Posts from May 29th, 2016

LA Daze

May 29, 2016

Palm trees in the wind and pizza by the slice. Catching up with old friends under cloudy skies. Writing by blue swimming pools and pink sunsets behind the hills of Hollywood. Oh Los Angeles, since getting to you earlier this month, time has been flying by too fast.  I’m feeling very lucky to be spending time with some of my favourite people out here, because conversing and laughing with like-minded souls is the best.

~Stunning views from The Getty~

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Music-wise, I’ve been listening to my very talented friends Nanna B and Jansport J, as well as a little Neil Young :)

I’ve loved helping out at some Delicious Vinyl events while in town, including the WAX record fair at Capitol Records and Boom Yard LA at Delicious Pizza.

~Me selling merch at Boom Yard LA @ Delicious Pizza~

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 ~Capitol Records~

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~Limited Edition Ol’ Dirty Bastard Vinyl~

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A couple of weeks ago I enrolled at Studio4 LA, James Franco’s film and acting school here, so have been taking some classes over in North Hollywood. I also attended a really awesome ‘Intuitive Actor’ workshop at SoHo with Todd Savvas at SoHo House, and have been dabbling in a real mix of yoga classes out here. After meeting the gorgeous Millana Snow in West Hollywood, I attended a poolside yoga class with Serene Social at the Standard Hotel on Sunset. A friend also introduced me to Black Market Yoga in Hollywood (where you can flow to Tom Waits!), and most recently I’ve been hitting up the Y7 Studio on Melrose for their hip-hop scored vinyasa classes.

~Chillin’ by the pool post-yoga~

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~Santa Monica Sunset~

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Star Child : George Clinton Interview

May 28, 2016

 

Last month I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the one and only George Clinton for Wax Poetics. When I first bought Funkadelic’s self-titled debut Funkadelic as a teenager, I never dreamed that one day I would get to chat to George himself about tour stories, life philosophies, and spirituality…

Peep the interview below and enjoy!

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For a musician whose creativity orbits around its own funk-fuelled planet, spinning out infectious melodies and dreaming up the most liberated of ideas, George Clinton is remarkably down to earth.

Born in North Carolina and raised in New Jersey, Clinton founded the group the Parliaments in 1955, releasing their hit single “(I Wanna) Testify” in 1967. The group went on to evolve into the now iconic acts Funkadelic and Parliament in 1968 and 1970, respectively. The combined creative output from Parliament and Funkadelic in the ’70s is truly staggering, including platinum albums Mothership ConnectionOne Nation Under a Groove, and Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome, and hit singles such as “Flashlight” and “Aqua Boogie.” The list, of course, could go on and on (and on). It is no exaggeration to say that Clinton’s work has inspired countless other artists, and, he continues to record and collaborate to this day.

In conversation, the man behind the P-Funk juggernaut, arguably one of the most influential movements in music history, is at once open and brilliantly funny. He chuckles heartily and speaks candidly, sharing views and drawing from personal experiences. It was after a show at the New Parish in Oakland that I caught up with George to chat about the Bay Area, tour stories, perspectives and spirituality, and, of course, new music.

 

There are so many great funk and soul acts from the Bay Area. Which of those groups have inspired you? Do you have any favourite Bay Area groups?

Oh, you know who it is! [laughs] It’s gonna be Sly Stone.

Of course.

Without a doubt. There’s a lot of them from that area over the years, going back to Jefferson Airplane and all the way up to Too Short. But overall? Sly Stone.

Do you remember when you first heard his music?

Sixty-six or something like that. I knew him as a DJ before I knew he put a record out. He was a DJ right there in Oakland.

I didn’t know that.

Oh yeah. Sly Stone, that’s where he was first, as a DJ on KSOL on KDIA.

Did he play parties as well? Did you ever see him DJ?

Nah, I never saw him. But I used to listen to him on the radio, ’cause he talked so much shit! As a matter of fact, on my new album I have out right now I recorded Sly doing “The Nazz.” That was his theme song when he came on the radio.

It’s neat that you remember his theme song. It obviously still sticks out. You tour a lot, it seems like you’re almost constantly on tour.

I live on the road.

Do you have any favourite memories from being on tour or any tour stories? 

Oh lots. Lots from when we first got the Mothership and were going to different places like the Oakland Coliseum. That’s a good one right there! We actually did the live album there, it was called the P-Funk Earth Tour. I can remember getting there in the afternoon on the day of the show and watching them set up the spaceship and the big hat. And I fell asleep under the bleachers! [laughs] And when I woke up the show was on. The show was on. Scared the shit out me, I was goin’ be late!

Were you or did you make it?

Oh I made it. Got in the costume and was there just as my turn came on. [chuckles] Bootsy was on when I woke up.

They must have panicked wondering where you were.

Oh they were panicking. Nobody knew where I was at because I got there early afternoon. I just sat down by the bleachers and fell asleep!

That’s brilliant. And the audience would have had no clue. So I interviewed another Bay Area artist Shock G a couple years ago – 

Oh, that’s my boy.

Yeah. He talked a little about when you made Sons of the P and said that after he spent time working with you, he felt that his life got better in all regards and that you have a very positive influence on people. Do you have a life philosophy or outlook that you share with others?

Basically, do the best that you can and then funk it! [laughs] That’s basically my philosophy. You know, after you’ve done the best you can, that’s all you can do and that takes so much pressure off of you. You goin’ be alright most of the time like Kendrick Lamar says, “We goin’ be alright.” Whether you like it or not, you goin’ be alright! You can take a lot of the stress off of yourself by just knowing that for a fact that no matter what any moment might feel like at any given time, 99% of the time you going to be alright. And if you know that you don’t worry.

Shock G, oh man, he’s like that himself. He’s one of the few that makes sure the people are taken care of and is concerned that people are getting paid for their samples. Same with Ice Cube. A lot of people don’t know, they just make the record and they don’t know nothing about the business and business form. They don’t care about your relationships with other people, so they don’t care about paying the other people. But Shock G is one of those ones that the paperwork was clear right from the get go.

Bootsy, Cube, & GC

George Clinton, Shock G, and P-Funk's Gary "Mudbone" Cooper

He cares about musicians. Do you have any spiritual beliefs?

Well I believe in everything; I believe in all people’s beliefs. I understand all people’s points of views and the supreme being that all of them are relating to. I think it’s the same one that we just have a different way of saying or doing it or relating to it. Oh I know we ain’t the only ones in here! I know there’s something else controlling us, ain’t no doubt about that. What it is or who it is, I don’t know or care, you know, I appreciate it, that what we call god or whatever. He is appreciated, or she is appreciated – whatever you want to call it!

Yeah! Your music has influenced and inspired so many and such a range of artists, from funk musicians to hip-hop producers. When you were starting out at the beginning of your career, was building such a body of work something you dreamed of? Was that what you were going for?

Yeah, I mean, when I got started, Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy were my models and they were turning out shit so fast. That’s what I was trying to do. I was trying to get a crew of people to be like the Miracles with Smokey, like Mickey Stevenson, you know, all the teams. I really did love that concept. And we modelled P-Funk after that, you know with Bootsy and the Horny Horns. More or less. A body of work that goes on and on. And it’s still going on. We got a new record out with Kendrick Lamar and Ice Cube: “Aint That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You.” Matter of fact they did it at Coachella a couple of nights ago.

Were you there?

I was supposed to be, I was invited but I couldn’t make it, I had a show the very next day. I had no idea they wanted to do that, but I saw the show last night and realised they actually did the song and had the video on. Oh it blew my mind. Kendrick did “Alright,” and I had to call him and tell him, “You made me cry with that shit.”

Are you working on anything else at the moment?

Working on the new Parliament album, it’s called Medicated Frog Dogs.

 

Keep up to speed on the world of George Clinton here : www.georgeclinton.com

Originally posted on Wax Poetics here .

De La Soul De La Soul Is Dead 25th Anniversary Mixtape

May 14, 2016

Today is the 25th anniversary of De La Soul’s sophomore album De La Soul Is Dead. I bought De La Soul Is Dead on CD at the formative age of seventeen, and remember listening to it all the goddamn time. It is such a special record, full of hilarious skits and truly dope samples. I’m super excited to be involved in this anniversary mixtape (crafted by the one and only Chris Read) for Wax Poetics and WhoSampled. Check out my write up (originally posted here ) and listen to the tape below!

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The artwork says it all. A broken flower pot, soil spilling out like blood and three daisies wilting away. Following the success of their groundbreaking debut 3 Feet High & Rising in 1989, with all it’s talk about the D.A.I.S.Y. Age, De La Soul had been labelled the hippies of hip-hop. And, with their follow album De La Soul Is Dead, released May 14, 1991, the group sought to set the record straight.

Produced by Prince Paul, the concept for the skits that run throughout is entirely unique. Through a fictional debate between schoolyard bullies over ‘The De La Soul Read-Along Storybook’ tape, De La Soul playfully parody and challenge the criticisms and attitudes that surrounded them at the time. E.g. “What happened to the pimps? What happened to the guns? What happened to the curse words? That’s what rap music is all about, right?”

De La Soul Is Dead is seen as edgier than 3 Feet High, touching in on themes such as role-models in gangster rap with “Who Do You Worship,” and sexual abuse in “Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa.” While undeniably smart and providing commentary on serious issues, the record is also fun and humorous as anything. The album features brilliantly flipped samples from the likes of Funkadelic, the J.B’s,  and Stevie Wonder, and the singles “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)” and “A Roller Skating Jam Named “Saturdays”” remain bonafide party classics today.

Now, in 2016 we are seeing the 25th anniversary of the album’s release. To celebrate the truly dope record, our homie Chris Read has put together a sweet mixtape of original sample material, remixes, and album versions.

Listen up and enjoy!

Tracklist:

1. Jimmy Spicer – ‘Money (Dollar Bill Y’all)’ (sampled in ‘Bitties in the BK Lounge’)
2. Chris Read – ‘Theme #3’ (Scratchapella)
3. De La Soul – ‘Intro’
4. Funkadelic – ‘I’ll Stay’ (sampled in ‘Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa’)
5. De La Soul – ‘Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa’
6. Funkadelic – ‘Mommy What’s a Funkadelic’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa’)
7. Stevie Wonder – ‘Hey Love’ (sampled in ‘Talkin’ Bout Hey Love’)
8. Freda Payne – ‘The Easiest Way To Fall’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Talkin’ Bout Hey Love’) 9. De La Soul – ‘Talkin Bout Hey Love’
10. White Lightnin’ – ‘That’s No Lie’ (sampled in ‘Fanatic of the B-Word’)
11. De La Soul – ‘Fanatic of the B-Word’
12. Lee Dorsey – ‘Get Out My Life, Woman’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Fanatic of the B-Word’)
13. Chuck Jackson – ‘And That’s Saying A Lot’ (sampled in ‘Afro Connections at a Hi-5’)
14. De La Soul – ‘Afro Connections at a Hi-5’
15. De La Soul – ‘Pease Porridge’
16. Edna Wright – ‘Oops Here I Go Again’ (sampled in ‘Pass The Plugs’)
17. The J.B’s – ‘Pass the Peas’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Pass The Plugs’)
18. De La Soul – ‘Pass The Plugs’
19. Eric B & Rakim – ‘Eric B Is President’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Pass The Plugs’)
20. Tom Waits – ‘Diamonds on My Windshield’ (sampled in ‘Oodles of O’s’)
21. Biz Markie – ‘Nobody Beats The Biz’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Oodles of O’s’)
22. De La Soul – ‘Oodles on O’s’
23. Lafayette Afro Rock Band – ‘Hihache’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Oodles of O’s)
24. De La Soul – ‘Rap De Rap Show’
25. Lou Johnson – ‘The Beat’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)’)
26. The Whatnauts – ‘Help Is On The Way’ (sampled in ‘Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)’)
27. The Honey Drippers – ‘Impeach The President’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)’)
28. De La Soul – ‘Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)’
29. Taana Gardner – ‘No Frills’ (sampled in ‘Bitties In The BK Lounge’)
30. De La Soul – ‘Bitties In The BK Lounge’
31. Lou Donaldson – ‘It’s Your Thing’ (sampled in ‘Bitties In The BK Lounge’)
32. Bob James – ‘Sign of the Times’ (sampled in ‘Keepin’ The Faith’)
33. Aerosmith – ‘Walk This Way’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Keepin’ The Faith’)
34. De La Soul – ‘Keepin’ The Faith’
35. The Mohawks – ‘The Champ’ [Extract] (sampled in ‘Keepin’ The Faith’)
36. Instant Funk – ‘I Got My Mind Made Up’ (sampled in ‘Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays’)
37. Mighty Ryeders – ‘Evil Vibrations’ (sampled in ‘Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays’)
38. De La Soul – ‘Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays’
39. Young Holt Unlimited – ‘Light My Fire’ (sampled in ‘Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays’)
40. Tower of Power – ‘Ebony Jam’ [Loop] (sampled in ‘Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays’)
41. De La Soul – ‘What Yo Life Can Truly Be’

So California

May 11, 2016

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So last week I left my love San Francisco and came down to Los Angles. I took Amtrak because I really do love the time and space that long-ass train journeys provide. On the course of the trip I met a couple of characters who felt like something out of a Keroauc story. One in particular still stands out. His tanned skin was weathered like dirty leather, and he had one brown and one baby blue eye. He asked me if it was my first time on Amtrak (it wasn’t) and where I was going. He said he was going to New Orleans, and when I asked how long he had been in San Francisco, he replied “I got here today.”  Why would you get to San Francisco and immediately leave? He said he lived in San Francisco, but I didn’t believe him. His world seemed like a completely different one to mine, one that was fluid like oil and for some reason it seemed dark. In writing this out I realise it could completely just be my own romantic projections. Maybe he was having a bad day and there was a not so urgent emergency in New Orleans. Either way, he was a little odd and I didn’t choose to continue the conversation much further, but it made me think of how vastly different all of our paths are. I really think an awareness of the myriad routes and experiences there are in life is beneficial; at once you can appreciate your world and see how small it is.

~Views from the San Joaquin~

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~Difficult to capture the peace and serenity~

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The night I got to LA, my homegirl Denisse – aka Girl Is Tough – had a show at La Cita Bar downtown. I pretty much dropped off my bag and headed straight to see her perform. Her voice is so beautiful and I can’t recommend checking out her music enough.

 

~Girl Is Tough in her element~

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After the show we got late night tacos and horchata :)

I’m staying in the super cute neighbourhood Franklin Village, which has several neat spots to check out, including the Bourjeois Pig and the Oaks Gourmet. And I’ve been getting my yoga fix at Yogaworks in Hollywood on Vine – super chill and yummy free tea.

~My new hood~

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~The pool~

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Last Thursday was ‘Cinco de Mayo’, which I’ve honestly never heard of before, but I had a nice time catching up and drinking margaritas with my buddy LA Jay at Antonios on Melrose, before hitting up a party at the old Delicious Vinyl Shop spot on Sunset. I heard a song by Bia called “Gucci Comin’ Home” which I’ve been listening to on repeat since …

~Antonios~

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~My homie blew up all these balloons :) ~

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~Jansport J on the decks~

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At the weekend I finally got to check out Delicious Pizza in West Adams! I remember visiting the space back in 2013 before anything got set up, so it was really neat to come back and see everything in business. I had a ‘Soulflower’ pizza (dig the Pharcyde reference??) which was delicious, and some funky cold sangria (Tone Loc).

~Delicious Pizza~

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~Hip-hop memorabilia~

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 ~Delicious Vinyl Radio~

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I rounded off the weekend with a delicious brunch and catch up with my girl Teru at SoHo House in West Hollywood. One of the marks of a great friendship is being able to just pick up where you left off, even after a long period of not seeing each other. Which, over wine and cheese, we did :)

It’s been super cloudy in LA since I got to town so I’m hoping the sun breaks through soon ..

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Sailing On

May 6, 2016

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At the start of last week I had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favourite human beings and probably one of the most influential musicians of all time. George Clinton, the inimitable force behind the P-Funk juggernaut and a bonafide hero to many. Clinton is a dream to chat to, and I can’t wait to share our conversation with my write up real soon.

Since our interview I’ve been listening to a nice little mix of Smokey Robinson, Kendrick Lamar, Sly Stone, and Parliament (of course…).

I’ve also been listening to Deru’s “1979: Remixed” and a sweet little mix City Pop Vol. 2 that dropped on Wax Poetics:

~Ridiculous car in the Marina~

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I hit up Laughing Lotus Yoga on 16th St last Thursday and would definitely recommend going – the pranayama and sweet tea felt hella good :)  One of my favourite thrift stores in the city is Crossroads Trading by Church & Market, and on this trip I managed to pick up a vintage Missoni dress (pictured below) and some vintage Marni wedges for a song. There is also a cute cafe super close by called Church Street Cafe which I often stop at to write, and recommend if in the area.

~Bathroom selfie on Saturday night~

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On Saturday I hopped around a few parties with friends and got to see a really neat hotel called The Phoenix . It reminded me of the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs with it’s super retro US motel vibe.

~The Phoenix pool~

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I also got to visit a pretty dope house nicknamed ‘The Starship’ which was used as a location for HBO’s Silicon Valley.

~View from The Starship’s roof terrace~

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On Sunday I got to go out sailing around Marin which was super beautiful and a lot of fun. The waters were royal blue and the local wine flowed. We stopped off at Tiburon and Angel Island, before heading to a spot called Fish in Sausalito for dinner (luckily they serve salad ;) ). I just love how the fog envelops the land like something from science fiction when it rolls in at dusk.

~View from the water back to San Francisco~

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~Angel Island~

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 ~Party on a boat~

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~Sausalito~

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 ~Fog coming for Sausalito~

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As we sailed back to San Francisco through the dusky purple fog, fittingly listening to lots of vintage Prince, I found myself very nostalgic thinking about the first time I visited California with my family. I was 16 and remember taking the ferry to Sausalito one day, eating ice-cream by the water and being so excited about it all. I thought about all that had happened in my life since (a decade sounds rather epic, doesn’t it?) and how most of it I would have never predicted back then. It’s a funny feeling, a sort of culmination of energies and emotions, at once appreciative of it all though somehow there’s a sadness to it. To feel happy and sad at the same time, and that life is short but long too in many ways. It is quite amazing how all these feelings exist simultaneously. There are so many facets within us to experience that it is really rather staggering to contemplate.

~Embarcadero~

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~The Ferry Building. Time waits for no man~

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