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?

Classic.

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.

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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.

5 Questions with Rags #62 - Sam Klassik

I could use this space telling you about how dope Sam Klassik is. How he does high-level musical acrobatics as he does crazy-hard things like splitting the difference between earthy and spacey, between funky and atmospheric. I could tell you about how I met him on a bus on the way to Tall Tree Music Festival last summer and that he's a rad, thoughtful guy. I could tell you about seeing his incredible range at Tall Tree as he smoked his own daytime set, sat in with Lazy Syrup Orchestra and Everyman. I could tell you how he's become an instant fixture in my beloved hometown Victoria since his recent arrival. All of these things are deep and true, but when I called the good homie up for a little 5 Questions action, he had just finished getting some dinner down. And it really sounded like some good dinner. “Ghetto ramen. Pimped out Mr. Noodles. It has a bunch of broccoli, mushrooms, onions and carrots. And an egg. You gotta put an egg in there. It's the key, that elevates it above the average ramen. You just drop an egg in the water when it's boiling, before you put everything else in, and you kind of swirl it around but you keep the yolk intact. Then you end up with a really nice yolk in it and the white mixes in with the noodles - makes it tasty.” So, now you to can share in Sam Klassik's dinner special with a recipe from the man himself. Maybe make it after you read this awesome round of 5 Questions, or maybe to nourish yourself before you go have yourself a serious dance.

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

On tape or on CD?

Either one. Or both.

First album on tape I ever bought was Green Day – Dookie. First album I ever bought on CD was Oasis – (What's the Story) Morning Glory?. And the first one I ever ordered from Amazon was Slim Shady LP. I ordered it on a dial-up modem on my home computer. Amazon was on that shit back at the birth of the internet.

Which of those three is your favourite today?

Probably the Eminem one. Something about his lyrical content was really fun to listen to. It's definitely not acceptable by todays standards but I think that's what made teenage Sam like it so much. It was just totally off the rails. He talked about drugs at an age when may have been getting interested in that topic.

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

In music, for the first time I created a beat as I was posting it to my Instagram story live in real time.

In life, I used a sex toy on someone for the first time.

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5 Questions with Rags #61 - Handsome Tiger

I hadn't heard the name Handsome Tiger before this past summer, and now I can't go long without seeing the name Handsome Tiger. With a slew of one-off shows and festival stops – Including Fest-stealing appearances at those meccas of west coast bass, Bass Coast and Shambahala – the good homie is quickly becoming a fixture in the West Coast bass scene. Consistently delivering a phenomenal blend of smooth, deep bass, hip-hop sensibilities and world-beat flourishes, in a remarkably short time, Handsome Tiger has created a unique and thrilling sound in a world over-saturated with repeats. “It's been about two years that I've been Djing under this moniker and putting out electronic music.,” says Tiger, talking at me from home in Vancouver. “It's really great because shows and opportunities are happening more frequently and I'm very appreciative. All the hard work is starting to pay off.”

Like a lot of my favourite electronic artists, Handsome Tiger's roots lay in instruments, in live music. “I was a vocalist, played guitar and drums and bass. I grew up playing more dancey indie rock/rock 'n' roll/psychadelic kind of stuff. That was where I started. I always had an appreciation for electronic music but it wasn't really in the forefront,” he says of his musical beginnings. “I was trying to pinpoint getting into bass music...You know when your parents tell you something is really cool but you're too young and naive to really get it? I always refer back to that story that I have with my dad. In our household growing up there was always lots of dub and reggae and dancehall and stuff like that – the roots of bass music essentially. I grew up on listening to a lot more of that music and having that around as a kid. Three or four years ago I started heavily listening to pretty much just electronic music, deep bass music, more the UK stuff and I started to wonder, 'Where does this music come from? Oh wait...' This is what my dad was trying to tell me and now I'm 30 and I realize that he's right.” Nothing like realizing your parents were right the whooooole time. Luckily, all his dad's love of low-key legendary bass rubbed off and we get the fine work of Handsome Tiger to enjoy on our dancefloors now. I was fortunate enough to get a bit of the good homie's time in between his rapid takeover of groovy places so we could chat about KoRn, a deep fear and Attempting Vegan.

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

I definitely remember being super excited – this is super embarrassing – there was this CD store that was a 10 minute walk from my school when I was in grade 6 or 7. I remember being obsessed with bands like KoRn and Blink-182. I remember being 12 or 13, all excited and needing the new KoRn album really badly.

I have a friend whose jam is to go through bands catalogues in the span of a week or whatever and after listening to KoRn's entire catalogue, he determined that they are the worst band in the history of rock music.

<laughs> They were good in their time and when that was a thing, but it's very depressing music.

They got some jams. I'll always have a soft spot for “Got the Life.”

Yeah, definitely! I love that track. Pretty much anything off that record...that was the one.

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5 Questions with Rags #60 - 2018 Kickoff Spectacular with Jim Vanderhorst (Rebel Cause Films)

A funny thing happened at Tall Tree this year. I was asked by no less than three separate people if I knew Jim from Rebel Cause Films. (The mighty Everyman was effusive in his praise of the good Mr. Vanderhorst.) Apparently, because I like bass music and live in Victoria, I MUST be know and work with Jim. I didn't know who he was, but I was familiar with some of his work – as is pretty much anyone on the west coast who digs bass music and/or attends festivals and parties fuelled by such music. His work capturing the diverse beauty of musical audiences is, frankly, unparalleled. Turns out he's one hell of an interesting cat as well. I figured someone so entrenched in this community that I think I'm becoming a viable part of (?), a guy who has so much experience and so many stories, would be the perfect homie to kick off 2018. So, in an effort to blast off another year of 5 Questions with Rags in style, I dug up a large portion of the guest questions that got asked over the last year and let this incredibly interesting human being tear through them like some kind of fascinating buzzsaw.

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1. Colin from Pigeon Hole – What's the most vegetable and why?

Potatoes because to take the amount of time needed to describe everything you can do with potatoes would feel like like the shrimp montage from Forrest Gump. There are just so many things you can with potatoes...scalloped potatoes, mashed potatoes, french fries, baked potatoes... Potatoes are so goddamned versatile that when there were no potatoes, Ireland collapsed and turned into a joke for hundreds of years.

2. Jennay Badger...What's your go-to album for a good cry/emotional cleaning out?

I would say my go-to is probably Underdogs by Matthew Good Band.

3. Mike Love...What will you do now, to make the world a little better?

I really want to help spread the message that fear doesn't help anyone. I want to figure out ways to help people move beyond listening to fear. I want to make narrative feature films and I want them to share the basic theme of overcoming fear. Fear of useless, of lack of value. Fear is what we needed to save us from jungle cats when we were primitive stone-age animals. Now fear only drives us to bad decisions.

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