OUR DECADE’S JAY DEE

KNX

Uncut version; originally published in Beat Magazine and The Brag

When I told Knxwledge that he was our decade’s J Dilla, he didn’t quite know what to say. It got a little awkward while I waited for a response. “That is a crazy statement,” he choked out finally. But is it really that unfathomable a comparison? Like Dilla, Knx lives and breathes hip-hop — making countless beats a week (According to Flylo, Knx “makes a million tracks a day, it’s insane, keep up if you can”) and producing for the illest cats in the game. Both are also key members of the Stones Throw family. Even after Dilla’s passing in 2006, posthumous releases were still brought out though the label. Both are incredibly prolific — Knx’s bandcamp discography is evidence alone. Since 2009 he’s released 70+ mixtapes, albums and EPs. Dilla and Knx a “crazy” comparison? I don’t think so…

The LA beat scene is a rabbit hole. As a listener, just when you think you know the game, you fall headfirst into a brighter and richer soundscape. Unlike Alice though, you don’t reach the bottom. There’s no end — you keep falling and falling. It’s brilliant.

Glen Boothe (aka Knx) is an invaluable player in that bottomless Wonderland. Fusing hip-hop, soul and jazz Knx provides the perfect soundtrack for those late night feeds and early morning car rides. Put simply — his music is very cool and very west coast. It puts you in a good mood.

Like Knx’s music, the “LA” sound is equally epitomised through the iconic label Stones Throw, founded in 1996 by Peanut Butter Wolf. The label has played host to a bunch of key hip-hop records, including Dilla’s Donuts, Madvillian’s (Madlib and MF Doom) Madvilliany and Quasimoto’s The Unseen. After Knx made the move from Philly to LA in 2009, it didn’t take long for Wolf to snatch him up.

“I was playing a Boiler Room session. Wolf came up to me while I was playing a Charizma remix and we had a meeting a few days after that. I’d met him back in Philly when I lived there a few times. We’re family now. Wolf is an incredible human being,” Knx says.

“With Stones Throw — I can do whatever I want. I can release whatever I want. It’s also an incredible thing to be a part of a label that is all about vinyl. If you make something that’s sufficient enough it’s going straight to wax,” he adds.

I tend to agree. There’s something really special about vinyl and it only makes sense that a strong hip-hop, soul and jazz label like Stones Throw would be adamant about offering their releases on a vintage medium.

Raised in New Jersey, Knx’s relationship with music was very accessible. Not only was his house full of instruments, but the church he belonged to was a goldmine as well, stocked with an array of instruments that he would eventually inherit.

“My parents used to clean the church that I was a part of, so every Saturday I’d go and clean the church with them and play the instruments — I could pretty much be alone with all of the instruments.  They got a lot (instruments) over time and that’s how I built my foundation for musical appreciation.”

After establishing skills on a bunch of instruments Knx turned to production and sampling — he even used to record snippets of church sermons to tape and then loop them. “I was always trying to record. I was playing everything from scratch. In the beginning everything was primarily keys and drum-based. I bought a Roland SP-303 — that was my first piece of hardware I could get my hands on. I wasn’t able to have a computer yet,” Knx explains. The portable 303 was also a favourite of Dilla’s…

Before moving to LA Knx lived briefly in Philly, where he attended university and continued working on his music. It was in Philly where he met his good friend and current label mate Ringgo Ancheta (Mndsgn). Still collaborating today, the two quickly began working together.

It was at a show at San Diego University where Knx got his first taste of the LA music scene. “Halfway through college I was booked for a show (in LA). It was me, DJ House Shoes, The Gaslamp Killer, Samiyam and Danny Brown.” After that, Knx couldn’t stay away — “I had to move for the music.”

2009-2015 has been fruitful to say the least. An impressive discography and numerous production credits has awarded Knx ubiquity on the west coast. A recent collaboration with crooner Anderson Paak is scheduled for manifestation any day now. The two made contact online after Knx did a remix of one of Paak’s accapella tracks a few years ago. They have already released “Suede,” a very sexy single that fuses Knx’s smooth mellow production with Paak’s suave vocals. The duo are called NxWorries and are in the middle of tying up some loose ends on their forthcoming full-length. “It’s gonna be a good one. I’m just getting the artwork done and we’ve just done a video for ‘Suede’. It’s coming out soon,” Knx promises.

Speaking of collaborations, isn’t it about time I mentioned the Knx/Kendrick relationship? So, last year Kenny was chilling in a car with the renowned photographer and filmmaker Eric Coleman, doing a cover shoot for Complex Magazine. Knx’s Anthology tape was in the cassette player. The instrumental track “so[rt]” came on and Kenny thought it was dope. “He (Kendrick) texted me immediately and it was on,” Knx explains. Kenny put some vocals over the top of it and called it “Momma.” It’s the ninth track on To Pimp A Butterfly.

While Knx explains that the rest of 2015 will undoubtedly see even more collaborations and mixtapes, the producer is also gearing up for an Australian tour. Apart from playing the Red Bull Music Academy Stage at this year’s Splendour in the Grass, he’ll also be doing a run of national shows.

So how does such a prolific producer with such a huge back catalogue decide what to play in a single set? “That’s a good question. I actually don’t ever plan anything when I play. It’s kind of weird, but less stressful that way. I just like mixing it up and playing whatever. I’ll either drag something in or I’ll just stop everything and ask somebody in the crowd what they want me to play. My computer is full of songs — I’ll just play whatever.”

By Dina Amin

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HELP KEEP PBS 106.7 ALIVE

PBS' General Manager: Adrian Basso

PBS’ General Manager: Adrian Basso

By Dina Amin

Photography supplied by PBS 106.7 

It’ll be a busy two weeks at the PBS 106.7 office when the 2015 Radio Festival kicks off. The festival is the one time of the year when PBS implores the community to support the station financially; a support that if big enough will keep PBS afloat for the next 12 months.

The PBS Radio Festival gives listeners the opportunity to fight for the station they love — a station independent of corporate control. For two weeks of the year PBS sets up a buzzing phone room filled with catering, coffee and volunteers.

“It kind of feels like a rolling house warming party that never gets to that bleeding edge seedy end of the night — awesome volunteers working the phones and mail outs, heaps of musicians coming in to love up the station, presenters hopping on board each other’s shows, the hard-working PBS staff focused on keeping everything together… it’s pretty amazing,” enthuses presenter Jennifer Kingwell.

So how does it work? Listeners can either sign up or renew their existing membership with PBS; a membership that enables them cheaper access to different events across the year; discounts; a 12-month subscription to PBS’ Easey magazine, plus other incentives. Major prizes for listeners that sign up during the festival include a brand new, classic red Vespa PX 150 scooter and a Maton W.A May custom guitar. Memberships range in price and incentives depending on the level you choose — the cheapest being a concession membership for $40.

Since December 1979 PBS has been pivotal in fostering and promoting local and international music. A social hub for musicians, presenters and general music aficionados PBS has also been fundamental in promoting the Melbourne live music scene; curating gigs, announcing daily shows and interviewing various musicians and industry folk. A community-run radio station PBS has always relied on listener support for the lion’s share of its income.

“The objective of radio festival is to raise the majority of funds that will keep PBS going through the year. The station has a small full-time paid staff who are essential to the operation, plus there are the utility bills, maintenance of equipment such as microphones, computers and broadcast equipment. There’s also our broadcast licence. It’s a big operation and we rely on public support so we can remain 100% independent,” explains fellow PBS presenter Adam Rudegeair.

“Public support is not only a financial necessity for us; it’s the reason we’re here: to bring you a fantastic and diverse explosion of under-represented music from around the world that wasn’t paid for by a corporation,” Rudegeair adds.

PBS general manager Adrian Basso has some fond memories of the annual Radio Fests: “Someone brought in a huge piece of rope once and I started skipping out the front of the station with Kylie Auldist; playing skipping games — it was so much fun!”

“Another time a guy called up from Afghanistan — he was in the army and he must have been streaming us live from a satellite thing. He wanted to support the station and sign up while he was on service,” Basso laughs.

Help keep PBS 106.7 afloat for another 12 months by calling 8415 1067 or signing up here. During the Festival, the phone lines will be open from 6am – midnight seven days a week. PBS tweet

WALK DON’T RUN…TO YOUR NEW SUPER FOOD CAFE!

Armadale's latest offering: Walk Don't Run

Armadale’s latest offering: Walk Don’t Run

By Dina Amin

Photography supplied by Walk Don’t Run

Walk Don’t Run is the latest offering from super food practitioners and business partners Vincent Conti and Mario Minichilli (Merchants Guild, Prana Chai). Opened in mid-March, the Armadale cafe boasts an organic breakfast and lunch menu, single-origin French pressed coffee, cold pressed juices and a selection of herbal teas.

These boys have been busy. Two years after opening the successful Merchants Guild in East Bentleigh, Conti and Minichilli were itching to spread their wings. Securing a space in Armadale’s Morey street – just off High street – Walk Don’t Run epitomises Conti and Minichilli’s slogan: mindful eating.  “We want people to come in, sit down and have a really nutritious meal,” explains Conti.

The meals are light and fresh with super foods incorporated into every dish. All the produce is organic and the juices are slow-pressed, containing both fresh vegetables and fruits. Example dishes include house made life loaf with blueberry/raspberry raw chia jams and whipped ricotta; superfood breakfast with kale, broccoli, spiced pumpkin, green chilli and pepitas with light cottage cheese and free-range eggs and green tea soba noodles with poached chicken and tahini dressing.

The chef and co-owner Ryo Doyama’s Japanese heritage is responsible for the Asian-fusion influences.”His flavours are great and he’s got beautiful technique,” states Conti.

“Our meals will satisfy you without feeling like you need to have a sleep,” he adds.

The “mindful eating” slogan continues to manifest in the French-pressed filtered coffee. The single-origin beans extract the natural sweetness of the blend, making it easier for patrons to hold back on sugar additives and milk. “It’s also a slower release of caffeine so it’s not a massive espresso hit — much better for the nervous system,” explains Conti.

“We’ve had a pretty good reaction to it; some people have been willing to have a go and then come back for it,” he adds.

A hiatus overseas – which involved travelling to five continents and 40 odd countries in four years – exposed Conti to different organic produce, flavours and culinary techniques. It was this, coupled with his father’s cancer battle, that pushed him into the study of wholefoods.

“When my Dad was sick with cancer I started looking into alkaline methodology and how to heal with foods. Foods that are grown organically are put here for a reason; they’re going to heal us. If you pay attention to how they should be prepared they’re going to benefit you,” Conti explains.

Although operating an espresso machine Merchants Guild runs alongside the new cafe’s super food agenda. The popular East Bentleigh cafe was received well due to the absence of trendy, niche cafes in the area. Operating since 2013 Merchants Guild grows its own herbs and is one of many distributors of Conti and Minichilli’s Prana Chai. “The production of Prana Chai started about 11 years ago in my mum’s kitchen. I came up with the recipe through research of various spices. There are seven spices contained. We did a bit of trial and error; started selling it to customers. One of our customers wanted to buy it one day, which got me wanting to approach other cafes with it,” Conti enthuses.

“Now it’s worldwide. It’s distributed all around the world — we’ve got six reps in America; we’ve got a Director in Germany. The Prana is spreading.”

Walk Don’t Run is located at 17 Morey street, Armadale.

It’s open seven days a week; 8am – 3pm.

@walkdontruncafe

Walk Don't Run tweet

GIRLS PUSHED FORWARD ON NEW WEBSITE

By Dina Amin

Celebrating Australian women in the music industry, One of One is a brand new website uncovering the lives of the various women that have a positive impact on the industry. Created by Sarah Hamilton (Ditto Music), Joanna Cameron (AIR) and Vader Fame (Ditto, Deathproof PR), One of One went online only days before International Women’s Day, an outcome that was hardly coincidental.

“We’ve been working on this for a few months now and wanted to push it out in time for International Women’s Day, to time in with some other things that were happening — great initiatives like #girlstothefront from triple J etc,” enthuses Hamilton. The idea behind One of One came from a mutual desire to see hardworking, female music industry figures celebrated and validated. “We wanted to find out more about women that we admired…women who might not always push themselves forward…challenges they may have overcome, advice they had to give, that sort of thing,” explains Hamilton.

Following a Q&A style template, the One of One website is accessible, stimulating and informative. Q&As are published every couple of days, featuring powerful pull quotes and relevant links and multimedia. Each interviewee is asked several questions directed towards their role, responsibilities, background, role models and go-to karaoke songs. The interviews are light, yet relevant and educational, specifically to readers contemplating moving into a particular facet of the music industry.

Although acknowledging the ubiquity of Q&A style interviews in both print and digital journalism, Hamilton points out that One of One is quite unique in its angle.  “We haven’t seen this sort of weekly roll-out of women in the music industry yet — or if it has been done already we haven’t seen it.” A project sustained during leisurely hours – all three girls work full-time in the industry – One of One features influential women across all spectres of the music industry: audio engineers, publicists, artists, record label operators, managers, booking agents, etc.

“We want readers to be inspired. As cheesy as that may sound; that’s the real motive. To learn about women who are doing interesting things and really doing well in their positions, so other people (not just women) can realise that their career path is possible,” says Hamilton.

One of One is open to the public in that people can contact Hamilton, Cameron and Fame and nominate females for interview consideration. Although One of One only interviews women, Hamilton is quick to point out that the conversation is also open to men. “So many men have nominated their colleagues, or emailed us to congratulate us on the site…we want One of One to be accessible to all genders and we’ve been so thrilled with the response — from both men and women.”

Although focused currently on Australian women, One of One is definitely open to the possibility of featuring international women — a future angle that might also encourage exposure of women across all spectres of the arts world. The enthusiastic Hamilton feels incredibly positive about One of One’s trajectory — “there are a lot of women out there to uncover.”

For more info on One of One and the nomination process, head here

BAYSIDE COUNCIL WANT YOU TO STAY AWHILE…

By Dina Amin

Bayside mayor Felicity Frederico

Bayside mayor Felicity Frederico

Bayside City Council have recently developed a new initiative to help activate the Brighton Cultural Precinct — an area in Brighton which boasts several arts and culture services. In an effort to encourage patrons and residents of the area to stay awhile, the Council has put forth a new hospitality initiative — a cafe that will operate within the former Brighton courthouse.

“There’s a very strong push in Bayside that we get much stronger utilisation out of our buildings…we had a building (the courthouse) that wasn’t being very well utilised and it was really on us to find a purpose for it,” explains Bayside Council mayor Felicity Frederico.

The Brighton Cultural Precinct was established roughly 10 years ago as a means of involving the community in various arts and cultural activities. The precinct consists of the Brighton Town Hall – which holds the Brighton Historical Society, the BACC gallery and the Brighton Theatre Company – the Brighton library and the former courthouse.

“We wanted a different numbers of arts and cultural offerings in the same place…to provide lots of opportunities for residents to enjoy various different kinds of activities — they can connect with different groups and organisations,” adds Mark Patterson, the Council’s Family and Cultural Services Manager.

The cafe initiative supports the Council’s objective to increase visitation to the Brighton Cultural Precinct. “There’s really no hospitality in that Precinct. If you go up Wilson street there’s the old milk bar which is becoming a small cafe, but apart from that there’s nothing else,” says Frederico.

Frederico predicts that the cafe would be frequented predominantly by the parents of local schools Firbank, Brighton Grammar and Brighton Primary School. Both Frederico and Patterson agree that the cafe could also be a rest stop for people spending a morning or afternoon in the Precinct.

The cafe initiative was only one idea of utilisation that came from a recent updated report. The 2015 Brighton Cultural Precinct report identifies a number of strategies which could be implemented to encourage increased visitation — the cafe being one of them.

“The report was really looking at how to improve the utilisation of the Brighton Cultural Precinct and also improve the activation — by activation we mean people spending time in the Precinct rather than just coming to the Library and then leaving without doing anything else in the area,” Patterson explains. The report was born out of various internal conversations with stakeholders and partners.

Another strategy that came from the report was the implementation of appropriate signage.

“Pedestrian signs could be improved — it can be difficult to understand what’s located where and it can be difficult to navigate one’s way around the Precinct,” says Patterson.

“If the cafe idea didn’t work out we would certainly look at utilisation of that building (former courthouse) in some shape or form, as long as it was keeping within the theme of the Precinct,” states Frederico.

Frederico also stresses the importance of remaining sympathetic to the community. “It won’t be a cafe with loud music until 2am — it will be respectful of its environment.”

The development of the cafe is still yet to come;  an expression of interest has gone out and community consultation will commence in April.

Keep up to date with Bayside City Council news here

NO MORE WAITING BY THE PHONE

Indya Connley

An interview with Uncomfortable Beats’ founder Able8

Originally published in Melbourne Guru; photography by Indya Connley

Imagine the number of music submissions a popular street press would receive weekly. Imagine the number of pitches a major record label would receive daily. Imagine if both the street press and the label responded to every single submission and pitch with feedback and suggestions. Impossible. There would be too many to listen to, let alone reply to. In an era where niche labels and blogs are abundant, it’s much easier to develop a rich two-way relationship with a smaller, specialised support business.

Melbourne’s Uncomfortable Beats are that niche label. Formed in mid 2010, the label has been responsible for releasing obscure electronic and hip-hop unsigned-artist driven compilations, EPs and albums. The label’s director Dave Di Paolo – better known as Able8 – will try and respond to every single artist submission. Not only will he do his best to reply, but he will provide feedback to both the successful and unsuccessful applicants. The themed and specialised compilations enable this personalised interaction; a service that is quite unrealistic in mass music-driven support businesses.

Originally a Perth-based MC and events curator, Di Paolo moved to Melbourne in 2009 and began producing. Still keen on curating, Di Paolo formed Uncomfortable Beats in 2010 and began throwing weekly and monthly beat nights at venues like Bar Open, Black Cat and Section 8. The events were a chance for Di Paolo and his friends to showcase their passion for left-field electronic and hip-hop production.

“I think beat makers, producers and DJs are drawn to Melbourne because diverse music is more well-received here. People appreciate the deeper side to music more. A lot more ears are open to diversity and there are a lot of venues that cater for edgy music.”

Rather than limiting Uncomfortable Beats to event management, Di Paolo decided to launch a niche label that would help to expose left of centre beat makers that weren’t being heard. The last release – the seventh compilation from Uncomfortable Beats ­– featured several Melbourne beat makers alongside various global artists. Each compilation has a theme with the seventh leaning towards jazzy influenced hip-hop and electronica. Prior to the forthcoming release Di Paolo will encourage artists – via social and online media promotion – to submit a track that complies with the compilation’s particular theme. Past themes have included boom bap, grime, future hip-hop and ambient electronica.

The last compilation – Natural Selections – had little over 60 submissions and only 20 or so were selected. “The successful track has to fit somewhere within the theme of the compilation. Secondly, it comes down to how good the mix is, because there’s often people who have really good ideas but the quality of the sound is not there. If I want them to tweak it a bit, I’ll say ‘I think this track is great but you could mix the drums a bit louder or you could adjust the bass frequencies a bit. If it’s an easy fix I’ll send that through (suggestions) and then they’ll normally re-submit one.

“When it comes down to mastering, if there’s huge inconsistencies in the mixes — it’s hard to fix. So yes if it’s an easy fix we encourage artists to go back and tweak it.”

Allowing tweaking enables these artists to get a second chance with their submissions; a generosity that wouldn’t even be considered in most call outs.

Di Paolo will go even further by often providing suggestions as to how a track could be improved.

“I tread lightly. I might say ‘I really like this song, could you think about adding this in there or removing this?’ but it’s obviously their decision if they decide to go with my suggestions.”

The advantage of receiving a smaller pool of submissions means that Di Paolo can respond and offer genuine feedback to nearly all of them.

“I have to tell a lot of people, ‘thank you for submitting but unfortunately your track didn’t make it this round.’ Sometimes I’ll keep their beats on file for future compilations if they let me. I try to contact everyone, giving them feedback as to why their track wasn’t chosen.”

After the compilation is released Di Paolo does a bunch of promotion via social media and email.

“There’s no point in making and releasing music if it’s not going to get heard. All of these artists have put effort into these songs; I feel like it’s my duty to actually try and get them heard. I’ll spend time sending the music to DJs, doing mail outs, etc.”

The Uncomfortable Beats compilations are available through various online digital stores including Spotify, iTunes, Boomkat and Bandcamp; the latter being one that Di Paolo highly recommends. “Bandcamp’s great. You can see all the stats of what tracks have been played and where those stats are coming from. The money comes directly to you. It looks good and it’s easy to find music on the website too; you can search easily through hashtags.”

The event curation side of Uncomfortable Beats comes in various weekly and monthly beat nights. At the moment Di Paolo has partnered with Blend Corp and Sinister Jazz to host Subjackt, a monthly electronic beats night at Melbourne’s Croft Institute.

Di Paolo will mostly hit up his friends for these collaborative gigs, however he is open to pitches — it all comes down to whether the music fits the vibe of the night.

The rise of niche record labels has provided a home for artists who transcend genre; obscure unsigned acts that are impossible to homogenise. A smaller roster and fewer submissions means that the label can have a richer, more genuine relationship with their artists. Uncomfortable Beats exemplifies this; offering effective and organic recording, marketing and live opportunities.

LIVE REVIEW: TIGERMOTH Boney, Saturday August 23

tigermoth

Originally published in Inpress.

PBS presenter and DJ Bevin Campbell spins to an almost empty room, warming up Tigermoth’s vinyl launch with some dope underground hip-hop and future bass. Next up is Able8, Operatives producer and founder of Melbourne electronic label Uncomfortable Beats. Tonight’s set sees Able8 experimenting with bass and glitch-hop in front of a screen illustrating hilarious political parodies. Tony Abbott is the main star of the evening, with various caricatures depicting him in familiar situations: riding a bike, fucking a map of Australia, etc. The visuals become trippier and more ludicrous as the night progresses.

Amin Payne — future funk beatsmith and master of tasteful and groovy remixes — continues the beats feast. An avid admirer of Dilla, Payne’s beats are easily distinguished by their boom-bap percussion, jazzy samples and calculated synth arrangements. His music is incredibly clean and polished and his set tonight only verifies this. His funk remix of Kelis’ Trick Me is always a party-starter and by now, the room has accumulated an appropriate sized crowd.

Unlike the more melodic sets of his supports, Tigermoth delivers ambient psychedelic beatstrumentals, influenced immensely by Hendrix and eastern culture. Several years spent in Japan explains Tigermoth’s ardour for oriental music. He plays for almost 90 minutes, taking his audience on a trippy journey through Asian soundscapes. One minute we’re in a geisha house and the next, a Hindu wedding. His music is contemplative and colourful, a rich palette of foreign sounds and voices. After an hour, someone turns on the smoke machine, caking Boney’s top floor in a thick smog. Unperturbed by the blinding smoke, Tigermoth finishes strongly and thanks his audience. A unique producer and adorer of eastern instruments, his new LP Traversing Karma is a fruitful purchase for the more liberal listener.