I'm travelling again!

tulum photograph


Greetings. In case you didn't know/care I'm currently in Mexico dodging organ harvesters before heading to America, Iceland and London. I'm falling asleep on the beach and forgetting what day it is, but give me until late March and this website will be updated as per normal. If you want to pay me big dollars to write about music for you, I'll be checking my emails with a naive sense of hope. Peace and congratulations for surviving 2012.

Vintersorg Interview

vintersorg
                             
By Jimmy Ness

This is the extended version of my first feature for Noisey/Vice. You can check it out here.

While you, dear reader, might have enjoyed black metal for the corpse paint, lavish leather outfits and Satan worship, if you were weird like me you listened to it for the educational value. Andreas Hedlund, also known as Vintersorg after the band he founded in 1996, sings about his passion for science, astronomy, philosophy and nature. Long before I peeled off my metal spikes and put away the impaled bovine heads, I spent hours absorbing his thought-provoking brand of metal.

The 39 year-old plays multiple instruments and leads about half a dozen other projects including Borknagar, Fission, Havayoth, Cronian and Otyg. Despite having cult status among fans, he rarely performs live and instead focuses on his job as a primary school teacher.

His music incorporates folk and progressive elements, and has been labeled everything from space metal to avant garde. But one thing is for certain, if you have never heard someone scream about Christopher Columbus over blast beat drumming, you're in for a treat.

Vintersorg recently called me from Sweden and while my 13 year-old self wept tears of joy, we chatted about being a black metal school teacher, his favourite scientific theories and man’s relationship with nature.

When did you become interested in space, science and the earth?

I guess my interest in these subjects came along with the fact that I was born, in a way. Of course I didn’t really investigate it from the very beginning. When you are a newborn, you don’t have the ability to understand who you are and what you are in this kind of world. But as soon as my mind woke up, I was very interested in all of the subjects that refer to man and nature. I live quite remotely from big cities. I live very far north in Sweden quite near the Polar Circle actually, so I’ve always had these elements around me, the elements of nature. For me I didn’t actually think of it as an interest because it was just my ordinary life. Then of course when I grew up I understood that you could choose a life from another perspective - if you are living in a big city or if you’re living out in the desert or whatever. My mind was just open from the beginning from where I was standing. As a child, you just relate to what you see around you.

Why did you start to write about this stuff in your lyrics?

I don’t know really. For me it was very natural to write about this stuff because that was the world I was growing up in. Of course when you spend so many years with these kind of surroundings you start to get more interested in them. I was learning more about nature so when you are learning more about nature, you are learning more about science. From the beginning of course I was looking at nature from a visual point of view, but after a while you start learning about the other stuff behind the obvious visual kind of things. I always felt a very strong connection with science, nature and folklore. I don’t see that they are opposites. Folklore is of course a kind of pagan belief, but they saw nature from a different perspective they didn’t know about science. I don’t blame them. I think folklore still has a place in life. Of course from our historical perspective, but also from looking at nature with a romantic perspective.   

Do you have a favourite scientific theory that you think one day might be proven to be true?

Some years ago I kind of soaked my mind with that stuff for 24 hours a day. I follow the progress in science but not as frequently as I did five, six, seven years ago. I believe Stephen Hawking’s theory called T.O.E (Theory Of Everything). I think somehow you can find out the theory that connects all of the other theories together, but that one is of course very obscure and hard to translate into our way of thinking. I think there is one great theory that will connect all the other theories. I see wholeness in everything actually.

You are a primary school teacher. What grade and what subject do you teach?

I teach children everything from when they are six years old. I teach several subjects right now.  I teach scientific stuff, I also have done some social stuff. I work all my days with children and I think that’s the best way you can have a relationship with humanity because children are so new into this world. They have all this curiosity, they are so open minded. Many adults are also open minded, but when you are a child you don’t have this baggage of cultural stuff, this baggage of religious stuff, you don’t even know what they are. I really like to work with kids because they are so curious about stuff. They want to learn. In seventh grade your mind is filled with other things, your testosterone increases [laughs].

Do any of the students, parents or teachers know that you are a progressive black metal singer?

Yup. I’m 39 years old, so I have parents that are at my age. I live in a small town so they know me perfectly. They know me as a musician and also some of them are my friends and that’s no problem. I’m a very open minded person. I’m very open with who I am and what I do. So everybody knows what I do and everybody’s cool with that. Everybody actually thinks it’s really cool to have a teacher that’s kind of a… well they think of me as a rock star, but I don’t think of me as a rock star. You know the drill.

Are you ever tempted to yell at the students in your black metal voice?

Actually I don’t really do that. Of course kids push your buttons, your invisible buttons at times. But there’s a thing that I do when I go into the school building, I remind myself that the first rule of working with kids is don’t let them push your buttons and when they try to do to it I remind myself that he or she is just trying to do that. But I’m not getting offended by it, so I stay very cool and it’s whatever. I don’t really yell at the children at school with my black metal voice but if you ask my kids at home, they may have another theory about that.

What made you choose a steady occupation over touring full time?

Because of kids again actually. I became a father 9 years ago and before that I was kind of having that debate with myself. Like am I going to become a professional musician all year long? So then I had a son and then it was not a debate for me anymore. It was very clear. It was about the time I was pursuing my teacher degree so it was very natural for me to stay at home, have my daytime job and be with my kids. Then two years later I had a daughter, so for me it’s been a very easy choice to stay at home and be with my children. But I like to do some gigs now and then. So now we are doing some festivals and stuff. With Borknagar, everybody in the band except the drummer has kids so everybody is kind of in the same position.

One of my favourite songs of yours is “The Explorer.” Can you tell us about the concept behind this song?

First of all, that album [Visions from the Spiral Generator] was kind of a leap in another direction. I wanted to make it very clear that this how I feel about life and everything. The song “The Explorer” for me is kind of a statement - that is a little bit who I am. I refer to other explorers in the lyrics a little bit, but for me I see myself as an explorer as well. I don’t know everything, I’ve never been the kind of guy that thinks “Oh, I’m the best in the world, I know everything, I have the authority to that or do this.” For me, I’m totally the opposite. I’m a little bit of a curious guy. I’m a little bit of a shy guy. I think “how is this going to work? What is this all about?” Some would see this as a kind of insecurity, but I know who I am. I always try to be a better person. I want to see how I can benefit things in the world and also that will mean I will be a better person. But also I’m totally a nature freak. I’m not a Greenpeace freak, personally I think they are using the wrong means to do their thing. I don’t quite know how to put it so let me use an example: you see a bulldozer going to put down a rainforest. They drill a hole in the bulldozer’s gas tank, so alright the bulldozer isn’t going to devastate the rainforest, but the fire will.

Your two most recent albums Jordpuls and Orkan are part of a series of four albums, one dedicated to each element of the planet. 
Why did you decide to move from space back down to earth?

For me, I couldn’t really let this kind of stuff go away. The four elements have been my guiding star since I was kid, you know. Of course the four elements in the classical theatrical way isn’t really how we see the world now days cause that’s from the old Greek stuff, but I still like the four elements as kind of a symbolic theme as to how life is built up, how we can feel it, how we can see it, hear it, everything.

You’re not the cliché black metal musician. You don’t wear corpse paint or just sing about negative themes. You’re an open-minded family man. Does that seem strange to you? 

Well I haven’t really thought about it that much. Someone would probably think that I’m not the right one for the job at some times, but on the other hand I like black metal for all of its aspects. I like death metal. I like progressive rock from the 60s and 70s. I like heavy metal from the 80s. I like so many different kinds of music, so I have never tried to adapt myself. I try to express something and I try to express it out of passion. I really feel like I have a kind of addiction to music.

Your folk band OTYG has recently reformed. Can you tell us about the line-up and if you plan to do any shows?

No shows planned at the moment, but we are doing a new album with totally brand new songs. It’s going to be something really special actually. All the members that have been in the band are going to be on the album. So the drummer from the first album is going to do like half of the album and the drummer from the second album is going to do the other half. It’s going to be a big happy family thing.

You are constantly creating new music. How do you stay inspired?

I would say you are asking the wrong guy, cause I don’t really know! I’ve been addicted to music since I was like four to six years old. I’ve done a lot of stuff in my life. I’ve been a caretaker. I’ve been a car mechanic. I’ve done so much different stuff work wise and now I’m a teacher, but music has been my best and most comforting friend since I was very young. I can’t really imagine my life without music. Some people really don’t care about music at all, but for me it’s like a drug. It’s a very friendly drug because it makes you really think and it makes you feel. I can’t explain it more than that.    

Musicians from Scandinavia always seem to have a strong connection to nature. Why do you think this is?

I don’t know really. For me, I’m so bred into it that I don’t really know how to answer. I think everybody is interested in nature, it just depends on where you are living. Here in Scandinavia there are not that much people per square mile so everybody has a relationship with nature in one form or another. But also in terms of the definition, what is nature? A city, isn’t that nature? Well from my point of view its not really, from my point of view nature is a thing that man hasn’t made, but it’s a tricky kind of question. Nature has so many elements that appeal to man. For example, you have a black forest. It appeals to a lot of emotions, so it could appeal to like fear or it could appeal to excitement. It’s totally different depending how you see it. Nature has so many things that man is dependant on and also has so many feelings wound up in it. I think it’s very natural to use that kind of force as an inspiration source.

I heard you’ve actually gone and lived in the wild before?

Yeah, between 96 and 99 I lived in a cabin in the woods. But of course I had some connection with the outside, I cut back into my small town from time to time to get some stuff but for three years I lived in an old cabin and it was actually one of the best things I could do with my life at the time.

Wow…

Yeah, and it just fulfilled my vision of how life could be. When you wake up in that old cabin, it’s 2 minus degrees indoors and you know you have to get up and make a f**king fire. [laughs] You know in the winter I had to go to the lake, and make a really big hole in the ice with an axe to get water. You know that you’re alive when you do that kind of stuff. 

MWill - As Above So Below review

new zealand music blog

By Jimmy Ness and originally published at Passionweiss

After seeing the above cover art, my third eye was opened and all of the sacred chakras were energized. Either that or I wanted to hear what a beat tape from Marley Marl’s 19 year old son MWill sounded like. I love esoteric stuff, but ever since people claimed Jay-Z was in the illumaniti, artists everywhere have been pandering to basement conspiracists with half-hearted masonry references and stupid owl t-shirts. If mystical cults are using all of their elite power to get people to listen to Drake, they’re doing something wrong.

With my scorn for hipster Hermeticism in mind, I approached this project from a critical distance. Had all of the work gone into making obscure references in the track listing or would it be legitimately interesting? Luckily, it was the latter. As Above So Below is an instrumental EP dedicated to and featuring samples from progressive rockers The Alan Parson’s Project. 

Usually beat tapes can’t hold my attention, but there’s a lot going on. In just over 30 minutes, it packs spoken word, rap samples, classic prog and futuristic loops. “Elohim” features a catchy guitar sample, Homer Simpson introduces “Atlantis” and “Zohar” is a lo-fi dreamscape for drug trips on rainy days.

If you’re expecting MWill to carry his father’s legacy with authentic boom-bap beats for the “real” hip-hoppers, you’ll be disappointed with these astral sounds. MWill instead pays subtle tribute to Marley Marl by mixing lines such as “rap annihilist flowing like Pegasus” with chilled electronics. Plus, a Lords of the Underground guest spot. 

After all, it’s important to respect the past, but there’s nothing better than innovation. Talent can come from good genetics. The reptilian humanoids that control modern society will be pleased with this record. Even if they don’t have ears.

Nardwuar Interview



Written by Jimmy Ness and originally published at Passionweiss

Nardwuar the Human Serviette is a squawky voiced, tartan-wearing Canadian who knows more about his interviewees than they do. The man previously called John Ruskin uses his encyclopedic knowledge of music to shock, impress and enlighten. His unorthodox approach includes asking his targets who they are, giving them presents and freezing in a wide mouthed grin until the camera shuts off. This pulls the humanity out of media-trained celebrities who are usually surrounded by yes-men and unprepared for the baffling torrent of obscure questions and non sequiturs. Pharrell thinks it’s the best interview he’s ever had, Alice Cooper hung up on him, Kid Cudi left mid-way through and Snoop Dogg invited him to his house.

The controversial Canuck also works as a guerilla journalist and has questioned several world leaders, including former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien who said he didn’t know what pepper spray was, instead claiming “for me, pepper, I put it on my plate.” Finally, Nardwuar plays in several bands, hosts a show on campus radio station UBC CiTR and has more interesting stories than the bible.

After months of trying to pin Nardwuar down for an interview, I caught up with him at Vancouver skate shop Antisocial before his band The Evaporators performed. A group of veteran punks in their 30s and 40s chatted as he rushed around setting up merchandise while wearing his trademark Scottish cap. I watched him while looking for anything that would signal a difference between his on-camera persona and the real Nardwuar. Although I didn’t come much closer to unraveling his true identity, he was a genuinely nice guy, doubled his interview time with me and spoke in rapid-fire mode at all times. We chatted about his research methods, this infamous interview with Blur, Sean Price imitating him, the freeze technique and Canadian rap.

What interested you in music journalism? I heard Sound Proof, a punk and new wave video show, had a lot to do with it.

Yes indeed, thanks for remembering that and thanks for the shout out for Sound Proof! That was a TV show on the North Shore where I lived. Unfortunately, I didn’t get cable, but a whole bunch of other kids at my high school did and they would always say there was some cool stuff on Sound Proof. I was able to actually get videotapes of episodes and was able to check it out. Finally, I actually participated in Sound Proof and that’s when I started doing a lot of interviews.


I couldn’t do Sound Proof until I volunteered at the local cable company though, so I had to volunteer filming council meetings and if you film council meetings then you were allowed to help out with Sound Proof. You had to do some community service, but I was so bad at filming council meetings that I started to laugh and the camera started to go up and down so they said “okay, you can go help out with Sound Proof.”

Around the same time, I got involved in UBC CiTR Radio [University of British Columbia’s campus radio station.] So I was doing a radio show and I was doing the radio interview thing, and then I started doing the video thing. So I decided I would film the interviews, take the audio for CiTR and take the video for stuff like Sound Proof.

Journalism is in your family too. Your mother was a history teacher, but she also wrote a book about a Vancouver bar owner and hosted a television show.

Yes indeed, thank you for digging so deep into the archives. That’s amazing you know that. Well yes, my mom was a member of the North Shore Historical Society. She would drag me to all her meetings, so as a young child I would attend these meetings where all these local writers got together to talk about local history. I got into local history and then as I got into Punk Rock, I got into Punk Rock history. So it all sort of came together. My mom was doing stuff on local Vancouver history so I thought why not do stuff on local Vancouver punk and that got me interested in the roots of punk.


How did you get into other genres?

At first it was only punk rock. I would only interview punk bands and people said to me “hey man, metal is kind of fun why don’t you get involved in metal?” So I was like ok I’ll try metal. And then people were like “you’re stupid to only do punk and metal, why don’t you do rap?” and then I got into rap. And then people were like “there’s electronic music, why don’t you do electronic?” While I was at CiTR UBC radio, there were all different DJs there playing all different genres of music and they would come up to me and go “you’re so stuck in your ways.”


So I guess it was the influence of other people at CiTR UBC Radio, where I still do my show. Also when you do a radio show once a week every Friday, you can’t really discriminate. You eventually run out of punk things to talk about so you’ve got to do metal or you’ve got to maybe interview some politicians. So I think part of it was people telling me. But also having a show once a week you’ve got to interview everyone and you can’t just stick to the punk.

I heard you actually collect and create scrapbooks for artists you’d like to interview?

In the olden days anything that was in the newspaper about punk rock I would clip it out and put it in a clippings file. So I do a similar thing if someone’s coming to town. I open a file on my computer and I jot down information thinking maybe one day this person will come to town and I’ll have all this information ready. Or I dig through my files and stuff that I may have collected previously.


How long do you spend researching an artist? Do you have a team that helps you out?

I do my radio show once a week on CiTR, so generally during that week I have one interview and I think about that interview. That doesn’t mean I spend the whole week doing preparation for that one interview, but I do think about it that entire week. And sure around a radio station, I’ll go like “hey, I’m talking to this ska band called The Toasters from New York City, anything I should ask them?” or “what do you know about ska?” So yeah I do always run things by my friends as well.


How much of Nardwuar is a persona, and how much of it is who you are in real life?

Well every time I get on stage I do get excited and I jump around and I sing in The Evaporators crazily and when I do interviews I jump around and do interviews crazily. So I do get excited once I get on stage, once I’m doing interviews or once I do my radio show. Generally, I kind of think about it in the sense of when you go to a rock and roll gig.

I always was inspired by people like Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys. He gets up there and he jumps around so I figure when you have the chance to be able to do your music, jump around as well. I guess you can concentrate on singing, but maybe do it secondly. The same thing when you’re doing an interview. Also you should go full out, because you don’t have much time. You’re only limited to 20 minutes or 10 minutes or whatever so you gotta go in there, ask your questions and get the hell out! But if I had four or five hours, sure I’d love to just sit back and relax. Generally, it’s because I get excited, I get nervous and when you get nervous, you get pumped up and you gotta go fast, fast, fast!

I’m nervous……

So am I!


What about your clothing, your name etc? Do you use this stuff as a special tactic to draw the real personality out of your interviewees or did that just kind of happen by accident?

Well Jello Biafra of The Dead Kennedys is called Jello Biafra [a combination of the brand name Jell-O and the short-lived African state Biafra.] So I thought I could be called Nardwuar, the Human Serviette. So everybody sort of had fun names like that. As for what happens I don’t really plan anything. If it happens, it happens. I don’t really think of it as what you’ve described, I just kind of go and do it because every interview is different. So you go to an interview thinking it’s going to go this way and it never ends up being the way you think it’s going to turn out. So I just keep doing it because I just love it!


During your interview with the band Blur in 2003, drummer David Rowntree throws away your glasses and constantly physically intimidates you. Was the worst interview you’ve ever had?

Well that wasn’t the hardest interview I’ve ever had or the worst because the tape survived. When I interviewed the heavy metal band Skid Row and the heavy metal band Quiet Riot, they didn’t like the interview so much that they destroyed the tape from the interview. So I would say the Blur interview was a success. First off, because the interview happened and the tape survived. Years later actually, Dave of Blur apologized to me because quote “he was on cocaine.” It took him eight years to apologize to me but he actually did… so we can blame it all on cocaine.


[You can read Dave’s apology toNarduwar here. He says he keeps a video of the interview on his phone to remind him to stay drug free.]

I read that you’ve previously been banned from interviewing artists on labels like Geffen and Warner?

Yes, because when I interviewed Sebastian Bach of the hair metal band Skid Row and he destroyed the tape I was using for the interview. He stole my favorite Tuque, that’s why I wear this Tam [Nardwuar’s traditional Scottish hat.] He [Bach] was on that record label, so the people from that record label said “you can never talk to anybody on that record label ever again.” It lasted a few years and then well here I am back. I just interviewed Ed Sheeran the other day and he’s on Warner.



who is nardwuar
Nardwuar, artist and musician Tim Kerr and myself. 

Do you read a lot of music journalism and is there anything about contemporary music journalism you don’t like?

Oh I love the music journalism that I read. The only thing I would say is make more online blogs printable, so you can actually read them, like on the toilet. But I love reading what other people do because I know what not to ask and it’s fun reading interviews so I can get little tidbits here and there. Every interview that is done, even if it’s for a mainstream top 40 outlet, I’ll listen or read it because sometimes there’s tidbits of information out there. So I love all writers. I love all interviews and I get information from them all as well.


You were booking gigs for a little while yourself, but I heard you stopped because they were pretty disastrous. One of the craziest ones was the show at St David’s United Church, can you tell me about that?

Yes. Thank you again, amazing you’re bringing up these relics from my past. That was put on by a guy called Grant Lawrence, he’s my friend. He was in a band called The Smugglers and he managed to get a hold of the church, it wasn’t me. I was co-presenting with him because his mom knew people at the church, and we hired some skinheads to do the security. They did a good job, but unfortunately at the end of the evening they stole the money because they were working the door and they stole the amp for the church organ. So the next day when the people showed up for the church there was no amp to project the organ, that was sort of bad. Plus after the gig we didn’t go into the washrooms to clean them up and we later found out there was shit on the walls. I learnt quite a bit from there. After you do a gig, you should clean up.


I learned kind of the hard way because I thought you just leave. But then I learned when we left the parking lot – it was covered in beer bottles and stuff like that. The gig was a band called The Gruesomes from Montreal and they totally inspired me too because they covered a lot of bands in their set. Like they would cover obscure 1960s bands from Montreal and I was like “wow there’s cool obscure 1960s bands from Montreal?” That got me into ‘60s Canadian punk so that gig was a big turning point for me in 1988.

Did you see Sean Price pretending to be you while interviewing Pharaoh Monch? There was also someone dressed like you in Korn’s Twisted Transistor video.

You’re one of the few people to actually acknowledge that. I say to other people, “hey man I was in the Twisted Transitor video” and they are like “NO!” So thank you for acknowledging that. I am really there. Although, they never told me. They got a Nardwuar lookalike there.


How do you feel watching that stuff?

Well I was honored because Sean Price has a song that goes like “SHUTTHEFUCKUP!!!!” Kind of like the Juicy J song and I think that’s amazing. Pharaohe Monch, just to have him reacting to a fake me was out of this world. I just could not believe it, like this is Pharoahe Monch. I would love to speak to him myself. I guess I did it right there. So it was just something that I don’t think will ever happen again. I was just totally honored.


You’ve interviewed everyone from Jay-Z to Iggy Pop. Do you have many names left on your interview wish list?

Well, originally it was Neil Young, Bill Clinton and Kurt Cobain. I spoke to Kurt Cobain. I’ve tried Neil Young twice, failed both times. I guess I could try again when he comes to town in the next few weeks. Bill Clinton I’ve tried, but didn’t get close to him and was escorted out by other members of the media. It wasn’t like the authorities or anything. It was other members of the media saying “get that guy out of here, he’s Nardwuar, he’s going to cause a disturbance.”


So I really would love to do another presidential United States of America-ish interview with another political figure. I’ve interviewed some of the other prime ministers from Canada, but I’ve never interviewed a president that’s been in office. I’ve interviewed Gerald Ford, ex president of the USA, but I’d like to do some more presidential ones. So those are pretty much on my wish list still. I guess I’m still kind of hoping for Neil Young, but still Bill Clinton. Also if we bring it into the 21st century I would still like to speak to some of the legends of rock and roll like Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis. People that may be passing away soon. Hopefully they don’t, touch wood, but I’d like to speak with them because all this history is dying and you have to document it before it all disappears.

Do you personally find time to listen to music and what are you enjoying at the moment? Any rap?

In Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, there once was a rap artist who I’m still listening to called MC Terror T. I still listen to her and I listen to old school Vancouver rap. There was a group called EQ, which was one of the first groups that ever came out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. So I’ve been listening to some of the old stuff. As for other groups I do my radio show every Friday on CiTR, so there’s tons of music to listen to and I listen to CiTR as much as I can to find about new music. I’m constantly looking for it because I have no idea where to find it myself, that’s why I have to have CiTR direct me on where to look because all the different shows play at night and I can find out what I like.


I basically don’t know much at all. I have to find out what goes on, it takes a little while to find out. Yes even when I’m doing my radio show, as pathetic as it sounds, it takes me hours and hours to figure out what music to play. It’s so difficult.

At the end of every interview you completely freeze in one pose and stop blinking completely. Tell us about this technique.

I have no idea how the hell that happened. I think it happened originally because I was having so much fun that I didn’t want the interview to end. So I was like “ahhhhh!” I was just having fun. I don’t know how it happened!


You always mention Vancouver in your interviews. I just asked you about rap music and instead of talking about American music, you bought it back to Canada. Why do you love it so much?

I guess it goes right back to your first question, my mom. She was in the historical society. When I got into music, I got into local music and I love local scenes. However, if I was in Seattle I would be obsessed with the Seattle rock or rap scene, like Kid Sensation from Seattle or Criminal Nation from Tacoma. Anytime I go to a different city I’m interested in the local scene.


Looking back at your career, you seem to be a big advocate of the D.I.Y ethic when it comes to releasing and promoting music or even doing your radio show?

Yes because to begin with nobody would put on a gig for my band The Evaporators, so the only way to put on a gig is to put it on yourself. Same thing when you do a radio show. You’re doing the radio show, you have to program the music. I was doing my radio show for a little while and I was like “won’t it be cool to put out a record?” So I was inspired by a band in Vancouver called No Exit and they put out the first punk LP in Vancouver and I was given a copy of that record and I thought they can put out a record and they did it totally low budget.


What they did was they took the first Clash record and put their faces over the guys in The Clash so it was kind of a play on the first Clash record, it was totally do it yourself. So I thought I could do a record label, so Nardwuar records started in 1989. Then I thought I can put out a DVD, I can put out a CD and they can have Nardwuar t-shirts. So it started I guess because I saw other people doing it and also in Vancouver in the 1980s, I was inspired by the people that put out records. Because in Vancouver, people were like “ok we’re in a band let’s put out a record!” In other cities, they are like “well, we will put out a record but I don’t know if I want to put out an LP because I want to wait for the big major label deal.”

But here, there was no big major label deal to actually help you out, so you had to do it yourself. And a lot of things with the gigs too – there’s no place to play, there’s no place to do an all ages gig. I wanted to go to the bars, but I couldn’t go into the bars because I was too young, I looked like too much of a nerd. I could have grown a beard, but I still looked like a nerd. I still am a nerd now so I wasn’t allowed in there. You had to organize your own all ages gigs. If I lived in another city, it might have been different. There might have been a regular place to put it on, so you might not have had to do that but it’s different here in Vancouver. That’s why some of the best music is in Vancouver because people work hard. If you can do it in Vancouver you can do it anywhere in the world, because it’s so hard.

Do you have any advice for people looking to pursue music journalism?

I heard Green Day’s Dookie album and I didn’t hear one hit. I had no idea. In other words, my ideas are probably different and totally wrong compared to other people. So I’m trying to learn myself. I’m still trying to get to the top of the rock pile. But I would say what has helped me in my opinion has been being part of a community organization. You mentioned right at the beginning, Sound Proof. The local cable company, going right down there and volunteering for the local video show. Volunteering at CiTR UBC radio, the local campus community station. So I would say that in everyone’s town there usually is a local cable access TV show you can volunteer for or there’s a local campus community station and if you can volunteer and hang out at those places then you’ll learn a hell of a lot about journalism and you’ll meet so many people. I’m still learning. In fact, every time I show up to do my radio show I learn something. I always say, the minute you think you’ve learned everything is the minute you should quit.


What are you hoping to achieve with your career? I know that you were rushed to the hospital with a brain hemorrhage in 1999 and once you came out you felt a lot more determined and focused.

Originally, it was to be pool side with Heather Locklear. However, that’s dating me a bit so I will update it. To be poolside with Heather Graham. Roller girl from Boogie Nights, right? Not Heather Thomas, but Heather Graham. I guess my goal still is to get my own show. I didn’t have my own show on MuchMusic, I was a freelance contributor but I’d still love to do my own show. I guess also, like you say, after being in hospital your goals change and right now actually I’m just happy when I wake up in the morning and I have a pulse and I can breathe. So my goal is to get through the day as you get older.

Well thanks so much and Doot doola doot doo…

Doot Doo!

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Janine and Homebrew dodge bullets in the R&B matrix

janine and the mixtape bullets

By Jimmy Ness

Coming from a small country like New Zealand creates a strange inferiority complex. You have a constant urge to compete against the bigger and badder nations. Being the inventors of the electric fence and the tranquilizer gun might not count for a lot overall, but we really do have some genuine talent hidden amongst all the sheep. New York based, Auckland musician Janine and the Mixtape definitely belongs with the capable few we can be proud of.

Janine, 23, uses a battle metaphor for her harmful relationship on the remix to “Bullets.” She’s dodging hot lead from a dark place, and predicting the next pull of the trigger. Her dream-like vocals create a melancholic vibe to this scenario and Janine’s definitely an impressive singer.

Kiwi stoners Homebrew also jump into the soundscape with Haz Beats supplying a post dub-step beat and Tom Scott rapping with a bitter edge. I support anyone who wears gold rope chains and quotes Biggie in 2012, so look out for her upcoming EP or I’ll be forced to call the New Zealand Task Force.
  

The PotW Staff Remembers Their First Favorite Album


Music listeners are essentially dopamine addicts. The chemicals are secreted every time we hear a song we love.  We all remember the CD that changed us from casual listeners into audio fiends. Maybe we enjoyed the smooth grooves of a boyband or decided Sisqo had some street cred, but there’s nothing quite like discovering that life-changing album. Even if it was Creed’s greatest hits. Allow us to wax nostalgic for a second.



My introduction to music had an uncertain beginning. As an eight year old, I went through the painful process of being forced to return several albums by god-fearing parents. Targets included: Coolio for explicit language/bad hair, The Bloodhound Gang for poo jokes and boy band All-4-One, of “I Swear” fame, for sweetly harmonizing sex metaphors.

Months after letting Bryan Adams and a Christian rap tape gather dust, I sat watching Space Jam in a small theater. During the scene when a young Michael Jordan dunks, my eyes watered as I pictured myself also soaring through the air. I was blissfully unaware of a future in which I would a) still be white and b) only grow to the height of Big Sean. However, as soon as I could convince my family I wasn’t about to turn into Satan, the Space Jam soundtrack was in my uncoordinated little hands.

It was a crash course in rap and R&B, featuring everyone from Jay-Z to D’Angelo, to disappearing acts like Changing Faces and my former musical brethren All-4-One. Before his underage rendezvous gained interest, R Kelly sung his anthem “I Believe I Can Fly,” Coolio gave inspirational life advice which he clearly didn’t follow on “The Winner,” and Biz Markie met the Spin Doctors on “That’s The Way I Like It.” There was also a mysterious artist called “feat”or “ft,” who seemed incredibly prolific and appeared on almost every song. I distinctly remember telling people they were my favorite artist, until I discovered months later that “ft” was actually short for featuring.

“Hit Em High” was the album’s posse cut and undoubtedly my personal favorite. Somehow it managed to sound hardcore despite featuring no swear words, a feat even that the mighty Lil Romeo was unable to achieve. I listened to the soundtrack almost every day and could rap the lyrics word for word. My perception of music was forever altered and although my basketball career tanked, my obsession with everything audio had begun. It wasn’t until years later that my musical taste regressed to Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock. Oh the follies of youth.

 


Freddie Gibbs ft Young Jeezy - Go For It

Freddie Gibbs Young JeezyYep, I'm back from vacation and writing again. This article was originally written for Passionweiss

Gangsta Gibbs is on a roll. The former train robber got dropped from Interscope in ’06, but has carved a niche for those who prefer gritty street tales over label-endorsed drivel. Baby Face Killa recorded an album, three EPs and at least a dozen collaborations within the past 24 months, yet the quality still hasn’t changed. Neither has our fanboyism.  

Gibbs’ demolished last week’s anthem “Kush Cloud” with Krayzie Bone and the phrase “Mo Murda” hasn’t sounded more potent since E1999. Recent release “Go For It” is a leak from Freddie’s project with DJ Drama and shows a lighter side of the typically sullen Indiana native. 

Gibbs and Jeezy cover familiar territory, trading sexscapade stories and verses over a DJ Mustard/Mike Will-like ratchet beat. Gibbs is more versatile than many narrators, bringing his grimy presence to a strip club track without sounding less compelling or out of place. You wouldn’t catch Freddie dancing on tables ala Sean Combs, but he wouldn’t be sitting unnoticed in the corner either. Like its spiritual predecessor, this could be a hit with a clean edit and proper promotion. But unlike Freddie’s taste in women, we prefer our music untainted. 


I'm going to Hawaii!

Not that anyone cares, but I'll be drinking out of coconuts, getting sun burnt and playing tiny guitars in Hawaii for the next week so if this website isn't updated for a minute, you know why! Also speaking of Hawaii, have you ever seen Jay-Z's early video "Hawaiian Sophie"with his mentor Jaz-O? It's terrrrible. 



Bodega Bamz ft Willie Hex - P.A.P.I

asap tan boys

Written by Jimmy Ness and originally published at Passionweiss

Fried chicken, Versace robes and spilled champagne, the Tanboys dabble in decadence. Bodega Bamz and Willie Hex trade verses about the high life over 808s and a haunting melody. The relatively unknown Hex flows particularly well, name dropping Cam’ron, Attila the Hun, Reggie Miller and… Boy George. He also looks like a skinny Big Pun, which is probably important to those who reside in The Bronx.

As you can tell from the “P.A.P.I” video, which features cameos from Yamboghini and A$AP Ferg, the crew are buddies with fellow Harlemites A$AP. They also share stylistic similarities, the most obvious being their quasi-cinematic videos. Both groups favor lavish imagery, in this case A$AP’s trademark gold grills and the Tanboys affinity for holding razor blades in their mouths. They also use creative flair instead of shooting homemade videos next to a borrowed car with borrowed broads.

“P.A.P.I” is inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of Jesus and his disciples “The Last Supper.” However, I am still confused about the significance of the guy ripping his singlet at the end of the video like a 90s Usher. Rap game Latino Backstreet Boyz?

I’ve been checking for these guys since Bamz killed this track in May and while I’m not fully sold on Tanboys, along with “My Name Is,” he’s putting out some good stuff. One thing to consider though: would these songs still be getting as much play if not for their unique videos? Will you still be checking for A$AP and Tanboys once the hype dies down and you realize how hard it is to eat or brush your teeth with a grill on? Time and your dental plan will tell.

Ab Soul - Nibiru

ab soul tde
Written by yours truly and originally published at Passionweiss

Ab-Soul stunts with the ancient gods and turns his on Mesopotamian swag. Each TDE member is releasing a new song this week and he follows Jay Rock’s “YOLA” with raps about aliens, pyramids, and conspiracies. If you’re not part of the hip-hop star-gazer society or you don’t wear a lab coat over your Wu Forever shirt, you probably didn’t know “Nibiru” is named after a concept in Babylonian astronomy. It’s something obscure about the highest point in the sun’s path around the earth, which I can barely understand and I doubt Soul fully grasps. His real name is Herbert Anthony Stevens IV though, and that would make an excellent alias for a spectacled professor who spends his time in dusty libraries reading books longer than the Bible.

A Middle-eastern female vocal repeats during “Nibiru” and it sounds similar to the classic Ofra Haza loop on Eric B & Rakim’s “Paid and Full” (Coldcut Remix.) This is a unique track and its subject matter guarantees you won’t be hearing it in a club or car sound system any time soon. Soulo spits enough spiritual and paranormal references to make Jay Electronica assume the lotus position. The black lipped one also mentions wacky conspiracy theories about the Illuminati and fallen angels, which the unemployed and underage will enjoy debating in the Youtube comments section.

Like he hinted on Control System earlier in the year, which featured the Kabbalah’s Tree of Life as cover art, Ab Soul is clearly interested in the esoteric. That makes him 100 times cooler or geekier depending on your feelings toward Aleister Crowley and sun spirits named Marduk who throw lightning bolts.

Future - Welcome 2 Mollyworld

rapper future
Written by Jimmy Ness and originally published at Passionweiss

Welcome 2 Mollyworld is the astronaut kid’s foray into recording under the influence of serotonin hog Molly, also known to white people as MDMA. It's mostly a collection of popular material and remixes, but DJ X-Rated seizes five new tracks, all of which are more listenable than Diddy’s aimless boasting on “Same Damn Time remix.” The best of the bunch is “Double Cup and Molly” with its solid hook and R&B sensibilities that made Pluto so good. Future inexplicably begins with the phrase “Codeine Miley Cyrus,” which I’m sure the party girl would appreciate. 

“Hard” is also the shit and while the thumping bass sounds similar to his previous work, he’s in a zone where the majority of his verses sound fresh. The three other tracks aren’t particularly special, but it’s enough to subdue auto-tune addicts until Nayvadius Cash (yes, that’s his real name) releases Future Hendrix.

Despite boldly claiming he’s the MDMA rap pioneer, Future walks in the jaw-clenching company of known love-drug enthusiasts Danny Brown and Jackie Chain. The latter dubbed himself “a pill-poppin animal” and claimed he hadn’t slept in weeks on January’s After Hour’s mixtape. As long as we don’t see a trend of thugs hugging it out and succumbing to suicide Tuesday, I don’t mind if my music is on that Ringwald.


Gangsta Boo Interview

Gangsta Boo Interview

Gangsta Boo ain’t no Barbie. As one of the south’s few premier female MCs, Lola Mitchell, spit vicious rhymes as a part of legendary Memphis crunk pioneers Three-6 Mafia. Her tough attitude and witty lyrics backed by her trademark “Yeah, hoe!” ad-lib earned the respect of peers, fans and white New Zealanders named Jimmy. Boo appeared on five Three-6 Mafia projects and released several popular solo albums before leaving the group in 2000 due to financial disagreements. But her career hasn’t become any less interesting – she briefly converted to Christianity, renamed herself Lady Boo, was accused of armed robbery, and has since affiliated with producer Drumma Boy.

Gangsta Boo is also highly opinionated and doesn’t take any shit. She expressed annoyance over constant Three-6 Mafia questions, had some advice for women and was critical about the mixtape era. We also chatted about possible retirement, friendship with Drumma Boy and Kreyashawn, collaborating with Eminem and her new mixtape.

Jay Electronica’s Act II: Patents of Nobility (the Turn)


Me and the guys at Passionweiss did a parody review of Jay Electronica's new album, which was supposed to be released two years ago. It features absurdly grandiose song titles like "10,000 Lotus Petals" and Jay takes himself waaaaay too seriously. He also looks like the twin brother of NBA player Mikael Pietrus.

Anyway I contributed this tiny spiel:

Nights of the Roundtable (first draft skeleton)

Elec ingests Amazonian frog secretions in the hopes of gaining lyrical superpowers, but instead records an imaginary roundtable discussion with his some of personal idols including Rhonda Byrne, writer of “The Secret” and once and future King of New York – Papoose. Rhonda instructs Jay that if he really wants to make an album he should create a wish board with crayon, macaroni and glitter drawings of himself in a recording studio. The track remains a draft as he eagerly awaits a verse from Fonzworth Bentley.

You should definitely check out the rest here.

Roach Gigz - Going Off

Originally published at passionweiss

by Jimmy Ness

For better or often worse, 2012 is the year of the white rapper. Roach Gigz joins the ranks of the chosen few who rhyme without catering to college bros, performing at the Gathering of the Juggalos or sounding like this. The San Francisco native was named “Roach” after the Caucasian character in Next Friday who feeds weed brownies to his dog, and for this effort he deserves a baker’s dozen of the finest space cookies.

“Going off” is simple and direct. Gigz rhymes over a mechanical beat and drops a few bars. But this isn’t a rappity-rap song by a mean-mugging street poet. Roachy Balboa is a versatile wordsmith with a sense of humor. He rhymes “I got neck two times, like a fat face” and chubby fans get their feelings hurt. With his official debut, Bugged Out coming next month, the lyrics also introduce Roach to those who aren’t part of his core Bay Area audience. We learn he’s a hippy, had a kid too early, likes Spanish girls and owns two houses. Gigz would also like to date Nicki Minaj. She would probably be terrible dinner company and speak in cartoon voices the entire time, but whatever man. 

The video is equally uncomplicated with Roach as the central figure, stop motion editing and few distractions other than some ladies and his son’s juicebox. Gigz might look like Baby Bash, but he rhymes well enough to help Kid Rock become a distant memory. The white rap OG MC Serch would be proud.