Tag Archives: Chicago

Ep. #210: Mick Jenkins

Mick Jenkins is a powerful, uncompromising young hip-hop artist who has spent most of his life as a citizen of Chicago, Illinois. Born in Alabama in 1991, Jenkins first received widespread attention for his 2013 mixtape Trees and Truths and followed its success up with the gritty, politically-charged masterstroke, The Water[s], which many regarded as one of the finest albums of 2014. Working at a furious pace, Jenkins is back with an excellent and vibrant new release called Wave[s], which is out via Cinematic Music Group, and has prompted Jenkins to tour right across North America, including stops at Toronto’s the Hoxton on September 1 and Ottawa’s Ritual on September 2. Here, Mick and I talk about getting his hair done on the south side of Chicago, how violence in the city has been overblown, how American media outlets sensationalize violence, Chief Keef and drill music, scapegoating, being personally impacted by this violence, the story behind the explosive video for “Ps & Qs” and alliteration, director Nathan Smith, the state of the United States of America, the ways in which humans deliberately avoid solving catastrophic problems that are easy to fix, stories from the Bible and about Jesus Christ, the bathing suit, why the world is more evil, how Satan wants you to go to hell, trying to believe politicians, Republicans and Democrats and concepts of evil and good, the election campaign cycle, how the one percent controls the ninety-nine percent, the dynamic lyrical content of Wave[s], speaking about women, what relationships teach us about ourselves, the power of water, Feel[s], The Healing Component, when Ice Cube speaks on women and N.W.A., the rise of socially aware, sensitive rappers, liking Drake and getting over his origin story, being fine with people not always getting it, not changing, being a prolific artist, bringing Wave[s] to life on-stage, not being a lawyer or being politically engaged, the song “Your Love,” and then there was slumber.

Related links: mickjenkins.com cinematicmusicgroup.com vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #95: São Paulo Underground

São Paulo Underground is a cultural and stylistic collision between electronica, tropicalia, avant garde jazz, and punk, featuring Chicago Underground Duo’s Rob Mazurek on cornet, harmonium and various effects, and São Paulo’s Guilherme Granado on keyboards, synths, sampler and vocals, and Mauricio Takara on percussion, cavaquinho and electronics. All three men were in town last September for the 2013 Guelph Jazz Festival and we had a chat at a restaurant in Guelph called Ox, where we pondered their latest and fourth album, Beija Flors Velho E Sujo. Wavelength Toronto presents Chicago Underground Duo at the Garrison on Thursday May 1 so it seemed like the right time to dig into the interview archives and present this spirited conversation in which São Paulo Underground and I discuss vocal harmonies on “G-Ball’s Fantasia,” why the band keeps returning to Guelph for the Guelph Jazz Festival, G-Ball’s cheeseburger odyssey and Canadian generosity, their new band and the ol’ dirty hummingbird, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Sun Ra, and The Wizard of Oz, making an album with Greg “the Shark” Norman at Electrical Audio in Chicago, why SPU get along so well and the wisdom of Pharoah Sanders, G-Ball’s birthday, the band’s 10th anniversary, how São Paulo Underground came together and its connection to the Chicago Underground Duo, the experimental and punk music scenes in São Paulo, the tremendous impact Fugazi had on musicians in Brazil after they played a show there, Mauricio’s collaborations with Fugazi’s Joe Lally and Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo, Kenny from Wellington Brewery offers SPU an SPA, the story of Rob Mazurek, where the Exploding Star Orchestra came from, learning from elder musicians, why Chicago’s music history is out of hand and how the culture there impacted Rob’s wild aesthetic, Chicago bands like Tortoise, Sea and Cake, U.S. Maple, the For Carnation, Gastr del Sol, and the Smashing Pumpkins, bringing the ruckus, Rob’s involvement within numerous musical styles, how punk and jazz make sense together and galvanize people, punk rock free samba yoga, what’s coming up next for São Paulo Underground and Chicago Underground Duo and Rob’s love life, mental preparation before working with legends, beautiful vocal harmonies, the song “Ol’ Dirty Hummingbird” and a nice fade out.

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Related links: cuneiformrecords.com/bandshtml/saopaulo.html vishkhanna.com

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Ep. #89: The Jesus Lizard Week with David Yow

It’s a very special week on this show because I’m dedicating four episodes to interviews with every founding member of one of the world’s greatest rock and roll bands, the Jesus Lizard. David Yow, Mac McNeilly, Duane Denison and David Wm. Sims each ended up in Chicago at some point in the late 1980s and then they went and changed things. They were a dangerous, precise, profane, and devastatingly great band for 10 years, making amazing records and playing great shows from 1989 to 1999 and then they came back to play some more shows in 2009. This past March, a Brooklyn-based publishing house called Akashic released BOOK, a gorgeous coffee-table photo book that captures the life and times of the Jesus Lizard via thoughtful essays and reflections about a truly significant past. Beginning in February, I tracked down each member of the Jesus Lizard and we talked about BOOK. It took a while to get everyone pinned down but we did it and, for whatever reason, here am I at episode #89 of this show I make in Canada and I’m dedicating a week to the Jesus Lizard, who played their first show on July 1, 1989, Canada Day, at a Chicago restaurant called Bangkok Bangkok opening for Slint and King Kong. Here David Yow, who was on this show 80 episodes ago, and I discuss where the idea for BOOK came from, why there was a desire to make it themselves, who they wanted to get to contribute to this story, his hang-ups about some aspects of how the band was represented and promoted historically and why he insisted on designing BOOK, Henry Owings of Chunklet and his role in making this project come to life, the Polaroids that document various eras of the band and people who are gone, David’s nipples, buttcheeks, and penis and how his stage presence wasn’t sexual, why David was drawn to ‘danger’ as a performer, the book’s interweaving chronology and unique structure, why Yow’s participation as a voice in BOOK is relatively slight, how the Jesus Lizard might present themselves as a ‘musician’s band,’ why more dudes than ladies gravitated towards the band, how funny Duane Denison is, David Wm. Sims’ prickly relationship with the Jesus Lizard’s long-standing recording engineer Steve Albini and what Yow thinks of the albums they made together, Yow’s drunken shenanigans in the studio and Albini’s unique mic-ing techniques, why Down was the band’s worst album, whether or not BOOK marks the final chapter for the Jesus Lizard, casting Catherine Zeta-Jones in the biopic about the band, Yow’s desire or lack thereof to be in any bands these days, how close the Jesus Lizard came to writing new songs together when they ‘re-enacted’ in 2009, David’s plans as an actor making movies, David’s new cat pun book Copycat: And a Litter of Other Cats, my cat Gary and the body issues the world has imposed upon him, and that’s all.

Related links: akashicbooks.com/catalog/the-jesus-lizard-book/ vishkhanna.com

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