Evan Gabriel

Archive for October, 2013|Monthly archive page

“Uptown,” Travi$ Scott ft. A$AP Ferg [prod. by WondaGurl]

In Audible, Current on October 23, 2013 at 2:31 am


Big ups to Toronto’s Ebony Oshunrinde, aka WondaGurl, for sampling a bollywood track to make this upper echelon heater.

Beats & Biscuits: Exporting with Art Vandelay

In Audible, INTERVIEW on October 16, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Art Vandalay in Oakland, CA.

The first time I met Art Vandelay, he was standing outside a mess hall in Naknek, Alaska, professing the significance of early James Brown recordings. On our first lunch break at the Salmon cannery, he made a simple but bold claim that resonated with me. “Those recordings are the basis of rap,” he said in his guts-stained sweatshirt.

And from that moment on, I knew one thing: I fucked with this kid Vandelay. But he wasn’t Art Vandelay yet. In fact, he’d barely begun to think about producing. But after nearly 560 hours spent working in a fish factory during the hours of 11 and 3pm, something clicked. By the end of that summer, when we’d made all of our fish money and couldn’t wait to get back to the world and cake, Vandelay did one thing. He went home, bought a laptop and began constructing beats that had been turning over in his head during those ever-elusive 560 hours.

“My music is kind of that same idea—taking old sounds and flipping their context,” Vandelay recently told me from Oakland over a Skype call as he displayed some pieces from a few of his favorite new visual collage artists.

I guess that’s why I like doing that with images too. You can take a piece of a song/image, combine it with another piece and it sounds/looks completely different than the original.” Vandelay said.” Nowadays, no information is safe from repurposing. Art based on repurposing of aural and visual information is a truly great contribution from the generations of the 1990s and 2000s.”

Collage Art

“Sprinkles on a donut, if you will.”

From the perch in his shared Oakland studio loft, Vandelay matches his passion for collage art with a current outlet in music. Approaching the recording process with bits and pieces, namely old Jazz or Blues recordings, the 24-year-old refurbishes sounds to create visions. This process allows Vandelay to breathe life into the very material he chooses to tell stories with.

“I tend to be of the same opinion as Jim Jarmusch, who said, ‘Select only things to steal that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.’”

His first EP, “Double Dippin’ the Chip,” is a cohesive collection of instrumentals that feel anything but naked without their rap overcoats. Vandelay takes his time with samples in “Mt. Gomery,” while moving to speedier, hard-hitting anthems like “YouKnowWhatItIs,” which you can practically hear any member of Dipset* spitting on.

Musically, what’s the biggest difference between “Double Dippin’” and “Ebb Side?”

“With ‘Double Dippin’ the Chip’ it was mostly playing a song through and finding the things I liked. I didn’t have a Midi controller at first, so some of those tracks are after I’d gotten going with Midi. Now I use an MPC 1000 and an SP404, the latter of which has a lot of effects that you can add with knobs while playing the track live as opposed to automating, or drawing them in on a grid. Adding all your effects live gives it a much more unique sound.

“Playing a beat live on the MPC is just more fulfilling to me than programming drums. My process changes a lot though. Sometimes I’ll just use one note from a song, put it into the sampler and then its suddenly similar to a synth that you can play chords on or write melodies. But when I find a really nice loop, it pains me to chop it into pieces. EbbSide is kind of a mix of those two approaches. The 8 bar harp loop repeats throughout the song, but there are a bunch of small, manipulated pieces layered over the top. Sprinkles on a donut, if you will.”

I recently heard a project you helped put together, Hot Records Society’s volume II, “On A Trip for Biscuits.” How did that collective come about?

“About a year and a half ago, I decided I wanted to assemble a compilation of beats from people I had been listening to mostly on Soundcloud. The idea of Hot Record Society is basically like an audio zine, we try to collect tracks from like-minded producers. Releasing a project as a group is beneficial because everyone involved gets exposed. I think it wound up being pretty cohesive and people were diggin’ it. So with the donations from our first volume, “Jive Turkeys,” we were able to compile make a second one and have a bunch of cassettes made.”

On “Jive Turkeys,” Vandelay practices patient drops and matured drums with tracks like “YoTengoDeracho.”

Why did you choose to release “Volume II: On A Trip for Biscuits” on cassette tape? “Cost of production, for one. Who knew it was so cheap to have cassettes made? But also, with a CD, you put the songs on your computer anyway. With a tape, you gotta find a tape player or play it in your car.  I think we all probably do some of our best listening in cars. Also, cassettes are very conducive to this kind of release. Having all these unmastered tracks [mixed by 39 different people] under the same lo-fi, hissing roof adds a nice cohesiveness.


“And Let’s be real, cassettes last longer. You can toss a tape out of a two-story window and it will probably still work.  One big scratch on it and a CD is done.”

At the end of October, Vandelay will leave the States to live in Ecuador.

“I’m going to go help my friend with his project to build two solar powered boats in the Amazon. I don’t really know what my role is going to be but this dude needs help because it’s a big project with a lot of different facets. Another huge draw is that I’ll hopefully have a lot of spare time to work on music.”

What’s the plan for the jungle, keep making music? Or get really fat like Marlin Brando in “Apocalypse Now? “Haha, I’m sure I’ll go to the jungle at least once, but mainly we’ll be in Quito where most of the project negotiations and politics are going down. I’m just going to take the SP sampler because it’s pretty small and very light. It also runs on AA batteries, which is perfect for traveling. Potentially I could just set up on the street with a little amp and get busy. Probably going to leave most of my gear though. Just my computer, SP and interface.”

For his next project, “MEJIWAHN,” Vandelay is planning to use a lot more small samples to make up a larger collage that is the body of the work. He hopes to find more vocal samples to lay over the tracks.

“In the end, it’s just a beat, so you need something to keep you stimulated. I mean, I try to make the songs interesting enough so that they’re not just the same loop over and over again. But you know, sometimes that’s just what it calls for. If you have a subtle non-musical sample every now and then, it can really help to carry the track.”

How is working with artists over the Internet? “It’s kinda wack. I mean, in a historical sense it’s incredible but I think things would go much smoother if I was working with the person directly. But it is amazing that I can form an artistic relationship with someone I haven’t even met. With Chester [Watson], I’m learning what that dude likes by trial and error.”

Watson, the 16-year-old walk on from St. Louis, who’s syrupy flow has been compared to Earl Sweatshirt’s, has written to 5  of Vandelay’s tracks.  Only one has been released.

Why is your Instagram handle a name I can’t pronounce “Haha, not sure if I can even pronounce it. Mejiwahn is yet to be born.”

What’s the scene in Oakland like for young artists? “There’s a lot of stuff happening in Oakland, it’s just hard to find it. I think the art and music scene has been strong for years and years though. People are just now starting to catch on, including me.”

Who are your top three influences? “Damn, top three?


“That’s tough…. I’d say in no particular order, Dorothy Ashby, Madlib, and Tribe.”

 Just Blaze or 9th Wonder? “Pete Rock.”

Cholula or Tapatio? “Valentina’s.”

Mess with the old shit, Vandelay seems to be saying through his music. In a culture of tweets and mixtapes, it’s comforting to see an artist re-engineering material that is immortal and universal, no matter the century.

Check out albums here

*Crunk Muzik son


In Anywhere But Here on October 10, 2013 at 8:57 pm


“No-Win” and “In the Event of My Demise” by Tupac Shakur

In Nonfiction on October 10, 2013 at 7:47 am

September 12th marked the 17th anniversary of Tupac’s murder on Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, NV. Almost two decades since Rap’s rawest poet was carried away by gun shots, his poetry remains stunning in its simplistic and genuine verse. “The Rose That Grew from Concrete” is a 72-poem collection that Pac scribed out in various notebooks from ages 19-25. Like his music, these handwritten pages reveal Tupac’s desire for love to extend from his art. The majority, deal directly with love–past, present and eternal. And still, I find myself re-reading two poems that are less than lovey.


(Dream poem)

Backed into a corner

alone and very confused

Tired of running away

My manhood has been abused

Not my choice 2 be so blunt

But u must fight fire with flame

I allowed myself 2 run once

and was haunted by the shame

if I must kill I will and if I must do it again

I would but the situation is a no-win

In the Event of My Demise

Dedicated 2 Those Curious

In the event of my Demise

When my heat can beat no more

I hope I die for a principle

Or a belief that I had lived 4

I will die before my time

Because I feel the shadow’s depth

So much I wanted 2 accomplish

Before I reached my Death

I have come 2 grips with the possibility

and wiped the last tear from my eyes

In the event of my Demise!

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