Before he was a megastar, The Weeknd was a soulful performer and songwriter, if deeply troubled at times. Here’s my cover of a very emotional song by him, performed on my trusty Boss RC-505 Loop Station.
It’s always hard to start these sorts of things out. Like, should I say Zaub is a band? An ensemble? A collective? I also want to avoid words like fusion and eclectic. Those are old terms that don’t really mean anything, as far as I can tell. All musicians combine past with present to find new ways to express their voice. It’s all music, period.
So, that said, I’m going to avoid trying to classify Zaub too finely. They bring a lot to the table. I’m also going to call them jazz rock, even though that kind of puts a sour taste in my mouth. Most concrete labels do. But the jazz here is so strong, and so is the rock, so that’s about as good as it’s going to get.
They have a very strong Middle Eastern flavor, brought of course to the forefront by frontman Toofun Golchin’s impressive compositions and masterful playing. His lead guitar is often answered by Yunus Iyriboz, both of whom come from a strong background of playing bluesy stuff in international modes and rhythms. Max Whipple plays a bass with a ton of strings, and Colin Kupka brings extremely strong jazz and solo chops into the mix. Finally, the infallible duo Dan Ogrodnik and Amir Oosman, who also play together in Rhein Percussion, round out the cast of Zaub’s third album, Excuse Mui.
The record begins with the sonic equivalent of grabbing someone by the collar and making them sit down next to a pair of speakers. Listen up, people, seriously! It’s a great attention-grabber, and really sets the tone for the rest of the 4-track album. You’re going to get some soft moments, but a lot of Excuse Mui really rocks. Most of the time you’ll be listening to various incarnations of Toofun’s secretly catchy themes and melodies. He’s really found common ground in both jazz and Middle Eastern styles by acknowledging the repetition of themes in rotating timbres used by both traditions. That, I think, is my favorite part of this record. Thanks in large part to smart playing by Dan, Amir, and Max in the rhythm section, the transitions between each tune’s sections/movements happen so smoothly, I guarantee you’ll be surprised at least once to find you’re in some new, soothing little musical realm with no earthly idea how you got there. This is music, after all, so who needs earthly ideas anyway? This music soars.
It’s a wonderfully consistent album in terms of quality, but you’ll hear that soaring quality particularly in solos. Collisions features a great guitar solo, and Levitation opens with really lovely world percussion from Dan, plus it has an epic return to the A section that’s maybe one of my favorite moments of the album. You can hear this is in the video linked below.
Ode to Ornette in particular has a great vibe to it, and while I wouldn’t really call it “free” jazz, it’s definitely reasonably liberated. This tune actually sounds a lot more like bebop to me, thanks in large part to Colin’s superb solo. This is one of those songs that always makes me wonder what the hell happened to epic sax solos in rock songs. A really well-done subtle outro takes us to the final track, which finishes up the album.
In the interest of musical combinatorics, Zaub successfully merges virtuosity with the rule of cool. Deceptively earworm-ish melodies and internationally inspired rhythm structures make Excuse Mui a fresh, satisfying sound. It’s well worth a listen. You can find more about Zaub in the links listed below:
Official Website: zaubnasty.com/#!audio/c1577
The new album from renowned underground performer and Hodgepodge artist Austin Antoine does not disappoint. Produced, mixed and mastered by the talented Mister-he and sporting a gorgeous cover by Amy Lee, You’re Very Welcome opens with a sense of narrative foreshadowing, teasing the listener with things to come. Vocal processing, lush production, anything goes. You know we’re sonically referencing heroes here, just as the opening monologue suggests, but you’re not sure which ones. Is this Andre 3000 at his most spacey? Gambino at his most theatric? We’ll see.
Wasting no time, Antoine’s first full track is the classic banger, self aware on several levels. We discuss the artist’s place in the scene; we’re assured the artist is young and strong, connected but humble. The rhymes flow, the chorus bangs, the beat bumps. This track knows what it is, and Antoine wants everyone to make sure we know where we’re at.
With Streets of Broken Dreams, Antoine starts to throw the listener some curves. This beat swings pretty heavily, and one can almost imagine some old music-man with white gloves, a cane and skimmer hat, airing out biting sarcasm as if the suffering performer’s woes are just another part of the show.
As the album progresses, it seems like Antoine starts to introduce this crazy new idea where he’s more than “just” a rapper. He’s a performer, and he’s got the pipes to prove it. I love when an artist has put some real thought into their track order, and it’s no accident that the hints of Austin singing toward the end of the woo-me track Summer Days leads into the astoundingly soulful interlude, Kelsey. Contrapuntal, a cappella melodies sung entirely by Austin take us deeper down the rabbit hole, exploring into what hip hop means besides some dude rapping over beats. With You’re Very Welcome, Antoine is taking the listener through a lesson in first impressions. Every artist has a journey that transcends genre, and few albums I’ve heard capture that concept as well as this one.
Got a problem with his singing? Unless you’re Nas (or even then, maybe) you better get over it. That’s the message in Rahzel/Aaliyah, a raw callback track that says, who gives a shit? Austin knows where he’s coming from, and he knows he can freestyle circles around anyone who steps to him. How many rappers out there can use the words “Guinness World Record” in their list of accolades? He’s been killing it for years, but this album is a new step for Antoine. He has accomplishments to back up his confidence. Listen to POWER!!, and tell me you’ve heard anything like this before. Just like with the intro, we know this style is coming from somewhere, from Austin’s heroes, but amalgamated into that dope freshness that speaks for itself. Hell yeah he likes video games, and hell yeah he’s watched Dragonball Z, and hell yeah he can rap like a beast.
You’re Very Welcome represents the new breed of artist. We don’t know if it’s hip hop. We don’t even know if it’s a record. It’s a work done by an individual who is navigating this strange new experience of becoming a performing adult with integrity amidst peers who don’t remember a time without email. Austin has really captured a moment here, and demonstrated tremendous personal growth in a truly relevant release.
I am very excited to announce my amazing new band Madapple will be performing TWO SETS for our inaugural performance at the super cool Sassafras Salloon in Hollywood! The show is FREE and goes from 9-midnight, and it’s in the part of Hollywood where parking isn’t completely impossible. Hope to see you there!
The RC-505 is my first real looper, as in not a delay pedal like my old also-Boss Giga Delay. It has five channels, each with a mix fader, a stop/start/rec/overdub button, and an edit button which is related to post-FX. There’s another knob for pre-FX and three memory slots for those FX, which is awesome. It has a built in customizable metronome and, best of all, PHANTOM POWER!! This means for the first time in my life I can loop using my nicer, more powerful microphones. Serious game changer, as you can see in the above video I’ve just released!
The ability to stop and start tracks is a huge deal, and really allowed me to delve into Kendrick’s song. It’s much easier now for me to cover full songs, meaning won’t have to pull a Spy Vs. Spy any more like in the BANKS video (as much fun as that was).
Swimming Pools (Drank) is really amazing. It turns the hip hop/club trope of having songs about alcohol on its head. Instead, the song is about the peer pressure to drink when you don’t want to and/or have already had too much. The production on the track is extremely lush, so you can see in the video how much I’m riding the Boss pedal’s reverb levels for different sections of the song. The track almost sounds like it’s underwater. Like in a swimming pool maybe. Do you see what they did there. DO YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE.
Anyway, it’s an awesome track and the second verse is like one of my favorite things ever. Figuring out each one of these songs is always a really fun puzzle, and that’s why I love doing this. Can’t wait to see how my channel progresses now that I’m learning this new gear!
(Although, if they’re not foot pedals any more, what are we going to call them? “Hey, check out this new station I got” just sounds weird, am I right?)
My most recent video “Parody” is about the frustrations of copyright trolls on YouTube. This video is now the subject of an ongoing battle with copyright trolls on YouTube. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so annoying.
Based on Pharrell’s “Happy”, I thought it would be safe under the Fair Use Act as a form of commentary on the legal hurdles of the song and any other major label tune. It turns out that’s not the case. Even though I’m complaining about the copyright of the song, monetizing the track means they can still claim the melody (I guess?) and they can take it down if they want to.
One of the most frustrating things about Content ID, which is YouTube’s content and metatag crawler, is that the appeal and dispute is set in increments of 30 days. 30 days to acknowledge, 30 days to appeal, 30 days to wait for the claimants response to your appeal. Of course they always wait as long as they can to respond, or if they know they can’t refute the dispute, they don’t ever say that. They just let it lapse, which takes, you guessed it, 30 days.
In the above video, since I’m not commenting on the song directly (I’m making fun of the dumb lines and non sequitur metaphors, but I’m not specifically stating they’re bad) and I’m not specifically refuting the heart of the work (my song’s not called “Crappy”, which would be a direct response to the theme of “Happy”), I’m probably just out of luck.
Three things you can do to avoid Content ID on YouTube
- Record every part yourself. If you re-record every part yourself, especially if each track is distinctly different (as they are here since I do them all vocally instead of using the same instruments as the original), Content ID will have a difficult time recognizing the similarity to the original.
- Don’t tag your video with identifying content. If you put the name of the artist and/or song in your video tags, Content ID will flag you even if you don’t have any content in your video. What’s hilarious about this is that, in your appeal for an erroneous identification, there is no option that simply states “This video was mistakenly flagged”. Seriously. Their system makes constant mistakes, but they refuse to admit it. Weird, huh?
- Don’t put the name of the artist and/or song in your video title. Same as with the tags. Since Content ID isn’t good at identifying your song if you re-record all the parts, it will use your video title to try and see if you’re using copyrighted content, even if you aren’t.
You’ll notice these tips will negatively affect your search results in a big way. This is certainly not accidental. And if you’re doing a straight cover, odds are it will still catch you on word recognition in the lyrics. But I believe the above is correct because, after watching this helpful video directed at videogame reviewers, I avoided the above three steps and had no problematic claims on my video. They want you to think their crawler is some uber-accurate identigod, but mostly it just reads whatever you type in your description, tags and titles.
It wasn’t until about a month after the initial release and my social media views were drying up that I added the tags and extra info in the title mentioning the words “Pharrell” and “Happy”, after which my video was quickly hit with three different copyright claims. I’ve successfully disputed two out of three claiming the Fair Use Act, but unfortunately EMI Music Publishing/CASH/UMPG Publishing has chosen to reject my dispute and reinstate their claim. The page in which this all happens looks like this:
I have now re-appealed my dispute, which is identical to the first one and which I adapted from the video linked earlier. It reads like this:
This recording is a parody and form of commentary and critique and uses no source material from the original recording. As an acappella recreation the audio is transformative and by sending this very notice becomes relevant to the critique of the piece and its legal status inherent in my parody. The video and audio were created entirely by myself on my own property. My parody is considered Fair Use by both YouTube and Federal Copyright Law. A Fair Use parody does not legally require the copyright holder’s permission, and I have every legal right to upload original content in the form of a parody. For further proof and information on Fair Use, please refer to: http://www.copyright.gov/legislation/dmca.pdf and additionally http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S521VcjhvMA&t=14m16s Thank you for taking the time to verify the clips to see that my usage does not violate copyright.
Five reasons this sucks hard
- I will probably have to wait another 30 days (or close to it) to find out what their response is.
- Their response is literally at their whim. They just click whatever they want and aren’t accountable for their choice at all, even if it’s illegal.
- If they reject my dispute, even if their rejection is illegal, I get a strike on my YouTube account. Three strikes and they delete your account.
- They can get my video taken down at any time, even if that request is illegal.
- We are all arguing about, literally, nickels and dimes here. I make almost no money off of ad revenue because I’m just not popular enough. These arguments are entirely for the principle of the thing. I just hate to watch bullies win.
Parody is going to reach 1,000 views faster than any other video I’ve made. That isn’t much to them, but it’s huge for me. Just let me put up my video and not have to deal with these jerks who are making the most ironic copyright claim in history. Thanks for reading, and I hope you learned something. Or, if not, at least enjoy the song :)
A new video from choreographer Lindsey Lollie and dancer Jordan Saenz with music by me. Every sound you hear is sourced from samples of Lindsey reciting the three title words and manipulated using things like EQ, resonators and about three tons of delay. Enjoy.
“There’s no difference between good music and good comedy. It’s entertainment. And entertainment is suspension of time and space, so that you realize your true nature, which is spaceless and timeless.”
Rarely seen video of the prophet himself on a tiny public access channel in Austin. He had just had his big break, a standup routine he filmed for David Letterman, censored from the episode. He had announced his retirement from American comedy clubs. At the time this video was filmed, he had known he had cancer for nearly five months. He never mentions it.
I arranged two Stevie classics, “Superstition” and “As” for live looped beatbox and voice. It was tough and took a lot of concentration, but it was also a ton of fun. It felt great as tribute to a legend and major influence in my musical evolution!
First of all, I don’t know if we, as a species, will ever truly figure out how to spell “a cappella” in a way that we can all agree upon. I’ve chosen the proper Italian, and will probably take a hit to my search results because of it. Which is fine; it’s about attracting the right search queriers, not the most. Also “queriers” shouldn’t have a red line under it, Google. For shame.
There are a lot of exciting things going on. I’ve been enjoying running my YouTube channel, and will eventually do a post about what I’ve learned. This site is also in dire need of a redesign due to that and also just because I’m tired of this one. It should help me get excited about posting more again.
Speaking of segues, here’s an original song I wrote and recorded as an a cappella multitrack music video. The song’s called Mexico. More soon!