James McMurtry "We Can't Make It Here"



I’m a fairly laid back person. I throw shitfits every now and then like most people do, but like most people, the vast majority of my pissiness is superficial and is forgotten almost immediately. It takes a lot to honestly get me riled up, so when I do become angry — honestly angry — it’s got to be for a good reason. And as true now as it was the first time I heard it: listening James McMurtry’s “We Can’t Make It Here” makes me angry.

I was first introduced to the musician by a roommate in college. To lend a bit of context to this, it should be noted that this particular roommate’s favorite musician of all time is Garth Brooks. (He and I don’t particularly see eye to eye on that one.) One day he came into my room and told me I had to listen to this CD he just bought, that being McMurtry’s Childish Things. Having gone through this before, I had done the “suuuuuuure, I’ll listen to it” routine, fired the disc up, and shut it back down as soon as he left the room. But he pushed this one on me, and in particular this very song. It was 2005, he a College Republican and I a politically confused Canadian, but we both sat there, listening, with frogs growing in each of our throats and tears swelling up in our eyes.
"Should I hate a people for the shade of their skin, or the shape of their eyes or the shape I’m in? Should I hate ‘em for having our jobs today? No I hate the man that sent the jobs away."
James McMurtry is a country musician from Texas, he doesn’t take shit from the industry (ie: his 2008 independent release Just Us Kids was his first album to chart on the Billboard 200 since 1989), and he seems to be set in his ways. But he’s also a badass, he knows when to call a spade a spade, and is not afraid to do so. With this song he does just that. Saying that “We Can’t Make It Here” touches on the war, the effect the failing economy, and white collar crimes would simply be scratching at its surface. I can’t think of a more moving social critique that I’ve heard in a song. Ever.

In revisiting it now the song has lost little of its emotional charge. Even when taking into consideration that we now have a different administration, a “Yes We Can” attitude, and a President in office who the majority actually voted for, I think McMurtry’s words are as vital now as they were four years ago. Sometimes that painful reminder is a good thing, even if it does leave you feeling mad as hell.

Britney Spears releases new single “3,” officially stops trying

Britney’s Manager: OK, what we’d like to do is keep the positive synergy between Britney’s new and old fans in high gear and make sure that we keep the energy up from her massively successful Circus tour by releasing a greatest hits album; covering her entire career, peaks and trophs—everything!

Jamie Spears: Love it, y’all! But you know we already did that in 2004, right?

Britney’s Manager: Yeah yeah yeah, doesn’t matter, in the pop-game 2004 might just as well be an eternity ago. Only real problem here is that the majority of the consumers in her target market already own all of the music—let alone the 2004 collection—that we’re going to re-release on this disc, so we’re going to need to spice it up with something new somehow.

Jamie Spears: OK, what’d y’all have in mind?

Britney’s Manager: This is asking a lot, but… a new track?

…One month later…

Jamie Spears: Here’s what we came up with.

…music plays…

Britney’s Manager: You don’t think that anyone will mind that it’s a throwaway extension of Circus that borrows liberally from “If You Seek Amy,” do you?

Jamie Spears: No one seems to have cared in the past, right? Let the haters hate, y’all!

Britney’s Manager: Yeah, I suppose you’re right.

dj Erb Interview


When did you start making mashups?

dj erb: In keeping with what I’ve actually heard from quite a few DJs and producers, it probably all started with a dual tape deck. I always loved Pantera and metal music where there’d be just a groove to it and there would usually be a breakdown part in the middle where it was just a stripped down hard and heavy groove riff. And just as hip hop producers and DJs extended funk breaks, I started out by extending heavy metal breaks. I would make tapes where I would extend the breakdown from something like “5 Minutes Alone” and record it back and forth on the tape decks 4-8 times so I could get down to that part longer.

I was also always the one people would look at my CD collection in high school and go “huh?!” I’d have my Pantera collection sitting right next to 2Pac’s new album and have a Steve Ray Vaughan album on the next page along with the soundtrack to Last of the Mohicans which was next to Notorious B.I.G. and then some crazy new techno thing called Daft Punk. Not many people I knew at that time could honestly put on Pearl Jam’s Ten and follow it up with Snoop‘s Doggystyle and then pop in Exit Planet Dust and then listen to Tool’s Undertow and then end up with the soundtrack to Rising Sun and enjoy them all the same. My CDs were so varied that people always looked through them and just shook their head wondering how I can like this but still like this while also liking this and that. You can’t actually like all of these?! But I did. I couldn’t decide what I really liked because I saw something great in all kinds of music.

My freshman year of college in 1997 a friend of mine named Ravi and a bunch of other people around campus found a file sharing method of some kind. Not sure what it was, but file sharing of any kind like that back in 1997 was pretty new as far as I can remember. So I’d hit up his place and we‘d get a few songs here and there. One of the things I got from this was a rap song I always wanted but when I got it home and gave it a listen it was actually the a capella version of it, which at that time I had no idea what that even was. I remember that I was going to just delete it but I figured I’d keep it anyway just for novelty value.

It was only the next year that I figured out something to do with that a capella. At that time I was messing around recording original music using a Cakewalk music program. I think it was Cakewalk’s Guitar Studio, can’t really remember. I realized that the program was basically working off WAV files that you were supposed to record using the mic input or line-in so I figured why don’t I just convert whatever I want to use to a WAV file and drop it in that program. So I’d mess around putting the rap vocals over instrumental parts from rock songs or mixing up heavy metal breaks like I used to do with cassette tapes and so on. But I really couldn’t loop the instrumental parts and I couldn’t match the tempo of the songs if they weren’t the same so they didn’t really work at all most of the time! But after messing around with it here and there I did come up with some things that worked decently well and got to the point where I could sequence parts repeatedly to make it sort of loop and then put a rap verse on it or maybe a beat from a rap song.

So the first actual finished mashups or remixes I made came in 1998, but I didn’t let anyone hear them for a quite awhile after that because a) I didn’t think anyone would like them and b) they really weren‘t very good at all at that point anyway! I was just making them for myself as a way to combine all the different kinds of music that I enjoyed. So that’s how it all started for me and I just kept playing around with stuff from time to time throughout the years after that. And as new music programs and DJ technology came out it became easier and more accessible to do as I went.

Are there any other mashup producer, or producers, that inspired you to get started?

dj erb: Again, I seemed to find this on my own so nothing really inspired me to get into mashups and remixes other than my desire to mix up all the different kinds of music that I enjoyed. But if I did have to name one influence I think it would have to be DJ Shadow. I first heard Endtroducing from an old friend of mine named Dylan. I remember sitting up in his room at his house and listening to it and at first not really getting it, but after a bit I was blown away by it. It was amazing to me that Shadow took samples from basically every genre of music and put them together so they were now something completely different. And it wasn’t just 2 or maybe 3 different sources mixed together, he was taking just a sprinkle of this song and a dash of that song with the drums from this song and a vocal hook from that song and on and on and on to create something completely different. So if anything I’d probably have to say DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing opened my mind to the possibilities of taking samples and bits and pieces of songs and mixing them together to create something of your own. There’s a line I always liked from the movie Finding Forrester that I think sums it up well, "You’ve taken something which was mine and made it yours. Quite an accomplishment." And that’s what Endtroducing showed me was possible.

How many mashups do you think you've made in your life?

dj erb: Wow, it would definitely be a very large number over the years. I’ve made over 50 CDs full of music since 1998 but a lot of those are original music and some are DJ sets so they probably don’t really count in that respect. I’ve also made countless other remixes on the side like all the Class(X) mixes and a mountain of stuff that I’ve still never even given out to anyone. So it would definitely be a very large number whatever it is.

What is your favorite mashup of all time?

dj erb: I’m assuming you mean what’s my favorite mashup of my own? Maybe not, but I’ve hardly listened to anyone else's work at all so I wouldn’t even be able to say what my favorite is of other people’s stuff unfortunately!

So it’d be hard to narrow down to just one, but I think I’d have to say the “Hollaback Girl Ohio State” remix would probably have to be my personal favorite. I could write quite a lot here about the history of that one - how it came about, the effect it seemingly had, all the copycats afterward, the requests from other schools to remix their music even including some high schools that asked, and everything to do with that one remix. But I think it’s just extremely special to me because I somehow created something that became however a small part of the Buckeye football experience. And it’s an amazing feeling to have had anything remotely at all to do with the traditions of Ohio State football and it’s probably the mix I’m most proud of due to that fact. O…H…

[This article first appeared on Mashuptown.]

Fuck Knights Interview


Last December Minneapolis’ Fuck Knights released its first album FuKn Live! Vol. 1, a compilation of songs recorded live from a variety of the band’s performances. Now following it up with a second release, Vol. 2contains 12 tracks recorded throughout the Midwest from January to May of this year. The album will officially drop at the band’s release party at Palmer’s Bar, set right in the middle of the 5th Annual Zombie Pub Crawl on Minneapolis’ West Bank this coming October 10. The CD will be limited to 100 copies and will be available at the show, but to get a taste of the band’s new songs Culture Bully is proud to offer FuKn Live! Vol. 2 in its entirety for free download. Fuck yeah.

~~~~~

Do you find a difference between when the band plays instrumentals and the songs where you sing? What was the inspiration behind standing while drumming and singing rather than taking a traditional approach such as that laid down by such brilliant luminaries as Micky Dolenz and Phil Collins?

Sir Getsalottapuss: “Horseman”’s only the second instrumental we’ve ever done (as well as our first original instrumental—the other’s a Link Wray cover), but the only real difference is that without needing to coordinate singing and drumming, I have an opportunity to be more engaging with the crowd—to make more eye contact and dance around a bit more.

Playing the stripped down kit is out of necessity. I’ve moved around a lot and have learned that in order to be mobile, I gotta have less belongings—especially musical instruments, which take up a lot of space, weigh a lot, and are expensive. It’s a limitation I’ve come to embrace and utilize as a creative direction.

With a song like “Baby Get Lost” there are two separate influences that I pick up: the guitar work and rhythm reminds me of a lot of modern rockabilly acts while the drum breakdowns in the middle hearken back to something in the big band era. Are there certain bands that you end up emulating without even really thinking about it too much? Do you tend to wear your influences on your sleeve?

Sir Getsalottapuss: More than emulating certain bands, we tend to merge elements of certain genres. Specifically, though, I’d admit to Stones, Kinks, Velvet Underground, Stooges, Fall, and Damned being worn fairly prominently on our sleeves.

“Oh-Oh” might be my favorite Fuck Knights song (largely because of this exact performance, to be honest)—this version was recorded when you guys played with Peelander-Z at St. Paul’s Turf Club. When you know another band on the bill is going to come out and pull out all the stops during its set, as with Peelander, does that affect how much energy you have when you play your set?

Sir Getsalottapuss: I’d like to believe that our energy/performance is consistent whether we’re playing in front of 20 people or a crowd of 800, and for the most part, I think that’s true. But yeah, when you’re performing with bands like Peelander-Z, it does make ya think twice about what you’re gonna do up there. When we opened for Monotonix at Uptown Bar last February, I remember planning to absolutely smash up our shit fucking thoroughly Who-style, not just knock it over and roll around with it like we do a lot of the time, but it turned out that we couldn’t really afford it, financially.

The separate parts to “i”/”Primitive” were recorded in separate states; does the band make an attempt to keep things pretty close to the sleeve in terms of playing the same show each night and not losing your shit on stage?

Sir Getsalottapuss: Most of our songs are semi-free, meaning that there are many open pockets available for improvisation which allow us to reinterpret the same songs over and over again. Therefore, we do tend to play the same set many times, especially on the road, but it’s a different experience each time, not only for the listener, but also for us as performers.

As a song “Teenage Wasteland” has one of the most complete sounds on Vol. 2, and certainly one of the most energetic guitar-breakdowns on the record. Is there one song that you guys play that stands out amongst the rest for your? If you had to rank them, where would “Teenage Wasteland” rank?

Sir Getsalottapuss: “Kristina!” and “Oh-Oh”, being the A-sides of those respective singles, are considered by us at this point to be our best feet forward. “Teenage Wasteland” is based upon the idea, “Let’s have a rave-up!”, which isn’t terribly groundbreaking, so for me, it’s more of a “genre-identifying” tune than an artistic achievement. I like the song and think it accomplishes its purpose, which is to state: “We’re a rock and roll band,” but I certainly prefer other songs of ours. Mike Wisti, who records our songs at Albatross Studio in South Minneapolis, says it’s a “meat & potatoes song” which lets people know, “This is not Pavement!” and I actually like that interpretation.

“Materialize Soon” is one of three songs on the record that were recorded at Palmer’s Bar. Not that I would ever attempt to disregard the high quality of service and product served there, but for all intensive purposes: it’s kind of a dive. Do you prefer playing in smaller bars like Palmer’s over something a little fancier like the Kitty Cat Klub? What’s the rattiest bar you’ve ever played while on the road?
Sir Getsalottapuss: The songs we included on this record were all recorded at places we like being at and performing at. Probably most of these places would be considered dives, but we’re not focusing on that… it’s not like we’re making a point of being associated with shitholes—we just feel at home at places where people relate to what we’re putting out—places like Palmer’s or Cal’s, where its okay to get shitty and perhaps not remember the next day what you did there the night before, and no one holds it against you. Plus, man, when you play a smaller place it’s easier to pack! I’d rather play to a 100-person at-capacity room than to 100 people in a 500-person room—the energy is more potent, direct, reciprocal, and worthwhile.

I would have to say the “rattiest” place we’ve ever played was not a bar, but an after-hours house party we played in Covington, KY. People in Kentucky are very proud and provincial about their bourbon, which they supplied to us in copious amounts. I woke up the next afternoon shirtless, underneath my floor tom, using a pedal board as my pillow, with a chipped tooth and a hole in the knee of my jeans which wasn’t previously there.

What the hell is going on here?

Sir Getsalottapuss: We record every live set to a portable cassette tape recorder (from which FL!V2 is compiled), and this particular section is the result of several free buckets of 7oz Little Kings malt liquor during a performance at Belmont in Hamtramck, outside of Detroit, MI. By chance, before the set at Belmont, we met the owners of Trowbridge House of Coffee (THC), a coffee shop/bar/performance space just down the block, who came out to see us and afterward asked us to do an after-hours set at their place in exchange for free food and drinks, and a place to crash, so we took em up on their offer.

“Poor Boy” definitely has a certain “Green Onions”-element to it; given the era that the original comes from would—had you been forced to make the distinction—would you say that Fuck Knights are mods or rockers?

Sir Getsalottapuss: To quote Ringo, “We’re mockers!”

What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever done on stage?

Sir Getsalottapuss: Licking drums? Rolling around on the stage, shirtless, licking “Murder Path” the teddy bear? Announcing Guystorm as “Gaystorm” because they were late to their DJ set at our record release party at Hexagon? Smashing a shot glass at Beat Kitchen when we made $0, proclaiming, “We’re the best fucking band who’ve ever played this fucking loser shit-dump and we’re fucking getting paid zero fucking dollars?! Fuck these assholes!!”?

(On track #10 “Mod/Kilos”) “Moderation” is about a supposed inability to in control of a supposed inherited set of characteristics. “Kilometres” is about the frustration arising from being far away from a loved one for a long time.

When on the road, what’s your favorite drink?

Sir Getsalottapuss: Whatever the cheapest local beer is. My favorite is Huber in Milwaukee, WI. Also, I like Burger when in Cincinnati, OH/Covington, KY.

What’s your favorite song to end your set with?

Sir Getsalottapuss: We like to save an extended improvisation for the closer. Usually, it’s “Get Outta My Life” by Ottoman Empire, or “Night Time” by Strangleloves. It’s an opportunity to showcase our musicianship and our affinity for psychedelia.

Mally Interview

The past decade has seen one of the nation’s strongest hip hop scenes develop in the Twin Cities, with acts such as Atmosphere, Brother Ali, P.O.S. and the Doomtree crew, Eyedea & Abilities, I Self Divine, and Toki Wright gaining national and international acclaim. But for every Slug there are a dozen MCs below the surface struggling to just be heard; one such voice in the densely populated TC scene is Mally (formerly Mally From the 612).

But just as Mally looks up to those who have made names for themselves outside of the local scene, he’s struggling to separate himself from the labels many MCs have been hit with, “I didn’t want to be labeled as only conscious, backpack, boom bap or whatever other labels some cats fall into. I believe that my music and stories I share in my music are universal to all areas of hip-hop music.” In this interview the 23 year old MC discusses his third album, The Passion, his influences, his aspirations and what he thinks about the lack of support for local hip hop from local DJs.

Why did you drop the 612?

Mally: I looked at removing the “612” (my hometown’s area code) as an unseen form of growth. Although, fans and listeners “saw” or knew that I no longer would go by Mally from the 612, it’s highly possible they were unaware as to what I was going on with me as an artist creatively or as a human being. I didn’t want to be tagged or boxed in as a “Minnesota Rapper” or a person who was stigmatized and judged before he even had a chance to share himself with a larger audience. Plus the name was just too damn long.

Because honestly, I didn’t want to be labeled as only conscious, backpack, boom bap or whatever other labels some cats fall into. I believe that my music and stories I share in my music are universal to all areas of hip-hop music.

What does “The Passion” mean to you?

Mally: Well first off, passion is what drives me or naturally causes me to put my heart into whatever it is I love to do. That passion just happens to be verse, rhyme, lyric and the art of song making and storytelling.

Now, The Passion is very important to me because I looked at it as my first album that was mixed, mastered and pressed up. For the longest time I used to think that all music consisted of was writing and rhyming to the beat, well damn was I wrong. I learned over the past year and a half that presentation is a big part of your credibility as a true artist.

The Passion means being able to give 100% no matter what you are going through. No matter how successful you may be, or no matter how depressed you may be, you never get comfortable or lose that hunger. The Passion is my heart and my life when it was at its highest point of happiness, and when it was broken. I learned a lot about myself while writing this project—The Passion was a key that opened up a lot of doors for me. Some of those doors I believe were my eyes, my mind and my heart and how to leverage them all at once.

I considered The Passion to be a gift for all listeners of music especially in the world of hip hop. I wanted it to be the album where everybody could genuinely relate to me on any of the records.

Your previous releases, The Letter and The Moment were both track-rich, the albums having 26 and 17 tracks respectively. What was the thought behind only including 10 tracks on The Passion?

Mally: My reasoning behind keeping the album to only 10 tracks was a personal preference mainly. I wanted to give everybody who will spend their $5 and support me would get a cohesive and strong album. I am glad to see that more artists are starting to make shorter, classic albums. For a moment too many rappers were making albums that had 20 songs and only 10 (maybe less) that were worth hitting the rewind button on.

Also, I didn’t think it would be smart to write my album in two weeks or write 30 tracks and keep 10. In my opinion, that’s corny and almost borderline stupid to admit you (as an artist) made 70 songs when only 14 of them will see the light of day. That lets me know 20% percent of your new catalog is great and the other 80% is trash or not release-worthy. I went into this project with the intent to only write 10 songs, and if you listen to the album I gave my all on each and every track.

One of those new tracks—”Wisdom”—is essentially a spoken interlude; one statement you make on it struck me though… touching on how it’s “Go hard or go home season.” How are you going to go hard this year?

Mally: I am going to go hard by continuously pushing this album like it’s my last, got some crazy designs coming for my business cards, shirts, stickers and the MySpace web page. In addition, I want to perform with the right acts because straight up I AM SICK AND TIRED OF DOING SHOWS AT THESE GRIMY NO SHOW BARS… I want to get a slot on the college radio stations in Minnesota and possible the nation. Also, I just want to keep writing and sharpening my skills on the microphone and perfect my stage performance game.

What’s your favorite rhyme on the new album?

Mally: You have no idea how difficult it is to answer that question because I love the whole album equally. But if I were to pick a rhyme off of the album it would have to be: “Literally I alliterate just a little bit, illiterates a little irate ‘cuz I’ma lyricist/Nevermore, never less been had my head in check, waking up’s a gamble I refuse to try and bet in debt…” (An Excerpt from “How I Do”).

You’ve got the track “My Time (Fresh Air);” have you had a chance to check out Brother Ali’s track “Fresh Air” from his new album? If you were to name a handful of local MCs that you respect above others, who might you include on that list?

Mally: Actually, I haven’t heard that track off of Brother Ali’s album, but I will check it out after I purchase the album Us. Brother Ali is definitely a great emcee vocally and lyrically that I respect locally.

In addition, I would have to say Carnage, Eyedea, Concentr8, Atmosphere (for grinding hard and getting to the level they have), Mic 101, Wize Guyz, Andre Lipsey, Mike Dreams (formerly known as Young Son) and Heiruspecs. Each and every one of these artists/groups brings something different to the table that I respect for my own personal reasons and not because someone else influenced me to. Hopefully I reach the level where somebody puts me on their “list of respect”…

Are there any collaborations that you’d like to put together in the future?

Mally: The collabs that I pray to God happen in the future would be to work with Brother Ali, and the other would be to work with Skyzoo who is an artist out of Brooklyn that I totally idolize from a music standpoint.

Other than a few releases this past year including those by Muja Messiah, Prof & Rahzwell, Atmosphere, the Midwest Broadcast mix… I can’t name too many Twin Cities-based mixtapes. Do you think that the scene suffers from its artists sitting on their material for too long rather than putting it out there and letting the process start right away?

Mally: Ha, that’s far from the problem… In all honesty, the issue is too many damn fans wanna step in the ring and compete. A wise man from Brooklyn once said “It’s too many rappers not enough mics, too many is rapping and not enough is nice…” What I’m trying to say is there are a ton of wack emcees, who collab with wack singers, make a MySpace page and put it out to represent themselves and where they are from.

Furthermore, you get those wanna be cyber-gangstas who “shoot YouTube up” as Jay-Z put it, and swear they sell weight, get hoes and got all the swag in the world. I laugh, despise, spit on and send a giant middle finger to those clowns who are damaging the art… they need to be banned from the museum. I stand by that statement because 9 times outta 10 that is not their story and it probably isn’t the story of the guy they stole it from.

In addition, the scene isn’t where it needs to be because local DJs don’t push local artists as much as they should. But the minute you make a name for yourself they will co-sign the hell outta you, knowing they didn’t day one. I can’t remember any hip hop shows where the DJ played a nice hip-hop artist on his turntables. The bubble gum is being provided as our daily bread when the real food for thought gets thrown away or swept under the rug.

Who does the majority of the production on The Passion?

Mally: Mydus produced all of the beats for the album. Carnage of Hecatomb Records was co-executive producer who helped with the levels, and sequencing. Bob Lindberg of Gravebomb Studios mixed and mastered the album, and Paul Teeter played live bass on a majority of the tracks and Tommey Walker of V2D Studios did the album artwork

Having had a release in each of the past three years now, do you have any material that you’re already eying for your next release?

Mally: I have one track that I am working on but it isn’t final yet… but the producer working on the track is Rem’ who is out of Florida.

Where can we see you around the Cities in the next few months?

Mally: You can find me at the local venues in Minnesota doing shows, you can find me by Google-ing me, you can find me at electric fetus buying albums, you can find me at Vs. (Social Standard) copping t-shirts and kicks, you can find me over at MySpace or you can find my album The Passion @ Electric Fetus, Cheapo or Urban Lights.

G3RSt Interview


When did you start making mashups?

G3RSt: When I was younger, I used to make a lot of tunes and remixes using tracker software on the PC (ScreamTracker, ImpulseTracker, that kind of stuff). Most of it was very experimental and not very good. Ha! After a few years, my interest in that waned, so I pursued other things. I went into art school and started working in web design and such. At that time I thought the whole mixing scene was as good as dead, but a few years ago I noticed some DJs were starting to make mixes in a very specific format: mashups. In the summer of 2006 I was in a bit of a funk—I had just come out of a long term relationship and I had a lot of time to myself. At that time I had been listening to mashups for about a year. By then I had already registered to GYBO and downloaded songs like crazy. All of a sudden it occurred to me: I should try making mixes myself. So I installed Reaper, and some other sound editing software, and so it started. And yes—it did help putting my mind on other things; talk about therapeutic. ;-)

Was there any other mashup producer, or producers, that inspired you to get started?

G3RSt: Of course, as I said, I listened to a lot of stuff in that period, but the mixes that struck me as the most original were those done by the likes of DJ Schmolli, DJ Moulé, Wax Audio and PartyBen. A lot of people will say they were inspired by 2 Many DJs, but since they only did long mixes, it didn't really interest me at that time. It was only until I heard rounded off songs that I really began taking interest in mashups and the mashups scene.

Have you had any legal threats or issues arise surrounding any of your bootlegs?

G3RSt: No, never. I do think it's an interesting topic though. I can't deny that I partly got interested in doing mashups because of the illegal aspect of it. It's a form of music that is not condoned by the music industry in any way, and the anarchistic nature of it alone is reason enough for me to participate. But to get back on subject... I understand there are producers that have received "cease and desist" mails and letters, but I reckon those are either people that have tried selling their material or who are living in the US... or both. The reason I'm saying this, is because European legislation (or in my case: Dutch) is less restrictive than in America. Here we have the right to sample (8 seconds if I'm correct) and the right to download (though not spread) online music. So er... as long as I'm staying in this country, I'm good.

What is the last mashup you listened to that wasn't yours?

G3RSt: That would be FM24's "Might Like Your Wonderlust" (Gogol Bordello versus Amanda Blank), an excellent genre clash!

Who are your favorite bastard-pop producers?

G3RSt: There are a lot of producers out there that make excellent stuff, but the ones that keep churning out quality material on a regular basis are Schmolli, Phil Retrospector, DJ Not-I, Wax Audio, Aggro1, DJ Moulé and ToToM. I must admit that if you ask me this next week, the list will be different. ;-)

How many mashups do you think you've made in your life?

G3RSt: Real mashups? 67... and I'm not taking into account the ones that I half finished, or tried mixing and threw away, et cetera...

What is your favorite mashup of all time?

G3RSt: That's a hard question... but if I really have to choose, it would be Dysfunctional DJ's "You're the One That I Want in the Next Episode" (Grease versus Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg) - that shit's awesome!

[This article first appeared on Mashuptown.]

Pearl Jam "Backspacer" Review


At that particular time in my life I had heard of Pearl Jam. I was familiar with whatever radio-friendly singles they had in rotation on the local classic rock radio station, and was a casual fan. But my first real introduction to the band came during the 1996 Grammy Awards. At the time I was a big fan of Primus — probably more of the music video for “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” than the band itself, actually — and had my hopes set on seeing the band win the award for “Best Hard Rock Performance” that evening. In the end however, Pearl Jam ended up winning with “Spin the Black Circle” (which was originally released in 1994; c’mon!). The short clip of the winning song which the house played as the band made its way to the stage immediately captured me though, and I ended up buying Vitalogy shortly thereafter.

The point is that everyone has different moments in time when someone or something makes a dramatic entrance into their lives. For some, their Pearl Jam moment came during grunge’s heyday, for others it came in the form of a blistering guitar riff at the ’96 Grammys, but for some other people out there, believe it or not, it likely came when the band unveiled “Got Some” during Conan O’Brien’s debut as the host of The Tonight Show. For those bold enough to call themselves die-hard fans, it’s likely extremely difficult to imagine the idea that there are people who haven’t actually sunk their teeth into a Pearl Jam album. But with 9.2 million people watching that night, chances are high that there was at least one person watching who would fit into that category. And chances are also good that there is one such person who had their Pearl Jam moment that night.

Following the release of a deluxe reissue of the band’s classic debut, Ten, this past spring, information began to trickle down regarding the band’s previously announced ninth studio album. And by the time the band was confirmed as the first musical act on The Tonight Show under its new reign, the internet was already abuzz as someone had leaked a rough recording of “The Fixer” following the Cameron Crowe-directed Target Commercial shoot. From there, fans were treated to the televised live performance, and additional bits and pieces began to fall into place.

The album — while still being an easily recognizable Pearl Jam record — parallels bits and pieces of the band’s previous releases this past decade, but is an animal all unto itself. The first step in shifting the band’s direction was returning to producer Brendan O’Brien for the first time since 1998′s Yield (O’Brien also produced No Code, Vitalogy, and Vs.). The explanation behind the change had less to do with returning to a time period and more to do with the band necessity to be comfortable with someone who they could trust to do the job of trimming its songs down. And after initially reconvening at their first session for the album together in 2008, that’s exactly what he did. Previously the shortest Pearl Jam album had been the record-setting Vs., which runs about 46 minutes. Backspacer is 10 minutes shorter.

This trimming to the core attitude is immediately reflected in the band’s first three — maybe even four — songs on the record. Following the trend set by Pearl Jam, the band ignites Backspacer with the straightforward “Gonna See My Friend,” the previously mentioned “Got Some” and “The Fixer,” and the gritty “Johnny Guitar.” Though not as raw as the opening set of tracks on the band’s 2006 release, these songs nonetheless represent the core of the album’s energy.

“Got Some” and “The Fixer” are the two among the first few tracks that really stick out, though they do so for completely different reasons. “Got Some” is a blazing track that is primarily attractive due to just that: its explosiveness. “Every time you can try/But can’t turn on/A rock song/I got some if you need it,” is a bit of a play on a drug dealer pushing rock (not plural), but ultimately the lyrics are dissolved by the pure enjoyment of the music flowing through the sound of Eddie Vedder’s voice. That last point could be made about “The Fixer” as well, had the song not been slightly slower and oddly funky. Throughout the song Vedder’s voice is highlighted, and despite the lyrics being fairly basic, with each new verse the attraction to them becomes greater and greater, “When something’s broke I wanna put a bit of fixin’ on it/If something’s bored I wanna put a little excited on it/If something’s low I wanna put a little high on it/If something’s lost I wanna fight to get it back again.”

“Amongst the Waves” and “Unknown Thought” both offer a ripple effect, allowing different aspects of the band to alternately take the spotlight throughout each song. Combining an increasingly booming musical presence with uplifting lyrics “Amongst the Waves” eventually blasts through an invisible roadblock and soars, “Riding high amongst the waves, I can feel like I have a soul that has been saved.” Similarly “Unknown Thought” builds slowly, the first two and a half minutes leaning heavily on Vedder’s lyrical focus towards embracing our universal surroundings while the band slowly chimes in behind him. As the song moves forward it again reverts to Vedder’s lyrics, “See the path cut by the moon/For you to walk on/See the waves on distant shores/Waiting your arrival,” before hitting another moment of cohesion before ending the song.

It’s songs like these last two that lend themselves as evidence of the band’s decision to “rehearse” at bassist Jeff Amment’s home in Montana; something Pearl Jam hasn’t done since Ten. As Vedder explained in a promotional Backspacer short, the concept of playing and writing together before hitting the studio was “all based on the idea… ‘let’s write the songs before we record them.’ ” But just as the album seems to level off, we’re given “Supersonic.”

“Supersonic” opens with a riff that essentially adds a slide to that from “Mankind” before continuing the trend that was set by the album’s first string of tracks. Unlike anything on the record to this point, the song breaks down half way through into a fun trade-off between Stone Gossard and Mike McCready, the guitarists blending a heavy jam under a solo, before kicking back into the chorus of the track.

Ten years ago, had you asked what I thought Pearl Jam would have sounded like as its members grew into their early to mid-40s? My response would have probably been something close to what “Speed of Sound” and “Force of Nature” sound like. The songs are on par with much of the band’s output this past decade, but don’t necessarily reflect the same cohesion that is represented through the majority of the record. From there, the album ends with Backspacer‘s second best delicate, brooding love song.

It’s funny that the album’s opener, “Gonna See My Friend,” was described by Vedder as something of a drug song, while the aptly titled “The End” tells a heartbreaking tale that is easily translated as something of a “drug song” itself. The track rests primarily on Vedder and an acoustic guitar, building up as a tale of lovers coming together, before their relationship collapses, "Help me see myself, ’cause I can no longer tell/Looking up from inside of the bottom of a well, it’s Hell, I yell/But no one hears before, I disappear, whisper in my ear/Give me something to echo in my unknown future/You see, my dear, the end, comes near, I’m here, but not much longer." While its pace and tone isn’t entirely different, the gentle sadness of “The End” is ultimately trumped by the album’s best track: the equally sentimental “Just Breathe.”

In first listening to Vedder and Corin Tucker’s rendition of Indio’s “Hard Sun,” released in 2007 on the soundtrack to Into the Wild, I felt as though I had found something that had touched me far deeper than much of anything had in quite some time. The lyrics are one thing — beautiful and deeply moving — but it was the execution of the song that resonated within me. And if “Just Breathe” had been developed along those same lines — Vedder performing a rendition of someone else’s song — I’d say the exact same thing; however, this isn’t someone else’s song.

“Oh, I’m a lucky man to count on both hands the ones I love.” Connecting various aspects of life that are easily overlooked, Vedder continues the song by defining aspects of common ground that we all—at some point in time—share, “Under everything, just another human being/Yeah I don’t wanna hurt, there’s so much in this world to make me breathe.” After assessing the value of finding the humanity within us, strings accompany Vedder as he casts out a line that is repeated throughout the remainder of the song, “Everything that you gave, and nothing you would take.” Vedder himself has called “Just Breathe” the closest thing to an actual Pearl Jam love song, and after boldly addressing that for which he yearns the band safely chimes in, and the song ends as he quietly confronts their mutual morality. Each step in the song enables a touching moment that creates a bond between the songwriter and the listener, and as Vedder carefully allows his love to know that her selflessness is what he finds most beautiful in her, “Just Breathe” — which is lodged in the middle of the album — reaches its “Hard Sun”-moment.

Neither Pearl Jam nor “Spin The Black Circle” are for everybody. Had I not been so fixated on the television set that evening, I might not have developed the intrigue to explore a band that has since become one of my favorites. Chances are good that the majority of the viewers watching that episode of The Tonight Show didn’t make it through the entire episode, didn’t find Pearl Jam to be of their taste, or ended up completely forgetting all about it a few days later. But for some, that had to be their moment; their moment in time when Pearl Jam’s music reached out to them and secured their attention. And to those people I say Backspacer won’t be a bad place to start. It essentially covers the music that the band has made as it has transitioned through the past two decades, while not allowing you to forget that this is Pearl Jam in 2009. While at times there are songs that pull away from the body of the record, Backspacer demonstrates that the band still has fire, it still has cohesion, and above all it demonstrates that Eddie Vedder is still lyrically able to crush giants. What Vitalogy was to me, I hope Backspacer is to at least a few new Pearl Jam fans.

Divide & Kreate Interview


When did you start making mashups?

Divide & Kreate: December 2004

Was there any other mashup producer, or producers, that inspired you to get started?

Divide & Kreate: I think it was that Soulwax As Hear On... that got me started.

Have you had any legal threats or issues arise surrounding any of your bootlegs?

Divide & Kreate: Not from any record company, not yet anyway. My previous webhost didn't look too friendly on having mp3 on my website though...

What is the last mashup you listened to that wasn't yours?

Divide & Kreate: Tone396 mashup with Green Day and Shakespear's Sister.

Who are your favorite bastard-pop producers?

Divide & Kreate: Me, me, me ;-)

How many mashups do you think you've made in your life?

Divide & Kreate: Don't know really, about 150 perhaps.

What is your favorite mashup of all time?

Divide & Kreate: The Timelords 'Doctorin' the Tardis.'

[This article first appeared on Mashuptown.]