Friday, August 24, 2012

Chocolate Grills & Bananas Arrangements: an Interview Between Erik Blood & OC Notes

With collaborations being something of an unofficial theme with this year's VIBRATIONS festival, we thought it would only be proper to curate a collaborative interview between two artists involved. So we had Erik Blood & Otis Calvin (OC Notes) hook up to pick each other's brains a little bit. Take a glimpse into the minds of two of Seattle's perennial musical geniuses, who just so happen to be making a record with each other! 

Erik: So you came up in the south end like me. Black mother, white father, like me (or is it the other way round?). When you make your music, you do it alone, like me (though I have my people who I rely on for drums and extra ears). Here's my question. Why haven't we started a religion together so that we can make some real money and stop living like poor people? I think we could bring a lot of peace to this world, no?

Otis: Both of my parents are actually black, my grandfather was adopted in the midwest and there is a suspect unclear history on that whole situation.  Either his mother or father was white but we can’t get the adoption records so we will never know.  I dont care anymore.  All I know is that my light skin has been an epic headache in my life.  I’m hated on by whites and blacks, I’ve always felt like an alien.  Starting a religion has always been a back up plan of mine.    Growing up in church with a preacher dad I feel like I have learned the game.  No disrespect to the church but I’ve seen a lot of hustlin & hustlers in church, I think my church swag is pretty hard.  Reverend swag on a million.  I think we could have one of the most loving and effective churches in the game.  I’m all about love, peace, & taking care out your earth brothers and sisters.

 Erik: I'm right there with you. My whole life people think I'm trying to "pass for white" like it's the fucking 1950s or they're steadily trying to figure me out. Had a guy come up to me in a bar and say "what's a nice Jew boy like you doing in a place like this? I could tell by your nose." ?!?!?!?!?!?! But we learn to not give a shit. Just being is all we can do.

Not to bring up old shit, but when I first heard your record Secret Society, I though you'd been spying on my dreams. That track "Nowhere" is one of those jams that made me jealous as fuck. But since then, you've put out three more records (maybe 4?) and your sound keeps evolving. How the fuck do you make so much good music and never repeat yourself?

Otis: good question.  I enjoy makin music, I make music no matter what my mood is. I do it because i like it and its fun to me, it makes me feel good.  I dont like sounding the same.  I’m influenced by far too much sound to stick to just one sound.

Erik: Yes! No one should survive on a steady diet of one sound.

 Art=god. Music=my religion. For me, Prince=Jesus. Who's your Jesus?

Otis: The one from the Lebowski movie.  Him or ODB. Swag.

Erik: I know we gotta get back to work on our collaboration soon. But what's this thing you're doing for VIBRATIONS and what are we going to hear from you the rest of 2012?

 Otis: I guess I’m doing some sort of improvised collaboration with the white rainbow cat Adam.  Should be dope. He's a boss.  As far as the rest of 2012 goes, I’e got a record comin out entitled "pre future post modern love songs: aka alien booty bass" I’m very excited about the record. No samples, a lot of singing.  I wrote and played all the music on the record, I’m really proud of this one. That & our collaboration are the 2 things I’m most excited for this year.  I want to perform more this year outside of Seattle too. I can’t tell you too much though, next thing I know somebody in the town will start bitin.  Chocolate grills.

Erik: Can't wait to hear that new shit. And our collaboration is going to blow some minds. Honored to be working with you.

Otis: You’re in the top 3 nicest people I’ve ever known in my life, you’re also one of the most humble ninjas I’ve ever met. How did you end up meetin Shabazz and what was the first meeting like?

Erik: Aww. Thank you, sweetie! I met Ish through my good friend and mentor Bubba Jones while they were working on Cherrywine. I dropped my copy of Blowout Comb at his studio for Ish to sign for me and while he did that, Bubba played him my old band, The Turn-Ons, album "East". I didn't meet him in person until a Spiritualized show a few months later and I was a straight up starstruck nerd. He was a hero (still is) and he was so gracious and cool to me. After that we talked about working together for a couple of years until we started the first Shabazz sessions. 

Otis: You grew up in Tacoma durin the lawless 90's in its prime time.  What was it like growin up around so much gangsta shit as a spirit in the package of Erik Blood?  I feel like you would have gotten mad love from OG's since you’re such a genuine and unique spirit that doesn’t front, was it like that or am I totally wrong?

Erik: Tacoma was a strange place then. The violence was becoming not only commonplace, but admired by stupid ass kids. I had a gun pulled on me by a kid who "thought I was someone else", got hit in the head with a rock and my jacket stolen a block from my house, and had to be careful who called me by my full name in public. That said, I had people around me all the time who weren't into being a part of that shit. I just stuck to the sidelines, played video games, and made music. 

Otis: Were you in any bands as a youngster, if so, what was your first band, what instrument(s) did you play, & what kind of music did you play? Cover songs? Original tunes? Were they good or bad?

Erik: I did a lot of bedroom recording as a youngen. For a very short time I made shitty beats for my friends who rapped. I had a short lived hip hop crew called Young, Gifted, and Black that was...of a time. Middle school. Picked up a guitar after hearing Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine when I was 16 and retrained my brain. No bands until I was 21 when I joined Mountain Con and was their DJ/producer. That's my sorted past. 

Otis:  I listen to your records all the time, I feel like you make the music that I hear in my head but I have trouble getting it out. Your sound is lush as fuck, your arrangements are bananas. How do you manage to make it all happen?  Is it difficult wranglin up musicians to play your music & do you have trouble sometimes gettin cats to figure out the parts to your songs?

Erik: Again, thank you and right back at you. I don't know how it happens. I sometimes hear a complete song in my head for weeks and then I just put it down piece by piece. Usually it's not exactly what I had in my head originally, but that's how it goes. Other times I just sit down and let shit come out. I've worked with so many cool cats who play music really well, so I just try to get them to play with me. My whole band is poached from bands I've recorded. Sometimes it's a little hard to get people to learn my shit, but the folks I fuck with are the real deal so they get the hang of it. I'm eternally grateful to them. 

Erik Blood and OC Notes are playing Cairo's VIBRATIONS festival on August 25th at Volunteer Park! Thanks for your time guys. IKJ

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