West Coast Weight: Kelly Dean’s ‘Firewall’ EP [SMOG025]

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Big up fam’, thanks for checking in again!  We’re already two weeks into the new year and there has been a solid amount of music to hit the shelves: DJ Madd’s remix of  Candyman’s ‘Killa Sound’, Killawatt & Ipman’s ‘Warehouse Dub/Single Entity’, Boddika’s ‘Soul What VIP’, Booka Shade’s 3-track release on Blaufield, and Bungle’s ‘Aura/Astral Travel’, to name a few.  If you thought that 2012 was an amazing year for bass music you’re right but, 2013 is going to be that much better!

Today marks the drop of California native Kelly Dean’s ‘Firewall EP’ on Smog records.  Kelly Dean is one of many producers within the deep dubstep scene who have recently been cementing the U.S. onto the radar of bassweight enthusiasts across the globe.  Yes, we’ve always had heads like Matty G, Starkey, OSC, Babylon System, and Roommate (among others), but the numbers are growing and the ratio of top-notch UK:US producers finally seems to be evening out a bit.

It should come as no surprise that one of the one of the nation’s leading producers rolls deep with one of the nation’s strongest and longest-running dubstep nights/labels – Smog.  This release sees Kelly Dean take on his role in the SMOG fam’ as the deeper and darker proponent with his sweeping reese bass lines, eye-closing sub bass, eerie atmospherics, and generally minimalist philosophy on production.  The EP also bolsters remixes from Chestplate Records up-and-comer District, as well as a remix by Drumcell of the infamous Los Angeles underground crew: Droid Behavior.  It is without a doubt an EP that should not be slept on.  I was lucky enough to grab a few words with Kelly in regards to this release so take a read below while you preview his ‘Firewall’ EP:

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BWS:  So how long has this EP been in the works for?

Its been over a year that’s for sure.  I actually played these tunes in an earlier form at the SMOG 5 year party.  They have transformed over the years and matured into what you hear today.  They actually feel like little kids to me at this point.  HAHA.

BWS:  What can the listeners expect to hear from this project?

This EP has a much more mature sound to it.  Take “Samurai” for instance.  The track’s vocal is actually me.  But I took the quote from Hagakure : Book of the Samurai which is a practical and spiritual guide for a warrior, drawn from a collection of commentaries by the Samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo from 1709 to 1716.  So the historical context of this tune is pretty strong, and I believe the vibe of the song is consistent with that theme.

BWS:  Do you have a personal favorite off the release?

“Samurai” and “Firewall” are my favorites mainly because of the ongoing theme.  Its a lot of fun creating a song that has somewhat of a script, almost like your scoring a movie. Those tunes have little FX sprinkled in that hint at the track titles.

BWS:  Which beat did you have the hardest time completing?

Samurai was the hardest by far.  Its the longest of the lot and the structure is different then your average dubstep tune   .  It starts off dropping into almost a garage drum pattern.  Each 16 bars it changes slightly with the percussion slowly morphing into a standard dubstep beat.  The vocal was also quite a challenge.  This is the first time I have put my own vocals into a tune that has been released.

BWS:  Any shout outs to those that helped make this happen?

Everyone supporting me since I started making music has been a MASSIVE help!  Producing music is one of those things that even the littlest bit of motivation from your peers can generate a big response in your productivity and imagination, which really helps with the writing process.  Drew & Danny at SMOG are huge in that department and this EP would not have been possible without them.  Also huge shouts to District and Drumcell for banging out unreal remixes!  Its a honor to have them on board for this project.

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There you have it people.

Here are the buy links so  choose your record store of choice and make sure to get this one onto your hard drive!

BEATPORT || iTUNES || JUNO

Kelly Dean:

FACEBOOK || SOUNDCLOUD || TWITTER

Smog:

FACEBOOK || SOUNDCLOUD || TWITTER

I’ll catch you guys next time, thanks for reading!  Make sure to support your local scene – buy music, go to shows, and tell your local promoters what the people want to hear.

One love.

– Kinman

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Bassweight Sessions 5: EshOne

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What up fam’.  Hope everything is well.

Well, the nominations for the Dubstepforum Awards 2013 have closed and any day now we should see the announcement that voting can begin.  I hope to see the BWS name on the voting sheet!  What a year 2012 was for dubstep, right?  So many great tunes released, labels started, and boundaries pushed during the past year that it’s hard to predict where things will go in 2013.  One thing is for sure, and that is the simple fact that the music, people, and scene will continue to progress.  I’m going to compile a ‘Top 20 Releases’ (obviously just an opinion) feature for 2012 as I did for 2011, and am hoping to have it all wrapped up by the end of the month (there’s soooo much good music to sift through).  I’ll keep you guys posted on that so be on the look out 🙂

Today I have a special feature with US native Donnie Valdez, most commonly known as EshOne.  A long-standing staple to the US underground, Donnie has sought out to test every boundary possible with his music whether it be formula, tempo, or distribution.  Donnie has been releasing music since 2008 in both digital and vinyl formate.  In 2011, he started up his label Elk Beats and has been releasing music exclusively through that outlet (more information regarding that in the interview below).  Donnie is an all-around genuine guy who carries himself and his music in a concise and to-the-point manner.

Take a gander below if you want to get to know Esh a bit better.  Also, he has been generous enough to offer a free tune for you to play while you read the interview!

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BWS:  Can you give the readers a quick blurb about yourself (name, hometown, music you make, etc.)?

My name is Donnie Valdez, I have tracks out there filed as EshOne, Don Valdez, and a handful of other names that I will not say. I’ve split my time since I was young between southern California and northern New Mexico, so I guess that’s had sort of a big influence on my sound. I’ve been focused on bass heavy music since I’ve started, moving through the darker stuff as I’ve come along. At this point I’m trying to play mostly, if not all, my own music in my sets. I try to create and maintain in a variety of tempos and styles, and as the library grows, the fun does too…

BWS:  Can you remember any sort of defining moment that made your mind click, and you knew from then on that you wanted to make music?

Yeah. As far as making music in general, my mom bought me a mini acoustic guitar when I was a kid and I used to play these super annoying songs to her. It was hilarious to me. As far as creating electronic music, it started from playing whole sets on vinyl, and the whole time wanting to have made one of the records I was spinning. That was the cool part to me; playing them and having the knowledge and taste to like good music was an achievement, but what about making it? That’s the shit. This is still the driving force on a personal level. You can never be good enough at making music. You can never learn enough. There’s not like a pace you have to keep though, or a race against time. It’s all about having fun, and the harder you work, the more fun you have.

BWS:  As far as I know you paint among other sorts of visual art, can you elaborate on that a bit?  Do you find any sort of connective element in creating both visual and audible artwork?

I like to make stuff. I don’t draw or paint as often as I did before, but I do a lot more screen printing and digital art these days to make up for it. I used to paint skateboard decks and sell them, but it’s been a while! I do some design work and web development, if you looked at my productivity from a financial standpoint, design would be my main gig. As a connective element between visual art and music, I’d love to learn more about video and editing. I think it would really compliment any music I create, although it’s something I’ve never had the equipment for. Now that these handheld phone things we all have are capable of so much, I might do some weird stuff and see what comes out.

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BWS:  Where can the readers find your art if they’re interested in purchasing?

I’m continuously putting things up on the Elk Beats website [ http://elkbeats.com ], right now we are limited to digital music, and occasionally tees and posters – but cassettes, greeting cards, and weird sculptures are coming. Soon.

BWS:  You’ve got a pretty solid history within the dubstep scene here in the US.  What’s it been like to watch the scene evolve and branch out during the past 6-7 years?

It’s been entertaining! It’s crazy to me how much it’s grown. At first it was kind of this niche thing. Hard to find, and special when you found it. Then it was everywhere, and sad to say, pretty annoying. It blew up the the point of melting into the electronic music/dance music scene, this big flow of repetitive beats that are categorized in weird ways, and has now secured its place in the production style hall of fame. Now that it’s more settled, I’m hoping that everyone moving on takes to heart some of the amazing parts of this genre: the bassweight, the moodiness, the weird polyrhythmic aspects of the truly deep tracks, anxious syncopation, patience with the pace… I’m also hoping that those who stay with it don’t ride the sound into the ground, rather experiment and innovate. There is so much space to explore still.

BWS:  Any moments in your history that stand out as game-changers?  Tunes, events, etc.?

I make music fast… Like really fast. Now that I’m working with different tempos, it’s easy to make a house track when I’m not feeling like making dark bassy stuff, or the other way around. So the event is that I recently started playing digital music, on CDJs, which has opened up so many new doors to me. I’ve been stuck in the position of only playing a certain style and tempo of music for a while, because I would cut dubplates for every set. Financially, I had to cut only my best stuff, and things that were sent to me, that would mix well together. Time was an issue to – if I got sent a wicked promo that came out 3 weeks later, and I only had one gig in that time, it wasn’t worth the cut. It was painful to let those go, and not be able to play some serious tunes I’ve had my hands on in the past. Now with the capability to play all the promos I’m sent, and all of the styles of music I have, including things that are old and obscure, or aren’t finished yet… My sets have become infinitely cooler. To anyone reading and thinking, “I told you so,” I don’t regret playing on dubs and vinyl for so long, and I may go back to it. I’m just on a path of super inspired and rapid creativity right now, and the lathe can’t keep up!

BWS:  I’ve seen your dubplate collection (or at least segments of it).  Do you still get the same feeling each time a new box of acetate arrives on your doorstep?  Whatever that feeling may be…

I love dubplates, I will always love them. Everyone who’s held one will talk about the smell of them. It’s true. They have a very distinct smell, and I’m sure opening a box of fresh cuts by an audiophile is very similar to opening a bag of the finest Humboldt Kush a weed smoker could get their hands on. It’s magical! Going to the mastering studio for the cut is even more exciting than a box at the door. Watching a needle etch your track into a metal disc and seeing the acetate shreds getting vacuumed up and hearing it all in real time is an experience like no other. On a performance level, I am to the point now where I just want to cut dubplates for personal use. Just my best stuff, to collect, and have a physical copy of.

BWS:  I saw you post a cartoon strip like a week or so ago (state of the music industry from The Oatmeal), and you said it gave much of the reason behind the inception of Elk Beats.  Can you go into more detail what you meant by that?

Oh yeah! The cartoon had to do with the digital distribution market, the disconnect it creates from fans to artists, and offered insight into the benefits of cutting out distribution altogether. It’s all true! At Elk Beats, we just sell through our website. It’s never been about getting charted on Beatport, or iTunes, or any of those things. To be honest I don’t give a shit about any of that. As a DJ, I would personally never touch anything I found on any sort of a chart, and to be quite honest, I don’t want DJs who think like that buying my shit anyway. We’re making and putting out stuff that not everyone will like, which is perfect, because we’re making it for those who are going to like it. This model is fantastic! I get to meet, or get emails from, everyone who’s supporting Elk Beats and the crew. It’s rad getting to know who likes what we do, and to see what they do! Also, getting to work with some of the artists I have so far with Elk Beats has been a great experience. Both Raggs and AxH have been inspiring and fun people to build with, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do so.

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BWS:  Is there any specific direction you want to take your music this upcoming year?  Personally or with Elk Beats?

I’d like to continue making different styles of music, and finding better ways to mix them all together. I’ve been inspired a lot this past year by people who mix different tempos, especially Wheez-ie, Distal, and Sublmnl Sound System. As for the label, I’m always looking for ways to push Elk Beats to the next level. I’m working with a couple of artists who I believe will help do just that, and looking forward to what we’re going to put out this year. More tempos, more styles, more art. Look for lots of cool merch and one of a kind stuff on the Elk Beats site this year.

BWS:  What was your favorite piece of music the past year?  If you can’t single it, top 3/top5?

There are way too many outside of the bass music/dubstep sound, so for the sake of simplicity, I’ll go with Goth Trad – Man In The Maze. That song is an amazing piece of music, as is the whole album. Plus he is one of the coolest people I have met in the music scene, a very smart guy.

BWS:  Can you tell us a little bit about the song you’ve be so generous to share with the readers?

This song, The Lagoon, is just one of those weird songs. It comes with a super thick vibe if you can pull it off right. I’ve only played it a few times. In order to play the track, the sound system has to be super beefy, the crowd has to be in the zone, and the set has to be authoritative. It’s one of my favorites for that reason. If you can play it, and it works, you’ve created a very rare and very fulfilling energy with a room full of people who will appreciate it.

BWS:  What do you think could be the most useful piece of advice to any new producer?

The more unique your music is, the more accurate it is. It’s just like telling a story. You can exaggerate the parts you think people will like, and leave out the personal stuff, or you can tell it your way and get better and better at communicating what you like about it. Decide what you want people to hear, and work hard at getting that sound to them as clearly as possible. It sounds easier than it is, but that’s the fun part.

BWS:  Who shot Biggie and Pac?

I think it would be disrespectful to speculate. I’ve been inspired by the music of both, and I’ve never even met either, so I guess I can say no one shot them. They’re still alive and reaching people through what they made, and will never stop.

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Here’s the beat Donnie has been kind enough to give away – a track titled ‘The Lagoon’ that emits a classic vibe with a slumping bass line for all the soundsystem heads to nod to.  Big up Donnie, much respect and appreciation for the interview!

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EshOne Pages:

FACEBOOK || SOUNDCLOUD || TWITTER

Elk Beats:

FACEBOOK || SOUNDCLOUD || TWITTER

I’ll catch all your mugs next time!  Big up and one love.

– Kinman

Raggs – In Your Eyes EP [ELK012]

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Elk Beats is US-based imprint that operates on 100% self distribution and an intention of facilitating a platform forward-thought.  Founder of the label, Donnie ‘Esh-One’, has been a largely prolific figure in the United States underground scene, whether it’s his dedication to dubplate culture (the man has PILES of acetate!) or his ever-changing styles within the production arena.  You can always count on fresh-sounding music to be hosted by an innovator like Donnie.

The ‘In Your Eyes’ EP marks the twelfth release for Elk Beats and showcases a downtempo cosmic ethos.  Raggs is an OG dubstep figurehead who has long been part of El-B’s infamous Ghost Recordings crew as well as the Croydub event regularly held in Croydon.  One of the baddest females around.  She has done vocals for two beats that are produced by Dubface and Kinzy.  The release definitely holds the vibe of darker, more emotional 140 styles.  The title track, In Your Eyes, is produced by DubFace – who has been producing grime and dubstep for the past 8 years or so – and is my favorite beat off the release.  The swing of the drum pattern and the analog sound of the lead high synth add a perfect amount of gritty-emotion to the vocals laid down by Raggs.  The final track of the release is ‘Surrender’ produced by Kinzy.  Kinzy has long been making a good beat or two as well as hosting his radio show on Rood FM Mondays 2-4PM (GMT).  This track is next-level.  The spacey textures, colorful synth-work, and evocative processing of Raggs vocals make this tune a seriously cosmic piece of bass music.  The minimal percussion that is so intricately placed adds a perfect “cherry on top” to this whole mixdown.

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Be sure to stop by the label and artist pages below!

Elk Beats:

FACEBOOK || WEBSITE || SOUNDCLOUD

Raggs:

FACEBOOK || SOUNDCLOUD

Buy links:

ELKBEATS.COM

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That’s the word for Tuesday.

See you in a bit.

One love.

– Kinman

Juss B – Metaphysics / Symbols [VLCN004]

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EZ fam’  Hope everyone is doing well and not going too crazy amidst the madness of everyday life in 2012 – it can be quite challenging!

Today I am very happy to feature the most recent release from U.S./U.K. based imprint, Vulcan Audio.  Headed up by Medik and Biak, based out of Atlanta and London, respectively, these guys are slowly but surely beginning to creep their way into the hard drives of listeners both stateside and across the pond.  I featured 002 a couple months back which was a two-tracker that featured Cauze & KBeatz on the buttons.  Today marks release of the 4th installment of the Vulcan Audio discography, and comes from the hands of American producer Juss B.  You should be familiar with his sound by now with his release catalog containing support from labels like Gradient Audio, Phantom Hertz, and San Diego based collective Sub Pressure.  This mans approach to atmospherics and gritty nuerofunk style energy is definitely a standout characteristic to his production branding.

The A side, ‘Metaphysics’, brings you into a realm of distant chants, twisted reeses, and pressure-ridden grooves that are sure to keep your head nodding.  The high hat panning adds a very nice movement to the percussive presence – especially in conjunction with the delayed drum hits that alternate back and forth with each other.

The flip, ‘Symbols’, is a shoulder-slumper.  Really clean atmospheres fill the mix out, the neuro-swing elements are well-executed, and the beat’s evolution is smooth like butter.  Interested to see how Juss B’s productions evolve in the near future – should be exciting stuff!

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Be sure to stop by the label and artist pages below, respectively.  Also, you will find a buy link so you can snag this release if you haven’t already!

Vulcan Audio:

|| SOUNDCLOUD || FACEBOOK ||

Juss B:

|| SOUNDCLOUD || FACEBOOK ||

Buy link:

JUNO DOWNLOAD

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I’ll catch you guys in a couple days with a really DOPE interview feature lined up.  Blessssss.

-Kinman

Truth – Evil In The Woods [Smog Records]

Following suit from the appreciation Shice noted in receiving amazing music from a local imprint, it was an amazing day when I received the promo’s for the latest EP from the Smog imprint, based out of Los Angeles.  These guys have been building a dubstep following in the Southern California area for 6 years now – one of the longest running dubstep collectives in the nation!  They’ve seen an evolution from vacant corporate offices and basements of art galleries, to several thousand capacity venues.  I have the utmost respect for what the label has built in my hometown.  Their 20th release couldn’t have been more well represented, than by Truth.  Truth has been on a massive scale global infiltration mission, pushing their sound into every region of the world.  Their fully immersed touring habits, unbelievably high output of music, and the sincere way in which they carry themselves and their values, have all culminated into a following that holds in the highest of places among underground music.  Seeing what they’ve done within 2012 alone makes me extremely excited for what 2013 will bring – especially since they are now officially California residents!

“Making their debut to the Smog label, TRUTH brings you something deep, dark and dangerous from this New Zealand duo. “Evil In The Woods” conjures up images of witch craft and black magic. This four track EP includes a unique collaboration with DATSIK that crosses his mechanical bass with that classic Truth sound.”

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Evil In The Woods ||

This is a track that was perfectly suited for its UKF hosting.  In my opinion, it’s the most aggressive track on the EP (yes, even more so than the Datsik collab).  The tune gets straight to the point with sweeping atmospheres and chords that stab their way through the background.  The square wave bass notes immediately tear through your speaker box as the beat drops into full effect, leaving your mind filled with thoughts of apocalyptic madness (or at least my mind).  This is definitely a track that’s meant to destroy dance floors worldwide.

All Over ||

This beat sees Truth hark back on a nostalgic journey through half-step grooves couple with the seemingly signature ability to process samples in a fashion that just cannot be matched.  From the elongated fade of a single note to the perfect choice in words to splice, Truth make use of their vocal samples in the most efficient way.  The variety of atmospherics, and alternating basslines drenched with delay show their face in every nook and cranny of the track – making it impossible to predict what you’re about to hear next.  Get ready for your soul to be swallowed by rupturing low-end frequencies.

No Chance ft. Datsik ||

This one caused some whispers prior to its preview being released!  It seems that as soon as some saw the name ‘Datsik’ included in the track name, they began to doubt the Truth.  I’m sure there are still some that claim to dislike this beat but, for the most part, I think people have to admit that this tune is an absolute riddim’.  I’ve heard a few Truth & Datsik collabs while having the pleasure of seeing Truth play out, and I’ve never once been dissatisfied.  In all honesty I think the robotic bass techniques, that Datsik is clearly endowed with, compliment Truths undeniable ability to blow your shirt back with bassweight.

Talking To Myself ||

Grabbing hold of your brain with LFO modulation and swinging high hats you’ll be instantly hooked.  With its neck-snapping snare hits and gritty bass horn, that would likely be used to signal roll call for modern day druids, this is an absolute anthem!  Sweeping pads build the energy between each segment of the song magnificently.  The delayed percussion that hits at the beginning of each bar, the filter mod’ing on what seems to be an arpeggiator, and feedback laced bass strikes all equate to a stomping rhythm that will bring charred witches up from their graves.

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BEATPORT || ITUNES

Follow Smog:  FACEBOOK || WEBSITE || SOUNDCLOUD

Follow Truth:  FACEBOOK || SOUNDCLOUD || TWITTER

That’s what I got for your bass bins today, folks.  Get out there and snag this EP up.  It’s a digital only release, so all the vinyl heads like myself, I recommend finding a reasonably priced cutter to get these to you on acetate.  It’s worth it, in my opinion.  Until next time.

To the gods.

-Kinman