With Artefact quickly approaching on 28th December, Organic thought it only right that we get to know the man at the top of the bill, Noisy Meditation and Apollo's Godfather Sage...
Godfather Sage has made something of a reputation for himself across the US as an eclectic and well sourced selector, with a rich musical history in hip hop, footwork, jungle, drum & bass and everything in between. With his own Noisy Meditation imprint in full swing and a project signed to R&S's Apollo offshoot, he appears to be on his game at the moment. With his Montreal debut for Artefact growing very close, it is the best time to find out more from Baltimore's cross genre breakbeat innovator.
How did the Apollo signing come about? How does it feel to be among such good company there?
I was in touch with Renaat at R&S about a different project I was working on, and happened to show him a few things I'd done with Ludvig Cimbrelius (Alveol, Ziyal). He brought us on board for an EP (as Kian & Ludvig) straightaway. It is surely an honour to be a part of a label with such a rich musical heritage. I remember buying Apollo releases on vinyl at Music Liberated in Baltimore, as a teenager. It was definitely an inspiration for my musical direction, so this is like a full circle for me, bringing that influence back to its source in a new way.
Can you tell us about your influences? What genres were you into prior to drum & bass. How did you get involved in the genres? What other genres do you produce now?
I could literally talk to you all day long about my influences, but I'll give you the short version for now. As a youth I was exposed to jazz and fusion, Brazilian, dub and world music. My father was a serious record collector. He was doing some deep diggin' and I was soaking it all up. In my teenage years hip hop took over for me and I started rapping. This was actually my entry point into production - making beats for me and my friends to rap to. When I started DJing I got into buying down tempo and trip hop stuff, and the progression to drum & bass happened naturally from there. These days with my production my aim is to fuse all of these elements together in a way that speaks my truth. It may come through as drum & bass, 170, down tempo, future bass or even ambient. I don't place limits on myself in terms of genres, I just go where the vibe takes me.
Your mixes and sets are quite eclectic and do a good job at demonstrating your diversity and history as a DJ. How long have you been DJing? Is that something you strive for in your sets?
I started DJ'ing in 1996 on a pair of belt drive turntables, haha. I was buying all sorts of music when I started, and I've gone through many phases stylistically over the years. Two things that have always been of utmost importance to me as a DJ are technical proficiency and creating atmosphere. My selection is also very personal. People often tell me that the music I play sounds like my own production, and I guess that's because I've always felt the need to present music that is consistent with my own ideals. I also enjoy incorporating older or obscure music in my sets that people may have not heard in a long time - or ever. A lot of events I play at these days are full of kids in their early 20s, many of whom know little or nothing about the roots of our music, so I feel blessed to be in a position to present these sounds in a context that they can understand.
Are the 170 or Autonomic genres popular in the US? Did these genres make an impact on the scene?
There are definitely some DJs repping the sound, right now more so than 3-4 years ago when the style was first catching a buzz. I think that the popularity of dubstep, trap, and most recently footwork, in the US has served as a gateway for a lot of listeners here. Over the last year at my own DJ gigs I've watched the crowds become increasingly receptive to 170 BPM and half-time beats, so maybe the best is yet to come for this sound in the US. We shall see. Personally, I was always reaching toward this sound in my DJ sets whenever possible, every since records like Deep Blue's "Destroyer" and Digital's "Fool Bwoy" were hinting at the concept in the late '90s. So I'm happy to see the whole thing sustaining momentum as of late.
What are your expectations of Montreal? What can Montreal expect from you?
I know that there are a lot of people in Montreal who really know their music and are ready for some cutting edge sounds, especially at the Artefact nights, so I expect to feel right at home and in my element. I look forward to playing some fresh beats from myself and a few close associates, as well as some forgotten gems that I'd like to hear on a proper system again. I'm also looking forward to kickin it with Daat, Traffic and the Subtle Audio crew, as I really respect what all those guys do musically.
"It's never dark for the sake of being dark; it's all a part of the journey toward the light."
What gear are you using now? Did you start with hardware then switch to software? Has this affected your workflow or sound?
My first setups were 100% hardware - MPC, Roland and Korg synthesizers, rack mounted effects, etc. - and I spent several years in that environment before making the big switch. At the moment I'm using a software based setup, consisting of FL, Cubase, some soft synths and a very large library of samples. The only time hardware really gets involved now is when I'm working with vocalists or session musicians. I think the biggest change for me, in switching to software, was the almost overwhelming amount of options available. I realized that having less flexibility on hardware sometimes led to more creative decision making in the production process. I try to be mindful of this in my approach to software production.
What characteristics do you think most shape the US sound? Can you reflect on how the US differs from UK in this regard?
That's an interesting question. I don't necessarily think that the US has one definable sound; it is a very diverse nation with many different cultural and musical influences. However I will say that in the beginning, as we all know, the UK dance scene was heavily influenced by American music - from soul to early hip hop to house and garage. The UK took American styles, flipped them and came back with new and innovative sounds. I think that now the opposite is happening, where American music is perhaps more influenced by UK styles than ever. Now we have hip hop producers incorporating dubstep and 170 elements, and Chicago footwork guys chopping up amen breaks. It's an exciting time.
What is the ethos behind the Noisy Mediation label?
Noisy Meditation is all about deep emotive electronic music that connects on a soul level. Positive vibrations are key. With all the madness in the world today I feel it is my duty to bring forth music that is honest, pure and created with love and healing intentions. Even if you hear some darkness, it's never dark for the sake of being dark; it's all a part of the journey toward the light. I want to show that transformation in the music, where we are connecting to something greater than ourselves.
Monthly Showcase Of Roots And Experimental Drum & Bass
GODFATHER SAGE [Noisy Meditation/ Apollo] USA
DAAT [Detuned Transmissions/ Mjazz/ Offshore/ Subtle]
TRAFFIC [Detuned Transmissions]
Saturday 28th December 2013
Cabaret Underworld, 1403 Rue Ste-Elisabeth, Montreal
10:00 PM - 03:00 AM
$10/ $5 before 11:00 PM
For a taste the Artefact sound, check out the latest Detuned Radio: Decarie Sessions Show below.