Five Killer Chuck D Collaborations

Chuck DThat Public Enemy are The Beatles of Hip-Hop is given, that Chuck D is the Godfather likewise. But there’s always been another level with Chuck and PE; not only have they always been a band apart from the scene, but also the one rap group capable of crossing genre boundaries, as proven on recent tours with The Cult and Prodigy. It’s no surprise that despite being in their fifties and with thirty plus years, count em, of career, they are still raging and delivering quality work; last year’s ‘Man Plans God Laughs’ being all killer, while the soundtrack to ‘Live from Metropolis’ proved they are still a cut above the rest on stage.

Neither Public Enemy nor Chuck D could be described as subtle, they have a point to get across and do so forcefully, the politically charged subject matter of their lyrics more suited to the direct approach. For in your face delivery of barbed social commentary and raw power, Chuck’s booming baritone is unmatchable, his distinctively resonant voice setting him out as one of the most unmistakeable MCs of our time. It´s testament to his talent and Public Enemy’s standing that outside of the band Chuck has contributed to a number of collaborations in genres as diverse as Folk and Heavy Metal, check them out below…

Cutting Heads with John Mellencamp
When folk singer Mellencamp wrote a song about his irritation at rappers using the “N” word in their songs, he needed a black voice and there was really only man he could call – ” I thought coming from me alone, it would be obtuse. But Chuck is the conscience of the whole black community. He was the only choice to do this song with me, because he’s the only guy that never participated in it, always kept his integrity and his wits about him.” Bluesy folk with a southern groove and a laid back rap from Mr D.

New Agenda with Janet Jackson
When Jackson took full artistic control of her career and made her phenomenally successful fifth album ‘Janet’, Chuck was the man to provide a hard edged counterbalance to JJ’s pop stylings. (Not so) Surprisingly, the black-pride anthem is a fine slice of slick pop music with a little added depth – tune.

Your Reality’s a Fantasy But Your Fantasy Is Killing Me with Boom Boom Satellites
The big beat jazz punk of this Japanese duo makes for interesting listening and this extremely likeable track features a stellar vocal performance from Chuck.

Survival a.k.a. Black Survivors with Bob Marley
‘Chant Down Babylon’ is an absolutely superb remix album of Bob Marley‘s music featuring a number of contributions from the likes of Lauren Hill, Busta Rhymes and of course Chuck D. There’s a short rough and ready rap from the Public Enemy frontman as well as spoken contributions. Great album, well worth checking out.

Bring The Noise with Anthrax
This is without doubt the ultimate rap metal crossover collaboration and back then speed metal with rapping on it was pioneering stuff – damn, even Scott Ian contributes a verse. Quality. Check out the all star on stage mosh on this version.

http://www.publicenemy.com/
https://twitter.com/mrchuckd
https://www.facebook.com/MrChuckD
http://www.rapstation.comthen

Advertisements

So Pitted – Neo Review

SoPitted_R4_DraftsSince Nirvana’s game changing mega stardom redefined alternative as the mainstream, most guitar based music has become somewhat stylised and, even in its most intense forms, there’s often more than the vaguest whiff of formula following. So, it is disconcertingly uncomfortable, but a welcome challenge, to happen across such an imperfect listen as the bruising So Pitted.

This quirky three piece from Seattle, who bonded over a love of mainstream alternative, are a loose combination of self taught musicians who swap instruments, take turns singing, play guitars through bass amps and basically flout all conventions to cook up an invigorating slice of sludgy rage. There’s an air of paranoia and disquiet to the band’s aesthetic that is captured in the angular rhythms and fuzzy guitars; ‘Neo’ boasting eleven powerful bursts of feedback fueled slop in the finest traditions of Sub Pop.

Album opener ‘Cat Scratch’ is all dirty disjointed riffing, clattering rhythms and drawled vocals, kinda like a hyper raw Mudhoney. ‘Pay Attention To Me’ is more urgent and is one of the more instant tracks, with just the vaguest hint of a hook, as the rudimentary bass line hurries along beneath the guitar slaughter. The jarring close to the track leads perfectly into the alarming riff of ‘Woe’ whose feedback tinged guitar lines are cutting and stark in compliment to the simplistic insistence of the vocal pattern, it’s horribly brilliant. This mechanical vocal technique appears on a few tracks, like the disjointed ‘Get Out of My Room’, which turns the intensity up to eleven, and the sinister ‘Feed Me’ with its waves of feedback tinged guitar bashing that wash over the listener.

‘Holding the Void’ has an angry urgency about it and a more indie feel to the guitars, though once again there’s some melody fighting for room in the ripping vocal. This is actually quite a versatile band and there are a number of influences on display, for instance, ‘No Nuke Country’ has a slight punky feel to its swirling rhythms and pounding riffage, while ‘The Sickness’ is very college radio with its the drawled vocal over the uptempo grungy thrashing.

To be honest, there’s not a bad track on Neo, everything works within the context, but it’s an intense listen with plenty of anger on display; ‘I’m Not Over It’ boasting heavy repetitive riffing and offering a rage filled vocal battering. ‘Rot In Hell’ is similarly upset as the throbbing hypnotic bass underscores the histrionic guitar lines. ‘Chop Down That Tree’ brings the album to a fitting end with two minutes of attacking riffs, attacking drums and attacking vocals that combine everything the band has to offer in a resounding finale.

Ok, So Pitted won’t be winning any awards for intricate technique or refined musicianship, but that is so not the point; what you get here is an intense display of noise filled abandon on these eleven cuts of raw emotion, which is precisely what good art should be about. Killer.
9/10

You can purchase Neo in various formats right here:
https://sopitted.bandcamp.com/

Postcards From Glasgow

When people think of vibrant music scenes in the UK, London aside, the focus inevitably falls on Manchester and other big English cities like Liverpool, Birmingham and Sheffield. However, back at the beginning of the 1980s a post punk movement sprang up around Alan Horne, Orange Juice and Postcard Records that would have far reaching impact, the echoes of which continue to resonate in the industry today.

The Glasgow punk scene, graced by the likes of The Sick and The Vomit, was late burgeoning and, as a result, ugly and violent. So when Alan Horne the editor of fanzine ‘Swankers’, met Edwyn Collins to strike up an alliance in the form of Postcard Records and what would later become Orange Juice, their intentions couldn’t have been further removed. Collins, and bandmates Steven Daly and James Kirk, were united by a love of way more sophisticated music like Bowie and Velvet Underground; so when The Clash rolled into town with The Slits, The Buzzcocks and Subway Sect in tow, it was the intricate guitar pop anchoring the punk ethic of the Television influenced Subways that caught the eye.

Having settled on a sound that was the very antithesis of the raging punk that preceded them, Orange Juice put out their first single, ‘Falling and Laughing, on Postcard in February 1980 and a legacy was born. A flurry of releases followed from Josef K, who originated from the similarly vibrant Edinburgh scene, The Go-Betweens and the Roddy Frame vehicle, Aztec Camera.

Roddy’s prodigious talent would, however, soon depart in favour of the London based Rough Trade, with whom Horne’s relationship was one of mistrust and antagonism after owner Geoff Travis, had failed to see the attraction in Orange Juice’s second single ‘Blue Boy’. This friction with the store/label/distributor, and more specifically Geoff, was symptomatic of Alan’s confrontational personality, as well as his laissez-faire attitude to business, and by the summer of 1981, just over a year since the first release, a series of bad decisions had caused the fledgling label to implode.

Nevertheless, in his short tenure at the helm of a label, Horne had succeeded in providing the spark for “The Sound of Young Scotland”, a sound born from the guitar based pop melodies of Orange Juice that would inspire a new generation of talent to follow suit. Altered Images, The Bluebells, Paul Quinn vehicles like The Jazzateers and Bourgie Bourgie, as well as Del Amitri and The Lone Wolves were all making waves by the time Horne had decided to join his Orange Juice friends in the capital.

Now in charge of Swamplands, for major label London Records, little changed for Alan, releasing very little and making more enemies than friends, yet his influence continued to pervade. Orange Juice, now signed to Polydor, finally crashed the top 10 in 1983 with the classic ‘Rip It Up, while James Kirk and Edwin Collins also got together with Alan’s starlet, Paul Quinn, to record a sublime version of Velvet Underground‘s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’, which was one of the few releases on Swamplands.

In the meantime, more sophisticated guitar pop was coming out of the Glasgow scene in the form of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, whose debut single ‘Perfect Skin’ would break the top forty, as would most of their future singles, embellishing their name indelibly on the 1980s.

Although Horne’s spell at Swamplands would ultimately prove unsuccessful, the movement inspired by himself and Orange Juice would continue to gather pace with the likes of
Strawberry Switchblade, The Pastels and Nick Currie, of The Happy Family and later Momus, all having varying degrees of success. More importantly, the jangly guitars and intelligent heartfelt lyrics that had defined the scene provided the roots for what was to come; the feedback fueled indie pop of The Jesus and Mary Chain, who had a string of top forty singles and albums, and the massive Primal Scream, formed by the charismatic Bobby Gillespie, who had also played drums on the J&MC debut ‘Psychocandy’.

The rich strain of talent that was uncovered around Glasgow as a result of Horne and Collins’ influence made up a substantial part of the landscape of popular music during the 1980s. The Postcard/Orange Juice combination had provided not only the template, but the impetus behind multiple bands to appear in the 1980s and beyond, spawning a succession of successful and influential records. The impact of that music on the generation of listeners and subsequent generations of musicians cannot be underestimated as it continues to resonate in the music of today; one listen to the likes of Tame Impala or Wild Nothing and you can hear it; sophisticated lyrics, intricate guitar melodies underpinned by synthesizers and a slightly downbeat vibe, it’s all there; kudos to Alan, Edwyn and the “Sound of Young Scotland”.

Streamtime

8-ways-streaming
The apparent liberty and misguided feeling of anonymity afforded by the internet have led to a shift in cultural paradigms. After a few years of dial up connections and getting excited when you received an email or managed to penetrate the ads and access the monumental porn database, broadband and 3G eventually woke us up to the potential of this international network of computers and legitimized our God given right to steal music.

“But file sharing’s not stealing – it’s like making a tape of your mate’s CD” I hear you cry, and to an extent you have an argument, but when we were younger and we made tapes this was often a way to get into something new we would later acquire, not quite the same thing as torrenting the entire back catalogue of your favourite artist now is it?

By necessity our music tastes were much more tribal than today because our access was oh so limited, so we tended to stick to what we knew we liked, and tape swapping was a way of broadening horizons and getting to know different bands or genres, albeit constrained by the limitations of the format; I miss tapes. Nowadays, the entire scenario is different – we basically have access to everything and listen to everything – now it’s actually kinda cool to have guilty pleasures or varied tastes.

This wide ranging access afforded by the internet has led to the rise of streaming; and now you can stream pretty much anything from books through to porn. We are the immediate generation, transcending “On Demand” to “Right Fucking Now”; patience is no longer just a virtue, it’s a rare commodity as scarce as likeable politicians. Attention spans are equally hard to come by, so streaming is the perfect solution, if we don’t get instant gratification we can bin it and move on, no need to invest time or money in something not instantly likeable, unless of course you like a challenge. As far as music goes, on the surface at least, the enormity of the available catalogues on streaming services is proving a raging success and is the latest chapter of the ever changing story board that is the music industry, so what’s going on and why is it the future?

Streaming services first became viable as a result of governmental concessions granting certain liberties in regard to royalty payments. In a nutshell, so as to facilitate their growth, they were given the possibility of paying lower rates than radio or tv or from physical sales; so called digital performance royalties. Basically, the record companies and independent artists license out their catalogues to digital services through aggregators like Nimbit, TuneCore or CD Baby and the royalties are then collected and distributed through Sound Exchange, with artists recouping as little as half a cent per stream. i.e You’d need 20 thousand streams to make 100 bucks, which when compared to standard royalty rates of 9.1 cents essentially equates to slave labour – in no other industry would this be acceptable.

Now that streaming is so well established maybe it’s time for a rethink on this, especially now that it counts towards sales figures and chart positions. This move is probably part of a grander plan from the conglomerates, a kind of first step towards the much more lucrative mechanical royalties, as paid on physical sales and downloads. In the meantime, at least the digital platforms provide another way to discover an artist, so there is a bit of shop window factor in return for musicians not really making any meaningful cash from their music.

Right now there are a number of players offering a variety of streaming type services, from the ubiquitous “freemium” service of
Spotify, through the dominant online radio of Pandora, which is also set to join the on-demand market using its powerful brand as leverage, to the totally paid services like Rhapsody or Napster. There are even ad-supported platforms like the extremely attractive Guvera, which is only available in about 20 countries, but set to expand. And lets not forget the tech giants like Apple and Google pimping their services to their already cornered markets.

As a dedicated non-Appler (I like thinking for myself), I know very little about Apple Music, though must admit to wishing I could access the Beats Radio programming, which I’m sure is illicitly available somewhere on the interweb. However, I find the whole Apple domination thing a little sinister – personally I like choice, flexibility and competition; running apple services on exclusively apple platforms is a little monopolistic for my taste.

Spotify is obviously the most universal entry point to the streaming market, with over 75 million users, about 20 million of whom pay for the service and provide 91% of the company’s revenue, the other 9% coming from the ads supporting the free service. In other words, one person pays for certain privileges so another 3 or 4 can enjoy the free service, hmmm. Their model is somewhat controversial as a result of the royalties thing, but from the customer’s point of view it’s an attractive option, whether you listen to their 30 million plus catalogue for free with limitations or subscribe and take advantage of being able to save albums and playlists to your devices – regardless of its brand. Personally, I prefer Deezer which offers a similar service, but their interface is not only much more attractive, but also way more user friendly – for instance you don’t need to save an album first to download it after, as well as navigation also being easier, with less polluted results.

Whatever service one uses, the whole concept of streaming has raised some interesting issues, besides artist royalties. Primarily, having such an enormous catalogue at your fingertips is incredible yet overwhelming. The realization that you can now listen to absolutely anything you want whenever you want is liberating to say the least – I’ve rediscovered old classics, got back into artists I’d forgotten I liked, checked out new releases, been recommended cool bands I’d never heard of and revisited stuff I have on vinyl but haven’t been able to play for years (when you have a young child spending money on decks is not a priority!), all without illegally downloading a thing. Personally I like not committing a crime to listen to music.

However, the limitlessness of it is kinda scary, having pretty much everything at the touch of a screen has made me think about whether or not I really need a record/CD/tape/digital file collection and to be honest that’s not a comfortable thought; as well as not getting decent Christmas presents it would be just plain weird – what would I play in the car? Imagine never studying the beautiful artwork on an album sleeve, or never reading an inlay again, or never holding the physical product! As (The Great) Chuck D says, streaming’s a fools paradise, you are basically renting music, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but a world without physical ownership of music is not a world in which I wish to live. The downloading generation are sure to super overvalue our record collections come the digital backlash. Also, can you really conceive of paying a monthly fee for the rest of your days? Again, limitlessness =scary!

Even so, the benefits of streaming are attractive, I love the “I haven’t heard it for ages” factor, I love having legal access to an album I’m curious about, and, as a subscriber, I love being able to save to my phone. And therein lies the rub. Here in Brazil, Deezer and Spotify are an easily accessible R$14:90 which in dollars is only $3:75 and comes in R$5 cheaper than Netflix over here; pretty good value huh? Especially when you consider that streaming services tend to cost around $10, £10 or €10 depending on where you are. Ten bucks would be a cool forty reais out here, twice the price of Brazilian Netflix.


Interesting discussion surrounding the issue from Consequence of Sound

Another interesting consequence of streaming is that when you search for an artist, although you get the most popular tracks you also get the discography organized by album. As such, if you are a subscriber and wish to save something to a device, the easiest way is to download the album, unless someone has already made the definitive playlist of course, as picking and choosing tracks is not only time consuming but impractical. Therefore, unless you’re a compulsive track skipper, chances are albums are getting listened to as complete works once again; in my view this is a positive thing.

Right now, the majority of users prefer the free services that are available, the challenge for the platforms is getting people to subscribe – Tidal, Deezer and Rhapsody have used a variety of techniques with varying degrees of success, Spotify’s model having had the best results thus far. It seems that people are still uncomfortable with paying for music – strange mentality if you really think about it – I mean you wouldn’t steal a book from a book shop would you? But then again, why pay to join a library?

The future, I believe, would be to make the subscription service more attractive, Spotify are already under artist pressure to do this, but keep the cost affordably low so as to increase the number of users. Basically, the free service, if you are listening on a PC with broadband or a Laptop on Wi-Fi is every bit as good as it is for subscribers; free users only really lose out on mobile devices, because as well as eating up their data quota they only get shuffle play, besides the annoying ads. So how about more ads and less flexibility on PCs and Laptops? How about exclusive content for subscribers? Make the free service less desirable, then with a higher subscription rate maybe royalties would be less laughable.

Whatever way you look at it and however you prefer listening to music, streaming services are here to stay and record companies see them as part of a coming golden age in the music industry. The big labels are already preparing for the possibility of ubiquitous Wi-Fi and super fast internet connections; and when I say super fast I mean beyond what you can imagine, thousands of times faster than today’s broadband speeds and instant access wherever you are. The information super highway is set to go supernova in the next few years and the labels are already working out how to make money from people being able to access music with such facility.

So, like it or not, subscription streaming is the future and, with any luck, the kind of money this is likely to generate may well be just the shot in the arm the industry needs; if, and it’s a big if, that money filters down to artist development and to the independent labels. After all, that the internet is a hotbed of creativity is a given, the indie/alternative/ punk scenes, fuelled by alternative streaming services like SoundCloud and artist friendly hubs like Bandcamp is thriving and is an enormous market in itself. However, too much talent falls by the wayside, as sustaining an upcoming band is quite simply not a financially viable proposition under current circumstances, but with greater investment at grass roots levels and more exciting young talent breaking through, maybe something like a Guns n Roses reunion won’t seem like such an exciting idea.

What’s Hot In My House – February

With Carnaval and the accompanying break – damn the Brazilian government for making us have more time off work – I have had more family time and less music time than usual. Even so, I have managed to squeeze in some quality listening during the hours of endless relaxation and sun soaked ennui, albeit somewhat restricted to stuff I’m writing about for one reason or another. David Bowie has obviously continued to feature quite heavily, ‘Blackstar’ not being an album you can get to the bottom of in a couple of listens, but have also discovered some lovely new music besides revisiting some old favourites. I’m actually putting together a Hard Pressed mixtape/playlist of lesser known artists that I have featured here on the site, so the likes of Luna Sol, Haybaby and Blind Wives have all been getting a spin, along with a remix of Tairrie B. by Nina Mediatrix, who was gracious enough to grant me an interview a couple of weeks back that is well worth a read. Inescapably though, it is stuff I’ve been reviewing, or had thought about reviewing but just couldn’t find the words for, that has been most dominant; so here’s what’s been titillating my eardrums over the last month or so.

MONEY – Suicide Songs
I really wanted to review this stunning album by the British indie trio, but just couldn’t seem to do it justice. It is beautiful, hypnotic, uplifting and melancholic in equal measure and makes for an elegant, yet emotionally brutal record of poetically crafted songs worth languishing in for a while. Treat yourself to some catharsis, you know you need it.

Two songs which featured in stuff I reviewed last month, and were two of the first tracks that I earmarked for Mixtape Vol.1, are ‘Scars’ by Danish power trio Forever Still and the wonderfully titled ‘Placebo Button’ from the Italian grunge rockers Noam Bleen. The former is a powerful blast of fresh sounding heavy rock with an epic emotional chorus and a cracking vocal from front woman Maja Shining. Noam Bleen, meanwhile, offer up an intricate slice of 90s tinged alternative rock that shows off the band’s love of heavy tube distortion, but also finds them exploring their melodic side with a fine instrumental section; promising stuff from both bands.

The Cult – Hidden City
Isn’t it gratifying when your favourite band come back to top form and produce their most interesting record in over twenty years? What a pleasant surprise this album has turned out to be, there are a lot of really good moments and the quality is high throughout. The Cult maintain their signature sound, that tambourine is shaking away beneath the surface, but they also really explore creatively. Sure, Billy Duffy is on fire and there are riffs a plenty, but Ian Astbury also delivers some emotionally raw vocals and the songs are some of the most stylistically diverse of their career. Killer record.

The Cult – Hidden City Review

The-Cult-Hidden-CityThe prospect of a new record from my favourite band can be a worrying prospect, because as much as I love The Cult, I am the first to admit that they don’t always hit the spot. Not that they make bad records, just that some material, despite its apparent quality, has left me cold – ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ being prime example. “Hallelujah” and “Praise the Lord” then for ‘Hidden City’, the follow up to 2012’s largely quality effort ‘Choice of Weapon’.

There must be something in the air, because like so many of their rock peers that have stayed the course, there seems to be a feeling of reinvigoration about Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy that has enthused the album with a dynamic reminiscent of their glory days. Maybe it’s down to the difficult times in which we live or as a reaction to the puerile aspects of social media that have so invaded everyday life, who knows? Suffice to say that many bands that have been going through the motions for so many years are now turning out work that stands up alongside their best – The Cult included.

‘Dark Energy’ is a no nonsense starter; it doesn’t get more basic than this, the upbeat drumming and straightforward insistent riffing, as Astbury comes into his own vocally, are meat and potatoes, but sure taste good. ‘No Love Lost’ then starts out with a slow burning riff that suddenly bursts into life, rocking in classic cult fashion – killer hook, killer track.

This is one of the most varied Cult records I have ever heard. We get dark atmospheric numbers, like the classy ‘In Blood’, its piano melody, light orchestration and brooding guitars underpinning a powerful song with a wonderful arrangement. In contrast there’s a track like ‘G O A T’, Greatest Of All Time, which is a down n dirty rocker that gives Billy Duffy the chance to let rip – man this record is rocking.

There are one or two tracks like ‘Dance The Night’ and ‘Avalanche Of Light’ which are fairly disposable, but their upbeat pop/rock is pleasant enough. Their blandness is more than compensated by the last two pre-release teasers. ‘Hinterland’ has that classic cult feel to the rhythm, and what a hook! It is stylishly executed rock with an up-to-date feel, great track – The Cult are on fire – especially Billy Duffy with a superb variety of guitar sounds, both to the riffs and in the soloing. ‘Deeply Ordered Chaos’ written in reaction to the Charlie Hebdo shootings, is similarly high quality, this tale of Euro empathy slow boiling in brooding fashion, with touches of orchestration adding drama beneath the clashing guitar sound as Astbury’s familiar baritone croons “I’m a European, blood for holy water/I’m a European Africa my mother”. Duffy is on top form with some lovely touches on lingering notes in the solo as the track gathers urgency on the highly charged finale.

Even so, there are still more high points on ‘Hidden City’, the synth fueled ‘Birds of Paradise’ featuring one of the most heartfelt vocal performances I’ve ever heard from Ian, while ‘Lilies’ is an unexpected gem with its touches of Spanish guitar; it’s totally different to what you might expect, but sounds fresh and highly accomplished. There is even more surprise on closing track ‘Sound and Fury’ which is an intense piano croon with a theatrical feel that rambles to an enigmatic close; inspired.

This is surely one of the most artistically diverse Cult albums; there’s a fearless edge here that has added a freshness to their sound and it’s great to see such a fine band pushing their creative boundaries on what is their tenth studio album. Bravo!

9/10

http://thecult.us/HIDDEN_CITY/

Nina Mediatrix – Interview

“She was already a mediatrix for all who were seeking the fullness of joy. She had never been just a spectator, but a full participant willingly involving herself in the needs of others.”

nmediatrixMake no bones about it, Nina Mediatrix, a.k.a Mediatrix Music, is cool. After an incredible response of over 80,000 views on You Tube to 2015’s ‘Maybe Mediatrix’ bootleg remix of Björk‘s ‘Lionsong’, the London based twenty something gained a certain kudos, which has only served to enhance the reputation of the producer/DJ/artist, building on previous mixes of the likes of Zhala in the guise of Nina The First. She has since gone on to work with other musicians as diverse as My Ruin vocalist Tairrie B., contributing to her recent rap project, Paleface Junkies and indie pop hipsters Faded Paper Figures, as well as releasing a single, ‘Summer Saga’, in her own right.

Nina has quietly built an enviable portfolio of work and with a host of other projects in the pipeline, such as ‘The Cassette Project’, it is fair to say the future looks bright for this hard working innovator. Moreover, given that women in music already have a difficult enough time getting taken as seriously as they deserve, being on the production side, where “male dominated” would be an immense understatement, makes Nina’s credentials even more admirable.

Anyway, I recently caught up with Nina on Twitter and put a few questions to her about her career, collaborations and the difficulties women face in the music business; here’s what she had to say…

Last year’s bootleg remix of Björk’s ‘Lionsong’ helped establish your credentials as a producer, but given that you are also putting out your own music, how do you see yourself – Producer? DJ? Artist?
I’m a remixer, producer and songwriter, but whenever I meet a new person and I’m asked that question I always answer “a musician”- I think this label really covers all of it!

Was/Is your music career planned out?
I’ve always been the kind of person to make lists and vision boards so I can be clear about what I need to do and I do like to be organised. Of course I certainly have goals for things that I want to achieve in the next few years, but I wouldn’t say it’s planned as in a military operation.

How difficult has it been and has your gender made it even more complicated?
Well my producer name is ‘Mediatrix Music’, or if I’m doing a remix ‘Mediatrix Remix’, so as a name it is non gender specific, so I think that the majority of people who hear my music at this stage won’t be approaching it from the angle of “I’m listening to something that a woman produced/remixed”. But the response I’ve had so far to my music has been positive and actually looking at my youtube stats (and I don’t know how accurate these really are), more men listen to my music on youtube than women so… make of that what you will.

So, how hard is it for women to be taken seriously? Is it even harder on the production side of things? – personally I can’t think of one female producer (except you!) which is unreal!
I’m going to quote Björk on this. She summed up the situation in an interview: “You’re not just imagining things. It’s tough. Everything that a guy says once, you have to say five times.” So..if a woman as accomplished and successful as Björk is saying that then it is certainly something to think about and remember. Personally, I think that I was lucky in that when I started producing and remixing the people that I was working alongside at the time were very supportive and respectful so I had a positive experience early on. If they had not been so great, maybe it would have discouraged me- because faith and confidence can be really fragile things especially when you’re starting something new- I like to think that it wouldn’t and I’d find my way, but I appreciate that it can be tough.

Also, off the top of my head, two great examples of female producers!- Linda Perry and Grimes. I think there’s a lot more people getting into production generally because technology has really opened up this aspect of the industry and I think a lot of writers and artists are enjoying producing and seeing the possibilities that go with it. I think we’ll eventually see a lot more women moving into this area – I hope so.

You’ve had some interesting collaborations of late with the likes of Tairrie B, Pale Faced Junkies and Faded Paper Figures – how did these come about?
Long story short, I’ve been a fan of Tairrie’s for a long time and I had done an interview last year where I listed her as one of my top women in music; so I think initially we connected on Twitter through that. When I had heard Vintage Curses I loved it and approached Tairrie about remixing for her, and it was exciting because I hadn’t really listened to her early 90s rap music, I was a My Ruin fan, so it was very cool to be able to rediscover and enjoy her work in a completely different genre. After producing my first remix for her which was for the ‘Wicked Witch Of The West Coast’ track Tairrie invited me back to do another for ‘Sky Above City Below’ and then after she had released the video for BTCHCRVFT, she reminded me that it was the track I had initially approached her to remix, so I’ve just finished producing that! So we’ve kind of gone full circle which is quite witchy and mystical- very Vintage Curses!

The Paleface Junkies collaboration was connected to my work with Tairrie, as Kid Vibe from Paleface Junkies had done an excellent remix for her first single ‘Beware The Crone’ and at the end of last year he got in touch with me about remixing his own song ‘Heated Up’, which also features Liquor Store Bandits. I had already checked out his work and I loved his Golden Era/old school vibe, so was happy to do it and I think the remix is a cool switch up. Faded Paper Figures and I had connected through Twitter but as their music has been played on Greys Anatomy I had probably heard their stuff before, as I’m a big fan of that show! The track I remixed is ‘Hear Me Out’ with the original song being from their most recent EP ‘Remnants’.

There is quite a depth to your remixes, with a number of influences from different genres, as well as an Old Skool feel – are you a bit of a music geek?
Probably. I listen to every genre under the sun, you know if I like it, I’m not really worried about whether it’s cool or what it ‘says’ about me as a person. I don’t believe in musical snobbery. Also I’m a pianist and I think piano is quite a geeky instrument- it’s not guitar or drums is it? But i also think it’s the best instrument to have training in if you’re going to want to write for other instruments, because you can easily mimic their behaviour and sound, particularly with keyboards and software tones. I’m not saying it’s better than getting real musicians in, but you have the option if you’re writing or producing.

How do you approach a remix, do you immediately know what you want to do?
It’s probably not the most satisfactory answer but every track is different! Often when I hear the original version of a track I will get some ideas and may start working those as a starting point. Occasionally an early idea can form the backbone of a remix and be expanded upon, but then sometimes the finished track is completely different to my original plan. It’s trial and error and both technical and instinctive. Also, I want to consider the artist that I’m producing for and who the artist’s fan base is – I’m trying to create music which I love and that I hope the artist and their fans will also love.

Who are your musical heroes and biggest influences?
Too many to mention! But saying that I will copy paste what I put on my Facebook page: Michael Jackson, Björk, Cheiron Studio, Denniz PoP, Motown, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Quincy Jones, NIN, Darkchild, Timbaland, Tairrie B, Tracey Emin, Robyn, Salvador Dali, Orbital, Madonna, Chopin, Beethoven, Nora Tate, Stock Aitken Waterman, Danja, The Prodigy, 808s, Chords, Orchestra Hits, Pitch Bends. God. Endless…

Given the ever changing dynamic of the music industry, is it possible to make a living, or do you need a day job?
I actually think the shift is overall positive. I think certain aspects of the changes happening may put off the kind of person who is attracted to music solely for reasons like instant fame and riches or whatever. But for most of the people I know in music, they’re in it because of an incredible passion for it and they see it as a vocation, more than a job. Obviously people need to make a living, but this is what the whole indie movement is about at the moment because this is really the first generation that have the opportunity to completely reshape how things are done and ways of monetising are changing. I’m hoping for a renaissance period. Imagine in the future if we had a situation where if a kid says “I want to be musician/artist/producer” – people actually take it seriously, rather than discouraging the child, and see it as a viable profession and something concrete – not necessarily chasing mega bucks, but a job like an artisan, earning your living through your craft and skill.

Also I’m grateful for the technology that we have in terms of connectivity and being able to share your work. It’s great for collaborating – the people you want to work with and the people that you want to hear your work, whether artists or producers – these people are far more accessible – that doesn’t mean that they’re going to say yes to working with you (!), but you have the opportunity to make contact and get your music heard in a way that was previously difficult.

Plans for the future?
Hopefully continuing to work with people that inspire me and those with similar musical visions. I’ve got lots of remix projects coming up over the next few months and I’ll be releasing an EP as well this year. The working title is ‘The Cassette Project’ and it’ll be available digitally from iTunes, Tidal, Spotify etc, but also I’ll be doing a limited edition run in cassette format. It’s going to be a cool nostalgia trip with some very 90s influences and hopefully something fun for those that didn’t get to experience the joy of cassettes (and the 90s) the first time round. It’s also a cool way to amalgamate the Mediatrix Music sound. I work with lots of different genres, and most of what I’ve created so far has been totally different from track to track, so I think this is a good way for people that are interested to hear more of what I’m about as musician.

Many thanks to Nina for taking the time to give such thoughtful and thorough answers.
For more on Mediatrix check out: http://www.mediatrixmusic.com and here are links for free downloads of Mediatrix remixes of Tairrie B.: https://tairrieb.bandcamp.com/track/sky-above-city-below-mediatrix-remix
https://tairrieb.bandcamp.com/track/wicked-witch-of-the-west-coast-mediatrix-remix

MEDIATRIX+MUSIC+WEB+LOGO