Moontricks & BOUSADA @ Capital Ballroom (14.04.18)

Sometimes you go to a show expecting to chill hard. You go see an artist because it's going to be a cool night out and an opportunity to go dance and have a good time, but not necessarily rage. And sometimes you get to that show and it's just as chill as you expected but then, you get some a few unexpected tastes of the bass that makes you rage and it's extra-awesome because you didn't expect it. This past Saturday (April 14) at Capital Ballroom in Victoria, Moontricks delivered exactly that – an expectedly sultry, smooth and sexy set of bass and banjo (And guitar and harmonica) punctuated by forays into deep funk and beyond. Moontricks laid down a tremendous set of new and old tracks, to a packed house of seriously delighted people moving together, smiles plastered across every face in the room. This was (and is) serious bass without aggression – perfect for keeping the pulsing sea of humanity moving and in a good, chilled out mood. For such a large crowd in the Ballroom, this was a legit well-behaved crowd and it's a testament to the performers that everyone was bouncing so respectfully.

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The old stuff (Like the sublime “Home,” which garnered the biggest pop of the night) was as warm and comforting as ever but it was the unexpected twists of new tracks that seemed to get the most bounce out of the sea of people. Most surprisingly, we were even treated to a little drum n' bass. Drum n' bass consistently challenges me and a Moontricks show was one of the last places I would expect to hear it, but oh man, that was some good, fun drum n' bass. Maybe it's old-hand to them, but I haven't seen it from these cats in the many, many times I've seen them play. Go see them live and experience this goodness. Please, for your ears' sake.

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Things got going early with some luscious house-y beats from the homie Xavier, one of the pillars of Victoria's electronic community and BOUSADA, who is establishing himself as one of the city's musical pillars, able to move between genres and crowds with ease. Flanked by a guitar player, BOUSADA was as animated as ever, in all his shirtless glory, punctuating his beat-making and singing with loud cries of joy. A musical facilitator of the highest order, the last portion of his set saw BOUSADA giving the spotlight to a stream of some of Victoria's finest vocalists (Including Doc Zoo and Danimal House of Illvis Freshly, Kady and Stevie from Leg-Up Program and the mighty Orilla) taking turns rapping and singing over his tunes. It feels like BOUSADA has been building something special in Victoria and Saturday night was a reminder of why this guy is such a Force of Musical Community. A spectacular night of groove and bass. Well-done everyone.

5 Questions with Rags #67 - Neil James Cooke-Dallin (Astrocolor, Stray Cougar, Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness)

A musical pillar of Victoria unto himself, James Cooke and his many projects – Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness, Stray Cougar and Astrocolor, my obsession of 2017 (into 2018, apparently) – have been helping keep my hometown way groovy and just a little bit more weird for some time now. It's actually kind of staggering the amount of creative energy this one human being seems to not only contain, but is able to harness and use effectively. “It's just what I love to do. They're all quite different, in terms of what I'm getting out of them. It's feeding a different part of my soul with each project.” It must be a pretty ravenous musical soul inside his body, because the homie never stops. A captivating performer, you should always take the chance to see Cooke playing/mixing his music live, in the flesh, because it's always guaranteed to be high-creativity and high-accessibility, the hardest things to balance in music.

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1. Do you remember the first album that you bought with your own money?

<laughs> Yeah, I do. <more laughing> It was Quiet Riot Mental Health. My buddy's brother ended up getting two copies of it for Christmas one year, so he was selling one of them and I was in grade 2 and I bought a copy of Quiet Riot on the school playground from him.

I remember being weirded out as a kid the first time I saw that cover. Made me feel kinda funny.

I think I was pretty normalized to it by then. I'd been around metal and rock a lot just by virtue of having friends with older brothers and some of my parents' friends. I had Ozzy Osbourne Bark at the Moon on 12 inch already and I don't know if there's a weirder album cover than that. Things were getting a lot more gentrified by the time I purchased Quiet Riot.

When's the last time you listened to Quiet Riot?

<laugh> That's a good question. I'm pretty sure I pulled out “Cum on Feel the Noise” or “Mental Health” sometime in the last year and a half.

Come on, it was definitely only “Cum On Feel The Noise.”
Ahh, I was pretty into “Bang Your Head.”

2. What's your favourite household chore?

I would say I enjoy doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. I really enjoy seeing how nice it looks when everything's cleaned up. Have my girlfriend come home and see it and have her evening be that much better.

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5 Questions with Rags #66 - JPOD the Beat Chef

There are few producers or DJs as consistently accessible as JPOD. His bright, glitchy music seemleslly fuses the classic sounds of musics past with new ideas and energy – often serving as a gateway into electronic music for the uninitiated. And sometimes his music helps people long into electronic music remember what they liked about it in the first place. And sometimes he can save peoples nights from spiralling wildly out of control, as he did for me in 2015. I was chased by hoards of people into the Grove at Shambhala, where Jpod was playing (I believe his debut on that stage) and I was comforted in the warm embrace of his aural pleasantries. Even in front of that terrifying Eye Creature that was dancing in front of the DJ booth – an image that haunts me to this day – dancing to Jpod's music helped calm the overwhelming anxiety that led me there in the first place. “I tend to attract the kind of people that create a welcoming, comforting environment,” Jpod tells me from Australia. With the homie being elf-admittedly difficult to pin down for things like interviews, I couldn't be more tickled to finally catch up with this cat who's been so instrumental in helping myself, and so many others, figure out this whole electronic music thing.

1. What's the first album you bought with your own money?

It was Nada Surf. Whatever their debut album was. My friends all had lots of music and finally I thought “I'm gonna buy something!” I couldn't just buy something everyone has and that was the only thing that I kind of liked that no one else had.

When's the last time you listened to Nada Surf?

I haven't listened to it in 15 or 20 years. Shortly after I bought it. High/Low. That's the one.

2. When's the last time you did something for the first time?

A few months ago I decided to start brushing the right side of my mouth with my left hand. There was a moment when I felt like I could best get into certain corners if I used the other hand. It felt uncomfortable at first but I told myself that I was going to learn something ambidextrous.

And it's paying off?

I guess. <laugh>

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5 Questions with Rags #65 - Grieves

I first saw Grieves here in my hometown Victoria in 2014. I was on assignment for a now defunct website, sent because I was the resident hip-hop guy on staff. I didn't know anything about him other than his affiliation with the legendary Rhymesayers, but I left a fan. I got home and right away I dug into Winter & The Wolves, the album he was touring at the time, and found someone with a respect for the craft of rapping – deft, nimble rapping with dense lyricism that revealed a deep intelligence and emotional knowledge. This was smart, affective rapping. But then things went pretty quiet and I heard very little from the Grieves camp until last year when he released the fucking phenomenal Running Wild. A snapshot of personal evolution, Running Wild finds Grieves' sound evolved and grown into new places while at the same time being stripped down to an ultra-personal core.

A birthday is a perfect time for a little reflection and I linked up with Grieves for a 5 Questions shortly after his 34th birthday, and he was gracious enough to let me pick his brain as to what he learned over his last complete orbit of the Earth. “The years go faster every year, it's hard to take a lesson from each one. Last year I focused more on not giving a shit about what other people expect of me and just do the things that my heart requires. It took awhile to actually do that. An album like Running Wild is definitely a prime example of me just going with what I wanted to as opposed to sticking to my same formula. It goes beyond that to the stuff I make for myself in the studio, the work that I do for others in the studio and what I'd like to release to the world in the future. Where I'm going creatively...I feel like I've been hung up trying to follow in the footsteps of what got me where I'm at as opposed to creating new roads to create new steps.” Thankfully for me, and hip-hop heads everywhere, these new steps still include releasing dope music and touring. And now, more than three years after I saw him that first time he returns to Victoria (Thursday, April 5, Capital Ballroom) in support of this record that you should definitely listen to if you haven't already. Or if you're not in Victoria, check his tour schedule and figure it out.

1. What was the first album you bought with your own money?

I actually bought three in the first go. I was mowing lawns and whatever else knucklehead kids do to get money and I bought Green Day Dookie, Offspring Smash and, for some fucking reason I don't know why, Aerosmith Get A Grip. They had a bunch of curse words and I was like, “Ooooh shit.” It was my dirty secret, that there was a bunch of cuss words. In 5th grade.

I remember I was in this camp in Chicago before I moved, I think it was called Chandler Sports Camp, and pretty much parents just dumped their kids off so they can get shit done in the summertime. There was this older camp counsellor I remember sitting with on the bus and he was like, “What do you know about Green Day? Offspring?” And he put the headphones on my head and was like, “Whaaaaat?!” It changed my perspective on cool music. I was listening to my dad's music – soul, blues and a lot of folk. I just kind of thought that's what it was. I didn't really challenge it. I didn't dislike it but I hadn't experienced something I liked for my own. Still to this day I feel like I could recite Dookie from front to back, from when I was in 5th grade.

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5 Questions with Rags #64 - The Leg-Up Program

This is a long one, because this is a genuinely huge band (In number and sound), so I'm going to try to keep this intro thing short. If you aren't lucky enough to live on Vancouver Island, maybe you haven't heard of the Leg-Up Program. And if you are on the Island and still haven't heard The Leg-Up Program, what are you doing with your life? And lastly, if you have heard or seen The Leg-Up Program, good work. For real though, The Leg-Up Program is one of the raddest bands rocking these parts right now. With a staggering number of musicians at any given show (I think I've seen them with up to 16 people, in various configurations) the music they make – soul, funk, hip-hop, gospel, jazz – hits with an incredible energy. Watching such a large group of people up on a stage, all working together towards that common goal, is really something to behold. Every time I see them perform I am filled with the kind of joy that reminds me of what starting making me love music in the first place. It's warm, fun, communal. I hear that there's an album in the works somewhere, due at some time in the future, but until then you have to venture out into the world and find them. But at the end of your journey, rich aural gifts await! Nailing such a large band down all at once is, for all intents and purposes in regards to interviewing, impossible, but I was lucky enough to catch 10 of them in a room at once, so 10 members is what you get for the biggest round of the 5 Questions yet. (On the docket, David – Trombone, Nick – Trumpet, Ashley – Drums, Greg – Guitar/making the trains run on time a day late, Daniela – Vocals, Kady – Vocals, Fred – Bass, Stevie – Raps, Sean – Keyboard, Simon - Percussion)

1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?

David: Oh yeah. It was “Geist” by Smashing Pumpkins. I got it at a Walmart in California. I still dig it a lot.

Nick: I think it might have been Five Alarm Funk's first album. It was very informative to see that kind of music rather than what was on the radio. Instrumental music.

Daniela: Yes. I bought two at the same time. One was Boys II Men and the other was...uuhhh...Two boys and two girls from Sweden...What were they called?
Random voice from somewhere in the room: ABBA?

Rags: Ace of Bass?

Daniela: Ace of Bass! Yes!

Kady: Mine's not nearly as cool. <Don't know where Kady got the idea that Boys II Men or Ace of Bass is cool> I bought Backstreet Boys, because that was the thing back then. It was Backstreet Boys or the Spice Girls. Then also, Loretta Lynn. I saw “Coal Miner's Daughter” when I was about 6 and that's one of the things that made me want to start singing.

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