Filed under: Interviews | Tags: Harmony Korine, Mister Lonely, Musix Box Theatre, Steve Prokopy
Okay, so this isn’t really an exclusive interview. But on May 31st when director, writer and producer Harmony Korine came to Chicago’s Music Box Theatre for a screening of his new film Mister Lonely, we were the only ones to record the intimate and exciting Q&A that followed. I think fans of the influential director will enjoy some of his new insights and stories about the production and the people involved. The Q&A was run by Steve “Capone” Prokopy (from movie blog Ain’t It Cool News) and mainly consisted of questions from the audience. There are some spoilers discussed so take heed if you haven’t seen the flick yet. Enjoy this glance into the hilarity and joy of the new (and quite social) Harmony Korine.
Steve Prokopy: Bobby Vinton’s “Mr. Lonely” has always been a classic. When did you first become infatuated with the song?
Harmony Korine: Well, I had quit taking narcotics and was really getting into White Castle.
Is there really a difference?
Well, then I met this girl and she was young and she was used to hard bodies. I guess, physically I repulsed her at that point in my life. So then I swore off White Castle and I started going to this barbecue place. I was sitting there and this guy was eating these fried pickles and he started to choke. Someone came out and was doing the Heimlich Maneuver on him and that song “Mr. Lonely” was playing. So I just thought it was a great song.
Thats a great story. Someone mentioned this story to me last night; right when “Kids” came out you were on David Letterman and he asked you a question about any celebrities you had met and you told the story about the guy who had his ass cheeks pierced.
Oh yeah man. That wasn’t a celebrity, that was a guy I went to high school with and he pierced his ass with a shish-kabob skewer. It was the same guy I saw drink a whole bottle of Pepto Bismol and his ass blew off.
Lets take some questions from the audience.
Audience member: First off, you are one of the greatest directors of this era and this is a wonderful film. One question I had is, why is there one fictional character amongst the impersonators? (referring to Little Red Riding Hood)
Well, thats a good question, I never thought about it until after the film was out. Actually, Little Red Riding Hood is my wife, I married her. Originally, the part was written for someone younger. It’s hard to find an icon at that age. Originally it was written for a Brittany Spears but when I put her in the costume she just looked like a normal slutty teenager. I couldn’t really get into it and I thought it wasn’t that compelling. So, I went back and I did a little research and I saw that there was an inordinate amount of Little Red Riding Hoods. There was one sect of Little Red Riding Hoods that was more for kink, like guys who are into kink but there was a whole other that was more for children. You know what I’m saying? A lot of older men like to hire Little Red Riding Hoods and then on the other side there’s parents who like to give Little Reds to their kids. So I though she was a complex character.
Audience member: Did you have just one idea that started the movie or was it a combination of many?
Well, I hadn’t made a movie in a long time so there was definitely a lot of ideas. I had specific images of things like nuns jumping out of airplanes and riding bicycles in the clouds. There were things that were in my mind for a long time and I lived with them. Also, I had always been intrigued by Michael Jackson impersonators and I spent time in a hippie commune as a kid so I just started thinking about all of it. I though, it’d be really nice to see Sammy Davis Jr. washing his socks.
Prokopy: Do you remember where you saw your first Michael Jackson impersonator?
I don’t remember where I saw the first one but when I was living in Paris I was having some difficulty in my life and I was pretty out of it. There was a period of time when I would wrap myself in tinfoil and I would put rubber bands around my joints so I could move better. I would where this kind of like a shell and put a cap on my head because I felt I was having trouble containing my thoughts. It was around this time also that I became obsessed with cap guns. I used to go to the tourist stores and just buy all the cap guns. I was in a friends house on the Rue de Lis and I would walk around like that and just shoot these cap guns. So, one day I was doing it and there was a Michael Jackson impersonator who was out there dancing. I just happened to shoot a cap right next to him and just started flipping out and jumped to the floor and covered his head. I said, “What’s going on, are you okay?” He talked to me but he was German. I sat down with the guy and he lifted up his leg and showed me that it was basically a prostheses and that he had been to Vietnam and gotten his leg blown off or something and had had some sort of flashback when I shot the cap gun. Well anyway, we became close and that kind of started my off on this whole idea.
Prokopy: Did you shower in the shell, try to keep the thoughts in?
You know, some days.
Audience member: Do you and Macaulay Culkin ever talk about his experiences with stuff like that?
Not really… didn’t really get into that whole thing.
Audience member: This has to do with the two stories of the nuns and the impersonators. Do you draw the parallel between people living a religious life with dress that set them apart for other people and impersonators who go out in public places and attract people to them with costumes that set them apart?
Well, I’d just rather not say. You know, I always wanted to write a novel with pages missing in all the writes places so its the same things with movies. Its probably best that I don’t say. If I say it, it could ruin it for you. But what I will say is that to me, they are the same story, they always were the same story. To me, they both speak to the same ideas like transcendence or wanting to be other than what people are. People who create their own universe think the real world just isn’t enough, like dreamers.
Prokopy: Do you think for them, its about being famous? I remember the line Samantha Morton says that, “you can go to a place where everyone is famous”. Do you get a sense that that’s what they’re trying to do?
I think they have the idea that what they’re doing is noble. Like that speech that the Queen gives. At the end they feel that they feel that they’ve lived through others and they can bring the spirit of wonder alive. There’s this idea that they’re doing something thats very special and bringing it to the masses.
Audience member: How did Werner Herzog get involved?
I just asked him to do it.
Prokopy: Do you have any one great story about Werner? He’s been in other films of yours and one of your earliest supporters.
I have a lot of great stories but I wont say any of those. What I’ll do is just say one that’s medium. Once I met him in New York and we were hanging out talking and I noticed that he was wearing two belts. He was wearing one belt and like, another belt over it. At first I thought that maybe it was just some sort of weird design, like a belt made to look like a double belt. But it was actually two belts. I just said, “Werner, you’ve got two belts on” and he looked down at his pants and he just said, “Oh, you noticed this”.
No, not at all. It made me feel more comfortable about things in life cause there were no rules.
Audience member: Do you think that pure joy exists, or that a painful thing will always follow after?
Like he said in the movie, “nothing too good or too bad lasts too long”. I do think it exists, but I’ve always felt like that. I think pure joy or pure bliss is fleeting, but it does exist in my experience. There’s definitely moments of ecstasy in life.
Audience member: I’m curious about killing everyone off in the end. Was that something you planned before or was that something you thought of as you were writing.
I thought of it while I was writing it. Not too long ago, some guy came up to me with some fucked up deformity and he said he loved the movie but really didn’t like the part when the nuns died. I just thought, “who likes when nuns die”?
Prokopy: Satan… okay…
Audience member: The part where the eggs are singing, it was emotional and I cried. I wonder, was that a problem you set up to overcome?
I guess the easiest way to put it is that when I make movies I just take what feels right to me. If there is an emotional sense to what I’m doing, not always a narrative sense or something my mind connect, but if its an emotional sense. Even though I know a scene like that is going to be off putting to a certain amount of the audience, but if in my gut it feels correct, I just won’t question it. Also, there’s always a misconception about the films from the beginning like “Gummo” or “Julien”, that in the movie there was something to be got. That it was like you either got it or you didn’t, like you needed to somehow qualify yourself to understand the films. I always found that disappointing because that was never my intent. My films were not meant to be got, they were just meant to be experiential and to be felt. I never wanted to make movies that you could just talk away in words and that made perfect sense. I wanted my movies to make a perfect nonsense, you know. What I like as a filmmaker and what I like in life is awkwardness and mistakes. I like things that just exist and don’t necessary have a beginning middle and an end to them. So, a scene like the talking eggs, for me it just made emotional sense.
Well it did, I couldn’t believe I was crying at the eggs.
Thank you. Its one of those scenes that I’ve had people tell me that they really don’t like.
Prokopy: This is a much more emotional experience than some of your other films. The fact that someone is crying during a scene, and there’s a number of scenes that could evoke that reaction. Is that a product of you maturing or did you set out to make something like that.
I tried to do the same thing with the first movies I directed, but maybe its a little different. I always felt that the best thing was to feel multiple emotions. Like to find something funny, but feel guilt. When I’m really moved by something its usually something that works on multiple levels like something I’m attracted to but repulsed by. Or something that I’m hopeful for but saddened by. Things that aren’t just one way and are easily settled. Usually when I’m putting the films together, if there’s something that I feel works like that I tend to keep it in the movie.
Audience member: How did “Gummo” end up in “Belly” exactly?
Its strange, I didn’t even hear about it until it was in theaters and this rapper called me and was like, “yo man, your movie is in that movie and DMX is watching it”. I called my agent to tell him and was like, “how did my film end up in that other guys movie?” He said that I didn’t own it and they could basically sell it to beer commercials or whatever they wanted. But I was actually flattered because I like Hype Williams.
Prokopy: We talked about this before how you had read that among the fans of “Julien Donkey-Boy” was Sylvester Stallone. He was doing an interview and he was asked what some of his favorite films were and he said, “I like everything from ‘The Godfather’ to ‘Julien Donkey-Boy’ “.
Yeah, it was also funny because I just heard that right before someone told me the story about how he got his nuts rubbed with the microphone on. Its a famous story, he was on set somewhere and he left his mic on and some woman was licking his balls and he’s like “Lick my shaft! Suck da balls”, and everyone heard him!
Audience member: Do you think that you’ll ever revisit “Fight, Harm“?
Hopefully I won’t die for a couple years so I’ll have kind of a semi-long life. I’m hoping its one of those things I do later on in life. There’s nine fights that exist and are unedited so I probably will put them together. My wife hates the idea of me going back and looking at that stuff.
Will you ever bring David Blaine back in when you revisit it?
I don’t know, he was a shitty camera man.
Audience member: Is there some reaction to the movie that you’re most afraid people will have?
No, I don’t care. I just don’t care, I never had. I want people to like the movie and want people to respond to it. When I was young and first started making movies I cared a lot more and thought about it a lot more about it than I do now. I thought about where the films fit in and how they are perceived by this type of person and that type of person and I was always wrong. Really, all I care about is making things. I really just like to make stuff so I’ll keep making things and put them out and keep going. Fassbender (maybe someone else) used to say that making movies was like building a house and that some of his movies here like the floorboards, some were like the walls, some where like the chimney, some were like the kitchen and bedroom. The idea was that at the end of his life, he created some this house that he could live in and that all the films were made for difference reasons and at different points in his life. Thats something that I always understood and felt would be a good thing.
I worked pretty closely. I was friends with Sun City Girls and Jason before and they had read the script but I didn’t want them to write for the picture for the most part. There’s one or two scenes that there were certain cues that Jason had to write for directly. For the most part, we just talked about things. I wanted them to just go back and just vibe off of it and send me things. It was through mail mostly because I was editing in London and they were in Washington.
Audience member: It seems like a lot of your movies are lead on by imagery. I read about one of your characters killing his parents naked because he didn’t want to get blood on his clothes (referring to “Ken Park“) was driven by an image you had in your head and wanted to see come alive. How much of your movies are made up of things you want to see?
I never actually saw “Ken Park”. I wrote it but I never actually saw it. Everything is something that I want to see. For the most part, everything starts from an image or pictures. Like, I’ll see some lady walking down the street with curlers in here hair and wearing boxing gloves smashing herself in the face and I’ll just start to say, “wow, that’s a great movie”. That’s kind of how a make movies.
Prokopy: Image before plot?
Audience member: At any point in your early career did you try to adhere to a more conventional structure? If so, what was your experience with that process?
Well, “Kids” is conventional. I just never felt like writing movies like that. I felt that so many other people were making those movies and I never felt that life was plotted out. I always hated people that plotted. Like, I’m going to plot to win the presidency or I’m going to plot to fuck this girl… Like, I hate you. I just think it’s best to have my movies have images that come from all directions and make sense of sight and sound in a different type of way. In most movies, all I ever remembered were specific characters and specific scenes. So, early on I just thought, why not make movies that consisted entirely of just great scenes. In most films, you just waste like 45 minutes to get to that really good point and then you waste another 30 minutes to leave that point. You’re always working to get there, why not just make a movie of just there.
Audience member: Part of that emotional core that you talk about comes through amazingly with the music selection. Do you have them in mind as you’re going through or do you think of the selection later when you’re done?
Music is strange, its always one of those things that is a mystery to me still. I love music, but its always one of those things where its impossible to predict how something is going to work with it. For the most part, when I write with a song in mind, it doesn’t work. Like, “Mister Lonely” the song worked, but a lot of times music that sounds cinematic destroys the image because its too heavy and in and of itself is a movie. Just like a normal person who likes music, I just listen to music and if there’s a song thats kind of strange or has a certain feeling I just take a mental note of it. Editing is a major piece of the process and takes lots and lots of time and trying lots and lots of different types of music and experimenting with things. But there’s no science to music.
Audience member: I thought it was interesting how this film featuring a Michael Jackson impersonator used no music of Michael Jackson obviously for licensing costs. If you lived in an alternate universe where you could use a Jackson song in the picture, would you have?
No, because this German guy used to only grunt into the microphone and only does the same two moves over and over again. It’s like a human loop and I found it so great that I wouldn’t want real Michael Jackson music to kill it.
Prokopy: Harmony, thank you very much.
Thanks everybody for coming and seeing the movie.
“Mister Lonely” is out in theaters across the nation and is coming out on DVD in the UK and Australia very soon. Definitely check it out because its amazing.
For more information on Harmony Korine check out his extremely complete fan site where most of the images in this post came from.
Recorded by Bruno Cabral in May 2008. Text by Justin Staple.
Count Bass D is a legend. With 15 years of rapping and producing under his belt along with 23 solo releases and almost 7 full-lengths, Count Bass D (real name Dwight Farrell) has earned his place among heavyweight hip hop producers by bringing a unique and soulful sound to the likes of long-time friend MF Doom, (along with his early group KMD) and J Rawls. Farrell is not afraid of flexing his multi-instrumental ability either, especially on his early release “Pre-Life Crisis” where he strayed away from the world of beats and played every instrument on the record. While notable as a rapper, Count Bass is determined to share his love for early soul with the world
Channeling some pure gospel from his home in Nashville, Count Bass D is making a new move again by teaming up with STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) to release another live album called “L7” which is sure to be as honest and unique as his earlier joints. As Count Bass spans genres and styles, he remains passionate about his craft and especially his fans. We got a chance to talk before he packed up for Chicago for the weekend where he was embarking on a live EP to be produced in three days with Man Man‘s private label Obey Your Brain. Take a look at Count Bass D’s notable passion and isolationist attitude about to materialistic music business today in this exclusive Cosign interview.
As you read, enjoy the first single of “L7” called “Can We Hang Out Tonight?”
So first off, what are you working on right now?
Right now I’m about half way finished with an album with a MC from Boston named Insight. I’m also about a third of the way finished with a project with J Rawls out of Columbus called “True Ohio Players”. Also, my solo album will be out July 29th called “L7”. It’s my seventh record and I’m just two songs away from finishing it up, I just released the first single yesterday. I’m also going to do a live instrumentation EP in Chicago the first weekend in June for a record company called Obey Your Brain. One of the co-owner’s of that label is in the indie rock group Man Man. Outside of that, I’m doing projects here and there for some friends of mine. I’m pretty busy right now, definitely in the middle of a lot of work and working hard.
What label is “L7” dropping on?
It’ll be on 1320 Records which is the record label of STS9. They’ve been good friends and have shown me a lot of support. I’m just going to do this project with them so I still have my freedom which they know is very important to me. A lot of these projects have been in the work for awhile but I was in different situation with a label so my hands were kind of tied. Luckily I’m free of that so I can give the people a lot of music that had been missing from me in 2007.
Ill. So with this work with STS9 and a live instrumentation EP, it seems that you’re experiencing a shift from production to live music.
Yeah, I started out doing live music for my first album “Pre-Life Crisis“, but at that point I didn’t really know how to sample myself and do the type of things that I did later on. Back then, I would just start a click track with the TR-808 in my headphones and play drums first, play bass second, and play my keyboards third. Thats pretty much how I did that whole first album. Well, I did parts of my second album the same way but when it came time to do a couple of 12″s like “Violatin” and “On The Reels“, I really started letting people know how much I grew up on hip-hop. It wasn’t until “Dwight Spitz” when people were able to see my whole range of hip-hop in it’s proper perspective. I think that has put the rest of my releases in perspective ever since.
True, you’ve done some great stuff for the genre.
I was a traditionalist when I started to sample full time because I learned from the guys who were masters of the MPC like VIC and Doom. I used only vinyl and only originals but its gotten to the point where technology has shifted the whole usage of samples and the drum machine has become somewhat a lost art. But I think I’ve made my mark on it and I’ve done some spiritual cleansing that has actually made me feel a little bit guilty about the usage of samples. At the same time, with everyone having access to everything that was on vinyl, there’s really no art form to the whole thing. Right now, I’m happy to get my chops back up. I’ve been really influenced by a lot of underground gospel cats right now. Not the mainstream gospel that’s been coming up but the cats in the churches. Now, I’m just trying to flex my skills once again and try something new.
Is there anyone you’ve been feeling lately that’s also trying to bridge the gap between production and live instrumentation?
I don’t really listen to a lot of current music right now. I think with me living in Tennessee all this time and not really being in a scene that people are coming through I’m not feeling much of an influence from other people, I’m just trying to do what I do. I’m barely in contact with a lot of people in the industry, so I don’t hear a lot of new records. I put out records sometimes and the labels don’t even send me copy of the records. I’m sure there’s a lot of wonderful things out there, but I make a conscience effort to avoid it sometimes. When I’m riding in a car or around on tour when people are playing music I really enjoy it, but I don’t seek out to add other people’s work to my collection that often. Unless it’s like, classic soul or classic jazz and stuff. There’s still so much of that stuff that I have to catch up on. I’m still studying “The Sound Stylistics” and “The Persuaders” and those types of cats. The new stuff is the new stuff and I’m leaving it to the younger generation to soak it up and take it to the next level with their art.
So “L7” is coming out quite soon. What was the process putting that album together?
It’s a solo project and I’ve been working on it for awhile. Besides “Art For Sale“, I haven’t had to do a project in a real short amount of time. I usually just work on things as they go and when its all finished I let it be. I’ve been working on “L7” since 2007. Its usually a process where I make a bunch of beats and that establishes what the sound of the record will be like. At that point, I try to earn an income from those beats. On “Dwight Spitz”, everyone had passed on every single one of those beats when I try tried to sell them. It’s not until I put the vocals on top and people hear it in context that they say, “ah, I could have done that”. Then my phone rings and people say, “why didn’t you call me to be on your album?” but I’m like “this is the same beat that you passed on!”. A lot of people will have some of these tracks on “L7” already and they’ll be shocked when the hear the music on there. So far, I feel like it’s the best project I’ve worked on. When I don’t have that feeling, then I won’t put anything else out. Thats usually my test, if I don’t feel like something is the best thing that I’ve made, then I just keep working until I do.
What’s the album you’re doing in Chicago going to sound like?
Well a lot my records have some compositions on them, not just rap tunes and beats. So this will be likewise, just me playing keys and drums and playing with some of the local musicians up there and putting together a project with live music as opposed to beats. I’ll probably be using the Rhythm Ace drum machine made by Multivox that they guys out of the 70s used so it’ll probably have a throw back feel to it. That’s just the music I mainly listen to now, a lot of soul and R&B from the 70s and early 80s, thats just what I like!
Are you going to be playing any live shows to promote the two projects?
Right now I’m talking to STS9 about doing a tour with them in the fall and I think I’ll probably do few select dates in the summer. But honestly, I’m a recording musician and unless it’s a situation where I can put on a great show with a normal budget, I don’t plan on doing that much touring as guys traditionally do. If I get the calls and invitations thats cool, but I’ve never had a booking agent or a full-time publicist and I’m not actively looking for them. I just make the music for the people who seek me out and find out about me from a positive referral and not a cold 2-page add or something like that. That’s how you get a bunch of people who don’t want to be involved with what you’re doing, but have been bludgeoned to death by seeing your face everywhere and begin to talk bad about what you do. I’m not interested in that at all, I prefer to keep it simple.
Are you happy with the kind of support you get now?
I have enough now to support my family so I’m not looking for a ton new fans or anything like that, I think that the people who have supported my over the years are enough. As long as people purchase my record, I’ll be just fine with the money that I make and I don’t need to make much more. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’m satisfied with my popularity, I’m not looking to take it to another level.
You seem to have a really positive outlook on the industry and success. Is there anything more you’d like people to know about it.
Check out my website countbassd.com and my myspace, that’s where you can usually find my opinions. I keep kind of a journal and I actually tell people what’s happening in my life, the ups and the downs of it. People write me e-mails that you can see on there and I write them back or I call them and I’m actually involved with the people that are involved with me. Those are the only people that I’m really interested in, I’m not really interested in blind fans for money sake or popularity sake. I’m looking for a quality listener and a music lover as opposed to the people who just buy a record to quote it around their friends like they do when they buy a video game or something. I’m not looking for that kind of person to be involved with what Count Bass D is doing. I’m looking for quality and not people who are there to criticize my every move. A lot of dudes are in music for the wrong reasons nowadays though. They’re not really trying to make music, they’re just trying to make fame and money, I see them and I know them. So I had to distance myself from that and get back to the music because thats the only thing thats going to last. I was supposed to be done making records long ago, you know how many times these record labels try to kill my career? But they can’t stop the music so as a result I’m going to be here until I’m dead!
Thats for sure! Thanks so much for talking to us.
No problem man, no nonsense from me. I’m trying to be 100% real with the people because thats what people want, so thanks!
interview by Justin Staple
For old times sake, take a listen to one my favorite D beats called “Jussa Player” off 2004’s “Dwight Spitz”:
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: Exponential Records, Positive Thinking!, Rae Davis
Today’s guest is San Antonio’s very own jazz/hip hop fusion beat maestro Rae Davis. With an album that proves excellent in the genre of his inspirations, Davis is quite busy bringing his educated and nuanced sound to the stage with the likes of Kid Koala and Busdriver. Learn more about the young and passionate producer below as we chat about his transition into production and cop a lesson in jazz history. Below this post, be sure to catch a review of his brand new album “Positive Thinking!” out now on Exponential Records.
As a special treat to bump while reading, here is a Rae Davis remix of Flying Lotus’ “Tea Leaf Dancers”:
How did you originally get into the production side of music?
That was actually right out of high school. I was playing piano and guitar by then and listening to a lot of jazz and doing some classical guitar studies. Then out of high school my home boy gave me a copy of Fruity Loops and I was just playing with that. But then I needed more so I just bought the Pro Tools Rig, the LE version, and then basically when off from there. I’m using Reactor and Reason now and I’ve been learning from friends teaching me here and there. You know, little recording techniques and tricks.
What were you influenced by around the time that you started getting into production? I read you were playing in a few bands early on and then drifted more over to hip hop. Was there anything you were listening to that just made you say, “Damn, I want to sound like these guys”?
Yeah, I was in like an indie rock band for awhile. Every time we played I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t want to be the guy in the band that said, “maybe we should do this”. I was always the one who wanted to take the songs in a different direction. So I just decided to do my own thing. At the time I was listening to tons of hip hop and jazz shit. Especially jazz, that was main thing in high school, ever since I picked up jazz piano I was all about that. I got real into Telefon Tel Aviv around that time and some electronic shit. Then I started to listen to Boards of Canada and that influenced the more experimental side in me.
Yeah, I notice on the “Positive Thinking!” album there’s a lot of Rhodes sounds. Are those samples or are you playing that live?
Its all pretty much live. I run it through a lot of delay pedals and there’s a lot of EQing and little tricks to make the Rhodes sound a lot nicer quality. I definitely improved the sound from the Rhodes using plug-ins and all that, then make loops out of the best takes. But it’s written out first and then played live.
Thats cool. So you mentioned Pro Tools and I was wondering if there was any other production gear that you favor or what you’re working with right now?
I’ve been using the LE Pro Tools version a lot. That’s like my main thing and I love it, I’m always working in “grid mode“. That’s why I’m so into Pro Tools. I like to work in grid mode because I’m always adding like stutters but my friends mainly use shuffle and spot mode, and i find it very difficult to to work in. So I definitely favor Pro Tools, and I use Reason a lot to make beats and I use Reaktor for sound design. I have synthesizers I use for loops and things like that. I recently started using my SP-303 again and the stuff I’m doing right now is more sample based. I’m doing a lot with drum samples and making them kind of lost and broken. Like that SAMIYAM shit is fresh, I’m really into that sound right now. No particular time, you know, like broken beat so now I’ve been focusing on my SP-303.
Yeah, we’ve been focusing on that stuff a lot.
Yeah, I’ve always been a big believer on, you know, its not what you’ve got its how you use it. I mean, I know cats using big HD systems and I hear the stuff and it just sounds corny. But then I go to some dude’s house down the street who doesn’t have a studio but has a beat machine and sampler and is making really dope shit. Its definitely the mind behind the process thats for sure.
Definitely. As far as “Positive Thinking!”, it seems like there is one constant theme throughout the record. Are those songs you’ve pieced together recently or have you been working on it over a long period of time?
Yeah, I’ve been working on it over the course of like a year and a half just off and on. I’ll be writing and going back to the songs because I always felt like i was learning new shit. Especially when it comes to recording things like trumpets or percussion its pretty much just some mics in a room with some friends messing around for just like twenty minutes and then another session for twenty minutes. And then I took that home with me and arranged it to my satisfaction and I pretty much work from there. So I did this over the course of a year.
Thats a great process.
Yeah, “Old Pianos” is the only song on the record that’s made entirely out of samples. That’s me and my home boy Diego. I messed with samples off the SP-303 and then sent him the track and he did a lot of post-production work and sent it back to see if i dug what he had done. That was probably the track that was a bit out of the ordinary from my typical production style. It was the last song we did for the record. Everything was done and then I talked to Diego like, “Hey we should just do a track together to put on the record”.
And the label the record is on is Exponential?
Yeah, Ernest Gonzales label, a good friend of mine from San Antonio. I’m originally from San Antonio but I moved up to Austin to do the whole music thing like ninety percent of the people in that town. But yeah, he runs that label and we had been talking a lot about putting out my CD. So I sent it to him and he thought it was something that belonged on the label. He’s all about getting your name and music out and not trying to make money for himself. He’s definitely a real solid dude.
Are you playing any live sets to promote the album? What do those look like for you?
Thats what’s tricky, I kind of hate playing live. I wish I had a full band to play with me, but basically when I play live I have 2 laptops set up, a midi controller, a sampler and of course my Rhodes. I basically play live over the tracks. Its kind of boring, like I said I wish I had a live band so we could improvise and vibe off each other. Lately I’ve been playing live though because it’s part of the game. You know, getting people to hear to the record and get my name out. I played last night here in San Antonio and it was a good crowd and people responded really nice to it. But in the end I feel like it could be ten times better then it is.
Nice. What’s next recording wise?
My boy Diego is moving up to Canada but I’ll be keeping it going with him, trading tracks and doing a lot of stuff like “Old Pianos” but more of the jazz influence stuff. What I really want to do is produce for people. I really want to be behind the artist and produce for some female vocalists. Or maybe some marching bands, that’d be dope. There’s a bunch down in Houston and shit, those guys have so much flavor.
Are there any colabs that’d you love to make happen?
No one real famous, really. I’d love to work with like Ahu Dolly or this girl whose local, some girl named Kat Edmonsen. But I haven’t approached her yet. She’s a jazz vocalist who has worked with Ephraim Owens whose Erykah Badu‘s trumpet player and her voice is just perfect for what I’m trying to do next.
What have you been listening to recently? Is there anything that you’d recommend?
A friend of mine hooked me up with some new D’Angelo shit and thats all I’ve been listening to lately. Apparently he’s been recording on and off for the past couple years. I love “Voodoo”, it’s a big inspiration for the sound I like to go for. His new shit is amazing. The new Clipse shit too, “Re-Up Gang Vol. 3”, that shit’s hot.
What about producers that are around now. Anyone you especially like?
Definitely Madlib, a big inspiration to me. As far as my favorite producer, I’d say definitely J Dilla. I remember hearing Pharcyde‘s “Runnin'” and lovin’ it. All the shit he did for Tribe Called Quest, D’Angelo and Erykah Badu. I love all that stuff and it all comes from Dilla. But on the other side, I also love all the ambient stuff. Like Brian Eno is amazing and Jeff Buckley for some rock influences. Just so many people.
What were you listening to during the process of the album? You mentioned some jazz cats.
Definitely a lot of Coltrane. “A Love Supreme” just blew me away when I first heard it, especially the opening track, “Acknowledgment.” Oliver Nelson‘s record, “Blues and the Abstract Truth”. That is an amazing record especially the track, “Stolen Moments” it’s basically the ultimate jazz standard for me. I was listening to a lot of Ornette Coleman and Hank Mobley as well, those two guys are amazing. Actually, “This I Dig of You” is a Hank Mobley tune that I basically stole the name for a track on “Positive Thinking!”. Definitely pick up Hank Mobley’s “The Soul Station”.
Thank you very much Rae, good to talk to you.
Thanks man, take it easy.
interview by Justin Staple
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).
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 occasionalsuperstar.com 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 |
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?
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.
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.
|| words by Justin Staple ||
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: Arabian Prince, Peanut Butter Wolf, Vlaze.com
They talk about the popularity of Serato Scratch and other ish.
Sike… this is awkward as hell. On NPR’s Bryant Park Project.