52 Chokeules

We've been die hard fans of powerhouse MC Chokeules since high school.  When we ventured to the wrong side of the tracks (so to speak) in London, Ontario to the legendary (and now long gone) Embassy Hotel to see the trio known only as Toolshed.  This was probably back in 2000, and even then we were taken aback by the sheer force of Choke's delivery, and the perfect balance these three MCs were able to strike with one another.  

Cut to 2015, dozens of projects later and Chokeules has been in Toronto for a while, keeping extra busy as a card carrying member of the extra prolific Backburner crew alongside Toolshed partner Timbuktu and a bunch of other Toronto allstars such as More Or Les, Wordburglar, Ghettosocks and D Sisive.  He's also an active performer and contributor to The 5 Dollar Rap Show, a Toronto institution for 5 years now, bi-monthly at Rancho Relaxo.  We had a chance to chat with Choke leading up to the 5 year anniversary party, this Friday, April 10., 2015.

Fingers On Blast:  First of all thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.

Chokeules:  It's my pleasure, thanks.

Fingers On Blast:  What's your first memory of hip hop?

Chokeules:  Probably just hearing songs in the schoolyard, listening to tapes that friends had stolen from their older brothers or sisters. My dad got me my first albums, Beastie Boys Licensed To Ill  and Fat Boys Crushin’, because that’s what the guy at the record store recommended for a 9-year-old. He wasn’t wrong. 

Fingers On Blast:  You're always involved in projects that involve so many collaborations with crews like Backburner, Swamp Thing, Toolshed or even on solo albums that have tracks with huge rosters on them.  What's the creative process for those projects involving so many creative minds?

Chokeules:  Yeah, I definitely enjoy the group dynamic, making music with your friends is fun as hell, and pushes you to be better. The creative process is basically just speak up if you have a dope idea. I’m in the studio every week with Swamp Thing, so even when we’re working on solo stuff we’re still bouncing ideas off each other and brainstorming for future projects. 

Fingers On Blast:  On Friday April 10th you'll be performing with Swamp Thing at Toronto's Rancho Relaxo for the 5th anniversary of the $5 Rap Show.  Can we expect any shows or tours outside of Toronto anytime soon?

Chokeules:  Yeah, that’s the $5 Rap Shows 5th Anniversary, which Swamp Thing has been down with since the jump, so we’re excited to celebrate. It’s a dope lineup too, so it’s gonna be a crazy show. There’s also an Urbnet Showcase for CMW next month. We'll be at Hard Luck Bar, Thursday May 7th, playing with some heavyweights. 

Fingers On Blast:  Outside of your immediate circle of artists, who are some of your favourite artists out there today?

Chokeules:  I’m out of touch with a lot of the new artists, but it’s cool to see boom bap and rap skills in the limelight again with acts like Joey Badass, Kendrick Lamar, Action Bronson, etc…even if I don’t have all the albums in heavy rotation, I’m always glad to see dope rappers doing well. And Run The Jewels is killing it right now, so it’s great to see dope shit actually get the credit it deserves. 

Fingers On Blast:  There's certainly been no shortage of projects coming from you lately, but what's in the works that we can get excited about?

Chokeules:  Yeah, we like to stay busy. There’s actually two new albums coming- the Peter Project produced Peter Swamp Project, and another crazy Swamp Thing album called Pray To Science. We’ve been working on both for a minute and they’re gonna melt some faces.

Fingers On Blast:  Which one of your past projects have the result that you're most happy with?

Chokeules:  Swamp Thing’s last album, Outer Limits. Go listen to my entire discography and tell me I’m wrong. Or just listen to that one, depending on your time constraints. 

Thanks so much to Chokeules for taking the time to chat. If you're in Toronto this weekend and love that real rap music, head to Rancho Relaxo on College Street for the 5th Anniversary of The 5 Dollar Rap Show. If you can't make it, head over here for lots of music and news from Chokeules and support this man!



51 Mark Farina

Mark Farina is a legend in the world of djing.  Coming from Chicago he embraced the house music originating there, and also delved into a mid-tempo world that would become the universally loved Mushroom Jazz.  From a weekly event in his current home of San Francisco, to critically acclaimed compilations his focus on jazz and hip hop influenced music has made an indelible impression on the world of music.  Farina continues to release music of all kinds on his Great Lakes Audio label, and took a quick break from his busy schedule to talk with us about where he's been, what's next, and his love for Detroit.  Catch him tomorrow night at the Garden Theatre!

Fingers On Blast: First of all, we can't thank you enough for taking the time to chat with us, can you tell us what you've been up to lately?

Mark Farina: I just did a mini tour of California, playing Tahoe, Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, all on vinyl in the last couple weeks.  I've been working on a couple remixes here and there, and taking care of my four and a half year old son, hanging out with my fiance, and earlier today did some grocery shopping...

F.O.B.: Detroit is one of our favorite cities, can you tell us a bit about your time and experiences playing in Detroit over the years?

M.F.: Since about 1989 I've been coming to Detroit, my first experience was coming to the old music institute listening to Derrick May, Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson, all spinning there.  In those old Detroit days I was very lucky to go record at Transmit and Metroplex and KMS.  We used to drive to Detroit from Chicago; Derrick Carter, Chris Nozuka and myself.  I've had a long relationship with Detroit, the last few visits have been going to Grasshopper, it's been sort of my regular spot the last few years with the Golf Clap guys.  That's been going well.  With Detroit it's been a long musical journey, and some of my old memories would be sleeping in one of the side rooms at KMS studios, meeting MK for the first time, he was working as a parking lot attendant playing Playstation in the booth.  We also recorded in one of Bob Seger's old studios back in the day, playing fast pitch with Derrick May pitching...

F.O.B.: Can you tell us a bit about what inspires you to get down to work? Where do your ideas come from?

M.F.: DJ wise it's when I get a new track, when I hear something and instantly know I wanna rock it at a party.  When I get a bunch of good new tunes, that inspires me to want to put them on a mix to share them with people.  Making a track it's kind of when I hear a funny sample or it could be a spoken word, a chop up of a vocal or a little bass sound.  I'll usually get something like that and think 'that needs a track made around it'.  For making music and djing you can be inspired by a lot of different things, but I just love sharing music.

F.O.B.: What's a day in the life of Mark Farina like?

M.F.: It sounds like a cliche but when you have a kid things really do change, life before having a kid was very different from what it is now.  Monday to Friday I'm up at 7 am, he's up at 6:30 wanting to do something.  Previously I used to be much more of a night person, I used to stay up to 2 in the morning every night of the week.  Either in the studio working on music, now I've got to get to bed a little earlier on school nights as I call them.  He starts school at 8:30, I come back and do work from then til noon.  I have to regiment my time, and then in the afternoon I am hanging out with him, sometimes a relative will look after him so I can get some extra time.  Then he's in bed about 7:30 and I can get back to work, but I can't be up all night.

F.O.B.: What is your favorite thing about what you do for a living?

M.F.: DJing is a pretty awesome job.  I'm pretty grateful to have that as my job.  I remember growing up I was always worried I was going to be in some office 9 to 5, doing I didn't know what.  My office always changes, every weekend there's a new place to go a new 'so to speak' office to go to with a new set of co-workers which is exciting.  I've gotten to travel, I remember I didn't get on a plane until I was 12 and now I've gone so many places and not just as a tourist.  Often when you go somewhere you know someone who's looking out for you.  There are so many cities I've gotten to visit through djing.  There's no complaints about being a dj as a job, yeah there's long hours, there's late nights and sometimes you've got to get up and catch a flight but whatever, things good be a lot harder.  I enjoy it, and I'm grateful.

F.O.B.: If you were a superhero, what would your super power be?

M.F.: My superpower would be to be able to remove any drum roll from any song before it ever happens.  Whether I'm hearing it in a taxi cab or in another room of a club, wherever I am my powers will omit any drumroll or any dramatic breakdown like that with wooshes and drumrolls before it ever happens so basically any drum roll would never exist.  

F.O.B.: We love Mushroom Jazz, and we were wondering - will there be another release in the series? How does a Mushroom Jazz set differ from a club set?

M.F.: There is a Mushroom Jazz 8 in the works, trying to get it together with Sol Republic headphones looking at an end of 2015 early 2016 release.  Mushroom Jazz is a little different, I'll do Mushroom Jazz at clubs sometimes, the bpm is a big part of an evening.  You know, most events I'll do are house things, and Mushroom Jazz is generally around 100 bpm where house is around 120-125. So generally for most club nights I find Mushroom Jazz to be kind of slow, tempo wise.  If it's a late night, or it's an alternate room of a club it works, if it's a midnight to 2 am set time Mushroom Jazz can be a bit mellow for the club.

F.O.B.: Is there anything up and coming you'd like us all to know about?


M.F.: There's a Nick Jagger EP that's coming up, and then Riki Inocente both on GLA (Great Lakes Audio)

 Thanks so much to Mark Farina for taking the time to chat with us! He's playing the Easter edition of Country Club Disco in Detroit with Shiba San, option4, Golf Clap and more!  



50 Ryan Dahle of Limblifter & The Mounties

First of all thanks for taking the time to speak with us.  You're on your way to London to play Rum Runners on Saturday and we're very excited for it.  On April 7th, Limblifter releases "Pacific Milk", their first album in 11 years.  What emotions does this spark?

Every kind of emotion you can imagine. It's a lot of work making a record, and a lot of work releasing a record. Going out to promote it is an incredible mountain to climb, it's just constant work which never really super pays off, you just gotta do it with no questioning, no reasoning as to why your doing it, you just kind of do it.  

It's the first Limblifter record in 11 years. I released a solo record in 2009 which was gonna be a Limblifter record but it became too acoustic and too experimental, so it turned into a solo record. It was Megan my girlfriend (who's in Limblifter), the bass player and she sang and played clarinet and double bass and everything on the solo record. She also played on the third Limblifter record and she plays on "Pacific Milk" as well. She's sort of a driving force in the band and she said to me at some point during the solo record that their wasn't a demand for a Limblifter record, nobody's knocking on my door so I just had the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. She said if you ever wanted to put your name on a record and call it a solo record this would be the one, this would be the music that would represent that, so that's kinda the reason we did it. And we didn't release it as a Limblifter record cause it didn't fit with the name. There are so many songs that were so acoustic and experimental and a bit different sounding.

There are songs that we still play now with Limblifter like "Chop Chop" is something that I still love playing that really sounds like us and there's a few others on the record like "Shutdown" and "Target Practice", which sound a bit like a Limblifter record as well.

Will there be anymore solo projects in the works sometime in the future?

Well I'm busy now with Limblifter and Mounties, two days after we release this record we're heading to Europe on tour with Mounties for 3 weeks. It's exciting having those 2 things on the go and it's more than enough to sort of keep me busy with my own music.

Plus I've built a studio over the last 10 years and I've started mastering records. I mastered the "Bellaclava" record which was the 2nd Limblifter record in 2000. Since then I've mastered about 300 records, so it's kind of been the main thing that I've been doing since 2000.  I started mastering friends of mines' records and I've always had a tape machine around.  Now I have a few tape machines and when I master records it goes to analog tape and through a bunch of old analog gear.  I've always been obsessed with new technology as well so I try to have the best converters possible and I've always loved the final step of the process because it's the hardest step to really complete. It's easy to start something, it's easy to just write a song or make a little recording but to actually finalize it and finish it has always been the biggest challenge for me so mastering has sort of been therapy for me, that way I kind of practiced finishing by mastering other people's records.

How do you describe the new record?

It's music, so it's diverse there's a lot of different kinds of songs.  Ever since we started this band there was something about us that was different than maybe anything that was out there.  There was a combination of clean guitars and really dirty guitars. In the 90's it was mostly just really dirty sounding guitars so I remember when we came out with this record people would just be astounded by how pop sounding it was for a rock record and how clean the guitars were for that. Now I think I've kinda built on that, I've always been trying to get sounds that don't sound like what traditionally the category of rock would have. Although there are examples of great clean guitar sounds in the Stones catalog or Chuck Berry or Buddy Holly and things like that. This record definitely is not a 90's record, it definitely sounds modern and influenced by a lot of modern things.

I probably listen to more new music than people half my age because I'm always around the studio and exposed to the best of each genre.  People are able to sift through what they love in their specific genres.  As a mastering engineer I don't judge it before I take it on.  I'm of the mind that if I'm gonna master a record I use a different name so it doesn't really represent my case, and I take on the challenge no matter what so it exposes me to lots of hip hop and country and everything in between that.

We are so pumped to see Limblifter touring again. We remember seeing your videos on MuchMusic like "Tinfoil", "Screwed it up", or even "Remote Control" (by Age of Electric).  What's it like 20 years later being on tour, playing those songs, and seeing people singing along?

I don't know, I mean I live in the moment and in the future, you know?  If I make a mistake I think about the next couple of bars.  I'm not really an ageist, I don't really look at people and think about their perception according to their age or what they may have been exposed to.  I wouldn't be playing a song if I don't feel like I can pull it off emotionally or spiritually.  There are some songs that we've tried to incorporate from the old catalogue that's kind of like "ahh I don't really feel that". Whether it's a sentiment, like it's too angry, or too whatever it is that day. But I am really surprised at the relevance of some of these songs.  Being able to play them and pull them off make it seem like it's not a nostalgia thing.  I love that people come out and feel nostalgia and they can leave their kid with the babysitter and remember when they were 21.  I don't mind if people are doing that but I'm not playing to people for that.  I'm playing to the people that are there in the moment.  It's really interesting how every single night that we play we talk to so many 20 year olds who just discovered us, or 26 year olds that were really in to "I/O" or people that were really into my solo record.  Luckily I've been in this position where when these records were released, people have dug them and they weren't maybe as popular as the first record because of the machine that was behind it and because of the momentum we had with everything that was going on. "Bellaclava", "I/O" and my solo record "Irrational Anthems" were popular with a lot of people.

My solo record is kinda the reason I'm in Mounties because Hawksley took notice of it and I think he realized I was still up to something, trying to break new ground. I think that record still sounds relevant today and it's from 2009.  It maybe sounds like a lot of things on the radio right now, a lot of things are more acoustic based on the radio and still kind of singer/songwriter. I'm not in that phase right now and maybe a little bit out of step with whats on the radio because I feel like playing loud right now.  So that's what I'm doing.

Speaking of the future, do you have any new artists that you're working with or listening to? 

Ya, there's so many! We just played with Jesse Creed who's called The Passenger.  We've been playing with tons of young talented bands. We play with great bands every night which is awesome, we just played with a band called Napalmpom from Calgary

So you've toured Canada tons, do you have a favourite venue to play?

I love The Commodore in Vancouver. There's probably a lot of venues that I love to play there's the Burton Cummings theatre in Winnipeg that I've played a few times that's incredible. There's probably other places I've been that would probably be my favourite if I played them, I know Massey Hall, I'd love to play there some day.  I did play Maple Leaf Gardens once with Age of Electric.

Thanks so much to Ryan Dahle for taking the time to speak with us.  Make sure you see Limblifter on this tour and support their new record Pacific Milk!

49 Sonnymoon

The Brooklyn based duo known as Sonnymoon is one creatively adventurous group.  They've embraced the uncharted territory of the modern music business with the same innovation they bring to their music.  There's a sense of unpredictability in their music that makes them extremely exciting artists to watch and listen to.  We caught up with Anna Wise and Dane Orr as they prepare to release their new album "Courage of the Present"...

-First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us.  Your new album The Courage of The Present is out in March.  Could you tell us a bit about it?  How is it different from some of your other music?

Hey Fingers on Blast! The Courage of Present Times represents the progression of our sound over the past two years. We have grown as people and as creators. Considering the current landscape is music, it takes a lot of courage to really step out and do anything different. 

On a more personal level, we think its crazy to be alive right now and it takes a lot of self-discipline to stay sane. We are all bombarded by information, misinformation, and opinions disguised as facts. We've witnessed a lot of our friends go down unfortunate psychological paths because of this. Maybe every generation has felt this way, but we think we live in an extra novel time, and everything is going so fast. It takes courage to keep on going right now.

-Do you remember what music it was growing up that made you want to become a musician?


There was no music in particular. I sang throughout my childhood and have always known music was my path.


It was more that there's such a vast history of things to dig through. My listening habits were (and still are) all over the place. The fact that I would be exposed to Leonard Bernstein one hour and then listening to Metallica or Bob Marley the next was mind-blowing for me. Also, music is the purest form of art, at the base level you don't need anything but your body to create music, its not that way with any other (you could argue that it is with theatre/acting…but it requires a bit more planning to break into a spontaneous 'acting jam'). The line between the way we communicate on a daily basis and express ourselves via music is a very thin one, and its the most consistent art form to give me goosebumps.


-Can you tell us what prompted the move from Boston to New York? Do you think you could do this in any city or is NYC part of what makes Sonnymoon great? 



It wasn't an immediate move, there were four years of other stuff in between Boston and Brooklyn. Here's the condensed version: Four years ago I dropped out of Berklee and we left on a road trip to California. Two days into the trip I received a text from Kendrick Lamar asking to record with him in LA, so we set sail for Compton, CA. We worked together for five months, then Sonnymoon left on tour with Teebs (and others.) Two years later, we finished touring and all our Boston friends had moved to Brooklyn. We visited and fell in love. There are so many passionate artists and artisans of all trades here. Its important to be surrounded by creative people. We also keep weird schedules and no city is better for that than NYC. I don't know if we could do what we're doing anywhere else, but we want to find out. A lot of our friends are moving to New Orleans. We shall see.


-You seem to be great collaborators, with each other of course, but also with a fascinating variety of other artists.  How do you manage to make consistently great music with so many different people, and also, is there anyone you haven't worked with that you might like to?



We are unique and prolific and people want us around. Whether we are writing or singing or playing little hand drums or just vibing, being present while others are creating. They want what we bring. Our albums might not be everyones cup of tea, but its becoming more and more apparent to me that a lot of artists know who we are and want a little of us on their record. Not too much, because what we do together is very intense and new and can be a turn off to many listeners. But, a little Sonnymoon sprinkle on top of another artists sunday seems to do very well. 

I'd like to work with Lana Del Rey, Grimes, Fatima, David Gahan, Niki Randa, Bjork, Jocelyn Pook, Amber Coffman, Jill Scott, The Roches, Jean Grae, Suzi Analogue, Angel Deradoorian, and Gwen Bunn.

(Dane) would like to work with David Byrne, Brian Eno, James Murphy, Bjork, Kanye West, Kate Bush, Pat Metheny, Steve Reich, and Herbie Hancock.


-What's a typical day (if there were such a thing) in the life of Sonnymoon?


We wake up on the spaceship in our sleep pods and get our mind link functions for the day. We dress in hemp fiber clothing made by the 3-D printer in our closet. Then we teleport down to the farm and pick our food for the day from the garden. 

Then it's back up to the spaceship to enter our creativity realm. It's like the holodeck, only way fucking better. We sing glowing faberge eggs made of living language into the holographic sound matrix.

After that, we visit the Hall of Crones and commune with the spirits of our elders. There we breathe-drink the mist of ages and fill our souls with neon shards of healing light. Then we go to sleep and the real work begins.

It's a long day. 


-Where does your creative inspiration come from?


Our inspiration comes from all areas of life. Everything we do is to enable musical creation. We dream in songs. It's spontaneous and wonderful and we are so grateful to be tapped into the wellspring. 


-If you were DJing, what one record would you take with you every night?



Jean Grae - That's Not How You Do That: An Instructional Manual for Adults


Fela Kuti - Zombie


-Thank you so much for chatting with us, and thank you for making some of our absolute favourite music.  Is there anything else we should know about?


You should definitely know about Terence McKenna, Stephen Hawking, Dr. Bronner's Soap, your local farmer's market, reusable water bottles, what food tastes like when it hasn't been wrapped in plastic. Finally, please be prepared to have your molecules rearranged when you come see us on tour. Peace!





48 Dallas Clayton

Dallas Clayton is an artist like no other, the author of "An Awesome Book" has created a style all his own and created a devoted, joyful following in the process.  Using social media as the ultimate platform for disseminating his positive, adventurous message, he's found his way into the hearts and minds of kids of all ages all over the world.  We had the exciting opportunity to talk with Dallas, and to share in what goes into such whimsical, amusing, and uplifting work...

Fingers On Blast: Did the positivity that is central to your work always come naturally?

Dallas Clayton: No, not at all. Much of my work in my younger years was born out of teen angst and fueled by aggressive music and culture. Very much "fuck the government, society, etc." While I still consider myself quite countercultural at heart, having a child at a young age and growing into a world that is inclusive rather than exclusive pushed me toward the art that now makes up the core of my work. I feel lucky to be in a position that I am not surrounded on a daily basis by war or famine in my back yard, thus I tend to celebrate this luxury by trying to put as much goodness back into the universe in hopes that it can uplift and inspire those who might not be so fortunate, or those who might just be having a rough time and looking for a little light. 

F.O.B.:-Do you find there is always a correlation between your work that feels like an affirmation to adults and story or poem to children?

D.C.:Yes, that's the goal. To be able to speak to children and adults at once. To create art that nourishes and can be appreciated both for its entertainment and its depth. 

F.O.B.:-Is there such a thing as an 'average' day in the life of Dallas Clayton?

D.C.:I hope never, no. But sometimes with a kid, schedules to emerge. Patterns in life are somehow unavoidable. 

F.O.B.:-Can you give us some insight on your creative process and what continues to inspire you?

D.C.:I just try to make things every day. Try not to be limited by medium or genre. Keep things thematic, in hopes that it will be timeless and therefore able to reach more folks regardless of age or circumstance. I'm inspired by the same things as most, friends, family, humans trying to make things better. Try to achieve balance between creation and consumption. 

F.O.B.:-When 'An Awesome Book' wasn't initially well received by publishers and then met with independent success, did that change your dedication to dreaming big?

D.C.:Not really. I suppose I've always just assumed that if you believe in making something you should try to make it at all costs. Not because of proving your worth or showing someone that they missed out, but because making things you believe in is fun. The process is fun. Even the hard bits are cool. That's life, happening. 

F.O.B.:-You seem to be dedicated to reminding grown ups that life is magical.  Has this always been your

D.C.:I hesitate to say anything has always been my mission, but it does feel like the older I get the less interested my contemporaries are in the essence of life and the more often they are consumed by rules imposed by a structure they had no hand in creating. To each his/her own, but I do see a lot of sad faces that could certainly benefit from a good shaking up. 

F.O.B.:-If you could give a message to every person, plant and animal in the universe, what would it be?

Find something that makes you happy and use it to make others happy. Plants, keep up the good work!