Entries in Music (6)


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!



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!



BUY SONNYMOON ON ITUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/son...


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!






039 Justin Martin


Fingers on Blast: Your bio references taking on the pots and pans at the age of 2, and then leaning towards djing.  What inspired you between that stage of discovery and the early single 'Sad Piano'?
Justin Martin: Everything! I had a very broad musical background thanks to my parents. I took piano lessons and played the saxophone in many jazz bands growing up, but the majority of my musical influences probably started with my dads record collection. He had everything from classic rock to classical music, and there was always music being blasted in my house on his badass macintosh stereo system which he still has to this day along with an amazing collection of vinyl. I discovered dance music in high school through my older brother christian and once I heard goldie's "timeless" album I knew I wanted to learn to dj. It started as a hobby, turned into an obsession, and by the time a graduated college it was all I could think about pursuing with my life. Music is my passion.
Fingers on Blast: You have a reputation for not taking things too seriously, has that always been the case?  What impact does that have on your music?
Justin Martin: There are certain things that I do take seriously... and having fun is one of those things. Life is short. I am in such an amazing position and feel truly blessed to be doing what I love every single day, so I try and keep a smile on my face and remind myself of how lucky I am. However I take my music very seriously in the sense that I want to provide a quality product for my fans. But at the end of the day it's all about making people smile and dance and enjoy themselves when they come out to see me, so I try and have as much fun as possible because fun is contagious. 
Fingers on Blast: What inspires that outlook?
Justin Martin: My friends, fans, and the people I look up to. I've been a dance music fan for a long time... and some of the most inspiring people for me are people who are not only good at what they do, but nice as well. Grumpy djs, divas, and shit talkers should take a good look at themselves in the mirror and reevaluate their attitudes.. There is no room for that in dance music. We are all in this together. Dance music is one of the most positive forms of escape and we are all lucky to be a part of such a beautiful thing.
Fingers on Blast: What led you to dance music?  definitely my brothers influence. he went off to college and would send me new music he was discovering.
Justin Martin: I remember hearing bjork's "debut" album for the first time and falling in love with the weirdness and funkiness of it. I think goldie was on tour with her so her music was a major gateway because I listened to his album "timeless" and my life was changed.
Fingers on Blast: Have you ever performed at or attended Movement before? yes!
Justin Martin: i have been going to the festival for at least 8 years, and 3 years ago I played and it was a dream come true! so excited to be back!
Fingers on Blast: In your own music the balance between beautiful melodies and hard edged beats is very prominent.  Does that come naturally or is that something that takes daily focus?
Justin Martin: I just try and make stuff that moves me. I was always an intelligent drum and bass fan long before I really got into house music, and I loved the contrast between light and dark. Beautiful melodies mixed with lethal basslines... I want to make music that you can still listen to off the dance floor, but that will still rumble sound systems. I try and take a new approach to every song I do, I don't ever want to be pigeonholed into as certain sound or genre, I'd rather keep the lines blurred and keep pushing my sound further. So I just go into the studio and have fun and try to keep it fresh.
Fingers on Blast: How does your solo work differ from the Martin Brothers music?
Justin Martin: When christian and I worked together our stuff is very hip hop influenced. we have always been inspired by the bay area hyphy beats of artists like 'E-40' and "the pack" so our music together usually has that vibe initially, but again we never know whats gonna happen when we get together to make music and the results are always different. It's just fun working with someone who brings a different and cool vibe to the studio. 
Fingers on Blast: Who are you looking forward to seeing at Movement?

Justin Martin: I may be biased towards my dirtybird gang, but every time I have seen Claude Von Stroke play there its the most insane shit ever. Also Green Velvet! He is such a legend! He has been consistently killing it for longer than anyone and he is such an awesome guy!

Check out more from Justin Martin here and get your tickets to Movement Festival here!

029 Nedelle Torrisi

One of the most refreshing and exceptionally talented voices we've heard in a while belongs to the one and only Nedelle Torrisi.  We first heard her a few years back fronting Bay Area band Cryptacize and we were immediate die hard fans of both her beautiful voice and her extra soulful approach to all things music.  Since then, she has released some truly great work, including her brand new self titled album, where she worked with Kenny Gilmore (of Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti) to make some heartfelt and genuinely beautiful music that we will definitely never forget.  

Hi! How are things?  What has been keeping you busy lately?

This and that.

What was growing up in a musical family like?  When did you know you had to make music?

It was fun to play music with my family. Really healthy way to grow up. I was always, and still am, a shy attention hog. This weird mixture of reluctance and extroversion. Lol. I need a therapist. I started singing at 3 years old and as a kid performed constantly for whoever would watch. Then I started playing the violin and performing in musicals at age 7 and my parents were supportive, so I never looked back. Until now...

Where do you draw your influence from, musically or otherwise?  What inspires you?

Oh, a lot of things. I love talking to my friends. Reading. Poetry. My cat. I try to listen to a lot of music, though sometimes I don't for long periods of time. There's nothing original about my interests, though my tastes are very specific, haha.

We think this album is an absolute masterpiece, and it sounds like a substantial amount of both ideas and work went into it.  Could you tell us a bit about making it?

Aw, thank you. That's awesome to hear. Well, I spent a lot of time writing the songs, then a couple years making the album. My friend Kenny Gilmore produced the record and played almost all the instruments. There was no rush in making the record, so it was made with a lot of care and attention to detail. It was truly a labor of love! A labor of true love.

 We feel like it plays from start to finish so perfectly, we could enjoy it in almost any situation. What would you say is the ideal circumstance for a first time listener?

With supersonic hi-fidelity technicolor headphones and on mushrooms. Just kidding! I don't know! If anyone listens to it from start to finish that's really awesome. Seems no one does that anymore, including me.

We first became huge fans when we saw you with Cryptacize supporting Fiery Furnaces years ago.  Can you tell us a bit about Cryptacize? We consider the album "Mythomania" a classic that definitely still holds up.

Wow, first 'masterpiece' and now 'classic'! I'm loving this! Cryptacize. Chris Cohen is a great musician. Loved writing songs and playing music together.

You've collaborated recently with Kenny Gilmore (of Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti), Nite Jewel & Julia Holter, who we are all huge fans of, how did these come about? Do you prefer to collaborate or create as an individual?

Well I write all the songs, which is the thing I like best out of all the "steps" involved in making music. When it's time to  record, that's like the reward at the end of a long process. I like to try to have fun, and get as many friends involved as possible. I'm just really really lucky that I have some very talented friends.

What's a day in the life of Nedelle Torrisi like?

Oh you know. I just read and play with my cat all day. No, really I have a job like most of the world. Right now I happen to have an awesome one, so I'm happy.

What else are you passionate about?  What have you been reading, listening to, or watching lately?

I need to start a new novel, so if you have any recommendations... Oh! I saw a couple great music documentaries lately- one is called "Marley" directed by Kevin Macdonald, and the other is the making of
"Songs in the Key of Life" from that "Classic Albums" series. You can watch the latter on youtube. Ah, the Greats. And I am doing a love advice column, so if you ever need advice, go to my tumblr page and
drop me a line!



Thank you so much to the great Nedelle Torrisi for taking the time to answer our questions, make sure you hit up these links below and BUY HER NEW ALBUM!

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