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DAILY NOTE
MONDAY, MAY 27, 2013
18 22
OF
FEATURE
PRESENTATION
THE SOUNDTRACK OF NEW YORK CITY
THE DAILY NOTE
LAST NIGHT
“SUMMER’S HERE AND
THE TIME IS RIGHT FOR…”
There are a few ways to finish that
famous lyrical thought, none of them
incorrect, all of them endorsed by the
Academy. Martha and the Vandellas
danced in the streets, the Rolling Stones
fought in the streets (or so their young
rock ’n’ roll selves would have us
believe), but most people, Hollywood
statisticians assure us, spend the season
at the movies. Once seated in the airconditioned splendor of a cineplex, the
audience is immersed in some spot on
the continuum between deep fantasy and
stark reality. And as Lisa Rosman writes
in her essay on New York movies and
their soundtracks in this special Memorial
Day issue of Daily Note, the Big Apple
symbolizes both of those extremes, the
place where the tangible and the illusory
intertwine. If you were to make a New
York film, what would it be? An urban
adventure? A musical? A coming-of-age
tale? For us, the last few weeks have been
a great mix of all those genres. And we’re
psyched to do it for five more days—don’t
roll those end credits just yet.
MASTHEAD
ABOUT RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY
Editor in Chief Piotr Orlov
Copy Chief Jane Lerner
Senior Editor Sam Hockley-Smith
Senior Writer/Editor Vivian Host
Contributing Editors Todd L. Burns
Shawn Reynaldo
Staff Writer Olivia Graham
Editorial Coordinator Alex Naidus
Contributors
Sue Apfelbaum
Adrienne Day
Kate Glicksberg
Tim Lawrence
Creative Director Justin Thomas Kay
for Doubleday & Cartwright
Art Director Christopher Sabatini
Production Designer Suzan Choy
Photo Editor Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez
Staff Photographer Anthony Blasko
All-Seeing Eye Torsten Schmidt
2
Clockwise from top left:
?uestlove breaks it down
while Chairman Mao looks
on; funk/soul producer
Steve Arrington speaking
at the Academy; Big Freedia
and dancers at the United
States of Bass party
at Santos Party House;
hardcore booty-shaking
at United States of Bass;
RBMA participants De
La Montagne and Somepoe
tweaking knobs in the
studio; former participant
Nick Hook sits in on bass;
Julien Love and Simonne
Jones rock the studio with
synth assistance from
Mathew Jonson; ghettotech
progenitor DJ Assault on
the decks at Santos. All
photos by Anthony Blasko,
Christelle de Castro, and
Dan Wilton
David Mancuso
Lisa Rosman
Nick Sylvester
Cover Photo Film stills courtesy
of Photofest
The content of Daily Note does not
necessarily represent the opinions of
Red Bull or Doubleday & Cartwright.
The Red Bull Music Academy celebrates
creative pioneers and presents fearless new
talent. Now we’re in New York City.
The Red Bull Music Academy is a worldtraveling series of music workshops and
festivals: a platform for those who make a
difference in today’s musical landscape.
This year we’re bringing together two
groups of selected participants — producers,
vocalists, DJs, instrumentalists and
musical mavericks from around the world — in
New York City. For two weeks, each group
will hear lectures by musical luminaries,
work together on tracks, and perform in the
city’s best clubs and music halls. Imagine
a place that’s equal parts science lab,
the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and
Kraftwerk’s home studio. Throw in a
touch of downtown New York circa 1981, a
sprinkle of Prince Jammy’s mixing board,
and Bob Moog’s synthesizer collection
all in a 22nd-century remix and you’re
halfway there.
The Academy began back in 1998 and has
been traversing the globe since, traveling
to Berlin, Cape Town, São Paulo, Barcelona,
London, Toronto, and many other places.
Interested? Applications for the 2014 Red
Bull Music Academy open early next year.
FROM THE ACADEMY
UPFRONT
“I’m emotionally funky... I don’t give a flip. I just
want to love somebody, and if they don’t then that’s
okay — I’ll just love somebody else.” — Producer,
drummer, and minister Steve Arrington, May 24, 2013
SAINT VITUS
ONEOHTRIX
POINT NEVER
EVIAN CHRIST
BILL KOULIGAS
MORE
MAY
26
TONIGHT
SUSHI SEKI
1143 First Ave., Manhattan
It’s expensive and very hard to get
a table. I’m pretty sure it’s the
best sushi in the city it’s where
the chefs eat. I once did the omakase
there and it was literally the best
sushi experience I’ve ever had in
America. There’s not too much weird
stuff; it’s kind of no-nonsense. I
remember getting a spicy scallop hand
roll there that was so fresh
and good.
TOMOE
172 Thompson St., Manhattan
FISHSCALE
It’s probably the best affordable sushi in the city I think it’s almost
as good as Nobu or anything else.
It’s got a very cool, homey vibe and
a friendly staff. I had a piece of
fatty tuna there that was maybe the
best tuna I’ve had in New York. It’s
kind of hip and they have lines out
the door usually. It opens at 5pm and
you have to get there at 4:30.
Ninja Tune’s FaltyDL on his favorite
NYC sushi spots.
T
he music of FaltyDL is not unlike sushi: delicious, carefully crafted morsels that are deceptively simple but
contain plenty of raw power. Since moving to Brooklyn
from New Haven, Connecticut, Falty (aka Drew Lustman) has unleashed records for Ninja Tune, Planet Mu, and
Swamp81, allowing him to leave behind the career as a sushi
chef he pursued in his hometown. He’s still a huge fan of nigiri and hand rolls; despite mourning the recent closure of his
favorite spot—Natori in the East Village—he had no problem
listing his top five raw-fish recommendations in the city.
NYU SKIRBALL CENTER
MARUMI
546 LaGuardia Pl.,
Manhattan
It’s really delicious and affordable. It’s right in the NYU area.
It’s a place where I often go and can
definitely get a table. They’re very
quick, and they have a fried-clam
appetizer in Japanese mayonnaise that
is so good.
A TALK
WITH
JAMES
MURPHY
27
DEVIATION @ SULLIVAN ROOM
BENJI B
FALTYDL
DORIAN
CONCEPT
MORE
GEIDO
MAY
27
331 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn
Geido in Park Slope has probably the
coolest atmosphere of any of these
places. It’s got a wall that has been
tagged and graffiti’d and drawn on
by everyone who has been there. It’s
my favorite sushi in South Brooklyn. I’ve gotten the omakase by owner
Osamu Koyama, who has been making
sushi for a very long time, and it was
fantastic. I like sushi places that
aren’t super fancy and have a sort of
hip Japanese aesthetic. This place is
very artistic and young and fresh in
a way that not many American restaurants can pull off.
UPCOMING
EVENTS
WEST PARK CHURCH
PANTHA
DU PRINCE
& THE BELL
LABORATORY
SAMURAI MAMA
205 Grand St., Brooklyn
What I love most about this place in
Williamsburg is the giant communal
table when you walk in it sits maybe
about 30 people. They have an incredible cheap lunch there that offers
a few different combinations. You
get salad, a small thing of noodles,
soup, and a few other things and it’s
only $12 for a lot of good food.
MAY
Deviation: A Red Bull
Music Academy Special
Benji B, FaltyDL, Dorian
Concept, and more
Monday, May 27
9 PM to 4 AM at Sullivan Room,
218 Sullivan St., Manhattan
MAY
28
LE BARON
UNO
NYC
MAY
28
METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
ALVA NOTO
+ RYUICHI
SAKAMOTO
WRIT
LARGE
Colossal Media
revitalizes the art
of sign painting.
4
A
s an advertising tactic, the hand-painted outdoor sign is largely a thing of
the past. Save for the so-called “ghost
signs,” like the faded Coca-Cola ad that
survives on the façade of 60 Grand Street in Soho,
hand-painted signs are few and far between. In
the past few years, however, dozens of large-scale
painted ads have been popping up all over town.
Many of these ads are the work of Colossal Media,
a nine-year-old Williamsburg company that is reviving the craft.
Nowadays the vast majority of ads are done
on vinyl, which became the faster and cheaper
industry standard. These ads get printed and
hung up on billboards unceremoniously like
wallpaper. Meanwhile, the Colossal team has
been hard at work turning blank city walls into
pieces of public art. Colossal’s artists—a unit of
painters known as “wall dogs”—range from oldtime sign painters to reformed graffiti artists.
They have spent their lives suspended above
the streets, painting larger-than-life images
onto the sides of buildings. To execute a mural,
they start with a scaled version of the original
artwork, map it out on a grid, and then use an
electrical-current pen to trace over the image,
burning holes through the paper. Then a crew
of about four men uses a block-and-tackle rigging system of manual pulleys to maneuver
scaffolding around the wall, painting with
charcoal, rollers, and brushes.
The craft is passed down like legend, with
rookies shadowing the old dogs for up to two
years, watching and learning the painstaking
process. “It’s the same way Michelangelo did the
Sistine Chapel,” remarks one painter in the 2010
documentary Up There. “He made patterns, he
used charcoal, and mixed his own paint. There’s
no easy way to do it, that’s the way it is. As soon as
I get onto the scaffold—I’m up there, I’m at ease.”
Colossal Media is the largest hand-painted
mural and outdoor advertising company in the
United States. They hand-paint over 300 walls
a year and have the know-how to paint any
size sign in perfect photorealistic detail. Justin Thomas Kay, the creative director of Daily
Note, and his team at design agency Doubleday and Cartwright spearheaded the full campaign for the Red Bull Music Academy, part of
which Colossal put onto walls that loom large
over the city. Seeing their creations at such a
scale was intense, Kay says. “You get so used
to seeing large-scale printed billboards that
seeing your work rendered by hand creates
an unexpected human connection. You are
used to that sort of application on a smaller
art level, but something so massive creates an
interesting connection. Something about it being literally hand-painted makes it feel epic.”
-OLIVIA GRAHAM
CITY
LIGHTS
Participants at the Red
Bull Music Academy have the
opportunity to rub shoulders
with musicians they revere
(Studio Team mentors this
year include Flying Lotus,
Four Tet, and Just Blaze),
but there are plenty of other
incredible artists outside
the Academy walls. As the
participants arrived in the
city, we decided to ask them
which New York musicians they
particularly love.
MAY
29
(LE) POISSON ROUGE
NYC IN DUB
SOMEPOE
CARROT GREEN
JULIEN LOVE
OULU, FINLAND
RIO DE JANEIRO,
BRAZIL
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
One of my favorite
DJs must be Brenmar.
New Jersey guys are
going hard at the
moment too!
soundcloud.com/
somepoe
I read somewhere Four
Tet is now based in
New York. His music
is pretty amazing
with most of his
stuff I get that
“How does he do it?”
feeling, which is
always inspiring.
soundcloud.com/
carrotgreen
DJ Cucumber Slice
(aka Bobbito). He’s
the shit.
soundcloud.com/
julienlove
DE LA
MONTAGNE
LYON, FRANCE
Mykki Blanco, maybe?
Or JD Samson? SSION?
I love the idea
of a local music
scene, it’s like a
spontaneous creative
and political club
that reveals the
essence of a time.
delamontagne.
bandcamp.com
LEE ‘SCRATCH’ PERRY
THE CONGOS
PEAKING LIGHTS
SUN ARAW
ADRIAN SHERWOOD
MAY
30
OUTPUT
L.I.E.S. MAY
KERRI CHANDLER
MATHEW JONSON
MOSCA
MORE
31
RECORDED LIVE
FOR RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY RADIO
TUNE IN AT RBMARADIO.COM
5
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Q&A
JAZZY JAY
Graffiti, gangs, and sound-system wars: how
hip-hop originators did battle.
PHOTO BANDI SZAKONY
Conventional wisdom is that a lot of the first hip-hop pioneers were born in the South Bronx, but many were actually born elsewhere and moved to New York. Is that true
for you? Well, I was born in a little shack down in South Carolina and I moved to the South Bronx later on. Actually, we’re from
the East Bronx. The West Bronx is where Kool Herc is from. If
it wasn’t for Kool Herc, there would be no hip or hop. Me and
my partner Afrika Bambaataa, we came out of a small project
community called Bronx River. We used to call it “Bronx River:
the home of God, the land of hip-hop.” We weren’t rich; we were
poor. In fact, we were po’—we couldn’t afford the other o and r.
Bronx River came out of necessity, that’s where we developed
that love for the music. Bambaataa used to spin music out of
his bedroom window the whole damned day. I’m pretty sure
that was his job because that’s all he did anytime you’d go by
that window. You go by at eight in the morning and he might
just be brushing his teeth, but he’d have music bumping out the
window so people would gather ’round. That’s where the whole
of the Zulu Nation was founded.
Bam was a graffiti writer before he was a DJ. Were other pioneering DJs involved in different elements of what
came to be known as hip-hop? We all started out first as graffiti writers. Before we thought of what we were going to do with
this music, the music was always flowing through us, through
our parents, through different influences and groups that were
idolized. The very first expression in hip-hop was graffiti writing because this stemmed from back in the day with the gangs.
Whether you were Black Spades, Savage Skulls, Savage Nomads,
the Reapers, the Chingalings, the Ghetto Brothers, whatever…
Even “Warriors, come out to plaay-ayy.” No matter what gang
you were in, when you went into someone else’s area—whether it
was for a rumble or you had a pass or you had to fight your way
through—you left your mark. So that’s how the graffiti started,
then it branched off. People like the legendary Phase 2, Stay High
149, the 3-Yard Boys—you just can’t imagine. It turned into an art
form and for those who did it well, it was expression. I was flabbergasted when Giuliani’s administration came into Bronx River
and within several hours erased history from the projects. These
were murals that were put up and people came from all around
the world to take pictures of themselves in front of them. You’d
get the occasional toy—you’d put up a masterpiece and someone
less talented would come in and scribble over it. But these had
stood for years. Nobody defaced them, people respected them. To
6
me, that’s the definition of a true graf writer: he puts up something and no one wants to take it down. But I guess the city of
New York had a different view. It was vandalism, we were criminals, but we were just screaming out to be heard. That’s all graffiti
writing is.
It’s interesting you mention the Giuliani administration,
because hip-hop to a large degree was spawned out of really bad policies that created a bad situation. At that time,
especially when you’re young, you’re crying out to be heard. We
weren’t happy with the way music was being portrayed. There
was a lot of disco going on. And disco ain’t bad… Hip-hop is the
bastard child of disco, soul, funk, R&B, gospel—all those genres
helped create the art form we know today. So hip-hop, when we
came and starting plugging into lampposts and community centers, we wanted to be different. Kool Herc said, “If we want to be
different, we’ve got to have our own type of music.” For us, that
was something to make you go off. Before it was called breakdancing, the second form of expression in hip-hop was where
they go boiiinnng, because they bounce all over the floor. We
called it b-boying—they were dancing to the breaks. Basically,
that was just our expression, just trying to define something that
would be ours. At that point in time we didn’t have a name for it.
We had little slang [words] for it, like, “Yo, we’re going over there
to the jam.” The jam is not the party, it’s not the extravaganza, it’s
not the show. The jam is where you show up and they’re going
off. When you plug into a lamppost—and the electricity was so
massive, you could plug in a lamp pole in Queens and everyone
from all over the boroughs would hear it and flock to it, because
the word would spread just like that.
In the earlier days it was cool because we had the community behind us. We would set up at two in the afternoon and play
until 1am and get confronted by no police. It was a lovely thing.
They thought, “These boys could be out robbing and stabbing
each other,” because we were just coming off the gang era. You’d
have Mrs. Johnson up on the second floor sticking her head out
the window and saying, “Leave them boys alone. Why you messing with them? They could be out there stealing your hubcaps.”
Whereas today in New York City, it’s the turning of the guard.
I’m one of those DJs who still has a massive sound system.
There’s nothing like pulling up to a party and pulling your stuff
out and blasting the hell out of the next guy and everyone’s like,
“When are you next playing?” If I do that now, forget it. I plug
into a lamp pole now, I’ll lose all my equipment and probably
go to jail. And if I have the whole community behind me, most
of them would probably go to jail too. So that’s the difference.
Back in the day, it was something new and it wasn’t regulated,
but [eventually] the powers that be said, “No, we’re not standing
for this anymore.” I think that was the beginning of the watering down. That was the form, where Melle Mel, Grandmaster
Caz, Grand Wizard Theodore, the Furious 5, the Funky Four,
Sugarhill Gang came from. To take that away took a big part of
hip-hop away and made it too commercial.
What did a respectable sound system consist of back in
the day? If you were a DJ and you had a wimpy sound system
and you were playing in the park, someone could just come
and set up right next to you and you’d have to pack up and
leave. It happened to us. Kool Herc and Bambaataa battled
at the Webster P.A.L. [Police Athletic League]—this was back
in ’79. Bambaataa is the master of all the records, so we were
going to throw them on and we’re saying, “We’re going to take
Herc out tonight.” That’s what it was all about—we weren’t
taking him out with guns or anything, it was about destroying
[his] image. Herc comes in late, he sets up on the other side of
the gymnasium. So we’re rocking. Next thing Herc goes [imitates echo], “Bambaataa, Bambaataa, Bambaataa. I’m ready to
go on, go on, go on.” Monk says, “Bam, we’re taking him out
tonight.” Bam’s passing me records, “Yo, play that one right
there.” I’m cutting them up, back and forth. Last warning:
“Bambaataa, Bambaataa, Bambaataa. Turn your system off,
your system off, your system off, or we will crush you, crush
you, crush you.” I don’t know if you know the song “The Mexican” by Babe Ruth—it starts off with soft Spanish guitars—but
by the time the bass came in, I was on the turntables going
“I think we need to turn off, man.” I couldn’t even hear myself thinking, let alone the music we were playing. We were
drowned out. We learned a valuable lesson—you do not go up
against the big dog unless… Of course, later on we started developing more of an idea of what equipment’s supposed to be,
then we could go back against Herc. But I never forgot that
day; we got blasted at the Webster P.A.L. It couldn’t have been
any worse if we’d been a building and he came with a ball and
just wrecked us. Kudos to him for that.
Interviewed by Shaheen Ariefdien at RBMA Toronto 2007.
For the full Q&A, head to redbullmusicacademy.com/
lectures.
7
FEATURE
Saturday
Night Fever
(1977)
it all begins with a silent panoramic view of New York City and
its bridges. And then, as the first
bars of the Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive”
begin to thump, the camera zooms
in on a 23-year-old John Travolta as Tony Manero strutting down
a bustling working-class Brooklyn
street. Decked out in an incongruous uniform of black leather jacket,
open-collared crimson shirt, black
flared trousers, and elevator shoes,
he’s loose-limbed and square-shouldered, with a jive roll pimping out
his step, a nod at every pretty girl
who sashays by him, and a bucket
of paint bobbing at his side. And
he’s moving so rhythmically to the
music that it takes you a second before you realize the song isn’t actually playing on the street. It’s playing in his head and it’s what keeps
him going. It’s how he sees himself:
the king of the clubs, a player with
a plan, rather than an aimless nobody hastening back to his job at
the local hardware store. It’s how
he keeps Saturday Night Fever in
his everyday life.
CELLULOID HEROES
What the soundtracks
of New York movies say
about the city.
WORDS LISA ROSMAN
8
9
FEATURE
FEATURE
Clockwise
from top:
Breakfast at
Tiffany’s
(1961), Beat
Street (1984),
Do the Right
Thing (1989),
The Royal
Tenenbaums
(2001), Taxi
Driver (1976).
BONUS
FEATURES
Although the participants
of Red Bull Music Academy
2013 arrived in New York
with music on their minds,
we figured their interests
ran deeper. We asked a
handful to tell us about
their favorite New York
movies.
MELMANN
In a nutshell, that’s how music and images have been interlinked in New York City. Every citizen is like Tony Manero,
strutting down the street as the imagined star of his own
movie, with a soundtrack to match. And in turn, the world
has glamorized the living soundstage that is NYC, a wonderland that is constantly creating and recreating itself and
whose every block, park, deli, and stoop has been captured
countless times both in film and in song. It’s a glorious case
of the chicken and the egg, this relationship between the city
and its moving images set to music, and whether you live in
Ohio or Bulgaria or the Lower East Side, the exciting promise of self-transformation is what makes this overpriced city
with terrible weather and overpopulation loom large in our
collective dreams.
Certainly some soundtracks have emblazoned signature pictures of the city in our minds. Who can forget Audrey Hepburn
warbling “Blue River” on her fire escape as she gazes upon a
midnight Manhattan sky in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s? Or the
swell of Henry Mancini’s remarkable score as she contemplates
the store window of Tiffany’s while mawing a coffee and Danish
at dawn in a floor-length black evening gown, pearls, and serious beehive? Generations of girls (and boys) have moved to New
York to experience such a moment.
Not everyone clamors to Brooklyn’s Borough Park to recreate the infamous chase scene in 1971’s French Connection,
but few forget its delicious danger, indelibly heightened by
Don Ellis’ score. Similarly, the 1981 dystopia Escape from New
York would not so successfully play upon everyone’s urban
fears without its wonderfully menacing score, composed by
the film’s writer-director John Carpenter. And many people
do flock to what’s left of Manhattan’s Little Italy in search of
the vendor-clotted streets and the dropped fruit of The Godfather saga, as richly scored by director Frances Ford Coppola’s
father, Carmine.
When it comes to downtown New York, no one’s rendered
it more lovingly in sound and image than Martin Scorsese.
The director has proclaimed many a time that his twin loves
are music and cinema, but it goes without saying that his unnamed third love has always been New York City itself. In films
ranging from the Age of Innocence, in which he lushly detailed
Lower Manhattan’s high society, to his 1987 Soho-based comedy of errors After Hours, Scorsese has made it his business
10
to capture New York in various stages of age and dress (and
undress). Certainly it’s hard to remember now, but before
Scorsese’s landmark films, music—especially rock ’n’ roll—
rarely played an integral role in setting or dictating a scene.
What would Taxi Driver, the study of would-be assassin Travis Bickle, be without the forlorn saxophone that’s central to
Bernard Herrmann’s legendary score? Or take Goodfellas, the
Mafia movie based on real-life gangster Henry Hill’s life, and
its now-famous tracking shot that follows a young Ray Liotta
and Lorraine Bracco through a secret entrance into Manhattan’s Copacabana club—that scene would never have conveyed
so well the swank of the city if it hadn’t dovetailed perfectly
with the Crystals’ “And Then He Kissed Me.” And in his breakout film, Mean Streets (1973), about a small-time hood (Harvey
Keitel) struggling to make his way on the Lower East Side,
music plays such a strong role it’s practically a character unto
itself. Scorsese himself has said, “For me, the whole movie was
[the Rolling Stones’] ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ and [the Ronettes’]
‘Be My Baby.’” Certainly the film’s songs stand out as much as
the visuals, matching the action pace for pace.
In fact, Scorsese’s triple love—movies, music, and New York
City—is so passionate that he actually filmed a musical love letter to the city. Entitled New York, New York, it stars his perennial collaborator Robert De Niro as a saxophonist in a troubled
romance with Liza Minnelli. Though not critically praised, it
honored the role that music has always played in setting the
tone for New York films. It’s a meta-theme that runs through all
the best movie musicals, from 1933’s starry-eyed 42nd Street (in
which a young Ginger Rogers hoofs it to choreography by the
wild Busby Berkeley) and the Romeo-and-Juliet-take-Manhattan scenario of 1961’s West Side Story (with a terrific Leonard
Bernstein score) to Bob Fosse’s prescient All That Jazz (1979),
with its ego-driven New York show-biz bustle, and the heartbreaking depiction of ’90s Alphabet City artists and radicals in
Rent. Pick a rite of passage or a cultural mood, and there’s sure
to be a legendary NYC movie musical moment that makes it all
okay, at least for a second, be it Treat Williams caterwauling
about his long Hair in Central Park or Gene Kelly singing his
heart out in a sailor suit about the excitement of visiting On
the Town.
Perhaps the only director whose love of music, movies, and
the city matches Scorsese’s is Spike Lee. In Lee’s movies, the
many sounds of Brooklyn—’70s soul, jazz (often composed by
his father Bill Lee), Latin music, and hip-hop—mingle together
to fire up the quintessential vibe of the borough. The melting
pots that comprise Spike’s scores show how Brooklyn, unlike
Manhattan, is about many kinds of people building roots together rather than just going for broke. Crooklyn, his ode to his
’70s Brooklyn childhood, would be much less powerful without
the mix of R&B tunes such as the Five Stairsteps’ “Ooh Child”
and hip-hop tracks by the Crooklyn Dodgers (a Lee-gathered
NYC hip-hop supergroup consisting of Chubb Rock, Jeru tha
Damaja, and O.C.). And all the edgy, enlivening defiance of the
borough is captured in the opening sequence of Lee’s 1989 opus
Do the Right Thing when a young Rosie Perez performs some
powerfully choreographed kickboxing to Public Enemy’s “Fight
the Power.”
That’s how the best marriages of music and movies have
always worked: they brilliantly distill a moment in time in a
way that lives on in the cultural zeitgeist long after the credits
roll. The eternal, elusive cool of the Beat Generation’s New
York chapter is most thoroughly encapsulated by the 1959
avant-garde short Pull My Daisy, set in a bleak New York
apartment and featuring Jack Kerouac reading from a poem
he wrote with fellow Beats Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady,
ALL FILM STILLS COURTESY OF PHOTOFEST
Buenos Aires,
Argentina
over a jazz piece by David Amram. The early days of rap music
and breakdancing can immediately be summoned in Breakin’,
Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, and Beat Street, all released in
1984. The 1980 movie Times Square immediately summons the
raw DIY ethic of the New York punk movement, both visually
and musically. Though The Warriors was set in another dystopian near-future, it anthemized the chaotic helplessness many
felt in 1979 by combining driving rock rhythms with roughvoiced soul. Kids, director Larry Clarke’s artfully fractured
study of grungy 1995 downtown youth culture, would have
flailed without its post-grunge soundtrack, mostly crafted by
lo-fi pioneer Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, Folk Implosion). And Jenny Livingston’s high-impact 1990 documentary
Paris Is Burning, about the fashion balls thrown by New York’s
transgender community, would have been nothing without its
soundtrack of drag staples like Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover,”
Patti LaBelle’s “Over the Rainbow,” and, of course, Malcolm
McLaren’s “Deep in Vogue.”
Other iconic images of New York are better established
through particular songs than anything else. The titular tracks
of 1971’s Shaft and 1972’s Across 110th Street (by Isaac Hayes
and Bobby Womack, respectively) easily evoke ’70s Harlem badassery. The happy-go-lucky chaos of mid-’80s Midtown is best
captured by Ray Parker, Jr.’s “Ghostbusters,” accompanied by the
image of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man floating across a mayhem-struck Manhattan. And the mainstream’s vision of downtown ’80s cool is epitomized by a young Madonna—decked out
in mesh, ribbons, and leather—bopping to “Into the Groove” in
Susan Seidelman’s Desperately Seeking Susan.
Indeed, the relationship between image and music is so powerful in New York that the best way to conjure any era of the city
is to build out the right soundtrack. Cue Cheryl Lynn’s “Got to
Be Real” and Ross’ “I’m Coming Out” and presto! You’ve got the
foundation upon which director Whit Stillman built his sardonic Studio 54 study, The Last Days of Disco (1998). The tackiness
of late-’80s New York wealth is deliciously summoned in the
satirical thriller American Psycho (2000) through songs like
Huey Lewis’ “Hip to Be Square”; it’s pop music that’s even more
ostentatiously empty than the kiwi-laden un-local cuisine and
shoulder pads that also defined the era. Movies that fetishized
late-’50s NYC biker-gangs, like The Lords of Flatbush (1974) and
the infinitely better The Wanderers (1979), would be nothing
without their doo-wop numbers—nothing says greaser culture
like the Shirelles.
And then you have a film like Wes Anderson’s magical The
Royal Tenenbaums, loosely based upon the mid-century novels
of J.D. Salinger, with a touch of Edward Gorey and the occasional dry reference to such mid-century Manhattan kid novels
as The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Harriet
the Spy. Focusing on a family of former child prodigies, The
Royal Tenenbaums interrogates the kind of loneliness that’s
most keenly felt in crowded New York City—or, even worse, in
your own home. It relies heavily upon a New York that’s never quite existed except in Anderson’s mind: a charismatically ordered sea of brownstones, parks, and streets that boasts
a unique grid, differently colored taxis, and, yes, Dalmatian
mice. It all might be a little too quirky except for the wistfully
nostalgic soundtrack that grinds out all that whimsy: the devil-be-damned abandon of the Ramones’ “Judy Is a Punk,” the
glee of Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,”
the poker-faced longing of the Velvet Underground’s “Stephanie Says,” and the sweet melancholy of Elliott Smith’s “Needle
in the Hay.” It doesn’t seem a coincidence that nearly everyone
on this soundtrack hails from New York (or at least made it
their home for a spell) because the entire film reads like the
most loving valentine ever posted to this Crazy Apple.
In fact, The Royal Tenenbaums reads just like New York itself. After all, New York is a place whose patently unnatural
backdrop allows everyone to imagine we are our ideal selves in
our ideal settings—with the ideal soundtrack whistling in the
darkness. The music and movies of this city make us feel glamorous when we’re uncertain, tough when we’re scared, and part
of something when we’re most solitary, whether we actually live
in New York City or just, from time to time, adopt a New York
state of mind.
Survival in New
York from Rosa
von Praunheim, which is
an ’80s documentary about
three German girls living
in New York. The movie
shows a chaotic, dirty,
noisy, and dangerous
city — a place with
character. I can imagine
[it’s] very different
from the present. When I
saw the movie I thought,
“This is just like Buenos
Aires right now!” (Without
Talking Heads playing at
CBGB of course.) It was a
very interesting point of
view for a foreigner, a
nice descriptive picture
of that NYC moment.
melmann.com.ar
EVIAN CHRIST
Merseyside,
England
Synecdoche, New
York. I kind of
hate talking about films
to be honest, [but] I
think Kaufman is a genius.
I would recommend that
film to anyone.
twitter.com/evian_christ
PICK A PIPER
Toronto,
Canada
Does the
original liveaction Teenage Mutant
Ninja Turtles movie count?
soundcloud.com/pickapiper
KAAN DÜZARAT
Istanbul,
Turkey
Taxi Driver.
Whenever I
think about NYC, that
movie comes to my mind.
I’m obsessed with the
’70s — the music, movies,
and lifestyle. The color,
texture, and everything
about this movie has a
’70s attitude and I love
it. Also the Travis Bickle
character (Robert De Niro)
is really distinctive.
His attitude is very
influential.
soundcloud.com/dzrt
11
COLUMNS
COLUMNS
LANDMARKS
The places, spaces,
and monuments of
NYC's musical past,
present, and future.
A column on
the gear and
processes that inform
the music we make.
when you’re paying someone to record
and mix your band’s music, money limits the
amount of tinkering you can do. Except when
you’re Matt LeMay—who writes the songs,
plays all the instruments, records himself, and
mixes everything at home—then there’s potentially no limit except your own time and degree of neurosis. This month LeMay released
his singles compilation, Matt LeMay Singles,
on Mirror Universe. Below he explains how being a one-man power-pop band affects every
aspect of his process.
RBMA: Where do you start with your songs?
LO G O S
The origins of
iconic images from
NYC's musical history
explained.
in 1981 tom silverman saw Afrika Bambaataa
and recognized that the DJ’s mixing of
Kraftwerk with funk was the future. Silverman,
who ran a dance-music industry newsletter at
the time, was attuned to DJ culture and saw
the beginnings of hip-hop emerge in a postdisco world. When Bambaataa agreed to do a
record with Silverman, Tommy Boy was born.
The label’s first single was, per Bambaataa’s
suggestion, “Havin’ Fun” by Cotton Candy,
and featured a logo that Silverman had copied
outright from a wooden crate of Tommy Boy
grapes. Next came Afrika Bambaataa and the
Jazzy Five’s “Jazzy Sensation,” which gave
Tommy Boy the legitimacy to necessitate an
official logo.
Monica Lynch, Tommy Boy’s first employee
(and, later, a partner in the label) recalls, “It
was a very small operation with no money. We
didn’t have an art department. It was really
kind of down and dirty.” She enlisted her friend
and artist Steven Miglio to design a logo, which
he did using Letraset and press type. Miglio
bookended the words Tommy and Boy with
uppercase letters, aligning them so that their
stems dropped down below the baseline, and he
12
added three dancing figures, all flipped around
with curved arrows directing their movement.
“It was based on the kids spinning on their
heads, breakdancing on a piece of cardboard on
the street,” says Miglio. The thought was, “if you
put them on the label and then spin around the
record, maybe it’ll look like they’re spinning.”
“The goal was to create a logo that had that
visual energy and that clearly communicated
b-boy culture,” says Lynch, and in that Miglio
succeeded. The first release with the new logo
was Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force’s
“Planet Rock,” which became a massive hit,
selling more than 600,000 copies and earning
Tommy Boy major recognition. The logo would
go on to be associated with artists like Queen
Latifah, De La Soul, and Digital Underground,
as well as numerous beats compilations.
In 1989, Silverman hired logo designer
Eric Haze to update the logo. Haze took out
the arrows, changed the typeface and the
relationship between the letters, and hand-drew
and recomposed the figures. Silverman notes,
“They originally had bellbottoms, and then
when Eric redid it he changed the clothes they
-SUE APFELBAUM
were wearing.”
Matt LeMay: I almost always write songs
from the middle out. The only way I’ve been
able to finish these songs is to play them live.
I always get stuck on lyrics, usually lyrics for
the second verse, and having to sing something
is enough to get me unblocked and keep the
process moving. Once I have a clear sense of
the overall shape of the song, and I’m confident
that last-minute lyric tweaks won’t dramatically change the song’s chords or dynamics, I start
putting together scratch tracks to play along
with for recording drums. Then I re-record guitar tracks, then bass, then vocals. Then I mix.
RBMA: What are differences between mixing
your own music and mixing other people’s?
ML: When I hear somebody else’s “mistake,”
I am totally open to the possibility of leaving
it in the mix. I often push for people to leave
things in that sound “wrong,” because it can be
a profoundly humanizing touch, an immediate
way to connect with the listener. Steve Albini
apparently loves to say something to the effect
of, “don’t be afraid of your own genius.” I love
that. When it comes to my own music, I am terrible at following this sort of advice. I’ve gotten
less terrible about it.
RBMA: What are the limits of your mixing
setup that have creatively affected your music?
ML: I’m still using an old MacBook with OS X
10.4 on it, and not a lot of RAM. Thankfully, it
tends to sputter and die right around the time
I have enough tracks going to indicate that the
mix has gone terribly, horribly wrong. I was
working on a mix last month where I had done
a really poor job tuning the snare drum and
muffled it way too much, and at a certain point
I had so many drum busses going that I couldn’t
mix any more. That was a good sanity check.
THE BRONX
PAST FEATURED LANDMARKS
1 MAX NEUHAUS’
12 DAPTONE
“TIMES SQUARE”
MUDD CLUB
new wave vs. no wave; uptown vs. downtown; consumers vs. survivalists; disco vs. punk. These are some of
the cultural dichotomies that pulsed through New York
City in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Mudd Club belonged to the latter categories, defiantly so. Located on a then-desolate corner in Tribeca’s
warehouse-wasteland district, it was, for five years, the
place for anything-goes, cuttingest-of-cutting-edge, nonconformist fashion, music, and art. A metal chain served
as its velvet rope. Of that era, in a 2003 essay for the
New York Times magazine, Luc Sante writes:
“The night was dark, the streets were empty, the taxis
were nowhere to be found, but there, all lighted up at
the bottom of the alley, was the party. It was very, very
loud. People had X’s in place of eyes. Watches stopped
working just inside the door. Saturday night could
stretch into Wednesday. Drink tickets were legal tender,
and dollars were good mainly for rolling into cylinders.
Friendships were forged that might last for hours, possibly days. Your coat, tossed in a corner, was as good
as gone. If you were at the party, chances are that you
remember it in discontinuous flashes, if at all.”
So was the Mudd Club. Founded by impresario Steve
Maas, art curator Diego Cortez, and punk personality
and artist Anya Phillips, it was a middle finger aimed
squarely at the well-heeled uptown set. Performances
by Talking Heads, William S. Burroughs, Fab 5 Freddy, the B-52s, and the Cramps set the scene, while everyone from Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg to Lou
Reed, Madonna, Klaus Nomi, and Kathy Acker spent an
evening there.
Eventually the scene was decimated by overdoses,
AIDS, and excessive consumption in general, but the
Mudd Club closed in 1983 for what seems to be a far
more prosaic and fitting reason: it just wasn’t cool
anymore. But 30 years on, viewed through the nostalgia
afforded by a historical lens, in an age where survival
as an artist is truly an act of courage, few things seem
more necessary.
-ADRIENNE DAY
RBMA: With mixing, when do you know
when you’re done?
ML: This is another area where I will completely get stuck if I don’t set deadlines for
myself. I’ll usually reach out to a mastering
engineer well in advance, and try to get a
mastering date on the calendar before I even
approach a finished mix—sometimes before I
even begin mixing.
16
TOP
5…
NEW VINYL
RELEASES FROM
NYC-AREA LABELS
PRESENTED BY
Dumbo record store Halcyon sums itself up
nicely: “Real Brooklyn DJs serving real
music to real people since 1999.” Operated
by self-described “hopeless music nerds,”
the shop stocks a treasure trove of great
electronic music. For Daily Note, Halcyon
staffer Zara Wladawsky has picked some of
her favorite recent local releases.
2 THE THING
RECORDS
13 THE VILLAGE
SECONDHAND
STORE
GATE/LIFE/LE
POISSON ROUGE
3 THE LOFT
14 THE ANCHORAGE
4 MARCY HOTEL
15 ELECTRIC LADY
5 ANDY WARHOL’S
FACTORY
6 QUEENSBRIDGE
HOUSES
STUDIOS
16 CROTONA PARK
JAMS
17 FAT BEATS
1
7
7 RECORD MART
8 DEITCH
6
5
8
5
PROJECTS
9 AREA/SHELTER/
7
17
VINYL
10 STUDIO B
15
11 MARKET HOTEL
QUEENS
5
2
13
3
9 8
10
8
MANHATTAN
4 12
14
12
11
WHAT: MUDD CLUB
WHERE: 77 WHITE
STREET
WHY: NONCONFORMIST
NIGHTCLUB
WHEN: 1978-1983
STATEN ISLAND
BROOKLYN
1 2 3 4 5
SHAWN O’SULLIVAN/
CIVIL DUTY, “SECURITY”
(THE CORNER)
This latest release
from Anthony Parasole’s label is a
three-part techno armageddon on the senses
from Shawn O’Sullivan,
who collaborates with
Chicago’s Beau Wanzer
as Civil Duty on the
B-side. There is nothing meek about this
devastating 12-inch,
from its snarling modular synth lashes to the
expertly mixed sizzle
of the percussion...
it really should come
with a warning.
POINT BREAK,
“SIDEWALKS” (LAG)
Arthur Kimskii and
Corey James recently joined forces as
Point Break and have
inaugurated their
own LAG imprint with
their first EP. All
three tracks feature
straightforward yet
arresting melodies and
immaculately produced
beats that constantly
ebb and flow — a strong
debut from a strong new
label.
JOEY ANDERSON,
“DIAGRAM
SOLUTIONS” (INIMEG)
Joey Anderson dishes up
another soulful journey to the deep. Washes
of pensive, beautiful
sound mix with the
producer’s signature
rawness. This is a
hypnotic and wholly beautiful record
that’s destined for
late-night sessions on
the dancefloor.
GRAYSON REVOIR/
MAX MCFERREN,
“SHOOT THE LOBSTER
002” (SHOOT THE
LOBSTER)
Shoot the Lobster
originated as a sonic
extension of the Manhattan art gallery of
the same name, but the
music side has quickly grown into its own
force to be reckoned
with. The label’s sophomore release is a trio
of four-on-the-floor
club bangers brimming
with caustic bleeps
and squelchy bass.
OCTOBER, “UNSTABLE
PHENOMENON”
(VOODOO DOWN)
The trio behind Voodoo
Down called on the
mercurial October,
who flecks the A-side
with a heady mix of dub
techno, deep house, and
decelerated UK funky.
Things get ramped up
with a driving beat and
reverb-soaked pianos
on the remix, while the
label heads’ own interpretation is a cavernous, tensile techno
affair.
-NICK SYLVESTER
13
NEW YORK STORY
NEW YORK STORY
HOUSE PARTY
The Loft’s founder on throwing the best
party in New York.
WORDS DAVID MANCUSO (AS TOLD TO TIM LAWRENCE)
PHOTO KATE GLICKSBERG
David Mancuso’s Loft is one of New York nightlife’s most everlasting contributions to late
20th-century western culture. It helped set the standard for a positive clubbing atmosphere
(the art of the DJ, the top-notch sound system, the friendly audience) and defined the diverse
sound of the city’s discotheques. But it also aspired to a revolutionary communal experience, one
that operated under psychedelically driven, ’60s-flower-power ideals. And for the most part, it
succeeded. In 2007, Tim Lawrence (author of Love Saves the Day, the definitive book on the Loft
and the NYC disco scene) sat down with Mancuso to discuss the social nature of the party and
how it differed from other clubs. Intended for the German magazine Placed, the interview never
ran in print. We present it here, in an edited narrative format.
c lu b s a r e s e t u p for the purpose of making
money. This is not what the Loft is about. The Loft
is about putting on a party and making friends. That
doesn’t mean you can’t put on a party and make
friends in a club, but these places are structured
to make a profit, and that’s a whole different head.
Without a doubt, that has a bearing on how things
happen and how far things can go. For me the Loft
is all about social progress. With my own parties you
can bring your own alcohol and your children can
come along. If I couldn’t find a location where these
things could happen I’d be at the end of my road.
In New York State, any person who walks into a
liquor store or a bar that has a liquor license has to
be served by law. The laws vary from situation to
situation, but in general you have to be open to the
public as long as they are orderly. Now that takes
a whole different head, and I don’t have the head
for that. I’d rather grow grapes on a farm and make
wine. I’m not trying to create divisions here—it’s just
the way I was raised. Maybe a lot of us were insecure
but we found a way to make each other secure. What
I’m doing has to do with something very personal
and it shouldn’t be compared to a club. It doesn’t
mean that one thing is better than the other. They’re
just different, and to me there’s no doubt that the
Loft is more intimate.
For me the core [idea behind the Loft] is about
social progress. How much social progress can there
be when you’re in a situation that is repressive? You
won’t get much social progress in a nightclub. In
New York City they changed the law for [entry into
clubs, from] 18 to 21 years old; where can this age
group go to dance? In my zone you can be any age,
a drinker or non-drinker, a smoker or a non-smoker. And that’s where I like to be. It’s also extremely
important to me to avoid economic violence. In the
14
last 3,000 years we’ve made very little progress as a
human race, so if there’s a little bit out there that’s
happening then this is very important. To me the
parties represent a way of making social progress
because I’m not limited by a lot of laws. Safety laws
always apply, but I haven’t got a liquor license because when you’ve got a liquor license you go into
another category. More laws come into play and the
stakes are much higher as far as making money goes.
Having to pay five dollars for water, never mind
ten dollars for a drink [in a club], can be very unaffordable. When you weigh what you can get for a
contribution to come to a Loft party, it’s good value. There’s food, you can bring your own alcohol,
and you don’t have to pay to check your coat. It’s
all-inclusive. It’s a community support kind of thing.
Once you get a liquor license, there are so many
regulations, your overheads get raised so high, and
all sorts of costs follow. Not having a liquor license
allows me to keep costs at a minimum and make
the parties affordable for everyone, and that’s very
important to me.
As long as you act like a human being you can
do what you want. That’s the deal. We don’t have
any fights. We don’t have the usual problems a lot
of places have. That tells you something. People can
be trusted. People who drink alcohol at Loft parties
do it by bringing their own with them, which makes
it affordable to drink and relax. To see alcohol being
consumed and not have problems is social progress.
[Who comes to the Loft is] up to the sponsors’
list. I don’t rule, the majority rules. Two-thirds [are]
guests of people who are on the mailing list, and if
someone on the mailing list sponsors you, you can
also get on the mailing list—unless we’re over capacity, in which case you have to go on the waiting list.
Some people go back 20 years and can reappear, so
we have a grandfather clause. The people who go
back 20 years really get a preference over someone
who is new. They have seniority and you have to give
them that respect because they helped build this castle and have been [our] friends for a long time. So
whoever gets sponsored can be on the mailing list
unless we’re full, and I think it’s wonderful that I
don’t have to be in a situation where I’m in control
[of the list].
There are three signs if the parties are going well.
First, if people want the parties to continue they will
support them with a contribution. We don’t advertise or promote. The income comes if people want
to contribute and be there with their friends. Second, if fights started to break out I would seriously
wonder if I’m doing something to contribute to this
violence. The final factor is if the door ever became
a place where people had to be searched, or if metal
detectors were set up, as they were at the Paradise
Garage—I don’t want to have to be part of that. If I
have to do any of those things then it’s not like I’m
going over to my friend’s house after school. Yes,
there’s a business side to the Loft, but it’s orderly and
simple. If for some reason the Loft ended or reached
its conclusion, I still would have a lot to be thankful for. I have been doing this for [43] years. And I
always know that no matter what happens there’s
going to be at least one more party. I have a backup
plan where I could throw a party real quick and call
it a day if necessary.
In 1970 David Mancuso threw a party called
Love Saves the Day, which later became the
Loft, one of NYC’s most enduring events. A
noted audiophile and DJ, Mancuso continues
to host the Loft parties in New York, Japan,
and London.
15
BRIAN ENO
77 MILLION PAINTINGS
FINAL
WEEK
"DISORIENTING,
CHALLENGING,
AND—AFTER A
FEW MINUTES OF
CONCENTRATION—
BEAUTIFUL."
THE HUFFINGTON POST
OPEN THROUGH JUNE 2
145 W 32ND ST
RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY NEW YORK 2013
APRIL 28 – MAY 31
236 ARTISTS. 34 NIGHTS. 8000 ANTHEMS. 1 CITY.
WWW.REDBULLMUSICACADEMY.COM
HERALD SQUARE
(B D F M N Q R)
77MP
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ON RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY RADIO
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