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Friday
Mar242017

62 Nick Hook

Nick Hook has always been an enigma, and his debut full length album inspires as many questions as it provides answers.  'Relationships' is a journey, a story that follows the course of 2015 from the artist's perspective.  Fool's Gold Records is the perfect home for an album that spans so many sounds yet forms a captivating listen from beginning to end and encapsulates the irreverent, eclectic nature of the music.  We had the chance to sit down and talk with Nick Hook when the Run The World tour stopped in Toronto.

Fingers On Blast: There's something about the name Nick Hook that sticks with people when they hear it.  People hear about you and your music and it seems to start to slowly catch on for them...

Nick Hook: I realize I'm a hard sell, that's the interesting thing.  You can't really describe me, my whole life you can't put me in a peg.  My album ('Relationships') and 'Spiritual Friendship' and even my collaborations and everything they've done, none of them correlate or make any sense.  So you basically gotta say 'trust me' and that's my mantra I think right now.

F.O.B.: I think we first heard of you around the legendary Sake bartending days.

Nick Hook: Oh yah, the sake bar is part of my folklore.  I worked every Monday, and turned it from a night where no one ever came in, to 60 people being in a 20 person bar and it was only dj's and girls.  So we go to know each other outside of the club, cause most of the time I've realized in a club situation you're yelling at each other posturing, and this way we got to let our guard down and actually become true friends. 

I got to live off of one day a week, and then I no longer had to take any wack dj gigs.  So I got to position myself in the perception that I only played good shows so it really helped my career.  A lot of us in New York became working dj's because we've got to make a living, but then you're not special anymore because you're playing 5 nights a week, so then there's no incentive to come see you.

F.O.B.: And then there was Movement 2015 with the appearance during Hudson Mohawke's set.  

 

Nick Hook: So I came up and jumped on the table and got a cop to come onstage and started just gettin' lit.  I tried to get the cop to stage dive, and he put his hand on his gun and said 'I can't do it' and so I went out there and stage dove and did a big horseshoe around the entire crowd.

F.O.B.: That's kind of wild because Hudson Mohawke was out there playing music from his album 'Lantern' before it was released, and that same performance ultimately led us to eventually discover 'Relationships' too, and Hudson Mohawke is back with you on that record and it seems like the music is following a specific journey in life.

Nick Hook: This is only about life.  That's why sometimes you discover me as a bartender, sometimes as a dj for Gangsta Boo, sometimes as a guy yelling in a mic because it's all one.  We all support, especially the real ones.  That song me and HudMo made ('EvolIsOnTheRise' from 'Relationships') is from 2009.  My friend who passed away, that's the first time I used the piece of gear he built and gave me. 

I did all the drums and the way HudMo flipped it has that like jarring feeling, like he got shot, but there's some kind of spiritual heavenly aspect.  I felt that song was really important to my album, that was from 2009, that's the oldest piece of music on the album by far.  The only reason I found that is when I went to headline Sonar in 2015 and I cleaned out my harddrive song by song and I found it, and I asked him if I could use it and he said yeah.  We did 'Jumanji' together, we all help each other.  Like if Boo ever needs me for anything, it's part of what we do.

F.O.B.: Nadus was another artist who helped introduce us to you, and then you two went on tour after 'Relationships' was released, that tour definitely got our attention focused on that new album.

Nick Hook: My ultimate dream is to play the album from front to back with all the guests.  That's my true dream, I don't know if I'll get to do it cause everyone's in a wild place on that record but I'm glad I got to really work with all these people.

F.O.B.: The song 'Can't Tell Me Nothing' with Novelist was what got our attention first, and it embodies a confidence that it feels like stems from hip hop music, but not as often from other styles.

Nick Hook: Hip hop is the most urgent music there is.  Hip hop is the most punk rock shit because you try to make it as fast as you can and bottle that moment up and leave it.  A lot of other genres you over sheen things and most of my album everything is a first take.  That shit with Novelist we did in five minutes at 6 am and the reason we stopped is because if I hear it like that and it makes me stop and makes my hair stand up, I'm giving you the same thing.  You're just not in the studio. 

That's what I worked so hard on for this record, is to leave it as vulnerable as possible because I was in a vulnerable state.  Whether it was strong and feeling that I got up from a hard time, or fragile because I had been through so much darkness.

F.O.B.: It seems like quite a few people have reached out online saying the music has had a similar meaning for them.

Nick Hook: It's been amazing.  I truly thought that my record wasn't gonna come out because I had such deep clearance issues.  I finished my record three separate times, there's three full versions of my album.  I couldn't have Afrika Bambaataa on there because he got accused of child molestation, I couldn't clear two Makonnen songs, there are a few samples and at the time Fool's Gold was really militant about 'we have to clear every sample' so I had to pull another song off.  But then I just trusted to get through it, I just realized that this is what you have to get through to give this record.

F.O.B.: The record seems to have emotionally resonated with a lot of people, by telling the story of your life, you're giving them something powerful.

Nick Hook: To me the journey of my album is the most intricate, delicate thing I've ever done because every second mattered.  If any of it broke down the whole thing broke down, including the last song.  To me it's just amazing how you start to attract fans.  I want a room of 300 people that has gay dudes, black girls, white guys.  I've realized I want my crowd to be the most diverse, dangerous crowd because I wanna show people fuckin' Young Thug that would never listen to Young Thug, and I wanna show those people 'Spiritual Friendship'.  I've realized that I've started to build that audience although it's slow. 

I met this kid in Cleveland who saw me on 'Against The Clock', and followed me on social media, preordered my album, got it the first day it came out and then came to my show.  He told me he listened to my album front to back in the dark.  There's a hope for us, there's a possibility that we could fill up a room like whatever studio 54 looked like back in the day.  That's what I crave, truly.

Coming out here we're working really hard to try to pick those people out.  I'd rather pick the 20 kids out that can join the team than try to please the whole 3000.  I'm trying to build with people that roll with me and allow me to create freely.

F.O.B.: Part of the reason we reached out, and began coverage of the album was finding it and having it take on a personal meaning and wanting to make sure that other people were hearing about this record.

Nick Hook: I've realized in creativity it's only about showing who you are.  It's not following a verse, chorus, verse structure. I realize as I get older the more I am truly myself, the more people love me and the higher I go.  My whole life, I feel like everyone's trying to get you to fit in and conform, and you kinda start believing everybody.  I'm a maniac, I'm fuckin' nuts, I can show that to you guys.  That's my version, her version is different than yours, I feel like that's what my album is truly about.  When my friends died I realized I had a responsibility to the world to show the world how fuckin' nuts I am, and that I come from St. Louis. 

That's my responsibility because I think society's getting bottled up right now until you can't do anything.  You go to a little office building and make 100k, and drink some fuckin' lattes and shit.  We're losing the danger.  What was it like when Bad Brains and Talking Heads and Fab 5 came out?  To me we're doing that in New York but the world should be doing that.  What we're doing on this tour, it's music, it's for everybody, it's not for one type of person, we're playing the most open minded tour.

F.O.B.: and each artist on this tour is giving the audience something they crave but they can't get anywhere else

Nick Hook: The music is just the bullshit to bring us together.  It's the safest thing to bring us together.  Drugs and other things can do it but music is the thing that correctly brings people together.

Nick Hook's album 'Relationships' is coming soon on vinyl from Fool's Gold RecordsHe's also returning to the Sonar Festival in June.  

Souncloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Thursday
Nov192015

61 The Dears' Natalia Yanchak

 


We recently had the pleasure of exchanging some words with Natalia Yanchak from Montreal orchestral pop wizards, The Dears. A talented and multifaceted creative mind from a band of several, we were elated to find out what she thinks about a few different topics, and how excatly you stay afloat and stay inspired as an artist in 2015. The Dears also just released their new album 'Times Infinity Volume One' and you can pick up a copy at the links after the jump.

First of all thanks so much for chatting with us! 

 

The Dears are known as an iconic Montreal band, and we have to say, it is easily one of the best cities in the world. What sets it apart? What do you love about it?

Montreal is definitely a special place. It fosters a "creative" life because it's almost what the city demands of its residents. I was reading a report and it said the quality of life in Montreal is one of the highest in the world, while the same report stated that Montreal was a terrible place for business (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-study-institut-du-quebec-1.3322892). That basically sums it up: if you want to be free to make Art, come to Montreal. If you want to make money, move to Toronto. It's the classic, dichotic conversation.

 

You've always had an iconic sound that sets you apart from other bands. How have The Dears always managed to stand out?

I wouldn't call it "standing out" as much as I would call it an assertion of our identity. Without prejudice. Beyond an improvement in the quality of our recordings on the production side, it's important for us to remain true to what "The Dears" is. We are not trendy. There are no iPads on stage. We are a rock band -- musicianship is important to us, and it's a characteristic that runs deep in our blood. Songwriting is just as vital. Many bands have all the "right" textures and sounds the "right" album art and haircuts, but they can't write a song. Essentially, marketing can't write music. And that's why we're so popular (hahaha!). Since The Dears formed in 1995, we've been the same band with the same end game: to make great orchestral pop music.
 
While recording this new album, Times Infinity Volume One, what was a typical day like for The Dears?

We recorded much of the bed tracks at Revolution Recordings in Toronto, and the overdubs at Hotel2Tango in Montreal. But the city never matters because a studio day is always the same: Wake up, drink coffee, get into the (invariably windowless) studio in the morning. Sit on the couch in the control room and listen, listen, share an idea, listen some more, and maybe that day you'll get to lay down a few tracks! Suddenly it's midnight and you're starving. Poutine time! Repeat. 

 

What are your favourite cities to visit and play in while touring? Is there anywhere you haven't been that you would like to visit?

Even though it's a beast, I love London, UK. What a massive and confusing place -- but I have to admire the down-to-earth conceit of Londoners. The celebrity culture there is also like none other, where you can be at any old bar and be sitting next to a famous musician, or a crazy successful person, or just some random human being -- and you're guaranteed great conversation. We haven't been back to London in a few years so I'm feeling nostalgic, I think! 

 

Recently, shows in Turkey and Mexico have been highlights, and we'd love to get back there. As far as places I'd like to visit: it's pretty much anywhere we haven't been, really. Russia & all of Eastern Europe, Morocco, Egypt, China, Thailand, Cambodia, Korea, Vietnam, Columbia, Argentina, Peru, Brazil... you know, all those places bands usually get to...

 

If you were out DJ-ing, which record would you take with you every time?

 

"There's a Riot Goin' On" by Sly and the Family Stone.

 

What's the best part about being a creator for a living? If you weren't in The Dears, what might you be doing right now?

 

Having a creative "job" is not easy, but it is an amazing philosophical lesson to share with our kids (Murray and I have two, aged 10 and 3). Happiness is often seen as some unattainable goal -- the pressures of everyday life quickly erode at one's notion of what being "happy" might be. To me, happy means fulfillment, satisfaction, compassion and love. These things are everywhere, they are free, and they exist within each of us. I think if I had a 9-to-5 job I would be less "stressed" about money, but all the other facets of happiness would suffer in the face of that. Does this answer the question? Because I've kind of given you the best parts and the worst parts about a creative life… 

If I wasn't in The Dears I would be writing more. In fact, the sci-fi book I'm currently writing would be published already!

 

How do you stay inspired? Where do your ideas come from?

Life inspires us, and knowing there is even a single person who is listening, compels us. 

Thanks so much for chatting with us! Is there anything else we need to know about?

Thanks for the interview! Here's a shameless plug/link to some of my sci-fi writing: https://www.scribd.com/nyanchak

'Times Infinity Volume 1'
Thursday
Jul162015

60 ON AN ON

 

We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Ryne Estwing from a favorite band of ours, ON AN ON. We happened to learn some seriously intersting things.


FOB - First of all thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.  On July 24 ON AN ON's second full length album 'And The Wave Has Two Sides' will be released.  So far the 3 singles 'Drifting', 'It's Not Over' and 'Icon Love' are complete opposites of each other, 'Drifting' being a powerful and emotional ballad worthy of goosebumps, 'It's Not Over' being a catchy and fun love song and 'Icon Love' stands out with a guitar solo.  What else can we expect from this album?

 Ryne - Ya I'd definitely say that 'Drifting' and 'It's Not Over' are the polar opposites of the album and 'Icon Love' would sort of be the median of the album and the rest of the album would sort of fall in between.  We actually just released a fourth single called 'I can't escape it' via a video game maze on our website that you have to play and escape from to listen to it.

FOB - In August you guys begin touring the U.S. and some of Canada.  Do you have any rituals does the band have while on tour?

Ryne - Nothing too interesting I guess aside from the boring stuff like eating.  We usually jam to 90's techno songs in the van and sometimes after shows with the energy we carry afterwards we like to cruise around and positively heckle people. 

FOB - What's the significance of the album title "And The Wave Has Two Sides"?

Ryne - Well it's actually a Brian Eno reference and For us all being from the mid-west, it was being so close to the ocean when we were on the coast in L.A. recording the album.  We would be in the studio almost everyday from 11am to midnight so when we got a day off where we could relax we would go to the beach, and when you see a wave from the one side when it's coming at you it can look sort of terrifying but if you're looking at it from the other side you can see that it's actually kind of calm which I think runs parallel with a lot of things in life. It's pretty universal.

FOB - That makes so much sense. Damn! Since we're on the topic of L.A...  You recorded 'And The Wave Has Two Sides' with Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, My Morning Jacket, Beck, countless others).  How was it working with someone with such an impressive resume?

 Ryne - I thought it was pretty intimidating and humbling.  When you walk into a room with somebody like that and you look at the list of artists they've worked with, it's always pretty intimidating.  Once we started working with him and showing him our songs it was easy, and good to get to work.  I think it's also kind of a vulnerable thing too when you're showing someone your songs they could potentially want to change everything but what we learned from working with Dave Newfeld on the last record is that it's better to trust the producer's overall direction for the process and result.

FOB- You recently had remixes done by Sammy Bananas and Twelves.  What other artists would you like to remix your tracks and are there any tracks or artists you would consider remixing?

Ryne- It would be a dream to have someone like Todd Terje, Disclosure, Nicolas Jaar to completely alter a song and turn it into an amazing remix. We've been fortunate to have a lot of amazing talent already remix our music like YACHT, The Twelves, KYWO, The Hood Internet, and Sammy Bananas but hopefully that list can just continue to grow. In an ideal world I would love to remix Björk, Beck, Miike Snow, and many, many more extremely talented artists out there.

FOB - ON AN ON was a fresh start from you previous band Scattered Trees and it's taken a more electronic approach.  What inspired the Shift and are you happy with the results?

Ryne - I think it just happened with what we were listening to at the time. It was a natural progression from where we were at the time.

FOB - You guys represent both Minneapolis and Chicago.  Where do you spend the most time?

Ryne - Definitely Minneapolis.  I was the one who lived in Chicago and when it came to writing the new record it just made sense for me to move there since the rest of the band had relocated to Minneapolis.

FOB - Thanks again for chatting with us.  We look forward to July 24 for the new record and we will see you at The Drake in Toronto September 22.

You can play the maze game to here the new single "You Can't Escape It" and also pre-order 'The Wave Has Two Sides' here: http://youcantescapeit.itsonanon.com/#

Tuesday
Jun302015

59 Vursatyl The Great


The incredible mc known as Vursatyl The Great is back, and once again he has hit the ground running.  His first solo album apart from the superteam Lifesavas called 'Crooked Straights' is making waves all over.  He just released the Jake One remix of 'Bring It To A Halt' which has heads nodding across the globe.  We were lucky enough to have a chat with the man himself.  Check it out:


Fingers on Blast: First of all, what's a typical day in the life of Vursatyl The Great?

Vursatyl: I'm up at 6 AM every morning, in my headphones listening to beats. Often times I am listening to the same beat over and over again, trying to get ideas going.

Where do you think your ideas come from?  What inspires you?

I like to get out and drive. I like to see the city, to see people and just observe life man. I find inspiration through what I see. Like most writers I also get inspiration from life experiences. Going to concerts and shows inspire me as well. I get challenged by seeing excellence. I guess that's why the music I have released as a solo artist feels like music to drive to.

What do you love about living in Portland?

I love living in Portland because everything was so untapped here that I've been able to be myself and find my own voice as a musician and an artist. I love being born and raised here, and being able to watch what we built grow into such a colorful Hip Hop scene.

After traveling the world, I dig that my kids can go to school here and also generally feel safe.

You mentioned before being challenged by excellence.  who have you seen live that would fall into that category?

Man, there are so many great live performers that I've seen. But I'd have to say the greatest live shows belong to Public Enemy, De La Soul, The Roots (in the 90's and early 2000's), Digital Underground

But on a micro level, I can go to underground shows and see an unknown MC who's hungry and on his game and leave feeling inspired to go harder.

If you could make a posse cut with some of your favorites, who would produce it and who would you have rap on it with you?

Wow! Best interview question ever!

J Dilla would produce it. Rakim, Pharoahe Monch, Mykah 9, Kendrick Lamar, Elzhi, Jay Electronica, Black Thought and Me. First names to come mind.

We first came across you as one half of lifesavas and being on tour with the quannum mc's.  can you tell us how that all got started?

The short version: In 1998 Chief Xcel of Blackalicious heard Lifesavas cassette single while shopping at Jump Jump Records here in Portland. I was introduced to him at a show a day or so later.

I met Gab, and Lateef that night as well. Xcel said he loved the tape, so we kept in touch and a year later after understanding that I also sang, he asked me to send more music and some of me singing.

The next day, he sent me a plane ticket to come to Oakland to rehearse with Blackalicious and Latyrx to join them on the 'Quannum Spectrum Tour' in Europe. In 2000 they signed Lifesavas.

To back up a bit, while on that tour I was giving away A new Lifesavas demo. In Rennes, France I had given one to Babu & J-Rocc of the Beat Junkies, and Cut Chemist. Lyrics Born got pissed that I being the "newbie" was giving his friends music that he hadn't heard and didn't want me to giving them anything wack.

So he and Xcel told me to let them hear it before I gave anymore out.

They took it on the tour bus and once they listened, they asked me if I'd like to release it on Quannum. That demo included our first 12"inch single "Head Exercise".

That is actually so awesome.  Are there any plans for more Lifesavas music?

Yes. We've been saying for years but coincidentally we've been hard at work this week on new Lifesavas music. We are sure to be releasing an EP by fall

Amazing!  What inspired the creation of your new solo LP Crooked Straights?  Can you tell us what it was like to make this one?

While Jumbo and Shines had been so busy working on various projects, I continued to record.
I compiled Crooked Straights from many of the songs I've been working on. My focus is on reintroducing myself properly to the world. I wanted to be more deliberate with everything regarding the music and the depiction of me as a person. After years of being put in a box I didn't completely relate to, Crooked Straights was the right introduction to my plan to release my opus. I wanted to put a project out to set the tone for what was to come on a larger level. I'm fortunate that it's being so well received and even serving as a catalyst for my crew to re-embark on our quest to extend our collective legacy. Crooked Straights is the fire starter to the inferno that follows.

Thanks you so much for talking with us. Is there anything else we should know? Shoutouts?

Shout to my partner in crime Lunden who executive produced Crooked Straights and also produced my soon to come single 'High Horse'. Big up to Jumbo, Shines, Sly Da Brown Hornet, Wolveryne & Libretto from my crew the Misfit Massive. Also look out for Imani Vol. From my brothers Blackalicious coming soon! Big up Chief Xcel & Gift Of Gab!

Special thanks Jake One for Killing This Remix!

Buy the single here: geni.us/VursatylNothingBring
Buy the album: geni.us/VursatylCrooked
Thursday
Jun112015

58 MURS

We had the opportunity to chat with the extra dope, super prolific MC.  He's a Living Legend, he's worked with everyone, and now he's releasing his NINTH album on Tech N9ne's Strange Music label.  We managed to borrow a few minutes of his time to discuss that and a few other things...

 

You're releasing solo album nine, 'Have A Nice Life' on Tech N9ne's 'Strange Music', how is this different from some of your other albums?  


I feel the production is bigger on this album. And lyrically I am definitely speaking from a wiser more mature place. And the significance of my 9th album coming out on Tech N9ne’s label is trippy.

-If you could have a chat with yourself when you were working on and releasing 'F'Real', what would you say?


If I could go back and speak to myself then. I don’t think I would drop any spoilers. I would just buy a tape from him. And tell myself to keep up the good work. 

-You've collaborated with so many great artists, and made so much great music.  Who have been your favorites to work with?

Everyone I’ve collaborated with has a special place in my heart. They all have helped me grow. They’ve all helped me refine my skill and master my craft. I’m just grateful for the opportunities. I’ve been blessed to cross paths with some really talented individuals.

Will there ever be new material from 3MG?

At this in my point in my career. I am not looking to collaborate as much as - I’m in to developing myself further as a solo artist. But if the right song comes along I wouldn’t be opposed to calling the fellas hop on it.

You're about to embark on a huge North American tour with Tech N9ne - where are your favorite places to play shows?  

Not to sound generic. But I like playing anywhere there are people who are ready to have a good time. 

Do you have any rituals on tour to maintain your sanity?

I don’t’ know if it’s possible to maintain sanity the definition of insanity is said to be doing the same thing and expecting different results. And I wake up every day and do the same set soooo….. As far as rituals white tee and pants and always some vans Sk8 Hi’s the same ones the entire tour and then I give them away at the last show.

-We've heard you're an avid sports fan, who do you need on your fantasy football team this year?

Sen’Derrick Marks

-We were huge fans of 'Walk Like A Man', do you have any other plans to 
branch out and work on film or other art forms? 

I have a film premiering June 16th “Maul Dogs” and there are plans for a short film/video compilation for a few songs on “Have A Nice Life”. Definitely plan on doing more acting in the years to come.

-'And I Love It' is one of our favorite tracks ever, do you think you could ever make a part two?  

I love that you love it. If I find the right beat. It is a definite possibility. There’s so much to love in this world.

What are some of your favorite tracks from your own collection?

The Jerry Maguire Song. First Love. The entire Melrose album. Everything. Mi Corazon. Pussy and Pizza. And some shit you haven’t heard yet. LOL

-How do balance music, touring and everything else with being a husband 
and father?

You have to prioritize and put your energy where it’s needed most at the time. And whatever I do I do in the name of love. 

-Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, this is something we never could have imagined doing! So, thank you! 


 

The Strange Music debut album from MURS, Have A Nice Life, 
is now available in stores and at http://strangemusicinc.net!
Get it here - http://bit.ly/mHANLyt

Available NOW on iTunes - http://apple.co/1yqQR89