Cosign Presents Chicago’s own crooner killer catchy Netherfriends. Still young, the band has dropped a self released EP whose every track is a jewel of spatial melodies and synthpop exuberance. Watch as two thirds of the band wander Chicago’s Wicker Park and prove why they are they are a band to love.
“Cory Kennedy Sings the Blues”
film and words by Justin Staple
Check out Cosign Presents on Daily Motion for permanent links.
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: Cosign Presents | Tags: Cosign Presents, The Names That Spell, The Smart Museum Chicago
Cosign Presents Chicago indie/noise band The Names That Spell. Spanning genres from jazz to afropop, the Names That Spell hold a captive audience through rhythmic fairy tails of love and life. Check out the Names that Spell playing in Chicago’s Smart Museum and then moving to a basement for a private session.
Check for a CD dropping from them soon or browse around their vertiginous treasure hunt of a website here for some samples.
“Live @ The Smart Museum in Chicago”
film and words by justin staple
Filed under: Mixtapes | Tags: American Gangster, Jay-Z, Joanna Newsom, Milk Eyed Gangster
I’ve been working on this Mixtape for a minute now. It’s Jay-Z’s “American Gangster” mashed up with some samples from Joanna Newsom’s “Milk Eyed Mender”. Appropriately, it’s called “Milk Eyed Gangster”. Some people were wondering what it sounds like so here’s a little sample. It’ll be done when I have some time and I’ll put it all up for download. Word!
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
Texas swing is now rendered into clicking beats and psychedelic samples: think J Dilla inspired grooves from the streets of San Antonio. 24 year old Rae Davis (yes, I know you’re thinking of The Kinks) has released his soft-jazz and harder-beat album Positive Thinking under the San Antonio label Exponential (home to acts like DJ Jester the Filipino Fist and Theory of Everything). The album itself is an exercise in hip-hop fusion, much influenced by Davis’ interest in the legends of jazz along with a light, down-tempo understanding of beats. The album opens with the comfortable, gentle ambience of “Yesterday’s History” and “Pyramids”, but soon the build-up – characterized by one particular repeating beatbox line – comes at you full force perhaps a little too predictable to the casual listener.
His recording style, however, suggests a strong sense of detail that might elude those consumers who have a limited base of knowledge in the prolific field of underground or fusion hip-hop. The latter of those two songs , it bears mentioning, has one of the strongest bass lines in an album that uses them sparingly and for effect. Davis excels when he allows for that sort of subtlety.
As the album progresses it never leaves the jazz-inflected realm, leaving room for ambience and implied tones. “Old Pianos” displays this sort of nuance well, with a slowly building series of click-clacks and layers of electronic “fuzz”. The sort of flow that he enjoys can also suffer from its own minimal movement and progression. At its best, Positive Thinking holds a beat like nobody’s business. At its least motivated, it holds that beat a fraction too long. Regardless, Rae Davis is, without a doubt, a jazzed young talent. Pay attention to this cat.
Find out more about Rae Davis
Words and Subliminal Messages by Miles King
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 |