2014 CMJ Nominations are Open!

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Are you a person involved with CMJ/College radio? Do you like us at all? (just a little?) Then consider nominating us for the 2014 awards! Whether it’s “Best use of limited resources,” “Most creative programming,” or “most likely to inappropriately hit on me,” we’ve got to qualify for something that last one, at least.

Additionally, and more excitingly, the 2014 artist line-up for the festival has just been announced, and includes the Wytches, 2:54, Juan Wuaters, Porches, Saint Pepsi, and even GERARD WAY among others!

We’re #stoked.

Gerard

See you there! 

 

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In-Studio: Clipping. Live at WKDU 8/22/14

Before Clipping.’s Union Transfer gig with Shabazz Palaces last week, the LA-based trio came into the studio for a live session with us. The monster set includes seven songs separated into two tracks on our bandcamp site.

The session will be available to download for one week, and will stay streaming afterwards. Listen below!

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In-Studio: Tweens Live at WKDU (6/13/14)

Tweens came into the studio for a live session with us in June, and played five songs including a new unreleased track! Listen & download below.

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“Music is Universal”: An interview with Shabazz Palaces (August 22, 2014)

My friend Thomsen Cummings and I (Dr. Plotkin, if we haven’t met before) had the extreme pleasure of seeing Shabazz Palaces at the Union Transfer last Friday and were lucky enough to spend twenty minutes talking to them after their sound check. We headed out to the parking lot and listened to the Seattle-based duo, led by Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire, speak to us about their influences, their approach to creating music, and the future of Shabazz. They are currently touring their new album Lese Majesty, which you can check out on Sub Pop.

Left to right: Ishmael Butler (The Palaceer Lazaro Shabazz) and Tendai Maraire (image: Reality Check Berlin)

KDU: Just looking around, I’m seeing some interesting stuff here. What is that instrument on the back of your car?

TM: That is called an mbira and it originates from Zimbabwe.

KDU: Cool, can you tell me a little about it?

TM: I can tell you that where it derives from is a very spiritual place in Zimbabwe. It’s used to channel to the ancestors and to communicate with them and to communicate with other human beings. And also to party.

 KDU: Of course to party! I read that for your previous material, you guys would rehearse, perform and record, and then change of the recording as it went. On the new album, was there any approach to recording it?  Some of the lyrics and rapping kind of seem to go into the background.

IB: We don’t really subscribe to most notions of recording or approaches to music. So foreground, background, I understand what they mean in terms of the mix but not in terms of what one might focus on in any given song. It’s all one entity that’s moving forward sonically into your ears, and then hopefully into some categories and compartments of emotion.

We usually try and mix everything clear, so that there’s a certain undertow of subtle things, or sub-mixes if you will, that add to the groove. But to say the lyrics take the background, never. We’re rappers and we say everything we mean, but I understand what you’re saying. Sonically, you might hear it less loudly than you would in a normal thing but again, if you make music you should develop your own sound. It shouldn’t be a standard sound you try and fit into and that’s how we see it.

How Tendai parties (image: Twitter)

KDU: I was reading through the lyrics for They Come In Gold and I noticed a lot of contrasting ideas. The line “sepulchre, a stage alive by ghosts” seems to be hinting at a self-destructive nature, maybe about a lot of hip-hop music that’s out there.

IB: Some of it is self-destruction, some of it is destruction from outside forces that want to come in. Some want to moonlight inside our culture. They feel like because they dress up and wave their hands in a hip-hop style that they’re legitimate. And we just reject that notion. Self-destruction can be one destroying one’s self through some legitimate mechanism, but it can also be allowing destructive things to infiltrate something that should be held sacred. So that’s kind of what that song’s about.

KDU: I noticed you focus a lot on the idea of the self. Not in an attack on individualism, but you seem to be rapping against self-obsession.

IB: Well, it’s like this. Music has always been a universal thing. The individual thing is a directed plan by marketers in order to sell products. It’s not really individualism, it’s really everybody doing the same set of things disguised at individualism or told that. We’re not really trying to pick A or B in terms of what our platform is, we see it for what it is.

To have the calling of being a musician is a gift. We don’t really know where that’s from but we understand it as that. We don’t say it’s us making this music. We physically do it, the ideas come to us from somewhere, and we feel good to have the blessing of those ideas to come to us.

A lot of motherfuckers came before us that were just as good, if not better than us. So we understand where our place in the pantheon is, if you will. And we also know some motherfuckers that are hella filthy, but will never get the light of day – people we’re close to that haven’t experienced the notoriety, but have a lot of weight in our spheres of influence. We’re just seeing it for what it is, and that’s what you’re hearing in the music.

KDU: I’ve always been struck by the sound of the scream that runs through the entirety of An Echo From The Hosts That Profess Infinitum. How do you go about creating some of your trippier samples?

IB: You can come to a conclusion or a result of a sound in any way that you can. It’s not really by chance, but what happens is you record something or you sample something and you got all these processes at your fingertips. You can stack them, you can run them concurrently, you can turn them around, you can slow stuff down, speed it up… There’s an endless combination of things you can do to a sound. Also, whatever studio you’re in, whatever speakers you’re listening to, what headphones you’re using, it all affects how it might sound. When you’re doing it you’re not thinking “Okay I ran it through this, let me write that down. Then I ran it through that, let me write that down. And I had these headphones on…” The environment comes second to the instinct.

KDU: What are some musical acts that you’re listening to that are currently blowing your mind?

TM: I’ve been listening to this guy out of Zimbabwe called Jah Prayzah. And this kid out of Seattle called Porter Ray. Jah Prayzah plays contemporary Shona music [music from the Shona people of Zimbabwe] and Porter Ray does hip-hop.

IB: I like Ariel Pink, I think that’s the coolest shit I’ve heard in a while. I like the weirdness of it, the daringness of it, the creativity of it, and how all those things collude to make these songs that are poppy, but at the same time anti-pop.

KDU: What do you think the future holds for you guys?

IB: We’re always in a state of composing and recording. Right now, Tendai is working on videos for Chimurenga and we got videos for Shabazz coming out. It’s always about the proliferation of the instinct and the ideas that come from our instinct and just trying to share them. We been growing and there’s people that say they like what we do. There’s a conversation between them and us, where we put out some music and then we go on tour. We had a ceremonies of shows, we meet people, do shit like this, so we try and do our part by making some music and artwork. We got partners that are just dope. Cats that make clothes, cats that direct videos and films, so we look forward to working with them as well.

KDU: On the new album, you have a track with Catherine Harris-White from THEESATISFACTION, are you touring with them as well?

IB: No, that’s pretty rare. Obviously it’s fun as fuck when they’re around and we get to perform together. Hopefully we’ll get back through Philly, this is a good town to perform with them. We did that once at the Kung Fu Necktie, it was phenomenal.

KDU: This question has nothing to do with your music, or how you create it. If you were trapped in a room filled with food and you had to eat your way out—

IB: No, that’s a question I always ask people!

KDU: Oh, well then I definitely want to hear your answer then, you must have a good one!

IB: Watermelon man! Nice ripe watermelon. I ask girls that, seriously. But I say buried, buried alive under food. What would you want to eat your way out of? Is that your line too?

KDU: I think that opens the mental conversation a bit.

IB: It gives you a chance to see where someone’s coming from.

What are you going to do, eat your way out of a room of stew? (image: Baltimore Sun)

KDU: Thank  you so much for taking the time to have this interview with us. Do you have anything left you want to say?

IB: I just appreciate anybody listening and checking us out. If you get the chance, come see the show one of these days.

 

Check out Shabazz Palaces’ dope new album and catch them on tour at a venue near you.

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Bear in Heaven release trippy “Autumn” video

BIH’s latest album, Time is Over One Day Old is out now on Dead Oceans.

 

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by | August 26, 2014 · 2:50 pm

West Philly and Worldwide – Breaking it down with Matthew Law

Matthew Law FKA DJ PHSH is a man that really shouldn’t need an introduction.

He’s rocked pretty much every spot in Philly, and has been moving asses in clubs before he was even allowed to drink. He was the tour DJ for Dave Chappelle’s Oddball Comedy Tour, the Northeast champion of the 2013 Red Bull 3Style Contest, and has spun numerous highly acclaimed gigs including LA’s the Do-Over and Low End Theory.

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Matthew Law on the 1’s and 2’s at his July Friends and Fam party, as WKDU’s own DJ Lil’ Dave vibes out.
Photo cred: Tim Blackwell, Shots Fired

It seems like forever ago that I sat down with Matt, and since then, he’s recorded the official Roots Picnic Mixtape and opened up the annual PSK event for J. Rocc, Rich Medina, Cosmo Baker, Cash Money, and Questlove – amongst his normal crazy schedule.

Peep his dope set from PSK, and read our chat to get hype for his 3rd annual PHSH TANK Block Party this weekend.

Matthew Law LIVE at PSK 7.3.2014

CB: Who are you, and what do you do?

ML: I’m Matthew Law – you might know me from before as DJ PHSH. I’m a DJ, producer, vision guy – I have a lot of ideas.

CB: What were your first musical memories?

ML: My parents had a theatre company together, up until I was 14. I grew up with that, and also played violin for six years.

Growing up in West Philly in the 90s, the hip hop and alternative rock stuff was really poppin, so I remember that. My Dad liked the modern rock too, so we’d go on drives and listen to Y100 or WMMR and joke around. I still remember being like 7, and listening to Pearl Jam and making fun of Eddie Vedder with all the aaayyyyy-eee-yayy-yuhhh’s.

CB: Y100, RIP! I remember them making fun of Creed also.

ML: Oh Y100 would rag on Creed so hard.

It’s a weird segway – but I remember there being such a weird feeling of race separation once I started hearing Beastie Boys and Eminem on Y100, but not any other rap. I was like, “Oh so I guess if they’re white guys it’s OK for them to be on Y100?” I thought that was really strange, and even at 12, I boycotted them for like two months. My first concert was at Veterans Stadium with Dave Matthews Band, The Roots, and Santana. I was 10, and I came for Dave Matthews Band. I had no idea who The Roots were.

I don’t have any older siblings, so when it came to hip hop, the reason I probably attached to it so much, besides a few key people, was that I really had to discover it on my own, and make it my own.

CB: So how’d you get into DJing, and what was your first set up like?

ML: I saw Scratch, the documentary, and I was like, that’s what I wanna do, I wanna try it out. I didn’t really have anybody to show me anything up until I met Illvibe Collective. It was just watching Scratch over and over again.

It’s funny because on the special edition of it, Z-Trip gave a 20 minute tutorial on how to be a DJ for the most part. Last year, I was DJing at Output with Rich Medina, Questlove, and Z-Trip, and I was like, “Yo, you were my first DJ teacher!”

My first set up was the Stanton STR 880 DJ in a box. The first pair of turntables I saw in person was from this kid I went to Hebrew school with, he got those for his Bar Mitzvah. His Bar Mitzvah was after mine, and when I saw his, I was like, “Man, I shouldn’t have gotten a guitar!”

Matthew Law, King Britt, and Questlove

Two generations of amazing West Philly artists unite – Matthew Law, King Britt, and Questlove.
Photo from @djphsh Instagram

CB: How did you start to build up a name for yourself in Philly and beyond?

ML: I started DJing the Gathering, the longest running hip hop event in Philadelphia. When I was 18, I had my first consistent gig in a club at Medusa Lounge on Tuesdays. I didn’t try to drink, and I think I got a way with a lot of stuff because I knew I was there to work. I wasn’t there to party – I was there to make the party happen.

Then in 2009, everything blew up with my first party, Superdope. Nose Go, Yis Goodwin, had a magazine called McJawn with Gwen Vo, and Leah Kauffman had just started the blog Phrequency. Sammy Slice had his party Mo Money Mo Problems, and while we were somewhat in competition, as far as the kids that were our age, we all were working together in some way.

I started Superdope when I was 20, still not drinking, and on my 21st birthday, there was a thunderstorm. I thought nobody was gonna come out, and we had over 350 people that night.

CB: How was Low End Theory when you spun out there?

ML: Low End Theory was great. It was the first time in a while that I understood that a large crowd of people might not be there to dance, cuz it’s beat heads. So they’re just looking at you like, yeah, you might hear a ‘wooh’.

CB: Let’s talk about the Matthew Law name change.

ML: My full name is Matthew Lawrence Fishman-Dickerson. I came up with DJ PHSH in 10th grade chemistry – I just needed a name. I’m producing now, and I don’t want people to get the wrong idea about what I’m capable of, so that’s why I’m going with Matthew Law.

Plus, a lot of my mentors go by their names, Statik is now Mr. Sonny James, King Britt’s real name is King Britt, Rich Medina’s real name is Rich Medina, and I thought I’d get on the bus.

CB: Tell us what to expect from your new EP.

ML: I’m currently working on it. It’s a storytelling record. Originally it was like oh I’m breaking up from DJ PHSH, but it ended up being like oh I’m breaking up with a girl and then going into a new relationship, new girl. Each track is it’s own thing – it’s a score to my own short film in my mind. I just got a bass player on it, there’s some funky samples and modern funk electronics, and a slow jam with a really ill guitar solo from Joe Jordan.

CB: Favorite closing track:

ML: Between two records.

I’m always the first one there and last one to leave, somebody better be going home with something.

Mos Def – The Pannies

Or, Jaco Pastorius – A Portrait of Tracy

It was sampled for SWV’s – The Rain.
*editor’s note – I linked to the live version of this song because it’s the shit*

CB: What’s something interesting about you outside of music?

ML: I grew up watching a lot of anime. Not like oh Pokemon’s on, Dragonball Z’s on – no, I watched Akira in a dark room by myself when I was 11. I saw Ninja Scroll when I was 9. I think it’s really funny when people try to rag on anime and act like that shit’s for nerds – it was the foundation for your entire childhood! All those cartoons you used to watch were outsourced to Asia, stop bullshitting. Do not front. I take the strongest approach possible when it comes to defending watching good anime.

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Hudson Project Recap

So I’m sitting here on Monday morning and struggling to recap the last 72 (ish?) hours. It’s a lot to sum up in a blog post, and I’m beat.

I wasn’t in shape before, and three nights of sleeping on hard ground at Winston Farm after hours of dancing my ass off have taken their toll. A lot has been and will be said about The Hudson Project, but it was definitely an experience felt nowhere else.

Thursday: Midnight Drive
Peter (of Hear Hear Mix), Kirsten (of The Cat’s Pajamas), and I all drove up from Philadelphia Thursday evening. The drive was mostly uneventful, other than being in a huge hurry because our press contact told us that we wouldn’t be able to get access after midnight.

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There’s a reason this picture was of Peter and not the speedometer.

Direct quote from PR person: “If it was a more reasonable time, we would have been able to make arrangements.”
Midnight!? Really? As if anyone in Saugerties was going to sleep all weekend. Their petulant inability to “make arrangements” really freaked us out, but we ended up getting access just fine.

This miscommunication would not be the last. Security didn’t let anyone into the festival grounds until 4AM, and it wasn’t clear why. We set up camp and crashed, hard.

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DJ Kirsten was very asleep. Also note Peter’s cardboard sleeping pad.

 

Friday: Waiting For The Drop

Highlights of Friday’s sets: Lindsay Lowend was great. Moon Hooch laid down a whole lotta echo on their funky dueling sax setup, making their live show a lot more dubby than I expected. I briefly caught up with the power trio of Wenzl McGowen, Mike Wilbur, and James Muschler backstage. The interview was short – here’s the 30-second version:

WKDU: Your instrumentation features drums and dueling saxophones. If you were to have another band featuring dueling instruments, what would they be?
WM: Dueling rottweilers.
MW: Probably not the most [PETA]-friendly answer, but yeah. Rottweilers.
JM: More drums.
WKDU: Awesome.
Dr. Dog played a perfect set. Later, Emancipator, Bro Safari, and the Flaming Lips closed out my night of diverse tunes. I missed Flying Lotus, but apparently his set was foggy and spaced-out; a propos for his midnight to 2am slot.

Saturday: Bass Cave

We didn’t make it in the venue until 4, to see Flatbush Zombies. After that, Peter and I hunkered down with some chicken wings at the Catskill Cave tent for Bit Funk, Jacques Green, and Tokimonsta. Afterwards, we met back up with Shannen (of Rock Bottom), Kirsten, and some others for Big Gigantic.

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Big Gigantic overlooks the massive main stage crowd. Courtesy Kevin Earle – MCP Presents

The rain came first in the middle of Big Gigantic’s set. A truly euphoric moment. The rain poured as Big G tore into drops with saxophonic ferocity. It really was a sight to see.

Kendricklamar

Kendrick Lamar during his set at the Hudson Project. Photo courtesy of Kevin Earle – MCP Presents

Kendrick Lamar played all his usual hits, but there was something missing from his set. It didn’t help that he ended twenty minutes early, but his attempts at audience participation didn’t seem well received. I dunno, it might have just been me. Gold Panda was chillen’ as usual. I closed out the night with a healthy portion of Four Tet.

 

Sunday: The Floodson Project
The majority of Sunday was spent doing two things: waking up, and packing up. After that was all done, we managed to catch most of Chrome Sparks, which was awesome. They played a significant amount of new material, and returned for a surprise encore. “We’ve never played this song before” is definitely one of the most exciting things a performing artist can say.

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Chillen to Chromesparks. Photo courtesy Peter Liu

Peter and I were throwing it down in Catskill Cave to Issac Tichauer. We decided to go for a food break, when all acts stopped playing and a voice came over the soundsystem announcing an evacuation and delay. Holy crap! We met up with Shannen and Kirsten, and made friends with the crew who set up one of the stage tents. Security kicked everyone out of the campgrounds, and we waited out the storm in the tent crew’s box truck.

 

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Party in the Penske.

These guys were awesome. I’m reminded of the Henry Rollins quote – “They were there hours before you building the stage, and they will be there hours after you leave tearing it down.” Super down to earth.

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Mudslide disco!

What followed was total anarchy. Nobody, even staff, was sure if the festival was still on. On hills between campgrounds, mudslides started to break out. Generators and portable soundsystems brought by campers, vendors, and whoever else ensured the party would go on. Security lines were broken. Fences were getting torn down. It was clear that nobody was gonna turn down for Mother Nature.

We were getting ready to leave when we stumbled upon an impromptu dance party in the middle of the RV camping area. The occupants of a purple school bus (The Quetzal Bus, @thequetzalbus on twitter) were burnin’ it down with fat beats. In particular, I was able to track down this remix that made it into the set. Butts were shakin’. The party was not over.

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The Quetzal Bus.

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Revelers lower a makeshift shelter over the DJ booth at the Quetzal Bus.

 

We headed home once it started raining again. Our car didn’t get stuck in the muddy parking lot, but many, many others did. Reports came back on Monday of local farmers pulling out cars with tractors. As of Tuesday morning, there were still people stuck on Winston Farm. Damn.

The Hudson Project’s inaugural year was a rough one, but nearly everyone I talked to had fun. With a stacked lineup, decent amenities, and a beautiful venue, The Hudson Project had a lot to offer. Cancelling the last day was probably a smart move, considering the safety implications. It was also just announced that ticket holders will be getting refunded for the last day. Very appropriate, considering the huge amount of artists who were cancelled.
How was your time at the Hudson Project? Let us know.

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