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Percussion Lab: You've been in LA for a while now, how has that influenced your performing/recording? What’s different between LA and NYC, scene-wise? What neighborhoods or areas inspire you?
Juakali: Well, I moved out of NYC to LA mainly to get out of my comfort zone - to explore the music video format, and to seek an agent. Turned out that my hunch was right. I got to do a few performances and videos while here in the last two years that have increased my fan-base.
LA's scene is a lot more disjointed. It's a big competition here within the same genre. Turf wars, if you will. But there is still a lot of wiggle room to get your own thing going, due to the natural sprawl landscape. NYC is people on top of people. Most times, the same type of event on the same night will divide an audience. The general audience in NYC is not as forgiving as those in LA. Your name alone isn't going to guarantee a good night in NYC and folks will let you know. Also, New Yorkers want to be engaged by the artist. In LA, a name, press, hype goes a long long way. If you don't dig something, maybe you don't understand, or the sound wasn't right or it's just a bad night. Technical issues won't ruin a party in LA, regardless of whatever happens you're a Laker!
Last year I started going out to the beach communities at least once a week to be reminded of the natural beauty and ease that is LA. You can get caught in the hype here with a quickness. Life isn't about that.
PL: What’s your favorite aspect of LA?
J: Everyone (native or otherwise) is here to win.
PL: Where else have you traveled recently? What influences do you tend to look for/absorb when you’re traveling/touring?
J: Last trip was Seattle. I don't really look for anything. I like to take in whatever the local scene IS. I usually link with like minded artists when I travel or hang with folks I have known virtually but never have had the opportunity to meet in person.
PL: So, who worked on this EP with you? Any guest producers/vocalists/instrumentalists?
J: Producers included Plastician, Tes La Rok, DLX, Stagga, Monky.
PL: You’re associated with a variety of sounds – from reggae and dancehall to dubstep and bass music - does the EP have a unified sound? As an artist, is there a need to identify yourself with any particular sound right now?
J: What unifies any and everything I do is my voice. I have a clear understanding of what I have done, can do and want to do next. I also know what I can experiment with and without. I am who you think I am and that depends on who you ask. I find identifying with a particular sound, or genre... limiting. But being born and raised in the Caribbean has been my musical foundation. PL: What’s up with Dub War? There’s sort of two separate questions, the event, and you guys playing out as a crew…any plans for either?
J: For Dave Q, Joe Nice, Incyde, myself, New Yorkers, and folks in the dubstep scene, Dub War means a lot of things. Personally, it's my home, my house... home is where the heart is. As a unit, we have performed a few times and it has been incredible. As individual artists we do our own thing, ever vigilant, ever professional. I could not have dreamt up such a top-notch crew. It is humbling to work with them and be associated with them. As an event, we are in a holding pattern for a variety of reasons that range from finding a new venue (Love, the club we were in, closed), to the over-saturation of club night life promoting dubstep and bass driven music in NYC. I would like to do something on the concert level, but that's just me.
PL: Will you be touring in support of this EP? Who with/where/when? What about Sub Swara? Plans for another album or any shows with those guys?
J: o public performances have been established to support this EP. At the last Dub War I performed the title track "Freak You Back" live. At the top of the year I informed my agents and enthusiasts that I'm focusing on performing more as a recording artist versus MC/host. Microphone + DJ + back-up singer from here on out unless I'm hosting for fam.
Sub Swara had redefined their live set based around a hectic tour schedule and current work ethic. Their latest album - Triggers, is a refection of where their heads and hearts are currently in regards to bass driven music. I had a meet up with Dhruva and Dave in NYC when they had about 50% of their album together and supported the direction whole-heartedly. It works for their vision. When the time comes for another album I'm sure I'll get a call. Until then, we support each other's endeavors behind the scenes and on stage whenever we can. PL: You cut a video for one of the singles on your last EP, how was that experience? Are you looking to make another for this release?
J: Dem City (Nate Mars Remix) was the most involved project I have been a part of in a while. I raised funds via Kickstarter.com. There were more people than usual to answer to, I had the largest budget to date and the process took around a year to complete. It was nerve wracking at times, but we stayed the course, and released a magnificent product. Big up Secret History & Buildestroy! I'm in the post production stage for "Tha Chillski" video, it should be ready anytime now. Tas Limur directing that one!
PL: What are you listening to right now?
J: Listening to music from an album project that I have been asked to appear on. Hint? Looking forward to visiting Paris late Summer!
Title: Freak You Back EP
Label: Foreign Familiar
Digital Release: February 4, 2011
File Under: Dubstep, Electronic, Hip Hop
You can find Juakali at the following websites:
While we're known as a music site, the Percussion Lab family is also a highly visual bunch. Some of us produce visual art, and we all appreciate and champion it, in particular within the club/performance environment.
New York City's club life is sadly lacking in visual entertainment accompanying a night out. I can't think of any clubs or nights I go to regularly that pay anything more than lip service to visuals or lighting. Here are two examples of performers taking the reins creatively and technologically to provide their audiences with that something extra that light can bring to a performance.
I'm not a huge fan of the Glitch Mob's music, but they put on a hell of a show with their three-person synchronized turntablism. For their latest single, they decided to produce a video using videomapping, a cutting edge projection technique. The results are the tip of the iceberg of this technology's potential for the world of clubbing and dance music. Check it:
I like the interplay of the building and the music. Using the interior lights as an effect was really cool. The content, if you dig into videomapping a bit, is kind of simple, but the overall effect is stunning. Imagine if you went to see someone live, and something like that happened in front of you? That's got to be better than a sweaty basement with an air raid light spinning through the darkness, right?
Nosaj Thing recently took it a step further. At the 2010 Lunchmeat Festival, held in Prague's MeetFactory space, Nosaj teamed up with visual artist Aalto to create a one of a kind, fully immersive experience of light and sound. 'For two weeks before the performance in the first Lunchmeat art residency, Aalto prepared the stage design and unique visual show for Nosaj Thing. A small team of carpenters helped him to construct the wooden base, which was coveder by more than 500 polystyrene triangles.'
Aalto and Nosaj produced a behind-the-scenes mini doncumentary about the event, which culminates in footage of the custom built rig in action. Looking for inspiration? Watch this:
We're dedicated to this culture, and we see the visual aspect becoming as important - to us at least - as the sounds we love. Art is humanity expressing it's desire for transcendence, a way out, or maybe a way in, yearning for a connection to something greater than ourselves. We've been honoring that with our passion for music, but we can't deny our eyes any longer. If you're doing something cool with art, or with art and music together, let us know. Let's do this thing.