Author Archives: Ash El Gamal

[Slow Jam] Harriet Brown – 20/15

Cover art is by Nick Almquist
Photos by Jason Barbagelott
Harriet Brown
20/15

One look at the artwork for Harriet Brown‘s latest single should clue you in to the fact that he’s doing things a little different. The LA-based singer/songwriter/producer certainly has an impressive voice, but it’s what he does with that range that makes him such a promising up ‘n comer. After recently putting out “Fiction,” an excellent collaboration with Astronauts Etc. and Toro y Moi, Brown’s latest release melds an array of influences to showcase yet another facet of his creativity. From a production standpoint, “20/15″ carries an 80s-revival feel with its sentimental keys and slowly unfolding percussion. Brown’s vocal dexterity and clever, thoughtful lyricism once again prove a focal point, though, as he brings elements of soul, funk and R&B into the mix making for a completely novel sort of slow jam. Press play above, grab the nearest lady or gentleman and hit the slow dance like it was middle school all over again.

Single artwork credit: Nick Almquist (design); Jason Barbagelott (photos)
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[Hip-Hop] BMB Spacekid – FBGM (feat. GoldLink)

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BMB Spacekid
FBGM ft. Goldlink

Following a top-notch release with Falcons last week,  GoldLink keeps the quality music coming, collaborating with yet another unique producer in St. Petersburg’s BMB SpacekidDiverging slightly from the future bounce beats GoldLink often accompanies, the Russian producer creates a silky smooth, dynamic instrumental. Even over a different backdrop, GL maintains his hard-hitting delivery, albeit slightly slowed down, and raw style of lyricism during his appearance. At about the 1:30 mark, BMB’s production takes over as he slows the tempo giving a chopped and screwed vibe. Give this jam a spin above–you can grab the single on iTunes now.

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Get to Know: Feed Me Jack [TMN Exclusive Interview/Event Preview]

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We’re really excited to be teaming up with the Make It Funky SF collective to put on a series of showcases in California highlighting local talent. Launching this Saturday, February 21st at El Rio in San Francisco, the first installment will feature experimental indie band Feed Me Jack and the folky, electronic vibes of Mosaics with support from acoustic soul duo, The Kakaroaches making for an eclectic mix of styles. As part of the series, we’ll be catching up with some of the performers to shed light on up ‘n coming musicians. RSVP at the link below. 

Feed Me Jack
Knight Fork

Since we were first introduced to Oakland-based Feed Me Jack a couple years back, they’ve quickly become one of our favorite up ‘n coming indie bands. The collective musical talents of the group have allowed them to perfect, and build on, a broad range of musical styles and influences. Their 2012 debut, Chumpfrey, recorded during their time at UC Santa Cruz, embodies their prowess and versatility, but the follow-up Anatolia EP saw FMJ combining their skill set with a seemingly endless amount of creativity for a cohesive, flowing sound all their own. We caught up with Sven Gamsky (guitar/vocals), Cameron Lampert (bass/vocals) and Jake Thornton (keyboard), 3 of the 5 members of Feed Me Jack (Robert Luisi on guitar/vocals and Eric Lawson on drums are the other two), in advance of their upcoming show. Enjoy the interview below, head to FMJ’s website to grab a bunch of great music and catch them at our showcase at El Rio this Saturday, it’s not one you’ll want to miss!

RSVP: Make It Funky & Music Ninja Present: Feed Me Jack, Mosaics and The Kakaroaches

 

TMN: So, you all first met at UC Santa Cruz. Can you talk a bit about how you all got together?

Sven: It was freshman year when I first met Robert. I was just in the quad, around the dorms, and heard some beautiful guitar wafting down from up high. I just kind of followed my ears and found the room where the guitar was coming from. I didn’t know Robert before that but I introduced myself and showed him a song that I had written. He recorded it and wrote a bass line for that song. That later became “Pirate Muse.” Then, we added a friend of ours who was our old drummer. So we had him and two guitar players, but we played one of the guitars out of a bass amp and had a sub-octave pedal to lower it to that range.

Cameron: So, the original bass player was not actually a bass player, it was just a pedal.

Sven: From that point on, we were kind of moving around until we found the right sound and group. We added Cameron as a permanent bass player and collaborator along with Eric as our new drummer.

Feed Me Jack
Definitely You

TMN: There are so many different styles infused in your sound—ska/reggae,  jam bands and sometimes even stuff like The Strokes just to name a few. Who are some of the bands and artists that influenced your sound?

Cameron: The Strokes are definitely an influence and Grizzly Bear. But really, music is derivative and we definitely acknowledge that. I think we love listening to all sorts of different stuff and really, I hate to use the classification of World music because all music comes from the world, but all music finds its place in our sound. Especially guitar music, plus The Beatles and classics like that.

Jake: I would say the first album, Chumpfrey, draws on a lot more of the influences that you mentioned first. We all think that was more of an accessible sound, a little more pop influenced, than some of our more recent stuff. We’ve really been striving to come with different sounds and go in more of an experimental direction while maintaining the influences that are still with us.

TMN: How did that process of putting together something as cohesive as Anatolia compare with the experiences behind Chumpfrey? Was that shift a conscious effort? 

Sven: Yeah, I think it was kind of a conscious effort. The Anatolia EP was an attempt to go with a little more of an atmospheric and visceral sound focused more on the composition, which is just writing a song that doesn’t have any recurring parts. It was kind of a journey from beginning to end. We’ve been messing with the idea that we want to have one piece of music as an album with all the songs bleeding into each other. So, we kind of tried to create transitions that connect the songs to make one larger piece of music—basically like a twenty minute song.

Jake: It was definitely more of a concept album for us and it also marked our transition from college, house-party type of music into a more identifiable sound. Continue reading

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[Hip-Hop] Heems – Home (ft. Dev Hynes)

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Heems
Home (ft. Dev Hynes)

NYC emcee, Heems, formerly of Das Racist, is preparing to drop his solo album next month and, if the releases thus far are any indication, it promises to be a great one. Earlier this morning, Heems dropped off one of the the most anticipated collaborations from the project, with Dev Hynes, of Blood Orange. “Home” proves a mellow, yet heart-wrenching, track with a gorgeous instrumental to match Heems’s unique delivery recounting a lost relationship. It’s an interesting contrast with the last single, the more upbeat “Sometimes,” allowing the talented emcees versatility to shine alongside Hynes’s phenomenal production. Give this one a listen above–Eat Pray Thug is due out on March 10th and can be pre-ordered via iTunes now.

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[Hip-Hop] GoldLink & Falcons – Vroom

Vroom single
GoldLink & Falcons
Vroom

After a meteoric rise in 2014 and co-sign from Rick Rubin, D.C. artist GoldLink is poised for stardom and, today, we get his first release of the year, a phenomenal collaboration with LA-based producer Falcons. On “Vroom,” Falcons crafts a silky smooth instrumental that fits perfectly into Link’s self-described “future bounce” style allowing the innovative emcee to navigate lyrically in only ways he knows how. A Missy Elliott vocal sample serves as a pleasant surprise blending in perfectly perhaps because, in some ways, this song mirrors the bounce on the classic Missy beats crafted by Timbaland. ”Vroom” proves a testament to GL’s originality, which has allowed him to be arguably the most successful artist yet in combining dance music with hip-hop. After an official announcement on VSCO of his partnership with Rick Rubin, we could not be more excited for what 2015 has in store for GoldLink. In the meantime, this uniquely infectious jam will be in heavy rotation–listen for yourself and grab a free download above.

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Mosaics Talk their Musical Vision, Influences and San Francisco [TMN Exclusive Interview/Event Preview]

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We’re really excited to be teaming up with the Make It Funky SF collective to put on a series of showcases in California highlighting local talent. Launching this Saturday, February 21st at El Rio in San Francisco, the first installment will feature experimental indie band Feed Me Jack and the folky, electronic vibes of Mosaics with support from acoustic soul duo, The Kakaroaches making for an eclectic mix of styles. As part of the series, we’ll be catching up with some of the performers to shed light on up ‘n coming musicians. RSVP at the link below. 

M o s a i c s
GLAM

The emergence of electronic music has created a fascinating rippling effect across genres as more and more artists find creative ways to combine musicianship with the seemingly limitless capabilities of modern studio technology. San Francisco band, Mosaics, have perhaps one of the most novel fusions we’ve heard yet using unconventional, percussive acoustic guitar to create samples that can be manipulated, arranged and layered with unique vocals into brooding, experimental compositions. Their debut LP, Of Colors, helps establish their forward-thinking sound proving refreshingly original without losing accessibility or catchiness. We had a chance to catch up with Mosaics band members Devon Kelts (guitar, vocals), Tyler Hill (production, keys), Grady Lee (vocals, guitar, bass) and Westin Joy (drum machine, bass) about their collective vision, musical influences and experiences as musicians in SF. Get to know Mosaics below and come out to see them this weekend at our first ever Music Ninja show in the Bay Area!

RSVP: Make It Funky & Music Ninja Present: Feed Me Jack, Mosaics and The Kakaroaches

 

TMN: Can you tell us a bit about how you all first met?

Devon: Tyler and I went to Loyola Marymount down in Los Angeles to study music and composition. We were best friends from college and decided to move up to San Francisco to try to make it as musicians. We did a couple musical projects that were kind of just our own thing but we didn’t really put out anything. Mosaics was the final iteration of those projects where we felt like we had a sound that was something we could stand behind. We needed a passionate musician and strong vocalist to get our LP Of Colors finished so we brought on Grady. It ended up working out really well and he made some really strong contributions in helping us finish the record. Then we needed someone to help us play live—Wes and I were already friends and he was pretty excited about the opportunity so we brought him in. He already has experience with production and has similar musical tastes so it worked out quite nicely.

TMN: Your music falls at this really interesting intersection of folk/acoustic, experimental and electronic. Can you talk a bit about the vision behind Mosaics?

Tyler: I think that the vision essentially started with Devon and I painting sonic landscapes on the computer. We wanted to create a sound that could be considered pop but still is drawing all of this original material in from things we’ve created. When we did our first EP, we had a concept where all the songs heard were coming from the guitar. So, basically we made an album all from samples created from hitting the guitar for drums, creating pads out of the guitar using production techniques and obviously writing melodies with lyrics. Our goal is to make something that is very authentic and artistic, but can still have that pop catchiness and drive.

Devon: We wanted to unite things. Often times really unique ways of playing the acoustic guitar are kept in a purist category. Meaning that they just play the instrument and nothing else. It’s very seldom that you see people with unique approaches to acoustic guitar uniting with the world of electronic production. Our goal was to find a way to unite the two in a tasteful manner and maybe, in that unification, to create something that’s new and novel.
Continue reading

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A-1 – Doing The Most (prod. Mikos Da Gawd & Left Lane) [TMN Premiere]

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A-1
Doing The Most (Produced by Mikos Da Gawd & Left Lane)

Bay Area hip-hop, with its unique style, slang and sound, has long been a pioneering force within the genre. Casual fans may be most familiar with the explosion of the hyphy movement in the 2000s, but the scope of the Bay’s influence goes back much further than that and continues to expand on the foundations laid by the scene’s legends including Hieroglyphics, Souls of Mischief, Mac Dre, Andre Nickatina, E-40, Too $hort, The Jacka (RIP) and many more. San Francisco native, A-1has been carrying on that legacy for quite some time pushing the music of his predecessors forward all the while fusing elements of electronic music into his sound. As he prepares for his upcoming album, A-1 has been putting out new content every Thursday and we’re excited to be premiering the latest in that series.

“Doing the Most,” titled after a common Bay Area term for letting your guard down and being yourself to the fullest, features a minimal instrumental driven by steel drums, rolling percussion and rumbling 808s crafted by fellow San Francisco natives Left Lane and Soulection‘s Mikos Da GawdThe backdrop fits A-1′s style to a key and, unsurprisingly, everything about the track is delightfully Bay, from the lyrics and production to A-1′s vocal inflections and delivery. Although “Doing the Most” definitely fits the party vibe, there are more serious undertones about being proud of who you are in the song, further enforced by an airy, thought-provoking monologue about the human experience during the outro. It comes as little surprise that Mac Dre served as an inspiration for this track, and more broadly for A-1′s music–read what he has to say about the late legend below:

Mac Dre was sort of like a teacher to my generation on how to be yourself and do whatever the hell you want to do in the name of fun. As youngsters he showed us that we could wear whatever we want, dance however we want, and speak however we please as long as it makes us feel good, and as long as people in the Bay live their lives that way his legacy will always live on. Whenever you hear me in a rap song at my silliest, goofiest moments, that’s something I got from the Mac.

Slap this one above and look out for more tracks from A-1 in the coming weeks leading up to the release of his album, Thurlian, on March 5th. Head to A-1′s website for some more content and info.

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