We Love is an opportunity for EB writers to contemplate, rant, and rave about one of their current musical obsessions and the deeper issues they inspire. In this installment, Daniel Jones reps the latest EP from LA industrialists Youth Code, out now on Dais.
Industrial music was in a really crummy place for a while. After decades of socially transgressive viciousness, the genre succumbed to toothless jock posturing, rotten with misogynistic lyrics masquerading as post-goth poetry and focused more on neon cyber-wardrobes than aural craftsmanship. Youth Code don’t roll that way. Their thrash-inducing new EP, A Place To Stand, builds on the driving EBM of their self-titled debut and cranks the dosage of scuzzed-out hardcore punk to a mind-melting degree.
From the opening blast of “Consuming Guilt,” the band pummels listeners with brutal beats and vocals that are half-spoken word, half-raw and rusted machine wails. The tracks are imbued with a strong socio-political edge and (surprisingly) a smart synthpop sensibility—provided you like your synthpop shrieked at high volume. Backed up by a selection of strong remixes (my favorite of which is Clipping.’s dubbed-over rap on “Wear The Wounds”), the experience feels far heftier than you’d expect from the average EP. For anyone seeking the best that industrial music has to offer in 2014, A Place To Stand is essential.
Following the announcement of the upcoming release of a Quasimoto rarities record, we reproduce a conversation between the revered hip-hop producer, MC, and “man of few words”—he lets Lord Quas do the talking for him—Madlib and the Neue Deutsche Welle architect and member of The Orb Thomas Fehlmann. This feature is taken from the Winter 2012/13 issue of Electronic Beats Magazine.
Los Angeles-based beatmaker and multi-instrumentalist Madlib is widely regarded as one of the most original producers in hip-hop. Born Otis Jackson Jr., the Stones Throw label vet and former Lootpack member has honed a jazz-tinged, sample-heavy sensibility that defined the genre’s underground offshoots in the late ’90s and early ’00s. An avid crate digger and a vocal proponent of sample source eclecticism, Madlib’s path has rarely strayed from the groove-related, and his most recent work with veteran krautrockers Embryo is no exception. In a rare conversation, the notoriously reticent musician opened up to Thomas Fehlmann of The Orb and Palais Schaumburg about collaborating with the late, great J Dilla and the joys of discovering German music. Main portrait of Madlib photographed in San Francisco by Mathew Scott, Thomas Fehlmann photographed in Berlin by Luci Lux.
Madlib: Thomas, just so you know: I’m a man of few words.
Thomas Fehlmann: The last big interview I read with you was in The Wire a few years back. My good friend and former fellow band member Moritz von Oswald was on the cover just a few months before that. Back in the day we played together in Palais Schaumburg. Have you heard the new album Fetch he did with his trio? It’s really impressive, very jazzy, electronic, and very eclectic.
M: No, I haven’t. I actually don’t know much about new music, really.
TF: Well, Palais Schaumburg is old school. And pretty experimental. Early ’80s. We started playing live again last year for our 30th anniversary. I played—and still play—live synth and trumpet through an echoplex. The lyrics are all in German and very Dada.
M: Oh, I’d love to hear it. Trumpet through an echoplex, huh?
TF: Yes, it’s pretty free, apart from an occasional riff, although our music is mostly structured around a danceable beat. It seems to me that generally speaking, European music is obsessed with rhythms in 4/4, particularly today’s dance music. Do you think this is a continental phenomena or what’s your take on straight rhythms?
M: Well, funk is 4/4. It’s so you can dance to it. Although, shit, I could dance to 5/8. It’s all music.
TF: I hear you. What have you been up to since coming to Berlin?
M: Just drinking wine, chilling with Embryo and relaxing. I’m sure you know that Embryo is a musical collective from Munich that started out in the ‘7os. They make pretty eclectic krautrock, working a lot with jazz musicians and world music and whatnot.
TF: Have you guys been rehearsing?
M: No, just listening to some of the stuff we recorded last time, around five hours of tape.
TF: But you’ll also be playing a show in Berlin later this year. I actually penned that into my calendar before I knew that I would be meeting you for this conversation.
M: Hey man, bring your trumpet to the show.
TF: How did you know about Embryo? Crate digging?
M: Actually from touring. I’d been coming out to Berlin since 2001, and I’ve been learning about different types of music. Krautrock is certainly one of my favorites.
TF: Have you checked out Can’s Lost Tapes?
M: Yup, I picked it up almost immediately when it came out. There are some absolutely brilliant tracks on there. Honestly, Can are one of my all-time favorites. I actually played with Jaki [Liebezeit] with the Brasilintime cats.
TF: He also has this brilliant project with Bernd Friedmann. It’s so cool that Jaki’s so persistent about working with all types of artists.
M: Yeah, he’s very open-minded.
TF: Have you gone record shopping in Berlin yet?
M: Actually, no. Nobody’s told me where the stores are at.
TF: Well, you should start with Hard Wax. It’s not your average shop. The people who work there and run it have very strong opinions about what they carry. There’s also a legendary cutting room there where they master the records for lots of international producers. Unfortunately, they don’t carry that much hip-hop anymore. . .
M: I never buy hip-hop records.
TF: They also have quite a selection of African music, which recently started to blow up a bit. This grew out of the whole reggae and dub wave, and it sits quite well with the broader stream of contemporary releases. I find some of it is very psychedelic.
M: I love psychedelic stuff. That’s my era.
TF: Is that what you grew up listening to with your parents?
M: My parents were incredibly open-minded. They had everything from James Brown to Kraftwerk, and I had a record player in my room, so I would always steal their stuff and listen to it on my own.
TF: You’re lucky. I had to fight with my parents to play what I liked and to get my turn at the record player. Eventually when they got a stereo, I was allowed to set up the old mono system in the basement for my use.
M: That’s how I first learned about music. Back then music was a different feeling. These days everybody follows trends. I honestly think things were far more open-minded back then. People tried harder, and there was more of a spiritual aspect involved . . .
TF: It’s maybe surprising, but I think music with a spiritual angle is the music that really endures.
M: I also like my music loose. Quantized is cool, but I also like that human feel.
TF: I think the humanness is what separates your productions from things done within the grid . . .
M: Well, I like that stuff too.
TF: I remember when I picked up the first Yesterdays New Quintet record—one of your many aliases—I was so impressed. I mean, a lot of people say they like jazz, but actually doing it is another thing. Of course, I’d been listening to you since back in the day with Lootpack.
M: It’s an honor for me to hear that. Actually, Yesterdays New Quintet was my first shot at jazz. Sometimes, I kind of feel like a musical schizophrenic, to be honest. But I think that’s probably not a bad thing.
TF: I know what you mean; trying to absorb all the magic stuff one is passionate for. The new Orb album we did with Lee Perry, The Observer In The Star House, was also a first for us in many ways. He actually spent a week with us in the countryside near Berlin. We had to be ready when he was ready to flow and that was basically always. He had a tremendous hunger for new beats. We needed to be fast, have all the machines and beats ready at any time. Lee also had a buddy with him, and he told us that usually after around two days, Lee gets bored with whatever he’s doing… but he stayed for the full week. This is the album [shows cover].
M: [turning it over] Ah, Steve Reich samples.
TF: Had to get permission for those.
M: Of course!
TF: As I mentioned before, I’ve been following you for quite some time. I decided to take a picture of all your records that I own. [showing collection pic] I’m not as prolific as you are but there are similarities, I also make lots of my music from my record collection, mostly older stuff.
M: Got to come back to stuff that people missed.
TF: I tend to treat my samples quite a bit, but it’s a similar flow in that existing music is the foundation and main source for the artistic result. That’s not to say that some of it can’t get pretty radical…
M: Even if it doesn’t sell, right? That’s some of the best stuff!
TF: When I see your work, I can look at it as if the idea of using your record collection to make music is a kind of conceptual art: the cultural output of society as the source material, put through the filter of your mind and your sampler. What about the other cultures that you explore in your music—non-Western conceptions of pop?
M: It’s all music that was done through records I bought—not visits to India or the Middle East or whatever. But I did manage to pick up the records from all over the world. The internet for me has been a help in finding material, but it’s actually something I just started using. I’m not constantly listening to streams or anything like that. We used to have tons of record stores where I live, but they’re disappearing one by one.
TF: Tell me about it! How important is the artwork for your records?
M: Well, it has to fit. A lot of the artwork just comes from pictures in my room or whatever. Like the Quasimoto album with the Frank Zappa bubble… This is stuff I look at all the time and surrounds me. I was living with Jeff Jank who does all the artwork, and we just listened to tons of Zappa.
TF: When I was a teenager I used to go to Zappa concerts when he was playing with Ruth Underwood and George Duke.
M: You got to love Zappa and Beefheart, The GTOs, Wild Man Fischer and George Duke… Zappa made me study all that stuff even more.
TF: Don’t forget Varèse! That’s the direction Zappa pointed me in.
M: You got to pay your dues.
TF: I think in Europe, there’s been resurgence in vinyl, amongst DJs, of course, but also people who love the object and its special sound quality. I see the whole numbering and signing thing as a part of that, which I know you’ve done. Is there a vinyl resurgence in the US?
M: Not that I know of. I mean, it’s still around and some people buy it, but not enough.
TF: You did it with the Medicine Show, too. Labels are becoming more like art galleries, encouraging their artists to put out stuff that’s really personal and unique, visually and sonically.
M: I think the art is as important as the music, to be honest. I don’t just download things. I want to know who played on a record, who produced it, where it was made… This stuff is important to me and always has been.
TF: So you don’t listen to contemporary music at all?
M: I do, but I don’t buy it. I’ll hear it when I’m in a club or whatever, but I don’t search it out.
TF: But there are musicians these days doing great things you just can’t hear in a club. It’s stuff that’s spiritual too but too experimental for the dancefloor, like Jan Jelinek or Daedelus, for example.
M: I like Daedelus, that’s my boy. But I have so much old stuff to discover I don’t know when I’ll have time to get to the new stuff.
TF: I remember reading in your interview in The Wire that you have all sorts of “future music” that’s unreleased. When are we going to hear that?
M: I don’t know. I don’t even know if I’m ready to hear it. There’s a lot of music I’ve done that’s gone unreleased: dubstep, synthesizer records, all types of different things, Cluster-like and beyond. I would say I’ve released around thirty percent of the music I’ve created.
TF: One thing I’m really curious about from a musician’s point of view is how you find the time to be in the studio and make so much music and still take care of, like, domestic stuff?
M: It’s not balanced. I’m mostly working in the studio. I mean, I have one at my house, but I’m usually in my bigger studio. I do what I need to do to feed my family, so they understand. It’s not really a balance yet, but I don’t see it as work. It’s music. Doing construction is work. What about you?
TF: I have to be able to let go to make good work. Forget about what’s going on in music, forget about my to-do lists. My mind and my environment have to be relatively in shape before I go into the studio.
M: Yeah, it’s easy to ignore everything, when your head is in the music. Even your health. It was the same thing with Dilla.
TF: Tell me about that. He’s regarded as one of the most important producers . . .
M: When he was alive, so many people seemed inspired by what he was doing. I heard Dilla everywhere, in so many different kinds of music. His influence was immense. He could do any type of music. I heard all sorts of stuff he didn’t release—electronic, Kraftwerk stuff… He was deep. I was lucky enough to kick it with him here in L.A. I guess he had to die for everybody to, you know, find their own way. It’s a weird way to put it, but that’s how it is. The music is so warm, precise and soulful. That’s how he lived. He’s like Bird and Coltrane, like Doom and… Doom.
TF: You’re one of the few people who’ve gotten access to the Blue Note archives, which you waded through to make Shades of Blue back in 2003. I always wanted to know what that was like.
M: It was fun. They have way too much stuff they should have released. The best records are still in the vaults.
TF: There are so many new things coming out of Los Angeles. I really like your brother’s work too, Oh No.
M: We actually just finished an album together.
TF: Really? That’s great news. I can’t wait to hear it. I’ve seen Oh No live a bunch of times. I actually just picked up his new record, Dr. No’s Kali Tornado Funk.
M: He’s a little beast. Both of us like looking all over the place for sounds. Really, you can find good things in every kind of music. I mean every kind, you know? You just have to look hard enough and have an open mind.
TF: In Germany we have a very broken relationship towards our cultural identity. Classical stuff here is more bourgeois. Then there’s the real folk music with accordions and all that. Some of it is impressive.
M: Everybody is one, we just live in different places. I’m ready to sample some Martian music, aliens and what not. I’ll perform for all Martians, you know what I mean? ~
See this article as it appears in our print magazine via Issuu.com below:
New week, new Videodrome. You know the drill by now… During the week we already had Death Grips’ new video for “Lock Your Doors” and JT’s Floria Sigismondi-directed “Mirrors” on our radar. Below, ten new aspirants for the video of the year:
#1 inc. – “Black Wings”, directed by Aged/Aged/Kuhlman
LA-based brother duo inc. have unveiled the video for “Black Wings,”from their excellent debut album, No World, out now via 4AD. Co-directed by themselves and Ryan Kuhlman.
#2 Emperor Yes – “Cosmos”, directed by Chris Boyle
London’s Emperor Yes has premiered a strange/bizarre video for their new single ‘Cosmos’. You’d be a fool to miss this.
#3 Coco Bryce – “Club Tropicana”, directed by Thomas de Rijk
Fatima al-Qadiri anyone? Dutch producer Coco Bryce‘s second album is out today on Fremdtunes, and to mark the occasion he’s unveiled a brand new video for the title track “Club Tropicana” above.
#4 Lil B – Choppin Paper Up, self-directed.
There’s a new Lil B new mixtape out, for free! Thank you Based God! I think a Lil B documentary is necessary. Someone make this happen? Now grab the mixtape here.
#5 Beat Making Lab – Cho Cho Cho, dir?
“Cho Cho Cho” features Congo Beat Making Lab (Queen Minaj, Pierce Freelon, Fal J, Melissa, Laureat, DJ Couleur, MC Mussa) and Zenga, Flamme Kapaya and Apple Juice Kid. Entertaining.
#6 Greatest Hits – “In the Jungle”, directed by Micah Welner
Our friends over at NFOP just unbridled this great video joy for Greatest Hit‘s latest stroke called “In the Jungle”.
#7 Sun Araw – ”Second System Vision Radio”, dir?
Cameron Stallones of Sun Araw just launched “Second System Vision Radio”, an audio/visual broadcast series in cooperation with L.A.-based dublab.
#8 Grandtheft – “My House”, directed by Musabay/Grandtheft
Check out the video of DJ Grandtheft‘s latest single “My House”. It is out now on Top Billin.
#9 Pttrns – “Strong Talk”, directed by A. Hubertus
Since winning a slot at Melt! in 2010 things went pretty well for the Hot-Chip-esque Cologned-based duo. Next month their second LP will see the light of the day, and “Strong Talk” serves as a delicious appetizer.
#10 Tyree – “Turn up the Bass”, dir?
This one is another classic from 1989, the year I started caring about music and put the Simple Minds and Fine Young Cannibals records from my older brother aside. Back then, this Tyree smasher track was extensively played in both Planet and UFO, the go-to clubs during those changing times in Berlin. Of course, I rediscovered Fine Young Cannibals later.
If drumming and screaming are things you hold high on your list of “what a live band should do”, then you might just be a Foot Village fan. Since 2005, the Los Angeles four-piece (which now also features Beak>‘s Matt Loveridge as well) have been making some of the noisiest and most heartfelt tribal punk I’ve had the pleasure to experience—both live and recorded. With associations and collaborations within the West Coast independent music scene that range from HEALTH and Black Pus to Pete Swanson, the group have left a wide swath of credible releases behind them—not to mention quite a few gratefully-bruised eardrums.
Around 2008, I struck up a friendly relationship with band member Brian Miller after one of their New York City shows, and we’ve kept in touch over the years. Aside from his duties as drummer and vocalist, Miller also runs the fantastic avant-garde label Deathbomb Arc—along with Leroy Brown, Miller’s cat and acting CEO. After hearing their fourth album Make Memories, due to be released tomorrow, I had a few questions for Miller about his music, his label and the songwriting process used for what I find to be their most unique release yet.
Deathbomb Arc recently received a full site redesign, and it looks like you’re gearing up loads of new stuff.
I’ve started to think of Deathbomb as a window into another universe. For those of us with an ear to new sounds, we’re already in that other universe, but I want to reach people who normally have to wait years before an “experimental” act is deemed normal enough for them. The music business really has low expectations for audiences, and I see Deathbomb as a direct fight against that. The new site is a literal window into this other world. It was inspired a lot by the old Sears catalogs that were so exciting for kids to look at for all the upcoming toys later that season.
The old Wishbook ones! I used to comb through those with a marker and circle, like, every other thing… I never did get that giant inflatable T-Rex. So you wanted to make DBA a grown-ups’ Wishbook catalog?
In part. The really old black and white Sears catalog would have these incredible drawings of everything. Ornate and mysterious, as if their warehouse of goods was located in Arabia, a three month hot air balloon ride away. The catalog I send with our orders looks just like that. I want to bring back that idea that new is exciting; that humans are here to explore. You might say that Deathbomb is a travel agency to new worlds of sound. Since we were the first to release acts like Death Grips, Julia Holter, and now clipping., I think that claim is well founded.
So what are some good new audio destinations for people to travel to this year?
I’m sure for most clipping. is very new, and that definitely is about as fantastic a destination as I can imagine. I also highly recommend a band called (Charles)Book&Record. They did a remix on the new Foot Village album and have some fantastic videos online right now. Deathbomb, which serves both as a proper label and as an artist rep, will be heavily involved in getting word out about their debut, self-released album coming very soon. Plus, of course, all the new Deathbomb releases slated right now.
I remember you showed me the video for “End of the World” a while back before Make Memories was released, and I remember thinking how it was markedly different than anything you’d done before; still very much FV but also very unique. “Aids Sucks, Make Money” definitely has more of a sing-along vibe as well. How has the songwriting process changed for the new album?
When the band started, we had this overarching narrative goal for the first three albums. By the time we were writing Anti-Magic, there was a very specific process for writing songs to fill certain narrative needs. With this new album, however, the songwriting happens all sorts of different ways, some tracks being more one person’s baby than anyone else’s and others emerging out of jams. While “AIDS Sucks, Make Money” is very much a track I brought to the band, I think the writing on “End of the World” is the most interesting. It began as a conceptual way to use a vibraphone, and from there it was written like a game of telephone. I didn’t even really hear the song until about an hour before I wrote and recorded my vocals.
Speaking of telephones, with the new album you also explored that old medium in a new way by allowing listeners to call a hotline to hear the album for free. I thought that was very clever; it added a human element to listening to the record that transcended the now pat ‘stream it via so-and-so’. It brought it right to the listener’s ear, and made FV seem more connectable.
And for free!
It reminded me as well of a lot of the old specialty hotlines where you could call and hear a special message from Hulk Hogan or Freddy Krueger… Which tended to be a lot more pricey!
I think at age six I was on the phone with “Santa” for like an hour and my parents got this giant phone bill.
Do you think the phone can be a relatable tool for music, particularly in an age when people are more likely to text than dial?
I felt like it was an appropriate thing to do for the here and now, but I’m not sure about the future. I was at a bar and someone asked about the new album. I felt like it was appropriate to give them a phone number, which made them laugh. If I had tried to pull up an album stream on a computer phone, that would have felt kinda pushy and “wrong time / wrong place” to me. Perhaps that’s just my own strange sense of etiquette, but for the moment I think phone calls are interesting in the same way that many consider audio cassettes to have a renewed charm.
Getting back to your song writing process, how much does improv or last minute ideas play into it? On a huge violent burner like “Warlock” especially, where the structure seems very complex but also very liquid?
“Warlock” and “1600 Dolla” started just as specific rhythms/chants that we practiced improvising around well. We brought those to Matt Loveridge, who is the fifth member on this new album, and he structured them into songs. So they arranged in advance, but composed in the studio. Since then we’ve learned how to play them live based on what Matt created out of the building blocks we handed him.
Matt Loveridge as in the Team Brick/Beak> guy?
Yes, although Team Brick is a retired name. His big project now is Fairhorns (which Deathbomb is releasing a cassette of in May).
Foot Village has existed as an entity for quite a while now. How have you changed over the years, in terms of both live shows, setup structure and such?
It has been clear to us for a while that people get most excited live for our crazier tracks. Ones that have tons of layers, dense polyrhythmic parts, over-the-top heavy riffs. When it comes to recordings, the simpler pop songs seem more popular so we don’t do the simple stuff too much during live shows. We’ve been really gearing those for the spectacle—a huge sonic explosion.
Each time I see you guys perform, I notice that your sound is more complex, richer than the last—especially considering that it’s all still essentially based around drums.
The most recent set-up is starting to include some electronics now too… Pretty lo-tech processing on the drums and stuff. Stuff to just make things even more dense and knotted-up live.
Have you ever thought of releasing a live DVD?
There are three really nicely recorded multi-camera performances we did on the Live At The Smell DVD. Later this month Cristopher Cichocki (who directed our “Anti-Magic” music video) is getting a crew together to film a show. So maybe we’ll have more good live stuff soon, but it would be available for free.
It sounds like both Deathbomb Arc and Foot Village are going to be very busy this year.
Deathbomb is going to make the distinct change from being a record label to an artist label. Not that records are dead, but I think they are a much smaller part of the spectrum of being an artist, more so than ever. As a label I want to make sure I’m helping the acts I work with correctly. For a hint at what this means, folks should consider how clipping.’s debut album is self-released—not on Deathbomb, even though they are most certainly a Deathbomb act. For more info, don’t die. ~
Amanda Brown has consistently been at the forefront of underground music for several years now, whether with her husband, Britt Brown, helping to operate the Not Not Fun record label, showcasing the best of off-kilter American dance music with her own sister label 100% Silk, or via LA Vampires—her primary musical project after the dissolution of Pocahaunted.
While Pocahaunted, LA Vampires and Not Not Fun have dominated a strain of dubbed-out, particularly American lo-fi psychedelia, 100% Silk brings an underground edge to the dancefloor. With that unusual pedigree of savoir faire, we knew that Amanda wasn’t one to do it by the numbers.
1 memorable line in a film or song:
“Anything I did that was wrong, I apologize for. But anything I did that was not wrong, I don’t apologize for.” – Whit Stillman, The Last Days of Disco
2 decisions I regret:
Tour and touring.
4 things I haven’t done yet:
– Owned a flat in Paris.
– Opened my own minimalist department store.
– Bought my two French bulldogs—Bergdorf Goodman and Waldorf Astoria.
– G-chatted with Bjork.
5 things I used to believe:
– The term ‘oral sex’ means talking about sex.
– Paul McCartney was the Beatles’ guitarist.
– Drug-sniffing dogs can smell your birth control pills.
– Wifi gives you cancer.
– The Stormtroopers were good guys (because I’ve only seen the scene in Star Wars where Luke and Han Solo are wearing those white outfits).
6 hours ago…
I was googling “ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE MUG FOR SALE”.
7 classic R&B/hip-hop singles everyone should own:
– “Here We Go Again” – Portrait
– “Night and Day” – Al B Sure
– “Passin’ Me By” – Pharcyde
– “Umi Says” – Mos Def
– “Ditty” – Paperboy
– “Looking Through Patient Eyes” – PM Dawn
– “Can’t Find A Way” – A Tribe Called Quest
After 8 p.m. . . .
I’m wearing a raw silk kimono and Robert Clergerie slippers, drinking reishi mushroom tea, reading Lorrie Moore or watching a documentary on Pina Bausch. And I’m obviously in for the night.
My 9 lives . . .
– Nickelodeon Staff Writer
– runway model for Phoebe Philo
– Woody Allen’s personal assistant
– womenswear buyer for Barneys
– John Waters’ beard/best friend
– nude muse for Patrick Nagel
– body painter at Studio 54
– curator at the Centre Pompidou
– back-up dancer for Digital Underground
I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole:
Beer. Or the Middle East. (Both are sloppy.)~
Title photo by Ashley Anthony.