Bassweight Sessions 5: EshOne

ElkRide_AngelFire

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

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Subreachers: Foundation EP (WRZ005)

EZ fam’.  I’m finally back to reality.  It was definitely quite the journey I embarked on, and I’m refreshed and ready to go for the next year.  It’s amazing what one week in Black Rock City can do for ones mind and soul.  I’m going to have a feature up soon showcasing a lot of the amazing art and experiences (via photo) that I shared with my family while at Burning Man last week.  It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful and energetic cities on the earth – yet only exists for 1 week!

Anyways, for today, I have a little review on the fresh EP from Subreachers.  This 4-track (digital) / 3-Track (vinyl) release is an absolutely outstanding display of deep-rhythm versatility.  With sounds ranging from the foundation reminiscent wobbles of  ‘Developer’ to the jazz-infused ambiance of ‘Foundation’, Matthias Hoogewijs has really cemented himself as a producer that is here to stay.  The EP marks the fifth release for Warriorz Records, an imprint dedicated to the promotion of their fellow Belgian musicians.  The EP hits the shelves today so be sure to get your copy!

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‘Developer’ || Vinyl, Digital

This tune, in my mind, is the ultimate homage to the original dubstep sound.  As the shutter-shaking wobble creeps its way in through the envelope, the masterfully constructed snare hit bleeds a reverb that sends the listener into an abyss of atmospheric groove.  The constant introduction of new sounds and grooves throughout the bars keeps this song eternally fresh and interesting.  Hold tight for the second.

‘Foundation’ || Vinyl, Digital

After the infamously talented duo, Author, formulated and introduced one of the most forward-thinking interpretations of the 140 arena, there have been many imitators – few of which I’ve found noteworthy.  This track is one of the few.  This laid back sunshine anthem has a feel-good vibe often foreign to the cold, dark nature of dubstep.

‘Karnaubawa’ || Vinyl, Digital

This one is so softly melodic and peaceful.  The subtle vocal processing really brings out an extra amount of vibe that “puts a cherry on top” of this production.  The rhythmic delay of the synths and the snap-hat combination really put the shuffle in your step and groove in your hips.  This beat is my persy off the release.

‘Return 2 Reality’ || Digital Only

Stuttered drum sequencing and howling basslines characterize this track.  Definitely takes you through a wormhole of audible frequencies.  This delightfully energetic half-step bit is one for those preparing for the dread march.  Hoods up, fists up, eyes down – bring on the revolution.

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Released today!  Available in all good record shops.  Below are purchase links from Chemical and Juno.  Make sure you head over the Subreachers page and shout him some love and support.  Will be a lot more of this fellow to hear in the near future.  To celebrate the release, the label and artist have been generous enough to give away ‘Return 2 Reality’ as a free download.  PLEASE show the involved parties some love for this.  A fucking massive tune free of charge is always deserving of a simple, yet genuine, “thank you”.

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Chemical Records

Juno Records

Stay blessed.

To the gods.

-Kinman

Drummed Out: Quantum Soul, Biome, Benton, & TMSV

Gwwwwaaaarnnn get up now!  What’s good folks…Hope everybody is doing well on this glorious day!  We gotta’ bunch of freshies for your ears today, encompassing a vast spectrum of style.  Hope you enjoy 🙂

I wanted to start things off with a proper dub-styled jam from the one and only TMSV.  This guy makes some of the cleanest sub-bass in the game.  The tune, ‘Attention’, comes in nice and sends some extremely positive vibrations through your mind and soul.  Endless delays, climbing basslines, dubbed out vocals, the whole-nine yards with this one.  I would really like to see this get a release!  On a side note, I am really feeling these dub-wise tunes that TMSV has been writing on the late.  Stoked to hear more of it!

TMSV – Attention

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This next bit is moving back towards the darker side of the spectrum.  Biome has seriously been on such a massive run lately with amount of top-notch tunes he has been putting out.  ‘Persepolis’ on Macabre Unit Vinyl, ‘The Raven’/’Hybrid’ Remix on Osiris, and his 3 track release on the Deep Heads label.  Like I said, serious business this guy.  This track was put up on the Deep Heads soundcloud page earlier today and is another percussion flooded roller from the badman.  Subs up, eyes down for this one.

Biome – The Road

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Moving straight into the depths of the spectrum now with this preview of Benton’s ‘Defect Mind’, forthcoming on his Wheel & Deal album ‘Reflections’.  Benton is a producer who has a sound distinct to only himself, in my opinion.  The dark and sinister vocal clips, the slumping bass lines, and fine-tuned atmospherics are always present inna’ production with this guy.  Put your ouija board away before you press play on this one ;).

Benton – Defect Mind (Forthcoming Wheel & Deal)

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I wanted save this next tune for last because I believe it will send everybody off with a BANG!  Coming from the hands of our friend Quantum Soul is a remix done for SideProjekt’s tune ‘Temple’.  An absolute sub workout, this one!  Such an immense variety of sounds intricately placed together to create the massive amount of energy that this tune puts out.  Some SEEEERRIOUS soundsystem music!  Clear some space for the skankin’ that will undoubtedly occur once you press play.

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BLESS!  Hope you are all diggin’ the tunes for today.  Support the artists by buying their music and seeing them spin when they come to your town!  It’s a rough lifestyle for most of our favorite artists (obviously not the large names) so don’t make it any rougher on them by jacking the product of their countless hours in the studio.  Fo’ real do’.  We’ll catch you next time.

To the gods.

-Kinman

Album Review: Seven’s Evolution LP

What up everybody!  We back from another weekend and ready to get going on the next!  Today we got a special highlight on Seven’s new album, ‘Evolution’, that just dropped today (digitally, vinyl was released last week).

Eddy Woo has been a tune making machine ever since the mid-2000’s (or at least that’s as far back as I can remember lol).  First putting his touch into the drum and bass world and then switching his concentration to dubstep after Yunx asked him to make a 140 tune for his radio show.  Since then Seven has been putting out multiple releases each year on imprints like Aquatic Lab, Black Box, Wheel & Deal, and Subway.  This past week saw the release of his debut full-length album on Black Box Records, Evolution LP.  For the vinyl heads this was a 3 platter, 6-track release and for the digital heads a 13-track collection of the finest quality tunes.  For the sake of time and, of course, your attention spans, I’m going to pull my 4 favorite tunes from the album to give you a little taster of what’s inside…

Morning Light ft. Alys Be//

This one is my percy off the album.  The soulfully haunting vocals from Alys Be dubbed up with the reverb-drenched synth leads on this tune set the stage beautifully for the in your face reese-esque bassline that comes in hard and leaves equally as clean, providing space for a snare drum that could snap the Dalai Lamas head back.

Seven ft. Alys Be – Morning Light

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Breathe//

The opening notes of this track are ones that will hook any listener, with any musical preference.  Big, spacious, and taunting stabs followed with an amazing  style of eastern-influenced strings.  This is a tune that requires patience, in my opinion.  Reason being that as the tune progresses into its final 1:23, each individual track comes together in its purest form.  The stabs begin to bounce through space guiding your neurotransmitters to all the pleasure centers in your brain, the high hats are rolling through the soundscape flawlessly, and then the tune begins to digress.  You’re then like “wait, rewind that shit back!”.

Seven – Breathe

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Feel It//

This tune is probably second in line for me, as far as favorites on the album.  It’s got SO MUCH soul!  Really bummed that this one didn’t make it onto the vinyl cut.  It starts off with real nice garagey introduction, causing footwork inna’ dance.  As its progresses, 90’s-rave vocals precursor the heavy arsenal of 808 drums that will instantly set off the dance vibes.  It’s very similar to a Von D style funkiness, drums made to shuffle and perfectly placed vocals.  Big tune!

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Picture This//

This track is a fire starter!  You’ll be instantly intrigued as the beginning section takes you through a flashback of some kind of 1980’s movie in which the setting is 30 years ahead of its time, in space.  Or maybe a Revenge of The Nerds talent show performance, haha.  Whatever you want to relate it to, it’s fucking dope.  The intensity begins to build quickly with the distorted wobble starting to rise out of the background and the sweep gains its force.  Once the tune hits its first climax the vibes are set to destroy!  That signature Seven style of creating some of the most powerful sub-lines in conjunction with just the right amount of aggression inna’ tune.  Again, this is one that I was really bummed to not see on wax.  The second climax is the one on this tune, though.  Switching out the wobble for a straight space-gangster synth line.  Like I said, this tune is a FIRE STARTER.  (I use the word ‘climax’ instead of  ‘drop’ because the term has been abused by the kids these days, lol)

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Now, make sure you get out and purchase this album!  Although I only reviewed four tunes today, the remaining nine on the album are all amazing as well.  Like I said previously, this was purely a time/attention management issue :).  The album is available at all good record shops and download sites, so snag it off whichever one you prefer (Chemical, Beatport, etc.).

Seven Evolution LP – Vinyl (Chemical Records)

Seven Evolution LP – Download (Chemical Records)

Thanks for tuning in, we’ll catch you tomorrow!

To the gods.

-Kinman

Bassweight Sessions 1: Kelly Dean

Kelly @ Smog Sunday’s w/ J:Kenzo (May 6, 2012)

Yo fam, what’s good?!  It’s already halfway through the week, which is a blessing in itself, so let’s start getting those vibes going that are going to bring us into the weekend.

Today we sit down with one of the many talented frontmen for the Los Angeles super-power, SMOG.  Kelly Dean has been involved with the inception of what is now one of the most well-rooted dubstep scenes in the US since, essentially, day one.  From underground art galleries to 5,000 person-sellout shows, Kelly has been amidst the evolution of Los Angeles dubstep.

While LA is largely associated with the aggressive, tear-out, and more commercially recognized styles of  bass, this man has managed to keep innovation going within the deeper side of the spectrum, adding his own creativity to the foundation sounds.  Alongside the SMOG family, Kelly has been bringing in some of the most highly respected figures in the deep scene, with the ‘Smog Sundays’ weekly.  I’ve made it out to as many as my life allows, and I have yet to be let down!  Much respect out to the crew for that!  Now, hopefully we can get some bassweight business going on a Friday or Saturday night, too 😉

Having racked up a sufficient amount of releases on labels like Sub Pressure, Gamma Audio, Shift Recordings, and Smog Records, to name a few, he is no stranger to the buttons.  Releasing drum and bass early on in his career but then switching his focus to dubstep in 08′, the man has definitely been on an upward path of production quality.  With his music receiving the remix treatment by Excision, Chewie, and the engineering mastermind, Von D, it should come as no surprise that his ascent has been steady.  Production aside, Kelly is also a man who has quality mixing skills, whether it be live or on two decks.  Caught his set before J:Kenzo last Sunday and he smashed it, flawlessly bringing in big tune after big tune, crossing between deep and soulful.

Anyways, let’s see what the LA badman has to say, shall we?

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What up Kelly!  First off thanks for the support with this interview.
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How have things with the SMOG family been on the late?  You guys have been bringing some killer performances the past couple months with your Smog Sunday’s; Seven, Noah D, Antiserum, J:Kenzo, and then you got Rustie and Goth-Trad all coming within the next couple months.  Respect!
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Yeah man the next few months are going to be great with all the deep artists coming through.  I’m really happy with the way things are going with SMOG here in LA.  There’s no place i’d rather be really!
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Any big things been going in the studio for you?  Your EP, ‘I Got You’, on Sublife Recordings hit the shelves on the 30th, anything else forthcoming that we should keep our eyes out for?
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Yeah the “I Got You” EP just dropped and I’m really happy to get that out.  That was one of the first tunes I made and really sat on that one for a long time.  Thankfully Lukeino with Sublife Recordings heard it and was interested in getting it out.  I really dig the remixes from Pawn and Lukeino!  As for other projects forthcoming, I have a “Easy Now” remix for Olie Bassweight and Werd 2 Jah that should be out very soon.  There’s a remix for did for Juakali’s “Standing Firm” that I haven’t got a confirmed date for just yet, but look out for that.   Also currently I’m wrapping up another EP, release info for that will be announced pretty soon.
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Seeing as you’ve been involved with the Los Angeles scene since it really formed into its own ‘scene’ (circa 07), what are your thoughts on the directions it’s gone, and where it is today?  Up until now we’ve only been able to get the perspective of producers that are only (for the most part) exposed to the US scene while on tour and such, so it will be nice to hear from someone who sees it at all times.
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The past 5 years have been crazy to say the least.  Back in 07 when I went to my first dubstep event it was a very small scene of people that were excited to hear a brand new form a music in a tiny club.  Flash forward to 2012 and there are sold out shows at legendary venues.  I don’t know any form of music that has gained that much popularity and acceptance that quickly.  There are so many directions the music has gone and that is mainly because there is so much potential in the eclectic directions you can take it. The amount of talent that comes through LA any given week is pretty incredible.  I don’t see myself leaving any time soon!
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What was the most memorable night that you have from LA’s dubstep history?  What makes it stand out that way?
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Well, its pretty hard to pinpoint one specific night.  There have been so many.  But there was a night at The Exchange in LA where Redbull hosted a culture clash with Smog, StonesThrow, Dim Mak and The Dub Club.  All 4 crews came together to battle each other in 15 minute rounds.  The vibe and excitement was thick!!  It came down to the wire between Smog and StonesThrow.  StonesThrow ended up winning the event in a very close call but it was amazing to have the acknowledgement for that status in LA.  For that we were pretty grateful and it made for a very special evening.  We also recently had a Smog vs Respect night at the House of Blues on Sunset.  We did it last year and both years have been very successful for a all local lineup.  LA is very supportive of its home players and that was also a very special event for us.
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Do you have any advice for producers that are looking to “come up” in the game?  Things to seek, things to avoid?
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I would say the biggest problem I see with producers trying to get noticed is trying to emulate popular artists.  This only makes it harder to get noticed because your style will sound common and wont have a unique brand to it.  Most label owners want to hear something new and exciting rather than something that will be stale in a month after release. Above all the most important thing is to have fun and try not to stress if you don’t hear back from labels.  Keep it moving, stay creative and have fun!  You can start up your own label and create your own brand now so there is always other options.
Considering the entire history of music, who is the one person that you would want to work with?  Dead or Alive (obviously).
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I’ve always been inspired by Danny Elfman’s work.  I think it would be challenging to try and score a film the way he does.  To lay down emotions behind scenes seems like such a fun project.  I also think Bonobo is a musical mastermind and would be honored to work with him.  So my dream collaboration would have to be working with those two on the same project.
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Who shot Biggie and Pac?
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Damn, thats a tough one.  I’d say it was all a cover up and both are sipping cocktails on a beach somewhere laughing at the whole Coachella hologram thing.  hahaha
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Wanna Big up anyone?
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Bigup to my Smog family, Lukeino at Sublife, Kial at Sub Pressure, Shift family in Seatle. Juakali and Olie Bassweight get massive shouts!  Bigup to eveyone who supports my music!  And finally Bigup to Bassweight Society for shedding light on deeper sounds across the globe!
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Again, a shout out to Kelly for his support with the interview!  I also want to shout out to SMOG for their dedication and deliverance to quality dubstep in California (and now spreading across the states!).
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Below you will find a mix that Kelly Dean uploaded for this feature from his live set on April 18, 2012, in support of Truth and Silkie.  This mix is jam-packed full of huge tunes!  A must listen.  Also, you will find links directing you to his Soundcloud, Facebook, and artist profile on the SMOG page.  Be sure to check them out and support the artist by purchasing his music!  Show the SMOG family some love too by stopping by their Facebook and dropping a line.
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That’s it for today!
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To the gods.
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-Kinman