5 Questions with Rags #52a - Illvis Freshly (Phil and Doyle)

If you've been paying attention to West Coast music at all in the last couple years, you've probably seen the Illvis Freshly around. Legit: They're pretty inescapable and it's easy to see why. Their heavy-hitting, ultra-fun, partyrific electronic rap songs are sure-fire ear-crushers, made for those days and nights with all the friends. As the summer finally takes hold of us all, Illvis Freshly's music is even more relevant, assured to keep you moving in time with all this glorious weather. And as we enter Festival Season, they're bound to show up in your face and plug your ear holes up with funky rap goodness, including summer kick-off shows at two of BC's premier festivals, Victoria Ska & Reggae Fest and Tall Tree. We got a lot to cover here, in fact so much to cover that this interview is TWO PARTS, so let's get after it and get this thing started. In part one of this monstrous 5 Questions we get down with Phil and Doyle, the non-verbal duo that gives Illvis Freshly their distinct live-electronic hip-hop sound.

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

Doyle: Oh yeah, Bush – Sixteen Stone.

Favourite song?

D: “Come Down.”

When's the last time you listened to the album?

D: I heard “Machinehead” on the radio the other day and thought, “This is the first fucking CD I ever bought.” Apparently it was a hit 20 years ago, like '96. Gavin Rossdale, he's a handsome man.

Phil: My first album was Sum 41 – All Killer No Filler.

And the last time you listened to it?

P: I listen to it once a week. It's on my phone.

What's your favourite track?

P: “Handle This.” I'm younger than these guys so when I was 10 buying my first album, that was the album for a kid like me.

D: That was a little later than Bush, yeah.

P: They had to change their name to Bush X after awhile right?

D: It was Bush X actually when I bought it.

(Danimal): There was another band called Bush so they had to add the X. The other band stopped being a band so they got to drop the X then. They were still called Bush overseas.

I think I remember listening to Bush with you in Grade 7, Doyle. Didn't you do a project on one of those songs?

D: Yeah, I did “Glycerine.”

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DJ Premier & The Badder Band, Wed. May 31, 2017 @ Distrikt Nightclub, Victoria - A Masterclass in hip-hop

I don't think anyone knew exactly what to expect entering Distrikt Nightclub last night for DJ Premier & The Badder Band. The first stop on their inaugural tour, Victoria came ready to party with a legend on a Wednesday night, no matter where he was planning to take us. And goodness gracious, flanked by the four-piece Badder Band, DJ Premier delivered more than any of us could have hoped for.

Victoria's Deejay Anger opened up with the proceedings with an incredible set of hip-hop, flexing his immense musical knowledge and taste, as well as his considerable DJ talent. Legit, I've seen this homie play numerous sets but I don't think I ever realized how great of a scratcher he is. If you like deep bass, slathered with hip-hop, Anger is your man.

Don't worry, Anger got ya.

Don't worry, Anger got ya.

The light dropped and out came a dude in a Larry Bird jersey. Now, my dislike for the Celtics runs pretty deep ('Cept for Bill Russell. Guy's a straight G.), so I wasn't super excited, but woowee, the man Brady Watt brought the heat. The bass player for the Badder Band, Watt opened up with a few of his own choice cuts, brought to fantastically bouncy life with his bass and relentless energy. Celtics jersey or no, Watt is making some incredible, massive-sounding beats. Definitely check his stuff out. Watt's was a short set, but he had the crowd jumping and becoming rabid by the time Preemo and the rest of the Badder Band took the stage.

Brady Watt, drawing everyone in with his passion. 

Brady Watt, drawing everyone in with his passion. 

DJ Premier is inarguably one of the GOATs when it comes to production and Djing, a titan of hip-hop culture. And while this show was definitely one for the real heads in the audience, Preemo declared off the top, “This is a celebration of ALL music,” and he was not lying. Preemo & The Badder Band was “So funky, so funky, so funky!” as they put on a musical clinic, taking the audience on a journey through hip-hop. You know you're dealing with men of talent and taste when they lay down just the tiniest bit of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' “I Put A Spell On You” on the end of an all-out hip-hop assault. When the band left the stage Preemo, left to his own devices, dazzled the crowd with some incredible turntable gymnastics, including an amazing bit of ultra-slow scratching that melted my brain a little bit. The show moved at a relentless, breakneck speed with the Premier keeping the audience hyped on the mic the whole time, the band ripping through hip-hop classic after classic, including a fantastically interpreted remix of “Classic (Air Force 1)” and a downright blistering version of the Gangstarr classic “Moment of Truth.” It's pointless to list everything the band played here, because it's goddamned DJ Premier...you know it's going to be chock-full of everything that makes hip-hop great. If you tell me you love hip-hop and tell me you missed DJ Premier and The Badder Band when they passed through your town, I straight up won't believe you.

The gawd, DJ PREEMO, holding court and dropping that hip-hop knowledge.

The gawd, DJ PREEMO, holding court and dropping that hip-hop knowledge.

This is how you watch Preemo when you're short as hell.

This is how you watch Preemo when you're short as hell.

HORNS! Oh, the horns!

HORNS! Oh, the horns!

5 Questions with Rags #51 - Craig Northey of The Odds

The Odds have been a staple of Canadian for music for as long as I can remember. (At the time of this writing, I'm nearly 33, so take my memory for what you will.) If you grew up with any kind Canadian radio in the last 20 years you know the Odds, I promise. (This one, or This one, or perhaps This one, or maybe This one.) And if you don't know the Odds, you need to open your ears more because they are fucking awesome. They write witty, silly, intelligent, sometimes bizarre and always absurdly catchy rock tunes. As my life has slowly been draining itself of the more straight-ahead rock parts of my listening diet, the Odds have remained on rotation because they just make good, quality music. In anticipation of the band's return to my beloved Victoria on May 18, I caught up with vocalist and guitar player Craig Northey from Toronto as he prepared to tour, as a dummer (!), with Canadian supergroup The Transcanada Highwaymen to talk about funky ghosts, Bret 'The Hitman' Hart and Davey Jones' weight.

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

I remember the first album that I got that was mine, and that was the Beatles' Hey Jude. The first album I bought with my own money could have been The Monkees' one with “99 Pounds” on it, but I can't remember the name. (Upon research, the album Craig is referring to is Changes.) “She was 99 pounds, some kinda dynamite,” which would be an eating disorder now. Davey Jones was a really little guy, so maybe that makes sense. Maybe he was 101 pounds.

2. If you could spend the day with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?

Oh my, that's a hard one. I think it would be driving around Toronto with Steven Page. Oh wait, I'm doing that! My life is fucking awesome! We're going to get tacos, and that's part of the day.

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5 Questions with Rags #50 - Mike Love

It could be argued that with the rise of dancehall, reggae music has strayed a long way from its roots. Inarguably, a lot of the new reggae that has managed to make it into the popular consciousness has seemingly lost its way, preoccupied with nights on the dancefloor and the amounts of weed one is going to smoke. But this is reggae and there will always be people making compassionate, intelligent reggae music. At the forefront of the new Roots movement is Hawaiian reggae troubadour Mike Love. His music – released entirely independently through his label, Love Not War Records – is rooted in those traditional reggae/Rasta ideals, while doing entirely new things with sound via his looping-station, powerful voice and ever-changing live configuration. His is the reggae of Love, Peace, Justice and an unyielding admiration for the Earth that we all call home. His YouTube videos have garnered him a worldwide audience of peace-seekers looking for something a bit deeper from their music. Rags Music was lucky enough to catch up with the good homie for a chat before he makes his way up to our home on the Canadian west coast for the first time. If you get a chance to see this guy live, make sure you jump on it. Your ears and your soul will thank me.

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

I think every day I try to do something new. It's one of the most important parts of life. Seeing new places, doing new things, experimenting with new things. Even when we're playing music we're always trying to do new stuff. There are some songs that we've played thousands of times and keeping them fresh, being able to keep playing them and be excited to play them, means trying new things all the time. That's life too. If you just do the same thing day in and day out, you become stagnant. Trying and learning new things is so important. I think that's what's what the system tries to get us doing, is having these routines and doing the same things every day.

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

There was a couple. I think it was ...And Justice For All by Metallica and Bad by Michael Jackson. That was the first thing I got on tape. I had a cool older sister was into a lot of different stuff and I just sort of followed her.

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#festivalseason - Atmosphere Gathering - Eclectic grooves and community vibes.

Nestled right in the middle of beautiful, tiny Cumberland, BC in Comox Valley on Vancouver Island is one of BC's music festival gems, The Atmosphere Gathering. It's a place where community can flourish, a family-friendly camping festival that's quickly established itself as one of the most sonically diverse musical events this side of the Rockies. It seems like an oxymoron, but the Atmosphere Gathering is a laid-back rager – perfect for those who wanna dance in the day and get to bed at a reasonable hour, or those who wanna dance their faces off late into the night. If you're looking for the perfect cap for the summer festival season in BC, there aren't too many better choices than Atmosphere. Last week the festival released its first line-up announcement, featuring 20 acts, live and electronic, crossing genres but keeping its roots in rhythm and groove. There's a lot for a music-lover to get excited about but here are the first four acts that jumped out to my groove-seeking soul.

Atmosphere Gathering takes places Aug. 18-20 in Cumberland. Tickets and more lineup details HERE.

Applecat

I had heard and seen the name Applecat popping up at events all over the West Coast, until I finally got the chance to see her incredible set at Rifflandia 2016, here in Victoria. I hadn't heard anything like it and I don't think I have since. It was an enthralling set of dense, earthy bass music that at the time I couldn't describe. Frankly, I still don't think I can do her music justice. It needs to be experienced. All the Soundcloud tags say “dubstep” but her music is more atmospheric, theatrical and sexy than any dubstep I've ever heard. It's impossibly deep and shadowy sounding music – I imagine that if smoke pouring through a keyhole could make music, it would sound like Applecat. The worldbeat flourishes she uses to pepper her music help her beats stand out, leap out of the speakers with an intensely unique flavour.

Slynk

I've lost count of how many times I've seen Slynk. I've also lost count of the number of times I've been utterly impressed with Slynk. (Take this, for example, from the first ever time I saw him rock the party.) Over the last few years he's evolved from his Ghetto Funk roots, adding more and more influences and weapons into his arsenal. Just stroll through and sample his already ridiculous output from 2017 – a hard hitting drum 'n' bass track “People Get Up” (w/ Granular Sumo), a straight-up old-school hip-hop track “So Cool” (w/ Illvis Freshly), the ultra-slick nu-disco groover “Disco Operator,” to name just a few – and you'll get a glimpse of the scope of the good homie's many talents. On any given night a Slynk set will traverse a staggering array of genres, but it'll always be funky and bouncier than a trampoline. There's a strong possibility of this being the most straight-up fun set at Atmosphere this year. Do not miss this.

CloZee

Hands down, CloZee is the most exciting glitch-hop producer on planet Earth right now. Her tracks and mixes are sure-fire body-movers, across the board. The French producer is an expert at mining for the deepest of grooves. There are few DJ sets I've seen that have engaged me so quickly and easily. Watching her engage with the music as she moves and sways behind her midi-board, pounding out those groovy, thumping, tribal beats is something indescribably special. Her debut performance at the legendary electronic-Mecca Shambhala was the most captivating thing I saw at the festival last year, a set that I've been sending to anyone who will listen. Pick an EP, a single, a mix...it doesn't matter. If it's got CloZee's name on it, either your body is swaying or your head is bobbing. If you listen to CloZee, you will move.

Astrocolor

In life and in music, I am a big supporter aggressive weirdness. Hence, I'm a big supporter of Astrocolor. I mean, how many times do you become aware of a band because they put out an album of all-original Christmas music? A Christmas album that sounds great at any time of year? What even is that? The Victoria outfit makes live, vibrant yet atmospheric dance music, perfect for those of us who enjoy the rhythms of electronic music but the engagement that comes from watching a live band. This is an enormously talented group of cats together making utterly unique, completely enthralling and ridiculously slick dance music.