57 Four Color Zack

 We had a chance to catch up with the magnificent Four Color Zack and were delighted by his kindness and how incredibly humble he is considering he is an undisputed champion and one of the world's premier turntablist/selectors doing it right now.


First of all, thanks so much for chatting with us.  One thing we find fascinating about your recent trajectory is that it's built on a foundation of raw skill.  How has being an award winning dj helped you as a musician and producer?

I think it's important to have that technical skill based DJ foundation, if for no other reason because it helps be able to translate your ideas and control your sets more. I see a lot of DJ sets where they have been very planned out, so much so that it eliminates any level of difficulty. That can be fine sometimes, but its like a tightrope walker doing their thing with a giant net below - it really takes the excitement away from it. Having a foundation of skill means you can present your ideas as freely as you want, and know that if you get in to trouble and need to steer things back on track, you have the skills to correct it and save the party.

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

Having a strong set of peers is always a great way to stay inspired, to keep digging for new sounds, and really to just develop the ideas that come throughout the day. They always start off as small ideas or concepts and can be made into something pretty cool with a little work. I find that I get most of my ideas when I'm just goofing around with friends or during my sets. Something will happen that I take note of and later turn into something that feels more polished. Its just about being open to any idea no matter how silly it seems.

If you could have a roundtable scratch session with any djs (alive or not), who would it be?

Craze and D-Styles and I'll just be in the corner eating pizza cheering them on.

Why do you live where you live and what's a typical day in the life of Four Colour Zack?

I live in Seattle because it's an amazing quality of life. Pacific Northwest kinda has it all - except for the sun most of the year. It doesn't have a huge DJ scene but its a great place to come home to. No matter where I travel I can never seem to find a place that trumps it for raising a family. My days at home usually involve running the dogs, playing with my daughter, having as much chill time with my wife as possible, sometimes get some design work done for a skate shop called Alive & Well I own with some homies… and somewhere in between finding time to work on the music and DJ stuff. I'm on the road a lot so when I'm home I try to make it count with the fam as much as possible.

What music, film, tv, books, whatever, have you been loving lately?

Been listening to a lot of Sam Gellaitry, Shlohmo, Guns n Roses, The-Dream, Denzel Curry… all sorts of random music stuff. It changes daily. I don't get to watch much TV but Im really bummed the BBC show Utopia was cancelled. Was looking forward to season 3. I can't even remember the last movie I watched that I wasn't just intentionally falling asleep to.

What do you love most about what you do for a living?

That it doesn't feel like im doing an actual job, its all stuff I would want to do anyway. Sure theres tons of pressure, especially with a family and real life stuff going on, but the idea that Im able to support them and exist doing this is mind blowing to me.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, is there anything else you'd like us to know?

Come thru to a show and say hi some time, thanks!




Follow @fourcolorzack


56: Valise

Ladies and gentlemen, we have something amazing for you.  Not only did we have a very cool interview with Vince from the incredible Dallas band Valise - but they have also honoured us by premiering the brand spankin new Tony Q remix of their track 'Charlie Gray'. Here's what Tony Q had to say:

"Once I heard the original, I knew there was something special about the song.  Sonically, I feel the original exudes a sense of sweet abandon and grace that is present throughout the tune and I knew I wanted to try and capture that feeling in a completely different way.  There are plenty of remixes out there these days that cater to the EDM world, but I wanted this remix to be different and to honor the band with something as unique and undeniable as they are." 

We present to you, the goods:



--First of all, thanks so much for chatting with us, we have upon us the release of Tony Q's remix of your amazing tune 'Charlie Gray'.  How do you feel about handing remix duties over to someone?

I absolutely love it. We spent so much time crafting each detail of Young Bloomer, debating for hours over a single part or trying a dozen guitar/amp combinations to find the right tone.  We were fortunate to have a lot of time in the studio, which gave us the freedom to really explore and create our sound, but it also gets easy to start over-thinking and second-guessing yourself.  For the remix, it was nice to finally lay down the magnifying glass and let someone else have fun with it all. 

Your album Young Bloomer is out now, and everyone over here absolutely loves it.  How has life changed for you since the album came out? How have you all been keeping busy? 

Thank you! Yeah, things have changed for us a bit since the release. The people in our hometown - Dallas - have really gotten behind the record.  Our last two local shows both sold-out, which was sort of mind-blowing. The first time you see a stranger singing along in the crowd... it's an odd feeling.  You realize that it's not about you - it's about the music, or it's about Valise, but it's REALLY not about you anymore.  When we were recording, the songs were ours, and ours alone.  Only we could listen to them, and only we had the power to change them. As soon as the record came out, it belonged to everybody.  The songs become a part of somebody else's life, in their daily playlists, and if we're lucky, they start to take on a personal meaning for each listener that we can't really understand and certainly never intended.  Now that we're on the road, playing the album, that's been the biggest surprise - meeting people who already know the album, and have a real emotional connection to it.  It's something we obviously have in common with them, and at that point you're not just meeting fans, you're making friends.

What are your thoughts on the rise of electronic music and remix culture?
The social networking scene for electronic and remix music is at an all time high. With SoundCloud and HypeMachine, it's easier than ever to get your remixes out there and to have good work get the recognition it deserves.  It's really is it's own art-form. Taking somebody else's work, deconstructing it, and putting it back together with an entirely new vision.  It's an incredible feeling to hear a song you love become a different song.  On the other end, bands that are getting remixed get the opportunities to market their songs for a second time. It benefits everybody: artist, remixer, and listener.

Summer is right around the corner, any big plans?  What do you guys do when you're sick of recording or touring and need to take a break? 

We're not headed back into the studio anytime soon, but we won't be slowing down on touring this year.  We're on the road with Copeland until June, and it looks like we'll be headed back out again soon after that.  The response to the album has been great.  It's incredible to see the reviews, comments, e-mails, etc. but the album is really just half the experience.  Anybody can find us online and check us out on Spotify.  Our goal is to get those people in a venue and take the relationship to the next level.  In a live setting, people can see the passion we have for these songs, and when it all goes according to plan, that passion is contagious.  Meeting new people, making new friends and fans, it's really the best part of this whole thing, so we'll stay on the road as long as we can this year.

What inspires you to get down to work, where do your ideas come from?
They come from everywhere. Seriously, it could be a line in a book, a scene from Mad Men, a score for a movie... sometimes I'll be driving and an idea will hit me.  You pull over, and make a crappy voice memo on your phone. Half of Young Bloomer started off that way. You don't have control over where inspiration comes from, or when it hits.  You just accept it, and make time to let it grow. 

Who is gonna win the Superbowl next year?

I just want to see Katy Perry ride a giant lion again tbh.




55 Belle Mare


We had the opportunity to both chat with Brooklyn creators Belle Mare, AND have them contribute a mixtape to our series.  You can check that out right below! And read on to find out what inspires these two talented artists.





-First of all, thanks so much for chatting with us and getting down on a mix!  Where did your love of music begin?  When did you know this was what you had to do?

T: Remember those Columbia House things or whatever they were called, where they send you cd's in the mail? When I was about 12 they sent Tom Petty's 'She's The One' album to my house and for some reason I opened it. It was the first time I heard an album and decided that I wanted to make music. From there my uncle in California introduced me to a ton of prog rock from the 70's - stuff like King Crimson, Can...and then I just went through all his cd's this one time when I was out there and burned them all...thats when I heard New Order, Gang of Four and most importantly the Cocteau Twins, one of my favorite bands. Then I found my moms Live Rust album, and Neil Young was all that existed for me for a while. Playing music is the one thing I do in my life without questioning why. Im an over thinker, so its great to have something in my life like that. 

A: Apparently my sister and I never stopped singing once we learned to talk. I'd be in the car, and my mum would be playing the radio, and I would demand she put "my music" on, which usually meant Raffi. I knew for sure I wanted to be a musician once I was in high school and met this rad girl Jessica. We started this garage-rock/ punk band called "Beachtits." I knew some drums and she knew some guitar chords, so we would play as loud as possible and both just scream into the microphones. I fell in love with the feeling of it, and decided I had to do this with my life. 

-You have such a distinct style of music, at what point did you know you had hit the sweet spot, and you knew you had your sound?

T: Thank you, that means a lot to hear! I think it was the first time we got together to write what became our EP. We both wanted to make something deeply haunting, I think we both used the word "creepy" actually. Then once we found our band - Tara Rook, Rob Walbourne, Gary Atturio - it was almost like our sound found us.  They all play for the song so well, and give it their own touch. Working with Ben Baptie was also such an amazing experience. He's so intuitive... sometimes I think he can read our mind. 

-Can you tell us about a typical day in the life of Belle Mare in Brooklyn (if there were such a thing)?

T: Whats great about Brooklyn is everyday is a surprise. I'm in love with Brooklyn as a place, there is such a great community here, and we have met some really lovely people here in a relatively short time. My life is very inconsistent. Along with playing music, I work in the film industry. So everyday, and every job is different. Some recent jobs I've done were a Madonna music video, a commercial with Morgan Spurlock and a Prada shoot. I never really know what Im getting into until I arrive on set. Its a lot of work, and early rising...but I think I enjoy the chaos. It also allows me a lot of time in between jobs to work on music. I mean, I kick around a lot, Amelia and I hit up the bar a lot, get together with friends. I like to go to McCarren park to exercise and read. Then make myself dinner. I just love being around my friends, making dumb jokes and getting as much out of this time in my life as I can. 

A: The first thing I normally do in the day is work out. It's the best feeling and sets me up for the day.  I'm finishing up school so i'll either be in class or working on homework when i'm not out with friends, relaxing, or demolishing food. There are so many great restaurants, music venues, and bars in my neighbourhood. It's hard not to be out almost every night! 

-What is your favorite thing about being musicians?

T: The best part is being able to do this with what have become our best friends. Being in a band is forming a family, and the time you spend in the band feels like a lifetime. It's also great to meet likeminded people. We just did this really awesome collaborative show called The Hum. We got paired with Pamela Martinez of Teletextile -shes such a beautiful person, she plays harp amongst a whole slew of other instruments, and from the moment we met her there was an instant connection. 

A: The friendships you make, and the thrill of being on stage. At first I despised performing to an audience but now I love it. 

-Do you have any big plans for 2015 that we are allowed to know about?

T:Totally...our plan is to continue to release more songs, play some great shows and find a home for our album. Definitely expect another single in the near future :)  And I just want to say thank you Andrew - we are grateful to have people like you respond with such enthusiasm about our music, its such a blessing and we look forward to sharing more with you and your readers! 



Thanks so much to Belle Mare for everything - check out more from them here!

54 Michelle Tanguay

Michelle Tanguay is a prolific and exceptionally talented visual artist from Detroit.  We came across her work last year and have been trying to wrap our heads around it since.  Recently, we had a chance to chat with Michelle, and we were fascinated by what she had to say.  Make sure you check out her work here and support this woman!

First of all thanks so much for chatting with us, we are huge fans of your work.  Can you fill us in on what's been keeping you busy lately?

Im really excited about a new series of paintings i started about a month ago, i'm still trying to figure out what direction they are going but its fun and its keeping me busy. 

What's a typical day in the studio like for you?

Typical day in the studio starts with getting lunch with my Camilo (My mentor/best friend) across the street at Detroit One Coney Island. We discus what we have planned for the day, i get his opinion on some ideas and then i get to work. I usually have around 5 different paintings going at once, while i'm waiting for one painting to dry i move to the next one. Theres a model who i'm using in a few of my current paintings, she's absolutely beautiful, she stops by periodically simply so i can see her face. If i'm having trouble with a painting i might go to the library and take out some books, jump on the computer and look at some art blogs. I'm a bit of a recluse so I try not to leave my studio to much, i usually work throughout the day and into the evening. I might have a visitor here or there but most of my work is done between midnight and 8 am when there is minimal distraction. 

What are your first memories of being interested in art?  When do you figure this was a path you were going to pursue as your career?

There was never any other option. It's the only think i ever knew i wanted to do. As a kid whenever anyone would ask "What do you want to be when you grow up?" my immediate response was always just "an artist." and then the adult would pat me on the head and say "You poor thing." haha kidding. 

What do you love about living and working in Detroit?  How does the city influence and inspire you?

I moved to Detroit from New York when I was 18 years old, I was this troubled teen who dropped out of highschool and was just lost. Sure i wanted to be an artist but there was no fight in me, Detroit changed all of that. Detroit saved me. The people here saved me. This city lit a fire inside of me, everywhere i turned there was an opportunity to be had. The people here motivated me to work harder. Detroit is home to me, its this comfortable, glorious, chaotic, mess, it's the first place i ever felt like i belonged. 

Where else do your inspiration come from?  How do you develop your ideas?

I never know when inspiration will come. The most torturous time for me is after a big show ends and i try and search for the inspiration for my next body of work. It's something i can never force, it always happens when i least expect it. I have learned to listen to everything and everyone around me. I was having trouble with this new series of paintings and i went across the street to the coney island really late at night to get a snack and one of the cooks there walks over to me and goes "so your an artist? I LOVE art, I really love Patrick Nagel, he's one of my favorites." Although i was familiar with Nagels work i never really gave it much thought, but after hearing what this cook said I walked home and gave Nagel another chance. Fortunately for me, the cook has good taste in art and I can now say that Nagel is large inspiration for this latest body of work.  The second I start thinking that i have it all figured out and stop listening is when i start messing up. Unfortunately words have never been by strong point, thats probably why i am an artist. So when it comes to developing my ideas its a journey that occurs on the canvas and usually doesn't happen with words. 

At what point did you discover your love for working on such a large scale? 

When I was studying at the College For Creative Studies I had this professor Nancy Mitter who was always telling me to paint larger saying "If you want to learn how to paint you need to paint on a large scale."  I hated painting anything larger then 2ftx2ft but she pulled me aside and told me that the next assignment we had I needed to paint large. So i went home cried my way threw stretching this large canvas that was 5ftx6ft and then started painting. And she was right, i learned how to paint throughout that painting. That painting did end up flying off the back of a pickup truck and into a snowbank on my way to class the next week, but it was totally worth it. I never looked back and started paintings on  larger scale after that. 

What music do you get into while you get in to the zone working?

I listen to a wide variety of different music, a lot of my friends are musicians and Im constantly listening to the music they give me. Loco Dice, John Ryan AKA Dr. Disko Dust, Chuck Flask and Keith Kemp, My friend Kevin Callaway is an amazing drummer and he plays on tons of records, hes always sending me new stuff to listen to while I am painting. I like to listen to Motown, its what my dad played in the house when i was growing up. Whenever anyone is over i encourage them to plug in their phone and play something while i work. 

Is there anything coming up you'd like us to know about?  Anything you love that you'd like people to be aware of?

The redbull house of art is having an alumni show, im really excited to be apart of that. Thinkspace is having a show at Inner State gallery, i'm currently working on a piece for that show. And i'm excited for a few collaborations in the works. Im excited to be working with Matthew Franklin Jenkins on some experimental pieces combining his breathtaking photography and my paintings. Summer in Detroit always brings a slew of new projects, i'm looking forward to it. 

Thanks so much to Michelle Tanguay for chatting with us, check out more of her work here.

53 DJ Trackstar

DJ Trackstar isn't your average dj.  He's released over one hundred mixtapes in his career, lent his skills to seminars and demos for those who could use the help of an all star dj and that's just the beginning.  He's the tour dj for one of the most important rappers ever, and has now joined the number one hip hop group out there today.  We caught up with Trackstar to talk about his journey so far, linking up with Killer Mike, and the adventure he's been on since joining Mike and El-P in Run The Jewels...


Fingers On Blast:  You've done more than a hundred mixtapes in your career.  Some with amazing artists, and some with some creative concepts.  Do you have any stand out favourites?  



My favorite is probably Out of the Darkness: The Best of Organized Noize…ONP's music is so significant in my life, it's one of the tapes I put in the most time and energy on, Big Rube was the PERFECT host, and the timing of how and when it dropped just worked out amazingly--when I started it I was living in Cali, but through various circumstances I didn't end up releasing it until after I moved to Atlanta (which I had zero plans to do when I began work on the mix). 


One Dollar Mix Volume 4 is another favorite, and probably the one I'm proudest of at the end of the day--it's from way back in 2005, before I had met or worked with any national artists. I picked out 50 of my favorite beats from '04, got 50 of my favorite rappers in St Louis to all record exclusive verses for the project over those beats, and blended them together in a continuous mix that kinda serves as a time capsule to an era in STL hip hop. It was definitely the mix that took the most work, and the St Louis scene is so important to me personally and professionally that I'm glad to have hopefully helped document that moment within our culture. 


Fingers on Blast: Where did the name "The Rap Fan" begin?



I'm from Wisconsin…I never imagined I'd be meeting the artists I was obsessed with and spent hours listening to on my headphones, let alone work with them on any level. Even before I became Mike's DJ, let alone this RTJ experience, I used to think about what my 15-year old rap-obessed self would say if I told him about all the amazing artists I'd met and worked with, and kinda developed a pet phrase of sorts: "forget Trackstar the DJ's career, Gabe the Rap Fan has had a hell of a time". 


On the first Mike/El tour in 2012, I wanted to make some merch to supplement my income on the road. Whatever I made had to be something that was true to myself, and I couldn't think of anything truer than my identity as a Rap Fan, so I put it on a shirt and it turned out others could relate. After a couple different tries at creating a logo, my STL compatriot Tech Supreme made the current version and I've been lucky to have the RTJ platform through which RAP FAN has gotten an awesome amount of direct exposure to like-minded individuals.


Fingers on Blast: Were you a track star in school?



I was indeed. I ran distance, from the half-mile to 5K--I wasn't world class but for most of my HS career I was one of the top runners in the city in my events, and after High School I ran a couple marathons.  For what it's worth, at the very least I do think that without a doubt I was the top runner in my area with a daily weed habit. Ha.


Fingers on Blast: Tell us a bit about the Smoking Section and the part it's played in your career?



There's kinda a simple theme in how I end up working with a lot of the folks I've blessed to work with--they are my favorites, and then I try really hard to get down with them lol. Early on in the rap blog game, TSS became my main online destination, so when I started putting my mixtapes online I immediately started sending them to Gotty, asking him to post them. Eventually he started putting them on the site--I can be very persistent lol--and as time went on I slowly became part of the crew, TSS became an official presenter of my projects, and Gotty became one of my most trusted advisers. We put out the first couple of TSS-sponsored artist mixtapes with a couple of my favorite rap pals, Wafeek and Rockwell Knuckles, back in 07-08, and since then everything I've put out has the TSS logo. I'm proud to have been on the team for all these years, and to play a small part in helping TSS continue its run as one of the most respected sites in the online rap world. 


Fingers on Blast: How did you get started with Killer Mike and Run The Jewels?



There's a looong version and a short version…I'll try to lean towards the short version here. 


In early 2007, I read a Killer Mike interview while sitting in my apartment in St Louis (I wish I remember what publication/site, or even whether it was on- or off-line, but I have no clue) and at the end he gave his phone number. I assumed it would be a fan club line of some type, an answering service asking for your email or phone number to keep fans updated with news on Mike, so I called it out of curiousity…and he answered himself. I didn't really have a plan or agenda--I was expecting to just listen to the voicemail message--so I thought quick and proposed he host a "Best of Killer Mike" mixtape mixed by me, after explaining what a fan I was of his and telling him how I was spinning his underground records heavily at clubs in St Louis at the time. He agreed, and eventually we put out Anger & Ambition with TSS. 


After we put out the project, I met Mike in person for the first time at A3C in 2009. I told him I was in ATL for the weekend and was available if there was anything he needed a DJ for while I was there…his reply was to ask if I could rock with him the next night opening up for Rakim. Unbelievable. From there, we did shows anytime we were in the same city, and at SXSW 2011, after doing four shows with him in one day, he declared I was his new tour DJ. The timing was great, as he had just hooked up with El-P, which led to R.A.P. Music and eventually RTJ. 


Fingers on Blast: What has been the wildest moment in the RTJ journey?



There's been so many, but a sentimental favorite was opening up for Wu-Tang Clan in front of 20,000+ in Utah this past July. Wu was basically a religion for me in high school, and I was in Chicago at the last Rage/Wu show before the Clan left the tour during the summer of 97…I got my copy of Wu-Tang Forever signed by all the members that were there. I'd DJed for the GZA when we went on tour with him so it wasn't my first Wu moment but to be around (almost) the whole Clan was something special.


Fingers on Blast:  Run the Jewels did a show in St. Louis in late November at the Ready Room, one that has since become quite famous for Killer Mike's introduction.  Can you tell us a bit about what that was like in a city you once called home?  



Even without the non-verdict coming down that evening, that was a crazy day. Shows in StL are always intense for me anyway, trying to connect with as many friends as possible, and then our bus broke down a couple hours outside STL and we got to the show incredibly late, so we were all already on edge. Thinking about and feeling the ramifications of that jury's decision while watching the news on the bus was almost too much to handle period, let alone after the day we'd had, but we hit that stage and Mike and El just did what they best and passionately expressed what they were feeling. They are both brilliant dudes with big hearts, and that came across in what they said, and I was humbled to be a part of that moment 


Fingers on Blast: You've done a lot of demos and workshops on djing in a variety of settings.  Can you tell us a bit about how you got started in that sort of work?



I read a couple books by William Upski Wimsatt ("Bomb the Suburbs" and later, "No More Prisons") which got me thinking about ways to put my intense obsession with hip hop to good use. In Bomb the Suburbs, Upski spoke with Wendy Day, who started the Rap Coalition in order to help educate artists on how to get the most out of their careers. I was really inspired by Wendy's story, and I decided to try to mentor teenagers who wanted to get involved in hip hop about the realities of the business, as well as give them perspective on the history of hip hop. I started a non-profit organization in St Louis that initially was meant to pair local MCs with youth and developing one-to-one mentoring relationships, but eventually turned into a weekly meeting amongst a tightknit group of dedicated artists and youth who wanted to rap, produce and DJ. 


That went on for quite a few years, until I moved to California, where I connected with SessionsLA, which was and is an amazing organization that took what I was doing to another level. I was proud to be a small part of their work and meet some incredible young people through Sessions--one of my favorite touring moments has been when I brought Killer Mike to speak to them. Since moving to ATL I've been on tour a ton and haven't been able to work with the youth as much as I'd like, but I have connected with a program called Soul Food Cypher that is doing good work there. 


Fingers on Blast: What keeps you inspired and motivated to work so tirelessly?



I've always tried my best to only take on projects and gigs that I honestly care about--that way it's not really work. It's cliche but it's so important to love what you are doing. I believe you get the best results that way, and even if the results don't come, you won't regret the time and energy spent. I'm incredibly blessed to have connected with Mike and El and (finally) made some semblance of a career out of this hip hop thing, but even if I hadn't, every moment before that lightning struck would have been worth everything I put into it.  I wouldn't have regretted any of the broke years stumbling around trying to figure out what I was doing, throwing shows that 20 people attended and DJing five nights a week for low-to-no money, because I loved being a part of the local hip hop scene and I loved trying to help great music reach more ears. It was what I was passionate about, so it wasn't really difficult for me to put in the looooong hours and make the many sacrifices involved.  Even now, seeing my StL guys like Tef Poe get serious recognition on a national level, and having Tef and Rockwell open for a few dates on the RTJ2 tour, is just as gratifying to me as playing Madison Square Garden or touring Australia.  


Fingers on Blast: You recently performed at the Isle of Light festival in the Dominican Republic with Run The Jewels.  Can you tell us a bit about that experience? Was it different from the average North American show?


For one, we usually can't see the Carribbean Sea from stage lol. The DR was an amazing experience--the show was great, the crowd was appreciative, and the people running the festival treated us extremely well. Oh and the food was amazing. Past that, it was incredible to walk around Santo Domingo with my wife and see some of the first buildings built in this hemisphere by the European settlers (the OG gentrifiers). I just can't believe I get to go to all these amazing places and do rap.


Thanks SO much to Trackstar for chatting with us.  Keep up with the man himself here.