Friday, October 17, 2008

Band of the Week


Change is seems to be a popular word these days, and another word for change would be evolve. As a musician evolution is almost essential to survival. Scenes and sounds are consistently changing, and you have to find way to retain your identity while still moving and searching. This easily applies to life, but we are to discuss the arts and to talk about music. The first time I heard the music of Brooklyn's Doug Smiley (a.k.a. Shakeyface) was right after he released his debut album, Puddle Jumping During A Monsoon, and the sound was sampled filled, downtempo, and graceful. Over the years I have tried to follow Doug's career, through the clubs and remix to the sophomore album in 2006. On Bicycle Day Boogaloo, (every sophomore album should have boogaloo in the title) he picked up the pace and the electronics, and the samples became fewer. The album felt like a natural step forward, and melodies displayed a deeper focus and understanding of music as an art.

During the time between his first two album's Shakeyface started his own record label call It's Bananas. This label is where he will release future albums, but it is also home to the music of Skew. An up and coming New York electronic music producer Skew will release his debut album on It's Bananas on November 11th. So regardless if it is his own tracks or releasing someone else's work Shakeyface has evolved with the sounds, but manages to keep it "Shakey".

Recently, Shakeyface was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Your new work sounds exciting, "A sonic menage a trois with Daft Punk, Aphex Twin and Ace of Bass in a bubble bath...Rappers moonlighting in a barbershop quartet... Beats exploding like fireworks in your head.", Does the new album have a title or a theme? Will it be primarily sample based or are there going to be actual rappers making an appearance?
Doug Smiley (DS): I'm still knee deep in the album creation process, so there's no album title or theme quite yet. There will also be guest vocals and rappers on the album - more info on that soon!

OA: I was stunned the first time I heard Puddle Jumping, and Bicycle Day Boogaloo showed even more growth and progression musically. Do you feel your approach to making music has changed or evolved in any way?
DS: Thanks very much for your kind words. I feel like my approach to making music is constantly evolving. Every time I hear new awesome music or have a new life experience, all of that goes into the next song in some way. Depending on my mood, I'll go in all sorts of different directions musically. In general, while my older tunes tended to have many layers of samples, my newer work is much more synth-based, and I've been recording live instrument parts to be chopped up. I've also been gradually upping the tempo every year it seems. Right now I'm comfortable around a house tempo, pretty soon I'll be exclusively making Gabba tracks - we shall see. I like to dabble with various electronic music subgenres like electro or house, but mostly no matter what my intentions, the end result has a Shakey style all its own - I don't want all of my songs to fit nicely into one slot...I got mad different styles.

OA: I really enjoy the remixes you have done. What makes a remix a Shakeyface remix? Where do you typically start?
DS: My process usually begins by listening to the song a bunch of times, and honing in on what I really like about the song, and what I would want to flip out and make my own. On the Lil Wayne 'A Milli' remix, I'm obsessed with the line "ok you're a goon, but what's a goon to a GOBLIN" line, and the song built itself up around that phrase. Other times I'll keep the basic chord structure, but replay the song with my own sounds and rhythm, then put on the vocals last.

OA: What's going on with It's Bananas Music? What can you tell us about the Skew album dropping in November?
DS: I'm really excited about the Skew album, it's dropping through It's Bananas Music on November 11. He was just named one of URB magazine's next 1000, and his live show is really great - he's running beats on an MPC2000 drum machine while playing live guitar, vocals and keys through tons of effects. His music is kind of post-punk hip-hop perhaps?

We're also working on putting out an album and accompanying remix disc from an amazing jazz brass band from New Orleans called the Stooges Brass Band. I'm really amped about this project, more to come on that.

OA: Where did the name Shakeyface come from?
DS: I grew up near New York City, so I would always take the train in with friends to go to shows, buy records, etc. One time I was riding back home with my friend, and she called me Shakeyface because I kept shaking my face at her for some reason. I was looking for a name for my music, and of all the faces I could be, Shakeyface seemed like a good one...and the name stuck.

OA: What's next for Shakeyface?
DS: I'm putting out a new Shakeyface album in 2009 and putting more releases through It's Bananas. Building an even better live show. Getting into model railroading.

Bonus Questions:
Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup in Brooklyn?
DS: Not being a coffee drinker, I can't offer any firsthand knowledge or opinions on the best coffee in BK, but my lady swears by Gimmee Coffee on Lorimer St. I enjoy a nice chilled bottle of carbonated beverage myself.

OA: What was the last great book you have read, and where is the best bookstore in your area?
DS: Devil in the White City by Erik Larson or The Power Broker by Robert Caro. I'm way into history and urban planning, so both of these tickled my fancy, and other parts. I usually seem to buy books at airports and train stations, but I love the enormous Strand bookstore on Broadway in NYC.

For more information on Shakeyface and It's Bananas Music please visit his website.

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