Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shade Cobain Interview

Shade Cobain's new album, Cobainish Remixes, will be available for free download, exclusively, right here on the Stilltown blog March 29, 2010. Soon after will be Cobainish Originals, featuring all original songs that were produced by Shade Cobain.

As a regular on the Pittsburgh hip-hop scene, I've been able to watch many local artists develop their craft right before my eyes. In recent years, no artist has shown more passion and progression than producer Shade Cobain. Aside from having a hand in the Shadow Lounge's Release Open Mic, and contributing to the Rhyme Calisthenics MC Competition, Shade is responsible for creating a soul-hop sound that has many local MC's chomping at the bit. Diggin', samplin', choppin', and equalizin' are only a few of the steps that go into Shade's production process. Stilltown had a chance to catch up with Shade and learn about his thoughts on sampling, his history as a music artist, and his plans for 2010.

Rory Webb: What do you believe is the artistic value of sampling in music?

Shade Cobain: It's just taking a raw piece a music and making it your own. I just love to find a groove with the right elements, which is instruments and the arrangement of those instruments. I just go in and chop the whole song and try to find a melody within the samples I've chopped. But the more original you sample the song, the more artistic I feel sampling becomes valuable. I gotta get me a beat video out, so I can be more about action than words...haha!!

RW: Can you describe the difference between a producer's beat being influenced by another producer as opposed to a producer biting another producer's work?

SC: The difference is originality!!! I feel that if you're influenced by an artist, you would want to who that artist was influenced by, instead of just copying their sound.

RW: As both an MC and producer, I would assume that you have dealt with both writer’s block and producer’s block at times. How have you been able to overcome these difficulties when they present themselves?

SC: To be honest with you fam, I'm still in writer's block!!! haha!! I better get out of it quick, because I got a solo album to do. But as for me getting to a beat block. I just leave music alone for a minute. I start playing Xbox360 or just watch movies for like a week. Then start diggin!! After I find something crazy, it all comes back and the next think you know, I got 4 beats done. Another way is to invite Thelonious Stretch to the lab. When me and him hook up it's frenzy. He just start rhyming and I have no choice but to make a beat. It's crazy sometimes fam!!!

RW: You're part of the Rhyme Calisthenics team, what can an emcee gain by being involved in the competition?

SC: An artist can learn his/her strengths and weaknesses at Rhyme Cal. It's built to make the emcee better and get them to learn all aspects of emceeing, it's not just about image.

RW: How has your involvement in the Release Open Mic helped you in your development as a musician?

SC: I remember coming in there just banging one drum kit. Throughout the years, I've learned drumming techniques from Daru Jones and Andrew Kirk. Melody arrangements from J. Armstead Brown, and stage presense. I'm just thinking about the beginning years... I was raw as ever!! But with all of that, I incorporate those things into my production. I got to tell you, the sound gets better and better.

RW: You recently joined forces with Idasa Tariq to form the group Mah Brotha. Being that you are both multi-talented artists, with skills in emceeing and producing, what should the people expect to hear in Mah Brotha's music?

SC: Mr. Tariq. That's my dude!! Ya'll going to hear some good music. We're patterning ourselves after EPMD, ATCQ, BlackStar, JayLib, Black Connection, and Apex, just to name a few. But it's also a learning experience. Labbin' with Idasa gets me to learn a whole lot of new school tricks, and he learns alot from me. You will hear appreciation for each other on both ends throughout the album. I cant wait for everybody to hear what we got cooked up!!

RW: What many fans are unaware of is that, in the past, you were a member of a variety of short-lived groups - Biani, Da Funk, HighLights, and Probable Qoz. Can you build on your history as a part of these crews?

SC: Well, Da Funk was the first group I was in, I was like 17. It was with my good homie Misfit, aka Dray Woods. He used to be in the studio at the Kingley Center in East Liberty. He would come home (Collins Ave./E. Liberty) and play his music. This dude would be like, "come up here and do a song." I went and never left a lab since. At that time Dray was going to college, and I didn't know what direction the group was going. So I hooked up with this fresh up-and-coming 412 group at the time called Biani. Biani was myself, Thelonious Stretch, TaQuiest, Infinite Tension, Snookie Da Brick, Shortee, and J-Flint. Everything was cool til the creative differences happened, then everybody just went their seperate ways. Well, not really, because we just dropped some cats, picked up a couple more, and became HighLights. At that time we did shows at Pitt, Club Laga, and Justin Strong's backyard. I really don't know what happened to the HighLights because, at that time, I left Pittsburgh and went to the Marines. After I came home from the Marines, TaQueist and I became Probable Qoz. There was a lot going for us, but I had a lot of baggage. I couldn't focus on music. I left it alone til 2006. At that time I hooked back up with TaQuiest to form Rotunda Muzic. Now here we are!!!

RW: What drove you back to the art of making music?

SC: To be honest with you, I felt incomplete. I know it sounds cliche, but it's the truth. Music was and is a part of my life. During those couple of years I would hear music and just hate on it. Then a part of me was like, "you're not doing it, so why you yap runnin'?" Within that month, I got back on the machines and never turned back. I'll tell you this much, IT WON'T HAPPEN AGAIN!! Music is a part of me!!!

RW: How have these experiences translated to your current aspirations as an artist?

SC: It taught me to keep going. Never give up!! It also made me learn not to make the same mistakes again.

RW: Your new album, Cobainish Remixes, will be available on March 29. Why did you decide to do a remix album?

SC: I've always wanted to remix songs. There's songs that make me say, "if I made the beat!" So I challenged myself. I was like, let me grab some of my favorite songs locally, and indusrty, and put my touch on it. The next thing I know I got a remix album.

RW: Can you describe production process of remixing a song?

SC: Well, I first try to find an acapella of the track I want to produce. Find that, then listen to the original to find the feel of the track. Then match the acapella up to a certain bpm and just build around the lyrics. I try to incorporate a whole new feel, different from the original. Give it my bounce!!

RW: Aside from the Cobainish Remixes project, what else do you have in store for the fans in 2010?

SC: I produced the whole Divine Seven's Life and Times of Dat Turner series. The first part will be out 4.12.09. I've done at least a third of Thelonious Stretch's Boom Bap. The MAHBROTHA dip, J. Armstead Brown's Fieldwork Remixes, Rhyme Cal mixtape, and my solo debut Euphoria Theory which should be out by September. I also have some tracks on deck from Jon Quest, GQ tha Teacha(Chicago), Beedie, Kid A, YD from Moola Gang, 41Duece, Davu(SF), Jasiri X, and hopefully Living Proofe. And that's what's already done or in the works...haha. I got a full plate for 2010!!!

Check out these remixes that will be featured on the album Cobainish Remixes. On March 29, 2010 the album will be available for free download, exclusively, right here on the Stilltown blog.

InI - "Fakin Jax" (Shade Cobain Remix)

Jon Quest - "Emcee University" (Shade Cobain Re-Remix)

Also, be sure to check back soon for Cobainish Originals, featuring all original tracks produced by Shade Cobain!

Jon Quest - "Emcee University," from the forthcoming album Cobainish Originals

Jon Quest, Beedie, and Divine Seven - "Shadow Loungin'," from the forthcoming album Cobainish Originals

Shade Cobain's new album, Cobainish Remixes, will be available for free download, exclusively, right here on the Stilltown blog March 29, 2010. Soon after will be Cobainish Originals, featuring all original songs that were produced by Shade Cobain.

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