5 Questions with Rags #59 - Jennay Badger

Earlier this year a friend sent me a message that said “Check out this new, dope Neon Steve mix.” I put it on and it was decidedly awesome. But something didn't sound right. Turns out the fantastical futurefunkydisco mix was the work of one Jennay Badger, the release of her set from the first instalment of the quarterly party “Neon Steve & Friends.” A glaring example of my surprising musical ignorance, I've come to find out that Badger is a fixture in the Vancouver Island bass scene. Her masterful Djing skills have kept her appearing all over the place to deliver her tasty, funky delights and her even more masterful (?) dancing abilities led her to founding INFLUX Dance Troupe, the finest of dance troupes I've come across. “I created Influx after I had tried out for a couple of different dance troupes. I was, reading in between the lines, being called overweight. That really hurt me, really hit home. I decided that that wasn't going to stop me,” says Badger of the formation of my favourite dance crew. “I don't believe that a person's weight really identifies how strong of a dancer they are. I didn't want to sit there and do nothing about it. Jamie Gib and I got to talking, he's also on the bigger spectrum himself and tried dancing with a bunch of different groups himself. I've also noticed that almost no groups at all have taken on any men full time. We got to talking and while Influx started as my vision, Jamie helped me bring it to life.” Influx is the next step in the natural evolution of Badger's ever-growing prominence in the West Coast bass community. With that in mind I decided to eschew our traditional opening question and to just jump right into the heavy stuff.

1. If you could only choose Djing or dancing for the rest of your life, which would you hang onto?

Fuck you. <laughs> Some people might say, “First and foremost, you're a DJ,” but that's just because they don't know my dancing background. I've been dancing ever since I was a child. My mom used to take me to music festivals when I was literally 2 years old. She used to drive me all across Canada in a school bus that she made into a kitchen. So, it was a kitchen, my bedroom and my home, all in one. We did that until I was about 6. I'd go missing and I'd sneak up onto the stage and she'd turn around and I'd be up there. I remember one time I was about 6, I was up there with some big black Louisiana woman and her band. They were holding me in their arms while they were performing. So, I've always been into dancing. I couldn't afford to do dance class, but there was dance teacher in Campbell River who saw that I was really good at dancing, so she offered to have me come to the studio and do hip-hop classes every Sunday for free, which was fucking amazing. I'm super grateful for that.

Around 2007, my mom actually took me to my first rave, in Cowichan. My mom and my uncle lived on this property in Cowichan Bay. It was near a place called The Barn, it was really well-known in the scene here. That's where I started going when I was 11. My mom would keep an eye on me. I had to be home and in bed by 10, but my mom brought me because I loved dancing so much. I was just going for the dancing and eventually, when I was around 14 or 15, I started Djing. I was just around it all the time. I love Djing so much, but I love dancing so much. Through Djing, I get to express my more masculine side. I feel like I'm The Man up there. Dancing brings out a little more femininity in me. I don't love either Djing or dancing more than the other, they're both one for me.

Read More

5 Questions with Rags #54 - Flamingosis

I like funky music, but I also like chill grooves and sometimes those things aren't the most compatible. But once in awhile there's someone – now, I don't wanna say hero but...someone special who can perfectly fit the niche my ears and soul so desperately need filled. Flamingosis is that someone. Purveyor of the some of the tastiest laid-back funk that this planet has to offer, Flamingosis has become one of the main staples of the listening diet over the past year. His albums are an endless stream of blissed out disco vibes (Bliss-co/blissco?) that keep a feeling but change the sound enough to always keep it interesting and familiar at the same time. Chilling in the afternoon sun? Cuddling up with a lover? Having a dinner party? Smoking a spliff on the deck with your homie? Damaging your skin with a day at the beach? Flamingosis has you covered with a soundtrack for all of this and more. Lucky for me, Flamingosis found the time, in amongst his relentless hustlin', to get down with an incredibly thoughtful and freshly honest round of 5 Questions.

Make sure to keep afloat of all things Flamingosis at www.flamingosis.com. And make sure to grab his glorious new album A Groovy Thing (For free, or however much you think it's worth)!

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

I believe the first album that I bought with my own money was Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma on iTunes when I was a Senior in High School. I was just pirating music off of Limewire during that time, but for some reason after I discovered FlyLo his music captivated me in such a way I was just like, “Damn, I gotta pay for this,” because I had never heard anything quite like it during that time. He was one of the OGs who helped introduce me to the beat scene and that type of sound. I'll be honest and say I still pirate music digitally, but since then I've started a vinyl collection. I think buying and collecting vinyl is important. I don't care if it's considered hipster to listen to music on vinyl, at least you're gonna be more likely to listen to an album in it's entirety that way because we are currently in a microwave era where a lot of people are listening to playlists rather than full releases.

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

I'm kind of embarrassed to say this, but I purchased a new phone and activated it for the first time last week on my own, rather than having my parents help me with it. For some reason I always had a social anxiety with going to a store and talking to a representative who I don't know, about what type of product I should buy and stuff of that nature. So I usually just had my parents help me with it. But now I'm 26 years old and I gotta grow up when it comes to dealing with that kind of shit. It sounds like a simple thing, but I'm proud that I did it on my own.

Read More

#festivalseason - Once again, Tall Tree was a cornucopia of sonic delights and beautiful people.

In the eight years since its inception, Tall Tree Music Festival has built itself as paragon of musical diversity, bringing in acts spanning across genres and helping reinforce the sometimes shaky bridge between DJs/rave culture and live bands/rock festivals. Way up high in clouds on Brown's Mountain in Port Renfrew, BC, the people of Tall Tree have created a place where musical cultures stand proudly side by side, interacting with each other in a way that is wholly inspiring. Every year I make the trek up and down the mountain and every year I am refilled with musical Love and this year was no different. The entire three days up high was jam-packed with incredible music and grooves, a near-endless aural smorgasbord. Here are half a dozen (+1) acts, ranging an incredible sonic spectrum, that blew my overly critical ass away and left a dent on my eardrums.

Note: I think it's time that Tall Tree made Murge's “Tiny Dancer” rework the official festival anthem. It kind of already is, but let's make that official, okay everyone?

ASTROCOLOR

Astrocolor's latest EP Astrocolor IIwith its silky, smoky and incredibly smooth sound – has been indispensable listening since its release earlier this year. As I marched up to the top of the mountain at midnight on Saturday night, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, apart from some smooth beats. What I and the rest of the packed Stump & Stone Stage got went way beyond just smooth beats. We were treated to a ridiculously fun, engaging and endlessly musical set a group guys clearly doing what they love. Playing cuts from both Eps (Including standouts from II “Push Too Hard” <feat. Fox Glove> and “Figure It Out) and stuff I haven't heard before, the group dazzled everyone in hearing radius with their uber-colourful dreamscape funk. The love that Astrocolor radiated from the stage was quickly absorbed by the crowd – like the music was water and the audience was a jubilant ShamWow – and blasted back at the group with incredible force. As I wandered back and forth through the crowd I overhead such comments as “This is incredible.” “What is this?!” “This isn't what I expected.” And every one of those statements I overheard was delivered with palpable joy and wonder. If you like any or all of the following: dancing, fun, colours, smooth funk, disco, house or jazz, you should 100% be trying to track down the next Astrocolor show near you.

Read More

5 Questions with Rags #36 - Michael Goldwasser, aka GOLDSWAGGER

If you’ve been keeping up with reggae in the last decade, you’ve probably come across the name Michael Goldwasser. One of the founders of Easy Star Records and architects all of those wonderful Easy Star All Stars records everyone loves so much (Radiodread, Dub Side of the Moon, Thrillah, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band), Goldwasser is one of the most knowledgable and passionate musicians I’ve come across in my years of writing and learning about music. He taught me about reggae is, within itself, a Jewish music. But it’s not just reggae music the dude knows. He knows his funk, his groove. That love of deep groove has birthed his latest creation, GOLDSWAGGER. This stuff is straight harddiscofunk fire, slathered in wet, sticky soul. Recorded properly, with live instruments and real musicians.

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

I can’t say it was 100% my own money, but it was the first album I ever chose to buy…I’ve never done this before or since, but I ordered this album from a television ad. It was called Living In These Star Warz. It was music inspired by Star Wars. In my imagination as a little kid, I somehow thought it was going to be STAR WARS. But really, what it turned out to be – man, I wish I could find this album. Maybe it’s at my parents’ house, but it’s not in my record collection – but it turned out to be songs inspired by Star Wars. There was a song called “A Respirator for Darth Vader.” It was kind of “Another One Bites the Dust” vibe, but with a lot of heavy breathing. There was a song called “Chewie the Rookie Wookie,” that I still remember. And the theme song, the title track, “Living in These Star Warz.” I thought it was so cool – music that I love and Star Wars.

The first single I bought was “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” by Billy Joel which is kind of hilarious because I don’t really listen to rock ‘n’ roll or care about it as a genre. I knew that song because my sister liked Billy Joel and she had all the albums so I would hear it in the house. But I also had a counselor at my day camp who loved that song and used to make all the campers in my group sing it all the time. That’s the power of music. They say if you can get someone to hear a song 10 times they’ll think that they like it, whether they do or not. That’s why you have recording companies paying to have songs on the radio. I don’t know why but I remember thinking that I had to buy the record and I bought the ’45 single of “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”

Read More

Top Songs of 2014 (Subconciously ranked.)

I guess I’m supposed to do some sort of year-end round-up thing. These things always feel kind of forced and I really, really loathe pitting art against art in some kind of relative combat. This isn’t a competition. So, in the spirit of that, he is a short list of songs from this year that had a lasting effect on me. They are in no order except the order that they appeared in my head. I suppose that might be a gauge of how much I loved them, so maybe that’s my subconscious ranking them as such. There you go.

--------------------------------------------------------

Sturgill Simpson – Turtles All The Way Down

Remember when the Highwaymen released “The Highwayman?” That was some real bad-ass mystical reincarnation shit. Maybe the titular Highwayman has found his way back in the form of Sturgill Simpson. It’s entirely possible, right? Who else has the balls to making such traditional country music singing about the positive elements of psychedelics? This isn’t about drinking beer down at the fishin’ hole shit, this is some serious expand-your-mind-and-learn-yourself-and-you’ll-love-your-brothersandsisters stuff here. Obviously all of this is just shtick if it’s not being delivered by an incredibly talented performer and writer, both of which Simpson most assuredly is. (Listen to “Just Let Go.” Fuck) His album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is pretty much great across the board and worth your $10 on bandcamp. It’s amazing watching this guy gain so much steam with no radio support whatsoever. Thanks Joe Rogan for using your mighty reach to bring the good Sturgill to the people. (Props to Rob Porter for the cover photo.)

Read More