Interview with Mr. Anonymous about 'Champion Sound'' HOW IS THIS NEW ALBUM DIFFERENT ...ok so my plan for this album was first and foremost to be a live drumming inspired composition. I wanted to put some muscle into the beats and serve up some raw energetic dancehall reggae with all live instruments and a minimal punk vibe production. I'm an avid listener of reggae and dancehall vinyl from the '70's and early '80's along with bands like The Clash, early Police, Minor Threat, etc...I'm also WAY into jazz bebop from the '50's and '60's. I wanted this new album to incorporate all those sounds and have that same lively analog vibe and life. IS THERE A REASON WHY YOU TOOK ON A NEW APPROACH In a weird way it was kind of a reaction to the electronic music scene which I've been immersed in for a while. I really enjoy electronic music and have huge respect for the musicians who create it. But sometimes I also feel like it's a bit too perfect and planned out with 16 bars here, then a new sample, then 8 bars and a drop out, etc...and I can hear it when I listen to some of it because it's too slick and seamless and formulated...I'm definitely a fan of the dj scene, so don't get me wrong, but lately I guess I've been missing the slop and life from the older records....or maybe just too much Minor Threat and Bad Brains on my boombox. TELL ME ABOUT THE PROCESS...WHAT DID YOU DO DIFFERENT IN MAKING THE MUSIC Well first off, my goal was to have consistency of sound on the whole thing...In other words, the same drum sound and bass tone and guitar sound for the whole album, kind of like The Police's 'Outlandos Damour'. So I recorded all the drum tracks in one day, some with no click track so the tempos would ebb and flow with my personal feel...and the tempos really do fluctuate...I played my Fender Jazz bass through a vintage Ampeg with an sm57mic in front and sometimes used a pick rather than my fingers to give more of a ballsy tone and drive. I dropped the pick at one point but kept the mistake because the performance had sweat and muscle vibing on it. I used my Epiphone hollow-body guitar to track all the part through a vintage fender twin amp. I kept all the guitars completely clean with no effects or delays. I also brought some slammin horn players for a couple tracks as well as a local jazz king on upright bass for a tune. I used a vintage 'Space Echo' tape delay unit to dub the drums and vocals out in just a few key spots....and last but not least, I tracked AND mixed the entire record at Skytrail Productions on a vintage SSL analog board. TELL ME ABOUT THE SINGERS I flew out to Birmingham England and tracked with Ranking Roger from The English beat and his son Ranking Jr. a.k.a. Mini Murphy. I really wanted to showcase this father/son duo because I feel like Ranking Roger is such a vintage reggae/ska icon with an awesome signature voice...and his son's voice is like Roger's mixed with a machine spaceship from the future....so the sound is kind of a melding of the past and the future. I worked with both on Mr. Anonymous 2, and I felt like this album would be a great way to explode their talents in a different context. We recorded at Ranking Roger's house. The first day was with Ranking Jr.(Ranking Roger's son), and the next day was with his dad.The vocal performances were again completely spontaneous which has been a consistent with all the Mr. Anonymous albums. However, what was especially cool about these performances was that neither one of them rehearsed with eachother or knew what the other sang. So for each track of music, I essentially had 2 completely different songs. This made it a fun challenge to combine both of their voicings into one composition. WAS IT HARD TO CHOOSE WHICH SINGER FOR EACH SONG Some songs leaned more toward Ranking Roger and some leaned more towards Ranking Jr...I feel like the songs really created themselves and chose the vocal performance that best fit the vibe. When I go into music projects, I like to have a rough idea at the start, but ultimately I like to leave room for a song to develope in it's own way. That can be tough at times to abandon your plan, but I think getting that plan out of the way, so to speak can really let a song explode into something magical. And that philosphy probably can apply to life as well ..lol...the best things can happen when you just let things flow and get out of your headspace. WHAT ARE YOU MOST HAPPY ABOUT I feel like the album is almost like a soundtrack to a movie. Each song flows into the next and paints a whole new picture with a great variety of vibes...the sounds of an african morning into a tribal minimal dancehall jungle into a psychedelic jazz space journey to a Nigerian market with a chaotic soca explosion then drum solo into trippy jazz atmosphere...all in 35 minutes. ..so I'm happy that it turned out to be such a visual experience. And I'm also really proud of the performances from everybody. Ranking Roger and Ranking Jr.'s vocals are SLAMMIN, it's the first record I've ever put a drum solo on as well as a bebop groove, the horn players and Upright bassist SLAMMED their parts so well, and the whole spaceship ended up to be Blast-off ready :) ...5-4-3-2-1 boom vibes for sure!!!
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