Entries in J Dilla (5)


Creating infectious rhythms with Aussie duo Slumberjack


Making bangers you can still chill with, and having influences such as the great J Dilla and Timbaland, Aussie duo Slumberjack have quickly established themselves as one of Australia’s upcoming rising producers and artists. Being both previous winners of WA’s Limelite DJ Competition, Slumberjack first met at the 2012 Perth Dance Music Awards. They began working the studio together and their love of electronic beats infused with heavy synths created the backbone for the ‘Slumberjack’ sound.

Having remixed acts such as DCUP, Airwolf and Goldroom, Slumberjack’s beats can be heard on dance floors across the country. The guys have just finished their ‘Felon’ EP and have announced an accompanying national tour.

We chat to Morgan and Fletcher about their upcoming ‘Felon’ tour, their influences from J Dilla, and how they will be producing on the road.

How does it feel finishing the EP?

F: It’s been a really crazy process for us; we started writing tracks for it about a year ago and it’s slowly come together bit by bit since then. The first track was a gradual process over the 12 months while but the one of the other tracks was literally written, done and dusted within a week. It’s great to finally see the package all finished and sitting in our iTunes ready to go.

What can we expect from ‘Felon' tour?’

M: Sweatiness and great music. We’re super excited for this as it is our first proper tour off the back of a record. We strive to constantly have new original material and bootlegs to play at every Slumberjack show so you can also expect lots of new stuff!

You guys were both previous winners from the Limelite DJ Comp in Perth. How did you guys discover DJing?

F: I watched a bunch of videos about DJing on Youtube when I was pretty young. I didn’t have enough pocket money savings to buy ay gear for myself, though, so I used to draw controllers in the sand at the beach and pretend to DJ.

M: I preferred playing instruments at a younger age so I kind of fluked the DJing part to be honest.  I saw a flyer in a music store about the competition and thought it could be an experience, prior to that I had almost no experience at all.

You guys cite artists like Timbaland, Skrillex and J. Dilla as influences. What draws you to these guys and who else influences the ‘Slumberjack’ sound?

M: The thing about these artists is their ability to create infectious rhythms.  Skrillex is a great musician, singer and songwriter; he writes hooks like nobody’s business.  As for Timbaland and J. Dilla, they rally influence the way we write and process our drums. It’s all about the rhythm to us. Slumberjack is constantly changing. We draw influences from the artists we meet, fans, our friends, the internet, new trends and basically anything cool. Artists like Sam Gellaitry and Losco are our current obsession.

How did you guys come up with the name ‘Slumberjack’?

F: Funnily enough the project was initially supposed to be all about chill music hence the play on ‘Slumber’ but Morgan and I just love bangers far too much to write sleepy tracks.

M: But that’s not to say we write ‘only’ bangers, what fun is that?  We have quite a few laidback, melancholic records in our collection but we haven’t had to chance to show them to anyone yet.

Describe in three words what we can expect from your shows during your ‘Felon’ Tour.

“Bass. Bucket-hats. Trap-hands.” Cheeky use of hyphens there but cut us some slack, I’d call that three words!

How will you guys produce while on the road?

F: Squish-ily! Unless we raid our friends’ studios around the country and force them to listen to our unfinished music on repeat for hours; which will more than likely happen.

M: I’m actually horrible at producing on the road. Fletch comes up with great ideas on the road, I just want a tequila sunrise. Maybe with enough tequila sunrises, I can overcome that.

What’s next in the pipeline for ‘Slumberjack?’

M: More music! We are constantly writing and working with other artists and it’s overwhelming (in a good way). We’re always in search of the best avenues to release music so it’s relevant and fun and so that it reaches a wide audience.  As long as the music is accessible, it’s up to everyone to decide whether they want to listen to it or not. And if they do, it’s also up to them to decide if the ‘play’ button is worth clicking again.

What stimulates your soul?

F: A good night’s sleep. I always come up with the best musical ideas just as I’m drifting off to sleep which is very untimely but I can usually remember at least half of it in the morning! Oh and a good hot shower; nothing beats that.

M: Agreed on that good night’s sleep part. Rock-climbing and running keeps my blood hot.  Can’t forget a good show too, a killer show keeps me buzzing for hours, even days!

Want to hear more?





The simplicity of making beats with producer Farhot

His beats are raw, simple and downright dirty; it’s no surprise that Farhot the German/Afghan producer has 5 platinum awards under his belt. His music is similiar to the likes of Dilla/Madlib and Premier with his own twist. Although the name may not ring a bell, you may have heard his work with artists’ such as Talib Kweli and Ms Dynamite. Farhot resides in Hamburg, Germany and his recent and first release "Kabul Fire Vol.1," is an instrumental LP dedication to his families in his hometown Kabul, Afganistan. On his quest to take over the music scene we chat to Farhot about what it was like working with Talib, the importance of putting his Afghan roots in his music and his love for simplicity. Margaret Tra.

So you've finally decided to drift on your own with your latest Kabul Fire, what made you come to that decision?

Jakarta Records had the idea to release some of my instrumentals. I've never thought of this, as Jannis said he would press vinyl’s I was down with it.

What's it like working with Talib Kweli and Ms. Dynamite?

It was very easy because we look into same directions musically. I'm happy to make music with both.

You can definitely hear your roots within the beats, how does it make you feel to produce something that represents you?

This instrumental project represents my love for a certain style of hip hop. It’s a warm sound, simple, dirty beats. I like the idea of doing projects just like that, not over thinking stuff. This is for the few people who love that old hip hop sound. It doesn't come with any other expectations. Just music for the music lovers.

You have 5 platinum records, first of all congratulations, how did they come about? How does it make you feel to have them?

Doing what I love is my biggest success.

Love the album art cover, tell us about it.

Its Afghan clichés combined on the cover of my instrumental project. Elsa Klever made it a masterpiece. Elsa does a lot of children's books. I'm a big fan of her work. 

The track you're most proud of from your LP Kabul Fire?

I like f*** the money because I'm sure everybody sometimes feels like saying f*** the money. Love the beat being so raw in the instrumental verses. Maybe I'm going make vocal version too with rappers in the verses.

What's next for you?

Working on the greatest music I've ever made and its videos.

What stimulates your soul?

Many things. Music is definitely playing a big part 

Purchase the LP here. 


Creating Umoja with Substantial 

J Dilla’s death changed a lot of hip hop artists' lives. But for Substantial, an MC from Balitmore, Maryland it really hit home. No stranger to pain & ill health himself, Substantial was tragically diagnosed with cancer in 2011. The inspiration he learnt from Dilla who still produced in hospital despite his health, encouraged Substantial to move forward and to not take life for granted, no matter the circumstances. Substantial made international acclaim with his album ‘To This Union A Sun Was Born.’ The album was produced by Nujabes and Monorisick of Hyde Out Productions, and was so well received it became a Top 10 album in Japan 2001.

Now cancer-free and fully recovered, Substantial is due to drop his third solo album ‘Home is where the art is’ through Mello Music Group in September. We chat to Substantial about working with Oddisee, his upcoming album and what it was like meeting MaDukes.  Margaret Tra writes.

You used to be homeless? Please tell us about that.

While I was in college, I ran into some rough times and while attempting to find an apartment an unforeseen "bump in the road" landed me on various friends’ couches/floors for nearly three months. I wasn't forced to sleep on the streets, but not having an actual address or real home to do homework, can make or break a person. Thank god for friends and family.

What was it like working with Nujabes?

It was a one of a kind experience. Challenging, because we didn't agree on everything musically but still managed to make some great tunes. Awesome because I have a lot of fond memories of him that deal with his more human side outside of the music. He's definitely part of the reason I think differently. He helped me gain a global perspective very early in my career.

What was it like meeting MaDukes? Did Dilla’s making beats in hospital inspire you?

It's rare that a man gets to meet his hero or the person who physically made him. (Laughs) I enjoyed speaking with her. It was humbling, I told her how her son's work ethic, even while being hospitalised, forever changed my life. His story gave me new found determination, and made me cherish my time here even more.

Are you working on any new projects now?

I just finished third solo album, ‘Home Is Where The Art Is’. It drops on September 4, 2012 on Mello Music Group. I'm also working on new music for my groups, Bop Alloy & FANOMM.

You recently worked with Oddisee, do you have any favourite collaboration?

Educational & humbling. I try to surround myself with people who know what I don't. Knowledge is power and when it comes to his craft, few are more knowledgeable than Odd (Oddisee).  My favourite collaboration with him is a song; on my new album he produced called Umoja, which is the Swahili word for unity. It's a very powerful song about achieving unity through my relationship with my wife, family and community.

You went through a pretty horrific ordeal in terms of your health, have you recovered?

Yeah... anytime a doctor utters the word "Precancerous", sh** gets real pretty quick, especially when your family's history with various forms of cancer is as vast as mine. Thankfully, I'm cancer-free and fully recovered.

Musically who influences you?

Native Tongues, Common, The Roots, Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott, Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Nujabes, my QN5 and old UV family, Gods'Illa... too many to name them all.

How does it feel to have a top 10 album in Japan? How did that even start?

Awesome! To see that in print was, and still is mind blowing. I can't even explain it, really. I'm just grateful for the opportunity Nujabes gave me.

What stimulates your soul?

God, family, & art.


Strictly baby making with Dwele 

My Great Web page

The Australian Government provides us with incentives to reproduce, little do they know that all they have to do is bring Dwele down under and as soon as his lips hit the microphone the population will double.  As I sit across Dwele, a very gifted musician who also likes to imitate Australian & British accents in his spare time, a reality check kicks in and I remember that he has worked with the likes of Slum Village, Kanye West and J Dilla. We’re at a venue called Jazz Café in London, which has a capacity of 350 people, where Dwele has already performed three sold out shows. Our background music is of his band members undertaking a sound check in preparation for their final show, and we joke around about how a fan ran on stage and grinded with him to break the ice.  I interview Dwele about his upcoming strictly baby making album due to drop later this year, how a duck attacked him at the Australian Zoo and why he thinks J Dilla’s arm was an extension of an MPC. Margaret Tra writes.

How is the London tour going? 

There were special moments in all my shows. The first show this chick ran on to stage and threw it on me. She almost knocked me out, the guard pulled her back off. She took the breath out of me. London tour is going fine, sad it’s ending. I love it here. I think we are coming back in September. London is like, I’ve been here, and I’m here every year. I am coming in September because the new album is dropping. I want to come to ‘Aussie’, make it happen.

How was the Australian tour you did with Brian McKnight?

Australia was cool; I spent the whole time tired. You know what I’m saying; I didn’t go out too much. The time difference was too much for me. So I didn’t really go out as much as I wanted too. We stayed for a minute. I finally got it together at the last city. We went out somewhere to a bar. The last night was fun. I got attacked by a duck at the zoo. I got that on camera, that’s going to be on YouTube soon. 

You go to the Australian zoo to see the kangaroos and koalas, and you get attacked by a duck, what happened?

I don’t know what happened, he was mad at me. A duck attached me, a duck did. I was looking, filming the ducks coming out of the water, he walked up to me, and I was like oh he’s coming to me. And he attacked me. Tried to bite my shoe, then he was going for my pant legs. I was scared at first; I don’t know how ducks get down in Australia.

Did you understand everyone?

Yeah, for the most part. Ya’ll a little crazy with your r’s and o’s. 

Tell us about the new album

The new album is in its beginning stages, I am thinking this time around I might want to make it super baby making. I want this joint sexy, all sex. This album is going to be all about all sex. 

Tell us about “Dark side of the Mic”

Dark side of the Mic is something I did for London; it has little instruments I wanted to try out. I tested it, and in the process made a few joints and made it into an album. I just wanted it to be sold exclusively for shows, strictly for London. 

Do the rest of us get to hear it?

I mean it’s not something I am putting out; I am not making it available for download. I wanted to make sure London got it first, now that I am going to different shows they will get it. As long as London gets it first. 

Why is that?

Just because the whole album is about a story that happened in London, London is my home overseas. And London always shows a lot of love. So I wanted to do something back. 

A lot of people were upset in Australia you just opened for Brian Mcknight and saw you just for that show. How does that make you feel?

Wow. I mean I had a ball in Australia; I would definitely love to come back to Australia with the band. It was definitely fun. 

You recorded ‘The Rize’ in your bedroom, and now you’re doing sold out shows in London. How does that make you feel?

Crazy, it was crazy. I had no idea that doing that album would catapult a career for me you know what I’m saying. Like I always knew when I approached that album I just wanted to make 100 copies and sell it to my friends. Do a little side project. So I can go eat with it. That was the plan. I sold 100 and I was happy with that. After that 100 copies I was like I’m done, I’m good. I had an opportunity and I was young enough to still do it, and if it didn’t work out I could fall back into what I was doing. It was right place at the right time. When I made that album I was 20 years-old.

What was your fallback?

Triple A, I was in insurance. Actually I used to do trip tips. Before everyone had navigation, they would call this company if they were doing a trip to say London to Manchester. You would call in, say I’m going here. I would write the joint for you on this map, with a sharpie, not even a sharpie, a highlighter and I would route the perfect route for you to take. I get lost in Detroit all the time. If you need to go to Detroit to Kentucky I can help you, but once we are in the city I have horrible sense of directions. That was the worst job for me. I did learn as far as getting state to state, but in the city I am terrible.

What was it like working with Dilla? 

Dilla was crazy; I always say that the MPC was an extension of his arm. It was part of him; I always said he was a court room stenographer too. They are the people that sit down and take the minutes in the courtroom. On an MPC his fingers were fly, you couldn’t grasp what he was doing. Definitely a talent and I learned a lot from him. If I ever got lost on the MPC, I would call him and be like “Yo I got a problem,” he’d respond with “Oh yeahh, fo sho, ffo shoo, what’s up? He got a stutter, “sssuuup.” He always had a solution, and he always knew everything. He might as well have made it himself.

You’ve collaborated with a lot of artists, Slum Village, Kanye West, Dilla to name a few, who was your favourite? 

I come out of every situation better, learning a new way to approach a song. I think everyone approaches a song differently, I enjoy all of them. 

Safe answer…

It is a safe answer, let me think. You know what? I really had a lot of fun with Boney James. Boney James is a jazz saxophone player. I did some work with him on his album. We had a lot of fun in the studio. He’s a Jewish guy but he’s really black. At the time I used to wear braids, I always wore a hat. And we used to have competitions with hats, and he would come into the studio with his, and I would come in with my new joint. Like man, holler at your man. He was a lot of fun in the studio. 

Boney James - Break Of Dawn (Featuring Dwele) by dsgb1202

You dropped out of College; do you think it’s important for musicians to go considering how successful you’ve become?

Depends on what you’re trying to do with your music. I wouldn’t deter anyone who wants to go to college. Because I know at certain times I wish I did have the book knowledge behind music. But at the same time it’s about balance. If you can go to college and still have the creativity/originality then do it. But some people go to college and loose their originality. Its more fun operating when you don’t know it’s a box. 

What stimulates your soul?

Music does stimulate my soul. Life stimulates. Situations. (Laughs) 


Keeping Dilla alive

J Dilla, J Dilla FoundationJDillafoundation

It’s no secret that J Dilla shaped Hip Hop in the mid 90’s and made it what it is today. Working with artists such as Tribe Called Quest, Common, Pharcyde and De La soul, his name and music continues to touch hearts of Hip Hop lovers. We chat to president of the JDillafoundation, Joylette about winning hip hop foundation of the year award, the programs available and how you can keep Dilla alive. Margaret Tra writes.

How is the J Dilla Foundation going?

We are just fine thanks Maggie! We are still trying to get our new web-site going!

Do you receive on-going support from artists that he used to work with?

I would not say on- going, but I can say we have receive help from some artists that have work with him and looking forward to others to come forward that have work with him, to help in any way that they can.

Every time an artist tours down under (Hip Hop or R n B) they pay tribute to Dilla, how does it make you feel?

It makes me feel excited and honoured to hear Dilla name still in the mix of other hip hop artist, I pray it don't stop cause it won’t with me.

A gig in Australia was done recently for the foundation; do gigs here help the foundation there?

Yes, the fund that is donated from the gigs help with funding programs and helps with the run of the foundation. As of now, that’s how the foundation makes it, off donations.

Dilla has touched musical hearts all over Australia, what can we do to help?

Well you all can continue to keep his name circulating in the Hip Hop community there in Australia, and donate to the foundation whenever you all can, that's how you can help.

You have various programs in your foundation what do they entail and how are they going? 

Yes, we have three programs and one scholarship. Pay It forward  is a one-time grant of $500 US to help fund and support local music programs. Be Instrumental is a program design to help provide instruments for schools’ or local music programs because the Jdillafoundation feels that where there is a child with a desire to create music, the means and opportunity is available. The Dilla Factor is a partnership between The Jdillafoundation and inner- city school and community music programs. The James D. Yancey Award For Progressive Urban Music is a scholarship that has been design to help support music programs at institutions by offering talented students monetary assistance for full participation in a hip hop curriculum.

What do people have to do to be eligible?

Everyone is eligible, you just have to reach out to us and let us know your needs and we will do our best to meet them.

Can you share any success stories from the foundation?

Yes, last year The Jdillafoundation won hip hop foundation of the year award, so we were very honoured for that. Very, very excited Ma"Dukes" and I could not stop smiling.

Are there any plans for the future for the foundation? 

Our plan for the future right now is to make sure we get proper fund from the government to help fund our programs. So we want have to solely depend on donation, because after we do our program in June we won’t have much left. 

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