Monthly Archives: September 2012

MPeach: Venamo

[youtube http://youtu.be/hv8SBqGSrtU]

I wrote this video statement a few months ago for my friend Mariana, a.k.a. MPeach. It was interesting to do mostly because it exposed me to a culture that I knew nothing about, specifically changa tuki. The fact that I now know a thing or two about current Venezuelan electronic music is kind of weird to me, but I’m obviously not that surprised either. Mariana pretty much sat down with me and explained everything, making this less my interpretation than an actual statement on what the video is about. I believe she’s on tour in South America at the moment, so it might be a minute before you can catch her live state side. Looks like we’ll have to settle for the video above for now. Below is what I had to say about her video.

Venezuelan musician MPeach (a.k.a. Mariana Martin Capriles) teamed up with Director Crystal Moselle to create a music video for the song “Venamo” from MPeach’s new EP “Vengo Pro Ti.” This raw video captures scenes from everyday life in Caracas, Venezuela, including chaotic traffic jams, energetic Tuki dancers and the street vendors that call the city home. Moselle’s signature style can be felt throughout this visually compelling journey, focusing not on violence but summer fun in its essence, when there’s nothing better to do than drive around with your friends, dance and be alive.

MPeach’s sound is a mixture of multiple musical influences, including electronic beats, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, traditional Venezuelan melodies and most strongly by the ghetto-dance style Changa Tuki. Changa, a name used to describe house/electronic music, is wildly popular in Venezuela. As the production of Venezuelan Changa grew in the early 2000s, a number of subgenres of ghetto dance styles appeared, including Hard Fusion (DJ Yirvin) and Raptor House (DJ Baba). For a period, the term Tuki was used as a discriminatory slur against Changa dancers who came from the city’s barrios, but it has recently been embraced as the popular name of the scene as a whole. The Tuki dancers are at the heart of the movement. This video highlights these dancers alongside the newfound acceptance their scene has generated.

The song “Venamo” was co-produced alongside the innovative DJs Pocz & Pacheko and remixed by Cardopusher. It’s been released on the Caracas based net-label Abstractor, who represents Venezuelan talent worldwide. The work speaks for itself. Press play and enjoy.

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The Miami Loop

Jon Larsen can make, fix, or break pretty much anything, but nothing he’s ever created, restored, or destroyed is as good as the Miami Loop. Using state of the art technology and samples of epic proportion, this “eccentric” genius put together twelve minutes of synthetic groove that, when played on repeat, will guarantee at least two hours of nonstop hip-shaking jive. His inspirations for the piece was his 1988 Nissan 300 ZX T-top convertible and Miami, a car built for cruising down Biscayne at 88 mph in the summer/fall of 1987, and consequently the song is completely period.

We listened to this jam on yet another one of our adventures in the Z on the way to L.A., and I’m not kidding you, we played it the whole fucking drive. How can a twenty second long sample that’s been looped for twelve minutes manage to stay so fresh? I think the secret is that it’s in 11/12 time, meaning the hits come a little before you’re expecting them. Since it’s still based on a 4/4 loop, you don’t notice how strange it is and can properly focus on how much it rules.

Jon calls it the best song he ever wrote, and since I’ve seen his bands before, I believe him. The song is badass. It doesn’t matter where you’re at, throw on the Miami Loop and you’ll be dancing like Gloria Estefan’s sound machine. I’m gonna play it incessantly, both at block parties and next to the cigarette fountain at Jon Larsen’s funeral. Fuck yeah Miami Loop.

Give it a listen: 

The Papercuts: Future Primitive

There’s something I like about this song, though I don’t know if I can necessarily put my finger on just what it is. There’s something fairly lonely about it, a solitary figure trekking on towards who knows what and for who knows what for. Similarities? Let’s not get into it. Instead, check this out…

Andy’s Haircut

This video was taken a number of years back when Andy was going through a period of only getting his hair cut by fire. It was taken at Mike Brown’s house much to the chagrin of our friend Johnna, and its one of many examples of how Andy got his, ahem, custom look.

The first time I lit his hair on fire was probably the best. We were at a bar in Salt Lake called Urban Lounge, watching some relatively boring band called The Pony’s. I was hanging out at the bar talking shit with some friends when suddenly someone came up to me and said, “Isn’t that your drummer trying to play keyboards with the band?” I looked over and saw a drunk Andy leaning next to the stage with his eyes closed, one hand playing random notes on the bands keyboard while they looked over at him with frustration. They were gonna make it to the end of the song before lambasting him, so they kept playing even though it was clear they were annoyed.

“Check this out!” I screamed and ran through the crowd towards Andy. When I got there, I did whatever I thought was most natural at the time–stood behind him and lit his hair on fire. Andy had no idea what was going on, and just kept swaying from side to side as his entire head became engulfed in flames. The Pony’s were more than a little shocked, and I remember looking up to see the looks on their faces, which as you can imagine were fairly wide-eyed. I just stood there and laughed maniacally with delight.

Someone from the crowd ran up and put out Andy’s hair, confusing him in the process and almost leading to a fistfight. It was so awesome! Later, on the walk home, we wrestled up the frost bitten streets, both getting my blood on our jackets. My girlfriend at the time, bless her heart, had lost all of her patience, so when Andy asked her to punch him in the face under a street lamp, she was more than willing to oblige.

“Again,” Andy said, and she hit him again.

“Again,” he repeated, and she punched him even harder.

The process was played out a few more times before she socked him so hard you could hear the echo reverberate throughout the empty streets.

“That’s good,” Andy conceded. The next day, he had a perfectly black eye and she had a perfectly black fist. God I miss that girl. Either way, for the next six months, Andy decided to only get his hair cut by fire. I was going to follow suit and only get my hair cut by ice, but we never really found a suitable method.

The End of Fashion Week

Fucked up shit sometimes happens, and fucked up shit happens to me often. This fashion week was a weird one. Milk Studios tried to turn me into some odd celebrity, one that basically did what he wanted and didn’t give a fuck. Such is who I must appear as, and to a fair extent, they’re completely right on. That’s all well and good, minus one simple but unavoidable fact–I care too much. While everybody came up to me to tell me how great of a job I was doing, I was basically self-destructing inside, feeling some crazy pressure to keep people happy while not so secretly falling apart. It had little to do with actual fashion week as much as my own personal demons, and I can’t lie, it sucked hardcore. Finding yourself compulsively crying in a corner and calling your ex-girlfriend just to hear a voice of reason from someone who loves you is a fucked up thing, and one I wish I never had to experience. What can I say though, other than do what it takes to stay alive.

The end of the last night has been spent in exhausted merriment, with people dancing to James Brown, EDM bands I’ve never heard of and Michael Jackson. We all drank the rest of the beer and tried to talk about things other than how hard we’d worked, celebrating, escaping and ultimately enjoying each other’s company. Here’s the deal–I don’t know what I did in the past, present and future to deserve to be around these people, otherwise known as my friends, but whatever it was, I’m lucky to have accidentally done it. They all love me, and the fucked up part about that is how much I need that love. Where do I go next? Do I leave New York again, head to New Orleans, return home to Salt Lake, stay here, stay alive, don’t stay alive, continue in which direction? I’m not sure yet.

I know only one thing right now, looking at the world through this fuzzy lens. I need love, and I need to recognize it when I have it.

Mr. Mike’s Collage Poetry

Mr. Mike (aka Penguin, Sling-blade) is my favorite personal cab driver back in Salt Lake City. He’s an interesting character, both a spun out speed junkie and revered intellectual. I have a lot of respect for him, all faults beside the point. He’s the type of guy who can quote Steinbeck and Shakespeare verbatim, followed by an offer for free drugs. He drives everyone for tip only, and thus it’s no surprise that the rogue cabbie has an impressive list of clientele. A few months back, he asked me if I wouldn’t mind collaborating on a project with him. I said sure, and twenty minutes later Mr. Mike showed up with 25 or so handmade collage poems. They’re crazy. I assume he must have done them on drug-induced sleep deprived nights, meticulously cutting words out of magazines and rearranging them into sordid poems. They’re all on different card stocks and they read like the diary of a mad social scientist. Who knows what I’ll do with them, probably just write a foreword and scan them. Either way, here’s a quick glimpse of page 2…

The Most Punk Rock Shit I Ever Took

If you’re anything like me, I bet you’ve taken some pretty punk rock shits in your life. Maybe you were lucky enough to take a shit on the throne at CBGB’s, or maybe you’ve taken a shit on your ex-girlfriend’s porch. Maybe you shat on G.G. Allin. We call that revenge in the industry. Well, I remember the most punk rock shit of my life like I just got off the pot. Shit, I can almost smell it. 

It happened in Portland a few years back, at the bass player from Millions of Dead Cops’ house. My band had played a show at the Ash Street Saloon the night before, and if there’s one thing my band did well, it was getting as incredibly fucked up as possible. We had been forced to sit through a bunch of local bands cause we were touring and didn’t have to go to work the next day. That meant that most of their friends were gonna take off as soon as they saw the shitty band they came to watch, which we call typical bullshit in the industry. Sometimes people stay, like when there’s nowhere else to go or when the opening bands kick that much ass, but this was not one of those nights. We wanted to be dicks to everyone, but people were buying merch, and that was something at least. We hadn’t been paid for a couple states, and morale was low. Getting kicked out of Montana and spending a night in Spokane will do that to a band. Portland had welcomed us with open arms and frosty containers, and we really didn’t have too much reason to complain. In fact, we wanted to give whoever stuck around a good show.

“What do you think tonight, wanna do a danger tape show?”

That was a throwback reference to a show we’d played about a year prior, when we were going through a period of ‘growth’. We had called the phase “Total Mass Destruction” after some shitty song we stole from some shitty band, and the movement mostly involved breaking shit, getting wasted, and having as much fun as possible at everybody’s expense. We were good at it. The danger tape show had taken place at some shitty bar in Salt Lake City, where I had stripped naked and wrapped myself up with red tape that said “DANGER” all over it. The bar wasn’t too happy about our taste in aesthetics, but they weren’t planning on paying us anyway, so we didn’t give a fuck what they thought. I remember some girl had really, really liked that show. I figured she must have been suffering from head trauma.

For obvious reasons, we brought the tape roll on tour with us, and for just as obvious reasons, we hadn’t used it. It was a statement we didn’t always feel like making, especially in places where we were likely to get our asses kicked by a bunch of fucking rednecks. But up in Portland, we had been billed as a punk rock band for punk rockers, and we didn’t feel like disappointing. All options were on the table.

The crowd thinned as we got ready for the show. The plan was a quick sound check followed by an even quicker wardrobe change. It goes without saying that we were wasted. I walked on stage, set up my amplifier, picked up my guitar, and somehow, though I’m still not sure how exactly, I hoisted my guitar directly into my mouth and knocked my front tooth out onto the floor.

“My tooth,” I screamed at Brian, our bass player with the novelty mustache, “I think I lost my tooth!”

Brian was way more wasted than I was, which says a lot, and he was taking tuning far too seriously for my likes. “An E,” he kept repeating, “gimme an E!” Then he would smile with a dangerous look on his face, baring his teeth like an uncontrollable madman. “An E, an E!” Fucking asshole. He didn’t realize what had happened until the next day, when he showed up out of the blue with some girls and a bag filled with American Apparel t-shirts. Brian was of no use to me, this much was clear. I gave up and turned to our drummer, Dick Snott.

“My tooth! Holy fucking shit! I knocked out my tooth!”

“You knocked out your tooth?” he asked with a serious look on his face, “lemme see.”

I grinned broadly for him.

“Yeah, you definitely did alright. You look good, I like it. Are you gonna get in the danger tape or what?”

I was less than thrilled by his response. “Are you fucking serious? No fucking way man, I just knocked out my tooth! Fuck this shit, let’s just play the fucking show and get the fuck out of here. I can’t believe I fucking knocked out my own fucking tooth. Fuck!”

Then, for whatever reason, I changed my mind. I embraced breaking the tooth, and chose to celebrate it by getting naked and wrapping red tape around my dick. I prefer not to wonder why I make decisions like this. Fuck everybody. Dick Snott wore an apron with a picture of a headless body builder on the front, but otherwise went naked as well. Brian wore his G-Stars like always.

The show was a smashing success, by which I mean we succeeded at smashing a whole shit load of things. Somebody tried to tell me Portland would never be the same, but I didn’t believe them—Portland would always be the same.

Then, blank. Somehow I made it back to MDC’s couch, though I couldn’t tell you how. All I can say is I woke up in the morning confused and disoriented, thanking a god I didn’t believe if for ensuring I still had my pants. I labored to my feet and decided to walk to the closest gas station in a blind effort to find something edible for my utterly destroyed body. On the way I called my mother and asked her if she’d be willing to buy me a new tooth for both my birthday and Christmas present. She said maybe. I got to the gas station and for reasons that I cannot fully explain, purchased two vitamin waters (pomegranate), a stick of beef jerky, string cheese, and a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. I devoured my meal like a stray dog, instantly feeling much, much worse. Not sure what else I should do, I went back to the house and tried to let the food settle. I talked to MDC’s bassist about the show for a bit, leading him to tell me he wished he’d stuck around to watch it. Apparently he really hated the promoter and would have loved to see her deal with our shitty antics. Whatever.

And then, suddenly, I felt a strange uncomfortable sensation emanating up from my bowels. I excused myself in a hurry and leaped like a panicked gazelle into the bathroom. I barely had time to sit on the lid before my ass started spewing everywhere. It was like my asshole had become the mouth of a fire breather who took performing seriously. The diarrhea was wet, hot, and unfathomably disturbing. I knew I was in for a religious experience. I clutched the sides of the toilet with both hands and a foot, hanging on for dear life as rocket fuel funneling out my hellhole tried to blast me through the ceiling. Unquestionable lethal fumes filled the room, making it hard to breathe through the nauseous stench. Stars started floating before my eyes and all indications made it clear I was close to passing out. I tried to focus my mind on wondering what colors were being projected, but that clearly wasn’t going to work. The only thing keeping me conscious was the sonic booms that thundered out my ass and reverberated throughout the neighborhood, shaking plaster off the walls with each concussive blast. This was as punk rock a shit as anyone could have. It was loud, trashy, and distorted. It had too much personality. The shit simply did not give a fuck.

The movement lasted way longer than I ever assumed a shit could, and after awhile, I began to wonder if it would ever actually come to an end. Maybe I’d go on punk rock shitting for the rest of my life. But then just as suddenly as it began, the shit fired to a screeching halt. Not sure what had just happened, I sat there for and tried to gather my senses in vain. After a few minutes, I got off the pot and decided to take a look at my fresh creation. It was a work of art. I half expected representatives from the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame to walk in and ask if they could preserve my shit for all the ages. Undigested gas station food layered on top of stale PBR and Canadian whiskey coated the inner bowl. Small bits of beef jerky floated aimlessly through the liquid like a garbage patch in a sea of toxic sludge. A volcanic archipelago of filth rose up through the cesspool, a mixed multicolored mass of foulness. Most distinctly, I remember the bright red glow of mashed up cheetos. It lit up the room like Hiroshima gone supernova. My ass was surely covered in radiation burns. It took half a roll of toilet paper to wipe the shit off my sopping rear end, further plugging an already plugged shitter. Never before, and never since, have I taken such a revoltingly obnoxious shit.

I washed up, walked back into the front room, and told everyone what had happened. Nobody seemed to feel comfortable looking me in the eye, but one kid did congratulate me. Hell, I felt like I had accomplished something special. It’s good to know where the bar is set, if only to have something to measure other things by.

Nowadays I take regular, boring shits, and you know what, I’m okay with that. But I’ll never forget that moment, that singular life-altering event—I’ll never forget the most punk rock shit of my life.