5 Questions with Rags #69 - DJ All Good

Have you ever walked into a place completely foreign to you and just felt wholly and completely welcome? One of the few times as an adult I've felt that was the first time I walked into the Turntemple. A true monument of Hip-Hop, The Turntemple (A travelling DJ school housed in a 26-foot U-Haul) is unlike anything I had ever seen; a place where one of the pillars of Hip-Hop is tended and shared. The incredible human at the head of this low-key important space is DJ All Good (aka Peter Poole), Western Canada DMC Champion, Redbull Thre3style Finalist and human beam of Love. It didn't take more than a few seconds of me being in the Turntemple for him to come up to me, welcome me and notice my eyes on those turntables. Despite my crucial error in my first minute of touching them (“As long as you don't hit the needle, you're golden...” BAM! Right away, needle off the record.) he encouraged me to stay on and try it more, get closer to this foundation of the Hip-Hop that I love so much. Everyone I know who has crossed paths with the homie (This is a very high number of people) has glowing things to say about him and for good reason. His passion for music and willingness to share his vast reservoirs of knowledge – and his straight-up phenomenal skills – have made him a staple of West Coast festivals, strengthening the deep bonds between hip-hop and modern bass music whenever he sets up shop.

Finally getting a chance to do this interview thing proper with All Good was a thrill and I couldn't just pass up the opportunity to pick the brain of such an incredible DJ about all things scratchy and turny. So, in addition to the usual nonsense, we've mixed in a generous helping of queries about the Turntemple and the Art of Scratching.

Recently the U-Haul truck that housed the original Turntemple drove its final roads and breathed its final gasps of life. If you dig the noble mission of preserving the Art of Djing, check out the Turntemple's GoFundMe page and considering supporting the cause with a donation to help cover the costs of getting this educational beast back on the road.

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

It was one of those 1 penny for 10 albums things. I got 10 cassette tapes. I remember in that collection there was Pearl Jam Ten, INXS Kick, The Cure Greatest Hits, The Doors Greatest Hits, the Jimi Hendrix Experience Greatest Hits. Don't remember all of them but those were in there. As I matured I was a little bit ashamed I had so many Greatest Hits albums. There was Kids in the Hall skit where Bruce McDonald is running a record store and the guy comes in, “Hey, I'm looking to buy some Doors.” And Bruce says, “I'm not selling you any Doors! Greatest Hits albums are for grandmas!”

1a. How'd you get into the whole DJing thing?

Jam Master Jay...hearing “Peter Piper.” That song totally blew my mind. That and “Rocket” by Herbie Hancock. A lot of scratch DJs credit that song with being the song that got them into DJing because it's the first song that highlighted the turntable as an instrument. I'm talking turntablism here, not just DJing. I remember walking to school and air-scratching on my zipper, pulling it up and down. Hearing those songs really got me into it. Then I started making mixtapes for friends and house parties and stuff. I think if you're making a mix cassette tape it's a form of DJing – you're taking the time to curate and compile music for other peoples' listening experience, creating a journey.

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Zeal & Ardor - Stranger Fruit (Review)

Zeal & Ardor – Stranger Fruit


The silence is broken by the steady sound of an axe chopping wood, soon joined by a single guitar and gospel-tinged harmonizing. “We all heard the stories/Bring you to your knees/Ain't no lord gonna help you now,” intones a ragged voice as more guitars and drums join, building to a momentary fury before falling silent again, except for that voice, that single guitar, and that unrelenting axe. So begins Stranger Fruit, the second LP by Zeal & Ardor, the brainchild of Manuel Gagneux, a thunderous blend of slave music and black metal.

And what a fusion it is. The album's title references Nina Simone's savage, sorrowful song about lynchings in the south, and here also we find songs about a people hounded and pursued. People forced onto ships, people murdered and mourning, the fear and tension are thick and palpable. The song “Row Row” speaks of someone losing their name “in salt and stone”, of being taken below, while “Gravedigger's Chant” begins with a burial, with the song's narrator asking for the dead man's shoes to be brought down to the sea shore, possibly the closest they can come to home.

These are not songs of mourning though. Like the introductory track, the looping rhythms of slave hymns give way to reveal a darker, angrier sound just beneath the surface. These are songs of a people turning away from the light of white Christianity, invoking something darker, something that promises vengeance, bought in blood and fire. “Now listen here, you can join us/Or you can die in the fire” says the song “Servants”; “Ship on Fire” begins with its narrator singing “I come in the breath of the dead/Bathing in my papa's blood/Bare-boned and covered in red” and ends with him promising “Nobody waiting on you/You better run son”.

Again: that axe. A steady, rhythmic sound, the sound of hard, thankless work, toiling under the sun. But also implicit in that sound is a threat, as the axe is both tool and weapon, ready to explode into an act of violence at a moment's notice, to be turned against the oppressor without warning. “You Ain't Coming Back” repeats the line, “Don't let anybody tell you that you're safe,” throughout. At first it seems to be spoken to caution a child or a friend, but as the song increases in intensity, the menace lying beneath the surface is revealed. “These are the eyes that saw them die/theses are the hands that dug their graves/don't let anybody tell you that you're safe.”

The introduction ends with a final stark thud, louder and more ominous than the rest. Vengeance is coming.  (Independent)

Support good music and pick up Stranger Fruit.

#festivalseason - The Phillips Backyard Weekender delivered all I expected...And then some.

There was a ridiculous amount of great music at Phillips Brewery for the annual Backyard Weekender in Victoria this year and I could go on and on about it. I could tell you how The Revolution was better than anyone could have thought, laying down a set comprised entirely of some of Prince's best tracks – and even a couple surprises... “America,” anyone? Or how Victoria OG s, Murge and Verse – The Champion Sound, held it down between sets all damned weekend. Or I could tell you about the fiery and relentless disco assault of !!! (Chk Chk Chk) lit up a mostly unsuspecting crowd. In a weekend packed with highlights, here are the four acts that inspired my own lazy ass to get back to important work, like creating things and loving live music even of a fraction of how I used to.

Reggie Watts is so good at what he does that people now believe non-facts about Victoria.

Ask anyone who was there - apart from the two dudes I saw walk out early declaring, “This guy's a fucking weirdo.” - and they'll tell you that Reggie Watts' Saturday night performance at The Phillips Backyard Weekender was a incendiary force of creativity. It was funny, fresh and relentless. It demanded attention to mine its deep rewards. During his set, which my words will never do justice to, Watts told the potted “history” of spare ribs. We all had a good chuckle. Early the next day, whilst in the smoke-pit, I overheard a discussion about the improvised glory that Watts laid down the previous night. “He must have done a lot of serious research about Victoria. Like, he talked about the history of the spare rib and how it came from Victoria. I didn't know that!” “I'm from Victoria and I didn't know that!” These are actual things I overheard. Are there hundreds or possibly thousands of people out in Victoria now spreading the wholly false idea that Victoria is the legit home of the spare rib? God, I hope so.

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Phonosonics - Reggae Don't Pay The Rent (Review)

Phonosonics - Reggae Don't Pay The Rent


Jamaican-rooted music, probably more than another music, has a long history of straddling the line between lovers' music that makes you wanna pull a warm body close and fiery political anthems that make you want to punch an oppressor in the mouth. With their latest offering, Reggae Don't Pay The Rent, Victoria's rocksteady champions Phonosonics are paying proper tribute to the beautiful lyrical dichotomy of the musical culture they're helping keep alive and well. The production here is top-notch; all the tracks sound rich, full and warm. It's a clean sound, but it's not slick and shiny. It's an aesthetic that suits each of the five tracks incredibly well and fits the throwback feel of the band and its songs like a glove.

“If He Makes You Laugh” is undoubtedly lover's rock, as frontman Spencer Cleave's rich voice gets to stretch out between highs and lows as he mourns a love just out of reach, supported by a luscious organ line. The gently lilting rocksteady groove of “Feel The Same” is the perfect compliment to the lovey-dovey lyrics. Cleave, who also holds down the songwriting duties, turns his eye outside of his own heart on the title track, “Reggae Don't Pay The Rent” and the hard-hitting “Oil.” It's an interesting pair of political-leaned tracks as the former keeps it close to home, dealing with the struggles of the masses barely getting by, while “Oil,” unsurprisingly, takes on the damaging effects of a world driven by the endless quest for “black gold, Texas tea.” But, keeping in the spirit of the best reggae, the music makes you want to move, both tracks are genuinely fun and both are reminders that music with a message can still be hugely fun. The final track “No Sleep” is bouncy as hell and while Cleave sounds like he's having the best of times singing the song, he's singing about my own personal hell, staying awake to take in the never-ending party of life. Ah, hell yeah life is great but I'm tired. I'll see ya in the morning, I'm going to bed.

Legit though, it may seem odd that I'm writing so glowingly about rocksteady/reggae music coming from the Canadian west coast, but in the city that hosts North America's longest running reggae festival, it makes perfect sense that such glowing reggae music is emanating from the city. If you need those good riddims for these hot summer days – or even better, the slightly cooler but still warm summer evenings – Reggae Don't Pay The Rent has got what you need. Highly recommended listening. (Independent)

Pick up Reggae Don't Pay The Rent on bandcamp.

#festivalseason - The Phillips Backyard Weekender rides once again, groovier than ever.

I remember when I used to go to the Phillips Backyard Weekender and see a few people I know. And by 2018 it's grown into one of the crown-jewels of Victoria's rich musical summer, a place where I am bound to see countless familiar places, while – and this part is of the utmost importance – we get down with a full-slate of fantastically chosen music. With the return of the Pinic-er Stage featuring a lineup boasting some of Vancouver Island and Vancouver's freshest talents, as well as a full slate of afterparties each night, the good folks behind The Weekender, Atomique Productions, have doubled down on making this one of Vic City's best dance parties this year. The main stage at the Weekender is absolutely dripping with groove and that's where we're going to be focusing our attentions here. It doesn't matter which stage you're spending your time, if you're paying attention you're going to see some great music. And while I'd like to recommend everything here, that would be ridiculous. But if you pay particular attention when I tell you to, you're probably going to have a helluva time – bolstered by your own, wonderful decisions as well.

It all starts right off the bat as music opens with the mighty GROSSBUSTER. Both one of Victoria's finest beatmakers and owners of one of the city's most immaculate beards (A true feat considering how many people in this place make beats and/or have beards), Grossbuster has impressed me every time I've caught one of his sets over the last half decade. Even, hell especially, when he comes out with a set comprised of stuff you've never heard him play, seemingly out of nowhere. With an endless arsenal and roots in hip-hop (Just like I like), you can rest pretty assured that his set is going to be the perfect way to start your weekend. So, don't be a pylon and make sure to get down to site early.

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