We’ve had a few Irish born producers grace our Truancy Volumes in the past, be it Krystal Klear, Boya and Orquesta, but apart from that you could say we’ve been slightly slacking on that front. Having recently moved back to Ireland after living and studying in London for a few years we’re happy to have another Irish producer, Hubie Davison in the mix for our 115th Truancy Volume. With a background in studio composition from his studies at Goldsmiths, Hubie’s productions have seen him land comfortably into the eclectic output of Berlin based label Leisure System, who have put out two releases from him in the last two years. With the temperature in the UK continuing to get warmer and artists such as Glenn Jones, Chic, Full Force and Omar-S featuring in his Truancy Volume this mix could be treated as a brilliant continuation to last weeks summer-tinged mix from The Large.
Hey man, thanks again for the mix. Been on heavy repeat with the sun being out recently. Just want to start by asking if you could tell us about yourself and your history with music and producing? “Hey guys, glad you’ve been enjoying it, thanks! Well, I grew up in a musical household, and always had music around. It was a pretty long time before I listened to any electronic stuff at all; I guess I really fell in love with blues and soul early on, playing guitar and keys from a fairly young age. Around the time I hit my twenties I got into club music and DJing, and the same curiosity that led me from blues to guitar led me from electronic music to laptop producing, before eventually getting serious about it and studying studio composition as a postgrad.”
Can you tell us a bit about Bernard Parmegiani? I understand his pacing and editing in his compositions have been a big influence on you? “Parmegiani was the first of a list of electroacoustic composers that I was introduced to when I began studying at Goldsmiths in London. Electroacoustic didn’t grow quickly or easily on me at all – as with any music, you’ve got to learn a vocabulary that allows you to interact with it, and the first thing that really struck me about Parmegiani’s music was its pacing, which I’d describe as this innate feeling of logic in an otherwise arbitrary framework of sound. In other words, every sound that Parmegiani places in a work seems to be there in a way that makes total sense, and couldn’t have made sense in that way to anybody else. It’s a sort of collision of instinct and taste. And he did it all on f*cking tape. Unreal. In case anybody reading this isn’t familiar with him, Parmegiani was a French composer associated with GRM, and a good place to start is with De Natura Sonorum.
What is a session in the studio for Hubie Davison like?. Do you have a regular routine when it comes to working on tracks? “I can’t say I have a regular routine, really – I think it’s good to diversify as much as possible. I try and use different equipment and vary techniques as much as possible; alternate between out- and in-the-box, live & sequenced. I am trying to be more disciplined, though – I used to work mainly at night, which is a habit I’m trying to break out of, and I’m understanding more and more the virtues of a tidy studio”
You’ve had two releases on Leisure System. Could you tell us how you first hooked up with the label and your time with them over the last two years? “Michail from Leisure got back to an email I had sent asking for feedback on demos, and had a lot of positive things to say. I liked the label a lot already, and got on well with the guys when I met them in Berlin, so I was pleased to be involved – the label’s reputation for eclecticism is still something I have a lot of respect for, and the opportunity to play at their parties has been great too!”
I’ve been told some of the stuff you’ve been working on recently is a slight far cry to your past releases on Leisure System. Could you possibly tell us about them and possible influences on the direction. “Hmm yeah – it’s still very much stuff I’m experimenting with, but I’d say that the main difference is that a lot of it includes my vocals. It’s actually a plan I’ve had for a while; I really wanted to get comfortable with production and the sort of sound palette I liked before trying to add vocals, but now feels like a good time to start including them. I’d roughly say that what I have at the moment is a sort of down-tempo vocal electronica, but some of the tracks veer more towards soul, some more towards a hip-hop groove, that sort of thing. I’m working on more dance floor-oriented stuff too, and before any of the aforementioned comes out I’d like to release some of that.
What can you tell us about the mix you’ve done for us. Was there any particular theme in mind when working on it? “It’s all stuff I’ve come across in the last while. When putting a mix together outside the club, it’s always a bit strange to have the time and resources to make decisions and changes after the fact, but also strange to not have any sort of feedback from a crowd as you would when playing live. I try not to think too much about the context it’ll be listened in, and also not to mess with it too much, to strike a balance. If it makes you want to get up and dance, all the better!”
Full Force – Alice (Ecrof’s Favourite Mix) [CBS]
Glenn Jones – Meet Me Halfway There [S12]
Omar-S – Set It Out [FXHE]
Project Pablo – I Want To Believe [1080p]
Chic – Good Times (Hubie’s edit)
Weekender – Theme From Weekender [Toko]
7 Citizens – Five Ten [Lack]
Sonofdistantearth – GAZA2 [Lobster Theremin]
L. Rooche – Tundra [Ino Ino Records]
Roy Davis Jr. – Jack Da Rhythms [Clone Jack]
Head High – Hex Factor [Power House]
Taskforce – Club Tool [Silverback Recordings]
Call Super – Hoax Eye [Houndstooth]
Words by Riccardo Villella, 16 April 2015. Leave a comment
So many rnb remixes/refixes/edits from people that don’t even like rnb.
— Mr Mitch
It must be easy to take apart a track that means nothing to you, chopping up lyrics and ad libs until they become little more than empty signifiers; Cassie’s heavy breathing little more than a hint at sensuality, an Ashanti hook a play at longing. Why is that sampling these hooks became so prevalent? From Jacques Greene and James Blake’s refixes to Disclosure’s early work, ‘Love Cry’-era Four Tet and even Tony Lionni’s ‘Found A Place’, the cannibalisation of early-00s r&b hits has been a major theme across the world of dance music for some years, and, of course, featured quite often on these pages. It’s easy enough to tell when someone genuinely loves a genre — see the contributors to this Local Action comp, for example — but there are so many cynical hack jobs that it goes deeper than fashion; there are no #deepbrandyalbumcuts here. It’s thus a relief to learn there’s still some life left in the idea.
What’s surprising though, is seeing a Kate Bush song feature on a pack of r&b-type edits, least of all an inarguable classic like “Running Up That Hill” (rockist tendencies notwithstanding). That’s not to say that Kate’s not been sampled or remixed over the years — from Utah Saints to Ashley Beedle, to Young Edits and (forgive me) Coldplay, her work has evidently been inspirational and influential. With ‘Kate’, Loom provides an interesting point of entry for Peace Edits, a four-track release on Mr Mitch’s Gobstopper Recordings. Loom takes a re-sung version of the 1985 song and utterly eviscerates it, a true digital shred. High-pitched bleeps lend 21st-Century emotion, a synthetic crunch making any beauty inaccessible in a true volte face. An unrelated intro and bridge theme leads into a truly heart-rending swoop that appears after 27 seconds, and again at 4.06. It’s the high point of the track, a sign that Loom is capable of conveying deep and unexpected emotion. A similar brand of emotion runs high in Strict Face’s “Alice”, which takes the still familiar riff from (DJ Jurgen presents) Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone” and reformulates it as a sort of plaintive lullaby. Not for nothing did Mr Mitch himself use the track to close out his Anti-Valentine’s Day mix for Dazed, while the track also featured at the close of Logos’ recent Resident Advisor podcast. It’s fraught with tension, empty space and stately chords suggesting real longing. Not only does he replay the main theme, he reformulates it, improvising slightly as the piece moves forward, even dropping out notes as if he’s too caught up to play each one.
Released just before his debut album Parallel Memories, “Don’t Leave” saw Mr Mitch revisit Blackstreet’s “Don’t Leave Me”, the follow-up to “No Diggity”, plucking its vocodered intro and chorus cry, repitching both and reframing them in a similarly anguished yet entirely reconstructed mood. For “Dru”, he takes a different approach. Sampling another all-male r&b group, this time Sisqó’s Dru Hill, he takes a series of words and lines from 1998’s “How Deep Is Your Love”, layering and modulating them to form something new, while retaining their recognisable identity in a manner that’s both respectful and loving. While bass and accompaniment abound, it’s not until the final minute when Mr Mitch’s own synth harmony joins in, gracefully timed against the newly formed chorus line. Things close with bittersweet celebration in “T”, from Silk Road Assassins. Opening with some choral ebullience snatched from T-Pain’s “I’m Sprung”, its vocals give way to grime-laden bleeps and an overpowering bass theme, just as emotive as that moment in “Kate”. It’s the kind of track you imagine playing when you fall to your knees in tears as the rain begins to pour. An electronic horn redolent of Vangelis or Kuedo or whatever in between sends the emotion even further, the cascading trap beats rattling gently but not without fire. While many seemed shocked that, wow, T-Pain can really sing when they saw his Tiny Desk Concert for NPR last year, this notion denies him any artistry, so it’s a joy to hear that approach embellished and foregrounded.
Mr Mitch’s Peace operation began in October 2013, when he opted to make “spaced out versions of other grime tunes” rather than go on the attack. Taking that approach and applying it to tracks outside of this world has proven that for every hackneyed take on a radio heater, there are still artists out there who can build something fresh from such samples.
VA – Peace Edits is out now on Gobstopper Records. Buy here.
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 15 April 2015. Leave a comment
It feels like surprise release drops have been the talk of major labels town ever since Beyoncé’s self-titled tornado tore through social media, towards that increasingly rare thing – actual album sales. Even though Beyoncé is hardly the first artist to have gone down that route (though she may have been the first to successfully keep such a massive secret), she did bring it to the forefront of the conversation in a world where CD sales are down whilst streaming and vinyl revenues are bubbling up. Perhaps it’s not so fair to suggest other artists are outright jacking her style; D’Angelo was prompted by the racist reality of America whereas Cash Money intervened with Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. On the flipside, the way young audiences engage with the music industry has changed; album cycles and press campaigns no longer trickle through channels, they shout, and shout, and shout. It can be fatiguing, to say the least. Atlanta’s Father, founder of Awful Records, feels the same way: “If I see it, I want it now,” he tells FACT TV at SXSW, “Why are you advertising this shit to me for like, two months? I don’t wanna see your cover!” Naturally, Who’s Gonna Get F***** First? was revealed pretty much out of nowhere, and we’ve had it on rotation since.
“Awful in this bitch, can’t beat us, can’t join us.” Awful Records feel more like family than collective – the type of family that pass down secret recipes to potent elixirs like Who’s Gonna Get F***** First? The key ingredient? Keeping it all in the family, of course. By and large, the album’s produced by Father, and most of the vocals come from the Awful crew. Typically minimal, bassy beats bear a framework to build on, from “Highway 101’”s paranoid xylophone rattles to the dank riffs on “Suicide Party”. Then there’s KCSB’s warped R’n’B underbelly on “Slow Dance (Interlude)” and the weighty low-end blasts of well, every other track. There’s enough variation to make sure things are always fresh enough to vibe with.
Still, most of the character comes through by way of Father’s incorrigibly sly storytelling raps and knack for hooks. You can almost hear him grinning and laughing as he drops Dragonball Z references before, “Everybody in the club gettin’ shot / Everybody gon’ twirl then drop,” as the track’s titled. It’s later followed by, “God damn, he was hit up in his chest / Wet t-shirt, he don’t want a contest / Ran off with his fuckin’ countess / Got her counting all my money, fuck my damn accountant.” Another irresistible hook comes in the form of, “Started out PG, but now it’s BET Uncut / Started you and me, but now it’s you and me and her.” The track also sees one of the record’s best crew features take centre-stage, as Richposlim enters with, “Wowser, it’s the Bowser of the hood Koopa Troop / Make a bitch ride the dick like a fucking hula-hoop / She ain’t got no panties on, on the dance flo’ / I say she’s sexually liberated, you call her ass a ho.” “Gurl” stands apart from the rest of the record, rolling in with a more upbeat instrumental than the rest as Abra – usually a singer – spits a monologue on “Gossip Folks”-style girl hate.
Keeping things all in the family can be hard to do, but there’s nothing like it (Vin Diesel will back us up here). Father shows that it’s an ingredient worth putting in the effort for on Who’s Gonna Get F***** First?, putting a twist on more easily obtainable flavours such as sex, drugs and violence, parties and attitude. When you have the freedom to pay your bills, play your shows, put out whatever you want to put out whenever you feel like it – the kind of autonomy that comes from a crew being on the same page – there’s less time waiting and more time to have fun pushing things forward. And the fact is, we don’t think we’d have anywhere near as much fun listening to Who’s Gonna Get F***** First? if Father didn’t sound like he had so much fun making it.
Father’s new album Who’s Gonna Get F***** First? is out now on Awful Records.
Words by Tayyab Amin, 14 April 2015. Leave a comment
When The Large first contacted Mixpak asking if she could contribute to their blog, who’d have known that years later she’d become label manager and have a hand in Popcaan’s Where We Come From, possibly one of the best records of 2014. Once one-third of the Style & Swagger radio show (which, after a brief stint on Reel Rebels Radio, settled in on the NTS schedule), The Large is also behind the Shimmy Shimmy blog and its sister zine, No Ice Cream Sound, which ran four issues deep. Her flair for connecting the dots between club music from disparate regions shines through on her Truancy Volume, which seamlessly blends tracks from Jamaica, Latin America, Angola, New Jersey and beyond. This is perhaps testament to how at home she is in in the diverse musical hubs of London and, more recently, New York City. A perfect companion piece to last year’s brilliant “2 On Mix“, The Large’s Truancy Volume brings the heat in more ways than one. This enduringly warm mix will incubate you from the stubborn vestiges of winter and act as a lasting soundtrack to your springtime.
Popcaan – Where We Come From (Mixpak)
When you were just starting out you were juggling the Shimmy Shimmy blog, the Style & Swagger radio show, the No Ice Cream Sound zine, as well as the parties to promote and fund the zine! Can you describe the difficulties, if any, in trying to establish yourself as a dancehall DJ and promoter within the London scene? “I didn’t really set out with any goal other than to have fun, throw parties with friends and make the stuff I wanted to make. It was never my job, just a ton of side hustles that I really cared for. There are different scenes within dancehall in London, and I was bridging different worlds in some ways. I wasn’t one of those people who started DJing when I was 5 years old; I started off kind of late. I was lucky that Gabriel from The Heatwave gave me a spot at his monthly party pretty early on (this was when I was still DJing with vinyl all the time). It took a second but just by promoting, doing the rounds, getting a piece in Time Out and the backing of NTS Radio, (or we when I was with S&S, shout out Karen & Siobhan) that I managed to DJ with some legendary people like Rodigan and Saxon Sound. I got to play at Carnival a few times which was a lot of fun as well! DJing dancehall in London is really very fun overall.”
Do you feel like years spent curating Style & Swagger and maintaining the Shimmy Shimmy blog has informed your approach to DJing? “Those things were an extension of looking for music non-stop and a way of sharing that with other people so, yeah, they definitely play into each other. My set depends on where I’m playing; I play in a lot of different places and to different types of crowds. Radio is a whole different thing and much less constrained than a club environment in terms of jumping between BPMs and playing less dance-oriented music.” Does your Truancy Volume resemble a set you’d play in the club, on air, or something else entirely? “Listening back, it’s actually a pretty ‘human’ mix – it’s got all these different things in it, from joy to dark aggression to raw sexuality to euphoria. I think there’s a lot of emphasis on dancing, and that’s very representative of my club sets. This is the most New York sounding thing I’ve made, it’s properly seeped in now!”
What were the motivations behind your recent move to New York; how are you enjoying it over there and how does the scene compare to London’s? “I moved to New York to work for Mixpak full-time. I’d been in London for about 8 years prior to that and I grew up in Bristol. It was difficult in many ways, especially because I deeply love London, but I couldn’t turn down the opportunity. New York is an amazing place to be and working for Mixpak is great. I think overall there are less people in New York who are interested in underground club music, and less people who are familiar with clubbing in the same way as they are in London. But New York has got all these other things that London doesn’t have, like an insane taste for rap, Jersey Club, Vogue, and all this dope Latin music. There are a lot of dancehall artists who can’t make it to the UK, but sometimes you’ll see Sean Paul in the club or Assassin performing here, which is a lot rarer in London. Oh and not to forget roof parties! You can actually have outdoor parties here. I don’t notice the differences too much on a daily level, but I recently saw Logan Sama DJing here with Skepta, Stormzy and Novelist performing and it was pretty interesting to watch. People didn’t really get it, but then an A$AP track would come on and people would go wild.”
How did you come to be involved with Mixpak? “I got involved a while ago now, when Mixpak was still running a blog and blogging was a different thing. Dre had put out his record with Sizzla and maybe the first Kartel one, I forget. He had a few people writing cool stuff (Nguzunguzu did their first interview there, for example), and I just reached out and said I wanted to write about dancehall. There was hardly anywhere to do that; there were, and still are, only a few places (like Eddie Stats’ column in The Fader) sharing insights on that kind of music instead of just MP3s. I started editing the Mixpak blog and managing a few other writers and then it just evolved – I got more involved as Dre started taking on more projects. It just grew from there until we decided to do things very seriously a couple of years ago.” What does your role as label manager involve? “My job is all-encompassing: I do general strategy for the label, as well as artist development and creative direction on certain things (like Popcaan’s album). Sometimes I’m commenting on song structure or finding a vocalist for a release or making merch, and sometimes I’m sorting contracts or doing press or planning parties.”
From the looks of yours and Dre Skull’s timelines, you were in Jamaica recently on Mixpak business. Tell us about the trip! “Yeah we were in Kingston and it was really incredible – we were in the studio with Spice, QQ, Beenie Man and Popcaan. Dre was presenting an award at the YVAs as well which was wild. I wrote a lil bit about that (and some photos are up) here.”
Dancehall isn’t really an album-oriented genre, with artists generally participating via riddims and singles. However the Mixpak albums from Popcaan and Vybz Kartel offered glimpses of what shape a full-length dancehall project could take. Mixpak has since had studio sessions with artists like QQ, Spice and Beenie Man – from talking to them have you noticed Where We Come From to have had any sort of knock-on effect in the industry? “I don’t know about that really! There have been good dancehall albums in the past and I’m sure they will continue, it’s just an industry that isn’t set up too well for it. I think it can be hard for dancehall artists to take time out of a rolling stream of riddims and singles to focus on a big project and to hold yourself back for a more traditional album rollout.”
Your Truancy Volume covers a lot of ground geographically and sonically, blending seemingly disparate genres like dancehall, kizomba, dembow and Jersey club. Your sets and mixes are similarly nomadic – what’s the common thread between the tracks you play that draws you to them? “They’re all tracks I love for some reason or other. When you peg the tracks to their genres I guess it seems nomadic and that I’m drawing all these theoretically disparate elements together, but as a DJ I see a lot of similarities in the music. The backbone of this is definitely dancehall – for instance dancehall is integral to dembow and dembow is integral to bubbling, and I think dancehall is also integral to so much UK club music as well. It’s not really something conscious per se, but I suppose that’s the path I’m on – weaving dancehall’s influences through different club musics. Club music is certainly a thread here too, as is the way the underground interacts with pop music. It’s heavily bass-driven, vibesy music from all over – that’s what I love and what I want to share with people. I would hope that you could lose yourself or find yourself to these tracks. At the start there are some tracks from young NY producers – like Immortal Instruments who makes Flex tunes, which are super dancehall-inspired and made for dancers (kinda like the first track too which is a Litefeet track). Some of these are also tracks from friends and/or people I’m working with.”
What’s in the pipeline for the rest of 2015? “We just opened up a new studio which is super exciting; now we have a lot of people passing through and I think it’s gonna mean a lot of positive things happening this year. We’re also on the cusp of starting a new and kinda different radio show. We have more releases from Murlo, Palmistry, Dre Skull, and others that I can’t mention this second. On the personal DJ front I’m just looking to visit new places, so I’m hoping I can get out to some other parts of the USA to play parties. Plus I’ve got some other new things that I’m working on – it’s gonna be fun!”
What tracks are doing it for you right now that didn’t make the Truancy Volume, and what’s your prediction for the track that is gonna dominate throughout carnival season? “There are a lot! I’m really feeling this track by Dexta Daps called “7 Eleven“, it’s a slow jam and burning up in Jamaica – I expect that will keep growing for a while and probably into carnival season. Same for his collab track with Tifa (“Jealous Ova“) – that’s a big tune, as is I Octane & Gaza Slim’s “Cyan Do It“. Busy Signal’s new track “Text Message” dropped while I was making this mix but that’s a fire track. I’m sure “Way Up, Stay Up” will still be doing the rounds as well. Right now is the time when the songs that are gonna rule the summer are dropping, so keep watching I guess! I’d be super happy if this summer was all about Kranium, Popcaan, Kabaka Pyramid, Protoje and Dexta Daps.”
The Ice – Strike Flightning
Busy Signal – Tamara (Swing Ting Smooth Mix)
Future Fambo – Bloodclaute Song
Immortal Instruments – Forgot Riddim
Mimi – Rude Gal
Ayo – Dj Paparazzi & Dj Zolalopez
I Don’t Wanna Bubble Up (Durkin Remix)
Rambow – Take Yuh Gal
Gage – Throat
Arems & Kemo Truffle Butter Rasklaat Dancehall Flip
I Octane – Ride & Wine
Popcaan – Number One Freak
Popcaan – Rup Rup
Vybz Kartel – Ignite The World
Serani – Boss (Yuh Fi Ride)
Demarco – Puppy Tail
Kilbourne – El Teke Teke (Ynfynyt Scroll Remix)
El Alfa – El Mananero
Vybz Kartel – My Rainbow
Lechuga Zafiro – Amatista Riddim
Rambow – Sucia
Dj Choko ft The Dutch Grim – Latin Brutality (Bubbling Remix)
Paleman – Beelzedub (Famous Eno remix)
Dj Tameil – Rude Boy Giddy Up
CZ – Moon Beam
Smutlee – Cosa Nostra Remix
???? — ????
Murlo & Gemma Dunleavy – Deep Breath 4×4 VIP
Ice Underlord – Sevyn Streeter Sex on the Roof Meltdown (The Large ghosts live rub feat. Tiffany & Erykah)
Words by Sophie Kindreich, 07 April 2015. 1 comment
While it’s unfortunate that we’ve had to wait four months for a new release from the Vancouver label ASL Singles Club, its founders Project Pablo and Heartbeat(s) made sure the wait was worth it. The label’s outstanding new EP resembles the quality to which we’ve held it since its inaugural single, but assembled with a rawer attitude. Perpetuating the quasi-less-is-more sonic ideology subscribed to by many marginal dance labels today, the self-titled debut from the Brooklyn-residing Infamous Boogieman (whose career as a producer is contrarily fledgling) marks the ninth release from ASL.
Not in any way out of the ordinary, the components that comprise Boogieman’s sound you can more often than not count on one hand, a stringy guitar solo emerging in the faint distance of “Revenge Tactics” is an exception not only here to Boogieman’s formula but probably to the majority of other producers’ you’ve listened to this week. Amid the modern funk context summoned for the opener—a sagging bass line, padded backdrops of pastel tones and deconstructing drums—the guitar is directionless but leads prominently. Emulating Dam-Funk with a broad stroke, he pulls “Tactics” off without a hitch. “Syetème” ensues, deep and lightly swung, the track on here most topically comparable to the more centered material of Boogieman’s new label mates. What materializes in the second half of the EP is the Brooklynite’s seeming propensity for the sort of “daydream” aesthetic promulgated by the cadre of producers releasing on cassette-focused outlets. Skimpily sheathed in an awing ambience and embellished with left-field sounds, a stumble of rounded kicks and deep toms allows the listener imagine the physical figure of “No Shoes” to be in a perpetual summersault—things get especially groovy when a syncopated trot-like percussion is introduced following a break midway through the six minuter. Sensibilities for mesmerism and groove get parlayed into “Boys Club”. Employing a scant melody, brittle hi hats and washes of fuzzy noise emanating from the depths of mix, the track is a final exhibition of how Boogieman is able to find common ground between form and function, from slung machine funk riders to worn techno. Your chair will constantly be swiveling through these four, but what you feel upstairs will depend on what type of scene exists through your window.
The Boogieman EP is out now; purchase here.
Words by Michael Scala, 06 April 2015. Leave a comment