The Slowroom Music Compilation showcases music from the small Northern California recording studio, WaxTheDecks.com. The SMComp has been in the works for quite some time as a few tracks date back from 1998 and progress up till 2001.
Broken into two unique segments, the 19 track Slowroom Music Comp features 77 minutes of non-stop underground hip hop and intelligent dance music for thinking listeners and hardcore mod-ravers.
Plus one intermission that includes artist J.J. Kirby and Allen Warner, writer of the popular Wildstorm comic, "Ninja Boy" drawn by superstar comic book artist Ale Garza. SMC includes the original musical concepts for the "Ninja Boy" and "Sisses" pilot cartoons.
Produced in full by AKI, SMC builds strongly on the success of his last EP, "Akulture" (available @ cdbaby.com/aki) and gives off a strong sense of experiments and natural progression to come.
The Slowroom Music Compilation features the following artists:
-NiceThings (Midnite & AKI)
------LATE NIGHT NOTES BY PRODUCER AKI ON EACH TRACK-------
Truly reflecting back on the making of the Slowroom Music Compilation Volume One is something that I have been wanting to do for a long time, but the time was never right because the compilation was never "really" finished. Things just kept happening, new songs kept being made and older songs were swept under the rug.
But now that it's actually finished and ready to be put up for sale on our beloved CDBaby.com, I can sit back and prepare this web page you are reading now and tell you all a bit about the history of these songs, how they got started and also how we recorded them. For our close friends and the artists involved, this web page should bring back several memories. And for the fans of Slowroom and WaxTheDecks, this web page will give you an idea of how far we have come and how far we plan to take things next. Yes, we are just a small group of guy and girls coming from the small, yet ever growing town of Napa, California. (Although we were not all directly "from" Napa.) But we plan on making more waves than wakes with the release of this compilation and all future releases to come from WaxTheDecks.com.
First, I hope that all the dance music fans that have bought AKI CDs in the past will take an interest in what we are about to do here from WaxTheDecs: Take a direction in the step of Hip Hop.
In my own humble opinion, Hip Hop has been "borrowing" from Drum n' Bass and dance music for the past 5-10 years, claiming it to be a new sound, while all the while it is just high energy dance beats slowed down to about 79 bpm. I grew up in the late 70's/early 80's listening to classic rock and dance pop music. Then things changed when the Beastie Boys came strong with "License to Ill" and Run DMC released "Raisin' Hell." I still remember my Grandmother asking me why they just couldn't call the album "Raisin' Heck." My how things have changed since then. But I'm not typing this to give you a history of music, I just threw that bit in to give you an idea of where I am coming from as a hard-core mod music consumer and music lover then to be music producer and small studio owner. I love music. All kinds of music. It's amazing. Music means different things to different people. Every different song in the world speaks to different people in different ways. Music Saves.
But now, on to the track by track history of The Slowroom Music Compilation Volume One.
I had just bought myself a Yamaha SU700 Sampler. I really wanted an MPC 2000, but had before purchased a Yamaha RM1x, so it seemed like the perfect couple. Plus it was a tad bit cheaper and already had built in effects. I was thumbing through my small record collection (my CD collection is HUGE, my record collection small since I was young and stupid and sold most of my HUGE record and tape collection as a kid at a garage sale) and just started playing records that I liked, looking for anything to sample up and start testing out my new sampler. One of the first records I put on was Boz Scaggs "Silk Degrees." I played this album to death when I was kid. I actually think my copy of the album is my Mom's, but I snagged it from her when I moved out because I liked it so much. The first track off the album was Lowdown, and it is a signature Boz track. The opening of the song has that sick ass drum beat with the few bass notes. So I snagged that and looped it. Come to think of it, there are actually two different beats from that song, and at certain points they are playing over each other creating this unique groove that I really dig. Next up was an Ohio Players album called "Skin Tight." They provided the horns for me on this track. To tell you the truth I don't even remember what song it was from or how I went about snagging those horn samples, but I know I did a bit of editing on them which is NOT easy on the SU700. The horns just seemed to fit perfect, like it was meant to be, which is a great feeling when working with samples because a lot of times you can spend hours sampling stuff and it just doesn't work together due to notes and pitch, etc. The only other band I sampled for this track was the Verve off a rare B-side called "Let The Damage Begin." It is by far one of my face Verve tracks ever! Nick McCabe, one of the most creative guitar players of all time has this crazy sick guitar sound with this amazing feedback right at the start of the song where it sounds like his amp is going to explode. So I sampled that and it's all over the song.
Oh yeah ... the start of the song... I almost forgot about the voice samples. Those are all from the Edios video game "Fear Effect." I still remember waiting for that game to come out for the PSX and putting it on reserve. Then, after the wait, I got the call from Electronic Boutique that it was in (along with my free Fear Effect T-shirt!) and I jumped into my car and drove to the Concord mall to pick it up. Only to get caught in horrible traffic, which was not good since I really can't stand driving. And at a time like that...boy I was mad. It ended up that I ran from the parking lot and made it just in time. Well, actually they had to raise that "metal fence" for the store because I was begging them to let me in please...but that's another story.
Another interesting note about Scaggs.com and that fact that I sampled Boz Scaggs: About a week after I made that track I was working at Brix restaurant in Yountville. And guess who came into to eat. Yep, Boz Scaggs. I wasn't working in the section that he was eating in, but while I was standing over my section, he came up to me and asked me where the bathroom was. I totally gimped out and didn't say anything to him. I didn't even call him Mr. Scaggs.
I should have at least done that.
No, I wont tell you what the name means so don't e-mail me. This song contains no samples from any artist, they are all original samples or from a sample CD. Basically I just sampled a bunch of drum sounds and then some basic horns and bass notes from a sample CD. I made it interesting for myself by putting them all on the samples on pads that I normally wouldn't put them on using the SU 700. This gave me a unique pattern when I played them that probably would not have came about if I had put them on my usual face pads. Anyway, I laid the basic groove down on the SU700 and then we did all the vocals using Logic Audio. Originally I called Typo right away as soon as I had the original groove and played it for him over the phone. But Typo is picky and sometimes lazy and he never came over to lay down any vocals for the track. Jreyl came up with the hook for this song and I really liked it. Jreyl always has sick ideas for hooks and has much improved since we first started working together. On Ipzog, he did rap a few verses, but I ended up having to cut them and alter the beat in Logic because he was totally off beat. Crazy huh? Blackwords and Matt Murdock came over together if I remember it correctly and did their vocal parts on the same afternoon. MM used some stuff that he already has memorized and Blackwords wrote his verse on the spot.
I ended up recording my verse alone as I normally do. I recorded way too much for myself so I ended up cutting up my favorite parts and then pasted them together.
In The Dirt (1999)
I think I got the name of the song from the Beatles song "Why don't we do it in the road?".
I always liked that track and loved the name of the song, so I guess that it is my own variation on that, but I don't really think that the title has anything to do with the song except for the fact that maybe the song is in a dirty state? Who knows. This song is basically just some messing around. I took some Prince samples from "Right back here in my arms," a piece off the opening of "Come talk to me" by Peter Gabriel, some random James Brown song that I don't even remember and some scat from a Rachelle Ferrell CD. I just threw them together. I think that this was shortly after I bought the SU700 also, so I was just having fun. Matt Murdock again used some stuff he had memorized and I used a crazy verse that had some lyrics that I wrote in a dream I had. No joke.
John Tesh (1998)
Easily the most popular song of this compilation, Typo shines with freestyle and then a few written verses. The story behind this track is really quite amazing. This was back in 1998 and I had just bought myself a MC-505 Groovebox (that I later took back). I had a lot of different ideas while I was making this track and most of the sounds are just all over the place. I invited Typo over to check out the beat and he was really into it. This was way back when we only had audio using the 4-track. I bounced down the rough version of the beat from the Groovebox to the 4-trk and then Typo set off on his freestyle adventure. How the first 2 verses and hook came about was that I just hit the record button on the first take and he started to flow. Typo was actually wearing a "wife beater" shirt and a "mesh china man" hat.
He didn't just make that up. Eventually in the evening I had to go to work as a pizza delivery boy (not a high point in my life!) and I left Typo alone in my house with a quick rundown on how to use the 4-trk and he finished up a little more on the song and a note was waiting for me on the 4-trk when I got back home. We ended up finishing the song complete several months down the road while my parents were out of town and I was watching their house for them. Typo came over, wrote the last verse or so and ran the 4-trk and everything alone while I sat and played the N64 on my parents 50inch TV. I later took the finished track back to my place and did some scratching over it using a Disney record (you guess what record) and added the vocal effects during the final mixdown which was even later down the road. It took years for us to go from just a beat to a final mix because we really didn't know what was going to happen with it. It all happened slowly, but it did finally come together.
I originally made this beat on my Yamaha RM1x for Typo in a more simplistic form. He really liked it, but like I said, sometimes Typo can be lazy and he didn't ever write for it. But months later Typo called me up and told me that Savvy's younger brother Mike was going to the New-Tech High School in Napa and he choose for his final project to make a hip hop song.
Typo said that he was going to ask a different producer to help them, but decided to ask me (probably because he knew I would help them for free as a favor). I didn't have too many beats that I was willing to just give away, so I came across this beat and chopped it up, added the breaks and snare drops in a few hours using Logic recorded from MIDI off the RM1x.
I was actually really pleased with how the beat got transformed. The next day Savvy and Mike came over to check the beat and begin their writing. We worked for several hours and then they came over a few days later to record their vocal parts. It's not the best track in the world, but I wanted to put it on the compilation because I thought it was fun to do a project for a kids final in high school. I also wanted to put it on the comp because I later ended up using the beat for the new AKI album in a much more chopped up crazy format. My fee for doing this track for them was supposed to be a Guinness 4 pack, but I have still yet to see that.
Stop Time (sinister) (1998)
This track is the oldest on the compilation. This was right before I bought my Groovebox. What we used on this beat was Logic as the MIDI sequencer and a crappy Kawai midi module with only general MIDI sounds a few reverbs. Resound was the live pop/dance band that I had put together in 94 or 95 and we were going through some major changes in style, performance and musicians. The original line up was me, Jesse Crane and Ashley Murphy.
Jesse was the only one to stick with me through it all. This track was right after Ashley moved away and we were looking for a new drummer and Yme just joined the band. Jesse told me that he had a beat stuck in his head all day and wanted to lay it down while he still remembered it. So basically I played the engineer, I sat there and ran Logic while he played all the parts through our Roland D-50 (that I later sold on eBay). I was pretty impressed with how it came together, Jesse just laying down groove after groove, calling out for another MIDI track after track, and boom! It came out quick. Jesse and I did a few beats this way, but this is the only track I felt sounded good enough to be on the compilation...and still this track has some major sound issues. We recorded stereo tracks into the 4-trk from he MIDI module and then later I played the beats we had for Yme and he had stacks and stacks of lyrics. He came over a few days later and we recorded 2 different vocal tracks for him, and still to this day I think his vocals sound really fucking sick. We ran them through a Big Muff guitar pedal and I think also an Electric Mistress. I love how his vocal parts are just off a little bit. We used some shit ass microphone, I don't even know what kind it was or where that mic is now.
Swing Shift (verbal orgasm) (2000)
Originally this beat was made by NiceThings (me and Midnite). We linked via MIDI his MC-505 and my SU700. Typo was with us while we were making this beat and was sort of giving us guidance on how to make the beat more to his liking. Originally we mixed down a rough version on 4-trk for him to take home and write to. Of course he later was making excuses on how he didn't like it and wasn't getting anything done with it. So, I don't even know how many months later, I came across my samples for this song and loaded them up on the SU700. I actually really liked the track still, even without the Groovebox and I knew that Midnite didn't have the program on the 505 anymore anyway because he initialized his whole Groovebox and erased all his programs. So with all that in mind, I didn't want to let this beat just go to waste. The whole idea of me going through all these random beats was to put them to use for this compilation. I made a decent mix of the song with Logic and the SU700 and finally got Typo over to my studio and had Savvy do the same. Typo really kicks some ass on this song, tons of classic lines in my opinion, like "You better shoe before you get socked/Smell my feet cause that's when you know you've smelt defeat." It's brilliant because defeat and DA-Feet...well you get it right? Another funny thing about working on this track was that Savvy really didn't like his lyrics or his vocal parts ... we kept doing take after take after take ... and then I said, "Well wait, let's listen to a take back." I quickly added some chorus/flange effects and did some quick mixing and it was at that point that his whole attitude started to change. It was at that point Savvy really started to understand. Funny how a little chorus on your voice can make you see the light.
The Good Girl 420 (2000)
Many things could be said about this track that I can't say.
A lot of secrets are in this track. But I will tell it to you like this:
The song is not really about smoking dope. From our point of view, from a guys point of view, it's more about how smoking dope can be your "lover." The whole song is supposed to confuse you like, "is he talking about weed or a girl?" I'm not one to promote drug use, I think there are already enough idiots out there doing that. But at the same time, I really wanted to just put my own spin on the situation and play around with it a bit. A lot of people have said that this song is too ambitious for our time because the song is not like any other hip hop song out even today. The strange thing about this song is that it really doesn't have a "beat." I played around with adding a real beat for several hours, but the song had so many crazy samples that it just wasn't working to my ears. You can judge the end result for yourself. It's probably one of my faves.
Boogie Man's Lounge (2001)
Today was the first time that I had talked to JJ Kirby in about a month. And last night was the first time I had a drink with Allen Warner in quite some time. And it's worth it to mention that we shared that drink with Ale Garza. All 3 good friends of mine. And it's worth it to mention that I don't have too many good friends. But about this track...
Artist JJ Kirby and writer Allen Warner were working on a comic book idea called "Nemo and the Neverwalkers" about the boy Nemo who was sucked into a dream world and finds out that he is the most powerful dreamer, and the only boy who could defeat the Boogie Man. Allen and JJ had a very new age idea of including a CD filled with music in with the first issue of their Nemo comic book. The first track that we made for this is included here on the compilation, and it's JJ's idea, the Boogie Man's Lounge. Just us chillin' in the Boogie Man's Lounge.
There are about 9 different vocal tracks on this song and all I did really was edit them and mix them down the best I could at the time. The constructions of this song was simple:
I sat down with JJ and my Proteus MPS keyboard and let him play almost all of the loops while I took control of Logic and JJ had the idea for all of the samples from the movie "Aliens." The world may not ever know it, but JJ is really quite good at coming up with sick beats. He really has a good feel for what he wants and knows how to hit the keys when the time is right. So after we had the basic loops down for the beat, we got our mind altering tools out, called up Allen and had 3 straight nights in a row of just improvising on the mic.
Just making shit up on the spot. Allen being the most hilarious in my opinion. Sure, most people wont get all of the jokes, but I know at least the comic book fans out there will enjoy it and have a taste of what will now never be...or will it? The comic book never saw the light of day besides the first black and white trial issue that Allen and JJ finished and I'm glad that I do have a copy...but Jim Lee of Wildstorm comics was not feeling the idea for Nemo and didn't want to give it the time of day. Will Nemo ever see the light of day? Who knows?
Maybe you music and comic fans out there could e-mail Jim Lee at Wildstorm.com and let him know that you want to know what was up with JJ Kirby and Allen Warner's "Nemo" comic.
And let them know that you think Ale "Dangerous" Garza is the leader of art pimps.
I Want It Over (2001)
The next 5 tracks on this compilation are by NiceThings (Midnite and AKI). Midnite changes his name a lot, so he may be going by another name at this point, but I always advise him against that, because fans need to get familiar with you. So just to give him a hard time, I am going to call him Midnite forever and also because that is the name that he was going by when we were working on these tracks. "I Want It Over" is the newest and last track that we have worked on together to date. I had created about 5 drum loops together and some other samples of my own and thought it to be pretty sick, but still also thought that it was lacking.
I called up Midnite and told him to bring his MC-505 over so we could hook up MIDI style with my SU700 and get our groove on. As soon as Midnite came over, the track started to take a much more beautiful shape. I love the sounds and percussion that he added. I truly feel it makes the track stand out more than any other track we had done together. Basically all that happened was we hooked up MIDI, I let the machines play while Midnite kept listening, taking a break, adding a new loop, taking a break, adding a new loop until we had a huge full loop.
Then that same night, we did, if remember correctly, just one take. And if you have the compilation in your CD player, you are listening to it. It's brilliant and beautiful and you can dance to it. I love it and it sounds really good loud.
NiceThings had a gig on New Year's Eve of 1999 playing a really f--king huge house party opening up for the hard-core metal act, Fevered Pitch. We really didn't have anything ready...and we didn't even have a plan on how we were going to get ready. And to top that off, I was very sick at the time. I don't remember the exact details of my illness, but I knew that I had to get very ill on my sampler. Midnite had a Fatboy Slim sample CD that he got from a buddy of his and I think that's where the beats came from (at least 2 of them) for this track, but I honestly can't remember for sure. One thing I do remember is that a lot of the sounds were sampled from my Rm1x, but the Rm1x was not used for any of the loops or sequences.
I think beyond "I want it over" this is the other signature NiceThings track. NiceThings always has a great blend, because you have me wanting to go crazy and do broken beats with tons of changes, and then you have Midnite wanting to keep it simple and groovy so the kids can dance and get funky to sick ass beat with zero hassles. It's a special blend. This is believe like all NiceThings tracks, is the first take, and we always did them live on the spot after we built the loops.
Go Out With Me (1999)
Same situation as Earie2000, but I think this was the second song we worked on, maybe third, because we ended up throwing a few songs away after we recorded them. This track is way down slower, and I used a sick ass Madonna sample, but you guys have to guess where it is from. Only hard-core Madonna fans and 80's DJs are going to know it I'm' sure. Most of the beats are samples, but I think most of the sounds are from Midnite and his 505. Midnite is brilliant on his MC-505...I just have to tell you all that. He can impress you time and time again. He makes the most simple melody and groove challenge you and pull you in to a sensual bliss.
Theme From Weezul (1999)
Ale Garza and Allen Warner had a shot with a Nickelodeon for a few cartoon pilot episodes based off some of Ale's early comic books. Weezul was one of them. In order to spice them up he asked me to do a theme song for the pilots. On this track I had some basic ideas down for the song, but thought it was not quite there. I asked Midnite to come over and help me add some textures. We used the Rm1x and his 505. Much of the sound textures were improv and then I did the final mixing and editing. I kept it simple and too the point but tried to make it feel dirty.
Death Star Remix (1999)
A remix of a Fevered Pitch track that Midnite and I did for a Fevered Pitch show at the Uptown Theater in Napa. Fevered Pitch sold out the show that night and Midnite and I really didn't even get to play the song until the end because Fevered Pitch thought that they wouldn't have enough time to play. But what really happened was that they kept the fans outside for over an hour due to technical problems while we could have been entertaining the crowd.
But at that point in our careers--perhaps nobody knew better.
The show was still awesome and we played the song at the end, but only a few kids stuck around to check it out.
This song is mostly an out-take in my opinion, but I still like it. It's just the Rm1x running through some old vintage Electro-Harmonix guitar pedals and I'm tweaking the hell out of them. Perhaps I wasn't sober at the time? You just never know with these things...
White Pussy (1999)
So...well...it's like this: DJ Quick had a song called "Sweet Black Pussy." And I loved that song when I was a kid. But since I've had more White Pussy than I have had Black Pussy, I thought that I should represent all White women out there So ladies, please don't take offense, this song is a celebration as to what a "flood" of joy White Pussy can bring. Enjoy. Thanks to Jreyl for helping me understand what this instrumental song really stands for.
Tourism (my take on) (1999)
If the name doesn't say it all, I don't know what else I can say. I live in Napa California. The wine town USA Yes I know that tourism brings business, etc. But I can't stand traffic, and I can't stand the way a tourist drives, especially when they are drunk off too many wine tastings. This song is my big "drunk f--k you" to them. And in the words of Jarvis Cocker: "Everybody hates a tourist, especially one that thinks it's all such a laugh..."
Ninja Boy (2000)
This song has the same scenario as 'Theme From Weezul' except that Midnite wasn't involved and we all thought this cartoon really had a chance...and maybe somewhere in the next few years it still does. Basically artist Ale Garza and writer Allen Warner had several meetings with the WB network to translate a cartoon from the Ninja Boy comic that was a great success in the comic world. Who knows what the problem was, but Allen describes it as, "Almost winning the lottery." You are up against several other pilot episodes and you just don't really know what is going on in the "big-wig's" minds. I think perhaps I could have done better on this track, but I still really enjoy it. I made it very quickly because I was working on quite a few different tracks for Ale and Allen at the time and time was a factor.
If Ninja Boy ever does get it's day in the light, you can expect a serious remake of this track.
Same as above for Ninja Boy, but this time the cartoon was pitched to Nickelodeon.
This is actually the second draft of the song that I did for Ale Garza. The first song I made, Ale thought it was a bit too dramatic. One thing I should mention is that when I was working on the first draft of the song, I was up late, very late and Napa, CA had a fat EARTH QUAKE and I just stood there making music because I thought it was just a big truck passing by...that was until my CD's on the wall started to shake out of the wall racks! It was brilliant! Anyway, Ale ... he wanted something more in the style of Peewee's Big Adventure for a very young audience. This is what he got. Still to this day, I feel like it's one the best songs I've ever done. It's really hard to express why I feel so close to it. The song just feels full of love, good times, fun and energy early in the morning to me. And in the end, that's all I can hope for when making a track for a cartoon addressed to young kids.
Now it's late, I'm a bit tired and quite happy that this compilation is finally available to you through CDBaby.com. It shows a lot of progress how this small label and small group of friends went from a 4 trk studio to a full on digital space station. The quality is only going to get better from here and it's just a relief to get these songs out into the light of day. These tracks are really good, and more over, they are good fun. I hope you enjoy them and hope you play them for your friends. E-mail us and let us know what you think. We would love to hear from our fans. And rest easy, because there is much more to come.
Thank you all for reading this and listening.
1:12 am 6/10/02
laying on my floor with my iBook.