Pumped up kicks
BETH Ditto is a force of nature on stage (and off it) and she is getting groovier as her career matures. One day she wants to be a sneery punk priestess, the next she is a modern day Madonna. And we haven’t even mentioned her sexual politics and radical trend-setting ways.
The 30-year-old former riot girl turned indie star is the face and voice of provocative American dance rock trio Gossip, which headlines the Green Room concert, presented by Heineken, this Wednesday at KL Live, Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Lumpur.
Ditto will be the focus of attention as she and her band – guitarist Brace Paine and drummer Hannah Blilie – land in KL for a debut gig.
As one of the unlikeliest names to top “cool lists” in trendy British and American fashion magazines, Ditto is as much a rock star as she is a fashion diva. Her current fascination for dynamite 1990s-tinged house jams has led to a self-titled EP, spawning the hit I Wrote The Book.
Formed in 1999, the Gossip worked the US underground scene and released two DIY albums. Its breakthrough came with the indie anthem Standing In The Way Of Control which was written by Ditto in 2006 in response to the US government’s decision to deny gays the right to wed.
The group, which enjoyed chart success with the independent album Standing In The Way Of Control (2006), proved that it had the mettle to take on a mainstream career with the major label album Music For Men (2009), distributed by Sony Music.
Music For Men, produced by Rick Rubin, took the Gossip’s incendiary sound and Ditto’s sassiness and spruced it up with party glitter the Gossip and art v Science to topline the Green room gig in KL on Wednesday. and disco curves. The album’s glammed up singles – Heavy Cross, Love Long Distance, Pop Goes The World and Men In Love brought on a wider audience.
Talk of new material is also on the cards. Rest assured, Gossip will be raring to rock when it hits KL. Coming straight from a festival trek and gigs in Australia, Gossip has been revving up its live shows and has shown little rustiness (it hasn’t toured since January). Ditto, as reported by Australian media, has “screamed, shrieked and whipped the crowd into a frenzy.”
That bodes well for the Green Room concert, which promises to blow up the midweek with 2,000 fans expected at the KL Live venue.
Also on the bill is Art vs Science, a threeman band from Sydney, Australia, which produces just the kind of fidgety, frantic beats you’ll want to move your body to.
Formed in 2008 in the Sydney dance scene, Art v Science, which includes Dan Mac, Jim Finn and Dan Williams, look the part as a lively support act with its electrifying electrosavvy singles Flippers, Parlez-Vous-Francais? Hip hop is in a rut. dJ Shadow says the Internet is one reason the genre has stagnated. FIFTEEN years after he slammed hip hop with the song Why Hip Hop Sucks In ‘96, American music producer and songwriter DJ Shadow says the genre is still stuck in a rut.
In a telephone interview from Britain, DJ Shadow, aka Josh Davis, says hip hop and rap have stopped progressing, partly due to the Internet and “different market conditions.”
DJ Shadow, who is known for his sample-based music that blends different genres from hip hop and funk to jazz and electronica, explains: “If people can’t make a living making music, fewer people are going to do it. And when fewer people contrib- ute to the brain trust of a certain type of art, the art slows down, and that’s what you’re seeing with hip hop and other types of music as well.”
Indeed, the 41-second track Why Hip Hop Sucks – from Endtroducing ... (1996), the album that shot him to fame – contains a vocal sample singing “It’s the money.”
He does not have a solution to the stagnant hip hop problem but adds: “It’s okay to put your hand up and say, okay, maybe we should figure it out and talk about it rather than having artistes feeling as though they’re not able to bring up the subject ... because they’re worried about fan reaction.”
The 39-year-old will be releasing his fourth studio album, The Less You Know, The Better, today.
He says his new material is an indication of what he “values in and Magic Fountain.
The group, which has been touring Britain and the US, is all pumped up to expose its first full album, The Experiment, to the masses here.
The local scene is also coming on strong with electro pop outfit Mini Compo, featuringing singer-songwriter Jit Woei (of The Beads, Nightlife Camera fame) teaming up with DJ XU (Twilight Actiongirl, LapSap), set to gatecrash the night and turn hipsters here into believers.
The duo, which has been working under the cover of night and recording classic Wave-inspired material, leaked two singles – Give Away and 2econd Gear online.
On the decks, the it’s all about home-grown attitude with electro-savvy deejays Hypeembeats and Jeehoe and indie
New has deejay crew Twilight Actiongirl, landing the pre-and-post party shifts respectively at the upcoming Green Room event. n The Green Room concert headlined by Gossip and Art v Science happens at KL Live, Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Lumpur this Wednesday. Doors open at 8pm. Tickets are available at airasiaredtix.com and at selected branches of Victoria Music Centre and Rock Corner. The event is for those who are 18 and above only. To find out more about Green Room, check out heineken.com/my. music right now” and what he has learnt from music from the past and present.
Hip hop was not the only thing that was stuck in a rut. DJ Shadow admits he struggled with his subsequent studio albums, The Private Press (2002) and The Outsider (2006), which never quite saw the same success as Endtroducing.
The critically acclaimed debut album made it to the Guinness World Records book for First Completely Sampled Album in 2001 and was named one of Time magazine’s All-time 100 best albums in 2006.
But he realised five years ago that an album’s success was out of his control and he just needed “to carry on and make the type of art you want to make.”
He says: “ The Outsider was a statement to say that I am not restricted by the wishes of my fan base. I didn’t start making music to keep a group of people happy.
“As a DJ, I like to do things different from others. As a producer, when I put out a record, it’s almost intended to be an antidote to some of the worst I see in music,” he says, adding that he hates pop music.
The new album features standout songs such as Scale It Back, a groovy, stripped-down piano and drums track with vocals by Yukimi Nagano of Swedish electronica outfit Little Dragon, and I Gotta Rokk, a body-rocking club anthem that has been a crowd favourite at his live sets.
“They’re made up of a bunch of different samples, but not cut up in an obvious way. I’m trying to work with samples in a natural way that really blurs the line between whether it’s sampled and live,” he says. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network n DJ Shadow’s TheLessYou Know,TheBetter is released by Universal Music Malaysia.