DJ Spooky, aka That Subliminal Kid, is a man of many talents: World class DJ, multimedia artist, writer, and technology entrepreneur. Now you can add Music Supervisor to that list, too, as Paul D. Miller (his real name) is currently hard at work putting together the score for the upcoming VH1 Rock Docs documentary film, Downloaded. We got a chance to speak to him just before midnight last night at a party celebrating the film’s upcoming release, which was also attended by the likes of Ed Sheeran (check out our interview with him!), comedian Reggie Watts, actor/director Alex Winter, multi-gazillionaire investor Sean Parker, and more. We asked him about his thoughts on Napster, what he thinks of the explosion of popularity of DJs here in America, and much more.
VH1: You’re working on putting together the score for the film Downloaded. What was it that drew you to this project?
DJ Spooky: Alex [Winter] is somebody who digs in the crates. He’s always checking out different styles. He got in touch and told me how he had a lot of my music at different times in my career. We just got along. We did a quick interview/discussion, and it just seemed like there was good energy, good dynamics, but above all, a good flow of information.
Were you a Napster user back in the day? Being a recording artist and an avid digger, I can only imagine that your relationship to such a controversial product must have been complicated.
Most of the stuff that I was really interested in was the idea of the “archive” and the “exchange.” And when I say “exchange,” I mean this networked system that somehow enabled so many people to really begin to understand how deep the networks were. Napster, to me, was one of those seminal moments where the extreme volume of information that everyone has about music was able to come alive.
Napster is no longer a living, breathing product, but thanks to some breakthroughs in both technology and record label innovation, streaming services like Spotify now exist. As an artist, what’s your view on streaming versus physical media?
As an avid record collector, the thing that comes to mind is scarcity. Records have made a comeback and have become collector’s items. Vinyl versus digital files? To me, the greatest selling album all time is the blank CD. You can put anything you want on it, but vinyl had this artwork, all sorts of beautiful graphic design, things that are difficult to replicate in digital files. Actually, I believe apps have taken over the role of diminishing vinyl in the culture.
Justin Hawkins Talks About The Darkness; “We All Hate Each Other”
In an interview with Spin The Darkness‘ Justin Hawkins talks at length about the The Darkness, his addictions and personality. Of The Darkness, he says, “we all hate each other. That’s why we make great music. You can’t make fire without friction. Well, maybe you can, but it’s like a chemical fire which would tear your skin off.” There’s lots of other great tid bits in there so when you have a spare moment make sure to give the interview a read. [Spin]
Elton John’s New Record Is “Exciting” Elton John says his forthcoming record is, “The most exciting solo record I’ve done in a long, long time.” We know we’re definitely ready for the return of the Rocket Man. [NME]
Are y’all ready for this? Oprah has infiltrated the house of Gaga — and will be the first member of the media to interview Lady Gaga and the real Mother Monster (Gaga’s mom) in their family home. The trailer for the episode is compelling, with Mrs. Germanotta describing how she and her husband thought their daughter had a “screw loose”, and according to Oprah’s website, “Gaga’s mother, Cynthia, breaks her silence on what it’s like to be the mom of the world’s most famous pop star”. Watching the video it’s easy to see the closeness between Gaga and Mother Gaga, as together with Oprah they laugh and banter naturally.
But the most intriguing part of the trailer is when Gaga, very earnestly, tells Oprah that she’ll be keeping quiet following the interview. Making emphatic hand gestures, Gaga says, “Other than this interview, Oprah, I do not intend to speak to anyone for a very long time.” We’re guessing she means the media and interview type scenarios, but what if it’s more general than that? What if Lady Gaga intends not to speak to anyone at all? HOW WILL SHE MAKE PHONE CALLS? Jokes aside, these are big words coming from the master of spectacle — Gaga is known for being vocal not only regarding her own art, but in social issues including bullying and LGBT issues. Who will speak for those who can’t speak for themselves, if Gaga wont? We’re hoping that the statement is cryptic, and that while she might not be speaking, she’ll be singing, and communicating through song and dance!
Rihanna courted controversy last month by releasing not one, but two tracks with ex-boyfriend and convicted criminal Chris Brown, who maliciously beat her in 2009. Brown provided guest vocals for a fully realised version of Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake” while in return RiRi sang on a remix of Brown’s “Turn Up The Music”. Feelings in the industry and public were mixed following the releases, with both Rihanna and Brown zealously defending their work-place reunion. Rihanna has now spoken at length about her decision to work with Brown, and on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show, divulged the following:
“The first song that came about was ‘Birthday Cake.’ I mean we ended up recording them at the same time and executing them together, but I reached out to him about doing ‘Birthday Cake’ because that’s the only person that really–it made sense to do the record. Just as a musician despite everything else that was going to be the person. You know I thought about rappers, and I’ve done that so many times, and the hottest R&B artist out right now is Chris Brown.
So I wanted him on the track, and then in turn he was like ‘Why don’t you do the remix to my track?’ and it was a trade off. We did two records. One for my fans. One for his fans, and that way our fans can come together. There shouldn’t be a divide. You know? It’s music, and it’s innocent.”
As an autonomous adult, Rihanna seems to be totally in control of her decisions, and from what she says working with Chris Brown was more of a savvy business move than anything else. And as long as it’s abuse free, good luck to her.
Lana Del Rey has released the single art for “Blue Jeans” and it’s a little bit controversial, extremely beautiful, and decidedly NSFW, so you’ll have to check it out after the jump. Featuring a napping or possibly (acting) dead Lana Del Rey lying at what appears to be the bottom of the ocean, a heavily and profanely tattooed male hand clasps her neck in what could be interpreted as a strangulation. The male hand is slightly disturbing, given Lana’s propensity to write lyrics about dying for love, and about her bad boy lovers. It seems to be that the metaphor here has something to do with drowning for love — but that’s based on interpretation only. We’re guessing someone is going to have to have something to say about this imagery and it’s connection to domestic violence and abuse, and we’re probably about to see the controversy monster that is Lana Del Rey critique awaking yet again. What do you think? Does the imagery give you chills in all the wrong places? Or do you think it’s innocent — maybe he’s just checking her pulse and is moments away from reviving her! Check it out after the jump and let us know your opinion in the comments section!
We’re thinking these photos are a little bit NSFW so we put them after the jump — although there’s no nudity, Nicki Minaj is writhing fairly sexually on the beach wearing nothing but a string bikini. The photos are a sneaky behind the scenes on the shoot for her latest track, “Starships”, off the eagerly anticipated Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. The album is due on April 3rd, and Nicki, as you can see, is currently on location in Hawaii filing the racy “Starships” clip. Rolling around on the sand in a scanty bikini, there’s none of the elaborate costuming Nicki has been prone to in the past (although her lime green wig reminds us she’s still the Barbie Queen) — is this a new, more refined, and much sexier Nicki that we’re about to see? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!
Now, that’s not to slag on Adele or anything that she’s accomplished, but Fiona Apple’s music has never been the kind of easy listening fare that you can throw on the stereo on Sunday morning while you’re making breakfast. The origins of Fiona’s music emanate from a raw, primal place deep within her soul, and when she delivers her work on stage, it’s as if she’s attempting to physically expel all of the physical and mental suffering that she’s experienced: Her body writhes and contorts as she’s singing, her hands tugging at her clothing in an almost unconscious fashion, almost as if she’s possessed. She projects the state of her psyche, past and present, in every song that she sings in such a pure, unfiltered fashion that is impossible to take your eyes off her.
She took the stage at Stubb’s for last night’s NPR Showcase just a few minutes before 8:00 p.m. and launched into “Fast As You Can,” her first single from her 1999 masterwork When The Pawn…. Most performers take a song or two to get into the groove, but Fiona came out of the gate swinging, delivering the song in a raspy fashion that Jules Winfield would describe as “great vengeance and FURIOUS anger.” She then proceeded to growl her way through “You’re All I Need” “On The Bound” before breaking everyone’s heart with an emotive version of “Paper Bag”, in which she confesses “I know I’m a mess he don’t wanna clean up.”
Leave it to Ke$ha to declare that she’s invented a new genre of music called “C*ck Pop”. She doesn’t even have one of those, but it looks like that’s what her style is regardless, although we’re not entirely sure what it means. Music that comes out of a man’s genitalia? Or music as, er… played by a man’s genitalia? We’re very sorry for the disturbing mental imagery you might be getting right now, but Ke$ha said it, not us! Ke$ha Tweeted about the new genre regarding a collaboration with Dr. Luke and Benny Benassi, which we’re guessing is going to be something of a club anthem, and we’re intrigued by the anatomy of it all…
Ed Sheeran is a 21 year-old singer-songwriter who, over the course of the last nine months or so, went from being an aspiring musician to a household name in his native England. His grippingly dark single, “The A Team”, debuted at #3 on the UK charts last June and it’s been a rocket ride for the fresh-faced troubadour ever since. His first full length album, +, is currently available as an import, but will be on shelves and in the iTunes store here in the U.S. soon. We caught up with him last night at the W Hotel here in Austin, where he performed a spirited and energetic set as part of the the VH1 Rock Docs party at the SXSW Music Festival.
VH1: Is this your first trip to SXSW?
Ed Sheeran: This is my first time anywhere other than New York or LA. Not only is it my first Texas show, it’s my first middle America show I guess. It’s been going great. I just did my first gig and I’m really looking forward to this one. I’m lovin’ it, it’s a crazy vibe out here.
How many shows are you playing this weekend? Seven. It’s cool. My one addiction is to live shows, and I love getting out there and doing ‘em.
So, the song that really broke you in the U.K. and will be your first single over here in the States is “The A Team.” The subject matter of the song is very dark, lyrically, but also incredibly compelling. What was it about this song that resonated so well with audiences? The whole kind of ethos around it is that it encompasses pain and suffering. I know that that sounds really deep, but with enough dance tracks on the radio, sometimes people need a little bit of raw, real stuff. It’s sort of the same thing as The Police and their song “Roxanne”. People can’t necessarily relate to it 100%, but they can relate to the feeling of it.
We’ve noticed the same thing, too. With the proliferation of dance music on the airwaves, do you feel like there will be a counter-movement where fans will be drawn to more “authentic” music, the kind of stuff that you excel at? In every single generation, when there’s been a really big seller, there’s always been singer-songwriters. Before me, there was James Morrison. Before him, James Blunt. Before him, it was Damien Rice and before that, it was David Gray. It just goes back so, yeah, you’re always going to get the kind of raw, acoustic singer who comes out at the time where everything else seems to be headed in another direction. It always cuts through, there will always be troubadours.
The Ting Tings, Ke$ha‘s British counterparts, performed their new track “Hang It Up,” live on The Late Show With David Letterman last night. With their uber pop roots still apparent, the Ting Tings took on a rock edge, reminiscent of the noise pop popularised by Sleigh Bells, but not quite as aggressive or mosh-ready. Nevertheless, The Ting Tings bought high energy to the stage, with great vocals and the impressive playing of multiple interments by the drummer/guitarist who switched between the two seamlessly.