Friday, November 23, 2007

Band of the Week

Yea Big + Kid Static

"The Sound from the Underground Reboots the Nation!"

They are calling his sound glitch-hop, but just because Stefen Robinson (aka Yea Big) has the ability to add an abundance of beeps and blips does not make his music purely glitch-hop. There is so much more to his beats then just chopped sounds and noises. There are definitely elements of old school beats and rhythms mixed in with his complex layers of samples. In fact, the sounds on their debut self-titled album range for tribal influenced drums to straight old school beats to futuristic knob twists and bass swirls to micro sound samples. Yea Big is the mad track runner pushing the buttons, creating the tracks, and rebooting the nation.

However, lets not forget the other half of this tag team, Moses Harris Jr (aka Kid Static) formerly of Cankles. Static, just like Yea Big, can switch mid-track between an old school flow and a fast-paced choppy electro flow. He matches Yea Big's beats at every turn, but never loses sight of what he wants to say. He writes honest verse about real life situations and struggles, but also maintains the element of humor that has been lacking in mainstream hip-hop for many years. Static simply delivers!

In a year where Kayne thought he was battling 50 cent for best hip hop album of the year, Chicago's Yea Big + Kid Static stepped up beat them both down.

Recently, Yea Big was kind enough to answer a few of my questions on beats, Hank Hofler, and wristbands.

Orange Alert (OA): You are unique, in that you seem to effortlessly blend the beats and styles of the past with new electronic sounds. When creating beats where do you typically begin?
Yea Big (YB): I almost always start by assembling a palette of sounds I think will fit together well; different kicks, snares, short noises, etc. I can't put the puzzle together until I find all the pieces.

OA: Who would you say are some of your biggest influences musically?
YB: Oh man, there are way too many, but I think I've been most influenced by people I've worked with directly and my friends I grew up playing music with. Static, Brad Breeck (Mae-Shi), Jane and Hank (Oh Astro), Aaron Paolucci and Matthew Smith (two of my former professors), Ed, Greg, Zack and all of the K-Thrillas. But also Jim O'Rourke, John Hartford, Zappa, Phish, Ravi Shankar, and a few specific records, DJ Shadow's Endtroducing, Refused's The Shape Of Punk To Come, Miles Davis' In A Silent Way... I could probably go on about influences for hours.

The Life Here (mp3)

OA: 'The odd man out is always in' is a great saying. Can you talk about what brought you together with Kid Static? Does this saying also apply to your music as well?
YB: Yeah, I really love that line! I guess I would attribute Static and I's coming together to luck. He's great to work with and he's an all-round awesome guy. I don't know if this saying applies specifically to our music, but it does most definitely apply to our goal of getting our music out to every type of crowd and demographic we possibly can. I want to make hip hop that people who aren't necessarily a part of the hip hop community will also feel welcomed to enjoy. I would say the same thing if I were still in a blue grass band, or a rock band, or making music of any genre. To me its all the same.

OA: I really enjoyed your contribution to Oh Astro's recent release, and was glad to see Hank Hofler on your album as well. What was he able to bring to this project?
YB: Thanks. Yeah, the new Oh Astro record is so great! I'm stoked to be a small part of it. Hank has been a huge mentor to me for several years. He has a unique sound that he achieves with his music that I haven't heard from anyone else, its impossible for me to describe it without a series of mouth contortions and shoulder jerks (which don't translate well through text). I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to go with the beat for the song that became "Repairs Are Needed," and I knew Hank would hit it dead on. It also made for good transitional noise.

OA: It seems like underground hip hop has begun to vibrate in the streets of Chicago, what is your opinion of the current music scene in Chicago?
YB: I honestly don't really ever pay much attention to regional music scenes. Good music has to come from somewhere, Chicago is as good a place as any.

OA: What is next for Yea Big?
YB: Ahhh. What's next. That question is haunting. Static and I are always working on new material. We're plotting and scheming for 2008. New recordings, more touring, big fun. As for solo Yea Big stuff... I want to meld my production style with my love of old-timey music. It'll happen. I hope sooner than later. And myself and my friend, Andrea C., started a project that I've been neglecting, called Secretary. I really want that to come to fruition some day.

Bonus Questions:

OA: When performing vinyl or laptop?
YB: Laptop. I didn't even own a record player until my girlfriend bought me one for my last birthday.

OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
YB: Oh shit yes!!! Coffee is my favorite nutrimental indulgence. The brand currently brewed in my kitchen is a certain corporate chain's Sumatra Blend. My favorite coffee spot is a place I used to go to everyday when I was in college in Normal, Illinois, called Latte Time Coffee. Their "House Latte" is one of a kind.

OA: You not only have a unique style musically, but you have also crafted a unique wardrobe as well. What's with the wristbands and short shorts?
YB: Haha! I don't know man. It started as what I would wear whenever I did a dance-off with someone. Then it just sort of became my Yea Big uniform. It helps me get into character.

The Screaming Starts At Sundown/We've Built a Time Machine That Runs on Beats. We Shall Only Use It For Good./Static Leads the Coup/Transmission Ended/Joining Forces/Speak the Facts/Low Budget Battle Scene/The Basement/Efant Terrible/On the Blink (mp3)/Repairs Are Needed/Duck, Mother F**kers! (mp3)/Revel In the Aftermath/The Life Here (mp3)/Things Have To Change, Pete./Why the F**k Does This Keep Happening?/Back Into the Sleeve

For more information on Yea Big + Kid Static check out their websites, and to order your copy of the best hip-hop album of the year go here.

No comments: