A few weekends ago I played one of my favorite shows I've done as 9 Theory at an intimate mini-festival called Big Surreal. This is the second year of this festival's existence and I am honored and grateful to have been asked back to perform a sunset set again, just as I did last year for the first Big Surreal. I can't really explain the epicness of the location of this thing, but it happens on top of a super high mountain on the coast that takes about 30 minutes driving 6.5 miles up a really gnarly dirt road to get to. The stage faces straight West, and from the area the stage is at you have a 180 degree view from South to North of the ocean, but it's crazy because you are so high up that you're looking down on such a huge portion of the ocean that it is almost hard to fathom the scope. What makes it even more magical is that most evenings a thick cloud bank forms over the coast so this 180 degree view ends up looking down from way high up over an endless sea of clouds, rather than ocean. Combine this with the sun setting and it is just incredibly beautiful beyond words.As if it weren't great enough to get to perform at such a cool spot for such a fun, positive, intimate crowd of rad people, my set was 7:30-8:30pm so the magical lighting and changing of colors upon the breathtaking 180 degree view happened while I was performing! It was amazing. The sunset is so spectacular from on top of this mountain that once the sunset really begins getting awesome everyone stops dancing in front of the stage and goes over to a better viewpoint for it nearby. This happened last year so I expected it to happen again, which it did, but what was different this year was that Mike, one of the main people who puts the event on, and who books all the music, told me and my band to take a quick break and watch the sunset with everyone. How fucking cool is that?! So we did; Christian (turntables), Kelsea (harp), and I stepped away and watched the sunset with everyone, hooting and hollering like they do at Burning Man when it finally goes down, and then we jumped back on stage and rocked our last three songs, and since the sunset was over people came back and were in front of the stage again for them, rather than being off to the side at the viewpoint and just hearing us. Those last three songs were awesome to do too! Of the three two of them are really new, and the song we closed with is especially new with that being the first time I have ever performed it live, and that anybody has ever really heard it. Also for the two newer songs I ended with, as well as "The Piece That Fits" that was earlier in the set, a super cool guy named Grant Chaser sat in and played cello with us! Earlier that morning I was all groggy from just getting up and had got an iced mocha and sat on the big logs where the epic viewpoint is to chill out and drink my coffee. Grant was sitting next to me playing a cello for fun and I could tell he is really good. I told him it sounded great and asked if he was good at improvising and had a good ear to jam along with stuff on the fly. He said yes so I asked him if he wanted to sit in on my set, and he was totally down. I love unexpected cool connections like that. What is hilarious is that Grant was actually asked by two other acts that day to sit in as well so he ended up playing for three different sets on Saturday with his cello, which is even funnier because he actually is mainly a keys player who performed the day before with his band Captain Nasty, playing a rhodes.I don't think I have ever received so much love from an audience for playing my music before, it was truly special and humbling. So many people seemed to be way stoked off of my set, which is the best thing I could hope for when performing. There are also some great collaborations that will probably happen in the near future now because of it, or people who are able to and want to help me connect some great dots and get some good opportunities, which is unexpected icing on the cake, and all of it has left me really energized and motivated to keep doing what I do and stay on the grind.Besides the beautiful location of Big Surreal, and getting to perform there, I also really love the people who put it on; Luvlab Productions. Luvlab is a start-up of a really smart, hard-working, motivated and dedicated, young group of friends from Big Sur who are already killing it in my mind for this being only their second festival. I have a lot of faith that they can and will grow to be something really special on the level of The DoLab, if they want to take it that far. The potential is definitely there, and besides the fact that they are doing these great things already, all of the Luvlab people and their inner circle of family and friends are just super authentic, kind, awesome people who I would be stoked to know no matter what. And that was the overall vibe of everyone attending Big Surreal this year; I met so many new people and had so many awesome and inspiring conversations all weekend, that was the best part.Keep your eyes out for Luvlab and pay attention to what they have going on in the future. Hopefully I'll be playing at some more of their events as they grow, but so far to be part of the first two Big Surreals has been a special thing. I love playing live music!
Today Emancipator released his album of remixes from his last LP, Dusk To Dawn. I had the opportunity to do a remix of his track "Natural Cause" and it became one of my favorite tracks I've ever made! I actually created this awhile ago and have been waiting eagerly for the day Doug (Emancipator) would put these out so that I could finally share it with the world. I love this remix so much that I have been performing it live ever since I finished it, but now people can finally hear and have the song, which I am super stoked about. One of the really cool things about this remix is that it was the first time trying to get my friend Tori (Wolf Prize) on a track to see how her voice would sound with mine, and how it was working together. I love how it turned out, and this track led to having her add many textures on my 9 Theory album, Against The Odds Of Entropy, as well as becoming my main female vocalist for live shows, and I am currently adding her voice to new 9 Theory stuff as well. I love working with Tori and having her be a part of my sound, and it all started with this Emancipator remix. Without further ado...here is my remix of "Natural Cause." Enjoy.
I never really thought this day would come, but now that it is here I am embracing the change and excited for the next chapter: life without CD's. The evolution of technology has impacted the music industry in so many ways, perhaps the main one being how people listen to music now. It has become less and less common for people to use CD's ever since the internet and the iTunes store opened the flood gates of downloading music and led to listening through a computer or iPod/phone. As if this wasn't enough of a threat to the compact disc, streaming services like Pandora, Soundcloud, and Spotify have begun putting nails in the coffin of even music downloading, with the CD nearly entirely nailed up and quickly going the way of the dinosaur. I wasn't stoked about this change at first since I love buying and listening to physical whole albums, and since I pretty much only listen to music when I drive via my car's CD player. Long after downloading and streaming became the norm I was still that guy who bought the CD of an artist or band I really loved, but that has all finally changed for me. The real shift happened when I got a new car at the end of last year that doesn't come with a CD player in it, nor was it an option without upgrading to a way more expensive package for the whole vehicle which I wasn't going to do. With over 95% of my music listening being in my car while driving I suddenly found this new and great barrier between me and my music collection. I began having to import CD's to my iTunes and syncing those playlists onto my phone so that I could listen to my music again in the car, now via Bluetooth. I also had to take anything I was mixing of my own projects and go through the same process just to sit in my car and listen back to take mixing notes (which is how I always fine tune my mixes). Having to do this new, somewhat tedious process combined with the fact that my whole physical music collection is spread out between numerous disc racks and shelves in various closets, rooms, and cabinets of my house with many CD's being out of their cases in who-knows-which giant CD wallet, and with random miscellaneous stacks of cases, either empty or not, cluttering up all sorts of places, made me realize the only thing that makes sense at this point is to import every CD I have into my iTunes library and then get rid of most of my physical collection. Crazy, huh?! It's 2015 baby, time to shift with the times and let go of the old chapter! For the best music in my collection I will keep the CD's but box them all up and store them away out of sight and mind, for the rest I will make a Goodwill drop, and I will throw away all of my burnt CD's.As I'm writing this I am actually nearly done importing my collection, and though I knew this job would be big it turned out to be WAY BIG! A big pain in the ass...but worth it. My studio looks like a perfect storm has blown through it of CD cases and random discs everywhere; cluttered would be an understatement. I have way more CD's than I thought too. What's great about sucking it up, toughing it out, and seeing this through though is that I am finding albums I either forgot I had, or that I never would have remembered where I had put. It is also kind of amazing to take my whole collection of everything I have ever bought and listened to and put it into one digital music library where it all can be scrolled through and accessed quickly, all in one place now! I never have to think about my CD's ever again (except for a possible rare occassion where I decide I really want to remix something and need to get the high-quality WAV or AIFF file off the disc for the remix), and I can easily and quickly rotate in and out anything I want to sync to my phone so that I can listen to it on my car drives. Also there will be WAY less clutter in my studio, and actually my whole house and life, once I finally finish and organize this all, and get rid of everything. Could you imagine no more random stacks of CD cases lying around? I can't, but that will be my reality soon and I honestly am excited for it.
It's funny because I actually realize that doing this isn't necessary because all music lives online now as streamable, and even owning music files that take up space on a hard drive may become archaic technology as well sooner than later. What I have found doing this though that makes it worth it to me is that if I left it up to only music streaming I would never remember certain great albums in my personal collection to stream, whereas I can now go through my iTunes library and say, "oh yeah! I forgot about how rad that Duncan Sheik album is, I'm going to listen to that right now!" (Side note, if you like good singer/songwriter stuff Duncan Sheik is amazing. He has got to be one of my biggest favorites and influences, and I recommend starting with his first album, which is called Duncan Sheik.)
Sophie Barker is best known for being one of the main female vocalists for Zero 7, who have been one of my favorite music groups since I discovered their legendary album, Simple Things, back in 2001. Some of the best songs on that album are sang and written by Sophie, and the last thing to ever cross my mind back when I was getting into that album was that I would ever know or work with her. As it turns out I was connected to her while in Inspired Flight through one of our managers, Chad, who was in touch with her agent about possibly booking her at The Belly Up, a local venue Chad books for. We reached out and she liked the music and was super open to working with us. One of the songs she sang on is a song I wrote and recorded called "Shoot For The Stars," and since Inspired Flight ended before we ever put it out it ended up being how I close out my 9 Theory album. Since then I have opened for her at The Belly Up as 9 Theory, she has taken me trick-or-treating in a hamburger costume, and we stay in touch with a good skype chat every now and then, and will definitely do more collaborating in the future. Sophie is so fucking cool, and just really down-to-earth and keeps it real, which I so appreciate with anybody. She also is a true artist who loves writing, performing, and singing music, and she is incredibly talented with it all. Her own original music is awesome, and I highly urge you to go check it out at http://www.sophiebarker.com/. You can also follow Sophie at:
Dawn is a fellow local singer/songwriter in San Diego with an amazing voice and a great knack for acoustic, indie, folky songwriting. In 2012 I produced and recorded Dawn's 5-song EP, Love Remains. By the end of the project not only had we become friends, but I knew her voice would be amazing over electronic music and I was determined to have her do some guest vocals on some of my stuff. I had Dawn sing on three 9 Theory songs I was working on, two of which I have included on my debut album, the other I will release on the second album probably. I was right about Dawn's voice over vibey electronic music, it sounds amazing, and the first song I released as 9 Theory is one of the songs featuring her on lead vocals, called "At Home In The Dark," which also features a rap verse from my boy, Scarub. I'm sure I'll work more with Dawn on future 9 Theory recordings as well, but besides hearing her on my music you should totally check out her own original stuff. She is one of the most talented singer/songwriters in San Diego for sure, and her music, and voice, is so good. Check out her EP that I produced at http://dawnmitschele.bandcamp.com/album/love-remains-ep, and learn more about Dawn at http://dawnmitschele.com/
You can also follow Dawn at:
P.S. I am half sea lion. Shhhhh!
Killer Mike is not only an awesome emcee, but also a super down-to-earth, humble, inspiring human being. Needless to say it is an honor to have worked with him on my album, and of course he crushed it with his verse. I offered Mike his choice of three beats and the one he wanted to rap on ended up being perfect because of the theme. The song we did together is called "The Middle," and though my lyric ("Don't wanna pick sides, somewhere in the middle is where it's gotta go cause in the meantime where damage is done it shows.") is very simple and unspecific what I am essentially singing about is that the political polarization in our country is so ridiculously out of control that it is hurting us as a nation, and being too far on either side is a problem. Killer Mike, known for his honest and blunt lyrics often addressing issues like the corruption or hypocrisy with politics, police, and religion, did a perfect job elaborating on my theme with poignant lyrics and a super sic flow and delivery. Killer Mike is one of the dopest emcees to hail from Atlanta, Georgia, and is most known for his guest features on some Outkast tracks, for his highly acclaimed solo album R.A.P. Music, produced by EL-P, and for the subsequent two albums he and El-P made together as an official duo that they call Run The Jewels. Their newest album, Run The Jewels 2 (RTJ2) was just released on 10/24/14 and it is so sic. Check it out and get a FREE download at http://www.runthejewels.net/. You can also follow Killer Mike at:
I first discovered Marv Ellis years ago, probably around 2010, when I was on tour with Inspired Flight and we were in Portland for a few days. My buddy who lived in Portland took us to this bar called The White Eagle and Marv Ellis and his band at the time happened to be there playing a live set. I was blown away by the whole package. Not only is his voice rad and his lyrics and delivery super good and professional, but he also had an obvious good stage presence as a performer, and his band was comprised of some of the best players ever, and they were super tight. I met Marv briefly after the show and had wanted to work with him ever since. Fast forward to the past year as I was finishing up my debut 9 Theory album and I had this one beat, a song called "Static Mathematic," that needed an MC and I was racking my brain for months trying to think who had the right voice and style to match it. One night I was driving home from a road trip and while digging through a stack of neglected loose CDs found the album Mental Picture Machine by Marv Ellis. I put it in and remembered how much I love that album, how incredibly dope his style and lyrics are, and it hit me that he would be the right MC for the track. Fast forward to now and he is not only on the song, but he killed it and usually his verse is people's favorite one on the album for who I have showed it to so far. Marv Ellis is a West Coast Oregon emcee based out of Eugene, and is currently working with an awesome band making music as Marv Ellis and We Tribe. Hear their new album , Five for One, at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/five-for-one/id923242432
Also check out his album I love, Mental Picture Machine, at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/MarvEllis1
And you can follow Marv Ellis at:
Scarub is one of the illest emcees I know with a style of rhyming and wordplay that really blows me away sometimes. I first ever heard of Scarub when Eligh, his fellow group-mate from the renowned hip-hop crew, Living Legends, suggested he be the emcee feature on the Inspired Flight song, "It's The Chemicals." He ended up rapping on that song and wrote one of the the illest 24-bar rap verses I've ever heard. From working together in the Inspired Flight days Scarub and I became friends and frequent collaborators. I know I can always count on Scarub to not only be down to spit a verse on something if I need or want him to, but to always write an incredible verse that couldn't be more epic and more on-topic for the track's theme. I knew from the get-go I wanted Scarub involved on my 9 Theory album, and the first song I actually searched for an emcee for and finished all the way and put out as 9 Theory is "At Home In The Dark," which features Scarub delivering an amazing 24 bars (also features Dawn Mitschele on vocals, but she'll get her own write-up later). Not only is Scarub an integral part of the Living Legends crew, but he also has a dope project with his buddy Very called Afro Classics, as well as a number of solo Scarub albums. His newest album, Want For Nothing, just dropped this November 11th! Check it out and more from Scarub at www.scarubmusic.com. You can also follow Scarub at:
I was never really aware of Eligh until I worked with him on the song "Pull, Push, Let Go" with my old project, Inspired Flight. Since featuring him on that first track we have become friends and frequent collaborators. I knew he would have to be part of my debut 9 Theory album, but the song he ended up wanting to rap on, "Just A Piece," wasn't one I really had him in mind for or thought he would choose. Eligh is known for rapping really fast and doing so extremely well, but the beat that features him is slower and he switched his style up by rapping with a much slower cadence, and it sounds DOPE! Eligh is one of the best emcees to come from the classic crew, and is one of the few people I know who truly lives, breathes, and does music as much or more than I do because he just has to. He's also fun to ride camels with wearing women's clothes. It's always a pleasure working with him, and I am excited for you to hear the track that features him. It is one of my top three favorites from the whole album. Check out more from Eligh at http://www.elighmusic.com/. You can also follow him at:
Being a huge fan of Wu-Tang Clan since 7th grade I have been a fan of Killah Priest since discovering him through his appearances on many Wu-affiliated projects. To work with any of the talented emcees who fall under the Wu-Tang umbrella is super exciting for me, and before collaborating with Killah Priest on my 9 Theory album I had already had the privilege of making tracks with Inspectah Deck and Black Knights. I actually met Killah Priest a few years ago after a Wu-Tang conert at 4th & B in San Diego, and I handed him an Inspired Flight CD, told him we'd worked with Deck and Black Knights, and let him know it would be cool to possibly work with him in the future too. He was down we traded contact info. Now, after years had gone by with no communication since that first meeting, I had a track for my album called "The Piece That Fits" that needed an emcee, but the vibe of the song along with the subject matter needed a very distinct emcee to compliment the track in the right way. I really had trouble thinking of who this could be for months, and one day my friend who I was showing the track to said he though Killah Priest would be dope on it, and when I thought about it I knew he was right! I reached out to Priest and sent him the track and he really loved it so he was down for the collab. Killah Priest is known for lyrically being able to get really deep on spiritual and philosophical levels; he is definitely a genius poet on some next-level shit! He brought his best on my track delivering such an amazing verse that fits the theme of the song so well with incredible imagery and deep meanings, all while having the super dope Wu-Tang, Killah Priest style to it. I couldn't be happier with choosing him for the track, and I hope to work with him more in the future.
Killah Priest is a highly respected and prolific Wu-affiliated emcee from Bed-Stuy and Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY. He has many solo albums that I encourage you to check out at www.killahpriest.com. You can also follow Killah Priest at:
P.S. One time Killah Priest and I went into outer space together, it was pretty cool.