Monday, 10 December 2012

The Return

Been a while, work has been a bit on the hectic side and had left me in no mood to be noodling about in front of a laptop when I got home each night. Typical that I slack just when I was getting some decent traffic on the site, build again. Will do my best to keep on top of things, and as way of an apology you can enjoy one of all time favourite photos.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Interview with Mister Jason

So I have another interview and this time it's with the creator of the Frankensteez album previously reviewed on these here pages, Mister Jason! Read, hopefully enjoy, and discover some great new music for yourself.

Pic taken from Twitter
First off for those folks in Wales and the big wide world that are unfamiliar, please can you tell them who you are?

I am human, I am part monster, Mister Jason to some, just "Jason" to others, "Jay to many close to me, CEO of Frankensteez Entertainment.

How did you first get started on the path of becoming a musician and how did you get your break into the industry?

I was always a fan or rap/hip-hop, since around 1983, at that time I was listening to 60/70's rock, but mostly hardcore punk, like Suicidal Tendencies and my all time favorites, Circle Jerks.  After officially putting out music in the form of "tapes" back in 1995, my break came in 1997 when a local record store (Biscuithead Records) owner and legendary Boston DJ, DJ Bruno, heard I was working on a few projects.  I would hang out at his store and soon we began speaking about a possible record label and record deal.  He started "Biscuithead Recordings" and along with Edan's debut 12" "Sing It Shitface" he put out my group, Porn Theatre Ushers, and our first single "Me and Him."  The strength of the deal also came about due to the fact Nabo Rawk won the "Biscuithead Freestyle Battle" the same year.  It was a crazy time, very reckless.

How did you find your time as one half of Porn Theatre Ushers?

It was probably the most fun I have ever had, but also the most frustrating, due to lack of business direction.  We should have been out there more, more tours, I loved the people behind our labels but they weren't really in a place to take us worldwide.  We had fans worldwide, but nothing organized in terms of how to maximize our potential.  I look back and think of how much we could have grown as a force in the industry, at that time.

You're from Boston and obviously there is a very rich Hip Hop scene there, with the late, great Guru, Mr.Lif, Akrobatik, 7L and Esoteric, and Reks having come through. Do you feel that Boston has its own style in the genre and do you think it influences or in fact comes through in your own music?

I definitely think Boston has it's own sound, escpecially in those underground golden years, the late 90's.  We hade so many different personalities and genre's but we all worked together to put the 2nd generation of Boston on the map.  Many artists, Edo G., Top Choice Clique, RSO, TDS Mob and others paved the way for us and we came in with a new sound.  We made independent hip-hop, sampling uncoventional records, new flows, complex vocab, etc.  It was a great time...

How did you find going from the classic DJ & MC combo of PTU to going out alone and putting out an album in your voice? I personally think there is a big difference in the music you have put out as part of Porn Theatre Ushers and as yourself in that whilst PTU was everything that is great about Hip Hop in a raw and energetic way, your solo work seems more layered and more of a progression of the genre rather than the celebration of Hip Hop that I feel PTU were. Do you think it's down to a maturity in yourself or is it just the result of new influences, styles or even equipment you're using now?

It is very different, which is important to me.  I will always have the PTU feel in my veins, that is the core of what I'm about.  With Frankensteez, I took bits and pieces from many elements to come up with that sound.  Also, although I am by myself with the actual release of Frankensteez, I enlisted many people to help create the final sound.  PTU will always sound the way you've known it to be, with Frankensteez, I wanted to try something new.  So, I think it's a blend of maturity, working with new people, and also the recording process was a bit different, using live instruments, harmonies and different ways to sample.

I'd like to talk a little about Frankensteez but I'll get the elephant in the room out of the way first, that 26 rapper Mister Jason Has A Posse (to me the greatest posse cut ever commited to wax). How did it come about and how hard was it to get it together? Also how do you feel about the response it's received as that song seems to have really made waves in the Hip Hop community and I've seen nothing but praise for it out there, where you aware you were making something special?

One day, in my apartment, I was hanging out with Rain (my engineer and also co-produced some joints), going through records to make beats, and I came across this one 45, which ended up being the backbone of the track.  To me, the vibe seemed like a "tag team" feel, where the stab you hear every four bars, sounds like a natural break in the beat for a different rapper to "tag in."  It was initially meant to be what turned into "Renegades."  Then I started thinking of a song with multiple rappers, but just a "Boston rapper" track, showcasing some of the local artists, both established and up and coming.  That envolved into an idea of having emcees rap about a particular letter of the alphabet, then finally, choosing rappers that fit each speficic letter of the alphabet.  Although it took over a year to compile, I was amazed that the emcees volunteered and were excited to be a part of this historic record. 

I wanted to do something different, my whole life I have never been satisfied with the "norm" and musically strive to create something new.  Even when PTU has that classic boom-bap sound, I always chose samples that I thought were odd or different.

Now the album itself is a beast in and of itself, and the thing that struck me was how varied it was, with bouncing party tracks, moody beats, Joy Division samples, flute samples, funky filled bass lines, it really does touch a lot of musical bases. Were you conscious of that as you made the album or is that the just what comes through when you're creating music?

It was on purpose.  The meaning of the title "Frankensteez" means just that, all different moods, styles, a "mixed bag," a "Frankenstein" sound...Frankenstein's "monster" was man made, made of different body parts, anything the Doctor. could find to create his monster.  It is a "Frankensteez." 

You're releasing Son of Frankensteez on Halloween this year, what can we expect from this? 

It is not a full length release, hence the title "Son of " meaning just a little piece of work, born from the original Frankensteez   It contains 11 tracks, but is made up of remixes, instrumentals and a few  new tracks.  It will be released on Halloween day, 10/31/2012 on limited green vinyl, but I decided to go with a 12" size this time.

Son... aside what can we expect from you in the future? Is there a plan from where you go from here?

I am thinking the next "Frankensteez based" release will be "The Bride of Frankensteez" which will feature all female emcees.  Can't wait for that.  I might just tweet that I am taking open auditions for this one vs. reaching out to specific people myself.  Also, 2013 marks the 15th anniversary for Porn Theatre Ushers.  We will be releasing new music, some old archived videos and a tour. Look out for that one! 

 Will we ever see you over in the UK in the future?

That is my next goal, I HAVE to come to the UK.  Spread the word to anyone that wants to set that up.

Who or what inspires you and why?

I'm inspired by anything that is unique and not like the other...creativity without worry, oddball shit, I actually love when people say "Mister J, you have a warped mind" or "you're insane"...that is the biggest compliment!

As a large part of this blog is to try and put people onto things they may not have heard we have a few standard questions for folks, so with that in my mind...

Firstly what are you listening to at the moment?

Mostly traditional Greek, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern music, me being Greek, this music is in my blood.  There is a ton of rare psychadelic gems being released from all over the globe, some amazing stuff.  I listen to any genre from the late 60's, such a great time period for music.

If you could get folks to check out three musicians or more specifically three albums what would they be and why?

Great question...ok, this is tough...there are so many.

Lord Finesse and DJ Mike Smooth- Funky Technician (1990)--Along with early Prince Paul, Beatnuts, Ultramagnetic, this is one of my earliest influences.

MOOG: The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman (1969)--just listen to it, you'll know why I love it.

Erkin Koray-Erkin Koray (1973)--self titled debut LP from this Turkish Psych god. Turkish Psychadelic music? need I say more?

Check him out!
Are you much of a film head and if so have you seen anything of note recently?
As a kid, I was really into horror films, on VHS, and I would try to find the most disturbing, disgusting films out.  I remember seeing movies like Basket Case, Return of the Alien's Deadly Spawn, Humanoids from the Deep, and many low budget splatter films.  Then I got into martial art movies from Hong Kong, the early Jet Li movies were amazing, until he blew up in American.  If you're a fan of that genre, I recommend seeing Shaolin Temple, Once Upon a Time in China, Fist of Legend and Fong Sai Yuk.  Now I mostly enjoy independent films and films that typically aren't blockbusters, but now and then I find good commercially successful films.

What would be your three all time top film recommendations and why?


A Clockwork Orange, simply amazing, a timeless classic, amazing score by electronica legend Walter/Wendy Carlos (yes, she/he was once a woman)

Star Wars--the staple of my generation

Can't name a third.

It was at this moment Mister Jason had to go take a piss so that concludes the interview. If you haven't already got hold of his music, do it now! You're on the internet anyway and what else are you going to spend that £10 (probably less) on? You won't be disappointed in the music and you'll be supporting the kind of artist who's decent enough to agree to do an interview on here!  You can buy the music from iTunes/Amazon or by clicking on the following link...

You know it makes sense. I'd like to thank Mister Jason for keeping his piss in long enough to answer all those questions and thanks to everyone who's reading this, huge thanks to anyone that goes and buys the music (should I offer up more robots or maybe promise to stop drawing them?), Anyways cheers.

Almost forgot, you can keep up with Mister Jason news on Twitter by following @misterjasonptu.

Peace out


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Interview - Paul Iannacchino

I have another interview to put up here! While I'm eternally grateful to Mart for doing the first interview on here it was quite easy to get him on account of him being one of my best friends, he's a dick but not so big a dick that he wouldn't help me out. Anyways, this time I have managed to grab an interview with someone I don't know, it's the film-maker and former musician Paul Iannacchino.

Picture taken from the first page of Google Images and used based on that hat.

For those who may be unfamiliar with your work please could you tell them who you are and what you do?

My name is Paul. I'm a Scorpio. I sell art for commerce to pay my mortgage.

The logical place to start would be the film you have in progress, can you tell us a little about Adult Rappers please? Who can we expect to see in it?

Adult Rappers is a documentary film that features a lot of passionate people that make a living off their art. However, none of them are not household names. A fact most people probably sees as a contradiction.

What was it that made you want to cover this part of Hip Hop rather than say a specific area's scene or the work of a specific artist? Where did this idea originate?

I've tried every step of the way not to make a hip hop documentary. This is a film about people. We've tried our best to avoid hip-hop cliches and retread familiar ground. The idea originated as a joke. Honestly. My phone rang one day and I said to a friend in passing, "I have too many adult rappers in my life". That's how it began.

Now Adult Rappers was KickStarter funded and seemed to do very well on there, how did you find that whole experience, obviously waiting all that time to see if you'd hit your funding and also coming up with rewards you felt were a fair trade for buying into the project?

I was actually well on my way down the road towards making this film when we launched the Kickstarter. I had piggy backed interviews onto other jobs anytime I could, baking interviews for close to a year. The Kickstarter, while successful, was never about "funding" the film. It was about finishing. I figured now we have a strong story - I need to be able to jump on a plane, grab a small crew and shoot when and where I want to wrap this up. 

One thing that was evident during the KickStarter was the interest some people seemed to take in it. For example a guy on Twitter (@Egyptoknuckles) essentially became a PR man for the project, retweeting everything and spreading the word practically non-stop, how was it to see that a passion project of your own was resonating so strongly with other people out there?

For sure. That was the unexpected upside to the Kickstarter campaign. We had a great deal of passionate people come on board as ambassadors for the project - for no other reason than they believed in it. We didn't raise $1 million, but you can't put a price on what those people like @Egyptoknuckles brought to the project. It was also validation that we had tapped into a story people were interested in seeing. It was like free focus testing. The fact that it resonated so strongly with total strangers only strengthened our resolve. 

What is the plan for the film? Will it be doing the festival circuit/limited run or are you looking to get a DVD out there as soon as possible? 

Our plan is the festivals first. We'd love to see this premiere at SXSW. It just makes sense given the artists involved, the timing and the themes we're exploring. That said, if the festivals don't provide us the golden ticket we have some other ideas about the best way to share the story with the people that want to see it most. Ultimately, it's for them. 

Obviously I imagine all your focus is on getting this film right at the moment but do you have any plans for what you will be doing beyond this film?

There's life beyond this film?

Now to get to Adult Rappers and the world of documentaries you've come via a fairly unconventional route, I believe you are currently a commercial director and you are the former DJ /producer of the tremendous group Hangar 18! That's a pretty unique C.V. How on earth did that happen?

Good question. I have no idea how I got here. I'm very, very lucky. People say that and usually it's some bullshit. I'm telling you legitimately, I know I am very lucky. My parents worked blue collar jobs. I went to public school. I'm not all that smart - I've been able to try on the life of a musician and decide it wasn't for me...not to mention I think I was horribly average. Most people don't even get that shot. I remind myself of that constantly. 

So how did this happen? How did I get here? I love telling stories. I love moving pictures and I love poop jokes. I'm able to make a living doing two outta three. That gives me the opportunity to pursue passion projects like Adult Rappers. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for the sum of all those experiences. I'm a lucky bastard. 

Now I've seen it stated in previous articles and on blogs online that both yourself and Windnbreeze pretty much lost interest in the music business. Is there truth to this or was it just a case of people trying to attach a reason as to why a band with such a strong output just stopped?

Well, you're very kind. First, yes, the business of music is bullshit. As I said, I don't think I was very good at either the music or the business part. I think we all burned out on the business first and the music shortly thereafter. Second, my wife and I had our first child and her first year on earth coincided with our second LP. Something had to give on my end. I think I made the right choice. Musically it felt like the writing was on the wall too.

Do you miss that part of your life at all or was it very much a 'that was then' situation? Do you still make beats at all?

I love that part of my life. We had a fucking blast. I shared a tour bus with Shock G! Are you kidding? Every night I was like, "what are we doing here?" I just was not built for the life of a road dog...I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. It was amazing. I still boot up the MPC now and again, just for fun, I never save the beats.   

Who wouldn't want to share a bus with this guy?

One of questions I always like to see artists I'm a fan of answer, whilst cliched, is... who inspires your work and why?

Oh, man. Too many to list. I'm a 70's baby, so basically all the shit that's popular now that everyone who's under 30 thinks is the new shit. 

The main purpose of the blog is to try and put people on to new stuff so we have a few favourites/recommendation questions for you. First given that Adult Rappers is going to give a fresh new perspective on Hip Hop, what other film around Hip Hop culture would you recommend people check out?

Old school. Style Wars. New School. Tha Carter. Both classics in their own right. 

Have you watched anything worth checking out lately?

Does the Twilight saga count? For sure, the one film from the last year I'm amazed how many music and film people haven't seen is Drive. If you're one of those people first get some friends to flog you with soap in the sock, Full Metal Jacket style. Then watch it. Best film of 2011 bar none.  

If you could put people onto any three films what would they be and why?

3?! 3 films??? Jesus. 
Let's go recent docs then; 
1) "It Might Get Loud" - because it's creative oxygen for anyone that's needed a little inspiration.
2) "Bill Cunningham NY" - because, New York. 
3) "Inside Job" - everything else is derivative when it comes to current history.

Are you reading anything currently?

No, any suggestions? Last great read was "Check The Technique" Brian Coleman.

What three books would you say are essential reading for one and all?

The Bible
The Koran
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  

What are you listening to currently?

Mike Eagle - 4NML HSPTL
Suicidal Tendencies - Self titled
Any Band of Horse LP
Alaska's new demos and whatever SYFFAL sends me.

Finally, why should everyone check Adult Rappers?

I think it's a story that's relevant to anyone that grew up a part of generation X. Anyone who's parents told them "go to school, get a "real" job work hard, get married and everything will work out"...especially if now you're out of work, half crazy and wish you took a different path - or at least tried. If you pump NWA "Straight Outta Compton" even with the kids in the car, this film is for you. Now I'm confused. What was the question?

So that's the interview, hope you all enjoyed it and make sure you keep an eye out for Adult Rappers mainly because it looks like it's going to be spanking but also because Paul Iannacchino is clearly a good dude, I'm not sure too many people would have agreed to do this interview! I'd like to thank him for agreeing to it and thank you all for reading.

Almost forgot, if you want to keep up with the progress of Adult Rappers or if you just think Paul seems like a decent sort then follow him on Twitter @pawlmadethis.



Monday, 17 September 2012

Essential Listening

Picture taken from (not sure who owns it)

Today's review is going to be of the criminally slept on Fingathing and the Big Red Nebula Band. For those that are unfamiliar with Fingathing, the band consists of the classically trained Bassist - Sneaky (chap on the left), Artist - Chris Drury (centre), and Turnatablist and MPC wizard - Peter Parker (on the right). It's not your typical line up but then again they don't make your typical music.

Fingathing are generally found in the instrumental Hip Hop section at most retailers/online outlets but it is very hard to actually categorize the music that these guys make. I've seen them listed as Trip-Hop, Nu-Jazz, Dance, Electro, and countless others. The easiest way to label the music, if you absolutely have to, is to file it under awesome.

Now Fingathing and the Big Red Nebula Band is the third full length release from Manchester's own Fingathing and is a prime example of a band reaching a whole new level in their ability. Whilst their debut LP 'The Main Event' served as a great introduction to the band and showcased the rawness of how well the turntable and bass can compliment each other (key tracks - Head to Head and Big Monsters Crush Cities), and the follow up 'Superhero Music' put across more of the band's personality and took the warped concepts Fingathing put out there up a notch (key tracks- Ogre and title track Superhero Music), for me Big Red Nebula was a release that should have put them over in a massive way. I cannot for the life of me understand why this album isn't considered to be the classic it so rightly deserves to be and hopefully with this blog I can encourage more of you to check it out and discover a type of music you never knew you'd love.

Chris Drury does not mess about

Big Red Nebula band is a concept album, and it picks up from where Superhero Music left off. These concepts are one of the things I love about the band, not only are they giving you a narrative for their album which I think gives the whole thing a bit of focus that's missing from a lot of albums, but it shows that they give a damn about what they put out there, they're taking extra time creating a story for their album and also have the ridiculously talented artist Chris Drury bringing another perspective to their musical creations to life with his artwork (one of the elements of Hip Hop that is sorely lacking these days). The concept of this album is, and stick with me on this one, Parker and Sneaky are floating through space in metal coffins after faking their own death at the end of previous album Superhero Music, the coffins are basically picked up by a bunch of alien musicians (Big Red Nebula Band) and essentially a massive jam session and madness ensues, with giant robots, re-animation, and interstellar joy-riding all on the cards there is a little something for everyone. There is more to the concept than that but hopefully you can all discover that for yourselves when you pick this album up (go on, they deserve your hard-earned).

Once we get past that ridiculous yet epically brilliant concept we are left with thirteen tracks, thirteen tracks of sheer brilliance that ranges from hauntingly beautiful soundscapes to futuristic bleeps and whirrs over heavy pumping drums and almost everything in between. As is standard I would like to talk about a few of what I see as the biggest tracks on this album (although I could honestly rant about every single track on this album) so I will start with....

Walk In Space - This is the album opener and serves as a great introduction for where this album is headed. The combination of soothing strings, the fat bass line, dope spaced out cuts, and crisp drums are delivered with a swagger that befits a band at the top of their game.

Themes From The Big Red - A bizarre track that manages to be both ethereal and downright filthy at the same time. There is a real airy quality to this track and the intro in particular sounds like you could float away on it but then there is also a really filthy bass line, the kind of bass line that was clearly played with that classic bass stank face. Add to that the crazy 50's sci-fi sounds that Parker is cutting in and you have a real giant of a track. The last couple of minutes of this track are all business, there is a great build to it and it has an epicness about it that for some reason makes me think of a colossal fighter making his way to the ring for a fight he'll never lose. Huge song.

Rock The Whole Planet - This is a great club track for me, there is so much rawness in this song and it has a real Hip Hop vibe to it. Go check the iTunes Hip Hop of the week list right now, look at all them rappers like 2 Chainz (how's he keep popping up?) and know that in their whole career they will never make a track as dope or thug as what Fingathing do here and I will guarantee they sure as hell won't manage that shit in space either! (Author's note - It's a scientific fact that things are always better INSPACE, think of an activity and add IN SPACE to the end. Infinitely better right? Even with things like eating a sandwich...IN SPACE).

Cluster Buster -  Fingathing are comprised of a turntablist/MPC wiz, a bassist, and an artist. It says so right at the top of this post, so now we have to ask ourselves how two musicians, who aren't shredding it on guitar, can rock as hard as these dudes do on this track? The drums are ridiculous and the bass is heavy, I dare you to listen to this song and not nod your head, not rock a stink face, and not feel pumped up by it. If you can manage that then I'm afraid you're dead inside, also stop reading my blog, there's probably nothing here for you, nothing at all (Actually don't stop reading, I appreciate the views and I'm sure we'll agree on something eventually).

Lady Nebula - How do you follow the pounding ferocity of the previous track Cluster Buster? Well if you're Fingathing you play the chilled out wonder that is Lady Nebula. An astonishingly beautiful song that sounds as though Sigur Ros are hurtling towards the Sun in a broken spaceship (probably one of the best compliments I'll ever give a song). If you aren't into the heavier stuff check this out.

Return To Ert - Starting off like some Ennio Morricone score, which is an influence you can hear throughout the Fingathing back catalogue, then beefed up by the Hip Hop drums and layered cuts that Fingathing are so adept at creating, this track is a great end to a great album. If this was put out in DJ Shadow's name then it would be on every advert ever made, every Super Sunday montage ever created, and would be widely regarded as one of the greatest instrumental Hip Hop tracks ever made. This track will make your life better, that is a scientific fact.

I've covered almost half of the album so I'll leave it at that because hopefully some of you will actually go out and check this band, I urge you to try something you may not have heard before. If I haven't quite sold this album to you then consider the following, if someone asked me to write a tagline for this album (this is my reviewer soundbite), I would describe the album as...'like John Carpenter, reinventing Electro, in a back alley church on Mars'. I would mean every word of that shit too.

It's also worth noting that the album is co-produced by James Ford of Simian Mobile Disco fame and also producer for the Klaxons 'Myths of the Near Future', Test Icicles 'For Screening Purposes Only', and most of what Arctic Monkeys have put out. He also produces for Florence and Those Other Guys which television and magazines tell me you kids love so get involved.

Please check the band out and if you ever get the chance try and catch them live as they really do put on one hell of a show, the Fingathing and The Fiends show is still one of the Top 5 shows I've ever been to. Also they are coming back and have put out some new material recently and you can go to the following site to not only stream a funking spectacular new track but you can also download it for free! Free music everyone (well free and without you having to steal it you dirty internet thieves)! CHECK IT OUT...

I have deliberately avoided posting any of their tracks for you to listen to because you really should search these guys out.

I'm out.


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Jukebox Champions

So I saw the following video the other day and I liked it, figured I'd post it on here in case someone else might enjoy seeing them. I don't really know anything about these dudes other than what you'll see in the video. Enjoy.

What the hell, here's another one.



Monday, 10 September 2012

A Couple More Robots

So there are a couple more Adult Rappers robots to show. I went for a pun with the Taxi Driver effort because I'm a child. The MCA tribute is the robot from the Intergalactic video throwing up some graffiti, loved doing that and cheers to the guy that made the request. Check-check-check em out!

Robo De Niro

MCA Tribute 

Sunday, 26 August 2012

This is how I spend my time...

A little while ago I wrote about a Kickstarter project called Adult Rappers, rather than explain it all again check the link and you can see what it's all about.

As the donation end date neared it did look like Adult Rappers might not quite make it so as an added incentive to potential backers I offered up a reward for backers. I really wanted this film to get made so along with my donation I offered to draw a shit robot for everyone that backed the project.  It turns out that I needn't have made such an un-appealing offer because Adult Rappers met it's funding target with ease. Some people, clearly trying to see just how shit these robots would be, have since claimed their robots.

I'm going to go all Tony Hart (I don't know what the non-British equivalent would be) and put up a little gallery of the robots. For anyone that has backed Adult Rappers and not yet claimed their robot feel free to hit me up on Twitter (@Mechagodzeala) or leave a comment and I'll get it done.
Now enjoy the following badly drawn robots.
This dude is the director of an online art school. I'm far too pleased with myself for the apple logo.

@Jakemoney is all I had to work with. Jake 'The Snake' Robots + Money = Done
This guy wanted a robot version of the cover for his upcoming EP.
@Frankiepancakes got a robot making pancakes.
My girl backed it and demanded one...@Wenderwoman gets a robo Wonder Woman but ginger.
Attackosaur got his beloved dino vs Mecha Van Damme. Check the splits.
Dude is an editor/director. I did a director directing a scene from Profondo Robo. I am far too pleased with myself for that pun and robo-recreation.
Guy has been watching a lot of Kung Fu lately, he gets Bruce Lee battering Han. I know the outfit is from a different movie but I make the rules.
Guy is a teacher so he got a classroom scene...Binary 101!!! I am such a wit.
The request was Syffal tee, cane, bees, and a massive set of swingers. I also included a Hobot.
This dude was retweeting for this project like you wouldn't believe so he got the first robot, he also had Egypt in his Twitter handle so, you know, pyramids and that.
The Director of the project, he got a Director asking to see a young rappers parents.

Before anyone mentions it, yes I am a grown man. I don't care because robots are the shit and this film is going to be tremendous. I will post up more as and when they are done, I'm working on one at the moment I just can't decide on the finishing touches. If any Adult Rappers backers want one, hit me up.

Laters yo!


Saturday, 25 August 2012

Ain't no Hipiau Hopiau

I initially started this whole blog in an attempt to just talk about the stuff I was into at any given time, to be positive about some of the art out there and hopefully encourage some folks to check my recommendations out and maybe find something that they might end up enjoying. I didn't want to review stuff that wasn't good because quite frankly there isn't a lot you can gain from a review that isn't good, sure you may steer clear of a potentially bad album/film but so what? That's nothing like the thrill of discovering something that you get, that speaks to you on some level and that will bring you good times. Now anyone that's met me will know full well that I love a whinge and I'm pretty opinionated when it comes to films/music/books (I'm a bit of a dick about it to be honest). Whilst I am genuinely trying not to be a great big moaning vagina about things please allow me this one slip and now that I've enabled the comments section so that you don't need to sign in, feel free to tell me that I'm an end.

There are two factors that triggered this post and I want to  properly explain why this got me thinking so much about the genre I love. The first was a conversation I had with a colleague, now I should state that I have a tendency to speak like I'm gangsta (check the a) and tell people that they are so un-down that they're up when they don't understand what I'm saying, this amuses me because I am pretty much one of the whitest people out there. See below for proof.
This is how white I look at the exact time I am writing this blog.

It was during one of these nonsensical, accusing my co-workers of being super white moments that I asked if my colleague was in fact a fan of Rap or Hip Hop(the genre not necessarily the culture). The reply was that whilst she wasn't really into the genre she will listen to things like Eminem when he has a Dido or whatever singing the hook. She wasn't into the delivery of rap music and much preferred a nice melodic voice over a beat. Now that's a fair point, rapping isn't to everyone's taste and music is one of the most subjective things out there so I can't really argue with it, each to their own and all that.

My colleague did however offer up another explanation about why this genre doesn't really grab her..."I don't like how it's all about sex,drugs and violence". Now this got me thinking hard, and to an extent I can see her point. A very large part of Hip Hop is about exactly those things, some of the best Hip Hop ever made is exclusively about those three things but then again so much of it isn't. There are truly great artists that don't rhyme about those things, artists like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, sure those topics come up every now and then but they certainly aren't defining elements of their music. It's kind of unfair to tarnish all of Hip Hop with the same brush and I think it's worth pointing out that that the themes most people see as a negative thing in Hip Hop are themes that pop up in the work of artists working within all genres. The Beatles sang about drugs, Marvin Gaye sang about using sex as some kind of medicine, shit even the 'cream' of UK pop once covered Lou Reed's song Perfect Day for Children in Need! Children in Need!!! Surely there can't be many more inappropriate songs to sing on behalf of a children's charity? Turn on the likes of Radio 1 right now and they'll probably be playing a Lady Gaga or Rihanna song about sex. Now in my opinion Rihanna singing about S&M in a song aimed at 12 year old girls is far worse than Wu Tang telling me they ain't nuthing to f' wit.

Now for every Guru trying to elevate the art form there is a Ludacris yelling 'move bitch get out the way' (I must admit I have time for Luda though) so I'm not going to pretend that all of Hip Hop is socially conscious but I genuinely believe that if most people listened to a fun track like DJ Format & Abdominal's 'Ugly Brothers' or classic shlitz like Jurassic 5's 'Concrete Schoolyard' they'd like it. Those are two prime examples of what is great about the art form yet it isn't necessarily the kind of thing a lot of folks who aren't into the genre, would think of when they thought of Hip Hop. It's certainly not what a lot of people are exposed to here in Wales so why would they think of it? I didn't think of the fact that my colleague has probably never been exposed to the kind of kind of thing I considered to be the best examples of Hip Hop until I got home and was having a look for the release date of the new Doom album. This is where the second trigger for this post kicked in.

I was checking the JJ Doom release date on iTunes so was having a look in the new Rap/Hip Hop releases, at the top of the page they have a couple of links to new albums that iTunes think you should check out. On this occasion the top link was to an album by an artist called 2 Chainz, I'd never heard of 2 Chainz but there he was at the top of the page, the first thing anyone in the UK would see when they looked up Rap/Hip Hop on iTunes. I popped across to the YouTube and looked for a song by 2 Chainz, there was a lot on there and the top one was featuring Nicki Minaj, this set some alarm bells because I've heard people talking about this Minaj character like she's some kind of Lady Gaga. I'm not really into that kind of thing but I gave it a go because apparently this should be the top thing I check in the world of Hip Hop right now. I clicked on the song, alarmingly titled 'I Luv Dem Strippers', I proceeded to lose 4 minutes of my life, 4 minutes I would never get back, 4 minutes that prompted me to lose plenty more time drafting this blog, 4 minutes that I would have preferred to spend smacking my own junk with a claw hammer. I know I've said earlier in this post that music is a very subjective thing and as a result it is ridiculously difficult to say whether or not a song is good or bad,but this is the exception to the rule and I can say without question that this is a terrible song. Firstly 2 Chainz is way too old to be making a song called 'I Luv Dem Strippers', he's also way too old to be spelling things that way.The beat sounds like it was nicked from a cut scene from some Grand Theft Auto knock off and the lyrics... just wow!!! The chorus to this song goes like this...

"Yeah, I love them strippers x 4
In my foreign car, got the trunk by the engine
So when I back back, I'm fronting on you n*ggas"

What the actual fuck is that? Please someone tell me and while you're at it explain this shit...

"All my bitches different, all my diamonds glistening
My weed so loud, everybody listen
They say it's for the birds, so I bought a kilo
My boost mobile chirping, it must be my amigo"

That's not even the worst part of this song, Minaj is hell bent on outdoing 2 Chainz bullshit with her own. For starters there's the demented ooh noise she makes on a couple of occasions that sounds like she held a queeff in so long it came out of her mouth, then there is what I would say is the worst line I've ever heard.

"Bitches stay pressed, I call them a space bar"

That is terrible, to me it's worse than Lil Wayne's "Real G's move in silence like lasagna" and it even pips whoever the hell said "Like David Beckham I keep a mean shoot down".

My colleague wins at this point because she is dead right about Hip Hop. This song is everything that is shit about Hip Hop and it's also what iTunes has deemed to be the pinnacle of Hip Hop right now. The world is a terrible place at times and this is a prime example of one of those times.

To anyone reading this thinking to themselves "well yes it's a shit song but what do you expect? It's iTunes. Go to a store and look for some new music, don't rely on Apple to spoon-feed you new tracks, you only have yourself to blame". You have a point, but this is North Wales. I have to drive for 45 minutes to get to a CD shop that sells anything outside of the Top 40, I actually have to drive into a different country to get to a record store that sells Hip Hop, so iTunes and the internet are the way I get my music. A lot I get is from Amazon and Ebay so I can get decent stuff but the problem is how do I know which stuff to get? This is the big issue and I think it's the reason my colleague doesn't like Hip Hop. She has never been exposed to what in my opinion is the greatest examples of Hip Hop. When people listen to the radio in Wales they'll be exposed to Fiddy rhyming words he can't say properly and they'll be treated to Snoop phoning it in and reminding us exactly how you spell his name, they won't be exposed to Mister Jason and his posse cut, Edan the Humble Magnificent, or artists like Action Bronson. When they check out iTunes they'll see 2 Chainz and that's Hip Hop to them, that's all there is to it and that's real sad. Some people will like the style of the music and by virtue of the fact that 2 Chainz is all they are exposed to they'll get into that. I genuinely believe acts like DJ Format would be huge if people were exposed to it. I recently attended a Format gig in North Wales which was attended by all of 50 people, that may be generous, but I can assure you that had more people from the area turned up they would have seen something completely different to what they have previously experienced and in all likelihood they'd have enjoyed the hell out of it. For some reason though people aren't willing to just check new stuff  out, they'd rather just take what Radio 1 is pushing on them.

For those who don't really know where Wales is or how far removed it is from the Hip Hop scene we have only ever had one real Rap group and that was Goldie Lookin' Chain. Here's a video so you can understand a little.

Many moons ago I listened to Nelly, now the only reason I did is because I liked Rap and it was one of the only examples of it I could get my hands on. I had a Beasties collection and I was into Wu Tang, Tupac, and Onyx after finding their music in the Urban section at OurPrice but I didn't have the internet, the radio only really played Hip Hop late at night and with Tim Westwood pressing his explosion button all over tracks, so I had no way of being exposed to more of the genre I was into most. Nelly started popping up in the supermarket so it was Rap I could get hold of and I did. I couldn't pluck groups from thin air to listen to so Nelly it was. When I was about 16 I found out one of my mates was into Hip Hop and he put me onto things like DMX, Tribe, De La, Ice Cube, and Public Enemy (it was this friend's older brother that gave me my treasured Beastie Boys tape way back when). I started to realise that Nelly was actually a pretty poor example of the genre. A few years later I was fortunate enough to meet a guy in a Hip Hop band and he put me on to the likes of DJ Format, El-P, Edan, and MF Doom, that's my music now. Through acts like these I get to experience the genre I love and I get to see it taken in new directions and I've discovered just how lazy and dull Nelly was/is but without meeting the people mentioned above I never would have been put on to any of my now favourite artists, I probably wouldn't be so into this genre, and I'd probably be listening to 2 Chainz right now!

Unfortunately for some inexplicable reason, the music we are exposed to, isn't actually the best music out there. For some reason that would take me countless blogs to try, and fail to understand, the music industry doesn't seem to want you to listen to great artists making great music. It's no wonder my colleague thinks Hip Hop is a bit shit, as far as what she's heard goes, it is. If someone was telling me Rock music was brilliant but the only Rock I'd ever heard was Nickelback then I would quite rightly think that this person was an idiot. We can only go off what we are exposed to, with that in mind could anyone reading this that isn't into Hip Hop or has similar views to my colleague please go and check out some of the artists mentioned in this blog? Not 2 Chainz though (I have deliberately not linked his song here because I don't want it to have the YouTube hits, please take my word for it when I say it is a travesty). If you are into what the snobbish and over-opinionated nobs like me would call 'real Hip Hop', please make someone you know that's not into the genre listen to what you think is a prime example of everything that's good about the genre. See if you can change the perception.

If anyone wants to suggest a couple of tracks they believe to be some of the finest in Hip Hop please post a comment. I'm always on the look out for new stuff and as I've mentioned we don't really have our finger on the pulse here in North Wales.

I leave you with a little De La Soul as a prime example of how good Hip Hop can be and how the themes that are often seen as a negative can be dealt with a far superior manner than when the likes of 2 Chainz address them.




A couple of folks told me that they couldn't leave a comment without signing in so I've tried to fix that now. You should be able to leave all the abuse you want without signing in so feel free. If you have to be horrible try to only be horrible towards me and not each other, cheers.



Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Interview - Martin Smith

I'm going to try something a little different and hopefully I can keep this going as a feature, the plan is to try and get an interview with people whose work I'm into. I'll try and get an insight into why they do what they do and also what kind of stuff they're into themselves.

Without further ado, here's my first interview! Ladies and gentlemen Mr. Martin Smith

Mr.Martin Smith and his best ever pic!

First of all, for those unfamiliar with your work, tell us a little about yourself.

I'm Martin, a Welsh small press comic creator of superhuman size and strength! I write and self-publish horror comics under the Attackosaur banner, selling them at various UK conventions and through my website, the snappily titled My hobbies include labouring away at a film degree at Aberystwyth University.

Why Attackosaur Comics?

In an effort to appear more professional than I actually am - more like a company and less like a guy with £60 worth of software and a box of comics under his bed - I thought I should use some kind of logo. Marvel have one. I needed more things that they have. With dinosaurs being my one true love and the only thing I'm any kop at drawing (not that much kop, mind), I settled on Attackosaur. It's a dinosaur, but he attacks things. Instead of dino-ing things. Naturally.

How and why did you get into the comic book industry?

Sadly, I don't think I'm in it. I'm super excited to be part of the UK small press industry though, if industry is the right word. I got into making comics through film. For years, I'd spend every waking hour writing film scripts. Eventually, I realised that I was always having to scale my ideas back for financial or taste reasons ("There's no way I can get an actor to do that on camera!"). Then, I think I saw the movie adaptation of American Splendor and realised that all comics aren't just made by huge companies sitting on scripts for years at a time. Having been into them ever since reading From Hell as a teenager, I figured comics would solve all of the problems I'd had with the restrictions of screenwriting. Of course, it's completely different from screenwriting in almost every way, but by the time I understood that I was well into it and enjoying it as its own medium. 

What was your first book and how do you feel about it now with hindsight?

It was a slow-burning horror set during the Blitz called Paralysis. I find it impossibly clunky in places now - the story hits some of the right notes, but in really clumsy ways that would need much more room than I gave them - but I'm still proud of it. I still think it's a fun story, though it must've been a nightmare for the artist to draw all that talking and brooding. I was going for an old-fashioned Vincent Price kinda vibe and I think that still comes through. Just seeing the comic in print was magic, to be honest. I damn near did a little wee when I first saw someone else's drawing of a character I thought up.

Over the course of your other releases how do you feel your skill as a writer has developed?

My old scripts make me cringe a little, which is a good sign! The Arvon Foundation were amazing and gave me a grant to be able to attend a week-long comics workshop with Bryan Talbot (Grandville, Luther Arkwright) and Hannah Berry (Britten & Brulightly) which was invaluable, smashing home the insane amount of thought that needs to go into every detail of every panel. After devouring as many writing books as is humanly possible (anything by David Mamet or Scott McCloud is absolute gold), I'm much more confident with story structure. Still wonky on other things, mind! I'm currently digging into retro comics (e.g. Simon & Kirby) for inspiration. 

What are you working on right now?

I'm working with a top-notch artist named Nicolas Giacondino on a new exorcism-based comic called Devil Executioner. I'm lettering the pages for that as they come in. Not having a huge distribution machine or the brilliant marketing skills of a Stan Lee, I have to work in one-shots. Developing a series is a bit more than I can afford or handle at the moment. That said, I love one-shots. There's something satisfying about finishing a script and moving onto completely different material. All of them being self-contained gives me a handy leg-up with the sales aspect as well. It's much easier to convince someone to take a chance on a single comic.

So do you think you may create a series later on down the road or are you happy to keep producing one shots?

If I come up with a cool enough idea I'll be back on it in a flash for another one-shot. Quite happy to leave it at one if that doesn't happen, mind. A series is expensive stuff when you can't draw! (Though I'm trying to learn, so fingers crossed.

Anything in the pipeline after you finish Devil Executioner?

I'm hammering away at a couple of horrors. The first is a dirty little thing set in Wales - I'm trying to do a little for Wales of what Tobe Hooper did for Texas - and the other is a historical murder mystery set after the fall of the Knights Templar in the 14th Century. There might even be a sword-fight in that one!

You mentioned earlier that you're from Wales, and you've said you're working on something set in Wales. Do you think that being Welsh and in Wales helps or hinders you in any way or do you even think it has any influence on your work?

It's a bit of a hindrance in that I'm pretty far away from most of the conventions and comic shops that I could otherwise pester into stocking one of my comics. As far as stopping me breaking in or anything like that, I don't think it matters that much. Alan Moore is a comics god and he's from Northampton. I can think of only one thing from Northampton, and it's him. As for how much it influences my work, I couldn't really say. It makes me want to write stories about Wales though, especially considering how invisible the country is in popular media. I wish that made Welsh stuff exotic in some way, but I don't reckon it does. The Scots and the Irish are always stealing our non-English thunder!

One of the features of your work, and in particular A Rope Around Your Broken Neck, is the depth of the research that seems to go into each book. Is the research a part of writing that you enjoy?

Love it! I tend to choose an idea to develop depending on how interesting the research is going to be. I sometimes get carried away and do more than is really necessary, but it always leads to new ideas and the sort of perspective you can't really get from anywhere other than real life accounts. If my knowledge of a subject completely comes from films and comics I've read about it, I feel like whatever I produce will be kind of false and removed from reality by an extra layer. If I write a story about a secret agent and don't go beyond watching Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible, I'm basing my story on a fictional account of reality and not reality itself. I've let someone else decide for me which are the most interesting parts of the job. I'd be writing a comic about spy movies rather than spies, if that makes sense.

Do you find that the story is easier to write once you get into the research or do you find it sometimes means you can't go in directions you were thinking about?

It's easier when you find great little details you can use and when, as with Paralysis, the situation lends itself to the character's mood and the atmosphere, but it can totally mess with your plans. A Rope Around Your Broken Neck completely changed. The original pitch was 'The Fugitive during the Great Plague of London.' Harrison Ford was going to have the plague and this doctor would chase him down in his creepy outfit. There was a big sword-fight at the end and everything! The research, though, was brutal. The Great Plague by Stephen Porter is one of the most horrific things I've ever read. What seemed like a fascinating subject at first, a fun backdrop for an action comic, was of course in reality one of the most tragic things to ever happen to the country. Reading account after account of slow, agonising death with weekly death tolls in their thousands stopped me from ever being able to write something as trivial as an action story in that setting. It's easy to gloss over it because it's not in recent memory, but think of having a half dozen 9/11s every week. I didn't feel comfortable using something like that as a backdrop. If that's in a story, for me, that is the story. I'd still like to rip off The Fugitive at some point, mind. I'll just have to set it somewhere nice. 

What do you hope to achieve in the future?

It'd be lovely to be paid to write full time, but I'm perfectly happy to keep knocking out self-published comics until I am but a useless husk of a man. 

Right then seeing as the point of me setting up the site was to try and put people on to the stuff I enjoy and to be positive about the all the great art that's out there right now, I've decided that I'll try and get the people I interview to give a few recommendations for stuff to check out and an insight into their favourite films/books/music.

From a creative stand point who influences you and why/how?

Kazuo Koike, definitely. The massive amount of research that seems to have gone into Lone Wolf and Cub is insane. It feels like you could read them as history books alone even if they didn't have those brilliant, mostly stand-alone stories. The amount of drama he can wangle out of the smallest details is astonishing. The other big one, I'd say, is the crime author Jim Thompson. The way he bends what could've been a run-of-the-mill genre piece like The Getaway into a deeply personal, massively disturbing story is blinding. He takes a bog-standard plot like "A couple of bank robbers escape from the law after a heist goes wrong" and when you put it down it feels like he's smashed you in the face with a shovel.

Aside from comics what other things are you into?

Oh, um. All sorts of horror films, video games, dragging my sorry near-corpse through music festivals, and that kind of thing.

Have you read any good books lately?

The Green River Killer. Brilliant serial killer story written by the son of the lead investigator on the real life case. With his personal connection to the investigator, it kind of reads like a serial killer version of Maus.

Just to put you on the spot, could you please name your three favourite books of all time?

All time favourite 3 books: I'll just go with comics. Top 3 novels would probably be all Jim Thompson ones anyway! Lone Wolf and Cub (Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima) for the reasons I mentioned earlier. The artwork is stunning as well. Preacher (Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon) for its absolute insanity. I re-read the whole lot like once a year and it just gets better. Road to Perdition (Max Allan Collins, Richard Piers Rayner) has to get a spot too. Lone Wolf and Cub meets The Untouchables. What's not to love? The comic has a great deal more crazy John Woo-style gunplay than the film (which was also brilliant) and the pen and ink style artwork rocks my socks. I love that kinda look. Eddie Campbell's ace at that.

What's the best film you've seen lately?

Indie Game: The Movie is a brilliant indie documentary about the creators of Fez and Super Meat Boy. It's not technical at all. It deals with the pitfalls of creating art, that kind of thing. I can't help but feel for Phil Fish when he's standing around at a convention looking terrified as people walk past his game. I gave them $5 on Kickstarter. Best $5 I ever spent!

Top three favourite films?

Jurassic Park is my all-time favourite anything by a country mile. Perfect cast, perfect score, ground-breaking effects that still look amazing, and all the dinosaurs you can eat. The scene where Sam Neill sees his first live dinosaur still gives me chills. The bit where the T-Rex looks through the jeep window still makes me do a little wee. I'm a big fan of westerns, but none of them have messed me up quite as much as The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Casey Affleck's performance is seriously heart-breaking and the whole thing looks just stunning and the score by Nick Cave and (the other) Warren Ellis is... Well, I'm running out of different ways to call this film brilliant! The film I watch more than absolutely any other - not including a huge Fight Club phase I had ten years back - is a documentary called American Movie. I must've seen this thing about 50 times. It's about a guy who lives in the middle of nowhere trying to raise enough money to make his dream film. It's so funny that the first time I caught it on TV I assumed it was a Spinal Tap for film-makers. The main guy is a fascinating dude and something of a cautionary tale for anyone making their own stuff.

What are you listening to at the moment?

I'm absolutely useless at keeping up with new music, I'm afraid. DJ Format's latest album, mentioned in this fine establishment, is one of the best things I've heard in ages. Definitely go get that baby. Um. I'm loving a band (or just a man, I'm not sure) called College at the moment. They/he did that song from the super amazingly brilliant film Drive. Everything else I've heard is mostly instrumental stuff, but it's got a great 80s dancey vibe. One more. I won't lie. I'm listening to Justin Timberlake a lot. The man's pretty brilliant. Decent actor too!

If you could make the people reading this check out three musicians, who would you recommend?

I'm not very good at describing why I like music and I still haven't come up with any more words for 'brilliant', so I'll make this bit quick. Rough top 3 off the top of my head would have to include Nine Inch Nails, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Joy Division.

Finally (in the interest of plugging your stuff) why should people check your stuff out?

Like Lloyd Kaufman, I don't have anyone to tell me off for writing stupid stuff. There's always the very real chance that it might get a bit too silly or a bit too personal. You don't tend to have that problem with Marvel stuff, brilliant as some of it is. This applies to the whole small press industry (I'm desperately trying not to use the word 'scene'). It's a great reason to try any self-financed, for-the-love-of-the-game comic books. If you can get to a convention, the place will be full of great comics trying things you'd rarely see come out of the big two. I once bought a Judge Reinhold mini-biography which came with a badge and a word search! I'm going to leave it to my grandkids! (If I don't have any, I'll leave it to someone else's.)

That's that and hopefully you all enjoyed the interview. Once again you should all go and spend a few pennies over at and support Martin.

Thanks for reading!