Archive for interviews

Westword interview about the Fixtape Two, the CO scene & more…

Rachel Romero, over at Westword, recently interviewed me about Che Grand and the Fixtape Two, the scene here in Colorado and a bunch of other randomness.  Check it out below:

DJ Low Key on mixing Che Grand’s Fixtape 2 and how the scene here is more pure than most

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Jamie Secrest

DJ Low Key is certainly no stranger to the local hip-hop scene. And for the past few years, he’s been making a name for himself nationally putting in work with such heavy-hitters as TiRon, Tanya Morgan and, most recently, Che Grand, whose Fixtape #2 project, mixed exclusively by Low Key, dropped last week.Fixtape 2 has a few shouts to Colorado, including a track called “Salute,” which pays homage to the longstanding weekly that Low Key and Sounds Supreme have hosted for the past three years called The Solution. We recently spoke with Low Key about Fixtape #2, Che Grand action figures, and his plans for the last quarter of 2010.Ww (Rachel Romero): Who is Che Grand, and how did you meet him?

LK (Low Key): Che Grand is a ridiculously talented artist from Brooklyn and London, respectively. I first met him through Tanya Morgan back in 2006. I was deejaying a CMJ showcase for Tanya Morgan, and since Che’s part of their extended crew [The Lessondary], we ended up hanging out. Then, six or so months later, he hit me up and asked if I wanted to mix the first Fixtape. I did, and we’ve been down ever since.

Ww: For those who haven’t heard Che Grand’s music, who would you compare his style to?

LK: That’s a tough one. Che’s a pretty unique artist, but he definitely has that classic-sounding East Coast feel to his music. He’s the evolution of the classic East Coast rapper. He raps about a wider variety of topics and on a wider variety of beats than you’d expect to hear from someone who has a “classic” sound. But you can definitely hear that East Coast foundation in his music.

Ww: What was your inspiration while mixing Fixtape 2?

LK: I’m inspired by how great the music is. Che is one of my favorite new artists, and hearing each new song he would send kept me motivated right up until the end. In fact, the last couple of songs he sent me are some of the best. It’s like he just kept getting better and better the whole time he was recording.

Ww: What are your favorite tracks from the project?

LK: Well I’m definitely partial to “Salute (The Solution).” It’s a track that Che recorded about The Solution, the party I throw with Sounds Supreme. He sent me three different versions, and we only used the short version on the tape.

There’s a crazier long version that’s going to end up on The Solution Tape #2 sometime this fall. Some of my other favorites are “Fixed Tapes,” “Get on Your Job,” “King x Grand,” “Star (Pimps in Canada in 3D)” and “Hagler,” with Jay Electronica. It’s hard for me to pick favorites, though; there’s such a good variety.

Ww: Why do you think many Colorado DJs have restricted their work to Colorado? Is there anything that sets your mind state about collaboration apart from others?

LK: I think the old mentality of Colorado is to feel isolated. One thing I’ve learned from traveling and talking to a lot of out-of-towners is that Denver is an island in a lot of ways. A lot of the fundamental “rules” of music and touring stress everything east of Chicago and Texas or along the West Coast, leaving Colorado pretty isolated from a lot of the music culture you see in other cities.

It’s also a positive thing, though. The scene here is a lot more pure than most other cities I’ve been to, and that is a beautiful thing. These days, people are starting to realize the whole world is accessible through the internet and a plane ticket.

As far as my mind state goes, I’ve just always been interested in supporting whatever new music I’m into, and regardless of whether they live here or in NYC or Brooklyn or L.A., cats appreciate that. More than anything, I think that interest in breaking new music has been what sets me apart from a lot of DJs.

Ww: Do you think that online music sharing has changed the way artists release music?

LK: With the state of music being what it is, artists have no choice in the matter — music is free. That’s the world we live in. And because of that, artists have to build a rapport with their fans that makes them want to support the artists. Hopefully their music is good enough to build a relationship with the fans that make them want to buy a ticket to a show or a T-shirt or a Che Grand action figure with the kung fu grip or whatever.

Ww: What do you have in store for the last half of 2010?

LK: I’ve got a lot of great stuff in the works, but I always try not to get too far ahead of myself. Here’s a few of things I’m working on right now: [I plan to] team up with Akomplice for a Colorado mini-tour with Sounds Supreme, WhyGee, Tanya Morgan and a few other acts. I’m also dropping a mixtape of remixes featuring Aeon from Philly and continue to help with the Red Bull Thre3 Style National Finals in Denver.

Before the year is up, Sounds Supreme and I will release the Solution Tape #2. The first is available at DenverSolution.com, if you haven’t checked it out yet.

MP3: Fixtape 2 or download ZIP file

Westword Hey DJ! Q&A with DJ Low Key…

Last month Dave Herrera over at Westword (Denver’s main alt-weekly) hit me up for a new feature they’re doing called “Hey DJ!” that profiles Denver DJs…I talked about pissing off Bone Thugs-In-Harmony in Boulder, discovering Honey Suckle Breeze, why I love London, Ontario, the upcoming Solution Tape #1 w/Sounds Supreme (now set to drop in January with a nice little collection of exclusives, premiers and live recordings from the Solution) and all sorts of other randomness…Below is a taste of the interview and a link to the rest…Shouts to Westword for showing some love to us DJs…

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So what’s your story, in 100 words or less? It all started with dubbing DJ mixes off the radio in ATL when I’d visit my pops as a teenager. Got some turntables to cop random hip-hop 12-inches when I was fifteen, then decided I wanted to spin parties after hanging out with DJ Petey and DJ Chonz (Radio Bums!!!). That turned into clubs, mixtapes and college radio.  Now I throw three weekly parties, DJ for a rap group called Tanya Morgan all around the country, record mixtapes with some of my favorite new artists and work on all sorts of other random music ish.

Name of a track you can’t get out of your head: Donwill as Don Cusack & Harlem’s Cash “Love Junkee” (produced by Aeon). Donwill from Tanya Morgan is releasing an album next year called Don Cusack in High Fidelity, where he raps as the main character in the movie High Fidelity. This track from it parallels the part of the movie/album where he takes home Marie De Salle for a one night stand. Don & Harlem’s Cash go in hard on what might be the catchiest song on the album. Not to mention the production by Aeon, one of my favorite new producers, is INSANE. I’ve been running around singing part of the hook for months.*

*Check it on DJ Low Key & Sounds Supreme – The Solution Tape #1 (dropping next month)

.:Read the full interview at Westword.com:.

Finally, a SXSW post!!! And an epic one at that…LOL…Shows, shows & more shows…

Before we start this (c) Dilla on Ruff Draft.  This post is crazy long, you might just wanna download the Tanya Morgan live at SXSW EP below, featuring me, Blu & Peter Hadar, if you’re not big on reading & clicking links, otherwise, please read on & enjoy ->

.:Tanya Morgan w/DJ Low Key, Blu & Peter Hadar – Live at SXSW 2009:.

Like most of my flights out of town, my trip to Austin started with next to no sleep and a mad dash to wrap up loose ends for the time I’m gone, prepare for whatever random DJ iddish I’m spinning & all the normal travel stuff.  I rushed to the airport after sleeping an hour and missed my flight’s check-in by literally couple of minutes, thanks to some confusion on the part of Frontier Airlines’ employees (WTF…come on y’all).  Anyways, after 4 1/2 stressed, frustrated & tired hours of explaining the situation and talking/yelling/bargaining/etc with a variety of Frontier employees & managers during the busiest flying week short of Christmas I ended up barely making it on a flight to Austin.

A couple of short hours and half a nap later I touched down in Austin, where I was picked up by Tanya Morgan and the homie Dom from IM Culture and after catching up for a minute, it was time to figure out some last minute details for the set and get me SXSW credentials (word to DJing for rap groups & the parties it can get you into…LOL).  Once  I had my artist bracelet it was off to the infamous Red Bull Moon Tower to spin a few sets before the 1am Tanya Morgan show I’d be DJing at later.

It’s a well known fact that Red Bull is known for throwing exceptional parties and the Moon Tower was another one for the ages.  People were lined up super early and there was an excitement (or maybe just an impressive energetic drunkness) for the exclusive, invite-only event that the Denver Post called the #1 SXSW party (although technically it’s not even a SXSW party).  I played a bunch of new music from Che Grand, Daniel Merriweather, TiRon, Colin Munroe with some older classics and sleepers, plus some exclusive TM and U-N-I/Ro Blvd songs that the crowd was into.  I wish I had those sets to post along with the TM stuff, sorry y’all.  Around 12:30, I rushed off stage at the Moon Tower as the homie (and fellow Red Bull Music Academy Mr. X) DJ Scuba Gooding showed up to take over the turntables and it was off to DJ for Tanya Morgan at Back Alley Social.

This being my first SXSW trip I wasn’t quite ready for the rushed conditions and mess of equipment that goes along with having so many acts playing marathon style (no soundcheck, horrible sound in the club, switching out mixers between acts without checking any levels, one turntable that was broken and completely useless, no vocals in the monitors, etc).  With that said, it wasn’t my best show with TM, but I think we pulled things off pretty well all things considered.  Mad energy, a set featuring all new songs from the upcoming TM album Brooklynati (it drops on 5/12, preorders are available now), a special appearance from Kay (of the Foundation and Time:Line w/Nicolay fame, who I didn’t recognize because he wasn’t wearing his trademark glasses, even though we’ve kicked it in Denver…LOL) & super-producer Aeon rockin out on the edge of the stage when we played “She’s Gone” (the song he produced from the new album).  After the showcase it was back to the packed Red Bull Moon Tower for a relatively uneventful wrap up to the night (only uneventful because it I was exhausted, the party went on strong til 5am).

Above: This pic corresponds to the beginning of the “All Eye Need” snippet from the SXSW live EP if you’re keeping score at home.

Above: Donwill & Ilyas of Tanya Morgan/Ilwil with me on the turntables. Below: Me & Von Pea use teamwork to show the crowd how to count to ten.

The next day started in the early afternoon with me rushing over to the Nahright/Smoking Section/Ruby Hornet showcase for a sound check that never ended up happening (the venues seemed overwhelmed with all the acts performing everywhere we went).  Once I was at the spot I managed to see my friends from the Hiero tour, the Blue Scholars, crush it as usual for a packed house before getting caught up with the homies Blu, Exile & J Kim, who I hadn’t seen since the “Blu Collar Worker” video shoot in LA (I was heavily/randomly involved in making the video from the classic album Below The Heavens happen).

The place was full when me & Tanya Morgan got on stage to rock a completely different set than the night before. This time the venue was way more on top of things than the spot from the night before (two working turntables even…LOL) and the show went off a lot smoother.  Both Peter Hadar & Blu made a special appearances to rock their features from Brooklynati (once again, it drops May 12th), check out the video below of “Morgan Blu” (featuring guess who). After our set we stayed and watched Blu & Exile rock (Blu spitting over Ex playing live on the MPC is awesome). Then, as Blu & Exile were midway through their last song, Charles Hamilton managed to play himself by starting his set before Blu & Ex had even finished performing (and after that same set he played himself again by claiming he produced a song he performed that was actually produced by Black Spade, another performer in the same showcase, SMH, check the whole story at freshselects.net if you haven’t already). Anyways, check out more coverage of the Nahright/Smoking Section/Knuckle Rumbler party over here, here & here.

After the show I was supposed to join Tanya Morgan for an interview out in front of the venue but instead got caught up talking to Exile inside.  I ran outside looking for the group and saw their frequent collaborator, producer 88 Keys, so I asked if he’d seen them.  He hadn’t but I turned the corner to find TM, tell them 88 was around the corner and see Donwill chase him down to say what up and have him join us for the interview.  About five minutes into the interview, Homeboy Sandman walks by, TM flags him down and a crazy cipher that eventually came to feature all of Tanya Morgan, 88 Keys, Truth Live, Fresh Daily, Homeboy Sandman & P. Casso broke out. You can find the four parts over at 2Dopeboyz, but make sure you check part three where Von Pea spit the instantly classic (ahahaha) lines “Now it seems we in a house of dreams/trying to keep it low key & still sound supreme” (word to the Solution).  There were all sorts of dope MCs rapping with me in the background, check out the clips, ahahahaha.

That pretty much finished the “work” (I LOVE my job) part of my trip to Austin.  I definitely gotta mention that the pics with the fancy logos were taken by Seher Sikandar from RehesCreative.com, make sure you check her work out, she’s great (and nice and hopefully not mad I’m posting her pics).  Also, make sure you download the live EP below if you haven’t already and check out the pics & stories from the rest of my trip after the jump:

.:Tanya Morgan w/DJ Low Key, Blu & Peter Hadar – Live at SXSW 2009:.

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COStandUp.com interview w/DJ Low Key…

A new Colorado hip hop blog called COStandUp.com recently hit me up to be their debut interview, they’ve been promoting the site heavily over the last few months and from the looks of things, it’s off the good start.  Here’s a taste of the interview, check out the rest at COStandUp.com:

First things first, I’d like to introduce myself as a new author for COStandUp.com. I’m known by many as Miss Rachel, and I used to co-host for Basementalism / Radio 1190. I also acted as the promotions and events coordinator for the show as well, which has lead me to many great friendships and working relationships with many members of the Colorado hip hop community and beyond. My main focus is to continue to support the scene, as well as break you all off with artists, djs, and other performers you may or may not know about.

DJ Low Key was gracious enough to let me flex my interviewing skills as my first writing piece for COStandUp.com. If you don’t know who DJ Low Key is around these parts, there’s a pretty good chance you have been living under a rock. With past residencies at Club Vinyl, Bar Luxe, and many other watering holes and dance floors around the front range as well as a member of the Radio Bums, DJ Low Key is definitely one of the up and coming djs within the Colorado music scene. In 2008, Westword voted him ‘Hip Hop DJ of the Year.”

Miss Rachel: Who do you get mistaken for more often: DJ Bedz or DJ Vajra?

DJ Low Key: (laughs)…I heard all white boys all look the same.

Miss Rachel: What sets you apart from other DJs in Colorado?

DJ Low Key: I try to only throw/DJ parties that I’d wanna go to. There’s a lot of great DJs in Colorado (and beyond) doing great things, but a lot of the time they’re not doing what they really want to be doing. What I’ve tried to do over the last few years is just support the kind of music/events/etc that I’m into, not necessarily the kind of stuff I think any average person on the street might like. It’s paid off; there’s definitely a lot of people out there on the same page as I am, it just takes a little more effort to link up with them. Over time, I think I’ve started to carve out a decent niche for myself doing something a little different.

Shouts to COStandUp.com & Miss Rachel for hitting me up, check out the rest of the interview at COStandUp.com

Wake Your Daughter Up interview with DJ Low Key…

Props to Trav over at WYDU, his blog is super thorough and he stays on top of shit. It’s no wonder he was featured in Vibe Magazine as one of the top 30 hip hop sites on the web.  Anyways, we linked up earlier this year for an interview and he recently hit me for a follow up (to be posted soon).  Anyways, here’s the intro, catch the part one of the interview over at WYDUBlog.com ->

If you think you’ve heard of DJ Low Key before, you probably have. I kid him all the time and call him the Denver Mick Boogie, but give him time and he’ll be the next Mick Boogie. Low Key is one of the top club DJ’s in Denver as well as a fixture on the city’s hip hop scene for more than six years, doing shows, opening for out of town acts, and down with the well known regional crew Basementalism (who does a wicked radio show out of Boulder). The past year or so, he really started making a name for himself, first as mixing Justus League MC Median and his “Relief in the Making” mixtape that dropped before his dope “Median’s Relief” LP from last year. He was voted the “Best Hip Hop DJ” in Denver by the alternative press Westword Entertainment Mag. He also mixed the “Tanya Morgan presents Ilwil – Beat Thieves 2″ that dropped earlier this year. He was the tour DJ for the first half of the Tanya Morgan, Hieroglyphics tour that zigged zagged across the nation. He was the executive producer for Blu & Exile’s “Blu Collar Worker” video, where my man gets all P Diddy’d out and makes cameos all up in the video (at the record store and at Exile’s crib). And he has MORE stuff on the way (I just can’t say what yet, but it’ll be HUGE). So if you don’t know him, you NEED to know him and that’s what I’m here to help with.

Check out the interview at www.wydublog.com (one of Vibe Magazine’s top 30 hip hop blogs)…

Behind the scenes video of Tanya Morgan, DJ Low Key & Aeon on XM’s Subsoniq

Here’s one of three behind the scenes clips of the Tanya Morgan/DJ Low Key/Aeon Subsoniq takeover show from the tour.  Check out the other 2 over at the Subsoniq web site and stay tuned for the TM/Low Key/Aeon takeover show, it should be airing on XM sometime in the next week or two (I’ll work on getting some audio up afterwards).  Last but not least, big up Nate Geezie, K-Murdock & KB for having us down to the show.

Black Milk Interview: “You can’t make that real shit no more, scratch it/and take the easy way out and make some club records…”

Black Milk is on some next shit. He’s definitely one of the best new artists (he’s a producer/MC) that I’ve heard in years. From the Dilla co-sign to new joints with Pharoahe Monch to his own blossoming career as a rapper, Black has been paying dues behind the scenes for the last few years and is set to take things to the next level with his solo album, ‘Popular Demand’, set to drop on 3/13 (in honor of his Detroit area code). Download the interview and hear about how he linked up with Slum Village, workin with Jay Dee, the unreleased BR Gunna album, how he came up with the name Black Milk & more.

*This interview is from late December, so all the references to next year are talkin about 2007. Also, a short version of the interview originally aired on Basementalism Radio in January.

Large Professor talks to DJ Low Key (from Fall 2005)…”[Me & Nas] definitely recorded a lot more than the people have heard…We maybe had album…A good 8-10 cuts.”…

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Here’s an extended version of the Large Pro interview I did for Basementalism radio last Fall. Other than him dropping the 12″ he was plugging, not a lot has changed since then. LP talks about everything from linkin up with Paul C to his unreleased album, The LP, to workin with Nas on Illmatic (“We definitely recorded a lot more than the people have heard…We maybe had album, before anything. A good 8-10 cuts.”) to hookin up Pete Rock with the sample for “T.R.O.Y.” and a whole lot more. Dude has stories for days and has had one of the most interesting careers in hip hop, so download/stream this interview and get schooled by the Professor.

.:Download/stream the extended DJ Low Key + Large Professor interview:.