Sunday, March 24, 2013

Shelf Nunny - The World Around Me

Last spring I featured Santa Cruz-based producer/musician Shelf Nunny aka Christian Gunning, who almost a year later approached me with some new music he had released. I have to admit that when listening to his latest album The World Around Me, it left a question mark on my face. Luckily not in a bad way- I was just simply stunned as it felt like there was a completely different artist conversing with me. The music or at least the opening tracks were not how I remembered Gunning. Of course I could hear similar beats, as well as the rapping I got to know him for on the newest one, but as Gunning would confess The World Around Me is more of an album for himself as opposed to the debut being a party album for selected fan groups. It also happens, like most of us know it, that when you create something in order to please no one else but yourself, you create something way more unique and magical.

This is what happened with The World Around Me.

The process behind the album, in general, was to have a completely different approach than with the debut. Gunning wanted personally to make all the beats himself and threw in a decent amount of pure instrumentals too. In addition to the rapping skills, he managed to prove he can sing as well with cooled out hip hop ballads like My World and New Life. The conclusion I could draw of this is that the sophomore is basically a showcase of Gunning’s versatile talent. “I guess this album had a lot of me personally needing to prove to myself things I needed to prove […] Maybe there was some subconscious doubt going on, and this album was as Jay would put it, a musical way of "brushing the dirt off my shoulders".

Gunning had been on a mellow sleepy chillstep vibe, which he’s kept through the whole album. Although, a month into the progress of the album, he got together with his soon-to-be fiancĂ©e, who displayed him a fair amount of dubstep she was into, unlike Gunning himself. However, he did produce a heavier tune Pretty Wobbles as a jokey ode to the more melodic and mellower dubstep tunes, which he ended up liking. Obviously, it wasn’t too hard to notice that the new-found love had inspired him in more ways.

It's cheesy to say, but I somehow, some way, ended up falling in love with her and feeling all these romantic emotions about her that often make me seem like a housewife but hey- if that's all I've got to complain about, I think I'm doing pretty good. These cheesy emotions I was/still am feeling are what inspired the lyrics to the song My World. And there's plenty of other ways that I don't feel comfortable talking about :].

While talking with Gunning, a mutual interest was discovered- love for the late indie rocker Elliott Smith. In fact, for my absolute delight, one of my favorite tracks of the album ??????'s  was created around a loop of Smith’s Angeles song. Actually, when it comes to sampling, Gunning is fond of making them sound as different from the original. With straight loops, on the other hand, he says “[…] I've tried to stay away from doing that because people can sue you and stuff if they want. Plus you can't really sell shit if you're sampling someone. I mean you can, but I'm just paranoid and would rather stick with the method I've got so far”.

Another album favorite of mine Grand Theft Audio reminded me of a Timbaland- produced Aaliyah track, so I had to know about the amazing tune’s background.

Oh G.T.A. G.T.A G.T.A it's funny that it reminded you of Timbaland and Aaliyah, cause those are both two godly names to be compared to. But I actually didn't sample Timbaland or Aaliyah in this one. I used a sample of this Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey song called I Know What You Want. I stretched the sample out nearly twice as long as it originally was and did some tricky computer things like filtered it and reversed it at parts. But if you listen to the original song, and then listen to mine, you'll be able to hear the part I sampled. But thanks for the Timbaland and Aaliyah comparison! That's a first!

Even if it’s been only a short while since The World Around Me was released, Gunning has already started to feel nostalgic.

I'd have to say this is probably the most special album I've ever made- in my mind. Each and every track on the album is sentimental to me in its own way. It will be interesting to see where my new album goes, and where my direction of style and genre ends up, but who knows! All I can say is, I plan to be doing a lot more vocals on the new album, and I plan on having them be as fresh as a polar bear's toenails, and that's a promise ;)

I can definitely see how Gunning has grown from his debut, which he’s continued without a doubt even more after the second release. How exactly? Well, I'm sure that his biggest fan, "Grandma Nunny", will be the first to find out.

The only other thing I'd like to share is that Jaleh has a very nice blog she's running here, and I owe her one for all her help. This was a fun little review and hopefully there will be more to come. - Shelf Nunny

You bet.

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