Three music articles that caught my eye in the last week. Two from our sister paper, The Stranger and on from the NY Times.
- Let's do local first. Or at least, local for the moment. As told in Dave Itzkoff's feature in yesterday's Sunday Times, Stephen Malkmus is planning to leave Portland. For "the sake of change," the Jicks' leader plans to take his family and move to Europe. Bon Voyage, you coy sonnafabitch.
True to form, Malkmus reveals little in an otherwise probing piece on the recently-released Mirror Traffic. The enigma continues. Nonetheless, it's an interesting read and a pretty complete picture of how the record took shape. Also, Itzkoff makes an intruiging suggestion: that Beck, who produced Mirror Traffic, may be positioned to become a significant and worthwhile producer in the years to come.
The best quote comes from Janet Weiss:
“I don’t think Steve Malkmus gets wildly excited about much except fantasy sports,” said Janet Weiss, the former drummer for Sleater-Kinney who performs on “Real Emotional Trash” and “Mirror Traffic. “He did invent slacker.”
- Over at The Stranger, Trent Moore has a terrific interview with Frankie "Kash" Waddy, one-time drummer for James Brown and Funkadelic. Waddy, who is promoting a series of new drum-related art, talks about his past with the legendary groups. Here he is on George Clinton's production methods with Funkadelic:
George ran (the studio) like a factory. There would be two or three rooms going, and whoever got in there first would start putting their stuff down. Whoever wanted to join in did. Some of them came out really, really good. And some were just okay. But the great ones were worth it. Funkadelic recording was like an assembly line. One group of guys would record, then there'd be another group of guys waiting in the next room to lay down their thing on top of it. We went on like that forever. And while we were in the studio, we wouldn't listen to the radio or watch TV. We didn't want to be distracted or infected by anything. We didn't want to sound like something that was already out there.
Far as I can tell, the current narrative in rap (and perhaps all pop music) is all about the all-consuming desire to be famous, as that's the highest order of human experience. There is no love, no self-worth, just the fame (if you're shallow and stupid) and the money (if you're shallow and smart). In case you haven't noticed, artists parroting that mainstream party line in Seattle aren't finding a lot of success here. The folks who want to hear that kind of shit are already programmed to treat it like disposable background music. There's no real support for it here. I think, for reasons specific to our region, far more people want to hear something from the soul, something that speaks to them. (To you, that might mean that Seattle's corny, but to me, that means you're corny.) That doesn't mean you have to be like A, B, or C who might be so-called successful out here, either, you just have to—in my opinion—be speaking something real (even if you're sneaking it in) and not rap "real." Real as in something people can feel in their chest. (Keep in mind there are many types of people, too.) Life doesn't happen in the fucking club. Just about everybody smokes weed and kicks it—look, after a while, nobody cares. Flex! What else you got?