Monday, April 26, 2010

AYCE and K-Murdock Present: 12 Questions For “12-Step”

If you have visited us before, you know K-Murdock is a friend of AYCE. The BrainSlice was able to catch up with him recently and get some info about the new, highly anticipated Panacea album (out May 4th). Peep this:

1. How do you stay motivated? You're up early mixing while I'm drinking coffee, trying to get going.

I basically push myself to out-do what I’ve already done. Anything is possible. I’m one of those people who do actually believe in all the clichés. There is infinite K-MURDOCK_thumb[2] potential and possibilities. I’ve had a lot of people in my life come and go, and a lot of talented people in my family have passed away, but while they were here they made very significant marks. That inspires me. I can’t procrastinate. Life is too short. That old adage carries a lot of weight, and I subscribe to it. Every day I get up and take my shower, which is my mental and physical catharsis. As I’m washing yesterdays funk off me, I think to myself: “ok, I’m gonna think positive and live this day to the fullest, and to the best of my abilities.” I love music and radio and everything that it has afforded me. When you do something that you love, it never really feels like work. I actually look forward to getting up in the morning and mixing a track or working on a beat.

2. It is very apparent to me that you are a perfectionist. Anything you would change now that “12-Step” is on wax?

A few people have mentioned to me times where maybe the music was clashing too much with Raw Poetic’s voice, but it actually was meant to be that way. I still want toPanacea[4] make sure that people are able to hear what he’s saying, because his lyrics are poignant in the scope of the song, and pertinent in helping the listener understand the theme. I really paid attention to that more on “12 Step”, but there are times when you will need to listen close. I’m proud of the album. I put my heart and soul into the mixing and mastering of it, and I think it came out well. “Revolution World Crazy” and “Immortal” sound just as clean as anything on the radio from a production standpoint. I take a lot of pride in my engineering. It’s not a skill a lot of producers have, and it makes a big difference in the end. So yes, I’m very happy with all of it, and I am very much a perfectionist.

3. Speaking of wax....tell us a little more about Kickstarter and how you got involved with it.

I heard about Kickstarter through Bandcamp, which is another service indie bands need to be up on. Shout out to the homie JNOTA, who is Damu the Fudgemunk’s manager (Damu is the DJ for Panacea. He does all the cuts on the albums), for getting us involved with Bandcamp. It’s a great way for independent artists to put their music out there. I love the layout, and they encourage the people who post music to help them improve their interface to be more user-friendly. It started when I saw a blog post from Bandcamp founder, Ethan Diamond, where he mentioned Kickstarter. When we were getting ready to put this album out I was talking to my homie Jeremy, *shout out to JC*. He is the Panacea “new media specialist”. He’s been very instrumental in helping me set up Neosonic Productions as an official company. Jeremy and I sat down, crunched some numbers, and decided we needed a little under $4,000 to get the album on wax. Last time I checked, we’ve got around $5,500. It’s been a real blessing, and a critical tool in getting this album out.

4. What is your favorite track and why?

“Sync in City”, just because it sounds so different. I feel like it is a very progressive song, and I love the way it turned out. Raw Poetic just did his thing man! It’s a song that touches on something that we always talk about. I don’t want to give it away until the album has been out for a while. Maybe then we’ll start breaking down some of the hidden, coded language in there. The title has a dual meaning. One is “syncing-in” or locking in with the vibe of your city. The second has to do with Raw Poetic telling me that D.C. is an actual “sinking city”. Every year Washington, and the Jefferson Memorial in particular, sinks a little bit because it is built on top of swamp land.Jefferson_Memorial_at_dusk It’s very interesting. So the track has a dual meaning to it, like a lot of stuff that Raw Poetic comes up with. I was experimenting at the time I made it with some different samples. The stuff I pulled in to make that beat was from all over the place. It came out really positive, with kind of a trance/electro feel to it. It just feels good when the hook kicks in. Shout out to Alona for the dope hook, who I’m working on this Ebony Bed project with, but that’s an entirely different “All You Can Eat” interview. *chuckles*

5. Raw poetic is so smooth, and very true to his name. The “Stumble Home” lyrics in particular strike a chord with me. They are truly poetic and seem to have deep meaning. How does he feel about all these whack MC’s making money and getting fame off their garbage lyrics?

You’re right, he is very smooth in his delivery and true to his name. On the hook of “Stumble Home” he says: “wasted, walkin’ on the curb, side to side” It’s such an image that’s being painted. If you all knew the story behind Raw poetic writing that and how true it was to what was going on in his life, you would be really blown away. Raw has a great way of taking things that happen in real life and encapsulating them into these rhymes that can just take me back in time. A lot of it is very much based on what’s going on in real life, but presented in a very artistic way.

Raw P is not one of those dudes that, because he knows he’s got some skill and people respect him, hates other MC’s. I think he hates it when people take Hip Hop as a joke. It’s OK to have fun in Hip Hop. We used to have a group called the “UMC’s” and we were rapping about an alien monster called Blue Cheese. Even with that those dudes had skills. It was just fun and light-hearted. Now it seems a lot of people are getting into rap like it’s a hustle. Everyone’s trying to do it. As Hip Hop artists, we know what Hip Hop was all about when it started. I think a lot of people don’t respect the roots. Our first album was called “Thinking Back, Looking Forward”. It was about us standing at a crossroads looking back at what we had done, and trying to push forward while paying homage to the roots of Hip Hop. As futuristic, ethereal, and progressive as our music is, a lot of it is still rooted in Boom-Bap. Raw Poetic, myself, and anyone else that’s doing good Hip Hop, if they really know what’s going on, they know that the balance in the culture has been lost. This is also something we focus on with the Subsoniq show.

6. He retired “Raw P” officially on a recent Subsoniq show. Is he going to eliminate it from his rhymes too?

*chuckles* Sometimes it just happens that when you shorten things down, it can have another, sometimes humorous, meaning. Raw P sounds like a porn name. So on air it sounded like he was sick of us saying it. Guys being guys you know, making light of it. He uses it a few times on 12-step. My favorite line (which I use every time I answer his call) is: “Raw P, salty, like oceans”, it’s off “Blue Ocean Wave”. He can’t escape that name. There is definitely a side to Raw Poetic that can be “Raw P”. Not to insinuate he’s a porn-star or something, but it’s more about that raw, in-your-face, say some crazy shit personality that you may have witnessed listening to Subsoniq.

7. I love samples, and I know you do too, what is your favorite sample on
this album?

Hell yeah! The sample from “Immortal” is my favorite. Someone pointed it out already, and I’m not going to repeat it (BrainSlice grins, because he knows what it is and you don’t). I don’t think the group that we sampled would ever hear it, but if they did I hope they would find it impressive how I worked their “prog-rock” into a Hip Hop track. There’s a lot going on in there, like the breakdown where I sampled a gospel group, and that’s what I like to do. I like to take anything and everything and create a new sound out of it. Hence the name: Neosonic. I “ain’t fakin’ the funk” when I say that is my shit. Maybe a few years from now, someone will do the same and take my shit, which will then be older, and make something else out of it, and I would be honored because that’s how the cycle goes. The samples on Immortal were my favorite to “re-freak” so to speak. I had always wanted to touch something from this particular group. When I made the song, Raw Poetic said “yeah, this is the joint we needed for the album.” It was one of the last songs we made, and it’s ironic that it’s the 2nd to last track. Being “Immortal”, in context of the album, it’s a great way to set up the last track

8. On a lot of the tracks, the synth sound seems to be a little over-powering. Is this something that you are just experimenting with, or is it here to stay? How do you feel it will evolve as you continue to use it?

K-Murdock synthI started dabbling with them back on “The Scenic Route”. A lot of the synths on there were played by *shouts out to Aaron Gawls* who plays for Raw poetic’s other band RPM, he and Patrick Fritz were my go-to musicians for “The Scenic Route”. Aaron plays trumpet and all kinds of synthesizers. His set up now looks something like the front cover (actually the back) of Herbie Hancock’s album “Sunlight”. Hancock_Herbie_Sunlight_b_side.sized That’s how Aaron Gawls’ (we call him Enron, the scandalous one) set-up is. For “A Mind On A Ship Through Time”, I bought some analog synthesizers and messed around with them. That’s why you started hearing the sound creep in. This is the first Panacea album where there are 2 songs you hear no samples on. Aside from me sampling the drums, and chopping them down, “Natural Selection” and “Katana Blue”, which is a follow up to Scenic Route’s “Katana” (if you hear the record, you’ll notice the references and the subject matter and why that is). I actually challenged myself because I wanted to play more of my own synths. I didn’t necessarily mean to make it overpowering, and I say overpowering in the sense that there’s more synth than sample. Wait until you hear the progression on the next record because I’m gonna take it even further. I have samples on there, but I’m trying to bring my own music in and push myself to not always be so damn reliant upon them. I love samples and will sample to the death, but I like being able to know that I can create stuff from scratch too, and I just hope you guys dig it!

9. “Revolution World Crazy” is definitely one of my favorite tracks – Can you break down the process of creation for us a little bit? Tell us about Green (his verse was right on par with Raw Poetic’s), when was the decision made to add him, or was it produced with him in mind from the get-go?

I made the beat right after Obama got voted into office in ’08. It sounds like the calm before the storm, and then the drums and the fanfare hit. It’s like hell is breaking loose, but it’s not hell, it’s a celebration. We have a black Obama Spider-man man in office and he’s trying to make things right. It was a moment of pride, and my way of celebrating that. Raw Poetic commented that it didn’t sound like something I would normally make, but like everything else it came from the mood I was in. Originally when we talked about doing this song, the title came out just based on things feeling like a revolution in a way, and people were just going crazy over the change that had occurred.

We wanted to get Oddisee (from Diamond District, and a good friend of mine) on there. He thought the beat was bananas, but he’s a busy muthafucka, and we couldn’t wait for him. So in the meantime, we decided to get Green, who is part of this group called The Five One, based out of Northern Virginia here where we reside currently. The dudes have been fans of RPM and Panacea for a while. I talk to 2 of them all the time, Andre and Pierre, aka Green and Gold (check them out at Each of them is named after a color. I call them by their government names because I can’t get over calling a grown man by the name of a color. I kind of look at them as little brothers, they’re younger dudes, mad talented and versatile. Pierre heard the beat and wanted to write a verse for it. So when we couldn’t get Oddisee, I asked Pierre to let me hear what he wrote. I told him to keep it in the context of the story within the track, and he kind of did. It was definitely revolutionary, worldly, and crazy. So I think it fit in, and I’m happy with it. I’m looking forward to working with those gentlemen more in the near future.

10. A lot of artists are, in my opinion, over-active on Twitter. You’re not spamming or bragging, just a nice little update once in a while. Is this a conscious decision?

I like to have a semblance of privacy in my life. I’m not about to get on there and be like, “yeah man I’m about to go make love to my girl”. I’ve seen some cats post some ridiculous shit that kind of crosses a line. It’s real personal, and people want to let their fans in on some things beyond their art. Sometimes it’s just annoying and over the top though. It’s just over-saturated because there are so many cats doing that. An artist wants to let you know he’s waking up and getting ready to go to the gym? OK. If I write something, it’s just going to be “I just saw this movie I recommend and tell you why, or I just played this crazy video game.” Twitter is the perfect medium for that, but I keep it real choice.

All of the people I follow are people that I’m genuinely interested in. A lot of artists, (I gotta call them out) follow people hoping those people will follow them back as a courtesy. Then you just get this constant stream of nonsense that you don’t care about. You miss out on the more pertinent posts from people you DO care about. I try to keep it minimal. So for the 300 people following me, God bless you, I hope that my twits or tweets or twats, whatever you wanna call them, have been informative and entertaining. I’m just not that dude that’s so busy tweeting about his life that he forgets to actually LIVE his life.

(He said “Twats”)

11. There is a lot of “negative” Hip Hop out there, not that it’s bad music, it just has a different vibe than yours. Do you tend to avoid that kind of stuff? Tell us where your positivity and energy comes from.

I really do try to think positive and move forward every day. I don’t like having negativity in my life. It can really slow my hustle down and knock me off kilter. I’ve had a lot of stuff happen in the past, in my personal life and in the music. Even if some shit is going on, I try to block it out. Not to abscond from it, but I want to concentrate on things that make me happy, which will subsequently and hopefully make other people happy. I don’t want to be pigeon-holed as an artist, and have people say I can’t make a certain type of track. No one thought I could make a song like “Revolution World Crazy”, no one thought I could make stuff with a darker tone like some of the tracks off “Piano-rama”, like “The Up-Rizing” featuring Real Reid and “Concrete Jungle” featuring The Regiment, both Detroit Mc’s. I challenge myself to be a versatile producer because I don’t want to get stuck in one spot.

That being said, as far as listening to Hip Hop, I definitely have my guilty pleasures that you would never hear me try to make. I’m a big fan of Mobb Deep, and I was a big M.O.P. fan. They are one of my favorites. I’m not trying to live vicariously through these dudes with all that gangsta shit, but those muthafuckas can rap, and their beats were crazy. Mobb Deep? Come on, man, who doesn’t have “The Infamous”? Everybody’s gotta have a little bit of everything in the mix. That’s just how Hip Hop is.

(The BrainSlice contemplates the possibilities of a Horror-Core album by “K-Murda” and “Raw Killah”)

12. Now that 12-step is done, are you and Raw Poetic going to Disneyland? What’s next?

Releasing the record and finishing things up is half the battle. The release and promo can be just as tedious and taxing as the production. The blogs who represent us are a big help. Right now I’m in promo mode, and Raw P is chillin’. We have talked about taking all his lyrics from the first five albums and compiling them into a book with the album artwork from the records as well. We are working on that for hopefully sometime in the fall. He’s already busy working on the next Panacea record as well as a bunch of other side projects: an album with Damu, one with Point Blank, and doing shows with his group RPM. So he’s busy, and I’m handling the business. Hopefully I can take a trip, maybe I’ll take my girl and my dog to Disneyworld since I’m an East coast guy, ya dig!?

-Shout out to you and the boys at AYCE, good luck transcribing my loquacious ass. I told you, you didn’t know what you were getting yourself into brotha. Peace.

Happy belated birthday to K-Murdock! BrainSlice out.



catch91 said...

So had nothing to do with "syncopation?" And I thought I knew somethin'...LOL. Good shit! Both the interview and the record!

Daniel De Carlo III said...

ahh I think I might have been the one to spill the beans on the Immortal sample over on Neosonic or something. Haha. What K-Murdock sampled is the best part of that song. It's funny because I always thought that it should have been sampled. Great find and good read!

BrainSlice said...

Thanks Daniel. After he mentioned the sample, I smoked a blunt (it was 4/20 after all) and listened a few more times...and it hit me! Thanks for the support and glad you enjoyed it.