Sunday, 22 July 2012

Contest Us Cd Story - Call for you

I had been hanging around with Nfa Jones from 1200 techniques at the time, meeting him through monthly soul gigs and thought he would be a great addition to the album, listening to the sound of his voice and discovering he could sing really well, he work well with friend and touring companion Dylan Smith from the band Direct Influence. The day of the recording Nfa and Dylan, I had a call at work at about 1pm from Dylan saying he had finished work and wanted to get some drinks, but I couldn't as I was at work until 4.30pm and could not get out of it, so I basically had to beg him to not go home as the track would not sound anywhere near as good if he was not there and Nfa was moving to Lion, France the week after so we could not reschedule. Dylan agreed and came down from Traralgon, got some lunch and picked me up from work, we grabbed a slab and headed out to the studio. When we arrived at the studio we were met there by Choi who was setting up at the time and Dylan started putting down a couple of ideas when Nfa showed up. Nfa had spent the day writing for the track and the hook came from two different ideas Dylan and Nfa had, which were put together worked fantastically their harmonies were like nothing else. Nfa put his verse down when the hook was finished and was quite proud because I got a name drop! 'Devine mind's think ahead so get ready'. Nfa has a different style of doing back ups which he sings instead of doing straight vocal lines, which I thought was cool. Dylan jumped up next and started beat boxing which was a really good idea and I thought we would keep it in. Dylan started on his verse but due to time constraints weren't able to finish his verse. The guys left and Choi and I spent some time editing the track and when I decided to leave I called a cab and he quoted me one hundred dollars to get to the city from Ferntree Gully to the City so quite inebriated so I told him that was bullshit and caught a train home.

A couple of weeks later I was able to get Dylan back in the studio, as he had not got the chance to finish his vocals at the first session and had rewritten most of his verse and we had a lot of fun with his adlibs, which are still in the mix. For the third vocalist on the track I had a massive think about who it could be, researching and doing a lot of listening to who would complement Nfa and Dylan and in the in decided on my favorite member of 'The Herd', Ozi Batla. I had Ozi through Mista Savona and he was glad to jump in, and recorded his verse up in Sydney pretty much straight away, which was lucky as he was hospitalised two weeks later from falling off his bicycle, punctured his pelvis, broke his jaw and lost a couple of teeth. With Ozi's verse in hand and Nfa back in town, I grabbed Nfa and we trekked out to Choi's to arrange the track and Nfa to do a couple of back ups. Thinking Dylan had a really good idea with beat boxing in the introduction I decided to get ex band member and Australian champion Scott 'Mech MC' Gould, to redo it as I had him coming down to have a go at the song 'City lights' as well. I met Scott in the city one afternoon where we fulled ourselves with whiskey then headed out to the studio, unfortunately 'City Lights' didn't work out the way I wanted, but we still left parts in, but Scott ended up putting down twenty minutes of beat boxing and was one of those moments where everyone pulled out their phones and filmed it, I am quite surprised none of it made it on to Youtube. Even though I would have loved to keep the twenty minutes on their Choi and I cut it down, and the track was complete.

Contest Us Cd Story - Lock in and Warts for All

The first session I had for 'Lock In' was with Aaron '1/6' Stephanus, who would have to be one of the best rappers in Melbourne who like Mikey Chan is known for getting on people's albums, I can't count the amount of collaborations his been on, and I had met Aaron through various gigs. I picked up Aaron one afternoon from Obese Records in Prahran where he worked to head the studio, We picked up some beers and Aaron immediately started to pick his way around the beat and found a spot which he liked, as all rappers on the beat had a bit of drama finding their rhythm, Choi set up the vocals to the slowed down effect or devils voice and spent the next forty minutes messing around with the effect as Aaron is also one of the funniest people you will ever meet, and that made us decide to keep the devil voice in the mix as backups and Aaron wrote the bridge trying not to be too specific, as we were still getting other vocalists in, we were thinking the subject of a party and the experiences you have at a party. For the next session I was able to get Elf Tranzporter, I had known Elf from working at Noise Bar and various other gigs, I wanted to push Elf with putting him on this track as his not on many traditional hiphop beats, he is more of an electronic hip hop even dance hall rapper and singer and I really wanted to hear the Aaron and Elf on a track together. Once in the studio we showed Elf the ideas for vocals and the two got writing with Choi and I chipping in where we could, the guys put down their vocal ideas, everyone in particular was amazed by Aaron's verse as it was like magic, everyone in the room excluding Aaron saw it, I believe it was due to everyone being their own worst critic.

At the time I planning 'Noisefest' which is a yearly festival run indoors at venues across Melbourne I'd run the two years before, and this year through friend and booking agent Leenie Mayfield my headliners would be Akil The MC from Jurassic 5 and Louis Logic, I wasn't planning on getting them into record at this stage. I first met the guys at a friends restaurant / venue in the city where I'd agreed to let Akil Dj for the night. I got to the venue before the guys and saw Candice Monique and Vida-Sunshyne and hung out with them, at this point I had already organised for Candice to be on the track but wasn't sure who else would be on it. I had hung out with the girls for a while we had a steak and some drinks and watching them jump up for the open mic session that was happening and I discovered Candice could rap, and I thought to myself I'd get her to rap on the track not just sing, as she does so often on Hip hop tracks. The guys Akil and Louis had arrived to the venue with Leenie and was introduced to the guys after they had their dinner as they had gone straight back stage. Soon after it was time for Akil to go on so I headed to the bar with Louis and we got stuck into a bottle of whiskey and before long we were like the best of mates, I was swinging him around on my shoulders, both of us acting like fools and having the best time.

The next day I rang Leenie and said I had spots for the guys on my album 'Warts and All' with Candice Monique and 'Lock In' with Elf Tranzporter and 1/6 which they agreed too, I chose Louis for Warts and All because he has a tone that suits and he has worked on similar beats, plays and uses a lot of piano in his songs, and Lock in because its proper hip-hop, Elf has played shows with Akil before and I knew Aaron would love it. Seeing though the guys had such a hectic schedule we would record that night, I emailed them the beats, organised the studio and Candice to come over and we were set. I arrived at the studio straight after work as Candice and the guys would be there shortly Choi and I set up for a vocal session and not long after we set up the guys arrived, Candice with her four year old daughter Kadjeeja or Ja ja. Louis and Candice talked about subject for lyrics for a while and Louis said because he'd never recorded vocals with a woman before he wanted to do a bizarre love song which Candice was happy with, I wanted Louis to rap two verses, Candice to rap one verse and sing the hook, so they went in to the lounge room and started writing, Louis pulled out his laptop and started watching a movie with his headphones on and started writing, I can't remember what movie it was, but though what a bizarre writing style it was. In the studio I had Akil who was listening to what Elf and Aaron had put down in previous sessions and with a bit of explaining Akil was writing to the beat and vocals. I was babysitting at the time which was awesome as I love hanging out with Jaja and hope if I ever have a daughter she would be just like her. Akil had finished writing and was starting to record his vocals, which was a bit hard as Ja ja was insistent on playing drums and wanting to sing so I took her out and started playing games out in the lounge room, it didn't take Akil long to record his verse, so whilst waiting for the others Choi and Akil had started jamming, Choi on the Drums and Akil free styling even Ja ja got a turn and sang a hook, it was her counting to four but worked really well. Candice had finished her verse so she jumped and put her hook down first which I was instantly blown away by and thought this is a single, she put her verse down and we were good to go with Louis. Louis put his verses and the intro down and we were done. I was doing an interview at Kiss FM on the Afternoon Delight show where I got to meet 'Bone Thugs and Harmony' about 'Noisefest' when I got an email with mp3 sent to me saying Candice had gone in to finish of her parts and re-recorded her verse as she thought she could do better and she had so being over whelmed at the time announced it on the radio. listening to the track over and over again I was trying to thinking of ways on how to make more powerful I came up with the idea to put a choir on the end of it, so who ever came in for sessions after so Lady Lady, Kylie Auldist, Dylan Smith and myself can all be heard in there.

I emailed Aaron and Elf a mp3 we had done of the session with Akil on the and both were shocked as they didn't expect it at all, so I got them in a few weeks later as there was still a hook to do and Elf wanted to rewrite his verse, to make it sound more like the others. When Elf got back from the Northern Territory where he runs workshops at the local schools and communities we got back into the studio this time really early, as I wanted to get a raspiness tone out of Elf and the guys got the hook down perfectly, Elf sounded the way I wanted and we were done.
The guys left and Choi and I spent the next few hours arranging it all, which would have to be the easiest song to arrange on the album. 

Contest Us Cd Story - Cries Of Freedom

I came upon the vocalist for 'Cries of Freedom' whilst touring whilst touring with the act Zino & Caroline and we had just come from playing in Perth, where we'd partied for the three day straight with the band Direct Influence who was doing that leg of the tour with us, the intense partying was caused by one of the band members finding a bag of pills that they'd forgotten on the flight, whilst searching for headphones and us being worried about airport sniffer dogs tried to eat as many as possible. We'd made it to Lismore, which was the next leg of the tour, which we were playing a festival. I ran into my friend Shirley Davis at the festival who was singing in a another band, with Jornick (Mista Savona), Lamine Sonko (Public Opinion Afro Orchestra) and Saritah. We hung around the festival for a while to have a look, but being so tired decided after our flight we decided to crash for the night, before the show the next day. We arose the next day to head to the festival from our motel room, to head to the festival, so the guys could play the show. After the show we retire to our motel for a minute, to see the rest of the band away, Matt Bray drummer from K-Oscillate and 28 days, had a flight the next day, decided to get a bottle of alcohol, which I dropped shortly whilst walking to the to the festival, we ran back to the bottle shop, 5 minutes before closing time, but the guys had decided to close. We walked to the festival unfulfilled but thought that would be an omen to not drink anymore and continued to the festival. ' We came across most for twenty dollars seeing that way as much cash we had as they were not accepting card, we grabbed a bottle of something to put it into then proceeded to mix it with a bottle of water backstage. Shirley and crew were on stage and had just finished up, then waited to meet and greet them on their arrival then proceed back to motel, Matt and I had invited the 12 or so people in to our motel room and began a jam consisting of Lamine, Jornick, Shirley, Saritah, Matt and numerous people. we all started singing and jamming with an acoustic guitar and would have to be one of most beautiful moments of my life. We arose early the next moment to catch a bus supplied by the festival to catch a flight, but the us ran incredibly late and so we missed the bus and spent the next 5 hours waiting for the festival to organise the next flights for us, which we had a fantastic time mucking around and drinking we in the end we got back to Melbourne and in the end no act was paid even with contracts as hardly anyone showed up to the festival, the organiser went bankrupt shortly after, telling us to hold tight you will be paid as soon as he was going to sell a house, a year of had passed and that never happened.

Having the experience in Lismore made me realise what beautiful lyricists and people Jornick and Lamine are and asked them both to be on the track, Lamine came into the studio first with long time friend and band member 'Lady Lash', I asked lash as I knew the 3 voices would work well together, I love the fact Lash can sing like an angel and rap, I find great amusement in recording Lash's vocals, as she will be singing something than go out of tune or sing a wrong word, then curses like no one I have ever heard. We spent the first few hours of the session listening to the music and writing lyrics, the thought I had for vocals was about freedom and experiences each person had been through, which the guys did, but when it came for Lamine to sing it he sang for about ten minutes nonstop, unfortunately it wasn't what I was looking for and didn't keep it, I did ask Lamine to come in again but he was about to go on four month tour. Jornick was the next to come in, I have the deepest respect for Jornick, through working with him in 'Mista Savona' the only way he can describe him he is such a beautiful person. We got into the studio and Jornick put on a spiritually uplifting cologne, that is the best way I can describe it, he asked me what the subject of the track was I told him and without listening to the beat and before it began he started singing, the first bit was out of tune, which was a shame as it was so good and not even the plugin 'Pitch Correct' could fix it. Jornick had the same approach as Lamine and put down 10 minutes of singing in one go and both of us were amazed he was able to put down back ups to it and that the session took twenty minutes, I found out later he has a lot of similar lyrics. Choi and I spent a lot of time listening and editing Jornick's lyrics after he had left and we had something that resembles a track. I gave Jornick's lyrics to Lash, as Lash was to come in again and I spent some time going over to Lash's and her partner 'Skitzo Beats' house to write new lyrics to match up closer with Jornicks and at the next session Lash got two verses down in no time and not too much cursing either. In the same session Lash and I put down backups for the track 'Wart's and All' as I wanted to put a choir feel at the end of the song, I then realised how badder singer I am, as Choi and Lash both couldn't stop laughing throughout my session and I'm quite lucky to have been able to delete the video footage that was taken, with a little of help from 'Pitch Correct' that was the beginning and end of my singing career. After not being able to get Lamine back into the studio I thought long and hard about who to get in to finish the track, I contacted Simon Wright who I was a fan of, had done many shows with, and had talked about doing bookings for and managing for him for a little while. I sent Simon the music and without much effort at all Simon had written his lyrics, we armed ourselves with a bottle of Scotch and headed out to the studio, Simon was a bit worried at the time about being the only white guy on the track and sculled quite a few drinks not even I could keep up with him, but was ready to go, Simon was awesome on the day and even helped arrange vocals and music for the track, I had been quite worried about how the track would turn out, but was very happy after that session.

Contest Us Cd Story - City Lights

Jess Harlen was the 3rd vocalist to jump up to the mark, for the song 'City Lights' who was in Europe touring with 'Blue King Brown' at the time I asked her and sent over beautiful demo with a by singing vocals into her laptop microphone. When she came back I has organised a session but Jess missed due to having to many fillings done at the dentist and was unable to talk properly that day, and I had brought down my old bass teacher Wylie J Miller, local busker and 'Grand Wazoo' singing sensation, which unfortunately did work out as Wylie's and Jess's vocals didn't match. The next session Jess, did make it down but was unable to record as 'City Lights' is a love song and had broken up with her partner the day before, and was only able to record back up vocals, but did bring along the recorded laptop stems and which worked perfectly, with a bit of effect added to them so we used those. Jeremedy from the band Melodics, came in next, this was a long time before he became Grey Ghost, and this time I had barely made it to, as I was still recovering from sever gastro, or love from both ends as I like to call it, which Jeremedy and wife Julia were amused with my analogy but no so with the demonstration. Once we were all in the studio it didn't take very long at all to record Jeremedy's 16 bars, which was a good thing but still managed to find myself having beers in St Kilda after the session, and found out that alcohol should be the last thing you drink, when recovering.

With Wylie's and Jess's vocals not matching I decided to contact Sony and Che-Fu's Manager at the time, and Sony gave me the go ahead and Che-Fu's managers number so I called him and had discussion with him and came to an agreement with the vocals and said it would be done within the 3 months, the time went by and rang him and asked hows it all going and said were still working on it, so I gave him a lot more time and finally said 'look ill fly you guys over and will do it here and I said ill book you a couple of shows one at Beach Rd in Bondi and the other at 'The Laundry' in Fitzroy, Melbourne which he cancelled Sydney 3 week before he was supposed to play as he thought the amount of money that had been organised wasn't enough even though he agreed to it, and then the Melbourne one the day before he was supposed to arrive and they had just printed posters for, as he kept changing his mind about flights, whether he wanted to bring a Dj or not and money upfront, but unannounced to me just trying to get out of it, Che was also in a lot of trouble at the time for tweeting the day before and leaking information about a bomb threat that had been made to a school whilst he was doing a workshop, which made front page news in New Zealand. Che's said to me look we have some time off the following weekend, so I paid him the agreed money and thought I would get the stems the next week, I was wrong they didn't come, then suggest to Logan Bell from Katchafire, as I had him inline for a track, and thinking he might be able to push Che's manager but no Logan would have to be one of the busiest musicians I've met. At this point I decided to contact Kylie Auldist from the Bamboo's to come in and record on 'City Lights' as I was blown away with a performance I'd seen her do at the Espy and then hung out with her at a 70's themed wedding video clip shoot for our mutual friend Shirley Davis. Che's manager offered me a brand new complete track, which I thought was amazing and agreed to straight away but after a while of no communication and was waiting for the individual tracks, I contacted Che-Fu directly asking him what was happening with the track, which he knew nothing about his ex manger giving me the track, the payment that had been made and Che said that he had he fired him and had no contact with him further and had to talk with his new manager so sort it all out, which I did before long Che and his new manager were on a plane and came over to record, but by this time there was no more space left at this point pf recording so I unfortunately had to remove Kylie from the track, but her backing vocals are till there. I was having alot of issues with the drums and finding the right sound for them so I brought in Mech MC, a ex band member and Australian champion Beat boxer to come to get a roots feel through the track, which unfortunately didn't work but did manage to keep parts in there.

Contest Us Cd Story - Contest US and Nomad Remix

The first vocalists I brought into record was King Kapisi and wife Teremoana Rapley, for the song 'Contest Us'. I met King Kapisi through booking him and Daimon 'The Nomad' Schwalger for 'DNBBQ' in Melbourne with Sydney based record company 'Foreign Dub' and had asked Kapisi to record on my album whilst here, to which he accepted. At 'DNBBQ' I introduced King Kapisi and Mantra, who was at the event and I had known from him hosting 'Street Poetics' and 'Illzilla'. At DNBBQ the 3 of us were getting quite inebriated on shots of Agwa and before long the two were freestyling, and I had the idea instantly to put Mantra on the track as well. In the studio Kapisi would have to be the fastest, and most precise vocalist on the compilation, he knew exactly what he wanted and how he wanted it to sound, Teremoana or Terry she's known to those close to her, is a 80's and 90's New Zealand singing legend, Terry jumped up on the microphone for a verse which she had written on her old Nokia phone which I thought was a very strange as I wouldn't be able to read off of them now, but she had skill as she was able to read off it from a distance whilst recording her vocals. I was most impressed with Mantra's session it took a few goes to put it down but he also knew what he wanted with beat drop outs and to grab Kapisi's vocals for his verse. I regard Mantra as one of the most talented and dexterous rappers in Australia, it frustrates me that his not as big as 'Hilltop Hoods' or 'Bliss n Eso' and I still don't understand half the words he is rhyming in his 16 verse. The Nomad was at the session as well and pointed out the track was at a tempo of 88 bpm, and said 'its perfect tempo for a drum and bass remix', so I allowed him to take the vocal tracks at the end of the session and 3 weeks later I had a remix to add to the track listing.Contest Us and Nomad Remix

Contest Us CD Story - Introduction

After working in the music industry since 2005 playing in bands, being a booking agent I left my band in December 2009 to embark on a project, started in January 2010, Using music I'd written over the years which I felt was going to waste, using networks I had built over the years and touring vocalists I knew, started to putting a compilation CD together and I completely funded myself, to have a permanent record of my experience in the industry, to show that unsigned locals can match it with the best and to get more people across the world into Australian Hip Hop with intelligent lyrics over cross genres of music.

The first person I recruited was Ivan 'Choi' Khatchoyan, producer and drummer for 'TZU' and Cookin' on 3 burners, who I'd known through 'Street Poetics' a weekly open mic hip hop event and knew through housemate Syd 'Star child' Preece, sax player for my band at the time and Jamiroquai fan, to lay down the instruments and be the main producer on the album. Choi and I spent a couple of weeks putting down my bass lines and drum beats, where I learnt a lot about individual tracking, as all the recording I had done in the past was live recording. Having put down the bass for 6 tracks it was time to get Jake Savona to come in to play keys, I was a big fan of Jakes bands
'Illzilla' and 'Mista Savona' and knew him from 'Street Poetics', and not long after I became 'Mista Savona's' booking agent. Jake got to the session in his old Landcruiser which was pact to brim, he had brought his Hammond Keyboard with Lesey amp, a harpsichord keyboard and Melodica. We set up days session and began to record, we decided to get Jake to lay down as many ideas as he could think of using all the instruments he brought so Choi and I could pick what keys lines go with the vocals, the session didn't take long so we headed down to Street Poetics early and got stuck into some cheap pizza from Bimobo's and beverages. Mikey Chan was the next person to come in, I regard Mikey as one of the best guitarists in Australia and would have played for ninety percent of Australia's bands and producers to come in next and lay down his parts, armed with guitar and the biggest pedal board I'd ever seen got into it and took the same process with recording Mikey as Jake and got down as many different feels as possible and before long had it all down.