As a kid, Ellen Allien idolized David Bowie. She learned his pop star language–the art of reinvention–early on. More explicitly, he taught her English: “My teacher said we should begin learning English from the translation of our favorite band texts. Bowie was thereby the first pop star for me. Read more »
What a long, strange trip it’s been. The Living Legends have grown considerably since 1997, when they germinated in the now-famous San Leandro Avenue “Outhouse” in East Oakland’s Fruitvale District. Now numbering nine members–Sunspot Jonz, Luckyiam, Eligh, The Grouch, Bicasso, Aesop the Black Wolf, Murs, Arata, and Scarub–they’ve been called a West Coast Wu-Tang, more for their Voltron-like collective philosophy than stylistic similarities. Read more »
Outside Sonic Sounds studio, Robbie Shakespeare is gesticulating wildly as he shouts a string of expletives into a mobile phone. Someone owes him money somewhere, and he’s apparently unhappy about it. He’s a big guy with a hefty frame who once served time in a notorious Jamaican prison on a gun charge, so whoever’s on the other end of the line must be sweating. Inside the studio, Sly Dunbar is the essence of calm as he adds some live percussion to a new computer rhythm; once the basic structure is in order, Robbie plugs in his instrument and deeply locks into the groove.
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In his round spectacles and colorful scarf, and with his silver Prius cutting through a typically gloomy San Francisco afternoon, Drew Daniel looks like the PhD student he is. It’s also easy to imagine him as half of his band Matmos, the cerebral duo whose compositions are invested with as much conceptual insanity as they are endlessly tweaked samples and noise. Read more »
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