Posts from February 27th, 2014

Slowdive’s Slowdaze : Exclusive Mixtape for Dazed & Confused

February 27, 2014

I have been hooked on Slowdive since the first time I watched Gregg Araki’s classic The Doom Generation, and the use of “Blue Skied An’ Clear” just before the credits roll is one of my favourite moments in film. When the cult shoegaze group announced their reunion last month, I got my hustle on and was beyond excited when they agreed to make an exclusive mixtape for Dazed & Confused Magazine. Read and listen below, or check it out on Dazed Digital here.

slowdaze

The announcement last month that Slowdive have reunited was reverb-soaked elysium to the ears of shoegazers around the world. The cult British group, who went their separate ways 20 years ago, are set to play a string of shows this summer, including a set at Primavera and a show at London’s Village Underground. Here they present an exclusive heady mixtape that brings together some of their favourite shoegaze-tinged tracks from the past two decades. As you stream the mix, read Slowdive’s Simon Scott explaining their selections below.

Simon Scott: ”The  s l o w d i v e (s l o w d a z e) mix has been compiled from some of our favourite tracks, in particular from groups less famous than The Cure or The Smiths, ranging in musical styles from post-rock to ambient, classical to ’shoegaze’. In 1994 Slowdive were a deeply unfashionable group, especially in the UK, and struggled to play gigs to more than to a few hundred people. The press were becoming increasingly infatuated by grunge and we were the token guitar band to make disparaging remarks about. Shoegaze was a much berated genre. Each album released was received with poor reviews and one by one each shoegaze band was dropped to make way for Britpop.

Since we broke up shoegaze began to globally snowball as an influence on new artists, and today it is crossing over new musical boundaries into genres including metal and hip hop. Therefore we’ve included a few bands, not naming any names, who have gone on to form bands after hearing shoegaze music or seeing Slowdive play live back in the early 1990s. Not all tracks are shoegaze of course; Slint wrote and released their classic Spiderland album before we broke up, and David Darling is a classical cellist. It doesn’t matter, and musical boundaries are there to be broken anyway, as these different styles and individual tracks flow well together and create a vibe that feels like shoegaze tinged with each track worthy to be included whatever genre it derives from.”

Tracklist:

Lali Puna – “Faking the Books”
Flying Saucer Attack – “Respect”
Bowery Electric – “Empty Words”
Boards of Canada – “In the Annexe”
Pluramon (with Julee Cruise) – “Have You Seen Jill?”
Machinefabriek – “Somerset”
Cornelius – “Star Fruits Surf Rider”
Pedro the Lion – “The Bells”
The For Carnation – “Being Held”
Fennesz – “Caecilia”
The Drums – “Days”
Sun Kil Moon – “Moorestown”
Sigur Ros – “Við Spilum Endalaust”
Mogwai – “Hunted By a Freak”
Labradford – “E Luxo So (5)”
David Darling – “No Place Nowhere”
Palace – “Disorder”
Slint – “Washer”
Nils Frahm – “Says”

Shock G Interview : Not Just Knee Deep (Part 3)

February 19, 2014

IMG_0160

George Clinton, Shock G, and Gary “Mudbone” Cooper

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

George Clinton has had a considerable influence on your work. When did you first hear his music?

First song I noticed was “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker).” When it came on the radio in ’76, I thought it was some weird and twisted gospel group, because the vocals were layered so densely. It was actually kind of haunting; it scared me and seduced me at the same time. [laughs] The music had an exaggeratedly dark, urgent and aggressive quality to it, while also comical, and while also somehow warm and kind-hearted, like I had never heard before. It gave me a vision of a choir performing in a church somewhere way out in space. Kool and the Gang made funk music. Slave made funk music. But “Tear the Roof” sounded like funk on steroids.

Then a year or two later, “Flashlight” came out, and my soul recognized that same feeling that “Tear the Roof Off” gave me. That’s when I bought my first Parliament album: Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome.

Later that same year I was enjoying another song on the radio, “One Nation Under a Groove,” when my best friend Cush said, “You know that’s your boy George from ‘Flashlight.’ ”  I said “Nah, the DJ said this is a different group called Funkadelic.” He said “Yeah, that’s them, Parliament, it’s the same group.”

I was blown away. From that moment on, they became my favorite band and still are to this day. I began clicking up with other Funkateers, back-learning their catalog and discovering Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Brides of Funkenstein, and so on. I soon discovered that in order to get that particular great feeling, it had to be P-Funk.

What’s your favorite Clinton record?

Probably “(Not Just) Knee Deep” or “Aqua Boogie.” What’s your favorite P-Funk song? You like George and them?

My favorite Parliament song? It would be “(You’re a Fish and I’m a) Water Sign.” I love that song.

[Sings] “Can we go down…” I like the lyrics where he says, “Let’s go mating, the water’s fine.” That was the B-side to the single “Aqua Boogie” on 45. That’s your favorite? See, I like the dance music. [plays and sings to “(Not Just) Knee Deep” melody] “Feeling so serious, she was on her period, when she tried to freak with meeeeeee.” That’s my Humpty version.

I love it. Can you play “Sons of the P” on piano?

Hmm. I can’t remember it! [sings] “The things we bring, will scatter sunshine in those times of rain. When we’re near, have no fear…we’ll set free…the pain.”

My favorite line in that song is “…pulling down the pants to your mind.” 

Working with George and doing that song was so fun. That was a great time because it was our first time really being around him for more than just a few backstage handshakes. We did about two songs for him, and he did that one for us. Then we played each other’s albums. I think he was working on [1993's] Hey Man, Smell My Finger. We played him “Kiss You Back” and “Heartbeat Props,” and he liked them. Then we rhymed over [“Rhythm and Rhyme”] with him. That was an amazing time.

How was it working in the studio with him?

George is one of those people, when you meet him and he’s exactly who you knew he was. Because of his music and he feels a certain way. You meet him and, “Yup.”

Wooo! He puts the threshold so low as far as what’s acceptable. He takes the bar down to level everybody, and just loosens everybody up. He’s real comfortable in his skin; not embarrassed or ashamed about one thing about his life. It transforms the room.

When you spend time with George, it’s not like you’re on a regular in the United States; you’re in P-Funk land. It just has that air to it. None of the usual laws and social norms apply. It’s just total freedom. He was a little bit rough around the edges back then, but he was the anchor, and you forgot about that. The conversation takes over and it’s always so enlightening, brilliant, fun, and rich. You don’t see yourself or anyone else. You see the fantasy of the vision of the things you talk about. That’s all you see.

When people are like, “What color was his shirt?” or “Where did he get all the coke from?” I don’t remember. It just seemed like every time he ran out, he’d pull another sack magically out. There wasn’t even a pocket; he would just pull at his leg.

I remember he listened to “Sons of the P” once. We sent him a tape with some of it on there, but most of the vocals we laid while waiting for him to show up. We sent him a tape with the music, with no extra keyboards on it, and a basic chorus. The “yes we are the…” and all of that other stuff wasn’t on there. So we put that on there and then he shows up and listens to all of that once, and was like, “Okay, yeah, yeah, yeah, all right.” He went in the booth and he did what he did in one take. All his adlib stuff he did from just listening to it once. He was amazing. He nailed what we were doing with the third, fourth, fifth harmony. He was going up and down, shorts, stops, breaks, breath, speak again, breath, speak again—and he captured all that “and the doctor said you don’t need a thing…” He was amazing to work with.

It was funny too. He walked in with a big crumpled piece of like postal wrapping paper; it was just something from around the house you could tell. And on top of that he had the lyrics he wanted to sing scribbled on sideways, in colored ink. He’s just organic. From the moment I spent those hours with George, life got better for me in all fashions. I was just like, “What is everybody tripping about? Why does the notebook have to be neat? Why does my hair have to be fixed to record? Why does…blah blah blah?”

Did that stay with you?

Oh yeah, because I was already that kind of person. People teach you “First impressions are everlasting” and “If you don’t look like you want to get paid, you won’t get paid.” So I still had some of that. And hip-hop was different to funk. Part of the funk code was the lovechild hippy thing. But hip-hop had a code, and being funky and un-groomed wasn’t part of the code.

“Want It All” is one of the Digital Underground songs I relate to most. What inspired the song for you? Do you still relate to it?

I absolutely do still relate. I struggle with those types of choices even more now that I’m older and have more self-discipline and awareness. Only slightly more though. [laughs] But “Want It All” was always about the feeling of course, not the action. Everyone knows that nobody has it all, it’s not possible. If you’re rich or famous, you’re also locked in a cage and drenched in responsibility.

Shock G Interview : Not Just Knee Deep (Part 2)

February 8, 2014

Read Part 1 here.
carz

So when you were young, Shock, what did you imagine yourself doing or being when you were grown up?

I wanted to own a big, huge underground car ring that would specialise in Ferraris and Porsches. And like on TV if you were running from the cops, you could hit a switch in your car and a piece of the mountain would flap open. You drive in and it flaps back, and the cops go right by because it doesn’t look like anything. Then down there would be all high-tech, people working on the cars, blue and candy apple green Lamborghinis everywhere. My imagination was a little crazy.

Until I went to jail for the final time. I got six months once for grand theft auto, and I’d been in jail for stealing cars enough. This time it had built up and I almost went to prison when I was nineteen years old.

Music wasn’t a reality to us. Those people were magic; they came from magic land. But I always did music and always had a music job. We always had a gig, whether it was my band or my DJ crew. Then we would get into talent shows, just because it was fun at school, and I started racking up first place trophies: “Most Talented,” “Winner of Art Competition.” But I always felt like you go to school to learn somebody else’s style. If I was born with it, why would I go to school to learn it? I thought that the dopest people who I liked never went to school. When I was a kid my favourites were George Clinton, Sly Stone, Herbie Hancock, and they just did it. Speaking of Herbie – oooohhhh [plays Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon”] – “Chameleon” when that came out? How did he make that sound? Some of the keyboards in that record were so ahead of its time. And everybody credits “Flashlight,” including me. I was one of those people running around promoting “Flashlight” as the first song where people use synthesisers instead of a bass guitar. Nope. Come to think of it, Herbie Hancock, that shit right there. “Chameleon,” 1974. Bow, Bow, Bow. [Plays piano] Same sound that producers are using now, he was using in ’74. Hoo, hoo, hoo! Herbie’s an alien. An extra-terrestrial.

Are you a fan of Sun Ra at all?

I don’t really know him. But I like the fact that he looks like George Clinton and has the big mob of homeless people with him. For most of the groups I like, the artists I love actually, a song spoke to me first. I loved it and found out who it was. I’ve never discovered that something I love is Sun Ra, but I like his personality. I read about him and I like his whole nutcase approach.

I like that. Being led by the music rather than the person.

I saw pictures of him and documentaries and people making a big deal, and he looks all spaced out. But I went and listened to the music, and the music wasn’t psychedelic like his image was.

No.

It wasn’t like Bitches Brew; it was like show-time jazz. [Breaks into a little jazz ditty] Just like that. It was real disciplined, it wasn’t loose. As loose as he claims he is. I guess the same could be said about Digital Underground. I consider myself an open minded person, but, I’m a shy person, my whole life. “Gregory come sing for the adults!” My mom would make me come into the living room and sing for everybody [sings Stevie Wonder “Uptight”] when I was four or five. I didn’t want to, she just interrupted me. I wanted to finish whatever I was doing, building something with paper or whatever.

So it was the same when I made a song and Chopmaster J sent it to someone he knew. He called me at work one day and was like “Greg check this out, my friend Darryl he produces Barry White and Cherelle and Alexander O’Neil and he wants to put you in the studio and put a record out, but you got to put me in the group.” I worked in a music store selling keyboards, and was like “yeah sure I gotta go…I got someone on the line.” I was just doing my job. I’d done music all of my life and had never got close to anyone in the industry. I could never get to that stage, never won a deal for sending in tapes to those shows like Polygram. Even when people cheered for us most at the end, it was like: “How many people like Master Blasters?” “Haaaaaa!” We got a roar. “Jesus Saviours and the Gospel Men?” “huuuhhhuh…” And then they would win. The gospel group. I knew it was all rigged. I didn’t understand it.

Then as well my father is very business oriented, he climbed from the bottom to the top just by studying and working hard. So that’s what he believed in and was always saying “what are you going to do? You can’t just sit around.” I was like “maybe I’ll draw a cartoon for a newspaper or play in a band or something.” “Music? You don’t want to get into that. There’s no money in it. All those guys are strung out and nothing but drugs.” I was like “no money in it?” This made the hair on the back of his neck stand up, I said “Rick James makes more in one show that you do all year, what do you mean there’s no money in it?” “Rick James? Rick James??! Gregory, Rick James and Michael Jackson, those people you see on TV? Those are special, blessed people. If you had that kind of talent, we’d know about it by now. Now go clean your room!” And I knew I couldn’t say anything when he’s in that zone, you can’t even say “but, but.” I just had to walk away, but I knew better. I knew that it was just people who did that instead. I mean maybe Michael Jackson, but the rest of it…

But back to the store that I worked at. So Jimi [Chopmaster J] was one of my customers. I was tutoring him and teaching him how to do things. I sold him a $5,000 home recording studio, and it was my dream set up that I could never afford. I only used to use it at work in between customers, so I got like four bars of a song done at work in two years. But tutoring him I was able to record “Underwater Rimes” and “Your Life’s A Cartoon.” Just to send to my little brother and hip-hoppers back east, not to enter in any contest or for the public. I was fifteen years tired of that, and I’d started to believe my father a little bit. So when Jimi said “you got to put me in the group and split everything 50/50” and “they wanna put us in the studio in L.A.” I was like “ah yeah sure whatever, I gotta go.” Two weeks later we went to L.A., and the dude was serious.

You see what happened is I was making my music at his house, and then leaving the master tapes and the four tracks. He took it, made his own mix down, and sent it to his friend in L.A., with dreams of being big. That’s how Jimi is; he’s just real status and material. Which is cool, we needed that, he was the one who would introduce us to managers and stuff like that.

So we went to L.A. and recorded some stuff for Capitol records, and that fell apart. Then we were recording for Car City Records about a year later and that fell apart. Every time we were about to press the records up something else happened. Bad luck shit, like the owner of the studio got arrested for crack or Reggie Jackson’s car collection burnt down. The baseball player’s brother was like the black sheep and had a start-up label, just trying to do something with his life, like “how do you start this so called record company?” And his famous brother was funding him. When Reggie Jackson went through some crises and his car collection burnt down, he just abandoned his brother. So that was the second time. Too many times I came back to Thanksgiving in New York or Christmas in Tampa like “I got a record coming out!” After a while my family would just go “mmm” and smile or look down. “Well, your fathers got work at IBM…” It was so embarrassing when I had to go beg for my job back at the record store. By the time we got to TNT records, I was like “I’m going to wait this time before I start making these announcements…”

“Underwater Rimes” came out, and it was number one in Amsterdam, and like number eleven in London on the rap charts or some kind of dance or underground chart. We were doing okay in the States. In the ’80s and ’90s if you could sell 20,000 records in your local city independent, not the trunk of your car or whatever, that translated to growing and a big record company would support you. We sold 18,000. We were shy a couple thousand, but it was enough that Tommy Boy signed us. We did the first video, and I still didn’t say anything. So one Christmas I call home and I’m talking to my cousin, and he’s like “such and such, yeah he’s doing okay and da-da-da … Greg – I want to ask you something … are you Humpty??” “Yeah, that’s me.” “God damn!!! Greg, Greg! It’s Greg!!!!! He’s Humpty, oh god!! I knew it was you cos of the teeth – I knew it was your teeth boy!”

How did that feel?

Oh it felt good. It felt good, but, you know, it also…

Bittersweet?

Yeah, it was bittersweet. I saw it coming before that. We had N.W.A.’s road manager managing us, and we had a record out doing a little independent stuff, we were distributing “Underwater Rimes.” It was real before that. But the record wasn’t a hit in New York or Florida. So to my family I was fooling myself or just in a fantasy world that I’m in the music industry, even though I said I had a record and had sent them copies of it. But that was fun when they discovered that.

Humpty with Fab Five Freddy, Rod Houston (Tommy Boy video rep who doubled as SHKG in the "Humpty Dance" video, and friends in 1991

Humpty with Fab Five Freddy, Rod Houston (Tommy Boy video rep who doubled as SHKG in the “Humpty Dance” video, and friends in 1991

You mention Humpty. How seriously did you take it back then? Keeping the mystery of whether it was you, Shock or Humpty?

That was fun. George Clinton used to use his anonymousness to keep paparazzi and record company people off of him when he didn’t want to answer to them. People used to wonder like “which one is George Clinton? He’s either Starchild or Sir Nose…” You never really got a good look at him. So I had that game as well. I was really entertained by Andy Kaufman having two or three characters too, I always thought that was funny. My mom used to tell me about all the Saturday Night Live cast, how they would fool the president and sometimes come in dressed a certain way to scare NBC. I liked the practical joke thing. I didn’t plan it. I get a lot of credit, people are like “Shock is genius – he got Humpty for this, and Shock G for the…” But it just evolved.

There was a point when the whole group were like “wait, wait, wait – you don’t look all the way Humpty yet – let me see – the pants! The pants aint Humpty. Better pants, better pants. Yeah, alright. I think he should go in with two girls, you need another girl.” I’m like “I don’t know if I should. I don’t know anybody… Cassandra’s mad at me…” And they’d be like “Okay, fuck it, take La’Tonya. La’Tonya, go with him.” And La’Tonya would be his wife. But Humpty had to look right because that was the image, and everybody was in on it. It was so fun to do that I just would do it. Not so much for business purpose, and not so much for artistic purpose, but it was just so much fun. It was like having the joker in my pocket.

Then I started realising how lucky I was to have this band member who doesn’t complain, who I don’t get the extra plane ticket for, and is always in the studio anytime I need him. Who I can pay, but keep his money… So on paper: “We got to split this four ways – T. Shakur, Money B, G. Jacobs, E. Humphrey,” because Humpty’s verse counted, it mattered.

Did you?

Nobody in the group had a problem with that. It was just me being stupid splitting the money up, my share was the same.

I hear that. Are your various alter-egos different sides to your personality? Or just characters you created?

They’re just characters, usually patterned behind real people I know in regular life. Just like Woody Harrelson’s not a natural born killer, or Jim Carrey’s not the Mask, I’m not Humpty. My home life is really quiet and simple. And boring probably.

To be continued in Part 3 …

All rights reserved © Alice Price-Styles · Theme by Blogmilk + Coded by Brandi Bernoskie