Thursday, 27 August 2009

Andres Reyes

Andres is a major reason for my trip to L.A. It was the Beat Generation issue of Shook Magazine (and in particular Andres piece on L.A. Beats), that helped me join the dots between a lot of artists I had previously listened to (from Madlib to Ras G to Take). I already knew there was a lot of collaboration happening in L.A. but it took Andres' article to really open my mind to there being such a thriving community of talented producers in one place.

Andres is an inspired individual intent on sharing his keen ear for innovative future sounds. The classicdrugreferences blog is still the best possible example of a music blog; introducing the world to unique music and its creators (Jay Electronica!!!!!), reliably always one step ahead. 

With Andres on board now at Plug Research records, alongside such forward thinking folks as Andrew Lojero- the label is at the most exciting point in its' distinguished history. Indications of this include the upcoming albums from super producers Shafiq Husayn and Om'Mas Keith of Sa-Ra fame.

In my interview with Andres, we discussed all of the afforementioned projects as well as reflecting on the L.A. movement of Beat music right now and its seemingly limitless potential.
These are very exciting times and Los Angeles is what's happening!


I've been following the online radio station Dublab for years; personal podcast highlights including Terry Callier's acoustic session a few years back, Egon's high school funk mix and Count Bass D's MPC jam session. They have provided such amazing and diverse (and free!) music to the internet since 1999, largely due to the extreme dedication and innovation of co-founder Mark 'Frosty' Mcneill. 

The interior of the Dublab offices are highly reflective of the colourful imaginations behind the company. It was a pleasure to meet Frosty and chat about the Dublab mentality of Future Roots Music (progressive, forward thinking music) and all the innovative past present and future projects they are involved in.

They have an incredible output of music, art and film. We touched upon a few projects; including  Dream Scenes (imaginary concert posters), the Secondhand Sureshots documentary, Up Our Sleeve (record cover art project) and Into Infinity. To find out about these projects in more detail people need to simply visit the website!

Dublab is approaching its tenth anniversary and is as strong as ever. It is so refreshing a presence both online and as part of the L.A. community due to its constant exposure of diverse and brilliant music and art. I can simply state the website is one of the most important music portals on the entire web. This is a sentiment clearly agreed upon by many as Dublab continues to be a non-profit organisation, funded by donations. Quite simply it is there because the people love it so much.


This is the first of a number of overdue updates backtracking the L.A. interviews. I first heard Devon's music on Kenny Fresh's supreme Fresh Selects blog a while back. I instantly engaged with the hazy warmth of his layered keyboard sounds and the off-kilter funk of the drum programming. 

His name has been on heavy rotation in my itunes library, yet before my L.A. trip I knew nothing of the guy. So meeting Devon in my first week at Low End proved to be one of many great surprises. The fact that he only relocated to L.A. from Portland early this summer speaks volumes about the vibrant community of gifted producers present in the area.

Devon's ability to conjure seriously heavy, often- nostalgic beats on a basic backpack setup of ableton live and a midi keyboard demonstrates a raw talent and a producer utilising his tools to the fullest. It is also testament to his finesse on the keys that he crafts such emotive, vintage sounding compositions through the software at his disposal. This natural talent is evidenced in the video interview we conducted where Devon built a track from scratch in 5 minutes. It encompassed all his signature styles of beat creation combined with impressive improvisation. 

Devon also opened my ears to the multi-talented Klipmode crew he is a member of alongside Suzi Analogue, Knowledge and Mindesign. Devon's Thumbtracks recent release is the first official release from the camp yet these guys are bringing some serious heat, believe me!

Monday, 3 August 2009

Nosaj Thing

A few weeks back I caught up with Nosaj Thing at Low End Theory before he rocked another incredible Ableton set. His production and live set eximplify a producer utilising the software to the fullest. Although Nosaj could deemed to be part of the L.A. 'beats scene' his sound is instantly distinguishable in his spatious electronic compositions. His music clearly has a unique set of influences and it was interesting to touch upon them; from Boards Of Canada to Bach. We also discussed the development of his production techniques. The guys at Low End Theory have been great in assisting my project and I'd like to thank Kev and Marcus in particular for helping set the interview up.

Journey To Viberia: Jneiro Jarel

L.A. was full of surprises. One of the best was finding out Jneiro was in town. Discovering his Three Piece Puzzle LP back in 05' was like unearthing a next generation leader of the Native Tongues with a new range of futuristic production sensibilities. A big record indeed! Since then I've kept a track of his various projects such as Dr Who Dat?, Capital Peoples and Shape Of Broad Minds to name a few.
Something major setting Jneiro apart from any producer scene is his added assets of total mic control, multi instrumental abilities and very soulful singing voice. The dude really encapsulates Hip Hop. When people cite Dilla and Madlib as major players in influencing the worldwide Beats scene, Jneiro is that big too.
Catching up with Jneiro in the studio was a great experience; I got to delve into a whole range of subjects including the origins of the name (Supermans dad!!), his multi-sided musical personas, a strong intent to stay independent from any 'scene' and his villainous connections. Big shout to J5 too!


I first heard Pudge's beats in the travelling bass machine that is Dibia$e's jeep. This was a cool experience as Pudge was also riding with myself, his sister, D and Devon on a trip to Santa Ana. What hit me on first listen was some emotive classic hip hop production with very nice MPC piano chops.
 I have since had a chance to delve deeper into his catalogue courtesy of a beat cd, a recent Mary Anne Hobbs mix and through Pudge playing an endless array of exclusive beats off his laptop for me. This guy really has got every style from some huge Radiohead remixes to the upcoming Dibia$e collab Chopmasters- absolutely destroying all kinds of 80s movie, TV and pop tracks. Always coming correct with the dirty ill drums. Oh and also he's making beats one-handed right now and as prolific as anyone-truly ridiculous and inspirational!


Dak's recent StandThis EP is my favourite music release in a long while. There is a freeform nature to the beats that depicts a producer with very open ears, unafraid to experiment while still rooted in classic hip hop influences. After meeting Dakim, I found it crazy that this has been his first widely available solo release from around 12 years dedicated to the craft. 
Leaving Records is an exciting home for his music as Matthew David is definitely tuned into Dak's genius and overdue time for major recognition. It is also clear that Dak has embraced his move from Detroit to L.A. and become an influential figure in the community of producers. 
Interviewing Dakim proved to be very enlightening. It is fair to say his music merely indicates at the fascinating personality behind it. I won't get into the details now, I'll wait till the documentary for that. 
During the space of 2 weeks I caught 2 very different live shows of his- the first playing beats off the MPC and SP404 at Low End and the second playing just a keyboard and creating live loops at Echo Curio. Each set was utterly compelling, with Dak equally at home playing for the art gallery crowd as in the club. He maintained a consistently sublime and personal sound whether manipulating samples or creating freeform keyboard compositions. His adeptness at completely switching up his live shows demonstrates a producer unwilling to be constrained by genre or tradition.

Artdontsleep: Andrew Lojero

Andrew Lojero is one of the main inspirations behind my decision to document L.A. music. Funnily enough a couple of years back I was at a Madlib, J Rocc and Brasilintime show in Dublin where I picked up Lojero's From L.A. With Love compilation album. This was the first release I'd heard that joined the dots between the diverse musical approaches of many L.A. producers, bands and visual artists.
Lojero works under the Artdontsleep title, which he exemplifies to the fullest. Artdontsleep is the name under which he has arranged many one off gigs and jam sessions, as well as the From L.A. With Love release. Alongside this, Lojero also works for Mochilla and Plug Research records. He is a self-described catalyst whose passion for his work and peers is truly infectious. This further strengthened my feeling that something special is happening everyday right now in the city.


Going back a good few weeks, I had the pleasure of catching up with the gifted photographer/documentarian/beatmaker Eric Coleman. Alongside B+ and Andrew Lojero, Coleman dedicates his talents to the formidable and innovative Mochilla team. After spending time with both Coleman and B, the link between their documentary work and their respectively deep record collections became very clear to see. 
I had the privelage of documenting a wide variety of Coleman's photo work; from a post-Katrina New Orleans project, to an iconic mid 90s Wu Tang group shot (something only a handful of photographers can lay claim to) to the classic Madvillainy shots.
Coleman also has an impressive catalogue of unreleased beats. His boxes of MPC floppy disks are a sight to witness in these days of digital filesharing!

Friday, 17 July 2009

Kutmah: The Humble Magnificent

DJ, producer and artist Kutmah has long been a major figurehead of the L.A. beat community. The night Sketchbook he curated was a pre-cursor to the Low End scene. Importantly Sketchbook provided an open forum for beatmakers to get their productions out of the bedroom and heard by their peers. Therefore it provided the platform for artists such as Ras G and Dibia$e to establish their now worldwide reputations.
Kutmah's love for the diverse range of L.A. beats can be heard in innovative mixes such as Sacred Geometry, regular DJ sets and his own productions. His beautifully intricate pen drawings have also graced some fine record covers such as Take's Dirty Decibels Of Thomas Two Thousand and Nobody's Mystic Chords Of Memory project. His artistic skills can also be seen in the Dublab Hit And Run T-shirt project and his website.

In The Lab With Computer Jay

The craziest live show I've seen since getting to L.A. has undoubtedly been Computer Jay's recent performance at Breaking Atoms. Be it Jay's scratched dialogue with Comp or his live beatmaking on an Atari joypad, this brothers' show is from another planet!! (unintentenional reference to Ras G!) 
If you have yet to witness this beat magic, all I can say is wait for the documentary!
It was so inspiring to catch up with the mad scientist in the lab. The studio was filled with treats, such as a moog customised with Commodore 64 sounds. Jay demonstrated a vast array of styles from the renowned 8-bit funk to his jazz chops on the keys (honed from an early age and 6 years playing live with The Pharcyde).
I truly urge anyone to see Jay live at any opportunity and also check out his single and upcoming music on Ramp Recordings.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Teebs & Samiyam

Backtracking a little, I caught up with the 2 multi-talented beatmakers last week. I spoke to Teebs about his unique manipulation of a broad sampling spectrum (unrestricted by musical genre) in evoking highly emotive, and often nostalgic beats. We also discussed the visual resonance in his music and the crossover influence into his record cover art.
Afterwards we caught up with Samiyam, who played some exclusive heat straight off the Roland 404. We got into discussing the Rap Beats Vol.1 project and its' homemade aesthetic (down to Sam's hand-drawn individual covers). Also Sam touched upon his diverse beatmaking techniques; from being a pioneer of sampling of 8-bit classics to his signature hard hitting synth beats.
Teebs and Sam are two of the most forward thinking artists around and it was a great experience catching up to witness their relentless and inspiring workrate.

Friday, 3 July 2009

My Cassettes weigh A Ton: Matthew David

In visiting Matthew David, I took my first venture to the periphery of the L.A. beatmaking culture. In his own words Matthew is 'the kid from the beat scene who's not quite in the beat scene'. To explain, Matthew's background as a hip hop DJ and his appreciation of sampling has led him to bring elements of that sound into loose abstract soundpieces. He samples the world around him on a portable tape recorder. There is a freedom in his analog to digital experimentation (sometimes a couple of times over!) that has inspired the leading beatmakers around including Flying Lotus.
Aside from his own music, Matthew has just started a label; Leaving Records. Their first upcoming release is the StandThis EP from the super-talented producer Dak. His name is extremely highly regarded amongst all the Beatheads out here. True to that, StandThis is truly worthy of the 'insane post-Dilla experimental' tag on the labels' blog! I urge everyone to download the ep from itunes on the 7th (or catch the limited edition cassette!)

Seeing Sounds: B+

Brian 'B+' Cross has to be one of the most talented and prolific music photographers/documentarians at work anywhere. As this is essentially the field which I've begun to explore, meeting him was a big deal. I mean who hears Endtroducing without picturing his iconic photo of THAT record store? The music and imagery are one; this guy sees in samples and drum breaks. The close connection between record addict and photographer was clear to see in his living room. 
We delved into various subject matter including: 
his habit as an archivist of sounds and images, 
various documentary projects (currently promoting 'Transition In Translation' with Will Quantic)
the current beatmaking scene in relation to Shadow Mo'Wax era
The Timeless series and Dilla
and the true independence of Mochilla

Oh, and we didn't even get into his basement photo archive yet... 

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Ras G: The All-Seeing Eye

Last Friday I caught up with Ras G at Poo-Bah records. His creation of spaced out, Sun Ra-inspired beats has also been reflected in the freedom afforded each of the artists on the label. Poo-Bah has managed to stand alone and importantly craft a unique identity in the instrumental hip hop world through Ras' musical vision. 
Ras spoke very wisely about the jazz-sampling roots of his own musical education and his alliance to instrumental production. His statement of 'the beats always spoke louder to me than any lyrics were capable of', poetically broke down his own (and I suspect many others) inspiration to take the beatmaking template of 90s hip hop into unchartered territory. Space is the Place.

cribs in a perfect world

Dibia$e' place was a little special, the living room full of records and one-off art pieces. I took a few pics of the space while Devon played around with various beats on Ableton Live. I will be catching up with him for a proper interview during the next week. I very randomly discovered his music on Kenny Fresh's great FreshSelects Blog a while back.

The Legendary Dibia$e

I stopped over at Dibia$e's place near USC on Thursday after we chatted at Low End Theory on Wednesday. It was a surreal and sad moment to arrive into D's bedroom studio with his beats playing to see the news coverage of Michael Jackson's death on live TV. The super-talented producer Devon (from Portland, recently relocated to L.A.) was also round playing a few beats in the living room. 
In my interview with D, he dug out some old cassettes dating back to 93' from his car that even he hadn't heard in ten-plus years (unearthed from a friend's garage a few days previous). When he hit play on the boombox, dusty lo-fi Wu-inspired beats blasted out. The talent was instantly recogniseable. The tapes also indicated D's dedication to his craft and prolific productions over the years.
Dibia$e is one of L.A.'s foremost progressive beatmakers, from the loose head-nod swing of his drum sequencing down to his unique approach to sampling. His penchant for chopping 80s movie and cartoon themes into epic battle-sounds was evident in the studio. He then loaded the sounds onto his Roland 404 for a mesmerising live set (amongst the crowd!) at My Hollow Drum in Santa Ana. In D's own words, for the live set he 'brought the nuclear warheads!'