depressed, it turns to dark and gloomy colors all of a sudden. But you can tell about my personality if you look closely at the details of my work. Kind of like... delicate and serious. Why do you draw women and how do you relate to them personally? I’m inspired by my mother. She is the head of my family. She takes care of me and my sister all by herself. She is the reason why I’m attracted to strong feminine character. What are you listening to when you’re working?
Would you say that art is natural and easy for you or is it a constant challenge?
tarot cards style to represent the story line.
I can say that I make it easy for myself, because I treat drawing as a friend. I know everything about my art and my art knows everything about me. We trust each other and I can be totally free and let my imagination flow.
I made “Noir” during my depression period. I quit my job, had my heart broken and all that. I saw everyone around feeling sorry for me and it make me realize that I couldn’t just sit around doing nothing and I needed to let my deepest feelings and despair out through drawing. So I made “Noir,” which is now very meaningful to me. It reminds me to keep going.
...I treat drawing as a friend. I know everything about my art and my art knows everything about me. We trust each other and I can be totally free and let my imagination flow. Why do you always have animals present in your work? Do they symbolize anything? I believe humans are very much similar to animals. We all have same instincts and feelings: hunger, anger, happiness, agony, lust etc...
What is “Noir” about?
What was your most challenging project? Why? and how did you work it out? I’ve had the biggest challenge working on textile design. I’ve worked on a design of a bag and a scarf and it was hard, because it’s not meant to be done just on a computer, but I must follow up when it comes to printing on fabric and make sure that it comes out right. It was just a scarf and a bag, but it was really fun,I’d like to do it again even though it’s more complicated than other projects. What is your ordinary day like?
When there are animals present, I feel my art is complete. Beautiful painting of a woman is fulfilled by the more dreadful painting of an animal.
Working all day or hanging out with friends.
Different stuff... I listen to R&B, jazz, house and funk. It really makes me feel passionate and inspired when I work. How long does it take you to finish a piece?
What is the story behind “Death”? What is it about?
I would be a pâtissier and make a lot of beautiful cakes. Ah that sounds good!
It depends on a certain project. The more details I want to show, the more time it takes. But normally it takes me from a couple of days to maybe a week.
Actually, “Death” is one of my illustrations for a fashion magazine in Thailand. I had to illustrate a story called “Disappeared and Died in the Forest.” I choose medieval art and
If you could live your dream for a day, what would you do?
I made “Noir” during my depression period. I quit my job, had my heart broken and all that. I saw everyone around feeling sorry for me and it make me realize that I couldn’t just sit around doing nothing and I needed to let my deepest feelings and despair out through drawing. So I made “Noir,” which is now very meaningful to me. It reminds me to keep going. 70
For more on ISE go to dieeis.wordpress.com
RYUICHI SAKAMOTO The final scene of Babel directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu is arguably one of the most emotionally explosive movie scenes of the decade. Great acting is obviously a big part of it, but what touches most of the hearts is the beautifully powerful soundtrack, composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto. Best known for movie scores to Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky, Femme Fatale and dozens of others, Sakamoto is a composer, musician, producer, actor, and also an environmental activist. An Academy Award, two Golden Globes, a Grammy, and the UN Environment Programme’s Echo Award for his ground breaking work in eco-friendly touring and music distribution are only a few awards he has received throughout his music career. Sakamoto’s pioneering work in electronic music as a part of Yellow Magic Orchestra is a huge influence in techno and ambient worlds. And his collaborations with Alva Noto were so ground-breaking that they became classic releases as soon as albums hit the stores! I could go on for days about Sakamoto’s musical achievements, innovations and awards, but what really matters – and what no words can make you feel – is an incredible emotional expression that is present in every piece of Sakamoto’s music. Ryuichi is currently touring in Europe with his unique two-pianos live show, but he took out the time to answer a few of our questions.
interview by Katya Guseva
Was it a natural process for you to become a musician? Hmm... Yes and no. Music has always been with me. It was very natural, because I would live with music all the time anyway, whether it’s my profession or not. I even took piano and composition lessons since I was little. But I was already 27 or 28 years old when I finally determined that creating music was my profession. I felt that I was forced to admit to the fame by encountering the success of the Yellow Magic Orchestra back then. The public pressure about being very famous was quite heavy at that time, and it was hard for me to admit the fact. Tell us about working on “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.” How was it a “life-changing experience” for you? First of all, I was a fan of Mr. Oshima’s films since I was in high school. Of course, I couldn’t imagine I would work with him back then. So, I was almost shocked when I got the offer from him to act in the film. It was a good and funny memory when Mr. Oshima came to my office by himself. [Laughs] He brought the script to me and asked me to act. Instead of saying “yes”, I don’t know why but I asked him, “I would act if I can do the music”. He immediately answered “yes”. The deal was made.
...Sometimes [...] producers and directors demand and insist on having me to write a kind of music that I don’t believe is a right fit for a scene, so I have to fight for it. I enjoyed the shooting... It was fun to work with international actors and crew. We had some good times with David Bowie! Then, after the shooting was done we saw the rough cut and I fell down to the floor because of my terrible acting! But I thought I could compensate by my music, although I had never worked on film music before. So, I put good music in all the scenes where I appeared! [Laughs] And after everything was done, we had a great time at the reunion in Cannes, although we lost the Palm D’or. And Mr. Oshima introduced me to Bernardo Bertolucci who talked to me for one hour, at a very busy and loud party about the film he was preparing at that time about
China’s last emperor. So my career as a film composer started there. Takeshi Kitano started as a film director from there, too. How different is your creative process when writing for films as compared to straight music composing? What do you find more challenging and what is more rewarding? There are some challenges and rewards in both types of music creations. When I write music for films, it is easier to get started, because there is a deadline, there is a theme and there is a direction given by producers and directors. But sometimes those producers and directors demand and insist on having me to write a kind of music that I don’t believe is a right fit for a scene, so I have to fight for it. Films get to be seen so widely in the world by viewers in theaters and TV. That’s a wonderful reward.
If you ever had to illustrate “Energy Flow” what would the picture be like? Some gradation of gray, then some color keeps flowing, sometimes dark and bright...
I can’t translate those feelings in literal language. I believe that my music speaks for me. You’ve shared your thoughts on going back to tribal attitude towards music – sharing music, music belongs to everybody – that seems to be inevitable these days. How do you think it will affect a musician and music industry as a whole?
Writing music for myself is truly challenging. I have to play a double role being a producer and a director for a film and being a composer who works for them. Meantime, those struggles trigger me to go deeper about my own creation. That is rewarding.
It definitely should affect the whole industry. However, considering the system we have today has lasted only for one hundred and some years, it is not designed to last forever. History changes. And we must admit that. At the same time, we can also look at a different side of our history. Human beings have lived with music for thousands of years. I believe that would not change in the future.
When writing for films or working with moving images, do you feel the music and visuals are equal?
Is there a common feeling or sentiment in all the music that you write, if you had to put it in words?
I do feel an equal interaction between Alva Noto and myself, when we work together. But for films, it might be slightly different. Visuals in films are always quite narrative. If music tries to be dominating over the visuals, they would interfere with each other.
I can’t translate those feelings in literal language. I believe that my music speaks for me.
So I always attempt to write music to be supportive in its emotion of scenes. What about Alva Noto’s work attracted you to collaborate with him? In general, I am interested in collaborating with some other artists and musicians, because they have certain talents, imaginations and skills which I don’t have. Alva Noto is a very special artist who I admire a lot. It naturally led to expanding my creative motivation to a different level. Should we expect more collaborations with Alva Noto in the future? Alva Noto and I are constantly talking about new ideas. There will be more collaboration with him in the future.
I wish I could attend one of your shows in Europe this fall. Can you reveal a bit about what the audience can expect from the show? I will be performing alone with two pianos. One piano is for live performance and the other one is for play-back by the data I have prepared, so it is a “virtual duo” with myself. There are solo pieces and duo pieces. The duo pieces mean that some songs I re-arranged for two pianos including pieces like “Riot in Lagos”, “Thousand Knives” and many more. And there will be no set list. I will play very spontaneously and play pieces depending on my mood that particular day. Except there will be a few pieces to open the show which is set already. What does the world need today? Peace, Love and More Trees!
photo by Landon Speers
ALVA NOTO Calling Carsten Nicolai a.k.a. Alva Noto a musician would be a major understatement. Yes, he produces music and has releases on his own, I dare say the most experimental and boundary-pushing record label of Germany â€“ Raster-Noton. However, his investigations into sound frequencies, the structure of sound and its possibilities for being visualized or turned into a material form, make him so much more than just a musician. Alva Noto revolves in the crossover area of transition between science, media, visual art and sound â€“ the area that is barely explored, thus, mysterious and fascinating for many minds. Alva Noto shares his profound thoughts on seeing sound and hearing image...
interview by Katya Guseva
photo by Bertrand Prevost
What triggered your interest in music and art in the early stage? I grew up in a small industrial city in the south of East Germany, and we didn’t have any art or music schools there, but we had a very alive art scene there. Not very big, but a very alive one. I grew up in this 80s mid-80s situation, where there were hardly any borders between media. So artists would decide to make a band, and the next day they had an art opening, and there was a very close connection to theater and dance, even making a movie. Everything was possible and I think that this situation triggered a lot for me. I had a huge interest in music, in theater, in fine arts, visual arts. I think at this time I started concentrating more on my visual art, but I never lost interest in music. It came back much later, actually through a crisis... In the beginning of the 90s I had some very big shows, and in a way, I felt like I was missing something very strongly in my work, something that is a little less frozen in time, such as a sculpture or painting. I started experimenting with
sound in a very unconventional way. It was a time of change and the universities got new equipment and threw away a lot of old stuff. So I collected wonderful oscilloscopes and oscillators from the technical department of a university and started experimenting with pure wave forms. At this moment I realized I had found the material that was missing in my art – sound.
Ok, let me elaborate a bit. As I started experimenting with sound, on the very basic level of sine waves, I was very interested in perception of sound, especially in the very high and the very low frequencies. And I needed a visual control, I needed an oscilloscope to see the sound or to know that the sound is really there. So I was always looking for ways to visualize low and high frequencies, or even to have a visual control over them. Overall, that is what I’m working on.
Sound that is very high or very low, that we might not hear, we can perceive on other levels – with our bodies.
From a very early stage, image and sound, were very close together for me. Yet I’m not the kind of person who immediately visualizes sound, I’m rather a person who is more interested to find ways how sound can be visualized. I mean you have to imagine human hearing has a span, let’s say a common idea of 20 hz to 20,000 hz, but other animals are hearing different frequencies, ranges. But sound doesn’t stop on these frequencies. The definition of sound is much wider than what we hear.
In your work you enter the space where the sound and the image meet. At that moment do you feel the two are in an equal interaction? Is it a way to enhance the audio experience by introducing the visuals or vice versa? In other words are you trying to hear the light or see the sound?
So I was really interested in these outside portals – how we perceive, how it physically affects us. Sound that is very high or very low, that we might not hear, we can perceive on other levels – with our bodies. I’m really interested in this experimentation and still today I use this principle in my live performances. I still use graphical analyzers to visualize the sound, to perform the sound on stage. I really feel like the visuals are performing the sound for me.
For me science, natural science and nature in general are rhythm, and rhythm is one of the biggest inspirations for my work. Your work almost feels more scientific rather than artistic. Would it mean that you’re more conscious about creating your art work? Is it more a scientific research with a knowledge as a result rather than a free exploration with an abstract piece of sound and visuals? First of all, I think that my work is really art work, it’s not a scientific work. It definitely has a strong reference to natural science, but in a way I’m switching this referential system to create something new, to step out of the usual aesthetics and references to normal art as we’ve known it for many hundreds of years. So I would still describe this as art. It might be that art doesn’t have a very clear strong definition, and scientific research has a very strong definition and some sorts of conclusions. My conclusions are rather philosophic and aesthetic even though they sometimes come in a form of a real written paper. For me science, natural science and nature in general are rhythm, and rhythm is one of the biggest inspirations for my work.
A few of your projects like “milch” and “wellenwanne” touch upon the subjects of cymatics and how the sound energy and frequency can affect physical bodies. What is the most surprising to you conclusion did you come to? One of the most surprising things in these experiments was that every time I was setting up the installations, it changed. Every time it was a totally different situation; I could never work with the same settings. The conditions of the water and the transmission of the low frequencies on the water surface always were very, very different. I will explain to you a little bit about the complexity that we are really facing here. I once got a call from a gallery, where I had set up a piece to show, saying that one morning it made a very loud, almost explosion-like sound. What was happening there, was there were aluminum trays with the white paint powder coated on them, and the paint popped off in one second from the surface of the aluminum. The low sound frequencies separated the two elements: the paint and the aluminum! It was a total surprise for everybody who I told the story to. How can this knowledge be useful to electronic music producers especially those working with bass-driven music like dubstep? It doesn’t matter what music you work with, it is still music. But I think it would be very interesting to develop special sub sonic sound systems where you basically perceive low frequencies not through air waves, but through the floor for instance. This would be a very hardcore experience for the human body. A few places I’ve played at had these low frequency transducers in the floor. It’s affecting our bodies, our perception and our orientation very strongly. Strong low frequencies on a low level of sound could affect our bodies in a way that you never experienced before. It would be interesting to try this out.
Why did you chose to separate your visual/sound installations by Carsten Nicolai from the video and audio work by Alva Noto?
Do you work on any more work touching upon subject of cymatics and what are the unresolved questions that interest you the most?
It’s very simple; my physical work is produced under the name Carsten Nicolai, and the musical work, let’s say, everything that is connected to sound or to a musical approach of sound is Alva Noto. So in a way Alva Noto is a part of Carsten Nicolai, and uses a lot of his knowledge. I see Alva Noto as a kind of a project, kind of a band name.
Not at the moment, no. I explored it very deeply from the beginning of ‘98 to 2002 and now cymatics is a little bit out of my focus. There are only three works of mine that are strongly connected to this subject and one graphic work. At the moment I’m working on a bit different subject but still touching upon visualizing sound or when
sound becomes visual and when visual becomes sound. This is a very strong interest in my work.
Strong low frequencies on a low level of sound could affect our bodies in a way that you never experienced before. What about Ryuichi Sakamoto’s music attracted you to collaborate with him? And will we be seeing more of collaborations with Sakamoto in the future? The collaborations with Sakamoto created a really beautiful symbiosis of acoustic sound and pure electronic sound, and we both really enjoyed this collaboration, and we both had a feeling that it creates something that a single person couldn’t do. I think this is the main driving force behind the collaboration between Ryuichi and myself – that we create something that we both can not do separately. I think this is, in general, the goal of collaboration. Our two collaborative albums are really outstanding in trying to define new areas of acoustic instruments like a piano with a pure sine wave. These records are not only purely experimental but they also created a certain beauty. I mean, it’s very difficult to talk about beauty, but when you listen to this music, you have a feeling that can only be described as beautiful. We have done, so far, four collaborations, and are planning to have a fifth one, that will maybe be the last one, and then the circle is closed. Because it would communicate a unified concept all together. I guess we will start working on it next year and the idea is to do another tour next year as well.
These records are not only purely experimental but they also created a certain beauty. I mean, it’s very difficult to talk about beauty, but when you listen to this music, you have a feeling that can only be described as beautiful. For more on Alva Noto and Carsten Nicolai projects www.alvanoto.com / www.carstennicolai.de
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SUKH KNIGHT EMALKAY
HENY G EMALKAY
Issue 4, SUMMER 2009
MALA // FLYING LOTUS // ADRIAN SHERWOOD // RUSKO // MODERAT // CYRUS // WARRIOR QUEEN
Big Sound 3
Big Sound 4
Big Sound 2
ANTI SOCIAL ENTERTAINMENT // MURO // HELLOVON // ELSE // NEIL DUERDEN // MRGO // CHRIS EDE
Yes, we know you can buy Big Up from your music or book store. And you should. But these mix CDs are only available with subscriptions. 80
Get these at www.thebigupmagazine.com
Subscribe to Big Up to receive a free cover mix CDs with each issue. This issueâ€™s CD is mixed by Hatcha.
Hatcha Big Sound 5 Hatcha has been in the dubstep sound from the very beginning, working as A&R man and shop hand at the legendary Big Apple Records store and pushing the sound of all the key players of the dubstep scene today. With 17 years of DJ experience, Hatcha has the most dubs than anyone else in the scene and he definitely knows what to do with them! He travels the world, holds his radio show on Kiss FM, and keeps pushing the sound of dubstep.
Big Sound 5
Hatcha mixed the very first Dubstep Allstars CD and now he is mixing Big Sound Vol.5. This one is sure to be rinsed...
MUSIC REVIEWS Anti-Pop Consortium Fluorescent Black [Big Dada]
After an absence of more than five years, Anti-Pop Consortium is back and returning to a landscape changed and charged by much of the sonic discord they laid the groundwork for. Their reunion album Fluorescent Black shines like a dark, flawed gem. First off, let’s establish that APC (HighPriest, Beans, M.Sayyid, EarlBlaize) is a hip hop group and not a group of rappers. Their DJ is a member of the group, not an after thought. Their productions and arrangements are constructed for the group concept. There are no mail order beats or hordes of special guests. The collaboration is between the members of APC. When was the last time you heard ensemble rapping in the Furious Five or Soul Sonic Force vein? Dig out a Freestyle Fellowship cd, maybe… The Soul Sonic Force similarities run deeper, in the “Mc popping” word exchange and the electro informed production that APC has always pushed. The Black Eyed Peas, Common, and Diddy with Felix The Housekat have recently taken trips down the same path… the world is catching up. The album starts off with a paranoid fury reminiscent of the Mars Volta (“Lay Me Down”) that sets the dark, uneasy tone of the album and leads into the compressed anxiety of “New Jack Exterminator.” The false bravado of the art world runs head on into hip hop swagger on the murder/suicide vignette “Shine”. While “C Thru U” would fit into any glitch set, the rapping throughout the album is dense in a way that has all but disappeared in the auto tune era. Except for the single ”Volcano”, the bouncy “NY-Tokyo” with sole guest Roots Manuva and the electro pop- rock of “Born Electric” there is a darkness that only the group Dälek can match in what is classified as hip hop.
So is the return of APC triumphant? Will they get to shine in the electro-briteness of the post Kanye/Cudi world? With “Fluorescent Black,” probably not. Not with the way they make the familiar uncomfortable. But like the myth of Sisyphus, the triumph is in the struggle; in rolling the stone back up the mountain. APC for the win. Mac
Ikonika Smuck / We Could Be Ikons [Planet µ]
The debut 12” from Ikonika on the Planet Mu label sees her showing off her trademark woozy synths in a slightly more melancholy style. “Smuck” kicks things off with a gorgeous
phased pad topped with some off-key bleeps and thumping kick drums. It reminds me of classic Warp records in the way it’s soothing yet jarring at the same time. The sound is also very warm which makes me think the source is likely some classic analog synths. When combined with an amazingly good mix, each sound punching through and the sub bass really doing its job, the results are stunning. It’s really all about contrasts with this tune, switching back and forth between moody contemplation and a bouncy, drunken groove. “We Could Be Ikons” on the flip sees Ikonika remixing Euro Johannes’ skweee classic. It’s a romping, feel good tune that doesn’t sound quite like anything else I’ve ever heard. The melodies are once again slightly off-kilter but much more accessible than most of her other work. The way that it pulls off a giddy kind of euphoria whilst still having that dark brooding underlying vibe is really something special. Very high quality release. Justin Shields
Subeena Solidify / Analyse [Planet µ]
After being released for free as a promo several months ago, the beautiful collaboration between London-based artists Subeena and Jamie Woon “Solidify” finally sees a welcome vinyl release backed with the lush “Analyse,” a solo effort from Subeena. Apparently “Solidify” was recorded at the Red Bull Music Academy in 2008, which I imagine must be a wonderful situation for spawning great partnerships, given the results here. It sounds as if the two artists were truly working as one, the gorgeous and melancholy chords rippling through the vocals like perfect bands of energy flowing over the surface of the sea. Very moving stuff. “Analyse” takes a slightly different approach yet maintains the moody and melancholic vibe, this time going for a grooving electro-ish angle with soaring pads and glitchy effects setting off the panned melodies nicely. It’s easy to see why Mu picked this one up since it’s likely to appeal to a broad audience. I for one hope to see a full length album at some point from this inspiring young producer, hopefully with Jamie Woon on vocal duties! Justin Shields
King Cannibal Let The Night Roar [Ninja Tune]
From the depths of the DnB and industrial underground comes King Cannibal’s newest masterpiece which is at the top of it’s game encompassing all aspects of bassy dark ragga influenced styles inna 2009 style! Many know this man from his work as Zilla in the jungle world, but man, this is a foley room adventure for all sound design geeks (like myself) that cannot be missed, which runs the gamut naturally of a soundbwoy culture aficionado. This album has a few guests that are super on point at the moment as well, Daddy Freddy and Jahcoozi lending their vocal talents to this beast of a record. From digi dancehall to techno bashment, Cannibal’s medley of styles hits the mark and connects so many loose dots in the evil inspired land of things. One might reference the sound design and heavy German reverb of Milanese, but will also find the honed dancehall riddims of Rootsman and The Bug standing at the front. If there is one thing I have to say about the release, over and above the songs themselves kicking ass and production being immaculate, is that I’m so thrilled to see sound design, foley work, impacts, slashes, and extremely cinematic music enter the dub/dnb world again to make full use of the technology at hand. It produces a future sounding product that stands miles apart from the general wobble garbage of today. This man is
pissed and it sounds fucking great.
The album to me is split up into two zones. Part of it is an evolutionary backdrop and experiment ground for Cannibal’s instrumental patterns. Furious edits and tension, very blown out and reversed bass sub tones, not wobbles, and bleeps scatter themselves almost as part of the percussion. “Aragami Style” starts the evolution in a techstep dancehall flavor, as the album goes on, even a techno proggy vibe comes in pretty thick on these instrumentals. The only thing I would criticize on this entire record is possibly a few of the more dnb leftover synth patches and bass sounds that found themselves in a few places on the instrumentals, that generally get glossed over with the vocal tunes. Not bad, well executed, but not nearly as timely as the rest of the record and totally forgivable at the same time. Those sounds kind of make it feel older than it is and need to move on. The highlights are two vocal tunes that blow the shit out of the toilet in the ragga world. First off ,”Murder Us” feat. Jahcoozi is my favorite for the club. Wild baile 120 BPM, M.I.A-like ranting over dancehall riddims hit us very suddenly and before you know it, a straight up Tresor era Berlin techno buildup hits before the tune goes to town with high energy emceeing and slaughtering bashment vibes. Bleepy and bloody, subby and not tacky, this tune captures what so many dancehall producers and ragga heads have been trying to do with female vocalists but fail. Pretty much the most seething and heaviest digi dancehall tunes ever produced combining all my favorite elements is “Dirt” feat. Daddy Freddy. What’s so unique about this song is how heavy metal it is without using cheesy repetition or standard distortion/post gabber effects. Daddy Freddy is screaming his brains off with perfect vocal treatment, huge non offensive massive bass swells that are notable and truly on the lower 20-60 hz SUB SUB SUB vibe, cultural shakers and sped up tabla loops over massive reverbed claps and bone crushing ragga riddims. Keep it up King Cannibal, and you will destroy all bashment. Kush Arora
Hyperdub 5 [Hyperdub]
Hyperdub 5 brings you both the future and the past through the eyes of label mastermind and selector extraordinaire Kode9. Two discs, one prospective and one retrospective, bring a full-length CD of fresh productions backed by a compilation of some of the hottest releases on Hyperdub over its five year lifespan. This release is not to be dismissed by any modern music fan with representation from Wonky, UK Funky, Dubstep, and music that sounds like the soundtrack to nonexistent Atari games. The contemporary disc starts off with the melancholic “Meltdown” from King Midas Sound followed by what might be the best combination of Kode9 and The Space Ape yet in “Time Patrol.” I really get into it at the third track from Darkstar which is like Indie pop performed by a band of robots, with similar tracks later by Ikonika and Quarta 330. Flying Lotus kills it on “Disco Balls” with futuristic synths over one of the most swinging rhythms I’ve heard all year with similar vibes from Joker & Ginz and Samiyam. The middle of the disc is sublime with bass-heavy UK Funky selections from Cooly G, Martyn, and Zomby, the digireggae tune “Turn Away” from L.V. and Dandelion, and Mala’s sparse but gorgeous composition “Level Nine.” Above all the highlight for me is “Shake It” by L.D. demonstrating his master of both sound design and rhythm with a polyrhythmic piece where each instrument assembles like Voltron to generate a superhuman warrior on the dancefloor. All this without even discussing the second CD of sixteen classic Hyperdub releases! Nearly every producer that’s ever worked with the label is included on this second disc, from 2000F & JKamata’s 22nd century version of R&B in “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and mutated 2-step rhythms from Kode9 on “9 Samurai” plus the Quarta 330 remix to some of the earliest works from Burial and the now-classic Zomby and Rustie combination on the “Spliff Dub” remix. Serious sounds inside, you need this in your life! Stephen Floor 83
2562 Unbalance [Tectonic]
2562 returns on the esteemed Tectonic label with his second long-player entitled Unbalance. No, it isn’t that there are too many producers in the world that they’re forced to use numerical monikers these days; 2562 is quite simply Dave Huismans’ post code at his home in The Hague, Netherlands. It’s proven to have been a perfect place for his style to nurture: one that resonates in a sonic universe where
the galaxies of dubstep’s bass weight, techno’s pulsing hypnotic euphoria, and the fragmented rhythms of broken beat have collided into a unique shape where the whole is most definitely greater than the sum of its parts. Sonically it is soothing on the ears, pulsating with warm synthetic textures, rich bass, crisp Roland 909-style percussion, and shimmers of electronic pointillism. Oh, and did I mention it’s irresistibly danceable? Yes. It is. A brilliant follow-up from his first album Aerial, this one immediately draws the listener in with a short introductory track to set the mood before launching into what I can best describe as the soundtrack to an interstellar tour to the edge of the cosmos and back again. Unbalance shows Huismans really hitting his stride in this second effort, resulting in a compelling, cohesive, yet diverse musical journey from start to finish. Its dynamic ascension from the album’s liftoff toward the high-octane vibrance of “Dinosaur” at track five, my personal favorite, is eclipsed by the sudden zero-gravity suspension of the title track, forming a distinct turning point from which it grooves in a futuristic tech-funk style, swelling and spiraling to the very end, gaining momentum with every turn. 2562 has managed to create a unique headspace with Unbalance that can only arise from seasoned talent and careful execution. The lively rhythmic core of each tune acts as a foundation to the drifting harmonic progressions and electronic dovetails that alight on your deeper mental chasms, while never losing its grasp on your primordial inclination to dance and move about through space. Such a gathered result is impressive, considering it was composed in the midst of a US tour last year, and has also managed to overcome all of my reservations about its predecessor. The first LP had good elements but lacked delivery and unification, probably because many of the tunes had already been released as singles. In this valiant return, the looking glass has been finely polished, and should be met with great praise. Each track holds its own temperament, while serving its role in the overall voyage, like chapters in a novel, separated only by spatial perforation. Unbalance is undoubtedly one of the finest results of recent genre cross-pollinations yet, showing absolute indifference for preconceived notions. It’s not quite dubstep, techno, funky, or broken beat, but a completely re-constructed, re-imagined, inspiring soundscape that can only be called 2562. Alex Incyde
Jus Wan Azure/Dwell [Pushing Red]
Jus Wan’s latest 12” release on fledgling US based label Pushing Red, debuts with a proper injection of sexy bass lines, insightful synths and chopped-up steppy rhythms. Fans of Jus Wan will no doubt feel right at home when “Azure”’s blissfully sweeping pads and slowly churning waves of white noise gently flood the senses. As the tune starts to build, hand drums and synths dance an alluring dance while distant vocals seemingly take shape from the great beyond. Suddenly, you’re lifted into a world of warm techy goodness. 2-step rhythms infectiously move your body and soul, and the energy just keeps getting better from there. Delayed out funk, luscious pads and expertly crafted percussion fighting for control. By the time the first break comes in, you can’t wait to find out who’s gonna win. As the suspense builds, something amazing happens... They all fall in love and drop beautiful little funk babies everywhere with style and passion oozing out of the speakers. A great tune for a late night rendezvous on the dance floor. The B side titled “Dwell” keeps with the theme. And the theme of the day is... “Funk is Beautiful”. Funky guitars, funky bass, and don’t forget my funky drummer. All keeping a hypnotically syncopated rhythm section to get down on. Reminiscent of some old funky breaks, the interweaving tapestry of sounds keep you on your toes and constant variations in the drums and filters as well as plenty of delay-play, keep this one interesting throughout. All in all, a great first release for Pushing Red and further verification of why Jus Wan refuses to go unnoticed in a sea of a-tonal sound-alikes. Puppy Kicker
All Out Dubstep 001
Celebrating its second Birthday this October, All Out Dubstep events have been the pioneers of the sound in Sweden, and with the likes of L-Wiz, Irok Udont and Tricky Kid at the helm, it’s no surprise. With the success and popularity of the nights, and almost every major producer/DJ making an appearance at some point, it seemed an obvious progression to those involved that respectable label could be launched to promote and exhibit the music of those past and present, associated with the nights. So this month we will see the first release of All Out Dubstep 001. On the A – side, “Fight No More,” produced by L-wiz and featuring vocals by Don Goliath. On the flip, a much darker production from the likes of Systematic. “Fight No More” provides a lush, dubbed out production. Upbeat ska licks and heavily gated synth lines lay the foundations for Don Goliath’s dreamy vocal hook “When you gunna fight no more, Let’s have a talk about righteous living…” Providing antithesis to the A side, is a Systematic track “Swing Error.” Starting with an eerie delay on a detuned synth and quickly dropping to a grinding bassline, this production leaves you feeling a little unnerved. Together, All Out Dubstep 001 administers a high quality sound design and attention to detail. Two very different tracks allow this release the diversity of being dropped in either a deep or dutty DJ set. DJ Fidelity
Available at all record stores and online music distributors. 86
Mary Anne Hobbs Wild Angels [Planet µ]
This one is a good record to buy. Ok, I’m not just saying that because I like every song on this compilation – I just think that it’s a solid collection of music. It’s contemporary, it features a group of incredibly talented producers and it’s put in a great order – listen to it from beginning to end and you’ll agree with me that Mary Anne Hobbes is a damn good selector. This release, like her other two compilations, sets a mood and tells a cerebral narrative, but unlike her previous attempts, this feels like it could never get old. Maybe because it’s more my thing, I dunno, but straight up, I would play this to my grandmother and at the very least she would think it was interesting. In fact, now that I think about it, I am going to make it a point to give it to her for Christmas – we could actually talk about how interesting it is. Beautiful songs ranging in all tempos and genres – all of them mysterious, melodic and sudden. It opens with a six minute Mark Pritchard tune that reminds me what music should sound like – an experience you could live. It’s a deep cinematic six minutes that is in essence a point of departure for the entire album – an album that is full with the right textures, interludes, and gestures that somehow, in some strange way, relate to that song. Overall, I think it’s very contemporary effort – this music would not have been made in any other time, and it’s exciting to think that in 2009 this is how music sounds. My favorite thing about it, actually, is that all the tracks are melodic. From the gorgeously made “We Should Light a Fire” by Hyetal to more organic music – like “Of Low Count and Light Pocket” by Sunken Foal – all of these songs are songs, not simply beats. Like, this isn’t necessarily a compilation full of bangers, but that doesn’t mean I would only throw this on at dinner parties. These songs are the ones I’d share every chance I get – like Nosaj Thing’s “IOIO” and Mike Slott’s “Knock Knock.” Shit that you’d want to experience, like a soundtrack, like a feeling, with your eyes closed. Many future classics. And lastly, I want to say two things. The first being that all of the artists on this compilation are next level and I can’t wait to hear new music from each and every last one of them. And finally, if you feel like breaking someone’s heart, play them the videotape cover. DJ Dials
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