Pre-Record Store Day chat with Icebird (RJD2 & Aaron Livingston)

RJD2 & Aaron Livingston

RJD2 & Aaron Livingston in our record library. Photos by Gabe Coffey (lostalgian.tumblr.com)

Everyday is Record Store Day for a lot of us, including RJD2 and Aaron Livingston, who recorded a brilliant album together in 2011 as Icebird. I had the privilege to sit down with them in our studio last week to chat and play some records ahead of the Record Store Day vinyl release of their album The Abandoned Lullaby.

“I feel weird saying I have a lot of records when I’m sitting next to RJ. I have a few records,” said Aaron.

RJ responded, “But I don’t have a lot of records, I don’t have records like Rich Medina. I have a modest record collection when I consider the heavy duty record collectors. I don’t have a storage unit -there’s a defining line and I’m a non-storage unit guy.”

CB: “Are you still actively collecting records?”

RJ: “Yeah, but I’m not a fiend like I once was. In the mid-to-late nineties, I would hit some kind of record store six days a week. It got to the point where I distinctly remember there were sections of this place called Used Kids in Columbus, Ohio and I knew the order of the records that I hadn’t bought, so I could skim through certain sections in like 10 seconds and just move on. Ohio in ’96 you could count all the “digger kids” on two hands in the whole city, there was a whole lot of records to be had.”

CB: “So why now did you decided to put out the vinyl for Icebird, The Abandoned Lullaby?”

RJ: “When I put it out on my label, we didn’t know what to expect at the time. Vinyl can be a big risk on the label side, especially when you’re rolling out a new group, so we just went with CD and digital when it came out. I had a lot of people saying, “This is one of my favorite records you were a part of,” and at one point in time a discussion got started by Ryan Schwab about working with Mad Dragon and doing some co-projects. One of the things that was put on the table was doing a vinyl of the Icebird record. It was always kind of a thorn in my side that there wasn’t a vinyl version of this record, so when we saw Record Store Day was coming up, it just made sense to go for it. It’s got two bonus cuts, double vinyl, gold recods, nice gatefold, expanded artwork. As far as vinyl releases on my label, it’s by far the nicest one that I’ve put out.”

AL: “It’s orange by the way.”

We avoided a “dress”-like discussion, but a discussion of orange vs. gold did occur.

RJ: “We were deciding which track from our project to play, and this was the first track we were both thinking.”

Icebird – “King Tut”

CB: “Do either of you guys have a good digging or sentimental record story?”

AL: “Records are how I really got into music deeply. When I was 12 or 13 years old I was bored at my grandparents’ house and I found this closet that was full of records. The thing that sticks out to me is that I saw Parliament Mothership Connection and I just remember staring at this picture and it made me see my family differently. They were hanging out listening to this dude with silver boots jumping out of a spaceship.”

Parliament, Mothership Connection cover

Parliament “Mothership Connection” cover, silver boots and all.

RJ: “This story is what I call the “big dig”. I’m gonna put the year at ’99, there was a place on the Southeast side of Columbus, Ohio called Robert’s Records. It was a distributor for all the retail shops in Columbus, but it was also its own store. At some point in time, the guy decided to sell the store, so all the LPs were $1 and all the 45s were $.25. I started going to this place and I was doing five-six-seven hour days and I went through all the LPs and pulled out everything I wanted. Then there was this room that was 12′ X 15′ and it was just boxes of un-arranged 45s stacked up to the ceiling with no rhyme or reason to them. I start in on them and I’m pulling a bunch of Ultimate Breaks and Beats caliber things out – Eddie Bo, The Meters, stuff like that. I think that I’m killing it, everything’s a quarter and it’s all un-played records. I’m walking out of the store one day and there’s a three foot counter on a hinge, and I’m like “What’s behind there?” And the guy says, “Oh that’s the 45 room.” I thought I was in the 45 room! The 45 room was alphabetized and it was damn near the size of a basketball court. There was one six foot high, four foot wide shelf that was just the James Brown section of the B’s. At that point, I completely lost it. I start in on that room and then like four days later I go back at 11 am and the door’s locked. There’s a dude on the other side of the door and he’s just shaking his head going “Nope!” I came back another day, same thing – somebody came in and bought the stock of the store when I was in the process of trying to clear it out.”

RJ Aaron 3

RJ & Aaron in storytelling mode in our studio.

Amy Winehouse – “You Know I’m No Good”

RJ: “I picked this Amy Winehouse tune because to me this was kinda like the pace car for a modern drum sound. When this record came out, I said this is arguably the best modern drum sound I’ve heard on record in the last 20 years. Those things are really important to me as a hip hop breakbeat nerd. Every time something like that happens it’s kind of like a significant moment for me.”

CB: “Do you remember the first record you bought?”

AL: “I didn’t buy records for so long. The first CD I bought was Santana’s Greatest Hits. I was taking a stab at it and I feel like there weren’t that many CDs or something. I knew about CDs a long time before I got one.”

RJ “I have very very vivid memories of listening to the first UTFO cassette tape in the alley behind my house where I lived in Columbus, Ohio memorizing the words on a boombox. Maybe I was scared that my Mom was going to say, “What is this nonsense?” Records were out at that point, but I was mostly buying cassettes and dubbing songs off the radio.”

UTFO album

Cover of UTFO’s self titled first album.

CB: “Some of the records from Record Store Day this year have already been seen on eBay. What do you guys make of the record buying / selling market?”

AL: “Sometimes with a lot of the records you want, people have them and they’re not letting them go.”

RJ: “That’s why you need to support your record store, mostly to just buy the records that you want. Because you never know when stuff goes out of print or it’s just not gonna be available. Before Diplo got a deal or anything, he was basically a record dealer. Prior to moving to Philly, I used to do flea market trips with this guy Tony Larsen, and he had this crew with him which included Wes (Diplo), Ben and another guy.  We’d all cram into a Nissan Altima at 6 am and go out to flea markets. That was their thing, they’d buy and flip records.”

De La Soul – “Rock Co.Kane Flow” feat. DOOM

RJ: “One of, if not my favorite, working hip hop producers, Jake One with De La Soul and Doom.

Nas – “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”

RJ: “I put this in the playlist because it was a record that dominated my senior year of high school. When it first came out, I didn’t run to the store, it was one of those things that I kind of got beaten into submission if I’m totally being honest about it. It’s not that I didn’t like it, it was just culturally inescapable. You would hear it in every car. Then through sheer repetition, it kind of just sunk in.”

AL: “I think Illmatic is a pretty perfect record. I was living in New Jersey at the time and I would go up to New York and it was months before it came out and everyone was talking about it. People would be like, “So it’s cold out here today. Yo, when’s that Nas record dropping?” It was like “Hello”. So I was kind of prepared for it and caught up in the hype. But I’m still listening to it now.”

Bob James – “Night on Bald Mountain”

RJ: “This record has done so much for me – from engineering, to composition, to playing. It’s another one that I didn’t discover when I was a kid, but is just baked into my musical DNA. There isn’t a 45 second stretch in that song where I can get bored and that’s the thing that I’ve taken away from it. Going back to “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” and the mid-90s where I started making records, the guys at the top of the heap were DJ Premier, Large Professor, Prince Paul. Those guys could make a beat that was so effective and so good, like “NY State of Mind”, where it’s just a loop and it works for three and a half minutes because it’s so good. It’s virtually impossible to do that if you’re just a normal human being. So very early on I realized I’m gonna have to have some bells and whistles or something. When I first started making records, my approach was “Premier’s one dope loop can be a song. I’m gonna need five of my best loops to make one song.” The other part of it was I saw a lane where you could take the nuts and bolts of how rap records are made but envision it in a way that was more intricate in terms of arrangement and composition.”

RJ Aaron 2

The guys taking in some of our record library. Maybe we can get them to come back later for a more extensive dig.

CB: “What is some music that people might not expect you to listen to?”

AL: “Black Sabbath maybe? Not sure what people would expect from me.”

Black Sabbath – “The Wizard”

RJ: “When I’m in the mood, definitely hard metal like Mastodon. There’s a group from Columbus, Ohio called Dead Sea that would probably qualify as death metal and they’re awesome. I don’t know what people expect me to listen to. My son has thoroughly ran Songs In The Key of Life into the ground – and I’m happy about that. I’ve listened to it, including the bonus 45, probably over 300 times in the past 4 months or so. We went to the Stevie Wonder concert in the fall and then after that, literally everyday, we would do the whole record front to back between four to seven times a day, seven days a week. He’d skip around too – he doesn’t like the first song. We’re not a religious family, but his favorite song is “Have A Talk With God”. So then he gets to a point where he starts asking, “Hey, what is “Have a Talk With God” about?” He’s three.”

Nick Drake – “Things Behind the Sun”

RJ: “From an engineering standpoint, this is probably my favorite acoustic guitar sound of all time.”

We wound down the show with an eclectic mix of some classic records before ending with “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane.

John Coltrane – “A Love Supreme Part 1″

So in conclusion, RJD2 & Aaron Livingston are the shit – super nice guys who definitely know their music and are super passionate about it. The Icebird record is really awesome and I highly recommend you check it out and purchase a vinyl copy of it on Record Store Day if you can beat the diggers to it. The guys were even nice enough to record a station ID for us!

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TONIGHT (4/16) on Drexel’s campus is the vinyl release party for Icebird’s The Abandoned Lullaby. Free refreshments, merch and a chance to win signed vinyl!

https://www.facebook.com/events/941891782517467/

Support your local record store this Saturday (4/18) for Record Store Day!

WKDU Philadelphia

91.7 FM | wkdu.org

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An obscure Israeli mixtape from Juval Haring (of Vaadat Charigim)!

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Juval Haring– from shoegaze-psych Israeli band Vaadat Charigim– was nice enough to create a super awesome playlist of obscure Israeli music for us! The Tel-Aviv band will release their new album, Sinking as a Stone, May 5th on Burger Records

Listen to a new track from the album and Juval’s playlist below.

Plastic Venus – “Malach”

Ashkara Metim – “Anachnu Hashampania”

Elad Zeev – “Al Tefached Mehamachshev”

Mora Chayelet – “Pachot Amiti”

Ed Turner Vehadanilof Center – “Shefel”

Sadranei Hadeshe – “Hachatul Sheli”

Subway Suckers – “Extacy”

Hameyutarim – “Kalaniot”

Hamahapecha Hameyuteret – “Halaliot”

Charlie Megira – “Nechshalt Beahava”

Pag Adir – 3 songs

Elegant – “Hakol Mitbaher”

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Natalia Zamilska: “All or Nothing”

by Maxwell Stetson

In this National Geographic article, neuroscientist Valorie Salimpoor looks for answers about her personal, euphoric reaction to the Johannes Brhams’s song, “Hungarian Dance No. 5”. She wondered how and why this music moved her and the processes it took within her brain. These questions led her to Thalia Wheatley, a Dartmouth psychologist, who offered an explanation.

Thalia found “[that] every time you listen to music, you constantly activate [musical] templates that you’ve [created] that predict the reward you’ll feel from a given piece.”

In her opinion, “new music is presumably rewarding, not only because it fits implicitly learned patterns, but because it deviates from those patterns, however slightly.” I believe this constant template reformation and pattern shifting is an aspect to be loved, especially when it occurs organically. When this occurs, it can progress your tastes and emotions into a new and unknown fields, allowing you to think and feel differently.

I begin with this to highlight a similar joy I felt when listening to the pioneering artist we’re featuring today.

When I first heard the culturally shattering sounds of Natalia Zamilska, my musical template was completely rearranged in wonder. Her creation of raw and heavy techno, noise, electronica and modern world music was new, artistic and incredibly exciting to me.

“Duel 35” was the first track of Zamilska’s that made me a huge fan. It consists of the toughest booming techno sound, both danceable and sexy. The tribal chants and noisy pops later in the song add to its power. The sound, combined with an incredibly artistic and creative video, made me feel like Zamilska was creating art, not just music.

Natalia admitted she didn’t expect much to happen after releasing “Quarrel,” a 2014 single,  yet the feedback was so affirmative that she felt like she had to finish an album as soon as possible. “Untune” was then created during live shows, as she used the audience members as her collaborators, testing various musical creations on them. Since then, her recognition has been accumulating worldwide. The Quietus, an art/culture online magazine out of London, rated “Untune” as one of the best tracks of 2014, while Vevo ranked “Duel 35” as #15 out of the top 100 songs from their “Other Side of Music” for 2014. She’s since accumulated 7,200 Facebook likes and 1,700 Soundcloud followers and was featured on Dior’s Toyko Fashion Show, 2015.

It’s an honor and a pleasure to share this amazing interview with you! Here’s Booty Shakers’ exclusive interview with the incredible talent that is Natalia Zamilska! Continue reading

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Rich Medina’s ALL VINYL Hot Mix set in GIFs

Rich Medina is a straight up legend. He’s one of the few DJs out there that can bring crowds to a frenzy with literally any style of music. We were blessed to have him come through our studio with a bag stuffed full of soul, funk, psych and African vinyl on a seriously cold and chilly Thursday night (that also was the NBA trade deadline).

spinning-deck

Rich Medina, searching for the perfect beat. All GIFs (cinemagraphs actually) by Gabe Coffey. http://lostalgian.tumblr.com

This Hot Mix was a reunion in a few ways.
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Kevin Devine Live @ WKDU 2/07/15

Singer/songwriter Kevin Devine stopped by the studio a few weeks back before his show with Into It. Over It. and Laura Stevenson at the Church Sanctuary. Listen to the three-song set below!

Some photos of Kevin at the Church are below. For more, see Under The Gun Review.

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Dan Savage talks sex-positivity, his love of musical theater, and round two of his HUMP! tour (coming to Philly 2/21)

By Victoria Powell

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Dan Savage, courtesy of TIME

I had the chance to speak with Dan Savage: activist, love & sex columnist extraordinaire, and host of America’s “best and dirtiest” amateur porn film festival, Hump! Dan will be bringing the film festival to Philly on Saturday, February 21st, with the first showing starting at 6:00 pm, followed by showings at 8:15 pm and 10:30 pm. It is an 18+ event and tickets are still available. We’ll also be giving away tickets on air during Raha World and The Stardust Revue.

Victoria: What was your college major?
Savage: I went to University of Illinois in Champagne Urbana and I majored in Theater.

Victoria: How did you realize you wanted to be a love advice columnist? And how did you come up with the idea for Hump!?
Savage: Well, I sort of accidentally became a sex advice columnist. I met someone who was starting a newspaper and he was telling me about it, and I said oh you should have an advice column because everybody reads those. You see that Q & A format – you can’t not read it. And he said “that’s good advice… why don’t you write the advice column?”

Even when I started writing the advice column I wasn’t really an advice columnist yet, at first the whole thing was just a joke. I was a gay guy writing an advice column for straight people about straight sex – the idea was I would jokingly treat straight sex and straight relationships with the same contempt and revulsion that straight advice columnists had always treated gay sex and gay relationships. And so for the first six months to a year I was just horsing around and I started getting so many letters and it kind of, without my ever really asking, turned into a real advice column against my will! That’s how I got to be a relationship columnist, by accident.

Hump! was an idea of a friend of mine who started The Stranger where my column originated; a friend of mine and I – we just started joking that we should put an ad in the paper that we’re doing a call for submissions for an amateur porn festival, to see what we’d get in the mail, or whether we’d get anything. It took a long time to convince the publisher to let us do this because he didn’t think it would work. And we got tons of really great and funny and weird submissions and really humane submissions, like really good, humanizing porn. And then we had to go through with it and have the festival so we announced we were having a porn film festival. The question then became: would people come and sit in a dark movie theater next to strangers and watch porn the way their grandparents did? The answer was yes! Tons of people came to the theaters. Hump! has never been people masturbating in their seats sort of a porn screening. More of a celebratory, diversity sex, “we’re all in this together” festival. People came and loved it and a lot of people who were out there this year made films for the next year and Hump! just kept growing and getting bigger. We took it to Portland and started doing it simultaneously in Portland and Seattle and people in other cities kept saying they wanted it to come to them. And so for the first time last year we took Hump! out on the road and this year will be the second time.

hump

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Starkey & Dev79 on their “anti-genre” STREET BASS

Two of Philadelphia’s electronic music veterans, Starkey and Dev79, came to the WKDU studio and spun a killer guest mix last Thursday. We recorded the mix and the guys posted it up for you to listen back. In between turns mixing, I got a chance to chat with the DJ/producers/label bosses about their history in Philadelphia’s electronic music scene.

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