In the build-up to Shambhala this past year, there was no act I was more excited to check out than the Russ Liquid Test. For about as long as I've been into electronic Russ Liquid's name has been a mark of quality – groovy, funky quality. The idea of seeing his musical vision through the prism of a live act at Shambhala, one of the great venues on Earth to see live music, had my ear-pussy soaked with anticipation. The power trio – Liquid, guitarist Andrew Block and drummer Nick Mercadel – battled through early sound problems (With some timely help from Miss Erica Dee) and delivered one of my favourite sets of the weekend. Even better, soon after I arrived home from the Farm, still abuzz with all the great music, the trio released their first official single, “FNK FWD” (feat. Steve Swatkins), a wonderful glitchy dose of bright, lively funk. It's a perfect night-starter or pick-me-up on a shitty day. Even luckier than getting this into my eyes, I managed to meet up with the Russ Liquid Test at Shambhala to get them down with the 5 Questions, in which we discuss Stevie Wonder, the beautiful tragedy that is Mardis Gras and the some of the guys' most positive school memories.
1. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?
Andrew Block: Doggystyle. Actually, I bought two at the same time. Doggystyle and Aerosmith Get A Grip.
And which one do you listen to more today?
AB: Doggystyle. At the time though, Aerosmith, actually.
Russ Liquid: The Beatles The White Album.
RL: Oh man, there's so many of them. I like “Savoy Truffle.”
Nick Mercadel: It was a Stevie Wonder record. I don't know which one it was but I know my first purchase was a Stevie Wonder record in a brick & mortar store.
2. Have you ever seen a ghost?
AB: No, I don't think I have.
Do you believe in ghosts or felt a ghost-like presence?
AB: Not particularly.
Ah, well then your chances of seeing a ghost are pretty slim.
AB: But a presence or something, yeah. When I think of “ghosts” I think of Casper and stuff like that.
NM: I believe in spirits, but I haven't seen them.
RL: I believe in spirits too.
3. Can you think of a movie or a book that had a genuine effect on the way you saw the world?
AB: The Big Lebowski. The whole concept of flowing through and not giving a shit. “Fuck it,” you know?
RL: It's actually a movie I just watched called Embrace of the Serpent. It's a foreign film about a shaman in Columbia who helps a botanist out on a journey. He brings him into the dying world of his people, teaching that there's way more to life than your suitcase full of trinkets. It's a really powerful film.
NM: Power of Intention by Dr. Wayne Dyer. Basically you have the power to control your destiny through intention.
4. If you could spend the day with anyone living or dead who would it be and what would you do?
AB: That's such a deep question, why do I have to answer first?
RL: So we can think of good answers.
AB: Einstein or Tesla. Some kind of world genius you could just ask all kinds of questions to.
That's cool. I feel like I would be able to ask the right things and would just disappoint them with my questions.
AB:<laughs> It would be all one-word answers and shitty looks. Pulling the old glasses down.
RL: Mine's not specific, but it would be one of the old Pharaohs of Egypt.
What would you ask if you could only ask one question during your hang-out?
RL: What the fuck are the Pyramids for!? Because they're not tombs, so what are they for?
NM: I have no idea. That's a really tough question.
RL: Nick would like to hang out with Stevie Wonder and play music.
NM: I really would like to hang out with Stevie Wonder but that seems like too easy an answer.
5. Nah! It's a great one! Stevie's dope. When is the last time you did something for the first time?
NM: Today! So, I've never camped before. This is the first time.
You doing it up proper with a tent or you got a trailer?
NM: Tent. I'm doing the whole thing. I'm looking forward to it.
I like it. My tip: When you get up for the day, roll your blankets up and roll 'em back out when you get to bed at night. If you leave them layed out, they'll get damp.
RL: Mardis Gras this year. That was my first one. It was very awesome.
What was the best thing you saw at Mardis Gras?
RL: Ah, disgruntled lovers.
AB: We're starting a website called Scornedmardisgraslovers.com. We'd be riding our bikes around, on the parade route at night and you'd always see a chick walking really fast and a guy walking behind her yelling, “Babe! Babe where you going? You don't even know where the hotel is!” Or the guy is walking really fast and the chick going, “I mean, I didn't even kiss him back!” I want the NOPD to wear little cameras and we can find a couple cool ones to capture the crazy shit. They're there for the whole thing. We'll have a year's worth of footage every two weeks of Mardis Gras.
RL: The vibe on Fat Tuesday at Mardis Gras is so crazy. It's 10 in the morning and people are packed in the street raging. I've never been anywhere where I felt the whole city, all of New Orleans, with people coming from everywhere, tuned to one vibe. There's no escaping it.
AB: I just went to South America for the first time in April. It's mostly been first time going to places lately.
RL: He just started tying his shoes himself.
AB: Yeah, I just switched from velcro.
6. The guest question comes from Vancouver comedian Katie Nordgren and she wants to know, What's your most positive memory of a high school or elementary school teacher?
RL: I was in high school and I had a literature teacher who let me score a symphony, get it performed and let me write a paper on the process. I was basically doing a tone poem, turning poetry into music. And he let me explore that while everyone else was doing a paper on To Kill A Mockingbird. He was a really great teacher. I was in a very rural school district and the arts weren't supported at our school. People were all into football and I was the odd one out. He was the one who told me it's cool to be into art and music and helped facilitate that.
NM: In elementary school, I was in public school but I had gifted classes and my gifted teacher was Ms. Grotto. When they realized I was a creative or whatever, they let me design courses for class. They let me set up music sessions and learn geography playing RISK and stuff. She was really good at seeing how you learned and getting the best out of you, your way. That changed my life.
AB: I went to a boarding school in Asheville, NC, and I had a teacher who would take us to shows anytime anything came to Asheville that was worth seeing. The whole range, like, he was a huge Widespread Panic fan, so we'd see all the jam bands. We'd see everything, folk, bluegrass, jazz. The first show that comes to mind is Medeski, Martin and Wood.