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SPRING STYLE FANTASTIC
THE FADER MAGAZINE MARCH 2007

SPRING STYLE FANTASTIC
THE FADER MAGAZINE MARCH 2007

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GANG GANG DANCE
NEW REVOLUTIONS IN SOUND
NUMBER 44 MARCH 07 THEFADER.COM HIP BONE

BONE THUGS-N-HARMONY

HIP-HOP’S DARK STARS RETURN

BONE THUGS-N–HARMONY HIP-HOP’S DARK STARS RETURN

THE CHINESE UNDERGROUND•EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY•DC POST GO-GO UNDERGROUND• SKY•

GANG GANG DANCE NEW REVOLUTIONS IN SOUND

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Vehicle shown is a computer-generated image, not a real car. Scion in no way recommends or condones the random or experimental mixing of known or unknown substances, even in a beaker, unless in a supervised laboratory and wearing proper eye, face, lung and skin protection. © 2007 Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. Scion and the Scion logo are trademarks of Toyota Motor Corporation. For more information, call 1-866-70-SCION (1-866-707-2466), or visit scion.com.

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Fader 44 March 2007 Spring Style Contents

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Hua Dong of Re-TROS, photographed by Ariana Lindquist in Beijing, China, November 2006.

50 FADE IN 52 NWSPRNT 72 THE LOOK 76 STYLE Artists, authors, gadgets and gadflys The tomboy chic of post-war London The most crucial looks

GREENPAGES 170 Vinyl Archeology 172 Mixtape: Musics 176 Jedi Mind Pix 178 Reheaters Folkie Funk Dilla, Boredoms, Van Morrison & more Music picks straight from the pros Idris Ackamoor

GEN/F 90 Amy Winehouse 92 Fam-Lay 94 Voxtrot 97 No Age 98 Mr Vegas 100 The View 102 Chrisette Michele

180 Beat Construction Dr Dog 182 Books 184 Dranks 186 Events 188 Stockists

192 FADEOUT

A Harley ® motorcycle. One mass of rolling sculpture that speaks of a path uncompromised. Tomorrow, ahead. Yesterday, behind. Kick through some gears. And step where ordinary men fear to tread. www.harley-davidson.com.

3 4 T H E FADER

fit your kit_esfootwear.com

_the season is irrelevant when the goods are timeless

Fader 44 March 2007 Spring Style Contents

Wale in Bowie, MD, photographed by Dorothy Hong, December 2006.

FEATURES 108 Bone Thugs-N-Harmony 116 Gang Gang Dance 124 Beijing Rock 134 Explosions in the Sky 140 Wale and Tabi Bonney 146 Collaborators The Spiritualists Future Perfect The Chinese Beat Pyrotechnicians New Slang Devendra Banhart & Becky Stark, Pete Doherty & Mick Jones, Princess & Diamond from Crime Mob, Cheikh Lô & Youssou N’Dour

156 STYLE

On the Corner

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3 8 T H E FADER

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FOUNDING PUBLISHERS ROB STONE AND JON COHEN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ALEXANDRA WAGNER CREATIVE DIRECTOR PHIL BICKER DEPUTY EDITOR WILL WELCH SENIOR EDITOR ERIC DUCKER SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR LINDSEY CALDWELL ASSOCIATE EDITOR NICK BARAT ONLINE EDITOR PETER MACIA STYLE EDITOR CHIOMA NNADI CONTRIBUTING STYLE EDITOR MOBOLAJI DAWODU EDITORIAL PRODUCTION COORDINATOR ALIYA BEST PHOTOGRAPHY COORDINATOR DOROTHY HONG CONTRIBUTING EDITOR EDWIN “STATS” HOUGHTON INTERNS SAM HOCKLEY-SMITH, CHRISTOPHER JAMES RICHTER WRITERS SAM ADA, JOHN ALBERT, ALEC DERUGGIERO, OMAR DUBOIS, RANJANI GOPALARATHINAM, DUANE HARRIOTT, HELEN JENNINGS, KARIN NELSON, SAM RICHARDS, CHARLIE RYALL, MATTHEW SCHNIPPER PHOTOGRAPHERS/ILLUSTRATORS/STYLISTS ALYSSA BANTA, ANNA BAUER, ANDREW BETTLES, ANDREW DOSUNMU, RICH-JOSEPH FACUN, EMMA HARDY, ANDREW HENDERSON, KRISANNE JOHNSON, LIZ JOHNSON ARTUR, NIKOLAS KOENIG, MARTEI KORLEY, ANDREW KUO, ARIANA LINDQUIST, JASON NOCITO, YURY OSTROMENTSKI, KEN RUSSELL, MICHAEL SCHMELLING, RJ SHAUGHNESSY, IAN WRIGHT CUSTOM FONTS BY KEVIN DRESSER & PAUL ELLIMAN FADER JAPAN FADERJAPAN@BLS-ACT.CO.JP BLUES INTERACTIONS, INC. 9-2-16 AKASAKA, MINATO-KU, TOKYO 107-0052 JAPAN EDITORIAL SHIN’ICHI IWAMA ADVERTISING TAKASHIRO TAGUCHI

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4 0 T H E FADER

Fader 44 March 2007 Spring Style Contributors

ARIANA LINDQUIST Photographer Assignment: “The Chinese Beat,” page 124 What Happened: Shanghai-based photographer Ariana Lindquist toured the wilds of Beijing’s underground clubs to document China’s fledgling rock scene. Because many of these bands haven’t had much media exposure outside China, most were open to Ariana’s snaps. “It was very easy access,” she says. “People said that the music scene in Beijing was closed and suspicious because the media tries to stereotype them, but I didn’t find that at all.” Ariana initially intended to shoot the bands in a more relaxed environment rather than on stage, but the winter weather (and cheap Tsingtao) kept folks warm in the club. Where else you can see her work: www.arianalindquist.com

MICHAEL SCHMELLING Photographer Assignment: “Pyrotechnicians,” page 134 What Happened: FADER regular Michael Schmelling jetted down to Austin to shoot Explosions in the Sky in their homes and practice space. Once in Texas, Michael found himself watching Red Dawn and eating at Panda Express with the instrumentally expressive band. “There was not the kind of ego-driven dynamic that can happen on a shoot,” he says of the close-knit group. Even though Michael shot the guys in a more subdued environment, he feels he was still able to capture the emotion and energy that their songs convey: “I think there are a couple pictures in there that reflect the subtleties of the music.” Where else you can see his work: The New York Times Magazine, New York, www. michaelschmelling.com

KEN RUSSELL Photographer Assignment: “Girls on Film,” page 72 What Happened: Though veteran filmmaker Ken Russell went to school for photography, upon graduation he decided that his true calling was film. Ken saved enough money to create three amateur movies that garnered the BBC’s attention, catapulting him into a long, fruitful career of moviemaking. “I never took another picture again,” he says. It’s been some 50 years since Ken took the pictures of the Teddy Girls, but recently there’s been renewed interest in the photographs he took early in his career. At an exhibition of the work a few months ago, a few of the original Teddy Girls were in attendance. “They were unrecognizable, married and with kids,” Ken explains. “They grew up in a very rough and ready neighborhood, but turned out to be nice people.” Where else you can see his work: Women in Love, Altered States, Tommy, Celebrity Big Brother 5

IAN WRIGHT Illustrator Assignment: “It Takes Two,” page 146 What Happened: This issue we commissioned artist Ian Wright to put his playful touch on portraits of collaborating artists, something he’s no stranger to (peep F23’s Caetano Veloso and David Byrne Hama bead portraits), but the assignment was not without its challenges. After an initial pass in mixed media, the artist decided to use a sophisticated child’s toy (Lite Brites) he had seen on television a few years ago. “I’m English, so I just figured everything is available here in America,” Ian says. The elusive toy had him hunting around New York before finally rush ordering them en masse from California. “I think the toys were too sophisticated,” Ian explains. “Or just poorly marketed.” Where else you can see his work: www.mrianwright.co.uk

KEN RUSSELL ©2006 TOPFOTO

4 2 T H E FADER

PROVE YOUR RESPONSIBILITY, NOT YOUR CAPACITY.

©2007 DEWAR’S, WHITE LABEL AND THE HIGHLANDER DEVICE ARE REGISTERED TRADEMARKS AND DEWARISM IS A TRADEMARK. IMPORTED BY JOHN DEWAR & SONS COMPANY, MIAMI, FL. BLENDED SCOTCH WHISKY - 40% ALC. BY VOL.

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Fader 44 March 2007 Spring Style Letters

FAN MAIL! That show last night [the issue #42 Release Party featuring Vietnam] was embarrassing. I’ve seen Vietnam live five times and they always rock small venues. WTF? The Syrup Room did a better job. Ever heard of a “sound check”? Your magazine is for lame-ass 35 y-o twats. Fuck You. Blake Freitag

WE ONLY FUCK WITH CHARLIE WATTS Dear FADER In your Damon Albarn story [Issue #43, “Return of the Rockers”], you claim he’s one of the two or three biggest rock stars in England. Ummm, aren’t there like five Rolling Stones alone? Did I miss something? Desmond

GET FADE(RED) Thankfully, the (PRODUCT) RED products are everywhere at the moment, including here at The FADER! If you didn’t know, a portion of the profits made from the sale of (PRODUCT) RED products go to the Global Fund, to fight AIDS in Africa. We have a Special Edition iPod Nano (PRODUCT) RED ($10 goes to the Global Fund when you purchase one) for you to win, our FADER friends—all we ask is that you indulge us with the three best songs with the word “red” in the title. Whoever has the least worst choices wins! Send entries to letters@thefader.com. For more information on (RED) go to www.joinred.com
TM

CHIWETEL HAS JAMS TOO, SIS! Hey Hey Hey! I was just uptown at my friend’s house drinking wine and eating celery (don’t ask) and he got the new Charlotte Gainsbourg album for Christmas and we put it on repeat and had more wine before going downtown to meet friends. But I didn’t want to leave! And I don’t even like my friend like that! The album is just TOO GOOD to turn off. I’ve seen a bunch of Charlotte’s movies and I fell in love her even before she graced your cover but I just wanted to say NICE ONE!!! She looked amazing and deserves it! Agatha

OOPS! In our Charlotte Gainsbourg cover story [Issue #41, “French Revolutions”], we obviously had a brain freeze and spelled

UNDERGROUND KINGS! Machel Montano on the cover? Where is KEVIN LYTTLE??? Sorry but THE KING OF MAINSTREAM SOCA IS NOT INTO YOUR UNDERGROUND MAGAZINE. Anonymous

super producer Nigel Godrich’s name wrong. The story on LA Hybrid Soul [Issue #43, “Electrocuted Los Angeles”] said that Ty and Kori are signed to Will.i.am Music Group. They are in fact signed to Buddah Brown Entertainment.

®

Wyle out with us on The Let Out—two hours of remixes, exclusives and the newest/oldest hot shit spun live by the FADER editors. Every Friday from 6-8pm, East Coast time (motherbitches) on www.eastvillageradio.com, IM “EastVillageRadio” to get at us in the studio, boyo.
4 6 T H E FADER

Fader 44 March 2007 Spring Style Editor’s Letter

S

ometimes people accuse the intrepid FADER staff of being insolent, corny or of simply sleeping too late, but I prefer to think of our ragtag bunch of writers, editors and lunch orderers as dreamers. That’s why when it was time to figure out our March Spring Style Fantastic, we put the psychics on speed dial, dusted off the dreamcatchers and spiked our apple martinis with valerian root. In a magical, Technicolor REM, the juxtaposition of legendary hiphop mind blowers Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and up-and-coming downtown body rockers Gang Gang Dance just came to us (along with a strange and sort of unnerving dream about chorizo, but nevermind that). Say what you will, skeptical minds, but somehow—like potato chips and ice cream, or Kanye West and an abundance of id—it makes sense. Bone Thugs will be launching thunderclouds over your nearest horizon sometime this spring with the release of Strength in Loyalty—their latest oeuvre, produced with the genius of Swizz Beatz and help from every other heavyhitter on the planet, plus Will.i.am. Gang Gang Dance’s multi-rhythm, cross-pollinated rock has been fucking us up for a while now, but with new tunes in the kitty and a valid pass to Go Get It, we’re watching as they figure out what to do with their potential stardom. The visions don’t just stop there, of course (do they ever stop at Krayzie Bone and Brian DeGraw?): we’ve also taken on some serious scene reportage with a feature on Beijing’s burgeoning underground rock scene and a one-two punch profile on DC’s post go-go headliners Wale and Tabi Bonney. True to form (and issue theme), we also wanted to give our lovers and sisters and brothers something fantastic in the way of wearable items for party and play: please check out the exxxxxxxxxtended style section up front and the deep fashion kablammy in the caboose, featuring gents on the streets of Mumbai (née Bombay), basically chilling, but looking fly as all hell while doing so. We think it inspirational. Finally, lastly, superficially and thus sort of most importantly, you’ll see that this issue debuts a new design and snappy layout—it’s sort of like we spent the winter in training, getting tanned, learning French and figuring out which fork to use. Can a magazine be debonair? No one knows for certain, but we’re sure as hell gonna try.

On the covers: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, photographed by Jason Nocito, December, 2006 Gang Gang Dance, photographed by Jason Nocito, December, 2006.

ALEX WAGNER

THE FADER 49

FADEIN

PHOTOGRAPHY JASON NOCITO

NWS PRN T
• Picture Box—the design studio responsible for everything from Grammywinning Wilco album covers to crazed out hardbacks featuring the work of Trenton Doyle Hancock—has recently been staking a big flag on planet comic book. New releases include The Drips by Taylor McKimens (documenting a day in the life of your typical skinmelting construction worker) and PaperRad’s Cartoon Workshop. Under the helm of art director Dan Nadel, it’s a catalog like no other: Cold Heat follows its hero on “a life altering adventure through Prozac, corporate rock, globalization, and, of course, sex.”
CHRISTOPHER JAMES RICHTER

www.pictureboxinc.com

• For acolytes of Man Hero William Eggleston, there has always been the slightly underappreciated cannon of photographer Mitch Epstein. Epstein’s work over the last 30-odd years has captured much of the American Heartbreak and the Heartland in full color composition, but the new book Work is a grand re-examination of the man’s oeuvre—shot around the world and updated with his most recent projects. Pictures of Indian men in strip clubs are found alongside landscapes of West Virginia power plants and massacred front lawns, post-Katrina, in Biloxi, Mississippi. It’s all further proof that heartbreak and beauty are bedfellows the world over. ALEX WAGNER www.steidlville.com

• Before the 2006 Grammys, we were curious to see if Sly Stone’s reemergence would mean he’d be ready to take us on a voyage through the hazed out years. Next thing we know the First of the Space Age Mohicans was onstage. We realized that the rumor that he was stashed away in a Cali mansion with guns, drugs and Asian twins was probably just a rumor, and that the truth was probably no more accessible, and still not our business. Legacy is now reissuing all of Sly’s studio albums—but it’s still up to us to decipher the secret history of his resilient funk. WILL WELCH www.legacyrecordings.com

• Short of, like, stalking Philip Lorca Di Corcia’s oncampus housing at Yale, the chances of glimpsing the boldfaced art gods behind the canvases/contact sheets are slim. Photographer Jason Schmidt does the hard work for us. Artists is the lensman’s first book and it’s an all out whammy jammy Who’s Who of the contemporary art scene. Schmidt manages to frame heavy hitters like Maurizio Cattelan and Wolfgang Tillmans alongside rising stars Banks Violette and Roe Ethridge. ALEX WAGNER www.steidlville.com

• This winter Silver Lake landmark and architectural abnormality the Boat went on sale. The building served as the broadcast and recording outpost for First Mate Bob and his Haven of Rest ministry for several decades until the mid-’90s when the Dust Brothers bought the property following their success with Hanson and (Beck) Hansen. After importing a Neve console custom-built for George Martin and designing the space with an emphasis on live tracking, it became the personal studio for the production duo. In 2003 they opened it to outsiders. With recent temporary tenants including Bright Eyes and Autolux, the Dust Brothers have rarely been able to book time there, so they’ve put it on the market with the hope that it will stay intact and remain a hub of the eastside music community.
ERIC DUCKER

www.theboatstudio.com

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S-90 Low

NWS PRN T

ROBOT AFTER ALL DAFT PUNK TURN THE KNOBS DOWN WITH ELECTROMA

• In Daft Punk’s dialoguefree art film Electroma they present a bizarro version of their Earth personas. This tale of two robots who want to be human is markedly rural, slow, sad and often

silent. Made up of long sequences of robots driving in the desert, robots getting latex skin applied to them and robots feeling shame in a public bathroom, Electroma is both hilarious

and genuinely touching. I actually shed a digital tear, but only because the Emotron 230 chip that my master installed enables that kind of thing. ERIC DUCKER www.daftpunk.com

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LOST ONES THE BLACK AND WHITE REALITY OF CHILD SOLDIERS

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© 2007 Napster, LLC. Napster and the Napster logo are trademarks of Napster, LLC.

5 6 T H E FADER

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• Today As Many As 300,000 Children Under the Age of 18 Serve In Government Forces or Armed Rebel Groups. Some Are As Young As Eight Years Old. The Participation of Child

Soldiers Has Been Reported In Over 33 On-Going or Recent Armed Conflicts In Almost Every Region of the World is a new project by LA-based visual artist Clarence Lin. The 36 prints

in this series showcase silhouettes of child soldiers from one of the (reported) 36 countries that use children in their armies. ALEX WAGNER www.thewarchildproject.com

Find your influences and then find theirs.

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“Now i hadn’t touched heroin in years—That was a high i couldn’t control, but everything else? Fair fuckin’ game, So i put all of it in a zing.

FAST TIMES IN HARLEM, HIGH NICKY BARNES TELLS HIS TALE

I’D PUT A LINE OF HASH OIL ONTO A REAL BIG CIGARETTE, THEN ADD BLACK MOTAH.I PUT ON THE ANGEL DUST REAL THICK, SPRINKLED ON CRYSTAL COKE AND ROLLED IT ALL UP.
We’d smoke that shit regularly! Zings were the thing, great for laying the skins. Wouldn’t give you an erection, but got you to an arabian nights floating sensation, A cosmic flow between you and your partner. ”

• Out of somewhere deep in the Federal Witness Protection Program comes Mr Untouchable, the autobiography of Leroy “Nicky” Barnes. In the ’70s Barnes dominated

Harlem’s multi-million dollar heroin trade and in Mr Untouchable he paints himself as a blaxploitation Tony Soprano, a man whose progressive ideas were constantly being undone by

the dunderheaded moves of those that surrounded him. But did he party? Oh, you know this. ERIC DUCKER www.ruggedland.com

5 8 T H E FADER

NWS PRN T
• Though his address was in Washington DC, outsider artist Mingering Mike lived in a fantasy world of his own device. He created sleeves for imaginary recording artists obsessively catalogued on imaginary record labels. Each of his 40+ record covers were detailed with gatefold interiors, liner notes and a cardboard record with the correct number of corresponding grooves drawn into it. This spring, Princeton Architectural Press releases a compendium of the maestro’s work: Mingering Mike: the Amazing Career of a Soul Superstar. It doesn’t matter that none of these albums are real, by the end of the book you feel like you’ve heard every last song. SAM HOCKLEY SMITH www.papress.com • Our dudes over at ANP Quarterly have been putting out a mag that is consistently rad enough to be consistently sold out—like Keyser Söze sold out: poof and it’s gone! For slowpokes like us, ANPers have just started a blog: check rvcaanp.com/blog if you missed the latest Chris Johanson interview.
ALEX WAGNER

• Leading up to the arrival of Panda Bear’s Person Pitch LP this spring, the ursine member of the Animal Collectivo previewed the album with three singles on three different labels: UUAR, Fat Cat and Paw Tracks. Each record showcases Panda Bear’s sampler-based space case pop, while 13-minute standout “Carrots” sounds like brohammer is fiddling with his personal radio dial while submerged in a bath of warm milk and mind butter. ERIC DUCKER www.paw-tracks.com

• LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver is a dance album whose lyrics brim with resigned frustration, but its beating heart is the song “Someone Great.” Building on an instrumental first heard on the 45:33 jogging mix made for Nike, LCD centerpiece James Murphy delivers plaintive vocals that counterbalance the track’s cheerfully pinging chimes. By the third stanza, when Murphy mopes The worst is all the lovely weather/ I’m stunned it’s not raining/ The coffee isn’t even bitter/ Because, what’s the difference?, he captures post-breakup ennui nearly as well as Prince did in his lyrics for “Nothing Compares 2 U.” CHARLIE RYALL www.lcdsoundsystem.com

MATTHEW SCHNIPPER

kickuindahead@hotmail.com

6 0 T H E FADER

PHOTOGRAPHY JASON NOCITO (LCD SOUNDSYSTEM).

• Jay Howell’s Dogs and Dog Information is a pocket-sized booklet of ink dog drawings and, as promised, accompanying “information,” like suggested dog names (Balls, Craig). The sketches of panting dog heads are jokey but Howell’s canine kinship is genuine. The author loves his pets because they’re “fucking stoked and so should you be because you take everything for granted and you’re life isn’t that bad and the world is awesome.”

NWS PRN T

THE OFFSPRING SEEDS & RANKINGS

IMAGE ANDREW KUO

6 2 T H E FADER

NWS PRN T

DEAD STONED & NAKED QUESTIONS FOR DEERHUNTER & THE BLACK LIPS

IMAGE YURY OSTROMENTSKY

A

tlanta bands Black Lips and Deerhunter are easily two of the most fucked up bands on earth right now—each seems to feed off of the demented erotic squall of the other. We emailed both bands pretty much the same batch of questions; Cole and Jared from the Black Lips answered between takes for a studio album coming in May, and Bradford from Deerhunter answered between takes of playing treated wine glasses for the soundtrack to Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are.
WILL WELCH

She used to listen to the Stones and vacuum our shag carpets. And before she would leave each night she would give me a big kiss and it just stuck with me. What’s on your hi-fi? The Falcons I Found a Love (Wilson Pickett’s old band); Love Forever Changes; Dave Dudley Rural Route 1; Red Sovine, because he talks over country truck driving songs that make you cry. What neighborhoods in Atlanta do you live in? Ian comes from the slums of New Orleans. The rest of us are from Dunwoody, the finest area in Atlanta. The only place where there’s a tennis court and a pool for every backyard. The only place where there’s a nanny and three cars in the driveway. The only place where poodles’ nails are filed down to the ivory bone. What’s the most important hip-hop record to you? Three 6 Mafia, Mystic Styles Don’t you have a new album out soon? We have a live album recorded in Tijuana—it was a blast, a wild spectacle complete with donkeys and $12 hookers and vomiting gangsters.

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DEERHUNTER Are there any Atlanta landmarks that are relevant to band lore? Notown—a mythological place that was the back warehouse of this old building in downtown Marietta that my dad used to rent to run his mortgage office. Deerhunter started there. I’d stay there all night, completely stoned, making 4track tapes until dawn. Black Lips recorded there and even have a song, “Notown Blues.” It had tons of weird shit like broken electric pianos and percussion lying around. Now it’s a Mexican grocery store.

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What’s the most important hip-hop record to you? WuTang Forever What’s the story behind your first encounter with Black Lips? My friend Paul took me to see his sister Sarah’s band the Lids. This band called the Black Lips played and it was like watching a hurricane spinning in place and detuning itself. I was also really stoned. I sat on this couch and somebody

was DJing old garage rock records. Cole jumped on a coffee table in front of me and got all in my face and was like “WHO are YOU???” I told him his band reminded me of early Beefheart. We’ve been best friends ever since…. “Cryptogram” and “cryptograph” are synonyms. Any reason you named your album Cryptograms? Because when I say “cryptograph”

my teeth hit my lips and it accentuates my overbite. I look ugly. Is there anything non music related that y’all do together often? We make out and smoke joints and play with switchblades. BLACK LIPS Where’d your band name come from? I had a fat black babysitter named Denise.

6 4 T H E FADER

NWS PRN T

SIGN LANGUAGE SHANNON EBNER’S UNNATURAL BEAUTY

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• Artist Shannon Ebner follows in the steps of greats like Ed Ruscha, bridging the gap between text and visual so that each comments on the other—a very 21st Century

meditation on language and image. LANDSCAPE INCARCERATION teeters over a barren stretch of grass and mud, while the shadow of CHEMO floats on a rocky lunarscape,

abutted by WATER drifting in silver balloons. Ebner’s words reference political and religious phraseology that isn’t always readily discernible—but the juxtapositions are striking

comments in themselves. Her pieces are also—in the tradition of the Hollywood sign—grand, sweeping gestures of beauty.
ALEX WAGNER

www. wallspacegallery.com

6 6 T H E FADER

NWS PRN T

OSAKA 500 TOMOE HAMAYA’S NITRO-BURNING POP ART

• Japanese artist Tomoe Hamaya constructs his painstakingly detailed “Critical Hit” pieces out of model racecar decals, stacking checkered flags over intersecting lines of

phrases like “Tigerzap” and “Sonic.” It’s modern art for Ritalin kids, merging childhood toy obsessiveness and media overload with the traditional Rimpa school of decorative painting.

The stickers have earned Hamaya exhibitions at the Kyoto Museum and the Tokyo Wonder Site, as well as the admiration of graf graphic luminaries like KAWS. “I’m not famous

yet,” Hamaya says. “But I’m looking for a chance.” He doesn’t have a gallery rep, or even a proper website, but Hamaya knows the fast track for weirdo stardom— he’s currently enrolled in

Osaka University, not for art, but for grad school-level mathematics. NICK BARAT hayamatomoe@e-mail.jp

®

*Than our previous blend. © 2006 McDonald’s 6 8 T H E FADER

®

NWS PRN T

MAN DOWN WERNER HERZOG REVISTS THE HORROR WITH RESCUE DAWN

• Werner Herzog has been a crazerly prolific filmmaker since the 1960s, but with the 2005 documentary Grizzly Man he reignited a (relatively) greater interest in his work. The

German director’s latest is Rescue Dawn, a film based on the experiences of Dieter Dengler, a friend of Herzog’s who was shot down over Laos and kept in a POW camp in the

early stages of the Vietnam War. Gorgeously filmed in Thailand and starring Christian Bale, the film is bookended by almost satirical Top Gun-esque passages, but their contrast

with the film’s brutal center only emphasizes the bottomless despair of another terrible war we got ourselves into. ERIC DUCKER www.wernerherzog.com

70 T H E FADER

GIRLS ON FILM THE TOMBOY CHIC OF POSTWAR LONDON

LOOK
PHOTOGRAPHY © KEN RUSSELL TOPHAM/THE IMAGE WORKS

• Ken Russell was still a photography student when he took pictures of London’s Teddy Girls in the mid-’50s. Unlike the standard Teddy Boy uniform of drape coats and drainpipe trousers, the girls were playful in

their styling, accessorizing with brooches and scarves, posing with umbrellas propped like walking canes in the post-war rubble. Upper class gentlemen had adopted Edwardian garb as a nostalgic throwback

to pre-war times, but for these working class women, their clothes pointed to a different future. Pants were signs of a modern age where women could hold down jobs traditionally occupied by men. For the

most part, the Teddy Girls stayed in the shadow of their male counterparts (the style was largely associated with rebellious youth), and were never fully recognized as a subculture in their own right. Russell—who

is preparing an exhibition of these unpublished images and others from ’50s London—turns 80 this year, and is the only professional photographer known to have documented the group.
CHIOMA NNADI

72 T H E FADER

THE FADER 73

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THE FADER 75

THE LOCAL VANESSA DA SILVA IS LADY OF THE MANOR

STYLE
PHOTOGRAPHY EMMA HARDY

• As street markets go, Dalston in East London is what you might call the magpie’s favorite—a hodgepodge of fake bling, cheap and cheerful cosmetic stands and

tables overflowing with high-shine African fabrics. “People always says ‘Ugh! Hackney,’ but actually there is a lot of beauty in this neighborhood,” says illustrator and Dalston

resident Vanessa da Silva. The designs for her latest collection of self-titled Tshirts piece together all da Silva’s favorite local goodies—a cobweb of illustrated glitz makes for

a gigantic neckpiece on one tee, while a shopping bag full of market finds gets splashed across another.
CHIOMA NNADI

www.vanessadasilva.com

76 T H E FADER

WORLD TOUR ADIDAS GETS GLOBAL

STYLE
PHOTOGRAPHY ANDREW BETTLES

• For spring ’07, Adidas packed a suitcase full of classic track tops and pulled a Phileas Fogg, jetting off on a round-the-world tour to pick up new design tricks from all four corners.

This African-inspired jacket takes its embroidered neckline from the traditional beaded necklaces worn by Maasai tribeswomen, while traditional African wax printing techniques

were used to create its muticolored lining.
CHIOMA NNADI

www.adidas.com

78 T H E FADER

STYLE
• A graduate of London’s Central Saint Martins, Charlotte Mann used to make costumes for Russell Sage (dresses formed from flowers, money and so forth) before deciding that painting pretty ladies was more fun. “I love drawing sexy women,” she says. “I love their bodies, faces, hair and clothes!” Her obsession has come in handy—she doodled the backdrop for Peter Jensen’s Spring/Summer ’07 show (it took a week, and several pens) and is currently creating an installation for London boutique b store, exhibiting with organic couturiers OsvoMode and releasing a book of illustrations of said cute females. Of her day-to-day process, Mann says, “I wear dark glasses so I can get away with sketching them on buses without them noticing.” HELEN JENNINGS www.charlottemann.co.uk • Like a sartorial Grey Gardens, Austrian-born designer Carolin Lerch’s line Pelican Avenue comments on the solitude of older Viennese women with its first collection, Edition Dame. The wide, round neckline of the “garden outfit,” is meant to “frame” the wearer’s personality. “By framing mature faces, I’d like to give [these women] back a certain dignity which I think is fading in our society, and especially fashion,” says Lerch. The print, also based on an ellipse, is a computer composition of indoor plants (common in a Viennese household) inspired by “symmetrical flower compositions of neat graveyards or arranged bouquets.” Lerch then uses the thoughtfully deconstructed clothes in her video art and in the context of curating—a well-rounded battalion with which to raise “opposition to trends and the destructive attitude of hypes.” In other words: creativity rules!
RANJANI GOPALARATHINAM

• Euro designer Joline Jolink shape-shifts through cultures like it’s no big deal. In 2006 alone, Jolink went from Amsterdam (where she lives and works) to Paris (to create a guerilla fashion show outside of the Celine show) to Italy (where she represented Dutch design during the second European Fashion awards). Unsurprisingly, Jolink cites Amelia Earhart as an inspiration; her new collection channels a 1970s yacht trip via a nautical color palette, stretchy fabrics, breezy neck-high silhouettes and a “fresh leaf” print design. Borrowing a bit from The Love Boat and a bit from Balenciaga, Jolink’s clothes, which arrive Stateside this fall, possess an easy, irresistible docksider elegance. RANJANI GOPALARATHINAM www.jolinejolink.com

like a dollar shop. except delicious.

• Nothing is really better than arts and crafts that double as both jewelry AND a drumstick accessory, so we’re all for the psychedelic squeezeability of Pon Pons by Abby and Travis. Confident that, “Pons can make for a sexier wardrobe,” Abby says, “People love to touch and squeeze them.” The duo is currently “trying to make the best pon in the world, the one that will keep everyone up at night.”
RANJANI GOPALARATHINAM

www.pelicanevenue.com

pondiriver.blogspot.com

• For some, the art of travel extends no further than floral tapestry trolleys; for others, there’s Globe-Trotter. Since 1897, the Hertfordshire-based luggage brand has been the premier choice of highminded travelers from Winston Churchill to Kate Moss. Why? Two words: Vulcan Fibre. Each leathertrimmed, cloth-lined case is handmade using this patented material masterminded in the mid19th Century to be as light as aluminum and sturdy as leather. Lucky for those Americans looking for an upgrade: Globe-Trotter cases have finally—for the first time in their 110-years of unabashed jet-setting— arrived in the States. Ah, the irony is rich. KARIN NELSON www.globe-trotterltd.com

The New BK™ Breakfast Value Menu.

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the amazing new Hamlette sandwich or eight other breakfast treats, all starting at a dollar each. There’s no better way to begin the day than with the King.

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Participation may vary.

CHEESY TOTS™ is a trademark of H.J. Heinz Company and used under license by Burger King Corporation.

TM & © 2007 Burger King Brands Inc. All rights reserved.

8 0 T H E FADER

CONSTRUCTION WORK ENGINEERED GARMENTS REINVENT STYLES

STYLE
PHOTOGRAPHY DOROTHY HONG

• Before crotch shots and sweatshop-free unitards, American apparel was a lofty notion of craftsmanship, a beast of an industry standard that’s sadly seen sturdier days.

Japanese designer Daisuke Suzuki has always had a soft spot for the glory years of Americana and feeds this sartorial habit with Engineered Garments, his line of built-to-last

menswear—mili-jackets and hunting coats all manufactured using old US standard techniques. Unsurprisingly, everything’s been produced exclusively in the States since the

company launched nearly 10 years ago, even though the line was until recently, only available in Japan. Traditionally worn for trekking or padding around in the wild, their Arrow Moc

boot is made in partnership with a small studio in Massachusetts. Each pair molds to the wearer’s feet for custom-made footprints.
CHIOMA NNADI

www.engineeredgarments.com

8 2 T H E FADER

A G THING GINO GREEN TRIPLES UP

STYLE
PHOTOGRAPHY DOROTHY HONG

or the past year and a half, a stout half Irish and half Puerto Rican outsider/insider simply known as Prince has been on the road with his clothing line, Gino Green Global. By now, you’ve seen the stuff everywhere: the tees and hoodies covered with the “g” that more or less passes for a “9.” Prince let us aboard the GGG tour bus on a short stop at their NYC HQ to meet the rest of the family. What made you start Gino Green? Prince: I’ve been doing this my whole life. It all originated from the culture itself—I’m a graffiti artist. And I didn’t become a rapper first and then go into designing; I’ve always wanted to be a designer. I can appreciate that. But why the name Gino Green itself and not say, Tony Black or Henry Indigo, even? Prince: I was watching a lot of Italian designers and I’m aware that the market follows a lot of Italian designers, so it had to have a little of that niche to it. Plus we use a lot of Italian fabrics so it just made sense. To us, the word “Gino,” means

F

“I WANTED TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE THREE 9S SO THAT THEY COLLABORATE AS GS. THAT WAY YOU GET THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS AND HAVE PEOPLE SAYING: ‘WHAT IS THAT? IS THAT A 9 OR A G?’”

genuine in and out. As far as Green, I feel as though it’s the most powerful color in the universe. How do you think you really differ from say, A Bathing Ape or Ice Cream? Prince: We respect Bathing Apes and everything, but Bathing Apes ain’t from where we from! We all from the boroughs of New York, we’re from where hip-hop started. That’s the culture, the concept, the language, the swagger, the walk, the BMWs, the fitted hats. That shit is a New York thing! So really, at the end of the day, how the fuck is somebody

else from overseas gonna tell us how to wear our pants and cut our pants?! What’s the story behind the “g” as a “9”? Prince: We go back to the days of Louis Vuitton and Gucci and their eye-catching logos. A lot of people know that clothing lines do two-digit numbers: 67 for Polo or even 05 for FUBU. But I wanted to do a three-digit number, and make it look like three 9s so that they collaborate as gs. That way you get the best of both worlds and have people saying: ‘What is that? Is that a 9 or a g?’ There goes your marketing!

WORN BY: 50 CENT PAPOOSE BUSTA RHYMES TEGO CALDERÓN REMY MA KEYSHIA COLE LLOYD BANKS DADDY YANKEE TONY YAYO LIL SCRAPPY DJ KAYSLAY DJ PROSTYLE

Sort of like a battle? Mata: Exactly. We’re not trying to lose touch. Basically, we’re like a drug: you’ve got coke, weed, dust and all that. Now, the profit in coke is a fast flip, the profit in dope is a big flip…. But, the weed is a guaranteed flip—it’s a slow process but it’s always pure and you never lose out. Guess which one we are.
OMAR DUBOIS

www.ginogreenglobal.com

8 4 T H E FADER

STYLING BY CHIOMA NNADI. KEVIN WEARS T-SHIRT BY GINO GREEN, JEANS BY PARISH, HAT BY AIR JORDAN.

Dave: We recently went to Atlanta and people were buying our sweatshirts off people’s backs! Not to blow Sean Jean or Rocawear’s covers, but nobody’s buying fucking collections anymore! So, Prince came up with the idea that if it’s hot, let’s get it in before they bootleg it—niggas ain’t fuckin’ bootlegging Akademiks ’cos that shit don’t sell! Niggas only bootleg shit that sells. Niggas bootleg Gino Green and Air Force Ones, not 8Ball jackets! Mata: The bootleggers are even coming with more styles than us! Dave: And when the bootleggers come up with long-sleeve tees, we come out with leathers!

IN LIVING COLOR ZIGFREDA SPINS KALEIDOSCOPE THREADS

STYLE
PHOTOGRAPHY DOROTHY HONG

Damon Albarn, Damon Albarn, Tony Tony Allen, Paul Simonon, Paul Simonon, and and Simon Tong Tong

Produced by Danger Mouse Produced by Danger Mouse
"[an] incredibly beautiful record" "[an] incredibly beautiful record" -NYLON guys -NYLON guys "The Good, The Bad And The Queen adds "The Good, The Bad And The Queen adds up to, among other things, another up to, among other things, another brazenly inventive chapter in Damon brazenly inventive chapter in Damon Albarn's restless career" Albarn's restless career" - Paste - Paste

STYLING BY CHIOMA NNADI. MODEL MONICA NELSON.

• Some designers rely on muses, but for Brazilian designer Katia Wille, inspiration is a good commercial break. “I saw this commercial for new flat screen televisions,”

she says. “There were thousands of giant colored balls bouncing all over San Francisco and it just seemed like a metaphor for harmony.” Hints of TV reverie can be found

throughout the new Zigfreda collection—from bouncy primary-colored separates to jumpsuits illustrated with airplanes and colored bubbles. Wille drew all the celluloid-

inspired prints by hand and runs the business with her Dutch husband. “When we lived in Holland I used to call my husband Zigfredo after the Segafredo coffee that was sold at the place

we used to meet. Then we named our cat Ziggy, so of course Zigfreda for the label—it just seemed to make perfect sense!”
CHIOMA NNADI

In stores and online now InAvailable at and online now stores
Available at

www.zigfreda.com

8 6 T H E FADER

www.virginrecords.com www.thegoodthebadandthequeen.com www.virginrecords.com

© 2007 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to EMI Records Ltd., in the United States to Virgin Records America, Inc. All rights reserved. © 2007 Thirteen Limited under exclusive license to EMI Records Ltd., in the United States to

AIR APPARENT DJ CLARK KENT’S AIR FORCE ONE ADDICTION

STYLE
PHOTOGRAPHY DOROTHY HONG

Total number of Air Force Ones purchased: About 3500, but I do own a few Air Jordans too. Number currently in collection: About 1400. I

gave a bunch of them away. First pair ever purchased: A silver and white pair I got back in 1982. I went down to Baltimore to buy them because you couldn’t get

them anywhere else at the time. Average number of wears per sneaker: One. It used to be more, though. Now they look dirty after one wear.

Storage location: My house in Brooklyn and my mom’s basement. Average number bought per international shopping spree: 10 to 40. I often

buy them in Japan and Australia. Favorite pair: White on white low-tops. CHIOMA NNADI

8 8 T H E FADER

“I WROTE SONGS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS THAT ALMOST ENDED ME.”

GENF
BOTTLE ROCKET AMY WINEHOUSE’S WASTED R&B

Amy Winehouse, backstage at G-A-Y, London.

PHOTOGRAPHY LIZ JOHNSON ARTUR

t’s 8PM on a Friday night in New York City and Amy Winehouse wants a tattoo. Another one. Her left arm has already been graced by an upside-down horseshoe and a topless model, and her right has been inked with a greaser chick in red pumps, a tied-up shirt and the name “Cynthia,” but somewhere inside the neon yellow tattoo parlor next to East Village Radio, a buzzing needle whispers her name. “Don’t get one now!” says DJ Mark Ronson, who brought Winehouse over to the station to guest on his show. “It’s going to make you too tired to sing.” After listening to Winehouse’s Back to Black, exhaustion seems like it would be as much an asset to the singer as an impediment. The album is a showcase for Winehouse’s smoldering voice—a ragged, throwback croon that makes you wonder why anyone would ever stop calling nightclubs “gin joints”—and her deeply confessional lyrics, which detail broken hearts and broken bottles in equal measure. “This album was so easy to make,” Winehouse would explain over the phone, back home in London for a live show a few weeks after the EVR stop. “I mean, I wrote songs about relationships that almost ended me. When you write about stuff that’s so personal, you don’t have to dig that deep.” Yet for all its inky tears, the actual music on Back to Black, produced by Ronson and beat extraordinaire Salaam Remi, is a rather upbeat nod to Motown classics and Phil Spector’s girl group backbeat. Lead single “Rehab” might be the happiest song to ever contain a line like I’m gonna lose my baby, so I always keep a bottle near, and it’s follow up, “You Know I’m No Good,” is no less poppy, even as Winehouse wails to an ex-lover, I cry for you on the kitchen floor. Ghostface Killah recently added verses to “You Know I’m No Good” for his More Fish album, and as that track gets spins on US urban radio—and Back to Black’s US release draws near—Winehouse finds herself positioned as an unlikely R&B diva and hip-hop guest star. But who else is going to share her fondness for tats and top shelf liquors? “You know that Ronnettes tune, ‘Be My Baby?’” she asks. “When I was with Salaam last time, he had me sing that chorus, but make it B-boy, be my baby, Then he tried to get me to do a verse! I was like, ‘I thought you were going to get Nas or something?’” NICK BARAT

I

“SHARKS DON’T GOT NO TYPE OF EXPRESSIONS ON THEM, SO PEOPLE GET IN THE WATER WITH THEM THINKING THEY AIN’T DOING NOTHING.”

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GENF
JAWS FAM-LAY IS GONNA BITE RAP’S LEG OFF

omehow, despite the fact that Virginia has thoroughly dominated commercial rap and R&B since Teddy Riley relocated to VA Beach over 15 years ago, the current kings of the Tidewater, the Neptunes, can’t get anybody to put their friends’ records out. Clipse finally got their due, but now it’s Norfolk’s Fam-Lay sitting in the chamber, one shelved Def Jam album already fully shrouded in dust and another album, Dat Missile, floating somewhere on Interscope’s Spring/Summer ’07 schedule. If nothing else, Hell Hath No Fury should have snapped some execs out of their slumber and solidified a date for Fam’s album, which is already leaking nuclear material like a Russian submarine. Label antics are frustrating, but a Gangsta Grillz session with Atlanta mixtape impresario DJ Drama will plug the holes for the time being. Fam, meanwhile, has already been through it once and trusts it won’t happen the same way twice. Referring to his new label, Fam says, “They know what we trying to do, the direction we going. So I ain’t mad at all. [The Def Jam shelving] was a blessing in disguise because we ready now.” When Fam talks like this, like he’s about to prey on the rap status quo, it’s hard not to notice the full-sleeve tattoo on his right arm. “Yeah, I got an armful of sharks,” he says. “Sharks don’t got no type of expressions on them, so people get in the water with them

thinking they ain’t doing nothing. Go fuck around and they bite your damn leg off.” He says it with the same dry humor and nautical drawl that coats his raps in salty Norfolk air. It’s what distinguishes him from the almost region-less sound of his friends, Pusha T and Malice, and what makes Fam such an appealing spokesman for the area. In fact, as he sits in front of the local barbershop/ music-talk shop, Furious Styles, Fam is frequently approached by random kids and neighborhood acquaintances as if he were an elected official. “Even though Clipse are just 20 minutes up the road,” he says, “we got a completely different thing going on over here in Norfolk from Virginia Beach.” On the Neptunes-produced “Head Bust,” it’s readily apparent Fam has no intention of masking his Southern accent—his tumbling intonation oozes charm over what he describes as “mean monster shit.” It’s true, Pharrell and Chad save some of their ugliest for Fam, but he’s going sub-Dixie for the rest of his album, racking up beats from David Banner, Three 6 Mafia, DJ Toomp and Shawty Redd. The all-star production might turn heads to the bottom of the map, but Fam-Lay will bring them right back to Norfolk.
PETER MACIA

Fam-Lay onstage at Norfolk, VA club Norva before a show with Pharrell and Clipse.

PHOTOGRAPHY RICH-JOSEPH FACUN

92 T H E FADER

“I PRETTY MUCH LOST IT AND BURST INTO TEARS, WHICH IS COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS.”

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GENF
THE MISEDUCATION VOXTROT IS THE INDIE POP JOHN LEGEND

amesh Srivastava keeps a blog, and this past September he detailed how a Voxtrot practice made him cry: “More and more I find myself in a scenario where I am situated in a room with a group of people listening to one of our songs boom out of a set of speakers, and as the song plays people issue their various views about the song’s strong and weak points. I fucking hate this. On the particular day in question, as this was occurring, I pretty much lost it and burst into tears, which I know is completely ridiculous.” Maybe it’s ridiculous, but it’s better than not caring and making bad music. In the song “Rise Up in the Dirt,” he sings boastfully that he believes in love and, naturally, in the next line he professes that he’s married to his work. Really, Voxtrot and Srivastava are indistinguishable. So Voxtrot (the music) sounds just this close to Voxtrot (the band). The sound has little accoutrements to represent emotions—maybe there is a blow of a French horn for emptiness, a piano trill for failed effort. The songs aren’t epics but instead little vignettes of young life reinterpreted as guitar-based pop music. They sound vaguely British, and when the keyboard kicks in, maybe more than a little like Ben Folds Five. There’s a universality to Voxtrot, like an indie-pop John Legend— incredibly personal, widely loved and critically acclaimed. But unlike Hill, Srivastava and

friends remain Grammy-less—Voxtrot still hasn’t even released an album. Srisvastra is flippant about the public’s (or, as he puts it, “the blogosphere’s”) desire for the band to release a full-length (he’s big on EPs). Nonetheless, Voxtrot plans to “supposedly” release an album in the spring on British label Playlouder. Early in our conversation, Srivastra tells me that he dropped out of college to play music. He’d been writing “man and his guitar” songs and playing loosely with Voxtrot, but finally he let the band coalesce and bubble up. He says it so plainly, as though all 23-year-olds abandon parent-satisfying BAs to pursue their eternal musical dreams. When I ask him if it’s strange—such new semi-fame and praise—he answers so quick it’s almost curt: “No, I love it.” Then he takes a mental step back, laughs tiny and pauses, then finally admits with playful self-awareness that, of course, “Pride comes before the fall.” MATTHEW SCHNIPPER

Voxtrot at home in Austin, TX.

PHOTOGRAPHY ALYSSA BANTA

9 4 T H E FADER

“IT ALMOST SEEMED LIKE CONTINUING ON AS WIVES WAS POINTLESS.”

GENF
OWN ZONE NO AGE FLY THE FLAG OF FREEDOM

ean Spunt and Randy Randall were somewhere in Germany on the edge of emotional breakdowns when the realization began to take hold. It was the summer of 2005 and they were in the midst of a fear and self-loathing tour of Europe with their band Wives—driving themselves in a rented station wagon, searching for vegan food and playing on borrowed equipment. In 2001 the two had formed Wives with drummer Jeremy Villalobos, eventually becoming one of the leading lights of LA’s young punk community, but Villalobos had quit the group at the beginning of their preceding two-month tour of the US, forcing them to recruit a Texan teenager as a replacement. After a show in Essen, they realized how unpsyched and trapped they felt by the music they were playing. “It almost seemed like continuing on as Wives was pointless,” says Spunt. They decided that the shows on that tour would be their last under the Wives banner and then everything became a whole lot better. When they returned home they remade themselves as No Age. With Randall on heavy pedal-ed guitar as Spunt sings and plays drums, No Age retains the duo’s interest in hardcore, but they are more likely to bury or burn it in their songs. Dealing with dual desires to be more experimental and more pop, they don’t let either side control the conflict. Instead they

D

play them off each other or allow them to slug it out. On “Semi-Sorted,” while the bass drum keeps time like a heartbeat at rest and the guitar struggles in a straightjacket of fuzz, Spunt sings We all stick to our sides/ We all don’t know why. March brings the first official releases of No Age music, coming as five different EPs on five different labels—Upset the Rhythm, Deleted Art, Youth Attack, Teenage Teardrops and Spunt’s own Post Present Medium—though they admit they probably should have put more thought into which indie got what songs. No Age has become an exercise in freedom for Spunt and Randall, not only letting them play whatever type of music they want, but also allowing two guys who’ve been seen as “guys in bands” since before they turned 20 identify themselves as something greater. They have already made ventures into clothing and visual art, and LA’s cultural edgeriders have embraced the group, booking them to play galleries like New Image and Tiny Creatures as well as the birthday of Chinatown boutique Ooga Booga. Semijoking about the differences in audience reaction to a No Age show and a Wives show, Randall says, “I don’t get as many high fives.” To which Spunt adds, “More people have been like, ‘Let’s collaborate, let’s design a shirt together.’” ERIC DUCKER

No Age play Dave Young’s warehouse in Los Angeles, CA.

Knowledge is contagious. Infect

thetruth.com

PHOTOGRAPHY RJ SHAUGHNESSY

THE FADER 97

“I STILL BELIEVE TO THIS DAY THAT IF YOU’RE MY FRIEND, IT’S FOR LIFE.”

GENF
THROUGH THE WIRE DANCEHALL VETERAN MR VEGAS DID IT HIS WAY

he story of Mr Vegas is the stuff of dancehall legend. A modest career doing reggae covers like “Killing Me Softly” was sidelined in the mid-’90s by a broken jawbone, but rather than miss the chance to jump on Jeremy Harding’s classic “Playground” riddim, Vegas voiced “Nike Air” with his jaw wired shut. Unable to mold his mouth around the notes, he half-rapped Mi wan’ fi see yuh hand inna di yeeairr… in a nasal monotone that became the trademark on a string of oddly addictive ’90s hits. A pitch-perfect counterpoint to his dancehall schoolie Sean Paul on tracks like “Hot Gal Today,” the two fell out dramatically when the 12-inch appeared minus Vegas’s name. “I still believe to this day that if you’re my friend, it’s for life and no record label or nobody can come between,” says Vegas. “If you and me put in heart and soul to blow a song up in Jamaica and then it’s promoted as just you when it start takin on wings overseas…I can’t see eye to eye with that.” Although long since squashed, the beef proved penny-wise and dollar-stupid for Vegas, who disappeared from the juggling around the time his sparring partner went platinum. Suddenly, however, in 2006, Vegas transformed his status from MIA to comeback kid with hits as wildly disparate as the sweetly sentimental one drop “Do You Know” and the raunchy uptempo bashment of “Hot Wuk”

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(aka “Hot Fuk”). “I didn’t want to just come back in and record a lot of songs like ‘Nike Air’ and ‘Heads High,’” Vegas says of his strategy. “When I did [’90s throwbacks] ‘Constant Spring’ and ‘Taxi Fare,’ people said, ‘Ok, he’s making some noise.’ But when I said ‘Do You Know,’ they start believing.” Between the cover tunes, the veteran status and the interpretation of material from all over the dancehall map, you might legitimately think the name “Mr Vegas” was in tribute to Sinatra or Wayne Newton. In fact, Vegas was named for a local strip club (for rocking shirts in go-go dancer pink “long before pink started wearin in Jamaica!”), but he seems to have grown into the name’s other connotations. “When I look at a great performer, I have to see why them stick around for years and years—it’s the stage show. In order for me to be around this long I can’t come to no show an’ flop. I rock any crowd: Spanish, Japanese…I’m just an entertainer.” EDWIN “STATS” HOUGHTON

Mr Vegas on the street in Kingston, JA.

PHOTOGRAPHY MARTEI KORLEY

9 8 T H E FADER

“WE LIKE TO HAVE A DRINK IN OUR HAND, AYE.”

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GENF
ROMANCING THE STONED THE JOYOUS EXCESSES OF THE VIEW

s a UK band, you know you’ve made it when you have your own football terrace-style chant. “The View, the View, the View are on fire!” is the chorus that has pursued these Scottish scallywags for the last year as their following has snowballed—it started with hometown evangelists, but now practically all-comers are seduced by their ragged, uplifting anthems. Like the Arctic Monkeys before them, the View are scarily fresh-faced—average age 19—and have effectively demolished the barrier between band and audience. The kids in the front row are the same kids who “treasure beer cans” and “talk of dreams, romance and excess” throughout the View’s breathless urban hymns. “Pretty much every one of our songs is about our friends,” reckons deceptively cherubic singer Kyle Falconer. “There’s no point in racking your brains trying to come up with a lyric that’ll change the world—if you write about what you know best, people will be able to relate to it.” The View learned to play along to Oasis, Fleetwood Mac and the White Album but, as for so many bands of their generation, the Libertines were the catalyst. “Other bands taught us how to play music, but they had the attitude,” Falconer says. Totemic Libertines frontman Pete Doherty also influenced the View’s career rather more directly. When he visited their hometown of Dundee, Scotland with his post-Libs outfit

Babyshambles, the View ambushed his tourbus; the evening ended with Doherty playing harmonica along to their demo and inviting them to open for him the following night. A few weeks later, former Libertines A&R James Endeacott made them the flagship band of his new 1965 Records imprint. With mentors like Doherty and legendary drug repositories Primal Scream, it’s no surprise that the View have attracted a reputation for hijinks. They are named after a local inn in which they used to rehearse, but were banned from for racing microscooters through the function suite and stealing beer from the bar. Falconer also recounts tales of the group driving cars in reverse down oneway streets and running through town in winter wearing nothing but a Scotland-flag thong. He is unsure as to whether the View’s hedonistic outlook constitutes a philosophy, but concedes, “We like to have a drink in our hand, aye.” Everything has happened rapidly for the View, with the self-confessed “noise and thrashiness” of their invigorating debut Hats Off to the Buskers a direct result of the band transporting its live show into the studio and getting out again quickly in order to enjoy life some more. “We’ll give it a bash,” Falconer says, when pressed on his ambitions for breaking America. “But we don’t think much about the future.” SAM RICHARDS

The View in New York before their US debut.

PHOTOGRAPHY ANDREW HENDERSON

1 0 0 T H E FADER

“THE FACT THAT NAS USED EVERY SINGLE THING THAT I DID JUST MADE ME WANNA CRY.”

GENF
THE CHAMP CHRISETTE MICHELE IS ALREADY WINNING

y first time through Jay-Z’s comeback album Kingdom Come, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew there’d be the Beyoncé hook de rigueur, but it was the surprising, crackled and filtered jazz vocal chorus on “Lost Ones” that stuck out: Lost one/ Let go to get one/ Get one/ Lose some to win some/ Story of a champion/ Sorry, I’m a champion/ Ya lost one…. I actually backed the song up to catch the lyrics, then looked for the name of the singer—Chrisette Michele. Turns out Michele not only sang the hook, but also wrote it. Soon her name popped up again when Nas released Hip Hop is Dead—Michele contributed songwriting to “Not Going Back,” lyrics and vocals to “Hope,” then I noticed her jazzing up “Still Dreaming” and “Can’t Forget About You,” which paired her up with a sampled Nat King Cole…. Damn! Of her impressive run at the end of 2006, Michele says, “As a new artist you go in and say, ‘I hope they like me!’ and the fact that Nas used every single thing that I did just made me want to cry. Like, ‘Word? You sure?’” Since a track coach handed Michele her very first CD at age 17 in her high school hallway, she’s been studying jazz and pursuing a music career. Michele got turned on to open mic nights during her time at Five Towns College, regularly performing at the Village Underground. Michele noticed India.Arie in the crowd one night and took

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the initiative to ask Arie to stick around to hear her performance. Arie’s booking agent was impressed and immediately booked the singer for a tour alongside Kem, Angie Stone and Arie. After the tour, Michele returned to her open mic shows while her management mailed out a few demos. An A&R for Def Jam showed up at a few of the Village Underground performances and scheduled a meeting for Michele with LA Reid, who then signed her on the spot. Growing up, both of Michele’s parents were active in their Patchogue, Long Island church. Her mom was the choir director and her dad played the organ and served as a deacon. She has strong Christian values, and given the general video vixenized tomfoolery of the R&B industry, it seems like a frightening step for her. But there’s no need to question Michele’s bravery after her performances with Nas and Jay, and to call her a gospel artist would be missing the point—you won’t catch her preaching through her music. “There are enough church people in the church,” she says. “I’m really excited to just be myself outside those four walls.” LINDSEY CALDWELL

Chrisette Michele on the set of the video shoot for Nas’s “Can’t Forget About You.”

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1 02 T H E FADER

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Bone Thugs-N-Harmony•Gang Gang Dance•The Chinese Beat•DC Capitol Rap

SPRING ETERNAL
•Explosions In The Sky•Mind-Swapping Collaborators•Bombay Street Style
THE FADER 107

1 0 6 T H E FADER

Resurrecting Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

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S P I RI T U A L I S T S
P H O T O G R A P H Y J A S O N N O C I TO

STO RY E R I C D U C K E R

BONE THUGS-N-HARMONY

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Krayzie Bone’s frequent guest verse work allows younger groups to pay homage to Bone Thugs.

pril Love met Bone Thugs-N-Harmony out in LA in ’94 and started doing their hair shortly thereafter. Her first gig was a music video whose name she can’t remember, but based on the vague details she gives, it was probably “East 1999” from their first full-length E 1999 Eternal. The shoot went late, of course, and Bone Thugs had to get to New York for an awards show. With paper maché or some shit still in their hair, they convinced Love to come with them across the country in a private plane. The morning after the ceremony, Love woke up and all the management folks she had been dealing with were gone and had been replaced with a new crew for their tour that was about to start. When she tried to get a ticket back to California they told her she couldn’t leave them and gave her $1000 to go shopping for clothes. She ended up on the road for eight weeks. “Every time I wanted to go home they started throwing money at me,” she says. Since then Love has been in charge of braiding, fro-ing, combing out, blow drying and ponytailing the members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s hair, even though private planes and endless cashflow are no longer their reality. In the mid-’90s the Cleveland-born quartet of Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone and Wish Bone were one of the biggest and weirdest acts in hip-hop, if not in all of popular music. They were four skinny boys who made their corner of E 99 & St Clair sound like the gateway to hell and brought a horse drawn carriage on stage at the MTV Video Music Awards. Rap was just beginning to realize that all its stars might not come from the coasts and some shots had already been fired from Chicago and Flint, but no one expected that the Midwest would claim its place through the gloom of Cleveland. With their long hair and ill-fitting Indians gear, Bone Thugs looked like more countrified versions of Compton and East Oakland’s street reporters, yet in their lyrics they

1 1 0 T H E FADER

BONE THUGS-N-HA R M O N Y

added an element of morbid spirituality that mixed the traditions of black Christianity with the occult. “Mr Ouija” from their 1994 debut EP Creepin on Ah Come Up is darkside doo-wop where the harmonized plea to their version of Mr Sandman is not for some lollipop dream, but to tell them how they’ll meet their maker. Then they blast the old “Name Game Song” full of holes: Murdermurder-mo-murder, mo-murder-murder-mo-murder, mo-murder-murder-mo-murder, mo-murder-murder-momurder, mo-murder, mo-murder, mo-murder…. A decade later, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is down to the trio of Krayzie and the cousins Layzie and Wish. Flesh-N-Bone, the unofficial fifth member and Layzie’s brother, has been serving a ten year prison sentence for armed assault since 2000, with the possibility of parole in 2008. The troubled Bizzy has other issues he’s dealing with and is estranged from the group. This spring brings their seventh album Strength in Loyalty, the first release on producer Swizz Beatz’s Full Surface imprint, a new venture backed by Interscope. Second chances for rappers don’t come often, especially not with the support of one of the music industry’s most successful labels. Former Goodie Mob member Cee-Lo recently caught another break with Gnarls Barkley, but he was aided by luck, Danger Mouse’s quirky understanding of the modern pop landscape and the fact that most of Gnarls’s fans hadn’t heard of him the first time around. As for Flavor Flav’s resurgence…it’s best not to think about it too much unless you want to bum yourself out. During the making of Strength in Loyalty, Bone Thugs were party to how hip-hop albums are now put together on major labels. In the past the group mainly stuck to a single producer for the duration and kept features to a minimum, but for these sessions big name beatmakers and guest vocalists were piled on: Akon, Will.i.am, Cool & Dre, former rivals Three 6 Mafia, Twista (who they also once beefed with), the Game, Jermaine Dupri, frequent collaborator and style disciple Mariah Carey, Big Boi, Kelly Rowland and others. They’ve also worked with unproven producers like the Platinum Brothers and Swizz Beatz protégé Neo da Matrix, as well as indulged some of their stranger tendencies—like recording a song based around a sample of Fleetwood Mac’s soft rock triumph “The Chain” and another that features Tupac Shakur’s furious rantings played continuously in the background. For Strength in Loyalty, they finished close to 100 songs and at press time it was unclear which ones would make the final tracklist. Under these circumstances, the recording process seems impersonal, but recognizing the opportunity they had, the members of Bone Thugs say this album made them
“The rap game is real hard right now, not just for people trying to get in it, but for people that’s in it,” says Wish Bone.

BONE THUGS-N-HA R M O N Y

tighter than they’d been in years. “We became close family again,” says Layzie Bone, the most forthcoming member of the group. “We lived together. Everyone had different condos in the same apartment complex, so you know, we’d go down the hall, cook eggs at a nigga’s house. Everyone would come up with a chorus line at night, wake up and go to the studio together.” When they were coming up, Cleveland was an R&B city dominated by Gerald LeVert. All the members of Bone Thugs started off as singers, but converted to hip-hop at a young age. Cleveland was also a city still struggling with the fallout of the crack epidemic. “All that religion that was going on in the family and the strength and the black unity, it really broke down,” says Layzie. “My mom and damn near all my aunts and uncles, all them motherfuckers was pimps, and right after Big Ma and Pop Pop and Gram Gram died, shit just went to Hades. Motherfuckers ran down the house everyone grew up in. Average hood shit, average life.” Like many, Bone Thugs identified with NWA’s inner city misery tales about life in Los Angeles, but they took the devotion even deeper by using a single verse as the jump-off point for their idiosyncratic style. “We heard MC Ren flipping over the beat really hard one time and it just stuck with us,” says Wish Bone. “We started speeding up and before we knew it we was doing something new and we didn’t even recognize it no more. We didn’t even know it was that different because we was so secluded with each other.” The signature Bone Thugs flow is a highly articulated fast rap that they unexpectedly accelerate or downshift at will. Syllables pop, ping, internally combust and sometimes float

off into a full on croon. On “Body Rott” from The Art of War, Krayzie nimbly click clacks their outlook on life: We paper chase and smoke blunts/ You’ll never find a thuggish bunch of niggas like us/ Don’t be so quick to test us/ I’ll be annoyed and might bust/ I’ma have to talk to Eaz-eeeeee/ Through the ouij-eeeeee/ So I can see if maybe he can tell me why you hatin’ on meeeeee/ Bitin’ on meeeeee/ Why you want meeeeee/ To show a nigga Leatherface in meeeeee. The group caught its first break when, following the splintering of NWA, Eazy-E saw the possibilities in Bone Thugs—after they had taken two cross-country Greyhound bus rides seeking his attention—and signed them to his label Ruthless Records. He then bought them one more set of Greyhound tickets to come out and record in Los Angeles. “We stayed in so many damn hotels, we stayed in every hotel in LA. We got kicked out of every last one of them,” says Krayzie Bone of those early days. “E finally said, ‘I gotta get y’all a house. Y’all need your own space.’ We got kicked out of that motherfucker too. Back then we was wild, we was like straight off the streets and we wasn’t understanding nothing about the game.” Bone Thugs-N-Harmony became rap stars off the success of songs “Thuggish Ruggish Bone,” “For the Love of Money” and “1st of tha Month,” but they didn’t become pop stars until the summer of ’96, when they scored what was possibly the most unexpected hit since the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge.” Eazy-E died of AIDS shortly before the release of E 1999 Eternal and, almost a year later, Bone Thugs redid “Tha Crossroads”—a song from

E 1999 that had previously been dedicated to their friend Big Wally—in tribute to Eazy and everyone else they knew who had passed. Their outlook had always been obsessed with coffins and who was filling them, but with the remix of “Tha Crossroads” they became pallbearers, shepherding the dead to the other side. While other rappers started wearing suits to play mafia, Bone Thugs wore them because they were in mourning. Their ties to the afterlife persisted through their collaborations with 2pac for “Thug Luv” and the Notorious BIG on “Notorious Thugs,” which made them the only artists to collaborate with rap’s two slain gods when they were both still living. Though Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s profile declined after 1997’s double album follow-up The Art of War, Strength in Loyalty is not a reunion album. Bone Thugs have consistently put out music since Creepin on Ah Come Up, even if the music itself hasn’t always been consistent. The present trio even spit out the album Thug Stories on Koch in June of 2006 and Krayzie Bone has had cameos on highprofile problem starters including Lil Jon’s “I Don’t Give a Fuck” and Chamillionaire’s “Ridin’ Dirty.” “We still here, handsome, healthy. The thing was we had to grow up,” says Layzie. “We been together since we was 12. We basically raised each other. So when niggas started having children and different business aspirations, we had to grow our own ways. It wasn’t losing our way, it was finding our way.” In finding their own ways, the three members of Bone Thugs now primarily live in three different cities—Layzie in Atlanta, Wish in Cleveland and Krayzie in Los Angeles—though

they still regularly tour with each other. While this lifestyle pays the bills, it doesn’t sit well with everyone. “Our families be like, ‘Why y’all get to be together so much?’” says Layzie. “Our kids are like, ‘What’s up nigga? Can I go on the road?’” The group had been searching for a new label in 2005, but without Bizzy Bone’s highpitched whisp haunting their songs, they weren’t finding the right takers. Then they heard that Swizz Beatz had expressed interest in them. In the late ’90s Swizz made his name with slabs of avant digital menace for the Ruff Ryders camp that somehow managed to find mainstream appeal. In the following years, he has continued to produce panicky East Coast bangers for hip-hop and pop artists including TI, Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, Beyoncé and JoJo. Although it is dark and hellish in its own way, his music is far from Bone Thugs’ usual stalking, gothic style. Still, Swizz considers himself a longtime fan of the group and recognized the following they still have. “Bone is damn near a cult,” he says. “You should see how these people come out to shows without them having new hits. When you ain’t got no hits, you see who your real fans are. They have people supporting them with Bone tattoos and everything and no hits out.” Bizzy has left and returned to the group numerous times during their long history. Over the years there have been reports of religious awakenings, him being too drunk to perform at shows and a childhood history that involved kidnapping and possible molestation. In April of 2005 the realities of Bizzy’s emotional state became more widely known after his brief, downloadable appearance on the Damage

Control radio show on KPFT in Houston hit the rap gossip links network. In the difficult to follow segment, Bizzy raved like a street preacher and finished off thoughts by dropping his voice into a conflated impression of a demon and a professional wrestler. He alluded to currently being homeless and spending time in the bus station. Asked about what happened to the money he should have made from his past success, Bizzy replied, “When you look at blowing up and you look at the different things, once you get to the physical realm of it, and once you start looking at that like that, that’s why you stay in the streets, that’s why you stay in the hood, that’s why you stay around the people that ain’t got nothing, because they ain’t got nothing to say but loooooooooooove.” Layzie and Bizzy had reconciled previous problems long enough for the duo to make 2005’s Bone Brothers album, but when Bizzy missed a series of tourdates to promote the project, the static returned. Layzie said he was willing to reconcile again with Bizzy for the sake of the Full Surface deal and the group’s management even brought in DMC of Run DMC to help mediate the process of him coming back, but Bizzy wouldn’t commit. “Bizzy basically made that decision himself,” says Krayzie. “We went down to the wire. We tried to have him involved, he said he was involved, but at the last minute he chose not to.” Requests to get Bizzy to comment for this article weren’t answered, but the group maintains that a full reunion is still not out of the question. “People be mad at us like, ‘Why the hell did we kick [Bizzy] out the group?’ when it ain’t like that,” says Layzie. “He chose

not to, saying at the time that he had another purpose in life, so we respected that. This dude could come back home any time he wants to.” To convince Swizz they were still worth signing, the three remaining members came to New York to work with him for a week, banging out almost 20 songs. In the end it was their work ethic that most impressed him. “They didn’t want to fly in first class, they didn’t want no hotel like that, they didn’t want no car service to the studio,” says Swizz. “They was just the epitome of what a group should be, and they sold millions and millions of records. I had to respect that.” For all the bleakness that exists in the music of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, the possibility for redemption has always existed inside of it. On the intro to Creepin on Ah Come Up, the first sound is vocals played backwards, the persisting musical shorthand for satanic messages. But flipping the clip in reverse reveals that the message is actually the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer: Our Father who art in heaven…. Sitting with Wish Bone, a man who has the grim reaper tattooed on one arm and a skull on the other, I asked him what he thought the main themes that defined their work were. “Basically, love and truthfulness through our music,” he replied. The interview was soon over and Wish had April Love braid his hair before his redeye flight back to Cleveland. Nursing Miller Genuine Drafts, Layzie played a video game of Family Feud on his laptop while Krayzie read the script for the movie they plan to star in and release with Strength in Loyalty. The only time they needed to talk to each other was when they asked to borrow a lighter.

“We basically raised each other. So when niggas started having children aspirations, we had to grow
1 1 4 T H E FADER

and different business our own ways.”
—LAYZIE BONE

Somehow, in the middle of an ultra-square new New York, Gang Gang Dance is slowly closing in on the perfect global beat

F U T UR E P E R F E C T
STO RY W I L L W E LC H P H O T O G R A P H Y J A S O N N O C I TO

GANG GANG DANCE

“I started meeting thugged out house producers and thugged

out gay dancers and everyone was just rocking out and

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ot too long ago, a self-styled downtown New York legend was quoted in the New York Times Magazine in an article about streetwear as saying, “I’m so downtown I don’t go above Canal Street.” It was a hilarious and surprisingly subtle moment for the Times, a paper that would often have you believe that, because of rising rents and changing neighborhoods, the loose scene that is generally known as downtown New York moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the early ’00s and onwards and outwards from there—to Greenpoint, Bushwick, Long Island City, Red Hook and even to East New York. But what the “Canal Street” comment touches on is that, really, the heart of “downtown” has stayed put. The Lower East Side—condos, hotels and all—is still the cultural epicenter of the now-sprawling, multi-borough downtown grid, which means not only that the outer boroughs tend to choose you, but also that downtown, like the cost of living, has grown up. At a recent photo shoot, Lizzi Bougatsos of the New York-based band Gang Gang Dance got an eyeliner pen out of her bag and wrote “212” on the cheekbone of her bandmate Brian DeGraw. When asked half-jokingly about it a week later, DeGraw offered a mostly musical explanation, saying, “That ‘Brooklyn band’ tag is something that we don’t want to be associated with because it’s become this pigeonhole label—it’s like a genre of weirdo music: ‘Brooklyn noise, blah blah blah, fuckin knob tweakers.’ I’ve never considered Gang Gang to be a part of that. I guess our friends are partly responsible for the creation of that thing, which is cool, but we’ve always just lived on the Lower East Side.” Although DeGraw’s intention was to demand a certain amount of factual correctness and perhaps respect for Gang Gang Dance’s trajectory as a New York band, there is also a status claim of sorts buried in there. Gang Gang Dance isn’t just not a band of nouveaux weird-for-weird’s sake knob twiddlers. It is also, more importantly, a Manhattan band born out of the final throes of one era of downtown New York that is now awkwardly, finally maturing in another era of downtown entirely. It has proven to be a grueling position to occupy. Vocalist and percussionist Lizzi Bougatsos, keyboardist and electronic percussionist Brian DeGraw, guitarist Josh Diamond and drummer Tim DeWit formally created Gang Gang Dance in the early 2000s. Their first release Gang Gang Dance came out on a label called Fusetron, then they released an LP (Revival of the Shittest) and an EP (Hillulah) on the Brooklyn-based label the Social Registry. Finally, their semi-breakthrough album God’s

Money came out on the Social Registry in 2005. God’s Money was the first recording that reflected what the band’s sound has become, born of a tension between tumultuous world-futurism abstractions and a dirty, rhythm-heavy sound that knocks. The band’s bizarre musical vocabulary definitely takes some getting used to, but the rewards are one of a kind—frantic, cornerbending, electro-acoustic rhythms and lush, left-hook melodies. Gang Gang is hyper-aware of the breadth of music bubbling out of all corners of the earth not just in eras past but also right now, and each band member has an active relationship to big swathes of sounds. It is evident if you go hear DeGraw DJ at the wildly popular Morrissey party at Sway on Sunday nights, where he sandwiches all manner of hectic electronic and street music between his DJ partner Benjamin Cho’s plays of “Shoplifters of the World Unite” and “The Boy With the Arab Strap.” And his band is actually pulling from all those sounds: from the skittering clomps of grime, the quavering vocal lines of Hindi film music, the slick club bounce of hip-hop, the pillow-y synthetics of new age and the frantic booms and one-hand keyboard twinkles of dancehall. But even before all that, Gang Gang Dance’s story is a New York story, beginning with the fact that, like much of New York, none of the four band members are from the city. Bougatsos is from Long Island where, as a kid, she devoted herself to modern dance, then moved to West Virginia for an art degree and earned a reputation opening for punk bands with spoken word performance art. Diamond had a high school band in State College, Pennsylvania, moved to DC for a year, then moved to New York in 1995, where he worked at the Pink Pony on Ludlow Street, hosting avant jam sessions, playing violin and supplying then-broke downtowners with free caffeine. DeWit grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was an indie rock singersongwriter. After high school—inspired by Teen Beat records—he moved to DC. DeGraw grew up a New Haven hardcore kid who ended up at Corcoran College of Art + Design in DC because Nation of Ulysses was from Washington. He enrolled to study fashion photography, but his two favorite professors told him to leave. Art school, they said, is for people who want to learn how to be artists, not for those who already are. Josh Diamond had left DC by the time Brian DeGraw and Tim DeWit arrived there separately, but the magnetic pull of the capitol as an imagined underground utopia for an entire generation

Opening spread: Brian DeGraw. This spread: “There’s no formula for what we do,” says Tim DeWit. “Ultimately that’s the biggest problem.”

I was the one playing drums and there were dancers hanging this white dude, but slowly I started to win them over and they

off poles and lesbian MCs who hated my guts because I was were in my face freestyling like, ‘Uh! Keep it tight!’”

—TIM DEWIT

GANG GANG DANC E

of kids who grew up on hardcore is essential to the current American underground musical landscape in general, and to Gang Gang Dance in particular. Although DeGraw and DeWit met and eventually moved into the Embassy, the group house that was founded by Nation of Ulysees in DC’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood, both skim over their arrival at a punk rock mecca in the mid-’90s and instead focus on their discovery of other cultures there. “There’s nothing to do in DC, so everyone just spent all their time learning about different kinds of music,” DeGraw says. “Because of the Ethiopian side of the neighborhood that we lived in, Ethiopian music was obviously the main thing that we could physically access.” DeWit, meanwhile, initially moved into a predominately black DC neighborhood while working a job at Tower Records. He had never so much as heard hip-hop before, but was suddenly immersed in black culture, smoking weed for the first time, getting exposed to hip-hop, jungle, trip-hop and gogo and generally bugging out. As the cultural fabric of Washington DC began to rearrange DeGraw and DeWit’s musical imaginations, DeGraw simultaneously talked his friend Jim Loman into moving to DC, where the trio linked up with guitarist Raquel Vogl and formed the Crainium. Loman not only implemented a sort of punk-feminist manifesto for the band, but also enforced a schedule of hyperregimented practices. Soon they were touring and recording an album produced by Guy Picciotto from Fugazi. “Basically the process taught us discipline,” DeWit says of the Crainium. “And I transformed so much during that time that I stopped doing any sort of drugs or drinking or having sex. I was looking for some new gender in this new…it was this crazy artsy weird kid shit, and music was the sacred thing.” Although DeWit remained in the Crainium, he increasingly recognized his detachment from the DC punk community. “Through those realizations of myself,” DeWit says, “I started to play music with free jazz guys that had kicked heroin and been in Vietnam and they were just blowing their horns and feeding off my energy, then I would go to Crainium practice and then I also got involved in this theater group.” The theater group was named Vashti, after the woman who refused to undress for the king in the Bible’s book of Esther. “I started meeting thugged out house producers and thugged out gay dancers and having these jam sessions,” DeWit continues. “Everyone was just rocking out and I was the one playing drums and there were dancers hanging off poles and lesbian MCs who hated my guts because I was this white dude, but slowly I started to win them over and they were in my face freestyling like, ‘Uh! Keep it tight!’ I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it, you know? That felt so much more revolutionary than being in this obscure avant punk band.” When that avant punk band eventually dissolved, DeGraw began considering a move to New York where he could maybe show his visual art at real galleries, and eventually DeWit and Loman made the move with him. Soon DeGraw and DeWit were going to art and fashion parties and performing informally with various collaborators including Bougatsos, who had continued to do performance art and sing, and Diamond. At some point DeGraw and DeWit found a rehearsal space, and it happened to be shared by Animal Collective and Black Dice. “Those guys were a huge influence,” DeWit says. “They were younger than us and

Lizzie Bougatsos’s bandmates often refer to her as LZA, after the Wu-Tang’s RZA, one of her heroes.

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“We played Oberlin on a tour and every kid was like, ‘I’m
they were big Crainium fans, but it was crazy to go to that practice space where we would all jam together—this crazy, psychedelic, break-down-any-kind-of-form shit. We were kind of like, We want to make this experiential music too. That’s when Liz and Josh got on board, because both of them could just go for it.” At the time, Gang Gang’s lineup also included a sort of freestyle multiinstrumentalist/performer called Nathan Livingston Maddox. In 2002, Maddox was watching a storm on the roof of a building on Broome St and was suddenly struck by lightening and killed. His death was a massive jolt for the band, but also, eventually, an inspiration. “It started a momentum, I guess,” DeWit says. “We knew we had to respond to that somehow, and we wanted to be more direct. It was like, ‘That’s what dying looks like—we don’t want to do that yet.’” Although Gang Gang Dance is, as the band insists, a Manhattan band, Josh Diamond lives in a bleak corner of Williamsburg, Brooklyn that’s cut off from the subway stops, the new eateries and the Tasty D-Lite franchise by the elevated menace of the Bronx-Queens Expressway. “I’ve been in New York for 11 years, but I feel really bad for the youth that come here now,” Diamond says. “I’m kind of in hell in some ways—I equate Brooklyn and this community in some ways with hell just because of what I experienced when I was like 19 years old in the Lower East Side. It was a magical time. Seventy-year-old artists hanging out with young people and real fucking freaks. I came here to witness the death of the ’80s New York scene, and now I feel so bad for all these people. We played Oberlin on a tour and every kid was like, ‘I’m moving to Williamsburg!’ and it was like, ‘Oh great—good luck!’ I’m living the same way I was living 11 years ago, and I don’t really feel very good about that. People move here with big dreams all the time, but I don’t know what they’re looking for.” Even if most of the kids now moving to Williamsburg, Bushwick and Long Island City don’t know what their specific dream is, what they’re probably looking for is the feeling that Diamond found at the Pink Pony and DeWit found in DC with Vashti. If Gang Gang Dance has one foot in a different era of New York City, in many ways it’s because they have that old school, madcap energy—the love of spontaneity, diversity, impulsive collaboration; the desire to play a gig one night, to sit in with friends the next, to help a friend prepare for a fashion show in a week and to have an art show coming up in a month. From the beginning it has been Gang Gang’s blessing and its curse that each of its members are involved in projects outside of the band—it’s almost as though Gang Gang only exists when its four unique elements are in the same place and begin to react and combust. But the band hasn’t figured out how to be both extremely spontaneous and extremely focused. After the early albums, the band made a huge
When he’s not working at a nearby bar, Josh Diamond prefers to stay home.

moving to Williamsburg!’ and it was like, ‘Oh great—

leap forward with God’s Money, yet Gang Gang is still struggling to deliver on the expectations. In the last ten months, the band has spent four weeks sporadically in recording studios, shaping the next album, but everything they’ve recorded is just sitting on DeWit’s computer. Every night he listens through it on his headphones until four, five, six in the morning, but he’s got almost none of the tools (you can’t mix a record on headphones), only some of the know-how and none of the money. There’s tons of incredible material—you can hear the band reaching towards a fully realized sound that combines the messy, transcendent live quality of four musicians jamming in a room together with the crisp, thumping whomp of speakerboxxx beats. But how they can make a record out of all that tape is unclear. In the meantime, the Social Registry is releasing a Gang Gang Dance DVD/CD package called Retina Riddim that was created entirely by DeGraw using the video editing program Final Cut. Armed with tour video he recorded on an amateur camera, DeGraw created an art film collage and an accompanying 25-minute audio piece that he built using isolated scraps of footage as building blocks. It is not the work that fulfills the band’s potential, nor is it meant to be. It is another beguiling addition to the group’s diverse repertoire. There are plenty of examples of New York musician/artists who were around-the-way local figures that, at some point, stopped doing a little of everything that interested them and poured all their efforts into one project. Some of them have sold a staggering amount of records. Gang Gang Dance is not on that track. The band is talking to bigger labels than the Social Registry, and Brian DeGraw absolutely means it when he says, “We started something, and we gotta fuckin finish it.” But there’s no question that Gang Gang will always be a weird, difficult listen, and DeGraw states clearly that he will continue to do everything—the band, the visual art, the DJing—without finally picking one or the other. “It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but I think it’s all become a unified thing like a whirlpool,” he says. “The more I stick with it, the more I realize that it’s all swirling in on itself and becoming one greater thing.” The concept for the solo art show he’s been working on, for instance, came from realizations he had while DJing, and DJing is an extension of listening to a ton of music and playing in Gang Gang. The idea is to think in a global rather than local context—to try to explode ideas of genre. Within the Gang Gang framework, DeGraw and his bandmates are getting there— pushing further out by collapsing more and more of the world and their ever-farther-reaching experiences of it into their sounds. Somehow the music is simultaneously becoming an increasingly singular vision with an ever more centered, almost primordial rhythm at its heart. But even if the band never makes an album that turns the quartet into something bigger than a New York band, it’s already a landscape much bigger than New York that Gang Gang Dance is concerned with. “We’re basically concerned about World War III,” says DeWit. “I think our music, to me, is some weird way of acknowledging people that I can’t even hear.”

good luck!’ I’m living the same way I was living 11 years

ago, and I don’t really feel very good about that.”

—JOSH DIAMOND

THE CHIN ESE B EAT
Millenial Beijing and the lost art of rock & roll
STO RY ALEX WAGNER PHOTOGRAPHY ARIANA LINDQUIST
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On a warm Saturday at the end of last year, a fine, cantaloupe-colored haze settled on Beijing. One professor at the city university insisted it was a natural fog that periodically blanketed the city, a fluke weather phenomenon. A local resident shrugged and said, “They must have turned the factories back on today.” A tour through Beijing the week prior showed posters hung all over town for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, a two-day summit dedicated to the economic partnerships between China and the African nations, including war-torn Sudan, Uganda and Rwanda. The photograph showed two hands in prayer: one white (Chinese) and one black (African). Another resident explained that the previously clear weather was probably the result of the government shutting off the local factories for the week of the convention— to improve the Beijing air quality, or at least the visiting dignitaries’ impression of it—an Orwellian whitewash for an unsavory example of global financing, circa 2006. Some 70 percent of Beijing’s energy continues to come from burning coal—meaning that for someone else, somewhere else, on some different day of the week, there’s sure to be another gauzy day of filthy air. At the start of the 21st Century, China has shown that it will take even the most unsavory john home for the night if it’s a chance for fast cash; it will accordingly pimp its own resources for a cheap power high. Though shaking hands with despots might leave a greasy sludge on the soul of a country, China moves forward, upward, inwards with shameless, alarming speed— its shoddy, modern skyline dotted with complexes that name themselves after New York City neighborhoods: NoLIta, SoHo and Central Park are all to be found in Beijing, slapdash recreations of caché even more disposable than the Vegas version of the Empire State. If you have the money, a one-bedroom apartment in one of Beijing’s better neighborhoods can run you upwards of $2000 a month, happily in-step with any given Wednesday morning apartment listing on Craigslist Manhattan. There are Starbucks that have metastasized all over the city before there were even independent coffeehouses to protest their own marginalization. Embracing capitalism has been very good for China, and a very good lesson for the rest of the world. Responsible governance—the thin (and ever thinning) veil worn by Western brides—is not a priority in the People’s Republic, and the world’s most populist country has only paved the way for others like it to stomp as they please. Yet China is also fundamentally and unrelentingly Communist, and will make a show of regulating, punishing, censoring anyone

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or anything deemed too challenging to the fine balance between Western capital and State dictates. Starbucks extra hot venti green tea lattes in Beijing’s SoHo may be some mindfucked version of Eastern-Western-Eastern globalization—but the Chinese government can still threaten to arrest you if you sell Bright Eyes mp3s without government approval. D-22 is a small music club in the northwestern section of Beijing, squarely situated in the city’s University district. Its sweaty stage is packed into the back of an even sweatier room, surrounded by tables and chairs and framed by an upstairs area of dubious plywood construction, meaning you’re probably better off standing on top of it than beneath it. It rings with local good vibes that feel a lot like someplace in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, only the cheap beer is Tsingtao, not Pabst, and the music is conspicuously less influenced by, like, Can or Cerrone. Micheal Pettis, an ex-financial whiz from New York, founded the club a few years ago with an eye towards nurturing local talent and fostering an honestto-goodness Chinese underground music scene, which is to say that sinophiles with blogs and Western music magazine-types are welcome, but the door price might be slightly friendlier if you’re a senior at Beijing U. The night that local band Joyside was playing, there were Chinese kids with bangs and piano key-patterned belts, a lot of fucked-up Converse high tops and one dude with long dreadlocks and a backpack, all of which would engender a kind of Holy shit this is fucking China?! to those relying on staler, grayer versions of modern Beijing. Shang Huan Huan, Joyside’s lead singer, was on stage playing a slightly overcoiffed version of garage rock, thrashing around in a pair of leather pants as the audience nodded its collective head with pleasant blasé that seemed almost New Yorkian in its posture. Joyside’s most recent EP, Bitches of Rock n’ Roll includes the surprisingly poppy songs “Eat Me,” “Hey Bitch,” and “My Eyes Pissed Again,” but that evening, Shang chose to end their set with a cover of the Contours’ “Do You Love Me?” With the exception of some very successful New Jersey weddings at the shore, it was probably one of the more heartfelt, raucous versions of Corny Love Song ever performed— the Contours would have been confused and proud. The current indie music world in Beijing is dominated by a handful of bands—ones that have been in existence mostly since the beginning of 2000 and have achieved various (moderate) levels of success. PK-14, one of the city’s most popular groups—a post-punk outfit fronted by 33-year-old Yang Haisong—began almost 10 years ago. Yang has a gentle, thoughtful air, capped off with Buddy Holly glasses and perfectly faded blue jeans that stand in contrast to the faux punk studdery and bleached tips sported by much of his imitative Beijing punk brethren. About seven years ago, Johnny Leijonhufvud (originally from Stockholm, Sweden) joined the band, opening up tour possibilities for the group: PK-14’s tour roster
In recent years, Beijing’s music scene has witnessed the birth of micro genres from Scandinavian black metal to Floridian death metal.

BEIJING ROCK

shows gigs in Northern Europe, Vienna and all over the Chinese countryside. PK 14’s onetime drummer, Hua Dong, has since gone on to acclaim as the lead singer in the band Reestablishing the Rights of Statues, or Re-TROS, which features a familiar brand of dark, angular rock, akin to much of the new-New Wave rock that first began appearing in New York and London in the early 2000s. One of the most acclaimed underground acts in Beijing, the band’s latest album Cut It Off, features Brian Eno on keyboards; the band will embark on their first US tour this spring. Re-TROS spent much of 2006’s winter holed up in an old factory-turned-loft at the edge of the city, writing material for the next album, but sometime in mid-November, the band turned up at a last-minute label showcase at 2 Kolegas. A music club at the Northeastern edge of the city, 2 Kolegas (oddly, a version of the Spanish for “Two Colleagues”) is situated next door to a drive-in theatre that is widely acknowledged to double as a stomping grounds for prostitutes and their clientele. The night of Re-TROS’s show, someone in the audience cautioned against drinking the whiskey: the rumor is that much of the liquor in Beijing’s smaller bars is bootleg and likely to make you sick or blind. No one paid attention and everyone got very drunk instead. As is their custom, Hua spent the whole show facing his bassist (and girlfriend) Liu Min, their backs almost (but not quite) turned away from the audience throughout their somber, feedback-heavy, shredding set—miles away from the Contours and anyone else.

T

Given China’s seemingly misanthropic cultural landscape (repression of free speech, attempted censorship of all non-government sanctioned materials, wild embrace of Korean pop music), many oversensationalize the very existence of Beijing’s underground scene with a refrain that goes something like In the shadows of Communism, these rock musicians are the bastard children of Democracy—as if the secret bootlegging of Interpol albums is in some way a middle finger to the heavy hand of the State. In truth, Yang Haisong, PK 14’s lead singer, just bought a rare John Frusciante/Joe Lally album from his local CD store—one that sells “cut” CDs (deemed factory rejects as a result of overproduction) that are otherwise illegal to sell in other countries. The Chinese government makes very public decrees about regulating music downloads on the internet and sanctioning CDs and films (officially there are 20 Western movies allowed screening rights in China each year) but the reality of a country with 1.3 billion people and an impossibly massive pirate industry looks a lot less stark. Kaiser Kuo, ex-bassist for one-time Chinese metal legends Tang Dynasty, explains, “My wife just watched the latest season of Grey’s Anatomy. I just watched season three of Deadwood. You can buy fucking anything.’’ Government censorship of lyrics, one of the timeworn themes in Chinese rock mythology, no longer really exists except for the most high profile artists. Singer Cui Jian, who most acknowledge to be the most Dylan-like figure

PK-14 jams a show at 2 Kolegas.

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Bitches of Rock n’ Roll includes the

surprisingly poppy songs “Eat Me,”

“Hey Bitch,” and “My Eyes Pissed

Again,” but that evening, Shang chose

to end their set with a cover of the

Contours’ “Do You Love Me?”

BEIJING ROCK

in the country (both in terms of musical significance and over-referenced signpost) has been very publicly censored for his anti-government lyrics; Jian’s debut was shortly after the demonstrations at Tiananmen Square. Though Jay-Z was forced to cancel a recent concert in Shanghai when the government deemed his lyrics “too vulgar,” word on the street was that the promoter couldn’t sell enough tickets and this was his way of saving face. In fact, Re-TROS has a song called “TV Show (Hang the Police)” that they’ve released and sold on CD through their Chinese indie label, Modern Sky. And it’s a toss up whether a song called “Big Pimpin” is more or less vulgar than a song called “Eat Me,” but it’s a good bet that being a black American rapper playing Hong Kou Stadium is cause for more official alarm bells than being young, Chinese and rocking a club of 100 in Wudaoku. Ultimately, even the point about high profile government crackdowns versus street level swindles begs an update, because, for the most part, Tiananmen, free speech and Prime Minister Hu Jintao’s latest dictate aren’t even on the underground agenda anymore. Now that Fugazi rarities are readily available in Beijing’s backyard, and Re-TROS can call for the boys in blue to be Hung under their shotguns…before we’re all murdered with little reproach, the lines of protest are that much fuzzier. Most of the current crop of Chinese musicians are the first generation of China’s one child per family law: they’re the first generation to see a rising, wealthy middle class and the possibility of (and pressure to achieve) even greater financial success in their future. “My parents are not happy,” says Hua. “They wanted me to be a rich man, or a teacher. To have a fixed job—not like now.” In addition to Franz Ferdinand and Pitchfork, Chinese musicians have become familiar with the Western exports of powerlessness and political apathy in the face of intoxicating, unapologetic profit. As American musicians long ago retired the flags waved by Baez, Dylan and Hendrix, so goes the rest of the world. “When people do do stuff that’s political,” says Kuo, “I have a very strong inclination to believe that it’s not sincere, it’s just to attract attention.” So while Chinese megaclubs pump out saccharine pop tunes alongside American and Korean hip-hop, the underground musicians play on, finding their way around the notes and improvising the attitude. For now, most of their music remains a diluted solution of what’s come before—says Christiaan Verant, one of the minds behind fm3 and the Buddha Machine (and a long time resident of Beijing), “The only way that Chinese scene has ever begun to grow has been when a Westerner has brought over the music.” The filthy exhilaration of shows at CBGB’s and the heydey of punk’s overtly political ethos may be light years away from Beijing’s cardboard high rises and its swollen coffers of dirty cash, but in this climate of change, corruption and fucked-up redemption, there’s most certainly music to be made. F

Guitarist for Re-TROS, Hua Dong says many young Chinese have forgotten their history before the Cultural Revolution.

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PYROTECHNICIANS

The carefully plotted emotional outbursts of Explosions in the Sky
STORY JOHN ALBERT PHOTOGRAPHY MICHAEL SCHMELLING

EXPLOSIONS IN TH E S KY

“If a 14 or 15-year-old kid is coming to watch us, you have to think that

A

it’s not the first band out of the mainstream he’s listening to.”—MUNAF RAYANI
where they had reunited to work eclectic day jobs, make short videos and occasionally write songs. Then they noticed the flyer. “I came across it and immediately showed the others,” Rayani says. “We weren’t actively looking for a drummer, but we were so taken with it. It was a color flyer with big letters and it listed bands that we liked, but beyond that it was the pictures, this weird collage he had made. So we called him up and from the first moment we met, it was just awesome.” Days later, Rayani says the four convened at a local pizza restaurant and proceeded to bond over their collective obsession with the films of Wes Anderson before heading for James’s nearby apartment to listen to tapes of songs the trio had written. Soon after, they began rehearsing. “Chris and I were talking just a while ago,” Rayani says. “And he said something really deep. He told me it was as if there was this tiny light way off in the distance, and he shot an arrow and somehow hit a bull’s eye, which was this sad, triumphant rock band.” Explosions in the Sky’s rehearsal space is a surprisingly small, windowless unit in an industrial park, something like a large bedroom or an extremely pleasant bomb shelter. A simple drum set is arranged in one corner and three amplifiers are positioned against the walls. The carpeted floor is ringed with a large, arching collection of multicolored effects pedals. The band’s bearded guitarist, Mark Smith, gestures down at the pedals with a smile. “This is basically what our sound is right here,” he says. It would be easy to assume that Explosions’ intricately structured songs are born out of endless hours of improvisation, but, as the band explains, the reality is quite the opposite. Each song is carefully and meticulously plotted, every nuance and chord progression discussed and debated until all involved are satisfied. A single eight-minute song, they say, can take up to a month to complete. Without lyrics to chart the emotional tide, they make up short narratives and write the music to them. “They’re not super detailed stories,” Hrasky says, sitting on the floor. “For example, a 13-yearold kid who steals his parents’ car to go see his girlfriend who’s moving out of town. I think it’s actually more of a way to help us finish a song.” When asked about their individual musical tastes, the members collectively say they listen to everything from classic metal to R&B to mainstream hip-hop, and make an effort to infuse their own unorthodox compositions with an underlying pop sensibility. “I think in this genre of music,” Rayani says, “which falls under the umbrella of long winded and pretentious songs—and rightfully so—we’re trying to get away from that as much as we can, and add an element of pop.” “I like the fact that you can actually hum our songs,” Hrasky adds. “There are melodies that might stick in your head, or at least we try.”

residential street in Austin, Texas lined with small, single story homes and overgrown lawns seems more like the setting of King of the Hill than a hotbed of experimental music, yet it’s kind of an ideal place to meet the amiable members of Explosions in the Sky. They are gathered outside a house looking more like hip graduate students than a band who reputedly brings audience members to tears. The four joke easily with one another, speaking with the coded familiarity of old friends, which makes sense. Old friends is really what they are, and, as much as anything, it’s that deep friendship—love, really—which infuses their unapologetically heartfelt music. Like other bands affiliated with the loosely defined “post rock” genre, Explosions specializes in long compositions, averaging eight minutesplus, which feel less like conventional rock songs and more like epic movements—melodic guitars, bass and drums intertwine and constantly build to feedback-infused crescendos then retreat, all without a singer. The effect is mood altering yet non-invasive enough to encourage serious introspection, a cinematic soundtrack to individual moments passing. It’s sound as pure emotion—the emotion of the listeners as much as the

players—and there definitely appears to be a need for their lush and loving music out there in the world. How else to explain a band that gets little press or radio play, yet sells records and packs concert halls from Los Angeles to Croatia? The flyer that brought the musicians together back in 1999 read, simply, “Wanted: sad and triumphant rock band,” the unabashedly earnest message bolstered by images of a soaring eagle, dogs and snow-capped mountains. The band’s future drummer, Chris Hrasky, had recently arrived in Austin to attend graduate-level film school but then left the program after only a few weeks. Uncertain of his future and contemplating a return to his native Illinois, he says he felt inexplicably inspired to create the odd little flyer and pin it up at the local record store. “I really don’t know why,” Hrasky says, laughing. “I mean the idea of even putting a flyer up in a record store was so out of character for me.” His future band mates—bassist Michael James and guitar players Mark Smith and Munaf Rayani—had all grown up together in the West Texas city of Midland, a once-thriving oil town now known as the hometown of George W Bush (though it was later revealed Bush was actually born in Connecticut). The three had known one another as teenagers, skateboarding and playing in bands, before individually migrating to the cultural mecca of Austin,

Guitarist Munaf Rayani

Drummer Chris Hrasky

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“Guys will write to us and say they use our music to pump up for a
While the subtle infusion of pop has undoubtedly helped the band connect with more of a mainstream audience than many of their genre contemporaries, it was Friday Night Lights that brought the football players. The band was selected from relative obscurity to score the big budget Hollywood film adaptation about the harsh realities of high school football in the West Texas town of Odessa, a milieu located mere miles from where three of the members grew up. “We walked the hall with those kids growing up,” James says. The band did not simply license a few pre-existing songs, but were actually sent from Austin to Hollywood, where they composed the film’s score to scenes projected onto a screen, the same process used by composers like Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer. It was undoubtedly a risky move by the film’s music supervisor Brian Reitzell, who had previously worked on Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides (and who plays drums for Air), but one that seems to have paid off substantially. It is the band’s moody, introspective compositions that elevate the project from a proficient but formulaic sports movie to something bordering on art. “I was just telling the boys the other night, the ripple of that movie is so far beyond our sights,” Rayani says. “Because of it, all kinds of people are listening to our music. Somebody who doesn’t know anything about underground rock or indie music, but because they heard us in the movie or TV show, they’ve picked up our album.” “Guys will write to us and say they use our music to pump up for a football game,” Smith says. “Which is weird, but I’m not embarrassed by it.” Watching Friday Night Lights, it is easy to understand the band’s growing appeal. What might initially seem an awkward juxtaposition—the band’s symphonic guitar music layered over gritty scenes of Texas high school life, with all the typical desperation, heartbreak, violence and uncertainty— works to near perfection. The music never seems overbearing, yet it succeeds in pulling the viewer back enough to infuse the smallest scenes with an epic importance, perfectly conveying the heart-on-the-sleeve, all-ornothing, hormone-pumping drama of the teenage experience. Rayani’s apartment sits atop a rustic garage in another Austin neighborhood. The four members of Explosions are spread out lazily across the room, on the floor, a bed and a chair. The sun has begun to disappear, casting a warm, diffuse light as the band members talk about the impending release of their new record. This is actually the band’s second attempt at making the LP. In the summer of 2005, they spent several months composing an album’s worth of material only to abandon the songs and begin again. “That stuff just seemed…fine,” Hrasky says. “That’s how I would describe it. It didn’t really do much for us beyond

football game. Which is weird, but I’m not embarrassed by it.”
that. It sounded melodic and it was nice, but it didn’t have anything we were really excited about. And so that’s when the despair started. Thinking, ‘It was a good run while it lasted. We got much farther than we ever thought we would.’ But then we just kept at it, because this is what we all want to do.” The new album, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, has all the group’s earlier signatures, but there is now a subtle darkness to the soundscape, the beautiful guitars now counterbalanced with huge dissonant walls of feedback and thick, resonating power chords. There is a haunting acoustic piano on several songs and the once subtle drumming now has the heavy, concussive thud of metal, which, they say, is entirely the point. “We wanted it to sound like a rock band playing really loud and playing this absurd type of music,” Hrasky says. “This was the first record I was able to take home and listen to it and not just immediately turn it off. It just sounds the way I had always hoped our records would, live and fiery.” It was, afterall, the band’s fiery live show that landed them a record deal when a friend sent a cassette of a performance to Jeremy Devine, founder of the label Temporary Residence. The band members also confirm reports of audience members weeping at their shows, and add that fans have now started following them from concert to concert, so much that the group now feels compelled to change their setlist each night so as not to shortchange the diehards. And while they are grateful for the passion and increased size

—MARK SMITH

of their audiences, they are almost equally pleased at the decrease in the median age. “In the last few years it seems like there are a lot more kids, which is pretty exciting,” Hrasky says. “We’re getting 15-year-olds who are into emo bands.” “It gives me a lot of hope for music,” Rayani adds. “If a 14 or 15-year-old kid is coming to watch us, you have to think that it’s not the first band out of the mainstream he’s listening to.” Sitting with the members of Explosions in a checkered tablecloth Italian eatery, it’s hard not to view them as an anomaly in a business known for bitter infighting and obligatory self-destruction stories. They are friendly and straightforward, interacting with each other much like brothers, hugging and putting their arms around one another. The four insist they never intended to make a career out of playing in Explosions, and could hardly have anticipated even the success they have had thus far, though they are sincerely happy for it. While they are by no means naïve, there is a definite sense of idealism to who they are and what they do. Not so much that everything will turn out okay, but that the music they make has a real ability to transcend and emotionally connect—which seems about as rebellious as anything else around right now. In a sense, this is art rock for the emo generation: structurally and texturally complex, meticulously mapped out and discussed, yet totally in service of the heart. F

Bassist Michael James

Guitarist Mark Smith

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Raised on Reaganomics, go-go, and the neverending pursuit of freshness, Wale and Tabi Bonney rap for the capitol.

NEW SLANG

STORY NICK BARAT PHOTOGRAPHY DOROTHY HONG

DC HIP-HOP

W

ale is picking at some french fries in a burger spot on Georgia Ave in Washington DC, right by the Howard University campus, when I ask him about the first time he ever heard go-go music. “I remember the back of the school bus,” he says. “I went to school in Silver Springs, because DC schools were getting blasted at that time for dirty water, this that and the third. We used to use my cousin’s address, they interrogated me and knew we were lying but didn’t really care. There were nine of us—I was the youngest, and all I remember was them going, ‘Keisha got a big ol’ butt!’ and the bus shouting back, ‘Oh yeaaah!’ Now, it’s like the ‘Oh yeaaah!’ kids started growing up, and this is what we got.” Go-go has been the sound of the District for years: live bands and deep percussion, overextended grooves, repetition, chants and audience participation. Chuck Brown and his Soul Searchers first molded the sound out of R&B yelps and James Brown funk in the late ’70s with tracks like “Bustin Loose.” Early rappers like Kurtis Blow and Salt N Pepa would often incorporate go-go elements into their tracks, and by the end of the ’80s, DC artists were starting to reach the rest of the country on their own, with hits from Trouble Funk (“Pump It Up”), the Junkyard Band (“Sardines,” produced by Rick Rubin), and EU, whose “Da Butt” was immortalized not only on Wale’s bus, but also in Spike Lee’s School Daze. At the same time, the city was just as well known for blights— from skyrocketing murder rates to “Bitch set me up!” surveillance footage of then-mayor Marion Barry smoking crack in a DC hotel room. For the next decade, as national interest would ebb and flow, go-go venues like Club U were consistently plagued by fights and stabbings, yet the music itself remained vibrant as second generation groups like Backyard Band rose up with a harder take on the sound; their frontmen were not MCs in the usual sense, but “talkers” or “callers” who took the traditional call-and-response elements in a more rap-like direction. Still, just as with Baltimore club, Chicago juke and other regional inner-city subgenres, the relationship between go-go and present day hip-hop has been tenuous at best, running the gamut from occasional homage (Ludacris performing a go-go version of “Pimpin All Over the World” backed by Rare Essence on the VMAs) to straight jacking (Jay-Z taking RE’s “Overnight Scenario” for his “4am at the waffle house…” bit on “Do It Again”), but rarely meeting in a wholehearted embrace. This past spring, however, drivers could tune into DC rap radio almost any time of day and hear the signature go-go drum rolls of Northeast Groovers’ “Off the Muscle” blaring from their speakers. It wasn’t the actual song, but “Dig Dug,” a rap single built off a sizeable NEG sample, performed by a new artist named Wale (pronounced Walé). Over the hypnotic loop, Wale shouts out his hometown’s go-go bands, crack dealers and college hoops teams, appointing himself the “ambassador of rap for the capitol” before listing the sticker price on his SB Dunks. It was soon

“You had the Slick Rick,

the Kid N Play influence, but the city was go-go.”
- TABI BONNEY

followed by two other go-go laced singles, “1 Thing” and “Breakdown,” and there was nothing else on the radio in DC or elsewhere that you could even start to compare it to—until fellow local Tabi Bonney made it on the air a few months later with his own hybrid single, “Doin It,” and the wildly successful “The Pocket.” On first listen, “The Pocket” doesn’t seem musically beholden to the city in any way, but between Bonney’s relaxed, pause-heavy rhymes and homegrown expressions (When somebody syses you, you see a girl that’s tight or summ’n…she put you in the pocket! When you rockin bamas, stylin on ’em and stuff…), you realize it couldn’t have been birthed anywhere else in the world. Inside Tabi Bonney’s small basement apartment on Capitol Hill, Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead sits on a bedside table next to some PlayStation games and vintage Versace pillows, and an enormous flatscreen TV plays MTV Jams with the sound off. Hanging on one of the walls is a framed LP cover featuring Bonney’s father, Itadi. The elder Bonney made a name for himself in the West African country of Togo playing soukous and high-life music, and after marrying Tabi’s mother (a DC resident running an international school in Togo with the Peace Corps), the family remained on the road. “We would always be on tour, or living in France for a year or two,” says Bonney. “My sister and I would be onstage with him, dancing on TV shows in Africa for the president and stuff like that. Even then I knew I wanted to be in entertainment. I didn’t know if it was going to be music—I just knew I didn’t want to lead an ordinary life, because I wasn’t around an ordinary life.” Once the Bonneys settled in the States, a preteen Tabi got a secondary musical education from his DC surroundings. “You had the Slick Rick, the Kid N Play influence, but the city was go-go,” says Bonney. “I was slightly sheltered—I didn’t go out to the clubs all the time because people were getting killed, but we had tapes, you’d hear it on the radio, sometimes bands would be set up on the corner, too.” While studying at Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Bonney saw some local success with his rap group Organized Rhyme, rocking tracks he describes as “underground hip-hop with a lot of samples—the Police, stuff like that.” But he always found himself returning to the sounds he came of age listening to. “When I was working on my [solo] album, I was thinking back to those hustling days in the ’80s, the golden age of DC,” says Bonney. “There was a guy around Lincoln Park who we always looked up to, he’d have a brand new car every month. He had this pet monkey—he would come through and the monkey would be wearing all Polo. Who has ever seen that in the streets?” On “Lunchin” (“That’s like, if a girl or somebody is trippin, they lunchin,” Bonney explains), the mission statement is made clear: I ain’t no herb, no bama, no busta, no mark, no slouch, no loser, no nothin/ I’m that cat that’ll hit you with a couch or a stove/ I slap you in the mouth so bust it/ People be illin, thinking they tight/ Pardon me while I hurt they feelings!/ Lunchin! Lu-lu-lu-lunchin! The beats on his album, A Fly Guy’s Theme, are as minimal as the rhymes

“I’m no gang banger, I’m just a real genuine dude

in Washington DC”

- WALE

This page: Tabi Bonney in his Capitol Hill Backyard. Opposite page: Wale, sidekicking on a porch in Bowie, MD.

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“I’m an embodiment of where I’m from. I rock a little different from everybody,
are easy, sometimes only snatches of an accordion sample (“You”), go-go loops (“Beat Rock”) or even just beatboxing (“On It”). As a result, its biggest charm lies in just how awesomely unassuming a throwback it is—Bonney describes the album as “cool guy tracks and little treats for the ladies,” and like Devin the Dude or Del the Funky Homosapien before him, he makes life as a laidback dude sound pretty damn exciting. If Tabi Bonney is DC’s understated rap celeb, Wale is its baby Kanye West (or, as a WKYS program director would joke, “Wale Fiasco”), a supersized personality in golden Nikes ready to take over the world, jotting down almost too-clever lyrics in his Sidekick whenever he’s not compulsively checking MySpace messages on it. He’s already got a mini Grammy Family in tow: a longtime DJ, two eager managers and a clique of close friends with names like Jay Promo and Sneakerman Dan. Wale’s orbit even includes local video model Angel, a G-Unit favorite who just happens to drop in and drop jaws as we grab lunch on Georgia Ave; he insists they’re on strictly platonic terms. “She understands where I’m coming from, so we just bonded,” he says. “You can’t stop DC from saying what they want to say about you, and they say shit about her all the time. It’s good to have a homie in your corner who gets it.” What do people hate on him for, exactly? “‘Wale not street, he just a go-go rapper, he not from DC, he can’t rap,’” he says. “But they know I’m good. It’s not like they can say ‘You suck’ and look to their left and their man’s like, ‘You right.’ It’s more like ‘You suck’ and their man is like, ‘I don’t know, Joe. You hear that mixtape?’” On his well-rounded Paint a Picture and Hate is the New Love CDs, distributed for free online and hand-to-hand throughout the city, Wale makes a convincing case for his embryonic stardom. Over Kanye’s “Touch the Sky” instrumental, Wale thanks listeners for their support like a pro (“Good morning DC! My name’s Wale, you prolly know me from the rap…”) and follows up “Dig Dug” with “They Warming Up Caine,” remaking Big Daddy Kane’s “Warm It Up” into a tongue-twisting indictment of DC’s drug problem (Government officials is rude in the District/ They do the shipment, we do the pitchin/ They do the scorin, we more like Pippen/ Lockin us up for the drugs that we dealin/ But I don’t know no hood nigga that’s a chemist), and “Lucky Me,” where Wale candidly speaks on growing up with two immigrant parents while shuffling between the Northwest DC projects and suburban Maryland. “I’m no gang banger, I’m just a real genuine dude in Washington DC,” he says. “I’m an embodiment of where I’m from. You might double-check me because I rock a little different from everybody, but that’s my own style. I’m gonna make that accepted.” On Wale’s MySpace page, a snapshot of him and Bonney standing shoulder to shoulder has almost double the comments of any of the other photos. “THA POCKET vs. DIG DUG = TiGHT. YALL SHOULD mAKE A SONG 2GETHER,” “2 niggas puttin DC on da map!” and more than a hundred other well-wishers have left their notes of support for the duo’s sign of unity. “[Wale] was the first rapper from DC that I heard and was like, ‘He’s tight,’” says Bonney, and Wale holds his counterpart in similar regard. “Tabi’s always there for me,” he says. “He helped with everything, from dealing with the negative feedback to hooks to just everything.” Yet even if they weren’t so friendly, the two MCs would probably find themselves linked for the rest of their careers. One glance at the cheesy mixtape covers in any mom and pop record store will tell you there are many other MCs hustling throughout the District, but Wale and Bonney were the ones to capture the imagination and expectations of their hometown, where “Taxation Without Representation” is printed at the bottom of license plates, and the collective desire for recognition is immense. As with any artist who’s tasted the first spark of success, Wale and Bonney no longer view their future as a series of “if’s,” but “when’s.” Bonney is filming a proper video for “The Pocket” with Swishahouse lensman Dr Teeth, while finalizing national distribution for A Fly Guy’s Theme, and Wale continues to record steadily, taking trips up to NYC to soak up knowledge jewels from Roc-A-Fella engineer Young Guru, who promises to link him up with Swizz Beatz and Just Blaze. “I been MySpacing Just to find out where he got those drummers,” Wale says in traffic, while listening to Blaze’s nine-minute epic “Why You Hate the Game” from Doctor’s Advocate. “He won’t tell me where he got the drummers! I’m gonna have them on my album. Go-go with an orchestra! If don’t hear that, you know somebody messed up my budget.”

“People see DC as just hoodlums,” says Wale. “I want that whole Nelly movement.”

but that’s my own style.

I’m gonna make that accepted.”

- WALE

A Tribute To Collaboration

On the following pages are illustrator Ian Wright’s portraits celebrating some of modern music’s most exciting long-term—and just starting—creative partnerships. • Devendra Banhart and Becky Stark are both currently spreading fairy folk dust across Los Angeles’s music scene with as many friends as they can find. Banhart and Stark’s respective bands, the Queens of Sheeba and Lavender Diamond, were featured on a split 7-inch from LA’s Cold Sweat Records.

• Former Clash guitarist Mick Jones began working with Pete Doherty when he produced both albums by the Libertines. He has continued their relationship by helming all of Doherty’s Baby Shambles releases, including the recent The Blinding EP.

• Princess and Diamond are the two female rappers in Atlanta’s five deep Crime Mob crew. Crime Mob’s new album Hated On Mostly is out this spring. • Senegalese musician Cheikh Lô was discovered by his countryman Youssou N’Dour in Paris in the later ’80s. N’Dour produced Lô’s debut and, both together and separately, they have explored the potential reaches of afropop.

IT T AKES TWO
T H E FA D E R 1 4 6

IMAGES IAN WRIGHT

BECKY STARK & DE V E N D R A B A N H A RT

PETE DOHERTY & MICK JONES

PRINCESS & DIAMOND

YOUSSOU N’DOUR & C H E I K H L Ô

With hundreds of stitches in his hands, a glock in his waist and the dancehall’s first truly psychedelic voice, Mavado is taking gun talk to outer space

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VINYL ARCHEOLOGY EXTRA SENSITIVE
GETTING IN TOUCH WITH THE FUNKY SIDE OF FOLK

Jo Mama Jo Mama (Atlantic 1970) I’m at a Giles Peterson gig in NYC back in ’95 when he drops this crazy organ-led, horn-fueled funk number that boasted the chorus Love will get you hiiiiiiiiiiigh… with a technicolor three-part harmony that stretched on ’til infinity. I immediately made a drunken beeline to the booth with two other brothas to inquire about the cut. When Giles exclaimed “Jo Mama” he was met with three “Whatthefuckujussay?” screw faces and thrust the jacket into our hands, shouting, “It’s the title! The title!” Primarily made up of members of Carole King’s backup band, Jo Mama made two albums of slightly cheesy, yet very earnest, good time mellow West Coast funkn-roll. Well, funky if you think Carole King’s Tapestry is kind of funky, like I do. But then I think the Carpenters are also kind of funky. They have to be, because they’re one of a very select few white artists you’ll see in any older black person’s record collection. DH

Delaney & Bonnie and Friends D & B Together (Columbia 1972) While we’re on the subject of the Carpenters, did you know that “Superstar” was a cover? I was pleasantly shocked to hear the definitive version of that tune on this album. Originally titled “(Groupie) Superstar,” this song gets the gospel wail treatment from Bonnie Bramlett, who sings the hell out of it like any white girl raised in East St Louis should. Oh did I mention she was also an Ikette? Not only am I laminating her a ghetto pass for life, while I’m at it, I’m going to give one to her husband Delaney as well. Eddie Kendricks, Tina Turner and Booker T played on D & B’s albums for free! DH Bonnie Dobson Good Morning Rain (RCA 1970) I’ll never forget when Duane dropped this little bomb on me. Like any other beat junkie or loop head, I was salivating when he played the crazy harp strings of “Milk and Honey.” Sadly, Bonnie Dobson oozes folk cheese and often kind of blows, but occasionally she makes up for it with songs like an apocalyptic track called “Morning Dew” that’s about nuclear devastation. Primo also needs to get his hands on the opening track “Light of Love.” It has his name written all over it. AD

Air Air (Embryo 1971) Back in that hazy summer of 1999, yours truly spent a threeday weekend in a share condo the NYPD runs down on Court St near City Hall. Even though the accommodations were free, I wasn’t feelin’ the cramped quarters or the cheap boxed cuisine. When they decided to end my vacation, I took the train home, retreated to my bedroom and immediately put on this album, the only one this Air ever put out. Hearing the desperate voice of Queensbred Googie Coppola sing the lines, Here I sit in this jail cell/ Wondering what kind of key will get me out of here… My mind isn’t free and never will be/ Until you come back to me, this grown ass man had to shed a tear. DH Odetta Odetta Sings (Polydor 1970) The original folk soul sista created the definitive folk funk track with “Hit or Miss,” a gutsy, self-penned slab of selfaffirmation. You might recognize it from DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist’s all 45s Brainfreeze session. This also gives me an excuse to tell this story: I was DJing a fashion aftershow party years ago and Kate Moss got up and started to dance to “Hit or Miss” in front of the booth and her boobs fell out of her loosefitting blouse. She didn’t fix the situation until the song was over. God bless cocaine! DH

Linda Lewis Heartstrings (Reprise 1975) “Hey Linda, I’ve been trying to get in contact with you to see if you’d come to the Big Apple to perform. We’ll pay you and everything! The last time I tried the contact link on your website it didn’t work. Don’t worry, I’m not a stalker, but I have been known to burn down karaoke bars that don’t offer your tracks. I do a killer version of ‘Reach for the Truth.’” Seriously, this woman can sing her ass off. She has a five-octave vocal range that can rival Minnie Ripperton and a swagger that totally sets her apart. She’s also still cashing paychecks, collaborating with Turin Brakes, Jamiroquai and Basement Jaxx. AD

We’ll be upfront: there’s a side to us that most men are afraid to show, but we fully embrace. Sure we love our hip-hop and we’ve got breaks for days, but what we truly dig is sensitive ’70s soul music with folk sensibilities and vice versa. You know, earnest vocal stylings, dopey lyrics filled with hippie idealism and boatloads of studio trickery. Generally we only share these records with each other and the members of our band Prometheus’ Tears (Jean on finger cymbals, Jared on wind chimes, Pete on tambourine and Small Change on pan flute). These funky folk albums were for the most part inexpensive and very easy to find, but now they are becoming big ticket eBay items. Apparently people are becoming more comfortable with expressing their ALEC DERUGGIERO & DUANE HARRIOTT softer side. That’s OK, and you’re OK too, maaan.
Alec DeRuggiero currently works as a music consultant for Gray V and was the music director of the nightclub APT in NYC for seven years. Duane Harriott is a DJ, writer and music savant over at Other Music in NYC. Together they are Audio Archeology and you can hear their mix of the music discussed in this article at www.audioarcheology.net.

Rodriguez Cold Fact (Sussex 1970) The first time I listened to this album I ended up putting “Sugar Man” on repeat, immediately called my trusty “delivery service” and ordered some “tkts to the magic show,” while the dungeon master took me aboard his “silver magic ships” full of “jumpers, coke and sweet Mary Jane.” Sixto Rodriguez got no love in the US whatsoever when this album was released, but strangely achieved cult status in South Africa, where he performed to a sold out audience in ’98. AD

Hollins and Starr Sidewalks Talking (Ovation 1970) Naming your album Sidewalks Talking means that it might be time to put down the pipe, but I’m glad that Chuck Hollins and David Starr decided not to. Instead, they kept hitting it and produced gems like “Staying High,” complete with a thunderstorm outro, sirens and gunfire samples. DJ Shadow must have strapped on his Birkenstocks when he decided to sample the chimes off of “Twin City Prayer” for his epic “What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 3).” AD

Barbara & Ernie Prelude To… (Cotillion 1971) The resumé on this record is Retardo Montalban: Keith Jarrett on piano, Grady Tate on drums, Joe Beck on electric piano, Ralph MacDonald on conga & percussion, Chuck Rainey on bass, Barbara Massey on vocals and Ernie Calabria on guitars. Oh yeah, Deodato conducted and offered his orchestral expertise. Boo-Yah-Kah! Google any of these musicians and make note of all the heavy cats they’ve jammed out with. This abum is like Prelude To… the second coming of baby Jesus. AD

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MIXTAPE MUSICS
COMPILED BY NICK BARAT, LINDSEY CALDWELL, ERIC DUCKER, SAM HOCKLEY-SMITH, WILL WELCH

Various Artists British Street Soul (spinemagazine.com)
If this magazine was a record store (and sometimes I think it should be) I would put British Street Soul in my section of the Employee Picks display this month, with little stickers I cut out during lunch that said NICK’S SECRET HEAT or GROWN N SEXY or something. Then I’d print out a little blurb to glue on the index card underneath, talking about how UK producer Dobie filled these two excellent discs with his favorite homegrown R&B by everyone from Galliano to Soul II Soul to Finley Quaye (remember him?), taking special care to highlight actual favorites, not just the hits—which is why there’s no “Back To Life” from Soul II Soul, and why one hit wonder Junior is represented by a song that wasn’t the hit. Then I’d feel really pleased with myself about the GROWN N SEXY sticker, ’cause nobody really reads blurbs, but that kinda stuff moves records. NB

Thes One Lifestyle Marketing (Tres) For all we know, these surprisingly great remixes of music from forgotten Minneapolis commercials (imagine Donuts constructed out of nothing but vintage Krispy Kreme jingles) were being tended to in Thes Uno’s mind garden for years. By releasing the project now, in the wake of hit MF Doom albums about Cartoon Network characters and critically lauded LCD Soundsystem mixes for Nike, the producer gives Lifestyle Marketing a timely and clever little boost, especially when I caught myself humming “Grain Belt Beer” and realized that I was just virally marketed a product that doesn’t exist anymore. NB

a few) with a couple Farsi drops and scratch segues thrown in for good measure. It flies from Baris Mancho’s manic “Cleopatra” to the Cairo Jazz Band’s “D onence” lazerjam in less than an hour and will likely have you planning your next vacation to the Middle East. PM

Dr Delay Rajaz Meter (Funk Weapons) Oddly enough, I was just about to ask my camel what he wanted for his birthday when this mix showed up in the mail. Re-giiiiift! Named after the ancient Bedouin rhythm said to correspond to the natural swagger of camels, Dr Delay’s insanely wellcrafted mix collects some of the gnarliest funk and psych I’ve ever heard, from countries I’ve never been to (Ethiopia, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, to name

Van Morrison Van Morrison at the Movies (Manhattan) Coming on the heels of Scorsese digging up Van Morrison’s cover of “Comfortably Numb” with members of the Band and Pink Floyd for The Departed, the curmudgeon in me wants to call this collection of Morrison soundtrackfeatured songs an opportunistic cash grab. And it probably is. It is also a prime stash of Morrison’s engine revvers and an impressive testament that 19 fairly big deal films have utilized his music. The real standout is his other collaboration with the Band, the cocaine and purple suit-powered “Caravan” from The Last Waltz concert documentary, while the aforementioned “Comfortably Numb,” recorded live in Berlin in 1990, is more impressive in concept. But what a concept! ED

Boredoms Super Roots (Vice) Man, I was so bummed after the Boredoms’ Seadrum/House of Sun came out and I went to see them and Eye had an organ instead of a piano onstage. “Seadrum” was maybe my favorite piece of music from 2005, but, with the organ wank instead of the piano runs, I ended up in the venue’s bar drinking with a couppla other sulkers. The band has always operated in big concepts that are surrounded by fine lines— depending on your tastes, you’ll either bug out or fuck off. It’s happening all over again as I wade through Vice’s six reissues from the band’s Super Roots series, which they scattered throughout the ’90s. Next up: the muchrumored “77 Drums,” a performance piece for 77 drummers, jumping off on 07/07/07. I’ll do everything under the house of sun to be there, but I’m packing a flask and a pouty face just in case. WW

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Audionom Retrospectiv (Kemado) The thing about Swedes, which the dudes in Audionom are, is that when they offer you something, it’s never really what you get. Like if a Swede offers you chili, expect some rice and carrots in it. It’s still delicious, but it ain’t exactly chili. It’s the same with Audionom’s selfproclaimed “kraut rock” on this collection of their work from 1999 to 2002. Technically, the repetitious riffs, extended freakouts and proggy time changes are kraut-like, but the guitars are way more Motörhead than Can. In fact, let’s call it Powerkraut, or Pauerkraut. PM

MIXTAPE MUSICS

Each and every week the FADER team brings you two hours of the best internet radio in the world. Mixtape bangers, rare vinyl, exclusive unreleased cuts, and very special guests on the decks and on the mic - it’s exciting and totally unpredictable live radio, beaming direct from 1st Avenue to your computerboxes.

You Feel It” video. Either way I like it, and you know what else you can do with that pixie dust don’t you? LC

the mid-period “Ecstacy,” filters them through some Nintendo bloops and comes out with an almost new wave interpretation that completely blows the original out of the water. I’m not saying every Bone song needs this sort of treatment, but I wouldn’t be mad at Copy if he did about 50 more of these.
SHS

J Dilla Ruff Draft (Stones Throw)
There was always something endearing about Dilla’s loyalty to his not-quite-next level Detroit MC brethren, but 2003’s Ruff Draft EP was the only official munchkin from his cruelly brief discography where he handled all the production and vocals himself. A year after his death, the previously European vinylonly blammy has been reissued domestically in expanded two CD form, with the second disc featuring instrumental versions to facilitate more intensive studying from his beatmaking disciples. Dilla’s original intent was for Ruff Draft to sound like a cruddy cassette, but here the tracks have been cleaned up and remastered to knock blocks off with their strange strain of space Cadillac music. “Nothing Like This” retains its majestic, heart-breaking classic status, though after all the heavy J DILLA CHANGED MY LIFE talk, hearing the previously unreleased “Wild” (which samples an English kiddie singing Slade’s “Cum on Feel the Noize”) serves as a reminder of an important truth about Dilla: dude was funny. ED

Various Artists Relish Compilation (Relish) German label Relish gets the automatic double thumbs up for having both metal techno mob David Gilmour Girls and electro soul savant Don Cash on their roster, but I’m considering naming pets after them for this retrospective compilation that makes 30 minutes on the elliptical machine fly right by. The first disc finds Headman, the producer and DJ who is the man at the head of Relish, mixing together mainly remixes, while on disc 2, songs stretch out to their full acid insanity. Either way, I’m clocking 3.52 miles traveled and 317 calories burned, motherbitches. ED

Various Artists Elaste Vol. 1: Slow Motion Disco (Compost) This collection of woozy wonders is the kind of music that is played at those parties here in New York that are always actually packed and where everyone is actually dancing. Every time I make it out to one of those parties I wonder if it’s the laser disco that’s got people all fired up or if it’s the cluster of Threeasfour designers sprinkling pixie dust all over the dancers like in the Jacksons’ “Can

Copy Bone Thugs Harmony N Copy (CD-R) I’m a pretty big devotee of Bone Thugs’ Clevelandslanted G-funk, so whenever I hear “Bone Thugs remix” I usually take the huffy “if it ain’t broke…” viewpoint. Copy’s remix disc flips Bone songs I’m less enthusiastic about, like

Various Artists A Date With John Waters (New Line) This collection of “love” songs personally chosen by filmmaker and subculture icon John Waters casts a twisted light on relationships. The selections range from masters like Ray Charles to the ultra kitsch Clarence “Frogman” Henry to the cheerleader sneer of Josie Cotton, but after reading the “Christopher Walken as the Continental on SNL” style liner notes by Waters, I can’t escape visions of being lured and then trapped in his Baltimore home while he dances around, caresses his mustache and blasts this mix on repeat. I might not become his “disciple” like Bart Simpson did, but at least I’d enjoy the music. SHS

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JEDI MIND PIX RECOMMENDED LISTENING
FAVORED TUNES FROM FAVORITE DJS

RONNIE DARKO If you’ve ever checked a Spank Rock performance (and if you haven’t, put this magazine down and get thee to a sweatbox, post haste!) you’ve seen Marylander Ronnie Darko behind the decks, providing live turntable action with partner in beats Chris Devlin. But RD’s also a talented party rocker and scratchy scratcher in his own right. Check the podcasts and mixes over at www.lorddarko.com to find out more.

TAP.10 On his recent mixtape All Yay Music, Bay Area selector Tap.10 blended hyphy hits, turf obscurities and originals from his own Honor Roll crew (Trackademicks, Spank Pops, and more) into one non-stop bass casserole. Tap brings that same spirit to club gigs at Milk and Lucas in SF and events throughout the Bay. Check his podcasts on youthradio.org and his latest gigs at myspace.com/djtap10.

SNACK & C’MISH Selector duo Snack & C’mish hail from the Bay Area, but have recently rooted down in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, where they ride bikes and release Mac Dre/Polow da Don blends to the interweb. They also spin records for the faboulous at NYC spots like Players’ Club and MoMA, and mix the bi-weekly Turntable Lab Radio show on brooklynradio.com. Check them out at snackmode.com and turntablelab.com.

Burgundy’s jazz flute solo had an illegitimate love child born with monster truck wheels for feet and a thirst for blood...this would be it.

Freeez “Pop Goes My Love” (Streetwise) I found this ’80s electropop gem for $2.85 at a downtown record store in Baltimore two years ago. It’s a bonafide party starter with a giant intro perfect for cutting up and mixing—horns, synths, claps, congos, vocal echoes, all in the fi rst 30 seconds before the drums hit! Most people don’t know what this is when I play it, but it’s familiar enough to get them dancing every time.

Bruce Channel “Hey Baby” (RCA) There’s only one thing girls like better than the movie Dirty Dancing, and that’s the music from the movie Dirty Dancing! Once they hear that harmonica fl oat over those original snap music drums, the ladies get all nostalgic and sex crazed. Trust me, this instantaneously makes any club a sock-hop— and every dude Patrick Swayze.

Mark Ronson & Daniel Merriweather “Stop Me” (Allido) It doesn’t happen too often, but maybe once every year I will have a song on constant repeat morning, noon and night, and go out of my way sharing it with everyone so I can claim credit for putting them up on it first. Right now this cover of the Smiths’ “Stop Me” is my joint.

Alchemist ft Prodigy “I Betcha” (ALC) Al and Prodigy are a winning combination for sure. I’m amped after hearing their few joints together from Alchemist’s No Days Off mixtape. Al places a melodic, jazzy synth sample on top of some Mtume drums, then in comes the Earth, Wind & Fire interpolation. Apparently, Prodigy has a whole project produced by Al called Return of the Mac that’s about to hit.

Bonde Do Role “Quero Te Amar” (Mad Decent) Brazil’s Bonde Do Role kids never sounded so... Miami? Could’ve sworn it was Egyptian Lover on production, but surprise surprise, it was none other than Egg Foo Young behind the beat. Baile funk with a freestyle twist equals major dancefloor damage.

In Flagranti “Convolution” (Codek) The first time I dropped this at a gig, Snack was in the leaker and said he heard a stadium roar. He came back out and saw girls doing the horny dog, a dude doing a strange one-handed push-up dance and my quiet coworker ripping off his shirt and spinning it around his head. David Cross even tried to peek at our Serato!

Aromadozeski Therapy “Strudel Strut” (Future Primitive) If you’ve been to a Spank Rock show, then you HAVE heard this song. This is the Swiss Army Knife of records and it never leaves my bag. If “Apache” and Ron

SA-RA Creative Partners “Nasty You” (GOOD) This song is some new school naked-funk, like “Nasty Girl” or Prince’s “Erotic City.” I’ve been hearing rumors that these guys (now just a duo with Shafiq and Taz) are having label situations with BS mergers and whatever, but SA-RA needs to see the light of day soon.

J Stalin “The Function” (Zoo/ Livewire) While hella rappers are changing their sound to jump on the hyphy bandwagon, J Stalin comes with something a little more mobbin than most of the current Bay rap batch. He’s definitely one to watch from the Yay, along with the production duo the Mekanix, who produced his whole project.

Adam Kesher “Modern Times (Passions Remix)” (white) Passions brings the heat on this one, transforming the Kesher boys’ punky track into an evolving electro-disco-rave thing, with jackin’ percussion, chopped vox and monster bass. Drop this in the spot and about halfway through (when the heavy bass kicks in), watch out for pumping fists.

Krazy Baldhead ft Tes “CrazyMuthaFucka” (Ed Banger) Forget the fact that Tes sounds high pitched, ’cause its all about the production, KB is really trying to kill the floor with this one. Mix this at 2AM when you see the neon fishnet girl rolling her eyes and biting her lip. Truss. Then “Apple Juice” on the b-side slumps into the future with sass appeal.

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I
t was in the 1970s that multi-instrumentalist Idris Ackamoor began to reshape the obsolete notion of “world music” in an increasingly shrinking planet. His compositions incorporated intercontinental and cosmic sources, opening passages into boundless periods and locales, each one seemingly unearthed from futuristic sarcophagi. Collected on Music of Idris Ackamoor 19712004 (reissued by Osaka, Japan’s EM Records), the songs on this compilation provide an immersion into Ackamoor’s timeand-space-transcendent brand of avant-garde afrojazz. The retrospective includes some of his recent work with the Idris Ackamoor Quartet and the Idris Ackamoor Ensemble, but it is heavily weighted by songs from the early to mid-1970s from his earliest bands, the Pyramids and the Collective. Despite the expansive resources he drew from, Ackamoor came from modest Midwest roots. He grew up listening to Motown and playing

REHEATERS FAR OUT
IDRIS ACKAMOOR’S GREAT TRIP

authentic influences of these travels. “Do you know other AfricanAmerican jazz musicians who visited African countries and played and learned real African music in the very early 1970s?” Emura asks. “Even Pharoah Sanders didn’t try it, but Ackamoor did it.” Although centered in Africa, over the years Ackamoor incorporated Chinese and Guatemalan percussion into his music as well, and has most recently embraced Cuban stylings. By initially transporting the world of sound back to Yellow Springs, which did not afford him the exposure that his hometown of Chicago afforded contemporaries like Sun Ra and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Ackamoor was able to infuse his music with a unique and personal sincerity—what Emura refers to as the “earnest attitude” that inspired him to reissue Ackamoor’s work. As Emura further notes, “Performing free jazz in the 1970s in Ohio…it was not New York or Chicago, you know?” SAM ADA basketball on the South Side of Chicago, then later started his jazz career and founded the Collective at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. While enrolled there, Ackamoor ingeniously convinced the school to fund his selfdesigned study abroad program that involved a brief stay in France, where he formed the Pyramids, and a subsequent trip to Africa. During this journey, which the now San Francisco-based Ackamoor calls “one of those points in life that becomes an epiphany,” he traveled from Morocco to Ghana to Kenya to Ethiopia with only his instruments and a tape recorder. He played with kings’ musicians, watched the performances of Maasai and Kikuyu tribesmen, and participated in a Juju healing ceremony. The impact of these journeys carried over into the Pyramids’ customs, including their colorful Egyptian-styled dress and the use of indigenous instruments like the masenko and the Ugandan harp. Koki Emura, head of EM Records, was especially drawn to the

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PHOTOGRAPHY NOAH ROLLINS

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BEAT CONSTRUCTION ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE
DR DOG FIGURE OUT FREEDOM PHOTOGRAPHY ANNA BAUER

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sually when a band blows their advance in one shot, it ends in a pile of bodies and bottles. Dr Dog instead spent it on making their dream rock sound even dreamier. After years of recording in living rooms and basements on, at best, an 8-track, the always self-produced band signed to Rough Trade,

took their advance and bought Soundgun Studios in northern Philadelphia. They renovated it into one big open space, renamed it Dr Dog Studios (or Meth Beach, depending on who you ask) and dropped their new 24-track mixing board smack dab in the middle of the room. The new setup allowed the band to flesh out its each and every musical whim. Probably too many of them. “It was garbage,” says bassist/ vocalist Toby Leaman of the initial purgative sessions. “The songs were gone. It was mayhem. We

pretty much recorded an album and had to scrap the whole thing. It was like kids in a candy store getting sick.” For the first time in the band’s career they had the time to record songs more than once, so they started over with a fierce selfediting decree in place. “If it isn’t awesome, it has to go,” says guitarist/vocalist Scott McMicken. “We have to be able to stand behind every idea, because we have to know that what we’re doing is right for the song.” This stance makes the new album’s title, We All Belong,

sound less like a hippie declaration and more like a production motto. As a result, We All Belong is stacked with songs that marry the band’s lo-fi tradition with its newfound technical prowess, allowing them to create meticulously spontaneous pop sunbursts, a sound halfway between Magical Mystery Tour and Hunky Dory. Bowie and the Beatles had studio whiz Ken Scott, but Dr Dog make their own decisions. A shaker or cowbell that previously might not have found its way onto a song now gets room, and when

it does, you can hear it. You can hear everything: raspy throats, guitar fuzz, little brushes across a snare, the pluck of the bass. You can practically hear the incense burning in the studio. Lack of restriction, more than any romantic shoestring situation, forced Dr Dog to determine their future, and We All Belong goes grand.
PETER MACIA

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MIXTAPE BOOKS
COMPILED BY NICK BARAT, MATTHEW SCHNIPPER, ALEX WAGNER

William Eggleston 5x7 (Twin Palms)
Photographer William Eggleston, America’s drunk, romantic genius, always has a way of pulling back the curtain on brilliant harmony in the everyday—his shots of lonesome, perfect ketchup bottles, nighttime Arco stations and the bare bulbs on red ceilings are some of the finest works on film of the late 20th Century. Though he’s long been considered the Patron Saint of Roy G Biv, what people don’t know is that Eggs was equally (frighteningly) adept at black and white: 5x7 is the rare compendium that includes the maestro’s b&w portraits. Much like his other work, the portraits are effortlessly composed, but Eggleston still undercuts them with a spontaneity and intimacy that gets at the crazy, forlorn and innocent inside his subjects. And if you still think that black and white portraiture is snoozy stuff, ill-fitting one of the most luxuriant lushes of them all, then take solace: Eggleston shot the bulk of these photos at 3AM (presumably zooted on J&B) at a now-shuttered club down South, called—if you can believe it—TGI Fridays. AW

Jayson Scott Musson The Black Boy George (jaysonmusson@gmail. com) When the eggheads put us in charge of doling out MacArthur grants, Mr Musson will be PAID. His rappy raps as one third of Plastic Little are fine and all, but we’d cut the check on the basis of The Black Boy George, his second volume of propagandastyled screeds against art school dudes (“I’ll see you down on 5th and South with an easel and a dream, using your ‘Starry Night’ mug to mix burnt sienna and cadmium red into shit that won’t sell”) art school girls (“Yeah you with the hook nose and the Bloc Party haircut that’s just long enough in the back so dudes will still know you’re a girl and hit on you at parties”), and his favorite target, himself (“Where the fuck is my NAACP Visionary award at?”). When was the last time Anthony Braxton came with the jokes? NB Jason Tanz Other People’s Property (Bloomsbury) Tanz’s poses the question: “What could be more thrilling, more noble, more fulfilling, more terrifying, than living in somebody else’s skin?” To answer, Tanz never offers a scarecrow opinion for provocation, but instead wades high in the murk of rap music and “white people.” Along the way, he name checks Tricia Rose, lots of NWA and Eric Lott’s not dissimilar book on minstrelsy, Love and Theft. Tanz’s work, not quite as dense or academic as Lott’s, is warm and often unsure—perhaps that’s the approach necessary to broach delicate topics of race, art and authenticity?
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SUBSCRIBE DON’T MISS AN ISSUE! BACK ISSUES AVAILABLE ONLINE WWW.THEFADER.COM FREE CDS AVAILABLE WHILE SUPPLIES LAST. SORRY, NOT AVAILABLE FOR CANADIAN & INTERNATIONAL SUBSCRIBERS. THE FADER 183

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Patron Silver Basically the You Already Know Who It Is of booze— it’s so obvious that I would be ordering Patron shots on any given night of the week that I can’t do it, except for when I do. Last Thursday I threw caution (and a couple of breadcrumbs and an old gum wrapper) to the wind and picked up a bottle of Patty Silver from dude at the liquor store downstairs and brought it up to the ole office. Did you know that carrying around a bottle of Patron is a lot like carrying around a freshly baked cake filled with hundred dollar bills? People can smell the stuff! Here is an actual description of the scene: colleagues who had not stepped into my office since 1994 to ask me a question about, like, Coolio were knocking down my door. The guy who buys all the office supplies came in with a “set of spare highlighters in case [I] wanted them.” Mobolaji the fashion dude came knocking with a tray of warm cookies and “free socks.” Sure I gave people a

MIXTAPE DRANKY DRANKS
COMPILED BY CHIOMA NNADI, ALEX WAGNER, WILL WELCH PHOTOGRAPHY NIKOLAS KOENIG

pour or two, but after that, it was like word got out and the wild animals could not be sated. I don’t know who the lady with the snaggletooth (I think?) who keeps vigil outside my office is, or what that mysterious flock of pigeons outside my window everyday at 4PM means, but I am not into it, dogs, and the Patron bottle is empty. AW Black Bush Fine Irish Whiskey Given the name of this super fine bottle of Irish, I’m gonna resist the temptation to riff on the obvious here and instead talk about—what else?—taste. “It’s plenty

mature—don’t hesitate to get into it!” “It’s incredibly smooth!” “It goes down easy!” “Once you’ve had one drop, you’ll never go back!” Aw maaaaan, this drink review is like some kind of bear trap meant to get this polar cub clamped. I’ll just leave it at “HIGHLY RECOMMENDED” (seriously) and keep it moving.... WW Crown Royal XR When my dad’s cranky friend Uncle Tony came sniffing around screaming, “Gimme firewata!” I knew that a tall ass glass of whiskey was the only way to get rid of him. Personally

I’m not much of a firewata swigga myself, but when the Crown Royal XR (extra rare) sampler came in the mail I knew it was the extra good stuff by the clinical hot sauce-sized bottle it came in. Meaning the full-size was too fancy to be devirginized by an amateur like me. Anyway from what my amateur tastebuds can gather, there’s definitely a full-bodied spiciness to XR, with a pleasant aftertaste sensation that is way more warming than burning. Here’s hoping one day I’ll be able to sort my blends from my single malts, appreciate the silkysmooth super premiumness

of it all and make Uncle Tony proud. CN Tuaca Liqueur Sometimes I find myself thinking about Nero and am just totally floored that like, Holy shit Rome burned? WTF? Were there firefighters back in LXIV or what? Tuaca sounds a lot more like a minor but pivotal character from Apocalypto than the name of an aged Italian liqueur, but the ancients did all kinds of crazy shit that I can’t begin to wrap the old noodle around. On a what’s-pastis-precedent tip, the Tuaca label features one dude in a toga who “just happens” to be passed out on the floor while his “friends” convene in the corner, presumably conspiring to kill Ceasar or scratch dude’s chariot or some otherwise nasty Roman-style trick. I’m not naming any names here but I did manage to enjoy a few sips of Tuaca myself last week and if anyone has seen my toga laying around, it has a red trim and gold olive branch detail. AW

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EVENTS FADER 42 IS#UE RELEASE PARTY
LIVE AND STILL BOOGALOOING WITH THE BOYS OF VIETNAM

A BUDWEISER SELECT EVENT
P L E A S E R E M E M B E R TO D R I N K R E S P O N S I B LY

• First we put the music world on smash by throwing the most tweaked-out, psychedelic folks we could find on the covers of our 42nd issue—Mavado and Vietnam. Then we thought we should get a truckload of Bud Select beer, a space in Williamsburg (the Glasslands Gallery), a couple hundred of our best friends and our favorite tweaked-out, psychedelic musicians to perform live. That’s right, an issue release party featuring Mavado and Vietnam. As it turned out, Mavado missed three (3) flights from Jamaica, but WTF did it matter? Vietnam ripped so hard that, deep into their incomparable live set, they blew a power fuse and walked off stage. We soaked it all in for a while, hung out for a while, then spilled out into the Brooklyn night, feeling good about it all—feeling deeply tweaked and forever psyched.
PHOTOGRAPHY DOROTHY HONG

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STOCKISTS WHERE TO BUY THE LOOKS YOU LOVE

A G THING AIR JORDAN www.jumpman23.com GINO GREEN GLOBAL www.ginogreenglobal.com PARISH Available at Up Against The Wall stores nationwide

ON THE CORNER ACNE JEANS www.acnejeans.com COSTUME NATIONAL www.costumenational.com DIOR HOMME www.dior.com ENERGIE www.energie.it FREMONT www.fremontapparelco.com HUGO BOSS www.hugoboss.com

J LINDEBERG www.jlindeberg.com PERRY ELLIS www.perryellis.com RAY-BAN www.rayban.com TROVATA www.trovata.com UNIQLO www.uniqlo.com VALENTINO RED Available at Valentino Boutiques, Fred Segal and Bloomingdale’s nationwide YMC www.youmustcreate.com

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PHOTOGRAPHY ANDREW DOSUNMU. STYLING MOBOLAJI DAWODU. TANK BY TROVATA.

©2006 Environmental Defense

cross fingers fight global warming.com

ISSUE #45 ON SALE MARCH 27 2007

Gang Gang Dance’s Lizzi Bougatsos at home in Manhattan.

PHOTOGRAPHY JASON NOCITO

©2007 Callard & Bowser Inc.

FADE OUT

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