Marking the return of the ultimate “funky dance record” (as coined by the great Kenny Gamble) while celebrating various elements of Jazz, Funk, Soul and Disco (yes the “D” word); BSTC comes strong with some serious Chicago Funk/Soul in their latest debut offering “Music For a Saturday Evening”. Which made me an instant believer when I first recieved the promo 12′ (biggups to my man Dcee at Mahasa Music) of “Jazz In Outerspace”. I had a chance to catch up with founder and brainchild Andy C to talk about the group and its conception.
A-Ski: First and foremost I have to say that your debut is one of the most refreshing albums i’ve heard in a quite awhile. What was the inspiration and how did the concept come together?
Andy: The group came together while i was working with Tunji on some rap projects. While we were in the studio, we
came up with the songs BSTC and Jazz in Outerspace, during
the downtime. I let Tone hear it (All Natural Recordings),
he fell in love with the sound and we started working on
an EP, while working on the EP I reached out to Keanna and
asked her to write a song to an instrumental that we had and
from there the concept grew in to what it is today.
A-Ski: Where are you guys based out of?
A-Ski: So that exlplains the serious funk factor?
A-Ski: Being that Chicago is one of the major architects behind Soul/Blues/Dance music, what are the elements of the Chi Town experience that continues to bring out so much intense talent?
Andy: Its cold outside, Chicago has a constant
evolving culture, that is definitely not merciful. So in order
to survive for any amount of time in this town in
entertainment, you must be able to roll with it.
Otherwise you wont make it, dosent hurt that we have cold
winters, it sort of gives you a deeper focus.
A-Ski: How did you guys come up with the name BSTC?
Andy: BSTC is an acronym for the blackstone theatre
collective, the Blackstone Hotel was home for many of the great
jazz and blues musicians of the 50’s and 60’s. Usually at the
end of the evening, other musicians would come down to the
hotel and have jam sessions with other musicians that
were in town, so i called the group the Blackstone Theatre
Collective, because thats what the album is. Instead
of the hotel, we all got together at different studios, in
different cities, and had jam session, to create the
A-Ski: Do you feel the live element of music is coming back? Speaking of which who composed the horn arrangements?
Andy: Yes, the information age is in fact, bringing on a
musical renaissance, young kids are starting to show
appreciation for the music again, because they are
seeing the old shows and hearing many of the classic songs
that inspired me to pursue music. I see it becoming the
next thing in the States. As far as the horn arrangements
go, I did them on everything except Jazz in Outerspace (Tunji),
and Forty Days which was arranged by Tom Tom 2084 (legendary Producer/Arranger/Architecht of Chicago Soul) , who
arranged horn sections for the Chi Lites, the Dells, Earth, Wind &
Fire, and Phil Collins.
A-Ski: “Venus and Mars” is in my top 5 of favorite songs on this album, what is the story behind that song?
Andy: “Venus and Mars” came out of necessity. Tone called
and asked for a single that fit the vibe of “Jazz In
Outerspace”. So I went to the studio the next morning, and put it
together, Tunji and Marshall, and the LDB (lowdown
brass band), came in later on that week and laid their
A-Ski: Also the cover of “Forty Days” is beautiful and with a very different approach, what inspired you guys to tackle this classic?
Andy: This is one of my favorite records of all time
very grimy and very polished at the same time. I had done
some studio work with ZZaje before and I felt that they
would not only pay respect to the original song while making it
A-Ski: If you were on a deserted island and you had to the choice of grabbing 5 records, which ones would they be?
Andy: Jesse Gould-Out of Work, Stevie Wonder– Black Man, First Choice- Love Having You Around, Earth, Wind, And Fire-Fantasy, Fair but So Uncool, Minnie Ripperton-Memory Lane
A-Ski: Any tour dates?
Andy: As of now, no, but we are in the process of
putting one together for winter 2009
A-Ski: Whats the ultimate mission of BSTC?
Andy: For everyone to enjoy music TOGETHER!!
There are many who have fell victim to the latest adage: Hip Hop is Dead. I beg to differ, due to the fact that there are a lot of artists who are out in the trenches making noise on various fronts in keeping the banner of balance and good music alive. E Reece is one of those who have been holding the banner of honest music from the days when he would frequent my “Love Is The Message” parties, hustling his music to the masses and eventually making a name for himself that is placing him as one of the top shelf Hip Hop artists to check for in 2009. I had a chance to rap with E Reece and here is the rundown:
A-Ski: How are things in your sphere man?
E: Everything is everything. Living and learning.
A-Ski: How long have you been an MC?
E: I’ve been rhyming since about 1990, but have been pursuing it professionally since 2001 when I moved to LA.
A-Ski: You know I been a fan from the gate, whats your secret to concistency?
E: Just making music that I like. I have a good ear so most people like the tracks that I make. And staying true to myself and keeping my integrity with the music.
A-Ski: Where were you born?
E: Born in Kansas City, MO and raised in Montgomery County Maryland.
A-Ski: Who were your musical influences?
E: Prince and Michael Jackson were my first influences. Prince is my all time favorite artist though. I was also influenced by Run DMC, Special Ed and KRS One, as well as Gerry Mulligan and Charlie Parker, to name a few. I love the cool jazz period.
A-Ski: What is your drive and inspiration as an artist?
E: What drives me is to make the best music I can make, while keeping it positive in the hip hop vein. People need to know that there are artists out there who won’t sell their souls to get on and I’m inspired by everyone who gets something from my music, whether big or small. Knowing that I’ve touched someone with my words is inspiration enough.
A-Ski: What separates you from the rest?
E: I don’t just rap. I grew up playing jazz saxophone and jazz was actually my first love in music, so I’m a musician as well. I’m not afraid to wear my heart on my sleeve and let the listener in to some of the hardest times in my life, with an honest perspective. I tell the truth!
A-Ski: Do you feel there’s an overkill in putting out “underground” records rather than putting out a “good record” and how would you differentiate the two?
E: Records are only underground because they don’t have the marketing and promotion. Most underground records are “good records” and better than mainstream records. Just because someone is “underground” and doesn’t have a million fans and doesn’t do world tours doesn’t mean that the music that they make isn’t good. I’m considered underground because I don’t have a big machine behind me yet, but I still make high quality, good music.
A: What is your goal in this pursuit as an artist?
E: I want to be a working musician meaning that I want my art to be my livelihood. I don’t want to have to do odd jobs here and there to make the ends meet. I want art with commerce, while staying true to myself and making the music I want to make.
A-Ski: How do you maintain the “feel good” factor in your music?
E: I can’t really explain it. Its just how I live and it manifests itself in the music I make. You gotta keep it positive and on the up and up and I guess my music reflects that mindset.
A-Ski: How did this latest release come together?
E: Well I’ve released a couple EP’s and an LP since ’03 while working with a lot of dope producers. I formed a live band in ’05 because I always knew that’s where I wanted to take my sound. The band has gone through many incarnations being that there’s a high level of turn over when you have to pay cats out of your own pockets. I auditioned cats from Craigslist and have finally found a solid crew who all get along. I’m very blessed in that fact actually. So I took out a loan and got everyone in the studio and we just did it all in one day. We’d been playing the songs that I wanted to put on the LP at shows for a while so it was really easy. I did it initially with the Japanese market in mind because I knew that they have an appreciation for jazzy, quality hip hop, but the record also will do well here in the US. Mic Life Recordings in Japan scooped it up. The meat of the Japanese and US records are the same. The Japanese version has some exclusives, while the US version has some other exclusives. Two dope records. I’m putting out the US version myself and it will be on line everywhere come January 27, 2009!
A-Ski: Who are the collaborators on this album?
E: Well this record is re-creations of tracks with the band I had already done with various producers over the years. Some of those producers are Leggo, DJ Soups, T.i.M, Tycoon and DJ Face. I also have remixes from Presto (Concrete Grooves), The Beat Ventriloquists and Brian Boland, with me as executive producer.
A: Are there any dream artists and producers you’d like to collaborate with?
E: I’d love to do something with Prince! Some MC’s I’d like to work with would be Black Thought, Mos Def, Busta Rhymes, Little Brother, KRS One and Pharoahe Monch. Some producers would be DJ Premier, Dr. Dre, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Nicolay, Oddisee and Ohmega Watts.
A-Ski: Where can we catch you performing next?
E: Come out to The Root Down at Little Temple in Silverlake on Thursday January 29th for the official album release party! Its gonna be crazy! After that I’ll be booking as many gigs as possible to let heads know about this Organic Hip Hop and to promote the album. Remember “L.I.S.n 2 This Live.In.Studio.”will be out on Elevated Mental Recordings on January 27th, 2009. Check “http://www.myspace.com/ereecemusic” http://www.myspace.com/ereecemusic for updates on the latest. Stay up and get wit it! And thanks for the support and love!
Stevie is freakin’ that clav!!