Archive for the 'remixing' Category

Soulico Remix Contest

This 4 member DJ crew from Tel Aviv brings us traditional Jewish melodies on top of American hip-hop tracks, reggae, and funk. Meet Soulico.

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Their new album, Exotic on the Speaker, is the “result of years of creative collaborations and finesse – culminating in 13 club ready tracks featuring the likes of Ghostface, Del the Funky Homosapien, M.I.A. understudy Rye Rye, Pigeon John, Lyrics Born, and more,” says The Daily Rind.

In anticipation of the new album, the boys released a free promo mixtape, Exotic on the Mixtape, including the song “Put em up”, which Pitchfork calls “an exuberant synthesis of traditional Israeli folk melodies and familiar hip-hop sensibilities.” You can download it all here.

Once you’ve download the mixtape, read Soulico’s answers to The Music Slut’s 8 Questions, including how playing to an Israeli audience differs from an American one, and check out Sabbo’s blog, Noiz in Zion, if you like remixes (and free downloads). Of course they are on MySpace and Facebook too.

JDub Records, which is a “not-for-profit dedicated to innovative Jewish music, community, and cross cultural dialogue,” was lucky enough to sign Soulico before anyone else found them. CEO Aaron Bisman happened upon their first mixtape while he was rummaging through the bins at Tel Aviv’s Hatav Hashmini record store. Apparently they were hard to track down, but he jumped on their MySpace the day it went up and claimed them.

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Thanks to our friends over at JDub Records for hooking us up with these guys. As part of the release of their new album, Soulico wants you to remix the title track, “Exotic on the Speaker,” and is giving you access to the stems of the song via the MixMatchMusic Remix Wizard. You can either download the stems (for free) and use the audio editing software of your choice OR simply click on the MixMaker button on the widget to make a remix in MixMatchMusic’s simple online music editor. If you’ve never experienced remixing before, or just want to see how the song was made, check out the MixMaker. Once you’ve completed your remix, upload it so that others can listen to, vote on and share it.

Soulico will be choosing one grand prize winner plus three runner-ups. Here’s what you can win:

Grand Prize:
– Soulico – Exotic on the Speaker CD + LP
– Stanton YakPak DJ bag filled with JDub Vinyl
– Your choice of Prime Loops Software
– Pair of Radius Ear buds
– Remix featured on jdubrecords.org & Soulico myspace

3 Runner-Ups:
– Stanton YakPak DJ bag filled with JDub Vinyl
– Copy of Soulico – Exotic on the Speaker CD
– Remix featured on jdubrecords.org & Soulico myspace

Deadlines: Contest starts Monday, October 5th and ends Monday November 23rd. Check out the official rules here.

Get on it!

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Slightly Stoopid Announces Remix Contest Winners

After carefully reviewing the 49 remixes submitted to their Blazed and Confused at 2 Am Remix Contest, Slightly Stoopid have picked the winners! As part of the contest, Slightly Stoopid invited fans to remix their song 2AM using MixMatchMusic’s Remix Wizard, while the band was on the road for the Blazed and Confused tour. Thanks to everybody that participated, there’s so much talent out there! Some of the remixes were pretty mellow, others were upbeat, some more hip hop influenced, a lot of reggae, some cool sound bites… all in all some really great stuff.

But, there was one remix that really caught the attention of Slightly Stoopid and stood out above the competition. Congrats to icehouseindustries for winning the remix contest! His remix was chosen by Slightly Stoopid as the grand prize winner! Check it out…

Icehouse Industries

Icehouseindustries will receive a HUGE prize pack that includes a set of the new Slightly Stoopid branded headphones (Skull Candy); an autographed Stoopid poster; 2 tickets to the next Slightly Stoopid concert in their area; a limited edition Slightly Stoopid branded glass pipe; CDs of Slightly Stoopid’s entire discography & Chronichitis vinyl; a copy of Slightly Stoopid Live in San Diego DVD; and the icehouseindustries remix will be posted for streaming on Slightly Stoopid’s Website, Myspace, Facebook, and their theSixtyOne.com page.

There was also a prize for the fan favorite, for the remix that received the most fan votes. Congrats to Karma for getting the most fan votes for his unique remix that brought a grooving lounge sound to 2am, complete with funky flute, saxophone and jazz guitar. His remix definitely caught a lot of attention. Karma wins a set of the new Slightly Stoopid branded headphones (Skull Candy) and a limited edition Slightly Stoopid branded glass pipe. Saaawwweeeet!!!

Karma

Make sure to check out some of the other remixes submitted. I’m a fan of NotoriAce’s remix and all of the different levels and genres used, as well as We Like it Edgy out of Galashiels, Scotland’s “2am edgy remix”. Also, I’m kinda diggin’ the use of Daydreamin’ by DJ Devan Air and Biggie Smalls in Will Becker’s mash-up. And, big ups to Gravity Terminal for his electro-dub version of 2am. Click the image below to check out all of the submissions. While you’re there, be sure to browse the Remix Wizard site to find other remix opportunities and to see how you can host your own remix contest using MixMatchMusic’s FREE remix contest platform.

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Click image to check out all the remix submissions.

Remix Lyrics Born!

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Heads up fans, producers, and DJs! We’ve got a brand new remix contest for all of you looking for new and impressive ways to participate in the creative process and show off your DIY skills. MixMatchMusic has joined forces with Bay Area rapper Lyrics Born and eyewear company Sutro Vision to bring you a chance to remix Lyrics Born’s newest single, a re-union track with the other half of his Latyrx duo, Lateef the Truthspeaker, called “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart.”

“Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart” will be appearing on both Lyrics Born’s upcoming Variety Show mixtape and the studio album he has due in 2010. The track utilizes female vocals, synths and moving drum and clap percussion to frame uptempo lyrics from Born and Lateef surrounding the decisions and choices they’ve been faced with making for their careers. Check out the video for the single below.

In an effort to engage and interact with fans, as well as contribute to the growing number of artists allowing fans to remix their work, Lyrics Born has loaded the stems to “Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart” into the MixMatchMusic Remix Wizard and has given you two options for making a remix: Either download the stems for free and use any software you want, or just click on the MixMaker button on the widget to make a remix in MixMatchMusic’s simple online music editor. If you’ve never experienced remixing before, or just want to see how the song was made, check out the MixMaker. Once you’ve completed your remix, upload it so that others can listen to, vote on and share it.

So what will you win? From the entries, Lyrics Born himself will be picking three winners – a grand prize and two runner-up prizes. The grand prize winner will receive a pair of Lyrics Born signed Sutro sunglasses (these shades are sweet!), autographed copies of the entire Variety Show catalog, a Lyrics Born T-Shirt, 2 free tickets to any Lyrics Born show, a meet and greet with Lyrics Bron at said show, and their track featured on LyricsBorn.com presented by Lyrics Born himself.

The 2 runner ups will each receive a pair of Lyrics Born signed Sutro sunglasses (he will sign the case), a copy of the new Lyrics Born Variety Show mixtape, a Lyrics Born T-Shirt and 2 free tickets to any Lyrics Born show as well as their remix featured on LyricsBorn.com. The official rules for the contest are available here.

So what are you waiting for? The contest starts today (Tuesday, August 25th) and runs through Friday September 25th. Tune in, sign on and start mixing!

Send MixMatchMusic to SXSW!

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Fan of .Evolving Music. and/or MixMatchMusic? Show your support and help us send some of our folks to SXSW next year by voting for our panel topics!

SXSW is a conference, a festival, a networking event, and much much more that has become a premier destination for music professionals around the world. Now in its 24th year, SXSW boasts 80+ stages, and 2,000+ acts. In addition to the amazing music that gets shared and discovered here, the panels give industry thought leaders a forum to introduce brave new ideas and technologies to a hungry and influential audience. MixMatchMusic has found itself in a unique position in this new musical landscape and we would relish the opportunity to share some of our ideas with this crowd.

You can help by voting for our two panel topics below. Simply create an account and then vote (and comment).

Topic #1

Remix: A New Model for Engaging Fans

Today, there are millions of recording artists competing for the attention of the 190 million music fans who demand a deep and personal experience with their favorite artists online. Remixing gained legions of fans when pioneered by NIN and Radiohead. However, many artists have been shut out from engaging fans with remixes by the complexity and expense of the technology. This panel will explore a range of new engagement tools that promise high levels of connection and are accessible and affordable by the DIY musician.

MixMatchMusic’s CFO and Director of A&R Alan Khalfin can discuss how bringing fans directly into the music making process through remix promotions can be highly engaging and convert casual fans into loyal fans. He will also comment on how artists can distribute their stems, in addition to their songs, to increase their revenue. A team of panelists can also engage in a lively discussion around the intersection of music, technology and social media and the tools musicians want and need to collaborate with their fans to bring them into the creative process. The panelists could also discuss how crowd-sourced remix promotions can create a musical conversation between an artist and his fans, and can ultimately affect how music is written and experienced.

Topic #2

How to Develop Artist/Fan Connection

It’s no secret that the channels musicians have traditionally relied upon to get their music discovered, promoted and sold are growing irrelevant and as a result, millions of musicians are increasingly on their own, without labels, record stores or radio to help them. The artist’s challenge is now to convert casual fans into loyal fans, and loyal fans into paying customers. Compounding the challenge is the changed fan: modern music fans are acclimated to the read/write web and the social interaction that comes with it, and are looking for the same experience with music. Now, musicians have to engage and involve casual listeners in order to build deep and lasting connections with them, and to convert them to loyal fans.

MixMatchMusic’s CEO Charles Feinn can discuss how creating deep and lasting relationships with fans is the only way for artists to be successful in Music 2.0. He can also comment on ways to achieve the types of meaningful connections that convert casual fans into paying customers, from engage fans through mobile apps, to bringing fans into the creative process through remixing, and developing direct relationships with fans on Twitter.

The community’s votes account for 30% of the panel selection process and voting continues until September 4th so get your vote on and spread the word! We will be eternally grateful! 🙂

Concert Sales Thrive Despite Recession

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It appears that the recession has not affected concert sales. Just look at the Pollstar 2009 mid year business analysis. People will always need the escape and the experience of live music, and tough economic times aren’t going to stop them apparently. Last year “the average box-office gross was up 18 percent and the average attendance up 6.3 percent, according to Billboard magazine” writes John Gerome of CBS News, who also notes that many musicians, promoters, and distributors are offering discounts and promotions of various kinds to help fans be able to afford their shows. Live Nation, for example, sometimes offers a four-pack deal (four tickets for the price of three) in essence rewarding you for bringing your friends.

Perhaps this trend is similar in a sense to alcohol sales. People certainly don’t stop drinking during tough economic times, but they might go out less and instead buy liquor at the store or choose cheaper drinks when they do go out. As far as concert tickets go, strapped fans will still go see their favorite bands. They’ll just buy crappier tickets.

Artists (well… some of them) are still making a ton of money from ticket sales. “Just ask Bruce Springsteen, Brit-pop singer Lily Allen, musical comedy duo the Flight of the Conchords, or indie-rock darling Neko Case, all of whom put on sold-out concerts in Boston in the last month,” says Sarah Rodman of the Boston Globe. In the era of steadily declining album sales, concerts are the life support that musicians continue to cling to.

MC Lars, who still makes royalties off of his older stuff on iTunes told us, “…for the newer stuff — the only way to get heard is to be out on the road as much as possible and playing clubs and all that because really with the recession and with kids knowing about bit torrent… the answer is to be on tour if you wanna make money as a musician – OR to write songs for commercials and not have any desire to be an independent musician!” He is a shining example of the DIY artist who is not afraid to try new things and get creative, especially when it comes to interacting with his fans.

This article in the Sydney Morning Herald presents some similar views from down under. “A lot of acts are putting out records to promote their tours,” says Michael Gudinski, the managing director of Frontier Touring Company. “In the old days you used to tour to promote your record.” Back then touring gave you the exposure needed to sell albums, which equaled revenue. Of course now the internet has forced the music industry onto its knees and slashed record sales. It has, however, graciously opened a new window of opportunity for the concert industry. “With the advent of the internet, which I regard as the radio of the 21st century, the potential concert-going audience in this country, in my opinion, has quadrupled,” says veteran concert promoter Michael Chugg.

As music 2.0 continues to evolve and present us with surprises, fans are increasingly becoming participants in the industry, rather than just passive observers and consumers. Take posse.com, for example, which “is turning fans into ticket agents. A music lover receives a commission each time someone clicks on a link or ad on their social networking page to buy a ticket to a show.” Pretty slick. Fans are becoming savvier, hungrier, and their expectations have changed.

One strategy being utilized by artists and promoters as a result is offering fans access to exclusive content, merch, and other VIP type goodies. Elliot Fox, the Director of Marketing & Promotions for JDub Records (a nonprofit record and event production company focused on new Jewish music, building community, and cross-cultural dialogue), explained that they are combating unfavorable conditions by developing new incentives and marketing strategies in order to reach their existing fan base while also building new ones. “The key to keeping fans loyal while also attracting new ones is being able to offer added value and additional content to users. For example, we can offer a free album download with purchase of a t-shirt or a free label sampler for fans who follow us on twitter. We are also in the process of launching a membership model where fans can pay a yearly subscription fee and will automatically receive our next 4 releases both physically and digitally. We feel that providing fans with a steady flow of new content allows them to feel connected to what the artists and label are trying to do.” Word.

The smart artists are figuring out ways to thrive in the current economic climate. Some attempt to make their live music experience accessible to a broader audience by offering tickets at a variety of price points. Others attempt to convert casual fans – who perhaps listen to, purchase, or illegally download their music but don’t go to concerts – into loyal fans. It’s the loyal fans who are most likely to go enjoy and support their favorite musicians even in tough times. It’s the loyal fans who might skip the family vacation to Hawaii this year but still splurge on a road trip to a music festival or decent seats at that U2 concert. Deep artist/fan connections are critical to success in music 2.0 and in most cases it’s what both the fans and the artists want – which is another reason why remix culture is still gaining momentum.

Another group diving headfirst into the artist/fan lovefest era is John Brown’s Body. Their manager, Seth Herman, pointed out numerous ways JBB is actively making themselves available to fans. “Basically we went right back to the grassroots level- replying to every email, sending everyone who buys merch at our online store a thank you, and giving away free tickets to a show if there is room on the guest list.” When touring they even take it a step further and reach out to local bands who are willing to pre-sell tickets and they’ll sometimes work with promoters to give the local band discounted tickets so they can bring out their friends. As we recently discussed, JBB is also working with The Hector Fund to pay for their international tour through “artistfunding.” The opportunities afforded fans through that particular collaboration are absurdly cool.

As we stumble blindly through the foggy terrain of this new musical frontier, trying bold new things and getting intimate with the music and its creators in totally new ways, at least we can count on one thing: Live music is here to stay.

Remix Delphic’s New Single “This Momentary”

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We recently introduced you to the up and coming UK artist Delphic. You also had the chance to remix their song “Counterpoint.” Have a listen to some of the great remixes that were created OR give it a(nother) shot here.

Lucky for us, the Manchester boys have released another single called “This Momentary.” Check out this beautiful video for the song, shot by Dave Ma, which weaves together images shot in and around the Chernobyl area, documenting the place as it is now and portraying the lives of the people who still live there.

LA Friendly describes the song as “a subtly blissed out blast of euphoria that takes in both the crisp drive of minimal techno and the epic scope of bands like Muse or Radiohead to create something entirely their own and entirely new and beguiling.” Delphic wants to see what you can do with this song, so go get your remix on. It is chock full of pristine synth layers just begging to be picked apart and put back together. Really good stuff for remixing!

Delphic has loaded the stems to “This Momentary” into MixMatchMusic’s Remix Wizard, and has given you two options for making a remix: 1) You can download the stems for free and use any software you want; or 2) You can click on the MixMaker button on the widget to make a remix in MixMatchMusic’s simple online music editor. If you’ve never experienced remixing before, or just want to see how “The Momentary” was made, check out the MixMaker. Either way, make sure to you upload your remix to the widget so that others can listen to, vote on, and share it. We’ll pick our favorite remixes and feature them on Evolving Music!

Want more? Join the community, share your thoughts, and interact with other fans on their Facebook page. Want to see them live? Check their tour dates here.

Kero One Interview

Kero One

Kero One

When it comes to DIY, it doesn’t get much more do-it-yourself than Bay Area born and bred Kero One. When he dropped his first album, Windmills of the Soul in 2005, he made it completely at home, charged up his credit card, released it on a self-made label, Plug, and became a hit when one of his original 50 copies found its way to Japan. Earlier this year, Kero One released his sophomore album, Early Believers, and I sat down to chat with him about his upbringing, musical history and thoughts on the evolution of the music industry.

AC: So you talk on Early Believers about your parents moving to the Bay Area. Where did they move from and was it a big culture shock for them?

KO: Well they came from Korea originally; and then they came here when I was… zero. Probably in 1978 or so. From what I understand, it’s a little bit different, of course, but you know, they adjusted. What I talk about on “Welcome to the Bay,” it’s just some of the experiences that I witnessed when we were in the South Bay growing up. I talked a little bit about that and also, I guess just a little bit about their adjustment in terms of, they’re used to a whole different lifestyle and obviously like different types of food and things like that. But, yeah, I mean, it was different, but of course they adjusted. And then we grew up in the south bay, and you know, I’ve obviously lived there for pretty much all my life.

AC: Whereabouts down there, San Jose?
KO: San Jose, Los Gatos, Santa Clara
AC: So how has your family played a role in the music that you’ve created?

KO: Well I’d say they made me take classical piano when I was really young, so, in the sense of being forced to take piano lessons, that was a pretty big role because, even though I hated it back then, I’m pretty thankful for it because I use it a lot in my music now. And other than that, not that much because really, they didn’t push me to do music; I mean, they’re kinda traditional Asian parents in the sense that they wanted the more, “education thing is a big deal,” and going to a good college and getting what they understand is a good job, whether it’s an engineer or doctor or something like that. So, they were really pushing for that, and, you know, honestly, when I told them I was rapping, I mean you can guess what their reaction was. Which is understandable, I guess, but now they’re fully supportive.

AC: You talked about learning classical piano. That was maybe the first of many instruments you learned; did you go on to learn any others, or was that the only formal training that you had?
KO: Yeah, that’s the only one I had formal training in, and I did that for 10 years almost. Technically it was probably like five years because the other five, I was kind of not really there. I hated classical music, but, when I was in middle school, I was really into punk, and I got into Primus and a little bit of rock like Red Hot Chili Peppers, and we all know, Flea and Les Claypool, ridiculous bassists. That inspired me to pick up the bass, and I started messing with the bass a little bit. So, other than that, it’s just bass, piano and I play a little bit of percussion; so those are my three things right now.

AC: Do you spin?
KO: Yeah, and I DJ as well. I got into scratching quite a bit when I was in college, so I was into the whole turntables thing, try to beat juggle, flares. I DJ out mostly in the city, one off events and sometimes I go out and DJ internationally, but, yeah, right now I’m just trying to focus on the live stuff.

AC: Do you play your instruments live in concerts?
KO: Well, actually for the last show, what we did was I incorporated a little bit of live keyboard and a little bit of live drumming, but something that I’ve always wanted to do was play some instruments and rap at the same time ’cause I’ve never seen anybody really do that. I’ve seen people sing, but not really rap, so that’s what I’m gonna be doing on my new show; just a little bit of that, and incorporate, I got a guitarist, I got a singer, and so we’re definitely bringing in like the live element to the live show, ’cause a lot of the stuff on my album is actually played out, it’s not samples, so it seems pretty natural to have live instruments.

AC: Out of all those instruments that you’re playing, which one are you enjoying playing the most?
KO: I’d say probably the keys. I’m not stellar player in any of the instruments, but when I do play the keys, it’s definitely fun when you can come up with a nice chord progression or some good solos, I’d say the keyboard.

AC: So you were talking about Primus, Red Hot Chili Peppers; what are some of your other musical influences and what are you listening to now?
KO: Man, I pretty much am influenced by everything from Mobb Deep in the early 90’s to John Mayer to Daft Punk, I listen to it all. Probably the only thing I don’t really get influenced by is country — I mean everybody says that, right — country or like folk, or something, or obviously classical music. But yeah, I listen to pretty much everything; like I grew up listening to really being into the early 90’s hip hop stuff, classic stuff.

AC: What was the first rap album you really got into?
KO: I’d say probably LL Cool J, Radio — I think that was the one. And then the BDP (Boogie Down Productions) stuff. So, yeah, BDP By All Means Necessary. And then for me, you know, I listened to that era when that came out, and then I went back to study other artists. Then, you know, from there, just expanded to Rare Groove and Soul and other related genres.

AC: So your initial album kind of made its break in Japan.
KO: Yeah.
AC: I’ve followed a number of hip-hop groups from Japan, but what would you say about the scene and the culture over there in the industry in terms of hip-hop?
KO: Well, definitely the culture plays a large roll, in the scene of hip hop over there because their culture, as you probably know, is very intense in terms of studying and breaking things down. I mean, when I was watching TV, and they were talking about, Indian Curry, I mean I was just watching from the hotel room and they were Japanese chefs, climbing barefoot on trees in India with the Indian guys there, to show this is how they do it, this is where they get it from, this is what it looks like and what it smells like, and they’re like breaking it down. I mean, that whole mentality is just kind of standard to me out there. They do that with hip-hop, and out there I learned more about music than I ever have in that short amount of time, ‘cause they know hella information, I mean, all the good music somehow just gets funneled over there and they have it at stores, the people who sell music are super knowledgeable. I basically discovered all these artists from the UK, from Europe, in other parts of Asia, even the States, out in Japan, you know. It’s really weird. I think because of that, they’re able to push the envelope a little bit. It’s definitely on another level out there, I think, in some ways.

AC: Did you pick up any Japanese hip-hop that you really liked while you were back there?
KO: DJ Mitsu is part of a group and I picked up their albums. I picked up a few instrumental albums out there. When I go out there, usually the labels will give me like a stack of CDs, so there are a couple CDs in there that are pretty dope. But yeah, definitely. I’m always getting new music while I’m out there.

AC: What’s been the most enjoyable part of the transition from web design and tech that you were doing to producing your own albums?
KO: Not having to listen to the boring meetings. I used to fall asleep in those meetings, you know. A lot of times I’d be at work, I’d be thinking about labels, music, I’d be stepping out very frequently to do maybe a press interview in the UK or whatever and since it’s international, you can’t miss that call, and so, you know, I gotta get up and go out and people probably started wondering why I was leaving so frequently. I still actually do a lot of web design now for my own stuff, so I haven’t strayed away from that too much. I hope to soon, but I don’t really miss the technical stuff that I need to learn, you know, just for that company; so now I can do whatever I need to do fix the public website or update the Kero One website or things like that.

AC: Have you retained or used anything from the job in actually getting your music heard?

KO: Well for sure in the sense those skills, I can apply to making websites, making them a little more functional, adding a little bit of interaction with it, like for example a mailing list, or something like that, whereas, you know, if I didn’t learn all that stuff, I’d probably be just a blogger or something, which is fine, but, for me, I’ve been able to take advantage of that. For example, I’ve pretty much configured our whole webstore on the website and now people can purchase things online. So, yeah, in that sense, that’s helped me a lot; so I definitely can’t ignore that.

AC: One of the lines I like from the new album is “wearing so many hats that your hair is concave.” So what’s been the hardest part of the scenario and trying to do it all for your label from rapping and producing your own music to being the label head?
KO: It’s definitely prioritizing your time. I had a PDA phone, which really kept me in check, but prioritizing time and figuring out where things need to be is probably the biggest challenge and now I have employees. Being able to stay on top and make sure that they’re being managed and they’re getting tasks done definitely takes up a lot of energy, but I think it’s definitely part of the grind, It’s a learning experience; I’ve learned a lot about the business. I’d say that another challenge is that I don’t want to take the business side to kind of supersede the creative aspects of my life, like the things I’m trying to do musically, I don’t want them to get pushed out of the picture, so lately with employees and things like that, it’s been helping out a lot, but there’s nothing without challenges.

AC: This whole album is full of really jazzy hip-hop, a lot of jazz influence on it; what was the approach that you used to make these songs and was your intent to go that heavy with the jazz? Was that something you wanted to do?

KO: You know, it’s really weird, I always get that comparison out and get told that it’s very jazzy and I guess I’m not ignorant to that fact, but I don’t actually say I’m gonna try to make it like this. I just usually try to go with what I like and just want to make something I enjoy. For some of the tracks, like “Love and Happiness,” which was produced by King Most, I mean, he just played me a bunch of beats, but when he played that one, that jumped out. I was like “Dude, that beat is ridiculous. I’m gonna have to add that.” So, you know, it wasn’t really a conscious thing to make it like that, but the other approach for this album was that, as opposed to Windmills, I wanted to give a little more diversity in terms of the tempos, the arrangements, I’m bringing in different Soul artists and features and just make it a little bit, I guess, less heavy. Because the first album, Windmills, was very personal and there were a lot of things on there that were very sexual. I mean this one, even though I put that in there, I also wanted to balance it out with something that’s a little fun, tracks like “Keep Pushin’” where you could have people dancing to it. I really wanted to keep it diverse.

AC: Your music sounds pretty complete in terms of the concepts that you have behind it, the musical ideas that you’re trying to bring into it. What are your thoughts, then, on the burgeoning remix and mash-up cultures?

KO: I’m really down with it, actually. As a DJ, I love finding music to remix or mash-up anything because I like to play songs that, even though they may be popular, ’cause they get people dancing, and they get people into the groove, it’s always nice to throw a curve ball at them, you know. I’m all about remixing stuff. I’ve done a few myself; I did a remix of Common’s “The Light.” DJ King Most, whom I worked with, we released some of his remixes for the DJs, and so it’s something that I’m definitely into playing. I don’t do that many in terms of, you know, taking well-known a cappellas and remixing them, but I do like projects here and there that are commissioned, I did a Talib Kweli remix and I’m working on a few Asian artists right now that I’m remixing, this group called Epik High.

AC: What do you think of making your stems available?
KO: Oh, for other people to remix.
Well, I have had a few a cappellas out there for people to remix, and I’ve gotten a few back. As far as stems, as in actual parts, not really, I’m not too into that. I feel like a remix should be like a regenerated or a totally new look at the beat and the project and the vocals. Otherwise, there’s no point to me.
AC: Between the record labels, the MP3s, the file sharing, where do you see music now, and where do you see there being a nice meeting place between consumer happiness and artist revenue?
KO: It always makes me a little, um…I don’t know, it’s like a mix between a chuckle and frustration when I hear people saying, on the blogs or whatnot, that “artists need the exposure and that’s why we’re gonna file share.” I mean, come on, that’s like complete BS. Honestly, for me, I’ll admit, I have downloaded illegally and when I have done that in the past, it’s just ‘cause you want the music, you know, it’s not any of the other stuff. I mean, it’s something that’s gonna be free and it’s gonna be in front of your face and most of the time, people will just take it. So, I don’t think it’s the people’s fault out here who want music; it’s the fault of the government and the regulations that aren’t being pushed appropriately on the internet.
For example, when we released Dream Talk, The Tones album, that released and it was at the top 50 of iTunes downloading, and then, a couple days later, all these blogs started showing up with the illegal download links for the albums and, in the dashboard you could see that the sales just plummeted. Right on that day, they just plummeted. And these kids, they’re hungry, and they’ve got mouths to feed, they’re trying to do music full time, so it really makes it tough. Of course we’ve got a team working on it on the security side, but it would definitely help, if and when these government regulations come into place that it kinda polices the activity out there, because, contrary to popular belief, artists do really get hurt by that. Maybe not a Kanye West, for example, but independent artists definitely don’t get to see that kind of return.
I think in that sense, I guess I could see the other side of the argument that, yeah, people have discovered a lot of great music through that as well. When I went to tour in Poland, I had people come up to me, and was like, “yeah, I’m sorry, we all downloaded your music illegally, but there’s no other way we can get it, we’re poor,” and all this stuff. Whether it’s true or not, they were there at the show and I see both sides. So, I think, back when albums were being sold for 10 dollars at Warehouse or whatever and there was nowhere else you could find that, I think a lot of people found out about those albums. I mean, when Nas or whatever came out in the 90’s to Berkeley, that show was packed, and it’s not because people got free music necessarily, it was just ‘cause they heard it on the radio and then they went and supported it and they got real’ into it, ‘cause really there was no real file sharing then. So, I think even with clamping down on illegal file sharing, things can still be really good, but we’ll have to see. We’ll have to see what happens; I really can’t predict it.
AC: Have you seen more of your revenues and artists from iTunes sales or from hardcopy CDs and shows
KO: I would say, probably from iTunes sales. CD sales have just dropped, like, pretty crazy. Though we still get a lot, you know, but it’s a lot slower.
AC: Have you started working on new songs already?
KO: No, I haven’t. I mean, I’ve been working on some remix projects, like I said, with the Korean group Epik High. I’m also mustering up some ideas on another project, but I haven’t actually started working on anything. I always like to release something and kinda reset and kinda figure out what I wanna do.
AC: So what’s up next for the Plug Label?
KO: Well obviously this album we’re gonna promote. We’re still promoting the Dream Talk album. I got a project comin’ up with this guy Green Tea, he does kinda like hip hop, kinda house beats. And then we got DJ King Most, who’s releasing a hip hop album with a bunch of guests. We’re gonna try to keep busy and really take it to that level of being an established label.
AC: How’d you connect with The Tones?
KO: Well The Tones, I actually heard about them on Myspace a while ago. I forget exactly how it happened, but we started chatting and then they had a couple tracks together, but not a full album. I liked what I heard; I mean, I knew that they had something special in terms of their sound, and so after a few chats, I signed ‘em and they basically simply got a full album together and then we went from there. And then we released that album in December!
AC: Yeah, that album’s good. It’s really good.
KO: Thanks. Yeah, I’m sure they’ll appreciate that. It’s interesting because I knew that, it’s definitely a good sound, I just didn’t know how impactful it would be in the hip hop community, ‘cause I guess a lot of people in the hip hop community really wanted to hear something like that. So, yeah, it’s pretty cool that they’ve been received that way.
AC: I think as pop hip hop goes further south in terms of quality, I think there’s gonna be even more of a backlash going the other way to find quality hip hop. Do you want Plug Label to be your side thing, and you’re doing music? Or do you envision Plug Label getting to a place where it’s up there with Stones Throw or Rhymesayers, or do you want to keep it small?
KO: I’d say I want to keep it small in the sense that everything that we put out is still hand-picked and not just to throw it out there, you know, to have a full release schedule. If we have to wait six months for a good album, then we’ll wait six months before we release it. I just feel like the more and more that we add to a catalogue and the more and more I compromise the vision of it musically, I feel like that’s where I’m gonna start losing interest in the label, and others will probably start losing interest because really, the problem I see right now is there’s too much information out there, you know, too much music, and I really wanna be able to kinda like consolidate that to people. That’s my vision, you know. So we’ll see what happens.


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