Friday, August 31, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Beware the Bearded Bastard
If there is anyone out there who personifies the name beats, breaks & big smiles to the fullest, it's Joel Siméus. Not only is he in love with wonderful and quirky beats, but he's also one of the nicest dudes around and he's spreading smiles whereever he goes. He was also one of the first people that I wanted to interview for the blog, but for some reason it never happened until now. So without further notice I give you: Joel Siméus.
You’ve been making music and records for quite a while now. Would you like to give us some background history and maybe some current information in general? When did you get into making music?
Well, born and raised and living in Sweden. Joel Siméus is my real name. I grew up in a very safe environment in Kalmar, a small town in the south east of Sweden. First album I bought with my own money that wasn’t techno was Fugees - The Score. Then the story gets pretty boring, you know listened to this and that. Discovered KRS, then Company flow etc etc. I bet I have that in common with a lot of your readers so I won’t bore anyone with that! You could check out my bio if you want to know more either on Milled Pavement or postrap.
I started making music in 06 and got into the whole MySpace thing, finding likeminded artists to work with online and sending files back and forth. It was all pretty much just a thing within itself without anything ever being released. You just made a track with someone and uploaded it and that was it. Sounds sad but I think of it as preschool or something. Having fun while learning :).
That’s how I got in contact with James P Honey, and we started making some songs, some of which got released for real on his debut solo album Hugely Overrated By A Tiny Few through Milled Pavement Records. That’s how I guess Moshe found out about me through James's release and asked me if I wanted to do a solo album which I did (Woody Oaks). MP is often ahead of the curve in that way with a lot of artists. Finding people nobody’s heard about and giving them a chance to release their music. I like that!
What do you want to accomplish with your music?
Well there really isn’t much of a plan to my music making. I hope to get better at it. Grow bigger and better you know? There are a few artists I would love to work with sometime in the future though, dug yuck/Filkoe176 for example. And also a project together with Reindeer would be awesome but yeah, I guess the line of producers is long and he does some good production himself but maybe he could be persuaded... This is my mating call James! Let’s get together, haha! Also to make some money would be nice but you know, when I look at more dedicated artists that I look up to trying make money and barely making enough to pay for gas for their touring vehicle I wonder if it is really possible to live good off of music without making something that appeals to a broader audience...Then again Björk did it. I might have to ask her for some pointers. How to make people call your music edgy instead of just weird. I guess it’s possible if you really want it. Me I like being the producer more than the starving artist. BUT I would love to have a live set of some kind. You know just do some shows here in Sthlm with a really nice setup. I'm not much of a couch surfer.
How would you describe your music and could you briefly tell us about the music-making process?
I would describe it as, maybe instant coffee music? I like to make music fast. I can’t sit for days and days and work on the same track. I also like to make music that sounds gritty and roughly done. Like those old 70s breakbeats but with a contemporary twist? I hate what I call preset music. That is, music that sounds like it’s a demo song in reason or Cubase. I can’t stand it when I can tell that a synthetic piano is just that, a synth. I mean come on, put an effect on it or sample a track with a real piano in it or record a real one somehow but don’t use those "concert piano" plugins without doing something to it! Ahh! Glad I got the chance to talk about that! I love synths when you know it’s a synth and it’s supposed to be a synth. But I don’t like when something sounds like it’s trying to be something it’s not. I think my music sounds authentic and worn and tried like an old pair of shoes. I make all my beats in Ableton Live. Using APC20, a Korg Micro X and a Focusrite soundcard. Sometimes I record vocals or xylophones or just noises or THMS comes by and records something for Bokklubben or one of his own projects. Then we drink coffee and listen to music. It’s nice!
Last year you released an album with THMS under the name of Bokklubben. There we get to hear you rap. Is that something that you like to get into more or is it strictly for that project?
Yes, I had a lot of fun trying to rap. Me and THMS wanted to do everything ourselves musically. No waiting for acapellas from guest vocalists from across the world to get recorded and sent. We're Swedish, we like to be efficient! So after I had sung the chorus for the song Dubbel Plus Bra, which was the first track we did for the album, it just sort of continued naturally that way. It adds something to the songs just to have two different voices and also to try out the other guy's costume for a while. THMS is one tough guy to keep up with though. He really is an amazingly talented vocalist. He can come visit me here after dropping of his son at the daycare ten o'clock in the morning, drink a cup of coffee and just murder a track like he’s standing in front of an audience. After I tried it myself it really made me see just how gifted he really is at it. I like to think of Bokklubben as a Swedish Public Enemy. He's Chuck D and I'm Flavor Flav. Just like Flav, I sometimes come in during the chorus and mess around and almost ruin the song then Chuck T comes in again and saves the day! I also have a funny solo track on our album much like Flav usually has. It just makes the album more fun I think, not better but more fun to listen to! That way it’s not just another beatmaker/rapper collaboration but more of a crazy experiment. I hope THMS makes a whole beat soon that I can rap to. Full circle, haha.
Talking about THMS, how did you two hook up initially?
We started talking on MySpace a while before I moved to Stockholm. I remember sending him some beats he didn’t like too much so at first I thought OK well that was that. But then we met in person through Plunge Attempt who had or was just about to release the Extendead Plunge Attempt album with DJ Extend. There we were. Three guys who all liked more or less the same kind of music. That’s how MDRSKP1 was created....At a pub in Sollentuna, a suburb in Sthlm. That album...man. Took a lot of effort from all involved..and energy. But we didn’t kill each other and we are still all friends so I suppose it all worked out ok. That’s how Bokklubben and Amputee was born. It’s easier to work two and two together than four (counting DJ Madwrist who came aboard later on). Then we found out that we both liked other stuff like reading books and watching sci-fi. So we started borrowing each others books and then telling each other what we thought about them and it became sort of like a two man book club and well you can guess the rest!
You've released records on, in my eyes, some of the most interesting labels out there today; Milled Pavement, Luana’s messed up records, decorative stamp and postrap. How did those releases come about, and what is your relationship to those labels today?
I think I have people skills but I also think one release leads to another. My work with James on his solo album led to my own solo release. My work on Rough Tongue Surfaces opened up the eyes of Luana's messed up records etc. Postrap I got thanks to Smokey131 being familiar with those dudes. It was a surprise because postrap is a lot like decorative stamp to me, a collective more than a label. A group of people who know each other, you know like a mafia family. Working only with people you know personally and all that. Actually that was almost the case with the Luana 7". Mich was hesitant to releasing my music because we haven’t met personally. And I respect that. I understand it. Luckily for me he made an exception! Couldn’t resist my charm I suppose! I'm proud of that being the first release on Luana. Truly an honour considering the names that are now releasing material on Luana.
Are there any other musical artists that inspire you in your own creative process?
Yes of course! The early anticon releases are what inspired me to start making music. Doing a lot with little means. I like that. Lately I listen a lot to Fela Kuti, a singer from Nigeria, very inspirational and the mixing/sound is right up my alley! Usually his songs start with a ten minute instrumental intro. I miss that. Songs that dont start with a chorus. The old epic approach. I also like anything psychedelic from the 60s and 70s although I don’t know much about that era when it comes to naming names and releases. But it always inspires me. I also listen to Peggy March and sometimes The Temptations or some other old soul music. Don’t tell anyone about Peggy though, that’s our little secret!
Do you have any upcoming projects that you'd like to share with us?
Right now I'm working on the next Bokklubben album with THMS. Other than that, I have finished the next Freeloader (Freeloader II - Reloaded) and waiting for cover art for that one. Other than that my schedule is open. So tell your rapping friends about me and let’s make some music!
What are you doing when you're not making music?
I eat...like a lot. Sometimes I drink beer with Plunge Attempt and DJ Madwrist and listen to music at Madwrist’s place. I love watching Sci-Fi and reading Sci-Fi novels. My favorite author has to be either Arthur C. Clarke or Philip K. Dick. I also play computer games. Love me some Fallout New Vegas. Life is pretty sweet thanks to computers....
Any, ever so popular, shout outs?
Ah yes shout outs are important! What up following people: THMS, Plunge Attempt, Madwrist, Moshe, the James's...Uh.. Any label who would concider releasing Bokklubben on vinyl...And to Luana and Planck Length for doing so already! Appreciate it!
Monday, August 27, 2012
A lot of you have probably never heard of The Community. They are a collective of producers, lyricists and artists from Perth, Australia. I stumbled upon them myself earlier this year, and it was without a doubt very varied sounds that came out from those guys. Not all of it was my kind of thing, but there are some really interesting names coming out of that scene. My personal favourite is DOS4GW with his nasty and dirty beats, but there are a lot of dope producers and they are all represented on this compilation. We get everything from the more dreamy and atmospheric stuff from people such as Vishnu and Mathas, to the more electronic bouncy beats from for example Sibalance and space out tracks from Arms in Motion. This is not an album that you might sit down and listen concentrated to in one go, but give it a chance. Australia sure got some nice people banging out tunes.
Sunday, August 26, 2012
Saturday, August 25, 2012
What I like about Milled Pavement is that they have a quite wide range of musical styles that they release. There's no hidden agenda behind it all, they just drop records with people that they personally like and want to get out there. Unfortunately that also means that the quality to other people vary a lot at times. As much as I love the label and artists such as Brzowski, Moshe, Emoh Betta, Bokklubben etc, there have been releases that I don't like at all. One of those is their lastest release from C Money Burns. His productions just leave me completely cold all through the album, and not even guest spots from people such as nomar slevik, Wormhole, Virtue and MC Homeless can save the album from just feeling lackluster. If you're a fan, unlike me, of electrodisco productions though, I think you should check out Friends with Money.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Follows The Jazzy Tracks
Sometimes old favourite artists disappear from the radar and you forget about them for a while. Sontiago was one of those artists, and I wanted to look her up to see what she had been up to. Much to my surprise she was just about to drop her first single in many years. Last week her single Muscle Car dropped on Endemik Music, and here she is herself.
To start it all off, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself? Who is Sontiago and what is your background?
I am the youngest of three daughters and 14 cousins. I am the wife of jdwalker. I am the mother of 3 beloved cats. I was born in Pennsylvannia and grew up boating with my family off the Jersey Shore. I moved from there to Vermont, to Massachusetts, to Ohio, to North Carolina to Portland, Maine- which is where I have been for the last dozen years.
Rumors say that Ella Fitzgerald was somehow the kick start for your love for music. Is she and the school of music that she came from and represented still a big inspiration to you?
Absolutely. My father listened to a lot of big band and jazz. He and my grandmother brought me to see Ella Fitzgerald in concert in St. Petersburg, Florida when I was seven. Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding & Louie Prima are my go-to feel good music. They are soothing as background music and really evoke emotion when listened to loud. It’s an era I would have loved to experience. My mom on the other hand, was a lover of Willie Nelson, Julio Iglesias and James Taylor and my oldest sister was a huge John Cougar Mellencamp fan- so my exposure was pretty broad.
To most of us it’s been kind of quiet from you since you released Steel Yourself back in 2007. Can you tell us what you have been up to since then?
What haven’t I been up to? I rarely have a free moment. I work a full-time job, a part-time job and am a teaching artist to area youth. My biggest accomplishment this year has been a series of short biographical films from fifteen area teenagers who all relocated to Maine from other countries. It’s called The Whole World Waiting and is a collaboration between me and a local filmmaker, David Meiklejohn. He’s a genius. He’s also directing the video for my new single, Muscle Car.
What is your relationship to Moshe these days? Can we expect to hear some music coming from you two in the future?
We parted ways amicably years ago. You will not be hearing anything from us.
You obviously are very influenced by poetry and soul, and sing just as much as you rhyme. Is there any of these two expressions that you prefer before the other?
I pride myself on being a decent emcee. I've been doing it for 20 years. A cadence is a hard thing to find and keep and not everyone is fit for rapping, though many try. Without being self-deprecating, I don't consider myself a great singer. I can hold a tune, but there is nothing extraordinary about my voice. So I prefer when given a moment to shine- rapping over singing any day.
What do you wish to accomplish with your music?
Unlike where I was in my twenties, I am at a point in life where I no longer feel a need to defend myself or air my trials or tribulations to the world. Jason (jdwalker) and I have been together for 11 years, married for 7, we live in a great city, I work at my favorite non-profits in town, I have an incredible support system in my friends, family and community. I’ve matured and I can take care of myself entirely. Life is good and I wanted my music to reflect that. Therefore, I decided to have fun this time around. The new single is a different, more upbeat sound than what listeners might expect, but I think I achieved making accessible, listenable tracks without compromising quality. What I always hope to achieve with what I produce is for it to be music that a listener can go to and gain from.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your creative work? Are there any special memories that you would like to share with us?
I am most proud of trying new things, new sounds, new collaborations, new ways of performing. I am really proud of the people I manage to pair up with because they make me push harder and make my music better. Therese Workman, who is featured on the new single, is brilliant. Dilly Dilly can pick up any instrument and master is in minutes. alias has an inimitable ear for production and vocal mixing. I just did a show on my birthday in June where I performed with my friend Bianca who is a step dancer and she and her friend provided backing percussion with their bodies. That was a very special night. You can see it here:
Rounding up, any last words?
Thank you! Maybe one day I will make it to Sweden!
Monday, August 20, 2012
Every new release from WHY? is like a small version of Christmas, minus Disney and tons of food. It's been 3 years since Eskimo Snow dropped, and now it's soon time again. The new album Mumps, etc. is released on anticon on October 9th, and Sod in the Seed EP is a nice little appetizer leading up to that. And such a tasty little dish it is! 6 tracks of classic WHY? material. Yoni Wolf has long been my favourite lyricist, and here he continues in the good tradition of every day observations and poetic deep sea diving. The only bad thing about appetizers is that you want the main course to arrive faster than in a month and a half.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
F.Virtue, mostly known from his work together with DJ Emoh Betta has just released a 6 track EP. What strikes me at once is that CHINOOK is a really dark record. The word emo popped up in my head for a second, but this is something more. It might sound like a cliche, but this feels more reality than image and it's all the better for it. F. Virtue produces some of the tracks himself, and let people like Time Crisis and J57 handle the rest of the tracks. It's dark, a bit distorted and good. The only downside to the EP is that there's nothing that sticks out. Not a single track stays with me after listening to it. That doesn't make it bad, it just makes it less interesting than some other records out there at the moment.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Thursday, August 02, 2012
Time again for a new video from my man Isha. The track is taken from his album Call it a Lullaby. Not totally convinced by the format of the video, but nonetheless he makes me proud over and over again. Can't wait for the follow up!
Isha - Prince Of Dreams - Official music video from ISHA on Vimeo.
Isha - Prince Of Dreams - Official music video from ISHA on Vimeo.
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
Can't wait for this to drop on Oct 9th!
1. Jonathan's Hope 3:182. Strawberries 3:13
3. Waterlines 3:39
4. Thirteen On High 3:10
5. White English 2:56
6. Danny 1:29
7. Sod In The Seed 4:43
8. Distance 2:52
9. Thirst 2:29
10. Kevin's Cancer 2:25
11. Bitter Thoughts 2:48
12. Paper Hearts 4:14
13. As A Card 1:45
The first time I stumbled across anything with DenMother was when she released a split cassette with coyote clean up at the end of last year. Now she's back with a new tape on I had An Accident Records. Insides Out is all about disdainful, lonely electronic soundwaves combined with dreamy vocal layers. It's definitely headphones music, and just closing the door to the outside world. It's darkness at it's very best
Every time Michael asks me to do a double review I´m so delighted because it means more introduction to new music. Even if I´m a sucker for those lonely boys with acoustic guitars, I´m always up for a “broaden my music taste challenge” so here are some of my thoughts in that attempt this time.
The first few songs really put a smile on my face. It contained a roughness and an industrial feeling to it, and that is always something that goes well down my ear canals. It is also a nice soundtrack to the miserable summer that we have had so far.
But somewhere around track number 4, Stars, it slows down a bit and becomes mellower, and I have to say that disappointed me. It was the roughness that hooked me and here I just get bored to be honest. In the end it felt like it was just one of those records you find in an alternative store on the yoga, relaxation or “find your inner self” shelf on your mission to buy some more incense. Still worth a checkout because of the first songs, so off you go and prove me wrong.
Michael's rating: 5/10
Jessika's rating: 4/10