It is with great excitement that I can post the first guest mix for the site, and it seems fitting that it comes from a longtime Wunderkind collaborator, Gringo. This is a stunning mix of original and exclusive material that is completely free to download. Taking influences from across the musical spectrum, expect cumbia, Bollywood, funk, and noir samples, blended together to make something that is truly special. The mission of the mix, entitled Never in a Month of Sundays, was to record a new beat, every day for a month. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I have, and check out the interview with Gringo below.
Stream it here.
How long have you been making music?
I wouldn't really call it making music - it's more like messing around with music other people have made - but I started looping samples and playing with synths with a friend, George, when I was about 14. We didn't really know what we were doing - I still don't - but it was always a fun thing to do. George is still making beats as well - definitely worth checking out.
What do you use to make your beats?
I used Logic for a bit in a Music Technology class at school, but my teacher was an ex-acid house dj and I only ever really learnt how to do rave pianos (frankly, I wish I'd stuck with that). Then I used Reason for a long time, but my computer died. My brother's got a Mac, so recently I've monopolised his computer to use GarageBand, which this whole mix is made on. It's an amazing programme, really, particularly for something that's free. This mix is just me learning how to use it properly.
What were your major musical influences growing up?
I wasn't into hip hop at all until I was about 13 or 14. I didn't even know what it was. The closest thing I'd listened to before was the Outhere Brothers - 'Boom, Boom, Boom' was the first single I bought (actually, I got my mum to buy it for me and she humiliated herself by pronouncing the name wrong). I went through the same phases as a lot of kids - britpop, then euro-house, then jungle - before ending up at hip hop. The music collection around the house wasn't up to much - my mum liked King Crimson and Hawkwind and my dad's taste didn't go far beyond Gregorian chanting and Spanish zarzuelas.
Are you strictly a hip hop man, or are there are genres that make up your musical soundtrack?
Soundtracks are something I love. For one thing they're great for samples (there's some bollywood soundtracks in the mix, plus - embarrassingly - a loop from the Twilight soundtrack), but there's also such a huge range of moods and styles. I love soul and funk, mainly because of hip hop. I love RnB, reggae, house. Klezmer, I love. In fact - without wanting to get all gap year on you - I love world music. I''m not entirely sure what world music means, but anything where I can't understand the words is good for me. Basically I'm completely undiscriminating. I even - in a moment of madness, surely - found myself bopping my head to 'Boom, Boom Pow' by the Black Eyed Peas the other day. Shameful.
A broad question, maybe too broad to answer properly, but what do you make of the state of hip hop in 2009?
I don't think hip hop's ever been a form where the important thing is careful craftsmanship or precision. The excitement has always been to just throw everything into a pot, mix it all together, and see what it tastes like. Hip hop's simple to make. It's a form that's driven by anger and adrenaline and that's why a rapper can put out umpteen mixtapes for every U2 album. The result of that incredible proliferation - I mean Tupac's still releasing songs from beyond the grave, simply because of his phenomenal output; Saigon and Statik Selectah recorded an album in 24 hours - is a saturation of the market and a lack of quality control. So yes, the hit rate's lower than it was ten years ago, but there's so much more hip hop now. When it's good it still has the power to shock and amaze ('A Milli' has to be one of the most surprising hits since 'Mr Blobby') and, because it doesn't aspire to the poetics of songwriting, it connects with people much quicker. There's so many more words in rapping - a Nas track probably has more lyrics than an entire Kings of Leon album - so it's easier for hip hop to burn out, which is why people complain that rappers have nothing new to say. I think that's untrue, or rather irrelevant. It's not what you say, it's how you say it. But if you're the type to prize the originality of material then you're probably not the sort of person that would take any interest in hip hop beats made from samples. That's more of a rant/ramble than an answer. Apologies.
Is there any musician, producer, or artist who has been making waves for you of late?
I like Nate Dogg, but he had a stroke, so he's been a bit quiet of late. That said, I discovered his song 'Shake That' (with Eminem) only in the past couple of months, so I've listened to that a lot. I've been listening to quite a lot of this sort of stuff - Miriam Makeba - which I guess is afro-jazz. I thought DJ Quik and Kurupt's album Blaqkout had some stunning production. I'd love to make that kind of West Coast hip hop - that wheezy synth sound.
What's next for you?
In terms of music, probably nothing. My brother's gone away to Japan for a few months, so my access to GarageBand has gone. I pretty much stopped making music a couple of years ago. This mix was mmainly a product of me wanting to teach myself how to use GarageBand. What I'm hoping to is put together some short films and score them myself. Easier said than done, but watch this space (just don't hold your breath).