Cosign Interview- Floyd The Locsmif
May 28, 2008, 10:47 am
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Today we have a special guest. Floyd the Locsmif has been bumpin’ progressive beats the old school way since the late ’80s. Hailing from the ATL, the musical locksmith has added his unique and soulful creations to everyone from John Robinson to 50 Cent (yes, that 50 Cent). Locsmif takes the time to remember to the origins of the music he loves and stays true to the vintage process that makes his beats sound so thick and lush. Cosign recently caught up with Floyd the Locsmif and discussed the process of his upcoming album in the influential Divine Design series, as well as the movement of digital hip hop production. Check out the wise words of one of the most creative and established producers in the game.

Floyd The Locsmif- “Always Bless ft. John Robinson” off Divine Dezignz #1.2: Re-Discovered

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. What have you been working on lately and what colabs are you looking forward to?
Well lately I’ve been working on another instrumental album to go with my Divine Design series. It’s called “Number Two: Soul etc.”. I’m also working on a compilation called “Conversation Pieces”. So far its got Dave Ghetto, J-Live, Superstition, 4ize and a couple others. I’ve also got a joint off the latest J-Live album that will be out tomorrow (May 27th).

Great. Is that new instrumental album going to be off In The Loop records?
Yeah, it’ll be In The Loop and maybe also with High Wire Music.

What’s the name of the track off the new J-Live album?
It’s called “What You Holdin’?” The album’s called “Then What Happened” off BBE Music.

I’ll check that out for sure. Is there anyone out right now as far as MCs who you’re really feeling right now?
Yeah, there’s a lot of cats. I’m feeling the EMC group, I’d really like to do some stuff with them. There’s so many people out right now though. I’m just tryin’ to put out good music, really. Whoever will mess with my style of production, I’ll work with them.

What about producers? Anyone you’ve heard lately that you’ve really loved?
I’m feeling the 9th Wonder and Buckshot album. The last beat I heard Primo do was a remix of Big Sug, that “Let The Music Play” joint. I like the consistent cats, Pete Rock‘s album is definitely consistent. You know, all the usual suspects I’m still feelin’.

So when you’re putting out these instrumental albums, what’s the process that you go through? Do you spend time on a few songs for a specific album or do you go through a collection from years past?

I try to keep a theme for each album. Some beats that I’ve made I don’t really want to hear anyone rap over so I’ll put them to the side. Then I’ll try to come up with an idea for the mood and I’ll put together all the beats with the moods for a beat compilation. That’s usually how I got about those albums.

What mood would you classify this new album as?
It’ll be soulful, there will be some abstract stuff, also some classic era hip-hop. Just diggin’ mainly, looking in those crates for some samples and drums. Just some vintage hip-hop.

Ill. I saw you had a remix album of Outkast tracks awhile ago. What was that about?
That was actually a mixtape I did with DJ Jamad, it was a double mix CD. My version was all original beats with Outkast acapellas, I think it came out in ’04. Basically, my boy Fabian at had this painting of an Outkast collage with different faces on it. We were like, “man, we got to do something with this painting” and we made it the cover the mixtape. Between me and Jamad we had every Outkast 12″ with acapellas on it, so we got them and put the beats on them. He has the “Afromentals” mixtape series, he did a mix of Outkast, and pretty much anything associated with the Dungeon Family. He mashed up his CD, and I did the mixing and remixing on my CD. Kind of like a classic mix, you know.

Yeah, definitely. As far as equipment, I know you specialize with the MPC, is that what you’re still using?
Yeah, I still use the MPC 2000, that will always be there. Now, I’m messing with the Korg MS2000. I’ll think I’m gunna jump into the digital world soon, I’ll probably get on that Logic. A lot of my friends have been using it, and it’s so easy… It’s almost too easy, it’s almost cheating. But there’s just so much you can do with it, like if I’m in the car I can pull out the laptop and if I’ve got a folder with samples I can just go through and make beats just like I’m at the crib. That’ll probably be my next move, I haven’t got into it yet so yeah I’m still old school with the MPC.

Are you doing any live shows or sessions for the new album?
Yeah, I’m working on a set but I don’t quite know how I’m going to do it yet. It’s going to be a live set and a DJ set. Hopefully by the end of June maybe mid July I’ll start hitting some spots up.

Ill, are you keeping that mainly in the south or are you taking that all over?
I’m going to try to take it worldwide. I’m trying to hit Europe, the west coast, all over.

Is there any thoughts you have about hip hop production nowadays?
Well now you’ve got programs like Logic, Fruity Loops and Reason and it’s making it real accessible for people. Like Logic, it already comes with music. This one Usher joint I heard, every sound in it comes from Logic, all you gotta do is drag and drop it’s so easy. So you got what I call “microwave production” which is pretty much done in 30 seconds and boom, you’re ready. But then you still have the authentic style where cats still go diggin’. There’s still definitely cats that still go diggin’, you can tell it in the sound. It’s a much thicker sound and richer sound, it’s not so quick. But I don’t knock the digital stuff because there’s still a lot of cats killing it. There’s a lot of cats still using those vintage techniques to make beats on the new equipment. I definitely don’t knock it but you definitely have some that take advantage of it.

Yeah definitely. What are some of your favorite spots for finding records in Atlanta?
Mostly I hit up no-name thrift store back alley joints. But there’s a spot called “Wax n’ Facts” that’s been in Atlanta for a long time. “Earwax” is another legendary spot, they’re actually moving and they’ll be reopening later this month. Those are definitely classic spots, but there’s a lot of little spots around.

Nice, I’ll look for those. Is there anything else you want to mention?
Just look out for “Divine Design 2: Soul, etc.” and “Conversation Pieces” compilation. Also, look out for the “Rare Groove Effect” that will be part of a beat CD. Look out for production on the new J-Live album, anything that comes out of Tasteful Licks records, High Wire Music, and definitely look out for anything that comes on In The Loop Entertainment.

For more information on what Floyd The Locsmif is up to stay tuned to his website here.

| words by Justin Staple |

ATTIGO TT- First ever touch screen decks
May 27, 2008, 11:46 am
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Designer Scott Hobbs presents the world with the Attigo TT. The TT enables DJs to manipulate sounds via sensors, and adds an ill visual interface that makes this device revolutionary. Check a video of the Attigo TT in action here.

If you’re into the advancements of electronic music and devices, definitely take a look at Hobbs’ site. He has innovative ideas ranging from a touchless Midi Controller to a USB Theremin.

Calling All UK Heads
May 26, 2008, 12:14 pm
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Brainfeeder revolution coming to ya’ll. Don’t miss FlyLo‘s new “label” in action. Hopefully this will come to the states soon. Read more about what Brainfeeder is in the SAMIYAM interview. Get tickets to the festival here.

To get you pumped here’s a brand new XLR8R interview with FlyLo:

Barn, Flute, and Wooden Instruments
May 17, 2008, 12:51 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Spent a long morning in my barn with a flutist and a mic. This is the end result.


music and sparse words by miles

GZA and Son on
May 16, 2008, 10:32 am
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This is dope– Wu-Tang’s GZA the genius introducing his young MC son Kareem Justice to the world. Apparently Justice is going to spit on the anticipated Cuban Linx II. As Pitchfork says this epitomizes the “coolest Take Your Son To Work Day of all time” plus an ill Shogun Assassin sample at the beginning. Check it out here.

Cosign Reviews: Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
May 14, 2008, 12:18 pm
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Justin Vernon has found something in the sound of closely mic’d fret buzzing and the Wisconsin woods. Formerly of DeYarmond Edison out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Vernon has taken his time to craft a folk record with an unusual (and consistently intriguing) ambience that elevates it to something entirely different. Neo-Soul? A little bit. Noise Folk? It has that aura. Original? Without a doubt. Bon Iver (from the French for “good winter”) is the love-child of all these elements, and Vernon is working within a whole new framework – redefining folk while embracing it.

This new project is an exercise in influence definition. Embracing the Nashville-crooner era Dylan, Bon Iver opens the record with the transcendent “Flume” – his voice hovering above the soft acoustic guitar and a feedback screeching guitar. The songs construction seems straightfoward until the bridge, which enters a lovely feedback/harmonics exchange, only to jump back into the driving chorus. We’re left, I think, with a strong sense of what makes Vernon different from all the other “Singer-Songwriters” who have been embraced by the independent scene. He’s taken the weird folk that bands like O’Death and Vetiver have been playing with for years and he’s given it honest-to-god sentiment.

The album unfortunately lags with “Lump Sum”, a song that emphasizes his vocal range at the expense of simple arrangement and effect. Expectations, however, are quickly more than exceeded by the following song. There is no way I can present this in a simpler manner for you, so here it is: “Skinny Love” is pretty much the best track I’ve heard all year. It’s the kind of tune that haunts you, takes you to bed at night – a tune to take with a sleeping pill and shot of whiskey before a hard sleep. Somewhere between his open tuning, slightly wavering rythym, and transcendent voice, he pins down his sound so well, you’ll figure that Vernon has been enjoying some old soul music along with his 70s Tom Rush records and 90’s Elliott Smith. And when the bridge rolls around, and he’s hollering “Who will love you?”, it comes with the same dissapointed aggravation that colors the entire record, and it becomes the centerpiece for the album. Lyrically, It doesn’t seem particularly impressive until you realize that he can introduce that sentiment just as easily in his softer lines (“come on, skinny love, what happened here?”) and continues to do so for the next six songs or so.

A word on the lyrics in general: Vernon plays with surrealism. The Thoreau-esque lyrics of “The Wolves” and “Flume” play along nicely with the more harmonious Dylan impression of “re: stacks” and “For Emma”. Do we then have a falsetto that gives Cee-Lo a run for his money and lyrics that make other sad-sappy songwriters seem weak by comparison? Yes. Buy this record without hesitation.

Words and Subliminal Messages by Miles King

Designer of the Week- Parra
May 14, 2008, 10:24 am
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This weeks designer is Dutch illustr-ordienare Parra. With a minimalist style reminiscent of old comics and French pop art, Parra brings back the beauty of graphic art with a marketable canny. He started out as a skater who knew he could draw but was sick of the art school brainwash. Now, he’s chillin’ out in Amsterdam illustrating for various musicians and companies while designing for and managing his own clothing brand Rockwell Clothing.

When he’s not busy doing that he sells out galleries stateside in New York and LA and sells his personal pieces for some bank. Also, he’s in a band called Le Le.

In all, Parra has found a commercial niche that has hoisted him out of obscurity and into the illustrator mainstream where one can do more than get by– they can get famous. All while still doing the colorful characters that he loves.

Lately he’s been dipping into animation, producing a genius music videos for Le Le for a track called ‘Breakfast’. Peep it here.

Heres the advice:

Grab the colorful dunks and the cotton sweater, head over to Amsterdam and look at various flyers or ads, chances are you’re peepin’ Parra. And no, he did not do the Kanye video.

For further studies:

||words by Justin Staple||

Cosign Presents- Eric Mayer
May 13, 2008, 11:06 am
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Welcome to Cosign Presents– a new performance video series featuring some talented and independent musicians.

First up is Chicago’s own Eric Mayer. Eric’s folk ukulele shines with honesty and heartbreak but his kind energy still makes the kiddos smile. Watch us roam downtown Chicago for Cosign’s very first video presentation.

Film and Words by Justin Staple

“Empty Pocket”


“Blue and Grey” off Excuses with a Stuffy Nose

Be sure to catch Eric around Chicago and pick up any of his releases off his myspace.

SAMIYAM Cosign Interview
May 8, 2008, 11:24 am
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SAMIYAM is the Ann Arbor native turned LA beatsmith whose choppy yet fluid beats bang like a cloudy ride through a level of Earthbound. Partly due to a choice ear for equipment and compression, and partly due to the influence and colab of electic/brokenbeat/trip hop pioneer Flying Lotus, SAMIYAM has captured the SoCal scene of progressive producers and in turn gained devoted fans worldwide without so much as a label release. Regardless, SAMIYAM is focused on getting the beats out there–after gathering enough donut-esque bangers, he started slinging his first disc on CD-R appropriately titled, “Rap Beats Vol. 1”. The disc, packaged with his own unique sketches on top of magazine cut outs, holds a lot of heat and is sure to make fans of all genres nod till the neck is sore. With the help of FlyLo’s new label/dream team Brainfeeder, the 23 beats are on iTunes. Cop it by clicking the picture to the right or head over to his myspace.

Cosign got a chance to catch up with Sam on the tele, and chatted about what he’s been up to and whats new in the genre. Check for an exclusive MP3 off “Rap Beats Vol. 1” afterwards.

So first, an equipment question for the producer heads. I’ve heard that the SP 303 is your sampler of choice. I was wondering if you prefer it over the MPC and how you got started with it?

Its funny why you say that I’m into it “over the MPC” because I actually did have a MPC before. I guess I had it for the same reason you would ask about it, because its so talked about. You know, “this guy used it, that guy used it”. It was the first machine I used and it was just too much, you know too many functions on there. Its great because I could always learn new shit you could do on it but also I was only using like half of the functions on that thing. So I picked up the 303 for its effects and found it had a sequencer on it and just started making shit on it and I liked the way it worked. Its pretty simple and its got great effects.

Yeah. Do you have any favorite albums that you know were solely produced on the 303?

I heard Madlib made all the beats on Madvillian on the 303 but besides that I haven’t heard many albums that were just on the 303… have you?

Just that and the Quasimoto albums pretty much. Any other equipment that you favor? Any analog shit?

Hmm… I don’t think anything I use is really analog, its pretty much all digital and supposed to sound like analog shit. I make a lot of sound on the Novation Bass Station but I don’t know if I’d recommend anyone to buy it. Haha, but its definitely a cool sounding synth

I was reading online that you attended the Red Bull Conference in Toronto. Whats the Red Bull conference about and what’d you guys do up there?

Theres really everything. When you go to the Red Bull Music Academy the main point of it is just two weeks where you’re surrounded by a bunch of young people from all over the world that are there for one common interest. Some kids were there to learn how to make beats and some DJs who wanted to learn more of the production side. The main thing I liked about it was just meeting a few people and just being around all that creativity and all these people who love music.

Sounds great. Is it invitational or open?

They take applications every year and I think they accept like 60 people. Yeah, theres two terms with 30 people each. I think the applications for next time are supposed to be going in pretty soon.

I heard the new FlyAmSam beat on the Ghostly/Adult Swim compilation and know they play some Flying Lotus on Adult Swim. I was wondering if you’ve gotten any play time over there?

Nope, I haven’t had anything on there. Thats the first beat of mine that had to do with Adult Swim. It was definitely dope for it to be on there because thats like the only shit I watch on TV. Its awesome, that Tim and Eric show is like the best shit on TV.

So you moved out to LA recently?

Yeah, like 7 or 8 months ago. Its been really hot.

So, when Lotus was first out in LA he was interning at Stones Throw, have they been listening to any of your beats?

Nah, I’ve met some people over at Stones Throw but I haven’t talked with them about doing anything.

Is there anything you’re listening to right now that you’d recommend?

Have you heard the new Portishead? I would recommend people listen to that and then buy it when it comes out. Its kind of scary that everybody I know has a copy of it already, but thats a fucking amazing album. I don’t keep up that much on new stuff though. For the most part I’m just listening to records if I want to hear some music, but that Portishead shit is amazing.

What about movies?

Wow, haha I dont really watch that many movies. I just bought Home Alone yesterday, I’m excited about that.

So what are you working on right now? Any upcoming projects or shows?

Well right now I’m going to be doing a few shows but I need to figure out everything I have booked so I can put it up on Myspace. I’m still selling this CD, Rap Beats Vol. 1 which is 23 unreleased beats and I’m making the cover art for every single CD thats sold. I’m cutting shit out of magazines and adding drawings to peoples faces. Thats going to be out on iTunes May 6, so definitely hit that up. Then, I’ve got a 10″ coming out with Poo-Bah Records and another project coming out with Hyperdub. Are you familiar with them?

Nah, I’ll check it out– Hyperdub.

Also I did a Daedelus remix coming out on Ninja Tune, I’m not sure when thats out though. I’ve been working on a few things trying to stay busy out here. We’re going to London this summer too, actually, fuck, like next month. Thats going to be with Lotus, Ras G, Kode 9 and some other cats. I think Rustie on it too. Its called the Brainfeeder Festival.

Wow, thats ill. I’ve been hearing about Brainfeeder– whats that all about?

Brainfeeder is basically a label that Lotus is just now starting. Rap Beats Vol. 1 digital came out on iTunes through like Brainfeeder and Alpha Pup, Daddy Kev‘s label.

Nice, everyone in London should check that out. Do you feel that your kind of sound is blowing up more in Europe than it is in the states? Its got a culture in Cali, but I feel like in Europe people are paying a lot more attention.

Yeah definitely. It doesn’t really hurt my feelings too much that people down the street from me don’t know or care who I am. I kind of like it like that. Its cool though, kids in Europe definitely have an open ear for stuff like this. Like with this CD I’ve been selling, its just amazing to see how many of the orders are coming in from the UK. There might even be more UK orders than American orders. The kids are into it, I get way more e-mails asking “when is there gunna be an album out?” from European cats.

I heard Lotus is out in Europe right now touring with RZA. Have you heard how that’s going?

Nah, I haven’t talked to him about that. I would imagine its going pretty well though… thats going to be fucking crazy. Isn’t Rustie on some of those shows?

Yeah, that should be great. Would you say those kind of prolific producers are picking up on that sound more and more?

I mean, people are kind of interested in hearing, I don’t want to say something new, because none of us are doing something that groundbreaking, but just some different shit, you know? I guess a lot of the stuff we do is pretty much hip hop, but I’m not like reading a rule book or anything. I think kids are getting something a little bit different. Theres definitely more and more interest though.

I know you look up to Dilla as an influence. Are there any other producers right now or in the past who you look up to musically?

I mean, Qunicy Jones is probably one of the dudes who influenced me way back in the day before I thought about trying to make beats. I was really into the Michael Jackson shit. But I dunno, I don’t really keep up on that much new shit but I know a lot people are doing some really dope stuff now. You know, you got Lotus and them. You know Ras G, right?

Yeah, he’s ill. Well one more question. I hit up the Lotus game and was wondering how far you’ve gotten on it and/or how faded you have to be to beat it?

Haha, I dunno. We spend way much more time playing like Call of Duty 4 at his house than playing the fuckin “Flying Lotus game”.

Haha, thank you very much good to talk to you.

You too man, peace.

“Carnival Food” off “Rap Beats Vol. 1”, available now on iTunes or Myspace:

Carnival Food

|| words by Justin Staple ||

Designer of the Week: Jeff Jank
May 7, 2008, 10:01 am
Filed under: Designer of the Week | Tags: ,

Everyone knows the music industry today is disillusioned. Major labels, who were at one point home to some of the most talented artists in the industry, have begun to flood their rosters with rappers banking on three note hooks and faux social commentary. Hip hop, it seems, is stuck in a paradigm of simplicity, where the most unoriginal wins. This is why exciting and progressive music has found nested with independent labels, those whose models push far past a profit.  In the past years of independent hip hop, its almost common knowledge that Stones Throw Record has paved the way.

To put things in epic perspective, this weeks designer has single-handedly changed the face of underground hip hop by creating a distinct and recognizable image for one the most important labels in the genre.

His name is Jeff Jank and he is the art director for Stones Throw records. To date, Jank (an alias of obscurity) has designed influential album art for almost every artist on the roster, from Madlib to Dilla, and Dudley to Quas. Jank has been with Stones Throw from the beginning and took special care to distance from the b-boy/graf vibe of early 90s hip hop, and back into the classic tones of early jazz LP covers.

One thing is for sure, Jank pays attention. He realizes that album art is a tool for publicity, whose only function for many is to put a marketable face to the music. However, Jank has admired influential record covers from the past, and studied how the design can be part of the music inside. Through his experience, Jank creates covers that are both artfully filled throwback references while still relevant to the current tone and image of the artist.

For years, Jank has kept Stones Throw on the cutting edge of the art and music scene by adapting to times of changing technology, where the art associated with an album is often lost through the popularity of digital music formats. For the new era, Jank will be creating a new norm for music art where design and visual style can be associated with everything from websites to ringtones.

Cosign took advantage of his technological cunning for a quick ol’ fashion “Facebook interview” with one of the nicest guys in the biz.

Besides Stones Throw, what are you working on right now and have you formed any new collaborations?

I’m working over full time with Stones Throw right now, so there’s not much time for anything else. Here are some upcoming projects. I’ll let you decide which are real and which are merely ideal: Quasimoto toy for Kid Robot; designing my own line of top hats; coining advertising jingles for Koushik’s Ringtone Box Set; producing Funkaho’s AC/DC tribute album; writing, directing, and filming an all-black cast revisionist biopic of Charlie Manson with Dudley Perkins cast in the starring role. I mean, why not?

Are you starting to explore new mediums (ie. photography, film, maybe more music?) and how do you bring your distinct style to them?

I’m just trying to force myself to keep doing the old ones!

I read about your work on the Charizma and Wolf demos from the birth of Stones Throw. How did that come about– and will the designs ever see the light of day?

I did the Charizma & PBW logo, and some demo tape covers for them back in the day. We’d print them at Kinko’s and assemble the tapes at Taco Bell. Most of this stuff has been released, but not the tape covers of course. My work on the demos really just consisted of me saying, “Sure, come over and use the 4-track.” We went through a lot of cassette back then.

I feel you’re somewhat credited for the growth of Stones Throw as a marketable and influential label. What do you envision being the next big step both as a label and a “scene”, especially in the face of dissolving physical media?

Thanks. It is just as much a learning process now as when I first started. Stones Throw’s already been evolving to the changes for quite some time, so I suspect we’ll keep adapting. In simplest terms, we like music and we like to make stuff out of nothing, and there’s always new ways to do both of those.

Does it frustrate you how the face of popular music and its accompanied art has evolved and lost most artistic credibility? Is it a product of disinterest by the fans or just the commercialization of the whole industry?

Not really. The classic days of the album cover ended with CDs and videos, and I started long after that. Records and covers have always been products and marketing, if you ignore all the culture involved. I’m in it for the culture though.

Your covers have been compared to a producer “sampling” old work. How is the process of taking something older and making it unique and exciting effect your design?

Whether I’m doing something that I’ve never seen before, or taking something that’s been done and doing again in my own way, it’s all the same thing, really. Everyone who has created anything likes to finish, sit back and go, “Yeeeeaaah. That’s Mine!” Last year I did a cover based on ornette coleman’s “Ornette!” which I guess is the type of thing you’re referring to. I did that partly because I’d met the designer, John Jagel, a few months before he died, partly because I’d also worked with his son Jason, and partly because I love old record covers like this one.

What are you listening to right now that has inspired your work?

In the past day I’ve listened to the new Breeders album and Madvillain “2” (note the quotes around 2). They’re both inspiring me to quit work early and go to the park with a 40 of Mickey’s & orange juice and get in a fight with some 10-year-old’s

Thanks Jank!

Here’s the advice:

Go to the illest record store in your spot, walk to the jazz LP crates and peep all the classic covers, go home and listen to any record out on Stones Throw and marvel at how Jank is one of the best artists for today’s music.

For further studies:

|| words by Justin Staple ||