Interview // Flamingosis

Flamingosis

At only 23 years old, Aaron Velasquez, aka Flamingosis, has been producing some of the most incredible electronic music in the game right now. He’s been at it for the past seven years now, curating the silkiest smooth jazz, nostalgic hip-hop beats, and uniquely refashioned remixes of popular artists like Kanye West and Rich Boy.  His productions are expertly created with so much emotion that it literally gives me the good kind of chills that run right down my spine.

Velasquez actually grew up surrounded by family with eclectic taste in music and who also fostered an environment of creative innovation.  Velasquez’s father and uncle were both five time world freestyle Frisbee champions and Flamingosis, the name Velasquez eventually adopted as his DJ and production alias, was actually the name of a unique freestyle Frisbee move that was created by his father.  In an interview with Artistic Manifesto, Velasquez explains “I guess there’s a parallel between music and freestyle Frisbee.  My dad would see a trick and would then try to master that trick and make it his own, so you could say that’s like my approach – I’ll hear a sample, take it and make my own thing.”

For a really long time, I thought Velasquez hailed from somewhere in California.  I mean, he had to, right?!  His sound is way too breezy to not be from a state where there are palm trees lining every block, every day is warm and sunny, and everybody has a laid-back, endless summer kind of vibe.  But he currently resides in his hometown of Morristown, New Jersey.  Go figure.

Today when you think about New Jersey’s presence in the music world, Jersey club is often considered one of the state’s main musical exports.  It’s a super bombastic, hyperactive sound and if a producer has any decent skills in the studio, he or she could potentially produce a few relevant remixes and put themselves on the map pretty easily.  When I asked him why he took the road less traveled, Velasquez admits that he “didn’t even know Jersey Club was a thing here ‘til a year ago.”

And it makes sense.  His dad owns a solid record collection that spanned genres from funk to soul to rock to reggae, further compelling Velasquez to collect influences from alternative styles of music rather than the mainstream.  In high school he mostly listened to hip-hop, R&B, jazz, and electronica from artists like Daft Punk, Common, and Mos Def.  And as he graduated to his college years, he moved on to include expert beatmakers like J Dilla, Flying Lotus, and Mad Lib.  So in his productions today, you can absolutely hear where he’s worked in the styles of his favorite influences.

Judging by his consistently impressive output, where quality and quantity have a direct correlation, Velasquez has no problem getting down to business when it’s time to create.  Working with just a laptop and a midi controller, he currently has two avenues he takes when he constructs a song.  “Sometimes I’ll hear a song I like and then [I’ll] take certain sections of that tune and build around it with my own production,” he explains.  “The other process I have is make a drum loop and go through trial and error with a bunch of different samples until there is a sample that I think clicks with my drum loop.”

Even better, Velasquez now has a myriad of worldwide platforms through which he can release his productions, hone his craft, and network with other like-minded individuals.  Rootnote Collective released Brother, his collaborative EP with A Sol Mechanic;  Keats Collective is home to Flamingosis, his very first LP, and his latest, Kahunastyle; and he’s recently started collaborating with The Freq Show, which promises to showcase New Jersey’s finest producers.

Velasquez claims Kahunastyle, his latest full-length album, is his favorite album he’s made so far.  “Expect Kahunastyle to be a very eclectic record,” he promises.  “It has hip-hop, disco, funk, trap, footwork, and Jersey club influences.”

After Kahunastyle drops on 2/16 via Keats Collective, Flamingosis and Moon Bounce hit the road for a six-date winter tour spanning locations from Providence to Indianapolis.  Expect Velasquez’s live performance to be just as transcendent and unique as his Flamingosis productions.  “I usually start off the show with some beat boxing, and then I transition into my electronic set,” he explains.  “I try to make my live sets really eclectic, too [and] throw in down-tempo stuff, hype and upbeat stuff, dancy stuff, [and] funk.  Hopefully I’ll throw some live visuals into the mix soon as well.”

The hype surrounding the release of Kahunastyle has been vibrant and well-deserved.  With Flamingosis, Velasquez has already successfully created a style of music that is so craveable that the time elapsed between releases never feels short enough.  It’s been just over a year since Flamingosis has been released and with a ton of singles and a collaborative EP already under his belt since then, I asked Velasquez how he feels he’s evolved since then.  “I think I have become more versatile.  I have produced a wide range of tunes [of] different styles and BPMs, and that’s what I wanted to accomplish with this record.”

Interview // Live from New York, It’s Jared Scharff!

Pearl Lion

So, before the holidays I get an email from a guy named Jared Scharff who claims he’s the guitarist for the Saturday Night Live band.  Color me skeptical, I’m like, “Yeah fucking right.”  But I checked him out, did my research, and it turns out, he really is the guitarist for the Saturday Night Live band.  And here he is in my inbox pedaling a side project called Pearl Lion, his own unique exploration of many of his favorite ambient and indie rock influences.

Scharff is currently playing his eighth season of Saturday Night Live.  He was originally recommended for the guitarist gig by Dr. Luke, one of the former guitarists for the Saturday Night Live band and an even more legendary producer and songwriter for pop stars like Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, and Avril Lavigne, to name a few.  Long story short, Scharff met with Lenny Pickett, the bandleader, and spent about three hours chatting and auditioning for the spot.  Scharff was then invited back to the rehearsal studio to play with the entire rhythm section.  Out of only three other guitarists in the running, Scharff was chosen to be guitarist of the Saturday Night Live band.  Now you can see him every Saturday night on your television screen as he rocks out on the guitar and laughs at all the hilarious sketches.

Drake

(Here’s Drake aka Yung Garnier Fructis on SNL and there’s Scharff with his guitar behind him on our right!)

While he describes the atmosphere at Saturday Night Live as “structured and unstructured” all at the same time (he claims “We definitely have a schedule, but stuff gets moved around constantly all day long.”), Pearl Lion is only bound by his own curiosity and expectations.  When he was younger, he remembers seeing The Allman Brothers at The Beacon Theater in New York City and realized then that they were “always exploring and creating” and that’s when he realized he wanted to be a guitarist for a living.  So Pearl Lion, in which he gets to play guitar and explore sounds, songwriting, drum programming, and production, is “a fully realized version of [that vision] for [him].”

To me, Scharff’s productions already create a very specific atmosphere.  The first release from Pearl Lion is called “On My Way Home”, which stays true to the title and truly reminds me of coming home after a long chaotic night out with friends when you finally find peace and quiet in your retreat from the night.  “On My Way Home” is one of ten songs slated to be released through two opposing EPs, Light and Dark, with this track being on the Light EP.  Scharff expects to release both EPs this year, so keep watch for them.

Scharff realizes that instrumental music isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but he remains optimistic about its reception.  With his own undeniable talent and influences from Flying Lotus, Sigar Ros, and Bon Iver, I believe Scharff can really do something great here with Pearl Lion.  We both agreed that instrumental music and its lack of lyrical direction allows the listener to paint their own picture and sometimes, that’s really where the fun begins.

What I found to be most fascinating about Scharff is that he already has a musician’s dream job, yet he still makes time to explore his own passion project.  Every Saturday he shows up to Studio 8H at NBC Headquarters in New York City and spends his day preparing for Saturday Night Live, one of the longest running television programs in history since its debut in 1975.  With legendary hosts like Steve Martin, Joe Pesci, and Tom Hanks; a myriad of musical guests ranging from Kanye West to Hall & Oates to Gil Scott-Heron (and everything of relevance in between); and a hilarious club of writers and cast members that has fostered talents like Tina Fey, Will Ferrell, and Chris Farley, there is no denying that Saturday Night Live has proven to be a breeding ground for talent from all angles.

Justin

SNL only recruits the very best to join the ranks and then they send them off into the world even better than they were before.  So it baffled me that Scharff was still on a mission towards fulfillment when he has already (arguably) “made it”.  When I ask him if he feels like he has, in fact, “made it”, he counters, “What’s ‘made’ it?  I never feel like that and I don’t think I ever will.”

It made me think wonder if or when we can finally say we’re done with exploring and improving and chasing our dreams.  Scharff made a great point when he said “We do what we do.  Life changes and we change with it.  We make new goals [and] new aspirations.  We go for that – maybe we achieve it, maybe we don’t, but [it] just keeps moving.”

After talking with Scharff, I’ve decided that it’s all about being genuine and true to yourself no matter what.  Whether you find yourself enjoying your dream job or still wildly blazing your own trail towards your vision of success, there’s always going to be a part of you that feels the urge to express your own unique self.  This is where you gotta keep it real.  Sometimes you can do that simultaneously in your main line of work – I call those people “the lucky ones”- and other times you just have to listen to what your creative mind is trying to say and see where the adventure will take you.

And that’s exactly what Scharff is doing here with Pearl Lion – embracing his talents, harnessing his creativity, and exploring new territory in every crevice of his own musical vision.  Scharff says, “I did this for me.  I needed to get back to that place, that perfectly honest place, and make inspiring music that I wanted to hear.  If people like it, that’s a major bonus.”

Interview // Astronomar

Astronomar

You never really expect international DJs or experimental electronic music to be amongst Alaska’s main exports, but Astronomar bridges the gap between his home state and the rest of the mainland with energizing electricity. With a background in hip-hop and turntablism, Astronomar (aka Marlon Lumba) has proven himself to be one hell of a DJ.  So good, in fact, that he was just recruited by AM Only, a highly-respected booking agency with an incredible roster of artists including Disclosure, Craze, and Skrillex.  And on top of it all, he’s one of the innovators behind one of the most consistently dope record labels, Main Course.

Astronomar’s remix of Wax Motif and Neoteric’s “Go Deep” sounded gigantic (!!) – enough to fill outer space – but Skrillex found plenty of room for it in his Essential Mix for BBC Radio 1 in 2013, and just like that, labeled Astronomar as a force to be reckoned with.  But it was in 2012 he caught my attention with his “H3Y I C U PERCUL8-10”, an insane remix of Cajmere’s “Percolator”, a house track that has been a staple in club music sets here in Baltimore since I was in middle school.  Honestly, I didn’t even realize people were still fucking with that song so it was a pretty dope discovery for me and definitely landed him a spot on my radar.

Now, with his friends Bot (from Crookers) and Neoteric, Astronomar runs Main Course, one of the coolest dance music record labels in the game right now. Main Course is hella dope, yall. They’re constantly searching on the fringe of dance music for the world’s most hard-hitting sounds and they’re generous enough to bring them to us for free (for the whole first month after its release)!  And in between Main Course releases are small and more frequent releases appropriately called Snacks, which allows them to showcase music more immediately rather than waiting to compile an official release.  So, no matter which way it comes, they’re releasing quality music at light speed.  (If you think you’ve got what it takes to forge a partnership with Main Course, here’s how to get your demo to their ears.)

Astronomar and the crew at Main Course aim to represent the very best out there in electronic music of all styles and have graciously shown a lot of love to Baltimore club music.  As a person who’s grown up listening to club music, it’s so refreshing to see a reputable label feel compelled to release diverse interpretations of Baltimore’s unique sound by other inspired producers from different cities all around the world.  Their affinity for the sound extends far back to the classics, as evidenced by their releases, which showcase remixes of legendary Baltimore club music artists like KW Griff, Debonair Samir, and Rod Lee, to name a few.

But now, they’ve ventured far past traditional club music sounds into territory they aptly referred to as “mutant club”.  For their Mutant Club EP titled Attack, you’ll see collaborations with artists like Tony Quattro and Dizzy Bell yielding heavy buzzing, terrifying shrieks, and Tetris samples.  It’s all over the map but specializing in the weird and abnormal, something that is pretty hard to pigeon-hole into one genre.  Hear it for yourself:

Basically, Astronomar is the man.  He’s such a positive force in this cannibalistic dance music industry that I swear it’s changed forever for the better because of him.  In between touring, listening to demos for Main Course, and producing his own music, he had a moment to talk with me about what’s goin’ down in his life right now!  Get to know him before he comes to visit us in Baltimore to play Mutant Club music alongside Bot, Scottie B, Matic 808, The Clown Prince, and Hoss!


 

It seems like you’ve had one busy year and have traveled everywhere from Italy to LA to DC to Portland and everywhere in between. Which city has been your favorite to visit so far? Who really turns the fuck up?!

I love every city I play in, but some do take the turn up a bit more seriously.  I’d have to say Austin was one of the funnest shows I’ve played in a while. I was sharing the bill with my good pal Sinden – we did a short three date tour together last month. But yea, the past four months have been nonstop – I love it.

Do you have any crazy tour stories from this year?

Hmmmm. Nothing too crazy aside from partying into the afternoon and missing flights, haha.

What was it like growing up in Alaska? I’m sure it’s been nice to get away and see the rest of the world!

Alaska is great! It’s less densely populated than most areas, the tap water is amazing, my family is there, and it’s a bit culturally disconnected from the rest of the world, which are all the reasons [why] I love it. It’s home. But it is definitely a privilege to get to travel and do what I love.

Have you ever been to Baltimore? If not, do you have any expectations?

Yeah I played there a couple months ago at a rave called Temple of Boom – it was really great! They took great care of us (Neoteric, with whom i run Main Course played also) and we really had a blast. A handful of homies from DC came down, so that was really sick. Scottie B & Vjuan Allure came through also and kicked it for a bit – legends!

I hear a lot of influences from club music in the sounds coming from the Main Course camp, be it in your own productions or in remixes selected for your releases. I always forget how far of a reach club music has had historically. How did you first become interested in club music?

I’d have to say my introduction to club music was the early Blaqstarr stuff while I was still living in Alaska, maybe around 2006-2007. Shortly thereafter I was looking up heaps of the dance videos on YouTube and learning about all the tracks. I guess one of the things I was attracted to was the rawness of the sound. I grew up loving lots of underground hip hop and club felt like a manifestation of that energy in dance music form.

How would you describe “Mutant Club”? This is totally new to me!

Mutant Club is the name of an EP of mine that came out earlier this year on Main Course, and it’s the name of a new project coming soon also on Main Course, which has a rotating cast; Bot & myself sort of being the residents and Neoteric being the mastermind. Mutant Club is wild and fucked up club music. Neo, Bot & myself all have wide, genre spanning tastes, but we all still love the mind bending club shit.

Record labels seem to be a dime-a-dozen lately, but I’m a HUGE fan of Main Course because I can always trust that whatever sounds you guys co-sign will likely be something I’d be into as well. What do you think sets Main Course apart from the other dance music labels out there?

Thanks! I’m happy you dig the label! I’d have to say what sets us apart from our peers is our composition. Bot left Crookers in 2012, Neoteric has been doing lots of important behind the scenes work in the game for many years, and I was a bit of a student of both of their work and began following suit. Now we are a trifecta that is open-minded, but still implies a high level of scrutiny. And we all come from different angles and apply those values to everything we do.

Who are some other DJs, producers, and musicians that really inspire you to step your game up?

I literally (like… LITERALLY) cannot stop listening to ILoveMakonnen’s new EP right now, and for dance music I’m currently fucking with Massacooraman, Bot, Sona Vabos, Poolboy92, WildLife!, and Torro Torro. Damn there’s so many people that inspire me – so hard to name them all here!

I see your taco game is real strong over in LA! What’s your ideal taco setup look like?

Two Asada and two AL Pastor, corn tortilla, limes, radish, red and green sauce mixed with a mandarin Jarritos from a truck ideally in a neighborhood where Spanish is the first language.

Interview // Matic808

Matic808

With all of this fresh attention from Boiler Room’s Baltimore club dance party special, it feels a lot like Baltimore is getting a second chance at really making some noise in the music industry.  The spotlight is bright and free for the taking so long as Baltimore artists really push the boundaries of their creativity into new territory.

And as somebody who has grown up listening to Baltimore club music, Matic808 has some pretty high standards for the city’s unique sound.  “No one is making hits. Everyone’s music is pretty good but no one’s making hits that will gravitate the whole East Coast dance scene to Baltimore,” says Matic.  But damn if they aren’t trying.  Baltimore club is starting to see some substantial depth and variety with artists of many different walks of life contributing to the sound.  With DJs and producers like Mighty Mark, TT the Artist, James Nasty, Normaling, Schwarz, and DJ Dizzy, to name a few, I think we’re onto something here.

As for Matic808, he seems to find the most success when he seamlessly integrates yesterday’s Baltimore club breakbeats with today’s hip-hop hits from artists like Migos and Future.  Last year, he even remixed Kanye West’s Yeezus in its entirety, which he considered to be one of his most creative moments ever.  The inspiration behind the project was so electric, the output was even deemed invigorating to the Baltimore club music movement.  I love when that happens.

Aside from exceptional collaborations with Brenmar and HI$TO, that was his last major project.  For now, he’s just focused on making music that will represent his take on what “Baltimore Club is supposed to sound like in 2014.”  Matic explains, “No genre sounds exactly as it did [ten] years ago – why should this genre do that?”  It’s all forward motion with Matic808.  Who knows, his next project might not even sound like Baltimore club music.  He’s not one to be pigeon-holed into one genre.  But I know Baltimore club music runs deep for this guy.  Listen to his music and you can hear him pay homage to the pioneers who came before him and appeal to the constantly changing interests of today’s dance culture all at the same time.  Sure, his aspirations are global and he really wants to inspire the rest of the world to embrace the sounds Baltimore has to offer, but he knows his real support begins and ends with the urban community, the heart and soul of Baltimore club music and the ones who started it all.

If you like what you hear, check him out LIVE in Baltimore on 11/8 as he joins Astronomar (Main Course) and Baltimore club pioneer, Scottie B, at Metro Gallery.

Interview: // Who is Normaling?

We Are Normaling

A seemingly unlikely pair from the outside looking in, the way Lemz and .rar Kelly met was purely an act of kismet, much like the stories of many other historic collaborations of the greats. It went down like this: unknowingly at the time, Lemz played a siren song direct to .rar Kelly’s soul when he played Gesaffelstein at The Ottobar here in Baltimore. The Ottobar might be grimey as fuck (in an endearing way, of course), but at the time, nobody here really had the chutzpah to channel the dark, electronic hymns of Gesaffelstein in the clubs, especially not in a Top 40-driven city like Baltimore.  It was in that moment that they realized together, they just might be onto something.

The rest is history.  Musically speaking, Lemz and .rar Kelly are soul mates.  They finish each others sentences.  They mirror each others thoughts.  They’re left brain and right brain connected by the Corpus Callosum,  which is incidentally how they titled their debut EP, officially released after a diligent year of working in the lab.  If you paid any attention to the underground sounds of Baltimore, you knew Lemz and .rar Kelly were working on something, but you didn’t know exactly what it was becoming.

But one thing’s for certain – these two deal exclusively in emotions.  They turn their backs the mainstream and are compelled only to make music that forces them, and us, to actually feel something.  When asked to cite their influences, they mostly just derive inspiration from the music their friends are making: Mighty Mark and TT the Artist from Baltimore and the whole Seclusiasis family in Philly, to name a few.  It’s a real grassroots movement here.  Even Corpus Callosum was released via Space is the Place Records, a label ran by .rar Kelly and Astrolith of New York and formed simply out of a need to create a place for their family of artists to be properly showcased in the way that they deserve.

Listen to Normaling you might hear something like Baltimore club music for the runway.  Or dark techno with a perfect hint of sass.  The best part about their sound is the way it changes depending on how you shine a light on it.  And unlike many other production twosomes, neither of them outshine the other.  While they both bring their own unique element to the table, it gets equal representation in the output.  See, .rar Kelly is a bit dark and mysterious while Lemz is like sunshine on a cloudy day.  Together they’re like night and day, so their collaborative efforts behind the scenes could have shaped up to be anything, really, automatically cancelling out any notion of expectation.  So, instead of teasing mediocre tracks along the way, Lemz and .rar Kelly exercised some serious patience and waited until their sounds, heavy and hard-hitting, were exactly as they imagined before sending them out into the world as Normaling.

So what is Normaling exactly?  Their original intentions were a tongue-in-cheek way of poking fun at the mundane lifestyle nine-to-fivers.  Sitting in traffic on the way to a job that just sucks the life out of you.  Spilling  Starbucks coffee on your tie.  Major life buzzkills.  But Normaling is much bigger than that.

The entire goal of Normaling is just to create something that’s genuine.  No bullshit.  And they don’t measure success by how much money they’ve made or how many heads fill the room when they’re playing.  In fact, they’re gonna wild out and do as they do whether we’re there or not.  They entertain each other just fine without us.  They just want to keep it real and support the community in the process.  Sonically speaking, they may seem a little dark and brooding at times, but there’s no shade coming from their corner.  A win for Baltimore is a win for them.

And right now, Normaling is an essential part of a major renaissance in Baltimore – something that is truly electrifying.  For the first time in a long time, now you can see the old school pioneers of club music like Scottie B, Rod Lee, and Samir playing right along side the new school players, bringing everything full circle and the entire experience generational.  After years of Baltimore club music being put in the corner, having very few noteworthy hometown parties at which to dance and showcase our true sounds, and a community of artists who just wanted to pack up and leave, Baltimore is finally becoming the place to be again.  The truth is, there’s a strong desire for a taste of Baltimore everywhere and not just Baltimore club music but the real underground sounds of Baltimore as a collective unit.  As Lemz so perfectly stated, “Everybody was into Baltimore but Baltimore.”  But witnessing the wild success of the latest Baltimore club showcase of infamous Boiler Room party in New York City, and the worldwide uplifting of true Baltimore talent like James Nasty, Mighty Mark, TT the Artist, and Schwarz, it’s safe to say the times, they are a-changin’.

Q&A: DJ Sliink!

sliink

Whoever said ‘club music is dead’ was sadly mistaken. When you’ve got a producer like DJ Sliink in the studio, the genre gets a revival every time a beat is laid down. Straight outta Jersey, DJ Sliink lives and breathes club music. At just twenty-one years of age, he still holds Jersey club pioneers like DJ Tim Dolla and DJ Tamiel close to his heart, but he’s got enough knowledge and drive within him to forage his own path.

Listen to any of the sounds in DJ Sliink’s catalog, like his Vibrate EP from February; his most recent $ NJ $ mixtape; or his latest collaboration with Berts on Beats and Trouble & Bass on “RRR U”, and you’ll hear classic club breaks and true Jersey soul fatefully blended with trap and heavy bass.  DJ Sliink is creating an essential new school club music hybrid that pays homage to the pioneers of yesterday and hypes up the new dance music disciples of today.

With lofty innovation and a work ethic that never sleeps, DJ Sliink has made quite a name for himself in 2012.  His Vibrate EP, released by Body High, slayed every dance floor it came in contact with.  He bridged the gap between dance music and trap music this summer on his tour with Flosstradamus.  He’s been valiantly pushing his own label, Cartel Music, with releases dropping all year.  He recently mixed an hour long set for a feature on Diplo’s “Diplo & Friends” radio program on BBC Radio 1.  His $ NJ $ mixtape, bursting at the seams with his own original productions, serves as a mission statement for his unique sounds.  Plus he’s Twitter verified!  Instant street cred here on the World Wide Interwebs.  All of these things and then some have prompted major publications, like Vibe and Fader, to name DJ Sliink as one to watch in 2013.  So it’s about time you get familiar, yes?

The good homie Nadus recently hooked me up with DJ Sliink and we talked about how he started producing, what it was like coolin’ with Flosstradamus all summer, and what’s next for 2013.  Read on!

Cool Breezy: How did you get started DJing and producing Jersey club? Are there any particular DJs or tracks that inspire your creativity?

DJ Sliink: I started when I was about 15-16. I actually got inspired by my younger brother who goes by the name “ClubHeadSliim”. He was always [the]more outgoing and dancing type. This dude was really into music. I always stuck to sports. I used to always see him making beats on this program and they sounded pretty cool! One day I decided “Let me try” [and] from there on I always came in and worked on little beats. Other people who inspired me were Jersey Club Kings DJ Tim Dolla & DJ Tameil. Every party I went to, they just laid it down!

CB: How do you think Jersey club sets itself apart from Baltimore and Philly club?

Sliink: I think it sets itself apart by concept. In Jersey club, I think it’s more thought of stuff and strict dance floor music. Don’t get me wrong, I see Bmore music to be a bit more soulful and [with] a deeper background. It’s definitely much more slower with a lot more breaks. Philly club is really fast and reminds me of footwork, but really good!

CB: You recently wrapped up the Nomads Tour with Flosstradamus. What was it like being on the road with them and what was your favorite memory from the tour?

Sliink: It was so amazing being on tour with these guys. They were really down to earth and they are vets. The really understand the game well and I like how they work. My favorite memory had to be the last day of tour, when we all thanked each other and said how much of a great tour it was. One final time, we all got on stage when “Test Me” came on [we] wet the whole crowd with water. It was amazing – such good times.

CB: So far you’ve worked with producers like Brenmar, Nadus, and obviously Flosstradamus, to name a few. Do you have any dream collaborations you’d like to make happen?

Sliink: I love those guys. I would love to work with Pharrell, Manny Fresh, and Timbaland. These guys really had me vibing to most of the music I heard growing up. It really would be a honor!

CB: What’s something people may not know about you?

Sliink: Haha! I’m a really great basketball player ’til this day. I used to be a basketball star when I was a little younger. I also can cook everything! Cookin italian dishes is my favorite. I can also draw. I used to sketch a lot. Music has taken up all my time, but I don’t regret it.

CB: If some insane apocalyptic event occurred and for whatever reason you could only listen to three albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Sliink: This is easy lol. I would choose Bone Thugs “The Art Of War”, G Unit “Beg For Mercy” and The Vibrate EP.🙂

CB: Between the raging success of the Vibrate EP and the Nomads tour, it’s safe to say you’ve had a pretty exciting year. So what’s next for DJ Sliink?

Sliink: I really enjoyed this year. This year was pretty much a worldwide intro for me. What’s next for me? I have 3 EPs dropping with Flosstradamus, Brenmar, & MikeQ. This is something everyone should look out for. I’m trying to reach out to all genres that’s in my state’s favor.

CB: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming DJs and producers?

Sliink: I love to see young people grind! They need to keep grinding. Everyone has to start somewhere. I almost gave up on music a few times. Never give up!

Q&A: Cosmo Baker!

cosmobaker


(Tracklist located at the bottom of the page)

Imagine one of your favorite DJs.  What characteristics rank high of exceptional DJ talent?  Is it grace behind the decks?  An extensive knowledge and non-discriminatory passion for music?  Being ultra intuitive and tuned into the party people on the dance floor?  The ability to just have fun and get creative with it?

This is Cosmo Baker.  He’s been in the game since before I even knew there was one.  Philly-born and now Brooklyn-based, Cosmo Baker finds love in all styles of music – whether it be disco, funk, R&B, rockabilly, or hip-hop.  Not one to be pigeon-holed, he just wants to make you dance any way you know how and he does it because it loves it.  Simple as that.  No gimmicks, no ulterior motives – just a true passion for all styles of music.  In fact, check him out live and it’s almost like an educational experience as he showcases songs you may not have heard yet in styles you might not listen to on the regular.  It’s as if he’s gently nudging you outside the box with an assuring, “Hey, I think you’ll like this” kind of vibe.  My advice?  Trust him.

Cosmo Baker is known for mixing records of all genres, which is what landed him a residency and title as co-founder of Brooklyn’s infamous “anything-goes” soiree, The Rub, with DJ Ayres and DJ Eleven back in 2002.  Back then, parties were still one-dimensional and super homogenized, playing the same genre for hours, but armed with deep crates and a natural DJ’s intuition, Cosmo Baker flourished and stood out amongst the rest. He has recently moved on from The Rub, but the drive and talent that has been moving him from the very beginning is still very much in motion.

Take a listen through Cosmo Baker’s SoundCloud page and you’ll realize two things: 1) He’s incredibly innovative and his vast knowledge of music is timeless and will rise above any trend. 2) He’s having such a good time that soon enough you’re gonna be cutting a vicious rug and you won’t even know what hit you until it’s too late.  That kind of knowledge and passion is truly one-in-a-million and it really translates to music aficionados and party people all around the world.  That feeling is not one to be passed up.

He’s just that dude.  I was lucky enough to talk to Cosmo Baker about his crazy record collection, what makes a good party, and how he got to where he is now.  Read on!

Cool Breezy:  Growing up in Philly until you moved to Brooklyn in the early ’00s, you’ve lived in two essential cities that each nurture their own wonderfully eclectic cultures. How has each city impacted the way you feel about music?

Cosmo Baker:  Well I first moved to BK back in 1994 and stayed there for a couple years, so I was able to catch what I think was the tail end of a really great era of music and clubbing culture. When I moved back in ’03 the city had undergone a serious transition through the Giuliani era, the rise of the bottle service scene, and of course 9/11. But New York will always be #1 – the current and spirit is really like no other place on earth. And Philly, of course, is such a soulful city, and it’s the soul of Philly that really runs through my veins. So being able to lay claim to both places is an amazing thing to me.

CB:  What was young Cosmo Baker like? Was he always a music nerd?

Cosmo:  Oh for sure, I was always a nerd when it came to that. When I was younger I played music -violin, guitar, drums, and of course just listened to a massive amount of tunes that were on the radio and video shows. Not even to mention buying cassettes and records and whatnot. By the time I went into high school I already had a massive amount of tapes that were mixes that I recorded off of the radio. That’s a little bit how it all started with me, and how I became known as the guy with all the music. Then once I really got into the digging mentality and started mining all the local record shops for jazz records and prog-rock records and all that stuff, that’s when the nerd aspect really shot into overdrive.

CB:  The streets say you’re an avid record collector. How deep is your collection? Also, do you remember the very first record you ever bought?

Cosmo:  Hah, the streets are talking! Well, I’ve been collecting for the majority of my life, and once you get into the habit of buying vinyl, at least for some people, it never goes away. And I never get rid of my stuff, I just keep it in the collection. I know for a fact that my first record was Elton John “Bennie & The Jets” on 45. I am not sure what my second record was hahah… At this point I’ve lost count of the number in my collection, but last I checked several years ago I had over 15,000 pieces of vinyl, and that doesn’t include like maybe 3,000 to 4,000 on 45. It’s sick, I know.


(Tracklist located at the bottom of the page)

CB:  You’re known for playing every genre under the sun, whether it be funk, electronic, or hip-hop music. Do you have a personal favorite? What are some records that move the dance floor no matter where you are?

Cosmo:  Well I love it all. If you don’t limit what you listen to why should you limit what you play? And that’s just so much fun than just limiting yourself to one particular genre. But that being said, it all comes down to me being a hip-hop DJ at heart. That’s where I come from and that’s my roots, so I can never overlook that. However, I think that if there’s one thing that I love to play, that just makes me feel energy like no other, it’s probably like classic disco joints. Those records were just scientifically engineered for dance floors.

CB:  You were one of the founders of the famous, Brooklyn-based, “anything goes” party, The Rub. In your experience, what makes a great party? Of course the music depends on the particular format, but overall, what kind of music and vibes set up the night for an overall success?

Cosmo:  Well the Rub guys kind had a real pure idea when it was first started, cause the incentive was just to play really great, non-homogenized, classic tunes in the club. That was something at the time which was just not really getting that much respect or reaction in a lot of the mainstream clubs. And when they asked me to do my first few guest appearances that first year it was because I already had a reputation for playing that way. So when we all got together and decided to solidify this as an official thing, it’s pretty much because we all had a crystal clear vision of how and what we were going to play. And we did it with conviction. So I think that’s one of the most important things, just really believing in what you play and doing it with heart. That helps create the connection with the listeners, and when you have that connection, all it does is grow. You grow artistically, the crowd grows with you, and on and on.

Cosmo Baker – “On One” (Mixcloud)
DOWNLOAD HERE!

CB:  So far in your extensive DJ career, you’ve released some exceptional music, toured the world, and have remained in the highest standards of DJs and party-goers alike. You’ve also made the transition from the “classic” days of DJing with turntables and records to mp3s and CDJs. All-in-all, it seems to have been an overwhelmingly successful ride so far. With that being said, do you have any advice for up and coming DJs and producers? In your opinion, what makes a truly great DJ?

Cosmo:  Well thanks so much, and yes it’s been quite a ride! I have to say that I am truly blessed because, even with lots of talent and hard work and focus and dedication, there’s still no guarantee that one will be successful. So I have to really pinch myself every day. But for real it’s definitely not as easy as it looks, so anyone that’s trying to break into the game has to have the right motivation. You shouldn’t get into it for the money or the fame or for the glamorous (that sometimes are not so glamorous) trappings of the lifestyle. You should get into it because you have a love and a connection to the music, and a true desire to spread that love with people. That drive is to me what really makes a great DJ.

CB:  2012 is coming to a close and 2013 is right around the corner. Have you had a fun year? What’s next for Cosmo Baker in 2013?

Cosmo:  Well I already have a ton of shows already booked for 2013 all over North America, as well as Europe, Asia and The Middle East. So that’s going to keep me busy. And I keep on saying that I will FINALLY get to work on my original music, and I think that with all the changes in my career that I went through in 2012 now I have the free time to actually make that a reality. But all in all it’s just gonna be a great one!

“Low Ceilings And Red Lights”
Tracklist:
Big “T” Tyler “King Kong”
Big Maybelle “That’s A Pretty Good Love”
Howlin’ Wolf “Down In The Bottom”
Etta James “7 Day Fool (Whiskey Barons Edit)”
Lou Courtney “I’ve Got Just The Thing”
James Ray “I’ve Got My Mind Set On You”
Shirley Ellis “The Clapping Song”
Bill Haley & His Comets “Birth Of The Boogie”
Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five “I Want You To Be My Baby”
Gloria Jones “Tainted Love”
Little Esther Phillips “Mojo Hannah”
Just Brothers “Sliced Tomatoes”
Maggie Threatt “Soupy”
The Roe-O-Tation “Special Category”
Della Reese “It Was A Very Good Year”
Mickey & Sylvia “No Good Lover”
Bo Diddley “Bo Diddley”
Little Junior’s Blue Flames “Feeling Good”
Big Mama Thornton “Hound Dog”
James Brown “Get It Together”
Link Wray & His Wray Men “Run Chicken Run”
Santo & Johnny “Sleepwalk”

Cosmo Baker Top Ten Mix 14
Tracklist:
1: Miguel “Adorn (Sammy Bananas Bootleg)”
2: Brett Johnson “Slow Down Baby (Severino Remix)”
3: Rihanna “Nobody’s Business (feat. Chris Brown)”
4: Bobby Caldwall “Carry On (MyKill Edit)”
5: Rhye “The Fall (Maurice Fulton Alt Mix)”
6: First Choice “Let No Man Put Asunder (Moplen Reprise)”
7: Late Night Tuff Guy “Do I Believe In God (LNTG Muscles Mix)”
8: Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs “Your Love (Waze & Odyssey Remix)”
9: Duke Dumont “The Giver (Original Mix)”
10: Pelifics with Electric Youth “Wish It Could Last (Marius Våreid Extended Disco Version)”

BAKERS DOZEN BONUS
11: Cerrone “Misunderstanding (A-Trak & Codes Club Remix)”
12: Recloose “Chamois”
13: Jeffree “Mr. Fixit (Recloose Edit)”

Q&A: Nadastrom!

One day you’re slowing down the tempo of Afrojack’s “Moombah Remix” so you don’t get the fur torn off of ya for playing music that’s too fast at your cousin’s skipping party and the next day you’re playing that very same style of music at some of the greatest venues in the world, spawning a whole new genre of music tailored for the dance floor.  So the story goes for Dave Nada and Matt Nordstrom of the DC-bred, LA-based DJ and production duo, Nadastrom, who have godfathered a brand new style of dance music – moombahton.

Groovin’ at a 108 bpm pace and inspired by reggaeton, Dutch House, and pure kismet, moombahton is rockin’ every dance floor from DC to London and everything in between.  What was once a “happy accident” now has countless producers demonstrating their take on the original sound of moombahton and exploring new sub genres, like smooth, sexy moombahsoul and the moombahton-dubstep hybrid, moombahcore.  Nadastrom even started their own moombahton record label, Diabluma Sound, which kicked off this year with fresh releases from Steve Starks, JWLS, and Boyfriend.  Because of all its success across the board, moombahton has become a destination event at major festivals and has sold out parties around the world, including its monthly Moombahton Massive celebration at the infamous U Street Music Hall in its homebase of DC.

Much like the curious hybrid that it is, moombahton is a family affair – it has a particular way of bringing people together and welcoming new party people and DJs alike to dance music with open arms.  From Dave Nada’s early days of edits, like “Riverside”, to Nadastrom’s official remixes, like Alex Clare’s “Too Close”, Dave and Matt have been guiding the moombahton missle straight to the top, with their original productions serving as the ultimate creative guidance.

But Nadastrom has been slaying the scene long before moombahton – since before I knew anything about anything.  I remember my first introduction to dance music in action was seeing them play Baltimore club, tech house, and everything else they could get their hands on at TaxLo parties here in Baltimore.  They have been the real deal since the first night I danced to their soundtrack and with a deep knowledge of how Baltimore really gets down (spoiler alert: down and fucking dirty), they rose to the top like the cream of the crop.  Enamored with their intuitive selections and the ease with which they control the floor, I’ve been following Nadastrom ever since.  So of course, years later and with a rack of parties stored neatly in my memory bank, I’m so pleased and honored to have interviewed Dave and Matt. It’s their unwavering passion for music, their free-spirits which make every performance a great time for everybody involved, and their constant demonstration of forward-thinking creativity and innovation that sets the standard of excellence in this game.

Cool Breezy:  We all know the story of how you accidentally created moombahton over three years ago and started releasing those classic edits like “Riverside” and “Moombahton”. Did you ever expect the genre to blow up the way that it has? What do you think of its evolution so far?

Dave Nada:  Nah, I really did not expect it at all.  I did, however, think the concept was cool and fun.  I saw it work first hand since the start, so I already knew it was something that would translate well in the club.  The evolution of it all is pretty crazy too!  It’s come a long way in just three years and now there’s a moombahton vibe that exists in music and club culture.  The production of the sound has gotten better as well.  I feel like it continues to refine itself and new influences are popping up from all over the world.

CB:  Since moombahton’s genesis, you have hosted successful Moombahton Massives in its mecca of DC and all around the world. Most recently, hosted a stage entirely dedicated to moombahton at Hard’s Day of the Dead festival in LA. Did you have any say in choosing the talent for the moombahton stage? Also, how does it make you feel to be the godfather of such a wildly successful movement?

DN:  Yup!  Me and my Moombahton Massive partners, Matt Nordstrom and Sabo, help curate the lineups for all of the Massives.  When we work with Hard, we combine our forces with them.  I feel like HARD are at the top of the game and they ALWAYS kill it with the lineups and tours for their events.  I feel humbled and grateful when it comes to moombahton and how far it’s come, from the artists to the music lovers around the world.  [I’m] very proud of what we’ve built with the Massives and the music.

CB:  I know first-hand how uniquely wild moombahton parties can get. I’m sure there are many memorable and unmemorable nights for you, but describe one of your favorites.

DN:  I’m biased here, but my favorite moment was at Moombahton Massive Thanksgiving 2011 when I proposed to my fiancé, Jen Lasher, in front of hundreds people at the end of her set!  Not only was the moombah fam there, but a lot of our relatives as well.  What a special night!

Matt Nordstrom:  Man…they are all pretty special.  It’s really hard to pick one, so I’m gonna say three.  The night we had Toddla T for the Two Year Anniversary of [U Street Music Hall]; the night we had Thee Mike B who said, with quite an epic resume of parties played, that that was one of the best gigs and parties he has ever done; and of course last thanksgiving when Dave purposed to Jen, which, for the record, NO ONE knew he was going to do.

CB:  Do you remember the first record you ever bought?

MN:  It was either “Thriller” by Michael Jackson or “Future Shock” by Herbie Hancock.

DN:  [The] first record I ever bought was Doug E. Fresh “Keep Risin’ To The Top” 12″ single.  B-side was “Guess Who”, which got me fired up every time I listened to it.  I also remember being mad confused as to why there was an acapella track and instrumental version.  I didn’t understand the DJ side of things at the time, haha.

CB: While you have embarked on an entirely new maginificent journey through moombahton, Nadastrom’s nights of spinning club music in Baltimore have still remained the stuff of legends. How have those past experiences influenced the way you feel about music in the present? Any chance we’ll hear some new Baltimore club sounds from you in the future?

DN:  They still influence us to this day.  As a matter of fact, we’ve been playing tons of Bmore and Bmore inspired club music in our sets lately.  We’re also getting a rep for playing longer sets these days, so this has given us more opportunities to play different styles in one night!

MN:  It definitely still influences us – the stripped back approach, the loops, and probably most important is the impact of a kick drum.  Pretty much sums up Nadastrom, haha!  We recently did a remix for our new label, Diabluma Sound, reworking Boyfriend’s “Vodka House” into a 130 club joint.  We have some more in the works as well but can’t really speak on them just yet.

CB:  This year you’ve greatly advanced moombahton through major events, impeccable productions, and even the launch of Nadastrom’s very own moombahton label, Diabluma Sound. So, what’s next?

MN:  We are currently working on our debut artist album, which is something we have toyed with in the past but got really serious about the past few months.

DN:  Yup, we think it’s about time now!

Q&A: Fall In Love with Volta Bureau!

Volta Bureau is that unseasonably warm day.  Mom’s home-cooked meal.  The first time you lock eyes with your super cute crush.  That satisfying feeling when your car has a full tank of gas.  Putting on warm pants right out of the dryer.  Finding money you didn’t know you had.  When the DJ plays your favorite song in the club.

There hasn’t been a better feeling to come out of DC since Will Eastman, Miguel Lacsamana (Micah Vellian), and Bernard Farley (Outputmessage) joined forces in 2011 to create Volta Bureau.  A constant source of optimism in a scene that can potentially be very cutthroat and negative, Volta Bureau produces, DJs, and performs some truly positive, top-notch disco, house, and techno music in the most seemingly natural way.  It’s quite the experience in any form it takes.  Their productions sound so smooth and effortless – almost like second-nature to these guys – as if they have it down to a science (but I think it’s ultimately more emotional than that).  And it makes sense, as each member comes from a traditional educational background – Will being a former historian, Miguel being a former English teacher, and Bernard holding a Masters degree in Abstract Algebra.  In fact, Volta Bureau was named after Alexander Graham Bell’s laboratory in Georgetown, which might also explain the muse behind the trio’s musical genius.

Even their meeting was a true act of kismet.  Miguel and Bernard used to live together and also produced music together as Dmerit.  They remixed Will Eastman’s “Feelin'”.  Then came Will Eastman with a remix of their track, “Stuck On You”.  And upon realizing the amazing talents each other had to offer as producers and the fact that their musical paths were beginning to converge, the rest was history!  So now we’re lucky enough to have this wonderfully beautiful source of sonic sunshine blasting from our speakers on the daily.

The wildly successful release of “Alley Cat” in 2011 rapidly propelled Volta Bureau into the spotlight with support from Pete Tong, Toddla T, A-Trak, and so many more influentials.  Playing with Thievery Corporation, kicking off the dance party at 2012’s Virgin Mobile FreeFest, and with a brand new EP, Hot/The Greatest, in tow, Volta Bureau is officially impossible to ignore.  And why would you even want to?  They’re all about good vibes, smiling faces, and a never-ending dance party.  Love is always in the air when Volta Bureau is around and the appreciation for that is immeasurable.

So I’m gonna let these guys speak for themselves as the incredibly interesting people they really are!  Be sure to visit their SoundCloud and make it a point to cut a rug at their next dance party.  You owe it to yourself!

——————————————————————

Cool Breezy:  What kind of emotions and responses are you trying to evoke with the sounds of Volta Bureau?

Micah Vellian:  Love mostly. But we try to represent the entire gamut of the human experience, and sex.
Bernard Farley:  Yeah, love, interconnectedness, cosmic adventure.
Will Eastman:  Love and happiness, and a certain kind of melancholy that also can feel good.

CB:  What kind of special talents to each of you have to contribute to producing a single Volta Bureau track?

MV:  Puns. Cooking (Vegan or otherwise).  I’m a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, keys) with a background in madrigal/classical choir and a penchant for strings and musicals. Oh and moxy.
BF:  I’m the synth and fx guy in the group. I also do main vocals and production.
WE:  I have a hand in writing lyrics and lay down the guitar parts. I also like to do arranging. It’s similar to working as an editor or curator. We all pretty much take turns on having a hand in production.

CB:  Volta Bureau has seen so much success since its genesis in 2011, from “Alley Cat” topping the Beatport charts in 2011 to playing the Virgin Mobile FreeFest in 2012. So if you had to choose just one, what has been your proudest moment to date?

MV:  Pete Tong saying Volta Bureau and calling Alley Cat clever was pretty aces.
WE:  Playing some sold out shows in San Francisco and DC and getting added to Virgin Fest for sure.

CB:  What are some of your favorite dance tracks to play during a live set?

MV:  All of em! I’ve been in many bands, but this is the only band I’ve ever been in that dances during our practices, every, damn, time.
BF:  I love playing our track “Hope” live. It has such a positive vibe and always gets the crowd really excited.
WE: It’s hard to pick one but “Solid Gold Bones” is my favorite track to play live. It’s upbeat and I have a falsetto back up vocal that’s fun.

CB:  Do you have any dream collaborations in mind?

MV: It’d be nice, but I’m fine with these guys and a few other friends/family.
BF:  I think it’d be cool to work with some female vocalists like Robyn.
WE:  Hall and Oates.

CB:  Do you remember the first record you ever bought?

MV:  In 1986 (10 at the time), before I moved to the United States from the Philippines, I bought Michael Jackson’s Thriller and listened to it incessantly. The first time I experienced an earthquake (in the northern mountains of Baguio of the Philippines), I was listening to it. It truly was a groundbreaking record. I was/still obsessed with this album. So much in fact that I fashioned my signature in the style of Michael Jackson’s autograph and still sign it this way.
BF:  For me, it was Aphex Twin’s Richard D. James album.
WE:  Chic’s “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” I was a Disco kid.

CB:  Are there any exciting plans for the remainder of 2012?

MV:  Yes! More tunes! More shows!
BF:  Yeah, we have a lot of tracks simmering in the studio right now. We’re looking to get a lot of these out next year.
WE:  Yes, focusing on finishing up a ton of new tracks that are close and getting ready for more live shows in 2013.

Q&A: Solidisco!

Some music is so heavy and emotive it can bring you to your knees.  Some music hides in the dark corners of your mind and feeds off the bad day you may have just experienced. But there’s a time and place for everything and if you want to embrace optimism and see life through a rose-colored disco ball, you need to get familiar with Solidisco.

This New York-based DJ and production duo knows exactly how to spark elation into people and get the dance floor rockin’.  Matt & Don of Solidisco are fully engaged in reviving classic house music with their signature nu-disco spin, including sampling Dan Hartman’s 1979 single, “Relight My Fire”, for “Dream Of You” and most recently with George Benson’s 1981 single, “Turn Your Love Around” for their latest track, “Turn Around” (which you can download for free on the SoundCloud player above!)

[UPDATE! More free Solidisco! Here’s a new mix they just posted for Be The Rave!]

Solidisco’s discography includes endless sonic optimism in the form of super fun disco tracks with collaborations with Codes, Starks & Nacey, JWLS, and more.  It’s all about fun with these guys and that kind of attitude makes it literally impossible to stand still when their productions are blasting from every speaker.  Solidisco is making the soundtrack to your late nights with friends; the endless dance party under a sparkling disco ball; even those times you just wanna jump on your bed and get loose!

I recently had the chance to catch up with Matt & Don of Solidisco and they were awesome enough to answer a few questions for me about who inspires them, what tunes they’re currently rockin’, and everything else music.  Keep reading!

Continue reading “Q&A: Solidisco!”

Nacey: Composer of the Chill

Nacey

(Hit play and read on.)

Nacey is one of those guys I’ve been waiting to interview for a long time coming and with today’s debut release from his band, Misun, there is no better time than now.  After countless successful dance parties and addictive productions (& many more to come, of course), Nacey has proven himself to be one of DC’s absolute finest in every sense of the word.  Everything he touches turns to gold and the city is that much better because of it.

One of the keys to Nacey’s long-term success (and the ultimate aspect of his likability) is the diversity in which he completely submerges himself.  While he truly thrives on a feel-good, warm and sunny day vibe, a closer look exposes many more intricate facets of Nacey’s world.  From spinning old school hip-hop and classic 90s throwbacks at KIDS (rip) to applying classical music twists to artists like La Roux and Future to indulging in the weird an ethereal at Lost Wednesdays (rip) to facilitating your inner wild animal by playing electro, club, dubstep (& more) with his homies Steve Starks and Gavin Holland at Nouveau Riche‘s monthly rager at U Street Music Hall, to his unwavering love for Mazzy Star, Nacey has proven time and time again that he is not a one-trick-pony.  Young Nacey was trained in classical piano, played the guitar in bands, and has carried his musical abilities with him every step of the way throughout his career.  I could sit here and spout off his impressive resume, like the times he’s played with Matt & Kim and Die Antwoord or how his remix of La Roux’s “Bulletproof” made the cut for the Major Lazer x La Roux album, Lazerproof, or how his remixes of M.I.A.’s “Steppin’ Up” and Outkast’s “Spottieottiedopalicious” took The Internet by storm, but we’d be here all day.

But today, we can add “genre-innovator” to his extensive list of achievements.  His band, Misun, has debuted their album, The Sea, today via T&A Records.  Early press from The Fader and RCRD LBL  has dubbed these new sounds as “aquawave” and further encourages listeners to let the sounds “oceanic soul” and “summertime realness” wash over you.  With Misun’s dreamy and whimsical vocals, William DeVon’s “underwater guitar sounds”, and Nacey’s impeccable production guiding the way, The Sea has provided a refreshing new take on life.  Misun hinted at their collaboration with last year’s “July” and within a year, they have formulated a unique sound and have hit the ground running with this release.  You can download The Sea via T&A Records (and the SoundCloud player above) and be sure to check them out live and in action at U Street Music Hall on 7/19.  Until then, keep watch for The Sea Remixes EP with reworks from Cousin Cole, Steve Starks, Billy the Gent, and more, dropping on 7/31 via T&A Records.

You can learn more about Misun and what they have in store for us over at Discobelle, but before you go, make sure you learn more about Nacey below.  I’m super honored to have picked his brain a bit and he’s most definitely a person worth knowing.  Enjoy!

Continue reading “Nacey: Composer of the Chill”

Meet Your Moombahtonistas #12: Phi Unit

phi unit


2 Bears & Toddla T – “Work” (Phi Unit ReWork) *Cool Breezy Exclusive*

As fresh as he is fancy (see above), New York’s Phi Unit is creating some of the most underrated yet entirely fantastic moombahton tracks in the game right now.  And not only is he producing totally rad moombahton tracks, but he’s also cranking out Baltimore club bangers, which obviously has a very special place on the dance floor of my heart.  Like the super-creeper that I am, I’ve been following Phi’s evolution in the dance music scene for over a year now and I’ve watched him take moombahton from an intense, hardcore rager to a tried-and-true make-out session soundtrack almost overnight.  If you like the sound of that, you’ll most definitely like what Phi’s cookin’ over here.

Phi Unit’s tracks are clean, relevant, and well-composed, making it all sound easy in a genre where everybody is still trying to get in where they fit in.  His breakout tune was a moombahton remix of a RAC remix of indie superband Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ “Home”.  Remix on remix on remix.  It sounds complicated, but Phi executed this perfectly.  “Home” was released in a time where we weren’t seeing too many remixes and edits of songs that were outside of the electronic dance music universe, so it really caught a lot of attention.  And I guess the fact that Dave Nada openly expressed his love for it didn’t hurt either.  It’s a gentle, but danceable, rendition of Edward Sharpe’s nostalgic indie tune, bursting with old school country vibes (dare I say of Johnny Cash/June Carter style) meets today’s new dance music trend.  Additionally, “Home” was a perfect foreshadowing to the niche Phi would create for himself within the moombahton genre.

Since “Home”, Phi has pioneered this particular pop and indie moombahton style – sensitive and romantic at times (but never cheesy) – that happily exists right on the cusp of moombahton’s peak-hour bangers.  There’s a little something for everyone here and Phi is totally owning the need for depth within the genre.  In fact, one of the most important releases of 2011 came when Phi Unit collaborated with fellow New Yorker, Cousin Cole, on the So Emotional EP.  Full of remixes and edits of fringe artists (well, at least in the moombahton world) such as James Blake, Foster the People, and Fleet Foxes, So Emotional solidified the niche that Phi has been nurturing this entire time.  So Emotional dropped during a time when moombahton producers were gettin’ real wild with lazers, bass, and other-worldly robot sounds, so to hear something like this that was melodic, sweet-tempered and well, emotional, it felt almost like a shock to the system.  But very much welcomed.  Not only was it extremely quality work, but it broadened the horizons of moombahton, reeling in fans of different genres to let them know, “Hey, we’ve got something here for you, too”.  Even though So Emotional was a bit out of the box at the time, it immediately garnered an insane amount of trust in the foresight, creative endeavor, and production value of Phi Unit and Cousin Cole.  And lucky for you, So Emotional II should be out before you know it.  Keep watch!

Phi Unit is certified-dope.  You heard it here first!  Check out the interview below so you can luv him as much as I do.❤

Continue reading “Meet Your Moombahtonistas #12: Phi Unit”