Posts tagged ‘new york’

Burning strong: reminiscing with Freestyle of The Arsonists

Six years ago, parcel service dropped off a package from Canada at my house: inside was Freestyle’s ‘Etched in Stone’ LP, his first record without fellow members of underground legends The Arsonists. I played it lots, and lots…and a little more. Having been in touch with Free on and off ever since, I’ve been following his releases over the past few years. One thing I can say for sure: this man operates internationally, networking like a conference…he’s non-stop when it comes to touring and getting his message out there. In the process, this Brooklyn native has done shows and worked with everyone from Wu Tang, James Brown, The Roots, Kraftwerk…shit, even with Ozzy Osborne.

It’s not just because I’m biased that I say this: he’s a versatile lyricist who’s jumped on battle joints, done meaningful tracks, or more upbeat party bangers. Hear it, believe it – Freestyle’s done it all. He’s the MCs MC, the man who’ll carry on doing a dope acapella show, even though the sound system got sparked…

But enough of the bigging up: this is the conversation we had inside the Beat Bungalow.


Can you introduce yourself and tell us how you got into making music?

Wdup wdup! The name’s Freestyle, and I’m part of a family called The Arsonists. I didn’t get into music…Music got into me! I’ve been singing & rapping since I was a child. It just came to me naturally and I’ve been doing it ever since. Living in Brooklyn made it impossible to not be influenced by hiphop music. Friends of mine were Deejays, MCs, breakers, graff writers, etc… So it was only natural that I did my thing as well.

That old question about influences: what kind of records, artists and styles of music have left an impression on you…when did music first hit you?

Music first hit me when my parents used to play records in the house on our old school record player. I explored the records and began playing them myself. I must have been 2 years old when this started. Reggae, salsa, merengue, soul, r&b, disco, etc… My parents had it all! Michael Jackson was the first big influence on me as a kid, then after that Rakim came into the picture and that made me decide to start rhyming.

How did you get started with the Arsonists? What kind of experience was that for you all as hip hop heads in the 1990s?

I met D-Stroy at an event in the Bushwick / Ridgewood area of Brooklyn on Myrtle Avenue. He was hosting and I was rapping. DJ Evil Dee & Tony Touch were there as well if I remember correctly. I must have been around 16-18 years old or so. Then D-Stroy was dating a girl and I just so happened to be dating her cousin, and we met again that way. At that time he was trying to start a crew of mcs, breakers, and friends, so he asked me if I wanted to be a part of it.

So I joined Bushwick Bomb Squad, and from there we took the core members and formed a hiphop group called The Arsonists. The early 90s were some really good times. We were trying to preserve the fun because we could feel it slipping away. So we danced and rapped in the park, on the block, on the train, etc… We maintained that as long as we could and in the meantime we recorded demos. Then came “The Session”, and the rest is history…

You’re from Brooklyn. What was it like growing up in New York at time when Hip Hop started to get big and was still in its raw form?

BK ALL DAY, BABY! Hiphop was EVERYWHERE. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing it or being a part of it. It was in the streets, in the clubs, on the radio, on TV, on the walls… EVERYWHERE! Those were the days… So much fun. Hiphop kept a lot of us out of trouble, kept us entertained, brought out talents we didn’t know we had, etc… etc… It did a lot for us and it continues to do so.

I heard that the first tour you ever did was with Wu Tang. That must have been crazy – what was that like for you as a young artist?

It was amazing. Shabazz the Disciple brought me on the GZA tour and we linked up with the rest of the Wu along the way. This was right after the Wu album, “36 Chambers”, came out and then GZA’s album, “Liquid Swords” was coming out as well. So things were HECTIC! The fans were amazing, the stages were overwhelming, and the lifestyle engulfed my soul. I never looked back from that time on. I swore to tour as hard as I could.

Tell us more about your next album: what’s it called, what are some of the songs about? When’s it out?

I actually don’t know the name of my new solo album yet. I had a name for it, but I’m changing that because the music is going in a different direction than what the title conveyed. The name of my greek group album is “I AM HIPHOP”. My partner in that, his name is Logos Apeilh. He’s one of the illest MCs in Greece at the moment. We just released a new video for the album intro, called “Countdown”. You can see it here. Keep an eye out for my solo album. I’ll be posting news & updates about it on my website. It should be released around the end of this year.

How big of an influence was Biggie Smalls on you as one of the most famous MCs from Brooklyn?

Biggie was an influence on hiphop, not just Brooklyn MCs. I’d say he influenced me very little. He showed me that someone like him could make it, so that gave me that little push. My style and rhymes don’t come from him at all… I’m influenced by Rakim, Public Enemy, Michael Jackson, Kenneth ‘Babyface” Edmonds, other music genres, movies, life, etc…

I know you’ve travelled a lot and taken your music to new places, Europe etc. What are some of your favourite places?

I’ve been everywhere except Africa, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, China, Russia, and most of South America and the Middle East. People think I’ve been everywhere, but as you can see I have a bunch on my list that I still need to touch. My favourite places was Brazil. My favourite places in Europe are Sweden & Switzerland. Brazil is AMAZING… If you haven’t been there, I recommend you visit it at least once in your life. The people, the beaches, the food, etc… It’s GREAT.

What does Hip Hop mean to you, are you into other aspects of the culture as well?

I started as a breaker, MC, then graff writer. I tried to DJ, but I wasn’t good at it, so I stuck to rapping. Hiphop means everything to me. I’d die for hiphop. It’s the voice of the youth. There’s no such thing as a world without hiphop now that it exists. It has too much to offer, therefore there’s no way it could disappear or die. It will continue to evolve and expand. There’s no other genre as diverse as hiphop.

What do you make of US Hip Hop at the moment, the tracks that make it big in terms of sales and the development that’s seen Hip Hop become a multi-million industry?

Hiphop in the states is kinda fucked up right now… I mean, it’s good that it’s doing well as far as sales and stuff like that goes. But the fact that really good stuff doesn’t get to see the light of day is sad. That’s the part I hate the most. A lot of people complain about what makes it commercially, but I personally think that can be blamed on the labels and the fans. The majority of the masses are ignorant, so they rather digest stuff that doesn’t take any effort to swallow.

The labels know this, so it’s basically supplying the demand. It only makes sense… We just need these labels to put money into real music, music that has real talent behind it, so the masses can get accustomed to eating healthy music. I’m glad hiphop is now a multi-million dollar industry though. Without that, it wouldn’t have survived.

It’s ironic that a few years ago Nas made an album called ‘Hip Hop is Dead’. Would you agree: is it a dying art form, or not? Is there too much media hype with some artists?

Na… It isn’t dying AT ALL! It’s strong and growing. What Nas meant is the 4 elements part of hiphop, the real side of hiphop, lost its steam in the states. Otherwise, you see real hiphop flourishing in places like Europe. Hiphop’s tentacles are long and wild. They’re everywhere and there’s no stopping it. There’s definitely too much media hype on some artists, but that’s due to the labels paying for this promotion. Once they’re promoted like this, the fans eat it up and it becomes its own monster.

What music are you feeling at the moment, any peeps that you think are good listening to?

D-Stroy, Jise, Q-Unique, Shabazz the Disciple, Snowgoons, Eternia, Looptroop, Ludacris, Diamond District, Ill Bill, Little Brother, Lupe Fiasco, Fabolous, Eminem, Slaughterhouse, Drake, etc… As you can see, I’m pretty much not too limited and I keep an open mind and ear. Some people may hate on some of the names I’ve said here and others might not have heard of some…

What about Battle Axe Records, the label you’ve been working with? It’s based in Canada and they’ve released some great music in the past. What’s it been like working with them?

The Axe released my first album, “Etched in Stone”. It was dope releasing my album with them. I respect what they’re about and they had some really good artists on their roster. I was honoured to release my album through them! It was a good experience.

It’s too bad that they stopped releasing other artists, besides Swollen Members. I hope they come back! I’ve linked with too many mcs/producers to list… If you really would like to know, you can see the entire list here
To name some names: Arsonists, Looptroop, Shabazz, RZA, Gravediggaz, Papoose, Ma Barker (Kool G. Rap’s wife), Omen (Flatlinerz), Curse, Torch, IAM, Logos Apeilh, etc…

What do you do to chill out and in your spare time, do you get much spare time?

Of course I get spare time! I’m a PC gamer, so that takes a lot of my spare time. I fix, build, and maintain computers. Been into computers since the mid 80s, and on the internet since the early 90s. Yes, I am a dinosaur! I love world travel. I love the great outdoors, so I do things like camping, hiking, etc… I love helicopter rides. That’s my new hobby when I travel to new places. I’m big on movies, so I’m always watching something when I find the time to, be it in the theatre, on my laptop, or on the nice HD flat screen in Big Lou’s crib. (Big Lou is my best friend. Wdup, Lou!)

What else are you planning for the near future, any new projects coming up?

Album in Greece, new solo album, and another group album which will be a surprise…Then another 2 albums next year as well. Busy, busy, busy!

Anything else you would like to say to people?

Make sure you stay tuned. I have a lot coming up…and tune into Arsonists Radio

If you’re trying to book me or contact me for a collaboration, hit me at

Feel free to comment on my pages. I respond to everybody!


May 27, 2010 at 20:17 Leave a comment

Trip to Coney Island: Access Immortal talks Brooklyn

Hailing from Brooklyn, Access Immortal gew up with a steady diet of New York hip hop. His own sound stays true to his city and is refreshingly honest – his group is Project Gotham, together with DJ Ruckspin.

Here’s a flash report from Gotham City…

1. You’ve worked with a lot of producers – what do you look for in a beat?

I like beats that speak to me and make me feel like I’m makign a song that can stand on it’s on, even outside of an album. I don’t want to make a song someone is going to forget about in a week or something generic that sounds like a throw away track the moment you start writing it.

2. The video for ‘Everything I Know’ was shot at Coney Island – why did you choose the location? Have you got a special connection to the place?

I just wanted to do the video in a place that made people think Brooklyn, and New York in general – Coney Island has that history that goes back like 100 years. I used to go there as a kid a lot of times and things have changed but people still like to hang out there, at least on the boardwalk in the summer so it still reminds people of old New York
3. What music did you grow up listening to? any artists / albums that come to mind?

I grew up listening to artists like Big Daddy Kane and Krs One as far as hip hop when I first took an interest in Hip Hop and Michael Jackson was big in music in general, and I rocked with just about whatever sounded hot back then. I used to dig reggae music too, people like Shabba Ranks who was that dude back then. When the 90s came around I got into West Coast artist like Dre, Snoop, Mc Eiht and East Coast people like Boot Camp, Nas & Wu-Tang

4. What about your releases so far: what can you tell us about ‘Birth of a Dream’, ‘Shades of Reality’ and ‘Last Summer in Brooklyn’?

My first album Shades of Reality had a real dark, underground feel to it and it was very personal and dealt with a lot of stuff from my past as far as topics. Last Summer In Brooklyn was like a follow up to New York Yankee with that street feel to it and collab-heavy cause I didn’t want people to feel like they were getting a solo Access album. Birth of a Dream is the start of me and DJ Ruckspin as Project Gotham and a whole new sound for me and hip hop in general that doesn’t fall in the usual area that hip hop gets thrown into.

I wanted to make a group producer/MC album like what I grew up on with Gang Starr and show that dynamic and chemistry you can have by making a whole album with a sound that’s consistent through the whole project.

5. Tell us something about yourself that a lot of people might not know…

I prob don’t even like the type of music people think I do lol. I might be one type of artist but I don’t listen to the things a lot of fans probably do and I like what I like, regardless of who it is or what category it falls into. I don’t judge anyone based on what they did in the past, anyone can make one good song at least, no one is 100% bad all the time.

6. Any last words of wisdom / shouts?

Like what you like and don’t be afraid to express your opinion even if it doesn’t fall in line with what everyone else is saying.

Too many people only like something or hate something or someone because everybody else does and that’s lame. Most people live their life following the leader and would be a completely different person if they actually stayed true to what they like and not what’s popular.

Shout out to Ducky Dizzle and The Strange Birds Crew. Check out her podcast she does every week, hot music you should be listening to and be a fan of cause it’s dope. Peace to Karniege, Verse Essential, Emaze, Fess, Medinah Starr, Poison Pen, Introspect and all the fans out there that have been supporting since day one and pick up the new album Birth of a Dream.


May 7, 2010 at 08:21 Leave a comment

How to dig up a rare Beatminerz release: Chubby Grooves / Chopped Herring Records

Chubby Grooves has been steady rocking Manchester’s independent music circles for more than a decade and worked as a DJ for many years. He used to play at the Hacienda club and was resident DJ at the much-celebrated Headfunk night. Chubby runs the Chopped Herring Records label – you’ll find lots of history and fishy sounds here.

He is also known as ebay trader bruceforsight aka recording artist Pro Celebrity Golf. I first found out about his label in 2002 when I picked up a copy of the Jay Glaze 12 inch, Out To Lunch.

No bones about it, this chopped herring is more than a little wacky and out of the ordinary – no wonder he’s mates with MC Paul Barman. He lived in Bushwick, Brooklyn for many years,  hung out at D&D Studios(<shazzam>) and hooked up with the Beatminerz. Their unreleased Pandemonium EP with classic 1990s material has just dropped on Chopped Herring.

One more thing: hear his advice on how to snap up some mint condition vinyl online. Oh, and before I forget – here’s what he looks like in his Sunday Best…

(CG: “Actually, it was one of the pictures used for the inside cover of ‘three sinister syllables’…a LAME mexican kids TV star called Chubelo!! when I dropped 3ss I gave stores the original record cover (I had about 50 copies from a massive Latin stash I found in 2001) to put in the vinyl racks to advertise the CD…..shit is silly.”)


Tell us a little bit about your time in Bushwick, Brooklyn: what was it like living there as a Mancunian?

Well, first off, I am not a Mancunian. I moved to Manchester in 1991 and stayed until around 2005. I was one of many people involved in the Manchester music scene of the mid 90s that came from outside of Manchester. Between 2005 and 2009 I was living between London and NYC. Before that I used to go to NYC a couple of times a year to find wax. I used to crash on the sofa of a kid who had lived next door to me in Rusholme (Manchester). He had dual citizenship and had moved to NYC in about 1998. When he moved out to the west coast in 2005 I had to find a new place to stay! I went back out to NYC with a laptop and few contacts.

I stayed at the YMCA in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and looked for a cheap house share situation. Managed to hook up with some cool cats who lived in an (illegal) loft space literally on the border of Ridgewood, Queens and Bushwick, Brooklyn. That was my first experience of that part of NY.

What has New York got in terms of music that Manchester hasn’t, and vice versa?

Manchester and NYC do have many things in common in relation to music. Both have a large West Indian/Caribbean community. ‘Black music’ has always been a major influence on the Manchester music scene; from the Northern Soul movement in the 1970s up to the present day and the same can be said of NYC.

Both cities have many transients that have made them culturally vital music scenes and both have a background in Industry. The key difference for me is that NYC has a strong South/Central American influence. From producers to musicians to BBoys, Hispanics had contributed heavily to the New York music scene the 70s/80s. This adds another dimension for me and something that makes NYC music more colourful and distinctive.

You must have heard a lot of good music in your time living there, which hip hop heads did you hook up with? Any memorable concerts or gigs that stick in your mind?

Connections always began with the vinyl. My first introduction into the New York scene was through selling vinyl. I took the early Chopped Herring Records releases into the stores and did some cold calling. At that time Eclipse (Non Phixion) and Breeze (Juggaknots) worked in Fat Beats. I would hit them up with the Jay Glaze 12s to get them on the racks and sometimes even did some guerilla planting! Breeze gave us our first ‘Chopped Herring section’ in a NYC record store.

I also used to hit up Sound Library (when it was on 1st Ave) to trade and sell UK breaks, library and funk pieces. Then, through the success of ‘Three Sinister Syllables‘ I hooked up with the likes of MC Paul Barman who introduced me to a bunch of cats. Also I met more heads looking for wax in the city. I ran into Evil Dee around 2000 in a thrift store in Queens looking for flava and a load more producers and MCs in ‘The Thing’ in Greenpoint and ‘Beat Street’ in Fulton Mall. Just being there, looking for vinyl and promoting Herring allowed me to get to know more cats on the scene.

How did the Beatminerz release come about, some unreleased gems on Chopped Herring Records? Who pulled the strings and what can you tell us about the record?

As I mentioned above I met Dee in the basement of a thrift store about 10 years ago. I got reintroduced to him and his brother Mr Walt when a New York collector and producer called Nobs told me about them selling their collection. I met Nobs online originally and we became digging buddies.

We would go to flea markets and share record spot info. (By the way he just dropped an album with an MC called Dez that is hella-nice!!). So I started buyin wax and deadstock from Walt. Walt produced and funded the Shadez of Brooklyn projects. They had released 3 singles on his label Pandemonium Wreckords but the rest of the material hadn’t been put out. They recorded that stuff at the time when Walt and Dee (Da Beatminerz) had a room at D&D studios in NYC.

There were only 2 permanent rooms at D&D, one was theirs and the other was inhabited by DJ Premier. Walt hooked me up with Da Dysfunkshunal Familee‘s Crazy DJ Bazarro and Finsta (Finsta Bundy and original member of Black Moon). I released the 2 Dysfunskhunal EP’s with Bazarro and the Shadez of Brooklyn EP with the help of Walt and Dee who owned the masters.

None of this would’ve happened without the help of my man Nobs. Props Son!!

What else have you got in the works in terms of upcoming releases?

Due to the success of the Dysfunkshunal EPs in 2009 I’ve had hardcore headz come to me with suggestions of other unreleased projects and contact info. So I have a few ILL unknown/little known projects from the 90s to drop.

As with all these pre-order style releases I keep the info undercover right up until the day I drop the pre-order info. So I can’t say ANYTHING!! But I will be concentrating on lost Indy Hip Hip, with attitude and with a good amount of breaks and samples. So look out for some more 90s flava soooooooon.

You are an avid crate digger and ebay bargain-hunter – from personal experience, have you got a few hints of advice on how to snatch up good condition vinyl on the web?

Well, the obvious difference between diggin and scorin wax online is the condition. This is the same as any secondhand buyin; you need to feel/touch the merchandise to know the full picture. There are some ways to reduce the risk though.

Stick to certain reputable sellers. Forums should help when trying to exclude dubious sellers (and even good sellers gone bad). Feedback on Ebay or Discogs will help. Also, developing good relationships with big sellers. If a record isn’t up to the described standard then, if you are tight with a dealer you can return it. You just have to use your head and like with anything, be prepared to take a loss in order to really score over time. It’s a marathon. And, don’t expect perfection; just appreciate it when it comes along!

What was one of your recent vinyl best-buys? Any favourite record shops?

Hmmmm. Was in Florida in January. Found a bunch of stuff from a guy who used to have a radio show up in Buffalo (upstate NY). Was a bunch of original Jamaican pressings from the 70s as well as a load of avant-garde Jazz ish. It got the blood pumpin!

Stores? Not so much anymore. I used to go to NYC specifically to go to ‘The Thing‘. I used to leave that place with 100s of pieces every trip, before it got hot and they hired staff that knew what was up. In the early 2000s before the Random/Indy heat it was amazing. It’s owned by the dude that owns A1 in Manhattan. It was supposed to be stuff that couldn’t sell in A1 but they made NUMEROUS mistakes. So many that I could run my whole business off the back of it for a few years.

Manchester has lots of record shops and always had a good infrastructure for music – you came up in that environment of an emerging independent music network, the Hacienda etc. What was that like? Was it really an endless party as its been portrayed in films / the media?

Well I wouldn’t have set up my own label if it wasn’t for those Manchester years. It was, at many times in modern music history a hot city for music. For American House music (Hacienda) before I arrived and for Hip Hop (Fat City – where I worked for about 5 years) as I got up there. In the 70s for Northern Soul and 80s for Alt/Indie stuff.

It seems tho’ that every time the media got onto it it would die for another 5 years. The media attention always kills the vibe. But also that attention would create a reaction and a deepening commitment from the underground. I guess it depends if you’re concerned with profile or with quality (rebel) music.

Did you ever get annoyed with the hip hop ‘scene’ in England, or do you prefer homegrown sounds?

Yes. Peep the track ‘Homegroan’ on the second vinyl release on Chopped Herring Records, Staunch Liaison EP. I had a lot to say about that subject. Now it’s old news and isn’t such a focus for me. It’s generally very healthy (creatively) to dislike whats going on around you at any given time. It breeds originality – which is vital.

Are you a football fan? If so, who do you support? Any preference for City or United?

I’m an Arsenal fan. Since I was a kid. Growing up in North London you were either Arsenal or (wretch) Spurs. My grandad and cousins were always into the Arsenal. I inherited that from them. The first match I went to was in 1983.

Re: City/United. Well, while I was living in Manchester it was City. But since I got out of town and the big money turned up at City, I hate both equally!! It has been and always will be all about the Arse.

Any last words or shouts?

Props to all the cats that buy Herring wax, DWG and VA cats, Nobs, Da Beatminerz, DJ Bazarro, MC Paul Barman, Chopps Derby, Memory Man and all the heads that don’t take shit too seriously but drop serious shit, ONE GLOVE.


March 24, 2010 at 10:28 Leave a comment

“What’s in that trunk?” DJ Prestige on fleamarketfunk & the art of digging

DJ Prestige has been around a few decades and has sifted through some of the  rarest records known to humankind. His collection is a few thousand strong, although he’s very modest about it. Hailing from New Jersey’s Asbury Park, he’s not just been searching out vinyl gems in his neighbourhood but has also travelled the globe to blow dust off hidden vinyl treasures. He’s been a DJ since the 1980s, grew up with music from the Golden Age of hip hop, reggae, funk and soul and anything else he could get his fingers on.  If you’re ever in New Jersey, pop in to see him spin in an old bowling alley at the Asbury Park 45 Sessions or visit his blog fleamarketfunk, fresh indeed and excellent mixes on download.  Enough said, read more about what makes Pres tick: including Turkish funk and Liverpool FC…

What’s your age?

I’ve just got into my 4th decade.  That’s 40 years young.

Which part of New York are you from, where do you live? Are there any good record spots for digging in your neighbourhood?

I’m actually from New Jersey.  I live in Asbury Park, NJ, a city that is about an hour out of NYC.  It’s rich with music history, dating from the 1940s to present.  One section of the town boasted up to 40 Jazz clubs during the 1940s and 1950s.  All the big Jazz cats played there: I wish I could have been around for that.  You might also have heard of some singer/ guitar player, Bruce Springsteen? Right now we have a great music scene, and I do my part by keeping the Funk and Soul music alive one 45 at a time.  As far as digging spots, there are a few, but I have one main spot that I go to.  The bulk of the records I review and make mixes with on Flea Market Funk are from that very spot.

There’s an art to finding out rare records, but what’s your personal tactics – have you got a special mode of operation?

I’m not an expert on records, and I’m sure I’ve passed up on some gems, however, I do know what I know.  I have become familiar with labels, producers, and the like, and sometimes I get a little intuition about certain records.  Most of the time I’m right, but sometimes I’m way off base.  My portable Fisher Price record player I’ve had for over 10 years has been a great help, that’s for sure.  My special mode of operation is this: Get up early.  Get there before the next guy and get to those records.  Also, I don’t pay a lot of money for records, hence the Flea Market Funk philosophy.

What are some of your recent vinyl finds that you’re especially proud of?

My biggest score this past year was a copy of Lou Courtney’s “Hey Joyce” on Popside for a dollar.  I’ve been searching for that record for years, and got it finally.

How big is your collection, have you had to rent an extra apartment to store all your vinyl?

My collection is a few thousand LPs and 12”s, plus around 750 to 1000 assorted 45s.  Not a huge collection by any means, but it’s meaty.

Any greatest misses? Has someone ever snapped away a record that had your name written on it?

Oh the records I’ve missed.  It’s funny because at the moment, due to DJing on Friday and Saturday nights, I don’t dig as much as I used to (also the weather plays a big part because it’s winter here).  I’ll see some of my digging buddies and they’ll be like: “So and So got a record they sold for 2 grand on E Bay, or there was some private press Jazz found.  I can’t have all the records, ya dig?  If I’m at the place at the right time, I find the records.  If not, well, the next guy gets them.  Such is life.

What was it like DJing when you first started at college, any funny moments/memories?

College radio was great.  It was cool to be around so many other music people, and I was able to learn so much about different types of music.  There was one show called Sure-Rock Holmes and the Detectives of Dance Music.  His DJ was this cat Marc Asbury.  These guys were playing all the Golden Age Hip Hop and original samples, just killing it.  I used to listen to them, but I wasn’t allowed to sit in on their show.  They were secretive about the records.  I did eventually find a lot of those records they played.  Unfortunately, Sure-Rock passed away a few years ago.  He was a great guy.
Your most recent party, the Asbury Park 45 Sessions, has been around for close to two years. How’s that going?

Actually, this is our third year, and it’s going great.   The Sessions the other night (January 15th) was the 3 year party.  I have a really cool crew of DJs: Larry Grogan from, producer M.Fasis, DJ Bluewater, DJ Prime Mundo and DJ Jack the Ripper.  Plus we have had some great guests over the years: Cool Hands Luke, Dave Withers, DJ Save1, Vincent the Soul Chef, 45 Killer, Conn Shawnery, Connie T. Empress, Jay Boxcar, and Primitive Sound System.  Forgive me if I have forgotten anyone.  It’s really the only party of it’s kind in New Jersey.  The only thing closer is in NYC.  The venue we hold it in is unique: an old bowling alley converted into a music venue, the Asbury Lanes.  People can bowl, drink, eat, dance and do whatever they want while we’re spinning Funk and Soul 45s.  I’d say it’s one of my most favorite nights to do.

Do you record music or play an instrument?

The only instruments I play are the turntables.  I actually used to be in a band as a DJ on Atlantic Records a few years back.  I aspire to learn to play the Hammond organ though, or maybe the bass.

You’ve been spinning at live shows for G Love & Special Sauce and The Goats from Philly, eventually doing your own Soul, Funk & Hip Hop nights. What’s the audience like in New York, are most people very open-minded when it comes to DJs and live music, has NY still got a thriving 45s scene?

I’m actually fortunate to have opened up for some really great bands.  This past Summer I opened up for Joss Stone here in Asbury Park, and I got to do an opening all Reggae set when the Bad Brains were in town.  That band is a band I really look up to and respect.  I also opened up for the Budos Band for the third time in Brooklyn.  That was a night put on by Truth and Soul Records.  I’ll do a night like that any night.  People were really open to the stuff I was playing.  It’s great to see younger people dancing and getting down to this kind of music.  I’ve always had good experiences in NYC and Brooklyn spinning my music.  People just open their mind a bit more to things.  It’s great because you can sneak some unknown stuff you dug up and they will be receptive to it.  I’d say NYC has a thriving 45 scene, but I’m not really a part of it.  I do a few gigs a year in NYC/Brooklyn, but the guys at Bumpshop at APT had that locked down.  That party is over unfortunately.  They would always have the best DJs coming through: Kenny Dope, Cut Chemist, etc.  The guys from Dig Deeper in Brooklyn also have a tremendous party going.  They get the older Funk and Soul artists to come perform.  Everyone from Reynaldo Domino to Lee Fields.  I have a lot of respect for what they do.

You’ve probably been digging in shops across the globe, is that right? Are there any obscure finds that you can remember, some Afghan goat shepherd music with a kick-ass break on maybe?

I have been digging in a lot of places: all over the US, Canada, England, Ireland, and Scotland.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), the best records I’ve found have always been here in New Jersey.  We are known as the Garden State, but I’d like to think of it as the Vinyl State.  A lot of music was made in New York City and Philadelphia, and I’m equidistant to both.  Everything from Gritty Funk to Jazz, Soul, JA Reggae pressings, and early Hip Hop has turned up at my spots.  The jukebox companies were always unloading their records, so when you get into a load of those records, say from Newark or Philly, it’s always a good time.  I wish I knew more about Turkish Funk and that would turn up here.

What else do you get up to when you’re not behind the decks or digging?

When I’m not DJing or doing DJ related stuff, I do enjoy writing for  I’m big into graphic design, and I’m self taught, so I love to mess with Photoshop designing flyers, posters, t-shirts, stickers, etc.  I learn something new every day.  I’m big into English football too, so I’m mad about following my team, the mighty Liverpool FC.  Besides that I love to relax with a good book.  This is sounding like a dating ad: Bearded Soul Lover is looking for Liverpool Supporter who enjoys graphic design, books, and Photoshop.

And finally: why are you a Liverpool FC supporter, have you got any connection to the UK?

I am a Liverpool supporter because I had an old roommate in the mid 90’s who got me into football and LFC.  It’s the team I was introduced to so I stuck with it.  We’re having a rough season this year, riddled with injuries and some confusion on whether to sack Rafa or not, but that’s football.  You take the good with the bad.  I have given up on American sports and only follow football.  I’m that mad about it.  When I visited London in November, I went to most of the football grounds, and saw a live match at the Valley.  Charlton v. MK Dons.  So much fun.  I hope to get to Anfield this year to see LFC play.    

Any last words, shouts?

I’d like to shout out all the DJs from the 45 Sessions Crew, my man DJ Andy Smith from the UK, DJ Skills, DJ Un-G from LA, photographer Eilon Paz, my family, and all the people who have supported the DJ nights I’ve done over the past 15+ years.  It is much appreciated.  As for last words, here’s some from Thelonious Monk that have always stuck with me: “I say, play your own way. Don’t play what the public want — you play what you want and let the public pick up on what you doing — even if it does take them fifteen, twenty years”.  Words to live by.  Keep Diggin’.


January 18, 2010 at 14:00 1 comment

Chicago, what is funky? Hypnotic Brass Ensemble.

More info here & there & here too.

December 3, 2009 at 21:31 1 comment

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