Stinky Grooves listeners, Aromatherapy attendees (and also probably our neighbours,) will be well familiar with the fact that I'm somewhat taken by Matt Shadetek's 'Flowers' album. I've been checking and playing his gear for a while, but there's been a real sense of build-up to this record, with supreme gear like the 'Solar Life Raft' mix-CD/mission statement, alongside co-pilot and fellow Dutty Artz founder DJ /rupture, and his work on Jahdan Blakkamoores electrifying 'Buzzrock Warrior' amongst much much more.
With the like of Gecko Jones, Chief Boima (been loving his stuff of late), the aforementioned Mr Blakkamoore, Uproot Andy, Lamin Fofana, La Yegros and their latest excellent addition Dominican bombashell and punk mambo artiste Rita Indiana y Los Misterios - Dutty Artz have definitely got their quality control and audio ADD in close alignment, making them somewhat of a super-sneaky, top shelf, maxi-media globo-conglomerate in a refreshingly humble and low key way.
I could go on and on (and let's face it, I usually do) but yous folks know how to ping your way round the details on the internet, and the interview should tip you in the right directions anyways. As comes across in one of my rambley-ass excuses for a question (I do love the lack of transcription with email interviews, but don't rate the practice of having to write constructs for observations/questions that would come up naturally in conversation...anyways) it's the singularity and discipline of 'Flowers' that really reaches me. At a time when so much post-grime/dubstep/electronic gear is pleasant, but failing to really register with me - this does partly because (in keeping with recent mightyness from Lorn and Mount Kimbie etc) it gets right in there macroscopically, Neil Stephenson style and fashion, if you will.
It's a record I've chosen to listen to a LOT at home, and that's more than a sign of a keeper in this age of over-stimulation and a veritable 24-7 tsunami of the good, the bad, and mainly the indifferent. I don't suggest you check 30 seconds snippets of tracks on iTunes etc, it won't come across. Either take my word for it and follow them links below for an immediate Shadetekeration, or first find somewhere (like Juno or Boomkat) where you can have a proper, if interrupted listen and get stuck in. There's a swathe of moods, styles and flavours on 'Flowers', many of which aren't revealed instantly, so you should allow yourselves to photosynthesize with this record for a while... if you will.
Poor puns aside I'm particularly chuffed that Matt OK'd 'Strength In Numbers' as a track to post as this track gives me the feeling of where the Disciples (Russ Bell-Brown's seismic sound and productions that is) and their stepping cronies might have ended up in 2010, if they had been led just far enough astray. I rinsed this track, like a man possessed, when it was fully unleashed on the 'Solar Life Raft Ingredients', and it always raises a grin when it pops up on the album.
I had intended to have time to digitise some stuff from Matt's back cat (see how I did that) but being under the weather and all... it hasn't happened. Check 'Brooklyn Anthem' on YouTube, with a title like that you have to pack a punch and it does, creating a dance phenomenonynonynonynom in the process. There's plenty more Shadetek gear out there and findable - as Team Shadetek with Zach Tucker, on the solo tip, and in collaboration with the likes of Rupture (their recent Chief Boima remix is monstrous). As ever the discogs page is good for getting under starters orders.
Sooooo there's also an instro-gem from Jahdan Blakkamoore's scorchulating 'We Are Raiders' digi and 12" release (there was a CD but I think that may not be around anymore), this is some mental fairground proto-grime and I have to say, as much as I love 'Buzzrock Warrior' - my copies (all formats, sad fanbwoy style) of 'We Are Raiders' must be twice as worn out - never failed me yet!
Hope you enjoy the words and tunes (192 versions only and up for a weekish) and if you do, support quality tackle and pit your moolah where your mouth is please, links below for just that, and don't forget to check Dutty Artz on the regular too...Buy at iTunes
Buy at Boomkat
Buy at Juno Download
How loose or tight is Dutty Artz as an organization? You seem to have a lot
going on but then it also feels like it just happens?
"It's very loose. A lot of the time it just happens and also just doesn't happen. We are all busy creative people so getting everyone on the same page or in the same room and finishing things is always a challenge. But we also aim for that looseness and spontaneity. As a small group of people we try to not be too hide bound and overdefine what we're doing. If we all suddenly feel like starting a streaming radio show, or doing youtube videos, or writing something for the blog, we just do it. That's part of the fun of it. Right now I'm excited about our UStream radio show which is also uploaded to our site, it's on every Thursday from 7-9 EST at
http://www.ustream.tv/duttyartznyc and you can also see video of some previous sessions there. It's pretty chaotic, sometime late or dysfunctional and a lot of fun, very Dutty Artz."
Whats next? (for you and for Dutty Artz)
"What's next for DA is a series of digital singles. Upcoming releases include a single from Rita Indiana a new Dominican singer who does sort of punk mambo, the debut EP from Mosholu Park who DA fans already know as Lamin and an instrumental EP from me called Dutty House."
Did you go into Flowers with very specific ideas in mind? (The tempo and sound palette are quite rigid, but that allows the focus to be on what you do with it)
"Yes, I knew I wanted something that would work for DJs and on a dancefloor but also serve as kind of ornamental music in your life, almost decorative in a way. Something pretty you could put on while cleaning the house and feel good with but that would also stand up on headphones or in your car or wherever. I had originally planned to do it as a dj mix but the way the tracks turned out I turned against it late in the process, hence the rigidity in tempo. They are all exactly 140bpm. I ended up settling for a few seamless segues between tracks on the final record in gapless playback."
The lack of discernible vocals and non-use of vocalists (I'm not sure I would ever leave the studio if i had access to Jahdan etc!) is also a feature (or a not-feature) I find this quite interesting considering the net-conversation you started a couple of years back on the Babel tip. With almost no vocal signifiers, this allows Flowers to actually able to live in its' own space.
"Jahdan actually appears on the record in pitched up form, two of the tiny vocal samples I use are from him. As far as the overall decisions not to use vocalists a big part of that is that when I work with Jahdan or anyone else in the end they pick the tracks. I come with a big pool of stuff and play it and they say 'yeah, give me that one'. So it's all me but they are having a big input in what ends upon the record by what they feel inspired to sing or rap on. In this case I wanted to express something that was the singular vision of one person. And I also want to break away from contemporary movements and tropes a bit and just do exactly what I felt like doing. Obviously there are influences in there but I am quite pleased with how much the record stands on it's own with it's own sound and identity."
You said in an interview that the dj mix will probably replace the album in electronic music, and to a certain extent it already has, at least on the net. I kind of hope you're wrong because the overload of mixes/podcasts and the like, the vast majority of which are genre-fied tosh or bandwaggonist directionless tackle, is precisely why the music that I like to think of as distinctive and somehow macroscopic have been so enveloping and rewarding. Doesn't an album like 'Flowers' fly in the face of that statement?
"In a way it does. One thing that separates Flowers or something like Solar Life Raft which we called a 'mix album' is that it is all original music or drawn from a close group of people, not just a bunch of the new hot records which is what most podcasts are. Truthfully I think the mixed format will prevail for economic reasons, since it is a way to push people to buy a full record and not just the single or the two songs they like."
For a while it felt like you were amongst a small rabble flying the flag for grime outside of the UK. That doesn't feel like it's influencing your own music as much (though there are things that scream grime to me like the violin on Spirits etc) on Flowers? Can you tell me a little about your involvement with grime, you stayed in the UK for some time right?
"I was very inspired by grime since it brought together many of my lifelong passions: hiphop, dancehall, experimental sounds and dance music. I got heavily involved when I was living in Berlin and would fly to England regularly. I also toured Europe extensively with Jammer and his Neckle Camp crew, of which I'm a member. Grime continues to inspire and inform my music now but in different ways.
Actually for me Flowers is a very grime influenced record with a few tweaks. It's influenced by a thread of grime though which is the more plastic melodic instrumental stuff by people like Wiley and Ruff Sqwad. Obviously it's all filtered through my own sensibility but I feel like a lot of the tightly sequenced melodic parts on the record are very informed by grime."
What are your feelings on the current state of dancehall ? (Can Busy Signal save the world?)
"Busy Signal is definitely a big voice in dancehall right now, I'm very inspired by what he's doing both lyrically and in terms of flow. Check out Bigger Heads if you're unsure. Stephen 'The Genius' McGregor is a constant feature of my DJ sets and a big influence as well. Kartel is definitely doing a lot and I'm really enjoying him. There are also a new crop of singers and DJs that are catching my ears, people like Professor, Savage, Tifa, Timberlee and Natalie Storm. There's always a lot of talent coming out of Jamaica."
Is Team Shadetek done?
"Yup. As far as I know Zack is no longer making music but everything I'm doing is as Matt Shadetek now."
(Once again sponsored by ((bracket fenzy)) and amateur grammatics - if you want the well thought out and laboured over gear, read the print in the soon come August Real Groove)