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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5 Questions with Rags #63 - Qdup

The funky groovemeister Qdup has been startlingly important in my development as a fan of electronic music. The first time I ventured out on my own, without the anchor of a knowledgable friend, at an electronic festival was some years ago at Shambhala, where I stumbled upon his set at the dusty, ol' AMP. His super bouncy and accessible breaksy-funk treats delighted me instantly and I gave way to the overwhelming desire to dance without my friends for the first time. I clutched that Qdup sticker I got that day like a kid with a carnival prize, ran back to camp and told everyone of this rad DJ I just saw, like I'd just discovered something no one ever knew about. (That sticker remains on my friends' camper-van and Qdup, if you're reading this, really needs to be replaced. It's taken quite a beating in six years.) Then, a couple of years later, Qdup got behind the decks in Fractal Forest with Steve of the mighty Fort Knox Five to lay down one of the most powerful sets of funk music I've seen to this day. Dancing with all the friends, as the face of the funk-legend Jon H. adorned the screens around the Forest, I was moved in a way that I never expected from electronic music. It was a turning point in my life as a music fan, as I realized that even amongst the bounce and fun and colours, deep-rooted emotional impact was possible. Qdup is still out in these streets doing the Big Work, keeping the funk vibrant and alive wherever he goes. His latest single “Sonic Drop” featuring San Fransisco MC Awoke, is an old-school breaks/hip-hop delight that's been on repeat since I got my grubby mitts on it. When I got him on the phone from his new homebase in LA for our little chat, he assured me that he's been staying close to home, hard at work building up his funky arsenal with new tracks and sounds, regathering strength for another summer of laying it down hard. But luckily for me, the good homie set aside some of his valuable time to get down with the 5 Questions!

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

Run-DMC – Raising Hell, I saved up my allowance and got it on tape. My parents were really supportive of me wanting to buy and listen to music.

I'd ask if you still like Run-DMC but everyone still likes Run-DMC, right?


2. What's your best memory of an elementary or high school teacher?

Mr. K, my high-school shop teacher. He really had a way of communicating with kids of all kinds, like he was on their level. I know was shop class and it wasn't “intellectual” or anything, but it didn't matter. It wasn't what we were learning but the way he communicated with us that really left an impact on me.

3. What's your favourite household chore?

Picking the music to listen to while I do the chores. <laughs> I know that's not really a chore but as a producer I'm constantly searching for new music and listening to new masters of my own tracks and stuff. Even in the car, I'm listening to stuff for work. So a lot of the time when I'm doing chores is the only time I really get to listen to music for pleasure. I get to just put on music to really enjoy.

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

I'd get my brother Jon H, and we'd go have a night at Shambhala.

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

I went to Six Flags for the first time for my birthday. It had been years since I'd be on a roller coaster. After 5 or 6 coasters I thought maybe I had a filling loose or something from all the Gs.

6. Your Guest Question comes from the homie Handsome Tiger, who's currently lighting up Vancouver something fierce... If there's one place in the world you could play a show, where would it be?

Probably somewhere remote, small and tropical that I've never heard of or ever seen. Maybe Brazil or Thailand or something far away like that.


And while you've probably listened to “Sonic Drop” while you read this (And if you didn't, you blew it. Scroll up and sort it out.) you should probably put this mix on before you continue your day and listen to a master at work for a proper amount of time. It's real good.

Hip-Hop Thursday #3 - Pigeon Hole - INVASION EP

Okay, I know it's hip-hop Thursday and this would probably be considered more “bass music” or “dubstep” or something. I don't even know with the subgenres anymore. (I got into the electronic game too late and I don't care to figure it all out. I just want good music.) All I know is good hip-hop hits a certain place in my brain and Invasion hits that hard. This helps me indulge my love of hip-hop and satiate my thirst for bass.

A couple years ago, a little while after the release of their still-regularly-played-by-almost-everyone-I-know album Chimp Blood, I was watching Pigeon Hole smash up a stage while standing next to local hip-hop guru and Keeper of the Knowledge, Degree One. We were both head-nodding like crazy when he turned to me and said, “Man, I love these guys. Every time I see them they bring something new. Always new ideas.” I agreed and I continue to agree. Since then, seemingly without ever taking a break, Pigeon Hole has been relentless in driving forward, establishing themselves as a force in bass. That was a few years ago and the duo continues on that incredible arc with their latest anvil-heavy offering, Invasion EP. The homies go 3-for-3 here, each track devastatingly heavy but fantastically smooth in their devastation. Picking a favourite here seems arbitrary, but let's go with the title track, “INVASION.” I won't argue if you pick something different because you would also be right.

If you were going to hunt dinosaurs or some other large and terrifying creature, you couldn't find a more appropriate soundtrack than Invasion. Maybe you don't even wanna hunt the monsters. Maybe you just want to tame them to ride them or you're looking to toughen up with a simple fight against a majestic beast (Seriously, this shit makes me wanna suplex a lion). Like, you were in that TUROK game (Remember TUROK?) and you and your crew went out to have some battles then you all came back and celebrated with a forest rave. This is really fucking good party music that would be perfect for a deep forest rave. In fact, you should get familiar because you're probably going to hear the tracks from Invasion at every deep forest rave you do in fact attend this summer. Deep, dark hip-hop bass on that mega future shit that gets your head bobbing and your hips winding. [Sleeveless Records]

Hip-Hop Thursday #2 - Grand Analog - Survival

The first great hip-hop of 2018 has landed in my ears courtesy of Grand Analog. Their latest, Survival EP, is a incredibly fine-crafted piece of hip-hop. As I get older I have less time to spend obsessively dissecting music – especially something like hip-hop that demands such a high degree of attention – my music needs to work equally well on my headphones as walking through the city or bumping on the speakers with a group of people, and few things lately have hit both sides like Survival. Starting your night off? “Ballad of the Beast” is going to get heads bobbing something fierce. At the height of the party and need something silky smooth and deeply groovy to get help peoples' hips moving? “Quiet Life” is going to be the thing you need. Ending your night and need something a little more gentle and pretty in your hip-hop? “Survival: The Levy” is sure to scratch that chilled-out itch.


As expected as a live-band oriented hip-hop group, the beats here are unfathomably lush, popping and dripping with the warmth that only a unified whole of moving parts can deliver. The flourishes of electronic music are used to great effect (As Grand Analog is want to do), pushing the groups trademark future old-school sound ever-gently forward. Good on the headphones, good on the dancefloor (As we discussed). The sequencing here is similarly deft – everything meticulously laid out, giving a strong sonic arc to an EP, something that often goes overlooked on such releases. The instrumental tracks here are indispensable little bridges, pulsing with depth and feeling. MC Odario Williams is as fly as ever, hitting each track with well-earned confidence. He's not here to overwhelm the ears with speed. Homie is here with that direct flow, giving his thoughtful, witty and clever wordplay raps space to breathe and be heard. Some incredible guest spots – including show-stealing spots from Posdnous of the mighty De La Soul (“Mutations”) and one of Canada's true treasures, Shad (“Ballad of the Beast”) – round things out and compliment Williams' lyrical stylings perfectly. (Special props to the basketball raps too, from both Odario and Shad. I feel like I don't get enough basketball references in my modern hip-hop.) It all adds up to making Survival the first gotta-get-in-ya rap release of the year. Go listen to it.

Survival is available on vinyl over at Grand Analog's site. Or digitally on bandcamp.

A Year In West Coast Bass with Jim Vanderhorst.

2017 is the year I really felt like a legit part of the bass community here on the Canadian west coast. I've met and talked with an astonishing breadth of people with fantastical levels of skill and love for their respective crafts. Djs and producers, photographers, dancers, visual effects and lighting people, sound engineers, visual artists and writers – all working to help this music and culture we all love to thrive. One of the people who I've come to respect deeply both on a personal level and artistic level, is Jim Vanderhorst, the man behind Rebel Cause Films – the company behind some of the most unique and definitely most watchable festival and artist recaps films. His eye for his the medium and his never-ending push to show the most human parts of the culture give his videos an unparalleled warmth and sense of community. His compassion, thoughtfulness and willingness to speak up for what he believes when filming, discussing or just participating in the culture is a powerful and valuable trait. As someone who has made his name observing bass culture and translating what he sees for further consumption, I couldn't think of anyone more appropriate to help me take a look back at some of the things that made 2017 such a big year for bass music here on the best coast. As we enter a new year in bass and whatever weird-ass shit the party brings, we take a final look back at a pretty incredible 2017 with the incomparable leader of Rebel Cause Films, Jim Vanderhost.


What's something that you've noticed in the bass community that you would like to see changed in the upcoming year or trends you'd like to see end?

There needs to be more awareness of just how bad women have it in this scene. There's a big discussion about it right now but a lot of things aren't being talked about. Like, go-go dancers are lucky to get paid enough to pay for there outfits...but they're usually not. They're getting in for free. People walk around thinking they're getting paid a bunch and treating them like shit. Like, 1% of Djs are girls. It's not promoted much and when they do get to play in this area it's an all-girls night, it's pandering and that's not helping the cause either. There are places like Calgary that have some great female acts that are starting to grow but out on the West Coast I'm not seeing it. I think a lot of shit that happens is just not fair. I think men need to really take a second and understand it's not fair. Women are organizing these entire things. Shambhala and Bass Coast are fucking run by women. And yet the talent buyers and everything are all hiring predominantly male acts. The women that are organizing everything are so busy making shit happen for us idiot men they sometimes don't notice the disservices being done. We have a huge long way to go before things are actually fair and I think we need to start taking better care of women who wanna get involved in performance, whether they're go-go dancers or Djs. Guys who want to do it should not complain about things being unfair for guys. So many male stage performers I've seen talk about how hard it is to be a man in this scene.

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