Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Feature: Safari Al

Rap isn't good when you're rapping about pimps and hoes. Rap isn't good when you're rapping about cheesy stuff like world peace. Rap isn't good when you're rapping about feeling sorry for yourself or how good you are (what happened to you, Kanye? :().

So, is there any good rap in the world? Yup, and that's called Safari Al.

Not only are the lyrics something you can listen to without getting annoyed, but also the beats and melodies are brilliant! So is the art work.

More facts about Safari Al aka Alexander Kollman in the artist's own words:

  • 21 yr old going to engineering school in milwaukee, wi. i write songs to help stave a sincere sadness that comes from straddling either side of a venn-diagram.

Let the music speak for itself now.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Elliott Smith Full Moon Tribute

Yesterday marked 10 years since my favorite artist Elliott Smith died. I wanted to do something special to honor him, and I was lucky enough to get two heart-warming, amazing musicians to not only cover a song of his, but to make their own art cover for the track. Can't give enough credit for these two, as I love when genres are mixed and really appreciate when someone makes a song their own.

So, big thank you to Audra and Christopher for using their time to make a fan's request come true. Also, a special thank you to Droid Daughter for mastering the tunes.

I had a hard time coming up with the name, but yesterday when I was walking home I noticed it was a full moon, and remembered reading that Elliott liked the moon. It's been a decade, but I must say that the timing was perfect.

Hope you enjoy the covers and art work as much as I do.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Feature Special: Elliott Smith

This one time listening to my favorite record label's Spotify list, I came across with a song called Roman Candle. It captivated me from the first second until the very end. That song changed it all.

I remember sharing the first few songs I listened from him to my friend, who after the second time asked: "What's this Elliott Smith thing you got going on now?"

After two years I still can't say what hit me. Obviously, he was a talented artist and had the most angelic voice, but I guess it's the emotional factor. Elliott's debut album was there to accompany me when I had left many dear friends and a dear place. Misery loves company, they say.

Each new song I heard, I was like wow. It didn't take too much time for me to think that this guy was actually better than Bon Iver and Iron & Wine, the two other singer-songwriters I love a lot. And that is a lot said. A lot.

I wont' be listing any facts about Elliott, Wikipedia is for that. This is more of trying to explain why I like his music so much. As you can read it's not that easy- not everything can be everyone's cup of tea, which is what I said to a friend who didn't get Elliott's music. Yet, in my mind I was thinking "dude, how can you NOT GET IT?".

Last autumn when I spent my days writing my thesis I placed six of his albums in our CD player, so I'd have suitable music in the background playing repeatedly. You could just hear how the music had developed from album to next. It had developed in a way that it took me until this summer to hear all the beauty the latter records had to offer. Man, his skills.

At the moment I'm reading a book by Autumn de Wilde (who directed the video above), a famous rock photographer and a friend of Elliott. The book has all the pictures used in the video and many interviews with people close to the artist. It's funny how we often make assumptions of people we don't know at all! Or in this case no assumption at all, but still to get to know more about his personality makes his music even more worth-while. The book makes you laugh and cry. Sometimes at the same time.

The most surprising thing of all was to realize that he had been nominated for an Oscar. That moment in 1998 and when Arcade Fire won a Grammy for best album in 2011 are probably the biggest moments in indie music.

The first thing Elliott said to me after the Oscars was that it didn't matter that there were a hundred million people watching and a huge audience and that it was on TV. The only person he could see was Jack Nicholson sitting there staring at him. He said it just freaked him out. He couldn't get past the fact that  Jack Nicholson was just sitting there right in front of him.
-Dorien, Elliott's roommate in New York

I'm not going to wrap this Special Feature with my favorite Elliott song, but with an unreleased instrumental. The "story" behind it is kind of interesting- it might be that he made it as a homage for himself or it simply is unfinished. Well, either or the song is wistfully optimistic and I'd like it to be played at my funeral.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hangin' around

I completely fell for The Carpenters last winter, especially for the voice of Karen, who I now think is the best female singer of all time. So, when last February marked 30 years since her tragic death, I asked the most chill producer around, Shelf Nunny, to remix one of their tracks. I just love when different genres are combined, and the end result turned out A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

When asking Shelf about the song choice, he said that he's always heard of the band, although never really listened to them. He had heard the sample of Rainy Days and Mondays on a rap song, which you can listen here, and it was interesting for him to sample it, because he didn't want it to sound like the rap version.

It's a hiphop version of Mondays.

For me it definitely is in its own class. And to hear Karen's voice as a "broken record" is not a bad thing at all.

Below you've got both the great original and the extraordinary.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

One talented producer + a year = 365 amazing beats

It's kind of weird to not have your daily beat for breakfast anymore. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I felt/feel pretty empty and sad when Holm.'s 365 Beat Project ended. Still, in an odd way it feels like this whole thing never happened.

In a way I could compare this to my time abroad- it was part of my every day life, but when things got back to "normal" the experience became distant, yet very close. It was a special period you can never live again.

Sounds quite dramatic, I know. It's hard to put this kind of stuff on paper. But someone who managed to do it really well is the producer himself. I've copied his letter from his blog below, and I must say I was really surprised of how awesome his writing was. I mean when you're used to just hearing mainly tracks without lyrics... It's like seeing a constantly sad person smile- it lights up the room like nothing else.

The question is what now? I don't think I've heard a track for which Holm. has put more time than six hours. So when the next beat drops, I'll be catching it with open arms. Eyes closed.

life in the frame of 365 days.
the other day, once i finished my project, i said i would write something about the process of the 365 project i have no idea what to say but here it is.
the 365 wasnt too hard. in the end it became kind of a therapeutic thing for me. at first it was daunting, the first few weeks. I lived my senior year of high school on usually 2,3 or 4 hours of sleep. I would fall asleep in closets of my school throughout the day, but eventually i became used to it. it became a mental benefit for me. If anyone who reads this knows me on a personal level, i think its pretty evident that i’m not a very sad person, nor do I really ever take anything seriously. I feel like ive learned two important things in life that attribute a lot to who i am. one is that if I dont feel good, i have music. i can pour my heart into it and take those bad vibes out. another is that life is far too serious of a matter to take seriously. if i didnt have music in my past, and if i didnt have it in my future i would have probably turned out so much different. if you judged me based on my music, the general vibe and song titles, you’d be right in thinking a lot of my work, especially the later of it all, has somewhat of a dark tinge. many of my songs deal with common themes like confusion, loss, missed chances, and death to some extent. i created this music to deal with feelings I didnt want. thats why a lot of it has become so personal to me. especially my more ambient work, i really connect with that stuff. a lot of my songs were little stories to me, they were the sound of important events and memories in my life. the true gems were created after intense experiences. for instance, “the adventures of izzy & i” was created after a rad night with an old friend which included scaling warehouses to look at stars from the roof, the theft of a boat to sail around a pond in the early hours of the morning, and staying up long after the sun rose. “these are the stars, they go on forever” was created after another night with a long lost friend which included nearly the same things. “you’ll always be ok, wont you?” was something I made during a close call with the life of a loved one. “passing the houses i used to live in” was about a day where i drove around all the various places I had grown up as a kid. I found that my best work comes in situations that are very emotional. I work best with that type of music. in this journey ive learned to embrace bad experiences with open arms. what hurts us the most often teaches us more than we can fathom. theres no light without darkness and a certain beauty in the negative aspects of life. always strive to find that beauty in your lowest moment.
but in closing,
I started this project on a sunny day in october of 2012 in the suburbs of Boston, and i finished it on a rainy night in october of 2013 looking out at the streets of Manhattan, nyc. its interesting how far life can take us if we pay no attention.
dont expect the last of me,

much love <3

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September '13 Video Box

1. Arcade Fire - Reflektor

2. Sleigh Bells - Bitter Rivals

3. Franz Ferdinand - Evil Eye

Pick of the month:

A big fan of genres being mixed, and this is ace!

Franco and the Dreadnought feat. James Gill - I want it all