Entries in interviews (24)


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!  

Event: http://on.fb.me/1BzTanf
Tickets: http://bit.ly/1ERn5uI



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!


045 Eddie Spaghetti of Supersuckers


 The Supersuckers are the greatest rock n roll band in the world.  Their new album 'Get The Hell' came out in January, 2014.  The album arrived in spite of 'delays and unfortunate setbacks', and if the single is any indication this record is tough as nails.  Download the title track free, check out the upcoming tourdates, and get into our talk with Eddie Spaghetti! 

First off, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us!  You have a ton on the go lately, what's been keeping you busy?
New record. It's the fuel for our current fire. 

Where have been your favorite places to tour?  Is there anywhere you been dying to go?
Spain is great. We'd really like to hit Japan. And Hawaii!

How is the new Supersuckers album 'Get The Hell' different from the rest of your music?  What inspired you to make this album?
It's not so different really. That's something we try do do on purpose - make the same kind of record over and over. Like the Ramones or AC/DC. But it may be our strongest record ever! The same things still inspire me - greed, gluttony, sloth, envy, liquor, women, drugs and killing. The same things that all good movies are about. 

What is a typical day in the life of Eddie Spaghetti, if there is such a thing?
Depends on if I'm on the road or not. And usually I am. So the day typically starts with a trip to Starbucks followed by a drive of various lengths. Then to the club for load in and getting ready to rock the house - which entails copious quantities of liquor, women, drugs and killing, of course, then bed, wake up and repeat ad nauseum. 

If you could time travel to any era and any place, where would you go?
I'd go back to the late '70's and see AC/DC with Bon Scott. 

If you were a DJ, what record would you play every night?
Get The Hell by the Supersuckers. 

Thanks so much for your time!  Is there anything else we need to know?
Just to wear clean underwear when you come to our show because we're gonna rock your pants right off!



October 22 - Vancouver, BC @ Wise Hall
October 23 - Kelowna, BC @ Doc Willoughby's
October 24 - Edmonton, AB @ Pawn Shop
October 25 - Calgary, AB @ Dickens
October 26 - Calgary, AB @ Dickens
October 27 - Regina, SK @ The Exchange
October 28 - Winnipeg, MB @ The Pyramid 
October 31 - Oshawa, ON @ The Atria
November 1 - Hamilton, ON @ This Ain't Hollywood
November 2 - Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
November 3 - Peterborough, ON @ The Red Dog
November 5 - London, ON @ Call The Office
November 6 - Ottawa, ON @ Mavericks
November 7 - Montreal, QC - Cabaret World
November 8 - Quebec City, QC - Le Cercle
November 10 - Fredericton, NB - Capital Complex 






044 Orenda Fink

Orenda Fink is a wonderful musician who has made a ton of our favorite music, both on her own and as half of Azure Ray.  We had the pleasure of chatting with her, and are so thankful for such a great opportunity.  Make sure you watch her new video and see her on tour!


-It seems like you've been pretty busy lately, can you let us in on what's new and exciting for you?


Hi! Yes, it's been a busy year! I'm leaving for tour soon- September 18th, which is my birthday, so that seems like an auspicious day to start a tour.  I haven't toured solo in eight years so it feels new and exciting to me right now.  


-How were you exposed to music at a young age?  When did you know this was what you had to do?


My parents aren't musicians, but music was always a big part of our household when I was growing up.  There were always records being played, especially at night.  I was good at sleeping through loud music as a kid!  So, this gave me a sense of how music can transform an environment and create moments in people's lives.  I didn't start writing songs though until high school, when I met Maria Taylor.  I pretty much knew then though that music was going to be my path.  Before that I was planning on being a doctor or a lawyer.  I was pretty far off, haha.  


-What's a typical day in the life of Orenda Fink?


It varies quite a bit depending on what is going on.  Lately, I've been spending most of my day communicating with Saddle Creek, my booking agent and my publicist.  Between promoting the record, planning a tour, making videos, artwork for merch and singles, there's a lot of back and forth between me and all of these lovely people.  I'm also putting together a band, rehearsing the new songs, doing interviews, performing and manning social media.  In between these things, I like to take the time to take my dog for a walk and have dinner either with my husband or friends.  Later, I'll either go out or drink wine at home and continue to work until my brain shuts off.  Then, I'll watch some amazing television like The Leftovers.  I'm so into that show right now.     


-How do you gather inspiration?  What makes you want to get down and create?


I think I hoard inspiration and store it until the proverbial dam breaks and I'm ready to create something with it.  I can go for long periods without writing, then I will have a crazy writing streak.  I can't predict it.  I just pray that it always keeps showing up!  



-Blue Dream is a beautiful collection of wonderful music, can you tell us a little bit about how it came to life?


Thank you! It really started with the death of my dog of sixteen years, Wilson.  After he died, I went through an intense period of mourning and personal crisis that ultimately led me to studying my dreams with a Jungian dream analyst.  The dreams were not only healing for me, but, I believe spoke archetypally of the nature of life, death and love.  It was after this period of healing that I started writing the songs that would become Blue Dream. 



-We were also huge fans of the music you made with Azure Ray, do you think there will be more to come in the future?


Yes, absolutely! Maria and I are both pretty busy with our individual projects, but there will always be more Azure Ray on the horizon.  We generally just let the universe tell us when it is time. 



-What have you been reading, listening to, watching, or enjoying lately?


Like I said, I love The Leftovers.  I'm patiently waiting for the next True Detective and American Horror Story seasons to start.  I've been reading Carl Jung's "The Archetypes and the Collective Unconcious."  It's fascinating.  I just finished a great short read called "Your Owner's Manual" by Burt Hotchkiss that reminds you that you should really only have one of two feelings towards anyone- gratitude or forgiveness.  That was a great reminder to me of how to steer my emotions and actions towards love.  Todd came across this book while he was on tour and recommends it to everyone.  


-Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us, is there anything else we need to know?


Look out for me on the road in September and October and at CMJ!