At first listen, Davidson Opsina’s production work might reveal he studied the sounds that defined underground club music. Ospina grew up in Queens in the 1980s where music was its own ecosystem. Influences such as Latin, breakdance, and hip-hop filled out the hierarchy of sounds in urban NYC. Music was experimental, self-referencing, and lent itself to universal access, more or less.
Ospina was the proverbial kid in a candy store.
He’ll be a special guest deejay at this month’s 1,001 Beats event presented by DC’s transformational art collective, Meso Creso. Because he is such a fan of vinyl and the golden age of house music, I couldn’t let him pass through the District without sharing his favorite singles.
1. “Voodoo Ray” – A Guy Called Gerald | Recorded over 2 days in the late spring/early summer of 1988, “Voodoo Ray” was one of hottest singles of its year.
The squelch-heavy groove was released on 7-inch and 12-inch vinyl formats, on the Rham! label. Conceived at Moonraker Studios in Manchester, Rham! pressed 500 copies of the record that sold out in one day, solidifying Gerald’s reign as important figure in the acid house sub-genre.
Ronnie Hudson might not necessarily be a household name, but you certainly know his work. Post-Motown boomers and golden-age hip-hop enthusiasts alike remember the hook “California knows know to party” from the electric bass-rich funk classic “West Coast Poplock.” And most folks who know what N.W.A. stands for might know an interpolation of the famous verse in the Dr. Dre and Tupac hit, “California Love.”
Originally from DC, Hudson is a contemporary of the late Troutman brothers (of Zapp) and mid-Atlantic legend Chuck Brown. He once worked for Isaac Hayes at Stax Records in Memphis as an in-studio player (notably on the Shaft theme.)
The bassist and singer-songwriter recently remastered the 1982 West Coast anthem and released Westcoastin’, an extended remix of the funk hit, with the help of DJ Flash. The mix features talent from the L.B.C. (Snoop Dogg) to Oak Town (Too Short). Hudson took a moment out to talk about his career and latest projects.
Tell me about your musical roots?
Actually, I was born and raised in Anacostia. At the age of 13, I took an interest in music and used to bang around on the guitar some. Later on, I became a bass player by way of a friend named Charles Harrington. From that point on, I became a pretty popular musician around the DC area.
You worked with Chuck Brown while in DC, yes?
When I started working with Chuck, he was coming up with the song “Bustin’ Loose.” I did part of the recording, but I never completed it.
Being a musician and making a living at it ain’t easy, and there’s no better person to dish out advice than Thomas Blondet. Originally a DJ, then producer, Blondet is set to release FutureWorld on the Rhythm and Culture label. It’s officially out tomorrow, March 4.
He is also the co-founder of Rhythm and Culture, co-created with Farid Nouri. Nouri, too is a resident with the label and one of the founders of Eighteenth Street Lounge and Red (a dance club in DC from 1997 to 2005). The label’s mission is to inspire the community with “sultry infusions of soulful and exotic melodies.”
If he’s not DJing, he’s producing. If he’s not producing, he’s on an audio engineering project. But he was gracious to take some time out of his schedule to talk FutureWorld as well as some caveats that go with the tough business of being a musician.
Where does your affinity for global sounds come from?
I grew up all over the East Coast. I grew up in New York and Queens. And then I lived in South Florida, and we moved here to Virginia, the DC area, when I was 16, and now I live in DC, in Dupont.
So, we can conclude you have some colorful influences from moving around.
My mom is Croatian, so I hear a lot of that kind of music in the house. And I have other friends who were of different ethnicities and different nationalities growing up. Hanging out at their house, we’d be upstairs with the parents in the living room listening to Indian music or Persian music. We’d go upstairs and listen to hip hop or house music.
The brain is certainly a complex organ. It can both store songs that melt your heart and associate these songs to your romances past and present. The brain-heart dynamic is manipulative, in love-hate fashion. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
This year’s Make Out Mix (codename M.O.M.) is not about love and loss. It’s about love and lust and how the two feelings may co-exist. It’s literally about the art and science of kissing, canoodling, making out, or whatever you choose to call it.
Valentine’s Day can’t take over the world without a beat, snare, and sensual lyrics. Therefore I give you a playlist of 10 songs with respective kissing styles you can practice and perfect with your sweetie.
The Wake Up Kiss |What’s a better way to wake up in the morning? Shoegaze. Bedside partner. Before your partner wakes up, lean over and kiss their cheek and move over giving soft kisses until you reach their lips.
To the tune, courtesy of the Glaswegian post-rock band, this type of kiss might encourage a daily occurrence with your partner.
The Single-Lip Kiss |To give your sweetie a single-lip kiss, take one of their lips between yours and gently tug or suck on it. LA-based soul duo Rhye makes a dutiful post-pop track to go along with this fun kiss.
If you do it right, you’ll make the blood rush up and down your sweetie’s spine.
I don’t know about you, but I see more wax-deejaying parties popping up faster than condominium projects in AdMo, CoHim and NoMa combined. That’s largely due to the rise of the wax-enthusiast and ultimately a winning streak in vinyl sales. But whatever becomes of vinyl in the future, it’s not slowing down event promoters like Thelonius, a DC-based event promotion team.
One part of the team is Martín Miguel, who gleefully balances the roles of event producer and deejay. With Thelonius, the young deejay will host “Heavy Rotation,” a vinyl-only party happening at Liv on Saturday, February 8.
The lineup includes Roz, John Jazz, and Rusty B, from All Good Funk Alliance. The DJ-event producer already has a small body of musical work brought to the fore by his mentors at Fort Knox Recordings. At first glance, you might see him as the dude with a prototypical kid-down-the-block demeanor. But measure the playlist, not the list player.
Martín Miguel lent some of his precious time to talk about “Heavy Rotation,” his budding interests, and the growing fanbase within the DC vinyl-party scene.
How did “Heavy Rotation” come to be?
The idea originally was to throw an all vinyl tribute to the year 1993—meaning the release date of any cut played had to be 1993—with emphasis on rap releases. We couldn’t find a date or place, and so I reformulated the party into “Heavy Rotation.”
Retail data in albums sales show the vinyl format is growing steadily year over year. According to Billboard.com, LP sales only made up two percent of all album sales. But if you lend your ear to the market, you’ll see two key relationships: 1) the US audiophile is undergoing a mass breakup with the CD, and 2) digital downloads aren’t proven to cannibalize vinyl record sales.
And the key segment that helps drive vinyl record sales is the 20-somethings, the so-called Millennials. Last year showed and proved that a renaissance in an “old” format carries its own weight within the music industry. Though vinyl sales accounted for only two percent of total album sales in the United States in 2013, the format leaped 32 percent in sales over the previous year.
Now about these 20-somethings and the vinyl boom. Though sales by age range aren’t available, a record store vendor might assure you high consumption by college-age students is more than likely. In an article published by the Kansas City Star, the uptick in demand for LPs these past few years is the first in a quarter-century.
The popularity might be (wrongfully) assessed as due to the new wave of “hipster” fixation with vintage trends (such as clothing, integral to my “hipster” generation.) But when a major retailer like Whole Foods Market, for example, begins retrofitting its image as an LP dealer (in five stores last summer, initially), it’s worth a second look to see the buying behaviors within the small but significant share.
“It’s all about tickling people’s musical g-spots with the sound.” —Congo Sanchez
Herb Records is the brainchild of DC-based percussionist Congo Sanchez. The first album from the label—Herb Records 2013—released last week, includes the musical works of Sanchez, Hydrophonics, and Groove Status. Together, the trio compiled a signature mix of electronic dub, trip-hop, ragga, shoe-gaze, and moombahton (to name a few).
This debut venture adds yet another unique layer to the DC music spectrum, a reflection of the diverse demographics of the mid-Atlantic. Chatting with Sanchez, he gives me the rundown on his music, his latest venture, and the tour.
Sanchez, Hydrophonics, and Groove Status originate from Richmond, VA, an incubator for musicians ranging from Pat Benatar to D’Angelo. Like the femme rocker and buffed-out neo-soulster, the men of Herb Records show and prove a streak of individuality native to the Capitol City. Given the multi-hyphenate musician’s eclecticism, adapting sounds comes to him as naturally as a drumbeat. “I’ve used a lot more drum samples than I did before because I’ve been DJing a lot and…working along the lines of the DJ producer.”
The previous album featured more live instruments. Herb Records 2013 is not so much a contrast as it’s the next artistic challenge for the trio.
You’re alone in the dark, and the only voices of reason you have are your thoughts. Don’t be fooled; darkness is not a place of solitude. Sounds that are ordinarily mundane, like a dripping faucet or a creaky wood floor, become amplified, grabbing your undivided attention. If you’re devoid of light for too long, these sounds might completely betray you.
Welcome to the sadistic and moribund world of Halloween. Below we’ve compiled a list of song with lyrics and situations that will make you look behind your back and perhaps leave you scared…shitless.
Megadeth - Go to Hell
Don’t fear the reaper? That’s nonsense when your soul is wagered on a game of eternal blackjack. The Charon, the ghastly oarsman that shepherds souls, bears little comparison to the fateful entity that has dominion over the realm of fire and brimstone. Uncorrupted minds everywhere: if you hear Dave Mustaine’s verses, rebuke them immediately. Or damnation will be upon you.
This Fourth of July weekend, musicians and artists far and wide will participate in PEX Summer Festival. Held on campgrounds in Darlington, Maryland, it celebrates many of the idiosyncrasies of Burning Man—the festival from which it draws inspiration. No matter how they’re expressed, idiosyncrasies and quirks are welcome.
Diversity, too, takes many forms at PEX. One particular camp that sheds light on such variety is Meso Creso. Per their website, Meso Creso “cultivates creativity without boundaries.” The name, a coinage of Mesopotamia’s Fertile Crescent, “fuses the whimsy of the Burning Man community with DC’s cultural diversity and social consciousness.” And one of the co-founders, V:shal Kanwar is a vinyl-head with some colorful roots.
V:shal is a co-founder and resident DJ with Meso Creso. His connection to vinyl goes back many decades. “As a child growing up in Africa in the late 1970s, my parents… alternated between classical Indian records, fresh disco beats, and everything the Nigerian funk scene put out. My parents would host parties that featured a blend of American funk, European disco, and the deep African rhythms of legends like Fela Kuti, Ebenezer Obey, and King Sunny Adé.
This Sunday, May 19, Virus Recordings, 2Tuff and The Vinyl District present Inject the Virus. A celebration of the 15-year run of Virus Recordings, this eponymous event will feature drum and bass legends Ed Rush and Optical as well as artists of 2Tuff and local internet streaming station Expansion Broadcast. And this will all happen at U Street Music Hall.
Virus Recordings, the UK-born drum and bass record label, has targeted “techstep” and “neurofunk” sub-cultures around the world. Started in 1998, the legendary label made way for the futuristic, albeit clinical, sounds of techstep music. London-based DJ Ed Rush tweaked the dichromatic progressions of the genre with improvisational stabs and moody sound design to develop neurofunk.
While ghetto-house was making a name for itself in the States (Cajmere, “Time for the Perculator”), Rush and his frequent collaborator Optical were pioneering avant-garde dance rhythms in the UK. But the late ’90s, Virus Recording was associated with the unique form of thematic “dnb” that might score all things post-apocalyptic.