Posts tagged ‘funk’
The man who hasn’t released an album for 13 years is back with a very interesting project: he has joined forces with producer and XL label owner Richard Russell on this one. ‘I’m New Here’ is a fusion of Heron’s unique spoken word poetry and electronic beats, sometimes mellow, sometimes dark. This is not just your average one-trick pony-comeback record. It’s a big deal, especially if you think about his rollercoaster life.
‘Me and the Devil’ is the first single – a lyrical a nod to Robert Johnson’s blues and maybe a personal reflection. There’s no doubt he had a huge influence on rapping and soul music. Kanye West used his ‘Home is Where The Hatred Is’, a song about addiction and solitude. Masters at Work and many others have used his music and made their own versions of it, but they won’t compare to what’s still to come from the master poet.
Word has it he’s living on a farm somewhere in California. Shuggie Otis is definitely one of the most under-rated musicians ever, and I mean ever. He made his mark on modern music, but never got as much credit as he should have. His records have been sampled to death and the Brothers Johnson landed a chart topper with their version of his ‘Strawberry Letter 23‘.
Shuggie has not just got a very cool name, he was also a musical talent from early on. Aged 15, he played guitar and got title credit on all the tracks of Al Kooper’s ‘In Session’ and played bass on the Frank Zappa track ‘Peaches on Regalia‘. He released two solo albums.
Here Comes Shuggie Otis was followed by Inspiration Information, on which he was in his element: he played all the instruments on all songs, except for the string & horn arrangements, and also did early experiments with drum programming. After the album was released in 1974, it all got pretty quiet on the Shuggie front – mainly because he didn’t get the exposure he was hoping for. He withdrew from music and popped back on the scene in the 1990s with irregular appearances. He’s an urban legend who came up with some amazing tunes.
What’s he doing nowadays? No one knows. There’s a short video of Shuggie bigging up raresoul, in which he looks a little shaky, a performance with Mos Def and most recently, he contributed a track to the Novemberin’ compilation – whatever happened, it sounds like the man’s still got it.
Here we go: something wicked this way comes…Beat Bungalow got together with Ollie Teeba for a chat before a recent gig in Berlin. Ollie spoke about his love of soundtracks, all things old school and legendary sound engineer ‘No Sleep Nigel‘…
Q: Some of your music sounds quite cinematic, ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, springs to mind. Are you inspired by people like Quincy Jones or Lalo Schifrin?
A: You’ve pretty much nailed it on the head right there, with a few of other names I would throw in. A bit of John Barry, Roy Budd and Morricone. All of those guys have had a massive influence on us because they were the ones that really mixed the orchestral sound with funk. I remember when I was about 11 or 12, watching ‘Enter The Dragon’ and ‘Dirty Harry’. In ‘Dirty Harry’ just from that first scene where he shoots the woman on the rooftop and there’s that heavy drum with that amazing sound, buzzing organ, I was like ‘Whoooaaaa, what’s that?’.
Q: Your new record label K7 is based in Berlin: what about the city itself, what do you think of it compared to London?
A: Berlin is definitely a cool place to be in. The east part seems to be particularly interesting. There’s really good graffiti everywhere, whole shop fronts and big pieces and you just don’t see that in London. If you did have it, in no time it would be covered in tags. You get some cool shops out here and some really nice records shops. People in Berlin definitely know their stuff, they know their music, they know their style and it’s a good place to be. There aren’t many places I visited other than London where I could see myself living. Berlin is definitely one of them.
Q: You’ve worked with the same engineer in the studio quite a lot: ‘No Sleep Nigel’ has been doing a lot of your albums.
A: We started working with him on our second album ‘Blow Your Headphones’, and a rapper we had done some work with had recommended him. Basically we did a mix and he said that the mix was no good and he said we’d need to speak to ‘No Sleep Nigel’. And I was like ‘ I’ve heard of him, he’s the guy who’s mentioned on all the 80s hip hop records’. He die a lot of MC Mello’s early stuff… also Blade. It just had that big booming sound and we thought he was the right man for us. He’s just a really cool guy that we’ve become really good friends with. He’s quite a lot older than most hip hoppers, he’s in his 50s and just knows so much about so many different types of music. Although sometimes, you don’t want to get him talking because once you get him started, the mix gets done several hours later (laughs).
He’s a wealth of information, and man, he’s forgotten more about sound than I will ever know. He’s a scientist and understands how it works on a complete scientific level, which I suppose any good sound engineer should do. We wind him up and let him go and a little while later you’ve got an album that sounds fantastic.
He also mixed our new album Session 2 – we’ll keep working him until he dies…
Q: Does he still get no sleep?
A: Well, he’s more ‘Some Sleep Nigel’ now, because he’s older now and he needs his rest.
Q: How many rooms have you managed to fill with records at your home?
A: I have one room that’s entirely filled with records and otherwise it’s just got a bed in it. Nothing else. But there’s even some spill into my living room that’s why I’m moving and I need a bigger place. Too many records, too many sneakers and too many leather goose jackets. All this stuff is something I got into when I was 13 or 14 and it’s all part of the old school, original hip hop experience, which is something I hold very dear to my heart and it’s still the coolest thing. No matter what new stuff people are doing with hip hop. I look at it, I listen to it but it’s just not as cool as the old school, dude.