PVT, the (electro) thunder from Down Under, are back with a stellar new album, New Spirit. We recently did a one-hour phoner with PVT drummer Laurence Pike and chewed on the musical marrow of many things. As well as drumming with PVT, Laurence has released music with jazz artist Mick Nock, art-rock band Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders and also worked on an ambient electronic project called Szun Waves with UK electro producer Luke Abbott.
Australian experimental electro-rock band PVT, formerly signed to Warp Records who are now with the Brooklyn label Felte Sounds, have recently released their fourth album, Homosapien. Drummer Laurence Pike spoke with us via Skype about a range of topics at the end of the band’s recent Australian tour.
In 2011, we interviewed Japanese turntable legend DJ Krush (a.k.a. Hideaki Ishii) about celebrating two decades in the mix, his plans for the future and his thoughts on the earthquake and tsunami which devastated his country that year. For the first edition of Throwback Thursday, we’re republishing our conversation with one of hip-hop’s master mixers.
DJ Krush is celebrating 20 years in the business, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. To commemorate his anniversary, Japan’s king of spin is about to embark on a worldwide tour and will continue releasing new material via iTunes in preparation for a looming new solo album. Hugh Bohane got a chance to interview him just after his recent U.S tour.
What have been some of the best memories of your 20 year career so far?
DJ Krush: There have been many special memories in last 20 years and it’s hard to pick one. But if I had to pick one, I would say that one would be joining a band called Method of Defiance with Bill Laswell and Bernie Worrell (of P-Funk fame), who are both legends and have both been important artists for a long time, even before I started my DJ career.
How did this year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan effect you personally?
It’s was just such a sad story… some of my relatives live in Tohoku, where the earthquake hit. They were all safe but received some damage to their home. My city, Tokyo, looks like it is getting back to normal, but if you go to the Tohoku area there are many people still living in temporary housing and it will take time before they can return to any kind of a normal living existence. As you know we are still having the nuclear problem as well. I can’t begin to describe the clean up but the whole experience has had a big influence on both my ordinary life and my life as an artist.
How have your tours been going?
Most of my tours for this year are finished and they were all great tours and I had a wonderful time in each city. My 20th anniversary world tour will start from this December. I will be touring China in December, Europe next January and also in late March, America in mid February, and Australia and New Zealand in early March. Looking forward to seeing people from all over the world real soon.
What’s your feeling when you are playing on stage in front of large crowds?
I’m always so happy but I also feel tense as well.
What’s the best kind of audience to play to?
I’m happy to perform to any kind of audience who are interested in DJ Krush.
What’s the best part about being a DJ?
This can best be described in my music and how I communicate through my music…
What’s the hardest part?
I’m always changing but some of the audience tend to stereotype me into one style or into one set of songs… sometimes this kind of stereotyping makes it hard.
What records have you bought recently and or are listening to?
I’m currently working and producing in the studio, so I don’t buy or listen to other music just at the moment.
Rumor has it you maybe working on a new solo album and that there maybe a release coming, could you tell us about it?
I just started a monthly single project that is part of my 20th anniversary project. This is released digitally at the moment and the first two singles are on iTunes now. There will be further monthly releases throughout 2012. I am planning to release songs on vinyl as well.
What’s the process of making a DJ Krush album like?
I just throw all of my originality into it, in the same way I have done with all my previous work.
Your last album Jaku blended lush, traditional Japanese folk with hip-hop. Can we expect more Japanese traditional fusion on future albums?
Maybe you can!
What advice would you give to any young DJs starting out?
Find your own style, have your own vision and keep doing it.
“I think the most important point is that we (people) need to use technology and not let technology use us.”
Where do you see DJ technology going in the future? I have no idea about this. But I think the most important point is that we (people) need to use technology and not let technology use us.
Who are some Japanese artists that are inspiring you lately?
MC Sibitt is just one of the more interesting Japanese artists inspiring me at the moment.
Who are you looking forward to collaborating with in future?
I have some people already in mind, but I will have to let you know later!
Public Enemy are celebrating their 25th anniversary and will be releasing two new studio albums later this year. The iconic hip-hop group have already embarked on an extensive world tour hitting Australia, the U.S. and Europe. The outfit’s frontman Chuck D, who founded and runs publicenemy.com; a digital record label (slamjamz.com), a social website for classic rap and hip-hop (hiphopgods.com), and a social platform for female rap artists (shemovement.com). Our Hugh Bohane spoke with Chuck D over the phone about a host of subjects prior to Public Enemy’s tour of Australia.
Is this a good time?
Chuck D: Not really, but it’s the time. I am going to have to be multi-tasking while we do this. [Chuck D is pounding away at his computer, in less than ten days he will fly out to Australia on a tour with Public Enemy.]
Congratulations on an amazing career. What have been some of the best memories of your 25 something years in the game with Public Enemy?
To be able to have traveled the world and to have people come up to you and say “thanks.”
Why does it seem that there are now so few intellectually/socially/politically conscious rappers in the industry today?
There are many. Arrested Development and Heet Mob are just two, to name a few.
You are very outspoken about the unfair imbalance of female representation in hip-hop, who are some female rappers inspiring you at the moment?
That and the disappearing of groups, that’s also, hurt hip-hop a lot. Michie Mee, the female rapper from Canada. Check her out.
You have also cited M.I.A. as a female rapper who inspires you?
She is also very cool.
Many people in Australia have been angrily demonstrating against police brutality after two Aboriginal youths were recently shot in a stolen car by N.S.W. police. Is police brutality in the U.S. still a problem in your opinion?
The problem [in the U.S.] is that people are policing in areas that they don’t belong in.
How effective is the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) today?
They have been trying to enlist good people. You know, an organization is only as good as the people in it.
What are your thoughts on Obama’s administration thus far?
Obama is a good driver in a bad car.
What did you think of the Occupy Wall Street movement last year?
I think people need to follow-up on that and pay attention.
What are your thoughts on Julian Assange?
He reminds me of Sean Fanning from Napster but this guy [Assange] is doing it right now, right here in the real world. I gotta admire him for that.
Can you tell us about your work as a board member on the TransAfrica Forum (a forum that works for the right of Africa, Caribbean and Latin American issues) and the issues you are working around?
I want to do more with it. I just haven’t been able to be as active with it as I would like to be.
What are some solutions for Africa moving into the future?
Africa can’t consolidate without Europeans fucking with it. When all those European countries when in to break up Africa… Africa is still recovering from that.
Tell us about the two new studio albums Public Enemy are releasing this year?
These two albums are statements about how we can now make art without constriction, compared with 15 years ago. These two albums talk to each other. Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp will be released in June and Evil Empire of Everything will be released in September. These albums will emerge off our own area label of distribution, called SpitDIGITAL.
How was it inducting the Beastie Boys into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently?
It was incredible; they transcended and took things to the next level. I admire them for that.
How were your recent tours?
The tours were great. In 10 days we will be going down to your homeland, Australia. That’s going to be a situation. Come down and see the shows. We are also going to be touring the US and Europe later in the year.
How are Flavor Flav and the rest of the crew doing?
They’re all doing great.
What advice would you give to young artists starting out?
Try to create your own company and learn the history. Try to learn the guidelines of what you should and shouldn’t do in the industry.
Special thanks to Chuck D and his management for making this interview happen.