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Duality is thy name!

(Editors note) I broke out this interview with Barry Adamson back in 1998. I was in New York and did the Q & A at the headquarters of Mute Records. Barry was on the other end of the phone, in his home in London. It was a crazy time for me in NYC. It was like I had stepped into an alternate dimension and strange phenomenon was unfolding around me on a moment-to-moment basis. I won’t go into details here, but I do refer to it cryptically in the intro.

Barry Adamson is one of the most talented musicians and artists you’ve probably never heard of. He played with Magazine and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds and then carved out a brilliant solo career, that in many respects, surpassed that of both Howard Devoto and Nick Cave. Barry Adamson also happens to be a Gemini and it is indeed, his birthday today. If one delves down into the canon of his recording career, they can see the tell tale signs of duality all over the place. In the interview, we really focused on topics like; “As above, so below,” “Light and dark,” and “Good and bad.” All, tasty topics for any Gemini. This interview originally appeared on Pete Darling’s Art-Damage site. Pete is an uber-talented friend and is one of those people who could have easily been a rock star if he’d wanted to do the wrong drugs and screw the right people. Here’s me and Barry.

New York; Summer of 98′ things are falling all around me–like something out of a Fortean tale of misplaced gravity. Everywhere I go the sky is descending. And then the numbers start coming; sixes and nines, variables and their fated triple-digit-deity. I escape the crash and tumult for a few moments ducking into the offices of Mute Records. I’m here to talk to Barry Adamson, the former Magazine and Bad Seed Bass Player, on the phone from his London home. On solo terms, he’s become known for noirish soundtrack work such as “Soul Murder”, “The Negro Inside”, “Moss Side Story” and the brilliant “Oedipus Schmedipus.” His record of the moment is, “As Above, So Below” (Mute) and with Adamson, the cradle of potential is vast in it’s meaning. Of mixed racial origin, he embraces contrasting cosmologies and diverse scales; polyrhythms and whitenoise, Nile gods and Atlantic sea wardens; demonic muses and angelic hosts. As heaven crashes around me, Barry’s trying to reconcile it all in his music. From New York to London, we attempt to ground the dipole in extremis for a Trans-Atlantic free-exchange of shadow and light.

RP: What has the response been in terms of the British Press and some of the other magazines towards your newest work and how that compares with some of your earlier stuff?

BA: I think its generally been quite favorable. There is always the odd fellow that doesn’t get it really. They’re off on their own sort of thing. I think generally what has happened- I guess with each album I kind of raise my profile a little bit more, getting to the hearts and minds (if you like) of the ever-listening public. In that way it has been a success. I think the feedback has been encouraging. I think this album and the Oedipus album particularly has kind of moved the goalposts into a place more accessible for people; they can get what’s going on and they seem to enjoy what’s going on, which is always encouraging for me. Definitely the step forward in a way that I hope to be. I am pleased with the way its gone.

RP: The title of the record As Above, So Below: It reminds me of Heraclitus.

BA: What’s that?

RP: Heraclitus was a Greek philosopher. His whole contention was above so below- like it is in Heaven as it is on Earth. So there is a metaphysical connotation there. But it also to me reminds me of “as above so below”: as above the waist so below the waist.

BA: That’s interesting. I never thought of that. I kind of did have a little subtle idea about that: above the waist, also below. I guess for me, it is that thing as in Heaven, so shall it be on Earth, and perhaps even lower. I think that you can’t have one without the other. Just that whole faith, love and fear… and all those things have ramifications in the world as well and that’s what makes man as a sensor of the whole cosmos-type thing as well. I think for me its about balance as well: as above so below and therefore stepping out into the world is like okay about everything. I think that was kind of the establishing factor of where to go from in terms of exploring Heaven and Hell in the confines of the record, if it’s possible.

RP: Are you familiar of the material of William Blake?

BA: Only in passing, do you know what I mean. I am not really in a studious way at all. Of course a picture comes to mind (I don’t know the name of course) of the guy pointing down from above?

RP: With the Sun. Yeah.

BA: Very powerful image.

RP: It seems like in your work that there is a definite sort of a psycho-analytical yoga or work-out.

BA: I think it is. I think I could realize that one could pretty much exorcise and exercise various- you know, whatever it may be, if you’re troubled you could put those troubles into a song. Or what you’ve experienced you may want to pass that information on.

RP: How does the cathartic process of your work effect you? For instance, do you feel more catharsis after you’ve finished a certain piece or after you’ve created a whole piece?

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spooky_pic.jpgNot so subliminal.

I did this interview for Radio-V almost ten years ago. DJ Spooky (Virgo) “That Subliminal Kid” aka Paul Miller was raised in Washington D.C., site of the largest event gathering in the history of The US on Tuesday. Just like Obama crashed the political party, Spooky crashed the electronic music scene, a space that had been mostly reserved for white egg heads.

I used the Mayan calendar count for the day I interviewed him on (Seven Men, or Seven Eagle) and ensuing code to trigger responses in him. He’s “Seven Chuen” aka “Seven Monkey” a trickster, channeling immense curiousity. While I think he was mildly amused, I don’t think he was ready to jump head first into the mythology, but he was a good sport and uncoiled his considerable intellect.

I caught up with him at a Vietnamese restaurant in The Tenderloin where he ate “Fish Balls” and noodles. In an interesting and somewhat synchronistic development, we actually talked briefly about Arthur Koestler, whom I covered a mere two days ago. So in honor of the big dance in DC, here’s an interview with one of it’s brightest and illest sons.

Incantations

Paul D. Miller, refracted holographic, spectral projection from another dimension, shapeshifting Hannuman, Seven Chuen, Elegba, Loki, Heyokehya, inspiring illusion, channeling magic. Vectors open wide, no influence discrimination, the only limits are the body and time. The records are all there, akashically speaking, cylinders of prehistory, elements of chants, Harry Smith’s Folkways originals, down to deep DC Trouble Funk. Watch him drop ill-science, watch him bust a little Deleuze. Voodoo meets Heisenberg and the body is only held together by sympathetic vibration.

DJ Spooky, part of a pre-selected set, a series of samplers, curators assembling and dispersing the dream of history at the end of time. All the influences merge, converge and then reassemble. Exorcising the demons of complacency and commercialism via covert art terrorism–colliding as the steel wheels spin and the magnetic plates dance between flux and mutability. The sly grin of the griot gone to Sirius between lifetimes shines through. Despite all the hypercritical discourse, despite all the hype, Spooky’s having a blast. He’s tricking us into meaning and pulling the rug out from under us at the same time. A nod, wink and a power fade to a culture that can’t contain the labelisms any longer–the trickster is always the most subversive element in any culture–he leads us to our demise while inducing us to laugh, dance and die along the way.

That Subliminal Kid, mining meaning from a Necropolis in steady decay, entropic agent of cybernetic sleight of hand–now you see him, now you don’t. The city becomes the grid of human interaction, desire and ideas meet aspiration. Ascension is the pyramids of commerce, descent the bodies that populate the littered remains of their peripheries. The Subliminal Kid is charmed by the smile of a woman pasted on a passing street car. Uncovering the motivation of need, advertising becomes his language for communicating with the populace. Not turned off by it’s implications, he writes for Samsung, performs for Armani, creates for Absolut. The labels dissolve in an ether of canny dispersion.

The mythologies push and pull. The dreads fall away to reveal a cranial genesis. He employs Kool Keith and pans for Xenakis. He is dueling Tricky in a transatlantic struggle between sleeping sangomas–straight outta Dr. Strange. He is a galactic activation portal–enter him.

INNERVIEW

RP: So, do you know much about the Mayan calendar?

DS: What-based on Popul Vuh? No. I’ve read some stuff, I couldn’t say it’s more than just an excursion. There is a book of the Popul Vuh that was translated a little while ago. It’s funny that you bring that up–I just started reading it about two weeks ago. I’m just on page one-hundred maybe.

RP: The basic premise of the Mayan calendar is thirteen months and twenty days within each month; its a lunar cycle–the Mayan calendar-is-260 days. Do you know Jose Arguelles?

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DS: No.

RP: He’s done a lot of work with the Mayan calendar–end of time–2012. He’s taken each day and broken it into a series of numbers and glyphs that resonate with each one of the twenty cycles of the month. Today is number 215 of the 260 day lunar calendar. Today’s symbol is Seven Men, which is Seven Eagle. So it’s a Seven Eagle day. There is a short poem that goes along with each day based on the vibratory elements of that particular day. So, I looked up what the day is on the Mayan calendar today and I thought it was kind of interesting in conjunction to you and how I feel you express through your music. I want to basically read you this piece of the Mayan calendar and then have you respond to it, perhaps line by line.

DS: Okay.

RP: So today is Seven-Men, Seven Eagle and it goes like this: I channel in order to create/ Inspiring mind, I seal the output of vision/ With a resonant tone of attunement/ I am guided by the power of accomplishment.

DS: That’s an interesting one.

RP: So what I basically wanted to do was to break down each line and see how you feel about that, and go from there.

DS: Let’s do it.

RP: The first line: “I channel in order to create”.

DS: I guess it’s dealing with pre-or-post radio spectrum, ya’know, transmission or something. On another level, the notion of channeling stuff–to me DJing–a lot of what goes on with sampling to me is about collective memory, the DJ becomes an archivist or a filter. To me a lot of what I do is acting like a refraction point of my record collection. I collect all sorts of stuff: everything from Franz Boas-he was an American anthropologist, he made trips to Siberia and recorded all these Siberian shamans in 1898–and I got access to these cylinder rolls a while ago, ya’know Thomas Edison custom made these special cylinders. Then there’s the Harry Smith archives-do you know Harry Smith’s stuff?

RP: No.

DS: He’s a very important American folk art guy who collected a lot of early folk and blues music and put it on. . .what do they call it? The Smithsonian archives!

RP: Smithsonian, sure.

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DS: I really find like to me DJing itself these days is like an inheritance of these two guys or like John Cage’s notion of what he called the “imaginary landscape”. It’s where he recorded frequencies of an urban situation and put it to vinyl–back in 1939. That’s probably one of the first turntable channelings, if you want it to go like that. Back in 1939 that was conceptually pretty sharp, to take the abstract frequencies of the urban landscape and put it to vinyl for playback. Here we are late 1998 and the last time I was in San Francisco, I did a gig with Scanner, who samples cellular telephone stuff. I guess the phrase strikes a bit of a resonance with me on one level, but I have to admit that mythologies from Mayan civilizations are far from my urban New York or Washington DC upbringing. So the metaphor’s cool but the actual source material. . . but then again its a post-modern situation–cut and paste as we go.

RP: It doesn’t have to fall into the Diaspora that you’re downloading.

DS: I’m totally into that. So whether it’s Mayan or Tiamat, early Babylonian, Russian mythologies or Mongolian–I’m open. I just wish I had more access to these randomly–in a way they become random associations by choice, these mythologies. I think we are probably one of the first cultures outside of our own who has had access to such a wide range of mythologies at our fingertips. If you look at Alexandria, Egypt, they had all these different cults going on and all this wild stuff. And Rome: choose your God of the week kind of thing. In the US, I’m finding more and more of our polyglot referencing of different religions as almost fashion statements. It’s becoming pretty intense. That’s enough–that’s another interview.

RP: When you’re in the mix, can you describe the resonance, the free-floating feel moving through your fingertips at any given moment?

DS: A lot of it really does have to do with this notion of refraction. This is where I think DJing becomes like a sonic hypertext. It’s where one sound leads to many other sounds and there is always this instance of continual negotiations between the memory of how things are and how you externalize it. It’s a totally pre-linguistic space. When I look at my creative records before I even get a cogent thought–say for example one creative record has these 75/100 mega-records crammed into it. Each of those records has the actions, gestures, words–you name it–frozen moments of different peoples lives throughout the entire recorded spectrum of the century. I’m like hyperediting these different kinds of records–to me records are cybernetic eternal, ya’know; externalization of my memory.

RP: Akashic records?

DS: Records–if you look at the record craze, then you can see the condensation of thousands of people condensed into a small area, whether its a milk crate or a DJ bag or my backpack. One thing that I find that’s pretty intense, is this notion of memory condensation or refraction. A lot of cultures would have done it by the notion of a storyteller–the tradition of the griot for instance. The US is the refraction point of the whole planet. I live in Chinatown; you turn a left and the streets are in Chinese; you turn left again and they’re in Spanish; you go back in a different direction and they’re in Hebrew; you go around another corner and they’re in English. Here we are eating Vietnamese food. Which if this was the sixties, it would probably be a wild situation because of the war.

RP: America–the cultural enzyme. . .

DS: Exactly. On the other hand, We’re looking at these creative records here, in this hypothetical crate of records. You ever read Umberto Ecco or–what’s the writer from South America? Borges! Most of their narrative structures are again hypertext–where the surface narrative is a shimmering kind of mirage and you fall into it. Sound is like that. I was trying to deal with that with my sound.

Most of the vocalists on the album (Riddim Warfare) are from an urban youth culture context. In terms of hip hop, or dance hall, or reggae, or like ambient-techno-jungle–the narrative that most people are dealing with is simultaneity. This whole McCluhan thing of like being able to live many times all at once is about simultaneity–whether you want to call living in it the “global village” or “global barrio”, or whatever. We’re about to go to the next level. Here we are with cybernetic memory moving into to MP3 files–a radical transformation of even how music is transferred across cultural lines. So whenever I spin, it’s weird, I really think of the Buddhist kind of notion of ceasing to exist by repetition–you know the mantra. People chant mantras to really clarify their minds. Being a DJ is like being a digital exorcist–it’s getting all this weird energy and probably a lot of psychological shit out of my system.

RP: How does that reflect in your style?

DS: My style in spinning is kind of chaotic–people tell me when they hear it–small snippets of sound are coming at you. I do violent panning from left to right , up and down the mix, the mix goes into bass frequencies and slowly falls away. Djing is always like conflicting impulses of what culture you’re moving through, what record is representing whatever your mind state is. There’s Science Fiction writers who deal with that kind of conflict–there’s Olaf Stapleton, he’s a really important writer from the turn of the century. Then there’s Philip K. Dick who is a classic example, ya’know “Radio Free Albion”? You know what I’m talking about?

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RP: Absolutely.

DS: It’s one of his classic novels where the main characters encode these alien messages in vinyl and send it out because the police state of the country is too intense. Magnetic tape and all that stuff is basically all physics. You can use mathematical equations to describe exactly whatever you’re doing. Like decomposing Iannis Xenakis or the physicist Illya Prigogine. So here we are with this youth culture and new mythology that’s taking precedence–not science. People aren’t going to say what I’m playing is a frequency or a sine wave. but it’s the actual spectrum I’m dealing with. Most people will say, “that’s a Kool Keith vocal over a Wu-Tang sample with a lot of bass”. I find myself at a crossroads of dealing with these different cultures, whether it’s African-American, American, Cyber. . .whatever. I would like to be called “tribe nomadic”. In the western tradition, the nearest philosophers that I could relate to were Deleuze and RD Lang?

RP: Fascinating guy.

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DS: He wrote this book–”Knots”. It’s about loops. Sorry to answer in such a long way.

RP: I guess what I’m getting at is the whole concept of being a channeler or conduit, or being a cultural-nomadic, to be able to contain and transmit a whole series of ideas for cultural expression or archaeologies and mythologies in a 2 to 3 hour stretch via this technology we’ve assembled for people like us at this time. I think it’s a unique experience and I think you have such a wide array of information at your fingertips. To me, that first line, “I channel in order to create” Is really an essential element in what you do.

DS: You want to do the second one.

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Mad ProfessorAs yet another Mercury retrograde yoga pose for this month, I’m posting an interview of mine, resting neatly in the dustbins of the internet.  This one found a home in Remix Magazine.  I got turned onto Remix by a woman who was an ad rep there and helped me get a couple of writing gigs.  I’ll leave her name out of the story, but the highlight of my connection with her was a wild night in Miami at WMC, fueled by psychedelics, Timo Maas and her sexy girlfriend. Here is me and The Mad Professor talking music and tech. 

 

Deep in the dub lab with Mad Professor.

Mad Professor is out to lunch. Sitting in a booth at a Chinese restaurant in New York, the A-list dub and reggae producer looks troubled as the waiter sets a seafood combo in front of him. “There’s all kinds of strange things in here,” he says as he pokes at the dish with a fork. “This looks like a scallop, and that looks like a frog leg, but what’s this? An alligator foot? And that looks like a duck’s behind!”

Even though he’s not sure what he’s eating, Mad Professor scoops up a forkful of the mystery mixture and shovels it into his mouth. “It tastes okay so far,” he remarks between gulps, “but if I stop speaking, you’ll know it’s foul.” Like this adventure in cuisine, Mad Professor’s auditory odyssey involves the inspired blending of exotic ingredients, coupled with a fearlessness that keeps him forever pushing the boundaries of taste and the times.

As a remixer and producer, Mad Professor — aka Neil Fraser — has worked with Sade, Pato Banton, the Beastie Boys, and others. His original tracks veer from the rootsy dub of “The African Connection” to the political blitz of “Black Liberation Dub” to the drum ’n’ bass hybrid of “Mazaruni: The Jungle Dub Experience.” His Massive Attack remixes on the LP No Protection: Mad Professor vs. Massive Attack made the original Protection album pale in comparison. This is the same man who initiated the modern British dub explosion with his 1982 album Dub Me Crazy, and who inadvertently helped birth the mutant strain of ambient-dub when the Orb lifted a sample from his “Fast Forward into Dub” track for the undulating backbeat of their epic “Blue Room.”

But perhaps Mad Professor’s most remarkable achievement is the success of his Ariwa label and studio, which he founded in 1979 in South London and has developed into a leading dub label and a sprawling, state-of-the-art studio complex. Through Ariwa (a Yoruba word meaning “communication”), he’s worked with reggae legends — including Horace Andy, U-Roy, Macka B, Papa Levi, Nolan Irie, and the mythical madman of dub, Lee “Scratch” Perry — and has released more than 100 records since 1981. Not bad for a guy who launched his career by hand-building a crystal radio in his native Guyana when he was only nine years old. Such pursuits were hardly the activity of choice for most of his peers. “Well,” he snickers, “that’s why they call me the Mad Professor!”

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MajounMercury is retrograde in Gemini and it’s time for me to re-invigorate my blog. I did this interview ten-years-ago and recently re-connected with Richard Horowitz after staying up far-too-late one night last week watching Bertolucci’s cinematic rendering of The Sheltering Sky where Horowitz provided the exotic soundtrack.This Q&A was to appear in the last, which turned out to be the “lost” issue of MONDO 2000. For those of you who don’t know, MONDO was one of the greatest and most influential magazines of all time. It was redolent with early adopter themes, bursting at the spine with memes and strange attraction. I was part of the waning phase of MONDO’s glorious ascent. Not privy to all of the media buzz that surrounded the mag in the middle of the nineties, I nonetheless experienced the madness and genius of Queen Mu on a daily basis. I could go into a whole post simply on the complexity and brilliance of the MONDO maven. I will go on record and say that she is one of the great unknown and little recognized writers and minds of the 20th century. With Pluto moving into Capricorn, The Queen’s natal sign (she shares the same birth date as Elvis and Bowie), I think we will witness her rise once more.I spent two separate phone interviews with Richard and Sussan and one interview with Sussan alone and really got to know them. I appreciated truly their candor and vulnerability.The art was pure Heide Foley in all of it’s psychedelically inspired retinal overload. I actually found this on Heide’s website where much of the lost issue resides. Curiously, she has me named as “Rob Hall.” Enjoy.

Majoun—passed down through the ancestral food chain, a mind-kissing cousin of Soma, brain food of the gods.

Majoun—trance possessor of initiates into visions of desert ecstasy and love–the mysteries of muezzin and minaret. Sacred geometries, spinning poets and wheels of tilting stars, revealed by the sweet taste of this Kif-powered Moroccan paste that’s mixed with mint tea.

In it’s aural manifestation, Majoun is three parts Adrian Sherwood’s On U Sound collective ( Keith LeBlanc, Skip McDonald and Doug Wimbish), world rhythmatist Steve Shehan, Gnawa rebel Hassan Hakmoun, virtual reality vulcan Jaron Lanier, a host of some of the finest players from Morocco and the core ingredients—Richard Horowitz and Sussan Deyhim. Horowitz is a master ney player. His musical influences include the likes of Bachir Attar, The Gnawas and other Moroccan mugicians. Psychically, he is linked to the famed boho expatriates Brion Gysin and Paul Bowles. It was Bowles who suggested that Horowitz, along with Ryuchi Sakamoto, co-score the film version of his classic tale, The Sheltering Sky. Deyhim is an expatriate as well. She fled her native Iran before the Shah’ s strings were cut by the puppet masters. Relocating in Europe, she studied voice, dance and theater with the legendary Maurice Beijart. Her other-worldly ululations mixed with her native Farsi echo the passionate yearnings of ancient muses reborn with an avant-garde intelligence crystallized in their cells.

But most of all, Majoun is the elixir of travellers. It is that quality of traveling, a circumnavigational displacement in space and time that unites all of its participants-—nomads in a virtual caravan of dreams–—that Horowitz and Deyhim have assembled. Through a filament of light and sound, from Berkeley to London and New York, they shared their journeys and their secret recipe for Majoun with MONDO.

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-1.jpgDr. Octagon gets down

I did this interview way back in 1998, when I was The Music Editor for MONDO 2000 and a contributer to Getting It, an edgier, West Coast version of The Onion.

Getting ahold of Keith Thornton was no easy feat. Talking with him appeared to be almost nearly as elusive.

Looking back at it I am struck by his honesty and trust, a trust that almost borders on naivete’. He’s extremely complicated, really trying to define himself against the grain of his culture, genre and music industry. Kool Keith, Dr. Octagon, Dr. Dooom, Me. Gerbik, all his various personas comprise a strategy; part marketing, part psychological survival tool kit.

I caught up with him on the back end of his tour with DJ Spooky.

GETTINGIT: How was the tour?

KOOL KEITH: Oh, it was cool, yeah.

GI: How was it working with Spooky?

KK: He’s an eccentric guy. Takes walks. Every city he would get off the bus and say that, “he wants to feel the city.” [Chuckles] Then he comes back three hours later.

GI: Where are you now?

KK: Los Angeles.

GI: Is that where you’re living now?

KK: Sometimes. I stay in Miami. I’m in New York for a minute sometimes.

GI: When you were in San Francisco, did you go to the Mitchell Brothers [XXX-theater]?

KK: I didn’t go there. But I like it. But I also like the Pelican in Miami.

GI: Were you ever in a porn film?

KK: Nah, that’s what people say. A lot of porn stars are my friends. I’m basically a cameraman — a photographer for models with different looks.

GI: If you could star in a porn film, who would you want to do it with?

KK: Stephanie Swift.

GI: What’s special about her?

KK: She looks real pretty, her eyes and stuff. She has a real different type of look. She has an innocent look. I get turned on by girls that aren’t actually acting sexy. They are turned out by stuff like that.

GI: Is it the concept of turning them out and getting them freaky that turns you on?

KK: Yeah, like if I met a regular girl who got into something for the first time, something new… it’s like if I had an exclusive photo of the girl instead of someone in Hustler that fifty thousand guys get to look at. It destroys the secret. It’s not exclusive. I get more girls who are not fully exposed in the industry; they’re more a collectible type item. It’s like if you had a picture of Britney Spears in lingerie for yourself, versus her stripping in Playboy. It’s something like that.

GI: Is that why you have all the different personas — keeping the identity fresh, exclusive?

KK: Well basically, I enjoy the music industry in a different way. I have to constantly break myself down. One side of me wants to go to the mall as Kool Keith, and then there’s another side as Black Elvis that I can show the world and they can take pictures and camera me. I have an image so that I can go to the mall and shop. I’m not obsessed with being recognized. It saves me from a lot of hassle. I want to be known for my art and creation of music.

It’s like a Batman and Robin thing. With Alfred and them, they were always upstairs chillin’, havin’ cups of tea and talkin’. When they went to see the Joker and stuff, they were Batman and Robin. I kinda like that. I don’t need the world in my business. I don’t need secret cameramen walkin’ around takin’ pictures of me like “hey there’s Keith in his baseball cap eating cake.” That’s why I wear the Black Elvis wig and glasses. I’m givin’ that energy out to the world. It’s like Peter Parker, Spider-Man, and Adam West.

GI: Why Black Elvis?

KK: The height of my career. I have to give my own self credit and props. I had to give my own self leverage so people could write me up in issues and columns and books and stuff. I had to fill my own time, blow my own horn. At the end of the day they might not put me in categories. They might not put me in categories and rate me high up as the top or greatest rappers or top MCs. I had to do it myself. Because if I hadn’t done it, people would have acted like they couldn’t see it. They see me as Black Elvis, cuz I had deserved to be Elvis, not Elvis Presley, but the Elvis of rap.

GI: Have you been to Graceland?

KK: I need to go over to the auction and get some stuff.

GI: If you could get anything of Elvis’, what would it be?

KK: The car and the belt.

GI: The Cadillac?

KK: Yeah.

GI: Have you ever been in a movie?

KK: I did one movie, Champions with Ken Shamrock. It was on Showtime. Danny Trejo was in it. It was a movie about kickboxing — fighting Octagon-style. Remember when it was that type of fighting, when dudes had to die?

GI: Yeah.

KK: So it was a movie like that. It was kinda crazy. You can rent it at Blockbuster.

GI: Nothing other than that?

KK: Nothin’ but those Sprite commercials.

GI: What kind of movie would you want to be in?

KK: I would want to play a role other than a typical rap guy. I want to play roles that people wouldn’t think I would play. I want to be in action films… do somethin’ different. Like a horror film, a lawyer, an ill doctor or somethin’ like that.

GI: Did you really get a million dollars from Sprite?

KK: Yeah.

GI: What did you do with all of that money?

KK: I enjoy my life.

GI: On Spooky’s Riddim Warfare, you did a track called “Object Unknown.” It was about seeing UFOs in Brooklyn. Did you really see one?

KK: [Laughter] I seen different shit walkin’ around the Bronx at night. I mean I’ve seen different things. But I had no witness to cover me.

GI: What did you see?

KK: I seen some flyin’ shit. It wasn’t no airplane.

GI: What did it look like?

KK: It was round, like some Saturn shit around it. It wasn’t no blimp either. It was ill; it was like, “what the fuck was that?” It wasn’t a fuckin’ airplane.

GI: So when you saw that object in the Bronx, was that your inspiration?

KK: It was some fuckin’ crazy shit. It bugged me out. I thought it was some kind of naval testing thing. They have stealth shit. But it wasn’t that.

GI: Have you ever met David Bowie?

KK: No. I’ve seen him a lot. Different places. He goes with Iman right?

GI: Yeah.

KK: He’s lucky he came up on Iman. I had a girl like that once in Amsterdam. She was an Ethiopian girl — little smaller.

GI: What was she like?

KK: She was nice.

GI: Do you like bowlegged women?

KK: It depends. I’ve been with a lot of different culture type people — from black girls to white girls. There’s a difference in both. Some girls are open-minded, some are very standard. Women have an American standard that’s boring sometimes. The corny movie thing, the going out to dinner, that proves to me that you like me. Nobody goes to do something different, like play pinball. Everybody’s family-programmed.

GI: What are some of the differences between black women and white women?

KK: From my experience, black girls are more materialistic and wantin’ to know what you have — what you own. And they have big expectations, which makes it hard for a black guy because he has to go to extremes to impress. They’re more into the name of what’s on the back of your shirt tag. You can’t wear nuthin’ without inspection,[femme persona] “ooh is that made by Calvin Klein?”

White girls are very open. I notice a lot of [black] guys datin’ white chicks. A white girl might help you out because you don’t have to go to the far extreme to impress with clothing. You could drive a Ford Pinto. They could care less. It’s a total difference. Like with black girls, you could be a college football player and they won’t know nuthin’ about you. But when you get in the NFL, now they know you.

And then there’s geographic differences — like between California and New York. These girls in New York expect to be with NBA players and they have these bullshit weaves sewn in. In California, you’re talkin’ to a beautiful model — you’re used to talkin’ to beautiful at like the Beverly Center, and then you go to New York and see some ugly girl with high expectations. I was just in Miami. I just left a beautiful place with beautiful fuckin’ models and they were talkin’ to me, treatin’ me nice, givin’ me respect and havin’ drinks. Then you get to New York and there’s some ugly bitch with a messed up weave with some bullshit shoes on, fat stomach, out of shape. And she’s actin’ like she’s the shit. It takes you down. I learned that from music and travelin’ around the world.

By me bein’ Black Elvis, it’s like some algebra problem [black women] can’t solve. That is so hard to comprehend — a black rock star. I’m not a materialistic person. Just because I’m not like Boyz II Men, that doesn’t mean that I’m not black. Or I’m not runnin’ around murderin’ everybody — they’re materialistic. I just think it’s ignorant.

GI: Did you ever see [John Sayles'] Brother From Another Planet?

KK: Yeah.

GI: What did you think about it?

KK: It was just some different shit. It was a nice movie. Like maybe blacks didn’t support that film either. He didn’t do a typical simple-assed movie. It was just low budget. He was just walkin around — [laughs to himself] kinda like me.

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The World According To MobyI did this interview back in 1999 when I was helping out Radio-V. Play was everywhere; car commercials, radio, TV shows and it launched Moby right into the heart of mainstream culture. Moby and his management were crafty. They had decided to license music off of Play immediately. It’s catchy fusion of beats and old blues songs were instantly memorable and perfect for commercials. Soon, consumers were sending emails to Volkswagon asking what that song for the Jetta commercial was? Radio quickly took notice and added Play to their playlists on a number of formats and it rapidly ascended into the top forty. I caught up with Moby on the phone and we instantly clicked. The interview you’re about to read is pretty much verbatim.

Moby: Vegan, Christian, Proto-Punk, Self-Exposing Enfant Terrible who twisted bits of the Twin Peaks soundtrack into one of the first Techno hits (“Go”) is riding the crest of a newfound popularity with the breakthrough release of Play. Voted one of the top 99 albums of the Nineties by Spin,the opinionated, self-proclaimed, “little idiot” is also for better or worse plagued by a conscience that has led him to explore his relationship to Chrisitianity, Animal Rights and gigs in Kosovo.

Poised to be either a holy fool or feckless Techno-Messiah of the next century, Moby (aka Richard Hall) will always have something to say. The following is a small slice of the world according to Moby. Read the rest of this entry »

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In Bowie’s Head

Reportedly worth over $800 million, David Bowie has gone from “The Man Who Sold the World” to “The Man the World Is Buying.” From space oddity to corporate entity, he’s busy recreating his persona once again. With the ISP BowieNet, his Web site, Bowie Bonds, and arrangements to set up ISPs for the likes of the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles, Bowie is becoming a computer baron.His energy, a titanic clash of classical cultivation and maniacally driven curiosity, has given birth to a new record, Hours…the first major-label release to be sold in its entirety over the Internet.

The album finds Bowie in a contemplative mood. With middle age looking him dead in the third eye, he’s addressing the themes of loss, regret, and redemption.He’s also had a hand in creating the new computer game Omikron: Nomad Soul, from which many of Hours’ tracks are culled. Omikron provided a vehicle for Bowie to virtually recreate himself as a 21-year-old rock star (Boz) who performs in an alternate dimension. Dorian Gray looks back through pixilated reflections in the digital mirror.Hidden beneath Bowie’s alien veneer and his ability to fuse artistic effort with Wall Street smarts is a trickster-par-excellence — a corporate coyote who’s not above blowing the mind of a sweaty-palmed journalist at Virgin’s New York offices.

A half-hour late, he arrives with his publicist in tow–stuporifically stumbling across the room, teeth badly broken, dead eyes staring at me through a Thorazine dream. I say to myself, “Christ… Bowie’s fucked.” I extend a hand to a shaky hand. We sit. Bowie rips fake teeth from his mouth and laughs with a vengeance: “Unflappable — I like that!”

I’ve passed the initiation. The interview can now proceed.

Phoenix: Along with the release of Hours…, Iggy [Pop] and Brian Ferry have releases coming out at the same time. Is this a coincidence or a conspiracy?

Bowie: How about that! If I’d had my druthers, I’d rather not have put out an album right now. But Virgin wanted me to put this album out now, because everyone has gone for the end of the millennium thing. I don’t mind. But I would rather have had it come out earlier this year or waited until the beginning of next year. But at least it will come out and I can move onto the next one — which is how I tend to think. I don’t like to sit around and watch it, dust it off and say, “yeah, that’s a beauty.” It doesn’t bother me that it’s coming out with everyone else and their fathers.

Phoenix: Do you still communicate with Iggy?

Iggy and Ziggy

Bowie: I don’t see Iggy at all. I’ve not seen him since ’97. We were working on a tour in Germany. He seemed fine. I think he does far, far more touring than I do. I like touring, but I don’t like it quite so obsessively as [he does]. We have drifted away from each other, and in a way I understand why. I’ve never talked to him about this and I probably shouldn’t talk to you about it…

Phoenix Oh c’mon.

Bowie: All right then. [Laughter] I think there was a moment where Jim [Iggy] decided that he couldn’t do a fucking article without my name being mentioned, and I don’t think that’s a very comfortable feeling. I completely understand — I really, really do. Unfortunately, I think Jim took it personally, and that’s a shame because I would have liked to remain closer to him.I think that he felt he had to physically take himself out of the picture to become autonomous again. We’ve never voiced this to each other, because we’re sensitive to each others’ feelings. I’m not saying that it’s a resentment, but I do believe that he always felt that there was this svengali-type figure dogging him. Because I did such a load of work with him and I was a major mainstream artist myself at the time. [A phone begins to ring in the boardroom where we sit] What do you think?

Phoenix: Why don’t you get it?

Bowie: You think? Okay. [The trickster rolls up his sleeves, springs across the room and answers the phone]Hello, Polygram! [Hearty laughter at his own hijinx]

Phoenix
: Here comes the Velvet Goldmine question: How did you feel about the portrayal?

Bowie: I didn’t notice that I was in it. Am I really that uninteresting? God, he was about as interesting as a soapdish, wasn’t he? I presumed that they kind of backed off the portrayal characterization and just went for cipher. I had the advantage of reading the script before it was made and knew it was a stinker from the moment I read it.It had two things going against it: First, they wanted all of the songs that I want to use for Ziggy Stardust, and from about halfway on, the writing just fell to pieces. It had a fairly interesting start and totally disappeared somewhere. I anticipated it would be a bomb. I also think its location was totally wrong. I think [writer/director Todd Haynes] located it in the early ’80s — unwittingly. I presume that’s when he grew up. Because for me, I was watching Steve Strange and Boy George and the New Romantics, who had by that time, (when they had reinvestigated the idea of Glam) put a certain kind of ennui, a certain kind of sophistication on the thing. It was all very mannequinish, by the time it got to the ’80s. It was all made very well. The stitches didn’t show in the ’80s. In the ’70s it was vulgar, tacky and funny and there was a lot more shopping. They didn’t show that in the movie. It was located in the wrong era. The only entertaining areas for me were the gay things. I think that [Haynes] inherently has an understanding of the gay situation.But the lovely thing that came out of it was a fantastic five-page letter from Michael Stipe who asked me to be involved — which I’ll keep for the rest of my life and is far too personal and adoring for me to reveal, yet. But of course it will go up on the Internet eventually.
Ziggy Stardust

Phoenix: Are you doing a Ziggy film?

Bowie: Yeah, I’m not only doing it (overly ambitious as always), I’m doing it on three platforms. I’m working with people on a film version and I’m working with people on a theater version that’s completely different and I’ll synthesize the two into a huge version of Internet hypertext — where we will find out about Ziggy’s mum and things like that. I want this kind of parallel world with Ziggy on the Internet that stays there as archive forever — like a living organism. But the theater version and the film versions will be completely and utterly different from each other. The stage show will be about the interior values of Ziggy and his contemporaries. It won’t have terribly many characters in it. The film would be the audiences’ perception of who or what Ziggy was. It will be a bigger, grander, more blah, blah. But the three taken together is, I suppose, lazy post-modernism where the same story is told in different ways.

Phoenix: What’s the timeline on that?

Bowie: 2002. It’s scary. It’ll be exactly 30 years by then. I hope we can get one of them out by that time.

Phoenix: While we’re on the subject of film, weren’t you going to do a film with Derek Jarman called Neutron?

Bowie: Neutron, yes, absolutely. I still have the script and Derek’s drawings. It’s so sad that things get left behind. I tend to want to do too much. I want to approach his family at some time to see if we could do something with it. I have his script and his drawings. I even know down to the music how he wanted to do have things done. And it would be lovely posthumously to do his piece. It would be fabulous. A wonderful script — very scary piece of work. How did you know that anyway? Very few people know that.

Phoenix: Well there’s another part of the story I want to ask you about. The guy that I heard it from said that you had left a pack of Marlboro’s at Jarman’s and that word had gotten back to you about your cigarettes being there and you stopped the project because you thought Jarman was practicing sympathetic magic on you.

Thin White Duke

Bowie: No, absolutely not!

Phoenix: Urban legend?

Bowie: God yeah. I would’ve given my arm to work with Jarman. My remembrance of the thing was that, as usual, he couldn’t get the funds to actually make the movie. It had some quite spectacular scenes in it. It did require proper sets. There weren’t existing properties around London. He went back to his set designing ideas for it and came up with these amazing Neo-Fascistic buildings for it. I don’t think that anybody was willing to put up the bread for it.

Phoenix: How does it feel to be considered a “Buy-In” versus “Sell-Out?”

Bowie: I like the phraseology, but I’m not quite sure what you mean.

Phoenix: Bowie as commodity, Bowie as brand.

Bowie: Ah, the branding of David Bowie! Well it’s been done to artists after they’re dead, like Presley Ltd. and selling ashtrays and so forth. It’s definitely a viable option and it’s quite exciting. It’s sort of pioneering and it’s not an acceptable way to go. And that I always find subversive enough. People say; “How can you brand yourself? How disgusting — oooh.” [Gleeful and slightly pervertedly] Yes, I know!

Phoenix: Finally, in Omikron, there’s this theme of transmigration of souls with different characters within the game. And a player can be anyone including Iman, but not you.

Bowie: Yes, that’s right. [More laughter]

Phoenix: How does she feel about that? How do you feel about that?

Bowie: She is a freelancer. You can hire her. She’ll work for anyone… apparently. Well, I quite like that they can’t get inside of me. That was tabled by the French. It’s a French game. A really diplomatic courtesy was extended toward me. They said,[in his best camp French] “but of coorse, nooone can become you. You are David Boweee.” I said, “Yes, you’re absolutely correct.” I’m not lettin’ anybody climb inside of me.Originally Published gettingit.com

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