Interviews

Soul Clap in Paris

February 18, 2017

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Back in October I had the pleasure of kicking it with the Soul Clap guys, Eli and Charles, in Paris on the day of the release of their self-titled album Soul Clap. We chopped it up about the album’s recording sessions down at George Clinton’s studio in Florida, favourite French records and artists like Daft Punk and Air, and personal music memories that influenced their creative direction. The interview was conducted at the Hotel Amour in Pigalle (one of my favourite local spots), in the comfort of the most pimped out hotel room I’ve ever set foot in – the entire ceiling was covered in motorised disco balls (see the picture above)!

Check out the full Wax Poetics feature with the video for their single “Synthesiser Girlfriend” here.

I had a great time chatting to Eli and Charles, such nice dudes. Afterwards we rolled to their show at Nuit Fauves, a neat club on the River Seine, and my buddy DJ/producer Jamurai from London happened to be in Paris and came through. All round good vibes and memories!

Peep the interview below…

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Tell me about the recording sessions for Soul Clap. What was the atmosphere like?

Eli (a.k.a. Elyte): The original recording session was down there [at George Clinton’s studio] in Tallahassee, Florida.  We went down there not expecting anything, at the very least we would get to see the vaults of all the tapes of a lot of the P-Funk stuff, and just maybe we could meet George Clinton. So we just went in there and got loose and started jamming the two of us, and getting to know the musicians down there. Then all of a sudden George showed up and said “bust the studio,” and we just carried on working on music. We got the hang out with him there and played him a bunch of stuff.

Charles: Obviously leading up to that P-Funk had been a big influence for us. We played him a piece of music we had already worked on using Ableton that was little samples of Funkadelic songs, lots and lots of samples. His ears really perked up then because he could hear the original ideas re-contextualised. I think that showed him that we weren’t just a couple of chumps [both laugh]; that we knew the music.

 

Do you feel like you learned a lot working with him? If so was there anything in particular? 

C: We learned a tremendous amount working with George Clinton. Just the inspiration and confidence of having a titan like him say “hey, that’s cool what you guys are doing.” And I noticed being around him that he really responds well to people who are confident in themselves and have their own thing going on. I think that’s a beautiful thing to put forward.

E: Also the way he works in the studio was almost like how a producer works on a computer. You see how the recording process used to be, having to pull all these musicians together to play the parts that were in his head and guiding it to become a piece of music. It’s much easier now where you can do all those parts separately, but that’s still how he thinks. He teaches each person what he’s hearing and then records, so that was really a learning process seeing how he works.

 

I interviewed Shock G 3 years ago, and he described it like there was before working with George, and after working with George, that his life was better after. I’m just curious if that’s a common experience? [All laugh]

C: I think Shock G said it right. I can totally understand that. It’s like there was an unknown, but now there’s an experience and a known, and we’re carrying it forward. So that’s a beautiful thing, and why the album is so magical. You get a sense that we’ve accomplished what we set out to try to create musically. That’s why this is a self-titled album. In many ways a new beginning I think.

E: All those years finally paid off.

 

Do you find you go through phases where you get a little obsessed with certain types of music or certain artists?

E: Definitely. I would say right now, hip-hop is finally exciting again. It’s been super exciting for me, starting with Kendrick’s album [To Pimp A Butterfly]. Plus that whole explosion of exciting jazz and funk coming from L.A.. Kaytranada, he’s working with this guy Mick Jenkins, then Chance the Rapper is doing all this exciting stuff too. It feels like hip-hop is in an exciting musical place again. The first time since I was a kid, which is so cool.

C: I’ve been listening to a wide variety of things, but I guess artists that jump out are Little Dragon, Death Grips, and we saw Herbie Hancock in concert a few weeks ago.

E: We’ve been listening to all the Herbie Hancock we can.

 

Do you ever notice a difference in the different cities you play, in that the crowd has a different feel? Or does it tend to be a similar vibe at most of your parties? 

E: I think our parties bring an eclectic crowd to them because we play a range of music, but we’re based in dance music and house music. There’s a big difference from the U.S. to Europe, and the the U.K. to Europe is another thing. We’ve been touring for 6 or 7 years, so you really get to know a country. We always try to bring a general funkiness to the equation, which I don’t think necessarily always happens at a lot of these dance clubs. So that brings us a universal family of freaks.

C: I like that [both laugh].

 

Being that we’re here in Paris, do you have any favourite French records, producers, or artists?

C: We’re Serge Gainsbourg fans.

E: Daft Punk, obviously. Homework is one of the best albums ever. Charlotte Gainsbourg too had some really awesome stuff. I recently found out Tony Allen played on a couple of her albums, which is amazing. I think he lives here now, so he’s done a lot of work with French musicians including Charlotte Gainsbourg. Also gotta shout out Air, so good, and I.Q., one of our favourite house producers.

C: Breakbot too.

E: Phil Weeks. Another great house producer from here.

C: Just going back to Daft Punk, all the amazing French stuff, that really left an impact on us as disco house ravers in the nineties.

 

Did you ever listen to an African disco guy from the seventies called Jo Bisso? He did a lot of stuff here in Paris. The record label was Disques Espérance. A friend gave me a record of his and I’m trying to find out more about him. It’s very cool, definitely worth checking out. 

C: Sounds really familiar.

E: You know what deserves a shout out is this compilation series called Source Lab, which was actually one of the first house CDs I ever bought. I had been into acid jazz and kind of stumbled upon it, and it was just really dope french house, trip-hop, and acid jazz. The house music jumped out at me.

C: How did we forget? Dimitri from Paris!

E: Oh the best!

C: Duh.

E: Definitely the king of the edits.

 

Do you remember what the first records that you bought were?

E: My dad’s really into jazz so I started going with him to a place called Stereo Jack’s in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I’m from. I started buying stuff that I was into, that was when I got really into John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders. But soon after that I found hip-hop and started buying hip-hop records, then house and jungle.

C: First record that I owned? Jeez that’s a tough question. It was probably digging in a used record shop, but I can’t really remember. I do remember it was drum & bass and jungle that pulled me in the electronic direction. I was listening to LTJ Bukem and Goldie in my headphones in high school and going to the record store. A guy named Francis Englehardt, who many people probably know from Dope Jams in New York, I remember he gave me a bunch of Ganga Kru records, so like DJ Hype and DJ Zinc. Those were some of the first records I clearly remember. Plus walking into Satellite Records. That’s sort of before I even realised I was into house music.

E: I actually really clearly remember going to a record fair, when I realised I wanted to buy records, and bought a record by a group called Krush – I thought it was DJ Krush – but it was actually some electro stuff…

C: Was it breakdance music?

E: Yeah [grinning]. And I didn’t really get it at the time, but I still have the record. I will always keep that one. [laughs]

 

It’s funny when you talk about DJ Hype and all the drum & bass – it takes me back – you know how when you are a teenager and music just makes you feel really cool? I went through a break-beat / drum & bass phase. [all laugh]

C: Yes! Still does today. There were a couple of kids in high-school that were older than me that were definitely junglists, I just remember them outside smoking cigarettes with big caffeine pants on. I was like “what’s going on? These guys are cool as hell!”

 

That inspired you?

C: Yeah. In America we had jungle sky, liquid sky, and DJ Soul Slinger. That was really cool music, to this day still, This Is Jungle Sky, Volume 2.

 

That’s cool. I find it can be hit and miss when you go back and return to music, sometimes it really was as good as you thought it was, and sometimes it’s not. So it’s nice when you can say: “this really was quality.”

C: Yeah. That stuff was the most futuristic, forward-thinking music.

 

Anything else you want to say about your new record?

C: Should probably mention crewlove.us – our collaborative crew website. We have a subscription based service where people can go and get all of the music, there are lots of perks there for members.

E: Crew love is true love.

A Family Affair

January 29, 2017

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It was my last day in LA and such a perfect way to end my stay. I first met Jansport J in the summer of 2012 when he played DVTV (back when we used to party on the roof) and have been a fan of his music and vibe ever since. Needless to say, I was stoked to get to interview ‘Sport for Wax Poetics while in town. (Shout out to the homie Jordan Lockett for hooking it all up!) And an extra added bonus was getting to steal some interview time with Fatlip, who just happened to be kicking around DV HQ at the time.

Earlier that afternoon I had been hanging out in Topanga, the most magical place, drinking cocktails at Christian Audigier’s ranch with my very special friend and fellow free-spirit Lauren. I hot-footed it back to Hollywood for the interview, full of that sensation of awe and disbelief that I think is very particular to LA, absorbing the visceral beauty of the changing surroundings (green and yellow velveteen Topanga mountains turning to the neon pink lights of Sunset Boulevard) and counting my blessings to be creating such wonderful memories with some of my favourite people. I love you LA.

I owe a huge thank you to my friend and brilliant photographer Mekael Dawson for filming the interview and also taking these stills … Enjoy!

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Real Talk with Jansport J & Fatlip

January 29, 2017

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When we filmed the Jansport J interview In the Court of the Covina King at Delicious Vinyl HQ in July, I was lucky enough to grab some time with Fatlip to chat with him and ‘Sport for Wax Poetics about music-making, clearing expectations during the creative process, and the early days of Pharcyde …

Enjoy!

Biggups again to the homie Mekael Dawson for filming the interview, Jordan Lockett for hooking it up, and Delicious Vinyl for hosting! I also edited this video :)

In the Court of the Covina King

January 29, 2017

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Back in July I caught up with my friend Jansport J for Wax Poetics at the Delicious Vinyl headquarters on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. At the time of the interview ‘Sport was deep in the creative process, the “wilderness” as he coins it, of producing p h a r a o h : his raw, 27-tracks long, NYC-inspired, aural tour de force.

Peep the interview to see ‘Sport talk about his musical journey and influences, working with both major and independent labels and legends such as Snoop Dogg, and the timeless quality of the soul music he samples…

p h a r a o h was released January 27th via blackwhitegoldville music/Fat Beats Distribution.

Find it on iTunes here and Bandcamp/Cassette here

Biggups to Mekael Dawson for filming, the homie Jordan Lockett for hooking it up, and Delicious Vinyl for hosting! This is also the first video edit I’ve done myself .. :)

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Sitting in the Park … with Dan the Automator

January 4, 2017

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Back in the summer when I was bopping around California I had the honour of meeting Dan Nakamura, a.k.a. Dan the Automator, in his hometown of San Francisco. Dan is one of those producers who is behind such a varied array of great music, I’ve often felt as though I am constantly discovering that he has played a part in hit records – it was only in conversation with Dan that I learned he produced two albums for Kasabian (dudes from my hometown!).

I interviewed Dan for Wax Poetics at the top of Dolores Park on a beautiful and rather windy day, and chopped it up about the music he loved growing up, the Bay Area scene, working with artists like Kool Keith and Del the Funky Homosapien, porno music, and much, much more … Enjoy!

You can also check it out on Wax Poetics here!

Mega props to Zhubin Rahbar and Paul Keller for filming the interview, and to Matt ‘Matman’ Smith for painstakingly editing it to be so fresh and informative! :)

Talk Stoop with Prince Paul

July 30, 2016

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Last month I got to catch up with my favourite hip-hop producer, the one and only Prince Paul in Manhattan’s West Village. If you had told seventeen-year-old me this, I probably would have died.

There’s a certain risk that comes with meeting one’s heroes, we’re all just human after all, but Paul is one of those dudes who’s even cooler than you imagine. Super hilarious (that’s hardly a surprise) and super modest, despite having produced some of the greatest hip-hop joints there are.

We chatted about his upcoming projects – new groups Brookzill! and SuperBlack, as well as a new solo album – recording with De La and Gravediggaz back in the day, exchanging snail mail with Daddy-O, making movies, and life lessons learned along the way …

You can also check it out on Wax Poetics here!

Mega props to Zhubin Rahbar for filming the interview, and to Matt ‘Matman’ Smith for editing it to look so fresh! :)

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.

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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 .

An Interview with Dawn Surratt

November 8, 2015

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Last month was breast cancer awareness month, which got me thinking about my time interning at the non-profit organisation Breast Cancer Action (BCA) in downtown San Francisco. For two summers running I worked there, learning about political activism and the issues surrounding breast cancer and women’s healthcare. My summers at BCA were some of the most inspiring times for me, working alongside brilliant and strong-minded women and exploring the city of San Francisco.  I spent many afternoons amassing rap records in the Amoeba dollar crates and writing in Dolores Park.

The first interview I ever conducted was in the summer of 2009 with former BCA board member Dawn Surratt. I remember taking the bus out to the UCSF campus on Parnassus one brilliantly sunny San Francisco afternoon to chat to Dawn in her office. It was my first experience of probing a person with big and personal questions, and I remember feeling so amazed that someone I had just met would share so many experiences and feelings with me.

Dawn and her stories really inspired me, so I wanted to share the interview here. Enjoy!

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Dawn on Breast Cancer Action

There are so many nonprofit organizations concerned with breast cancer in the U.S. BCA really stood out from the pack. Their work really challenged the status quo. Their stance was not about employing pity or sorrow for women who had died of breast cancer or were living with breast cancer. It was about how do you take this illness and turn it into something that is more of a political agenda and more incisive in terms of getting to the roots of the most common cancer with causes unknown. Also, the Think Before You Pink® campaigns caught my attention. They are simple and clever. I think they really help to expand awareness on issues around environmental injustices and the links between what we consume and illness and disease. All the campaigns really drive home the reality that there are businesses, corporations, manufacturers, even breast cancer organizations that don’t “walk their talk.” Every October the market floods with these products that claim to be about raising awareness and saving women’s lives. In reality, they are more about “how do I make my company look good” than about doing anything substantial to end the breast cancer epidemic. So I think this really clever campaign has shed a bright light on these shortcomings, and they’ve not been afraid to spotlight some pretty big players involved in the whole pink frenzy.

 

On Healthcare Reform and Big Pharma

I don’t know if having a single-payer system will come to the U.S. People will have to get more pissed off. I think people are pissed off, but they need to get more organized at a federal level. I think a lot is happening at a local level—there is a whole lot of drive and energy around getting a single-payer health care system in place. However, whether that’s going to be at a federal or national level, I’m not sure. So I think to the extent that this administration can really overhaul this system, it’s not just about covering the uninsured. That’s part of the issue. Roughly one in four or five [are uninsured], but that’s only a part of the problem. There are people who have insurance, but the premium is really horrible, or families with private insurance whose insurance doesn’t cover certain treatments. What does that mean to cancer patients and someone’s longevity and level of treatment? Ethically, our health care system is perverse. The new administration needs to address these problems. The government needs to take their cue from those who have had serious illnesses or people close to them, not insurance companies or drug companies. I wish I could say that I was hopeful, but I’ve become very cynical. I know what I want to see, but what can I expect? In four years? I hope that the new heads at the FDA will be much more conservative concerning the “fast-tracking” mantras and off-label use, that people in positions of power will use their training to say “no” to the pharmaceutical companies.

 

On Putting Patients First and Social Inequities

One of the things that this recent presidential election did was to wake up a lot of apathetic voters. So if that level of civic participation can be sustained and that kind of energy can transfer over to the realm of health care, that would be an amazing thing. Regarding breast cancer specifically, I think people need be less lulled by the whole pink ribbon madness.

People talk about breast cancer and raising awareness, which is like running fingernails down a chalkboard for me. Awareness is not the issue anymore; the issue is about who gets treatment. What kind of treatment do they get? What groups of people get treatment? What’s the quality of the treatment? Who lives with this disease? Who dies?

More white women are diagnosed with breast cancer, but in terms of outcomes, if you look at who dies sooner, you are looking at women of color and women who are poor. It has to be a broader discussion. It has more to do with social injustices.

“BCA’s stance is not about employing pity or sorrow for women who have died of breast cancer or are living with breast cancer. Rather, BCA puts women in the driving seat when it comes to self-advocacy.”

BCA’s stance is not about employing pity or sorrow for women who have died of breast cancer or are living with breast cancer. Rather, BCA puts women in the driving seat when it comes to self-advocacy. Their campaigns show people, women in particular, that our bodies are not just things that have things done to them. We can have a say, a big say, in what gets done.

BCA enables ordinary people to get to get in and have their say. For example, recently Breast Cancer Action did a survey on the effects of aromatase inhibitors. For some women these drugs work, but for a lot of others, the side effects are horrible and not worth it. People being prescribed these treatments need to be able to access this kind of information. A scientific advisory board refers information back to the staff. The sheer amount of information is overwhelming—new research findings, conferences, information that needs to be acted on. BCA has taken on the role to be the watchdog of the breast cancer movement. It’s about helping women get to a place where they have a collective voice that gets heard. A collective voice is more powerful than an individual voice. One of the things I’ve heard a number of survivors say is, it’s hard to be your own medical advocate. One of the most important roles you can have for people living with cancer is as a personal advocate. Putting together a team is important. I feel like BCA acts as that advocate; they assume the role as part of that team.

The entire “who lives and who dies” issue is not going to be addressed until we approach some other issues about who lives where, what kinds of foods do they have access to, etc. There is so much emphasis on individuals’ behavior without making the link between choices and what is in a person’s environment. Studies are constantly showing up the gaps in breast cancer diagnosis and breast cancer survival rates between different races and classes of women.

 

On Sustained Involvement

I was born in 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act, and there were things that I saw that made me very aware of racism. I know what it was like for my mother. I was not the first black girl at my school. My mother was the first black girl to go to her high school in Texas, and so the kinds of things she encountered I did not have to. I worked in Africa. That was a really humbling thing, in terms of the degree of suffering that I saw. I witnessed absolutely preventable deaths caused by poor nutrition and a lack of access to clean water and anti-malaria drugs and vaccines. These were early and untimely and unnecessary deaths. I befriended some nursing students while I was there, they would tell me about their experiences in the maternity wards. As a nursing student in the U.S. or U.K. or Canada, it is rare to see someone die in childbirth. It happens, but it’s not commonplace. It is just the flip in a lot of African countries—to see a woman bleeding to death, and there is nothing you can do because you don’t have the right drugs. She was too anemic when she came in the first place, and all you can do is watch this woman bleed to death. This is something these nurses witness routinely and experience throughout their work. Breast Cancer Action has taken the experience of breast cancer and said, “This doesn’t need to be as bad as it is.”

You ask how I stop becoming disheartened. A good friend of mine who is an activist in Austin told me she would often say, “Those of us in positions of privilege cannot afford to be disheartened.” If these young nurses cannot be disheartened knowing what they are stepping into, then, well…

“Things change because of people…”

There were many days that I would cry listening to stories in the clinic, but you see what your colleagues deal with day in, day out. I have respect for what these people are trying to achieve with very few resources, not just in terms of money, but human resources. Things change because of people like that. BCA operates on a shoestring budget. Yet they achieve so much. They make changes that matter. What sustains me? Knowing history, knowing fully that people who made really radical change happen did so with far fewer resources than us. They didn’t have the Internet. If they were able to make things happen, then we can, too.

 

George Clinton Interview

July 5, 2015

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I was recently listening to “(Not Just) Knee Deep” by Parliament, and was reminded of the sublime feeling that song can stir! I have loved the music of Parliament/Funkadelic for many years now, and I think it will always hold a special place in my heart. Going back into the P-Funk archives inspired me to pull out an interview I did with George Clinton in the summer of 2011. Enjoy!

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I first discovered George Clinton when listening to the Prince Paul-produced De La Soul album De La Soul is Dead. It was the opening vocal-sample on “Millie pulled a pistol on Santa” (promising some funky emotion-licking in return for sucking on a soul) that was enough to convert me over to The Funk.

The world of George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic is deliriously intense (in the best, most liberated, technicoloured possible way) and his contribution to the world of music through the P-Funk empire is undeniable – not only to funk styles, but to so much music since. Clinton is one of the most heavily sampled and borrowed-from musicians of all time; nearly every one of his songs can be traced in a hip-hop joint somewhere. Just listen to anything from the G-Funk era to hear an instance of his influence.

The P-Funk are also known for their legendary, epic live shows. Think roller-skating onstage, prosthetic noses, half-an-hour guitar solos and a whole lot of soul.

All the way from Houston, Texas, George was nice enough to catch up with a fan in London and chat about his music, inspirations and experiences…

One thing that really strikes me about your music is how it pulses with so much imagination. I’ve often wondered whether you always had a strong imagination growing up?

When I was growing up?

Yeah. Since you were a child maybe…?

Well, when I was growing up, there were singers like Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers that made me want to be a singer. I started following them in grade school, in 1956. I’d always love to be those singers. And then, ten years later, we got a first hit record in 1966.

So would you say it was then that your creativity took off? Once you were a teenager?

Yes. We did “I Just Wanna Testify” in 1966. We put out the first record in ’57, and we didn’t get a hit until like ’66. That was the beginning. We came to London in ’68, and we had that hit record out. And then we had Parliament, and Funkadelic. And then ten years after that, ’76, we came off The Mothership Connection, which was the biggest, you know – The P-Funk – which is still going on now. They had a space-ship, and we came over there in ’78. And it’s still Funk in every sense.

I find your artwork and your music so complementary of one another.

I mean, all the Funkadelic, then we had Bootsy, the Horny Horns, and all the other names that we had with the group. We have all the bases covered, because they all complement each other.

I was wondering about how you feel your relationship with music has developed. The Funk – does it still mean the same thing to you today than it did say forty years ago?

Oh yes. Well, The Funk still is the way it should be, and it always evolves. Whenever I hear that – that beat – that is the new Funk. Hip-Hop is Funk. Hip-Hop – Funk is just being that. Or Techno, or any dance music – Funk is the DNA in it and that’s what makes it survive. So yeah, I’m still into Funk music. Whenever I hear somebody say “No, don’t do that in music,” to me, that’s the music to do.

So much of your music has influenced so many musicians afterwards – do you have a particular favourite song that samples or is obviously inspired by your music?

Oh, there’s quite a few of them that I’ve liked the samples. I like Public Enemy’s music and use of samples, a lot – an awful lot. And I also like Digital Underground. There’s so many clever ways and real good producers that can just make brand new music from samples. But I liked it right from the get-go – EPMD, Rakim and all of the Bronx music, and then out of the West coast – NWA, Dre and all them, I like their music too.

Yeah, same. I’ve been following your FunkProbosci blog – (Sadly, whilst Clinton is one of the most respected and influential figures of the music scene, he is currently involved in an on-going battle about the royalties of those celebrated samples – check out the full story here - it seems like it’s been such a struggle for you with the royalties case.

Well, we’re getting ready to go to court now for a lot of that royalty stuff. The record companies, the BMI, publishing companies – they’ve been stealing the money from all the writers. So, FunkProbosci, that’s what we’re talking about over there. All of that is getting ready to come out into the courts. We just came in The Mothership to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, the museum, and we’re doing a big thing at the British Museum.

Yeah, I saw that you’re doing the ‘Space Children’ talk – I was actually wondering if there were any particular works of Science Fiction you would cite as favourites?

Well, you know, like Star Trek and all Space-life. I mean, The Mothership has always been there in my heart, you know cos I’m not from this planet – I’m from the Dark Star. Life is serious. But I’m glad to be a part of the British show over there, because it shines light on how important the music is throughout the world.

Yeah. I’m going to come to the London show in June… Would you say that London’s a Funky place?

Oh yeah. Always. London has always been a good place for The Funk because in the sixties when we came and did “Testify,” and it was more Motown, but London was going all funky. A partner of mine in 1959 named Jimmy Miller, who was producing The Rolling Stones, Spooky Tooth, Traffic, Steve Winward – he was producing all those songs and those groups – and he was Funky as all hell. He was my partner in ’59/’60. And then they have Northern Soul out of Birmingham and Manchester. I have a big stake in that as a lot of songs I did in ’62 and ’63 are really popping up there in Northern Soul. So I enjoy being over there a lot.

What can London expect from the show when you play later this month?

(pause) A whole lot a rump-shakin’!

(laughs) Amazing.

The new music we got is called ‘I Got That Doo-Doo’ – ‘Got that Doo-Doo’, that’s the slogan.

I’ll be sure to remember that one… And I was wondering – firstly, whether you remember your dreams often? And if so, whether you could tell us about a funky dream if you’d had one?

Dreams? Ooohhhh, shoot. Well, I was dreaming that we had the entire planet inside a Mothership shell, and that the Mothership came back with a second landing on the planet Earth. And we’re getting ready to realise that one – I think that that was not a dream; I think it’s a…déjà vu. It’s on its way in now – The Mothership. So, we’ll see the dream come true.

 

First published on SomeThinkBlue in 2011.

The Preatures Mixtape for Dazed Digital + Jack Moffitt Q&A

May 9, 2015

This Spring I was fortunate to work on a little feature for Dazed & Confused, where I asked one of my favourite Australian bands The Preatures to put together a mixtape. Providing an aural glimpse into their world, the mix places contemporary gems alongside classic jams. Check out my write up and interview with Jack Moffitt as it appeared on Dazed Digital below, and enjoy!
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Preatures

On April 13th, Australian rock quintet The Preatures released their much anticipated debut album Blue Planet Eyes here in the UK. We caught their live show in Camden last month and were blown away by the energy of dark-haired Italo-Aussie bombshell Isabella Manfredi. While performing songs including “Somebody’s Talking” and “Is This How You Feel?” the Chanel ambassador cartwheeled around the stage like a true rock and roll pro, whipping bandmates and audience up into a frenzy.

In the midst of touring the world to promote Blue Planet Eyes and share their music, the guys took time to put together a little mix for Dazed (listen to it here), designed to give listeners a taste of what makes the band tick. I also caught up with guitarist Jack Moffitt to find out a little more about what’s been going on in the world of The Preatures …

So, tell me about the mix you’ve put together.

Jack Moffitt: The mix consists of favourites from the playlist we put on at our shows, with a couple of tracks from our record in there. Izzi put it together, and it’s a good picture of the influences we have collectively and individually. There is a lot of sound in there that definitely inspired our album; records with an atmosphere we love. It’s important to have a mood in the room when you put on a show. This is the kind of mood we’ve been in, and it’s the mood around the album.

What’s it like being on tour with The Preatures? 

Jack Moffitt: You know, we always joke that anyone who was around for our tours would probably think we were seriously boring. And I can’t say for sure if we are or we aren’t, but we do have a good time on the road. It’s impossible to describe… You want to be out when you’re cooped up, and you want to be at home when you’re out, But all you have to focus on is getting your energy up for the show. We’re fairly critical, because we want to be great every night. That doesn’t always come from your best side.

What music do you listen to on the road?

Jack Moffitt: I’ve been listening to the Courtney Barnett record, which I really love. It’s the kind of music that can be really divisive. Some people wonder what the point of her songs are, but I love that they remind me of our home and our lives. I think she’s fantastic. You don’t have to be Australian to appreciate it. Also I had the new Rihanna track on, the new Pond album, some Lennon, Sam Smith, the new Tame Impala track… I went back to the Frank Ocean album the other day. I also love old records and the radio in different parts of the UK and Europe, they have great radio in France.

Do you guys work on new music while on the road? 

Jack Moffitt: Yeah we do. Izzi’s always sitting with an idea, and Gid will be working on something. I’ve been working lately in Ableton and writing anything that comes to mind. Izzi and I did some demos in London recently, a couple of songs we’ve had on the back burner for a while now which we’re excited about.

You guys have a great chemistry on stage. How do you feel during live shows? And is it similar or very different when in-studio/rehearsals?

Jack Moffitt: One of the main reasons there’s so much chemistry on stage is down to us all responding to the energy Izzi takes to performing. But sometimes you’re in the room and sometimes you’re not. It differs a lot from the studio or rehearsals. There’s a sudden feeling of doing something for all-time, which can be a strange leveller and put you in a big hole. I love them both equally, with as much hate for when it’s bad. When it’s bad it’s fucking bad. Rehearsal is just torture you choose, it’s like putting your soul on the rack for fun.

Tell us a bit about Blue Planet Eyes out this month

Jack Moffitt: Well it’s long overdue, that I can say for certain. But also it’s locked in the year we had, from CMJ in 2013 to coming back to the UK/US late last year, it’s the snapshot of us as a band in that time. We did so much work and so much touring, we were ragged and driven and up every night working. I think it’s a perfect picture of what we were trying to do. I’m quite proud of what we’ve made, and we’re all very keen to get started on the next one.

What is a Preature? How did that name come about?

Jack Moffitt: We’ve never thought of it is a singular thing, it’s always Preatures. But a Preature could be an irreverent creature. Some kind of proud and freakish animal. We were originally The Preachers, which is hard to look up, and it’s religious, so some people thought we were a God Rock band. We wanted to keep the sound of the name without changing it too much. One day on the bus I saw a pub with a sign for Little Creatures ales out the front and wrote down ‘Creatures/Preatures’. I thought it was kinda cheesy. We had a few different spellings, but that one looked and felt right. I’m not saying I invented a new word or anything, but I did.

Tracklist:

Mac De Marco – “Rock and Roll Nightclub”

Connan Mockasin – “Caramel”

The Preatures – “Rock and Roll Rave”

POND – “Zond”

Prince – “Kiss”

!!! – “One Girl / One Boy”

The 101ers – “Keys to Your Heart”

The Nerves – “Hanging on the Telephone”

Blondie – “Sunday Girl”

The Preatures – “Cruel”

Harry Nilsson – “Jump Into The Fire (single version)”

Patti Smith – “Gloria”

INXS – “Original Sin”

UMO – “How Can U Luv Me”

The Strokes – “Last Night”

The Pretenders – “Back on the Chain Gang”

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