As I give my creaking knuckles calisthenics, I’m reminded of how great 2013 was for music. There were a lot of great releases, and I think that a few of my selections might shock a few people this year, but it’s necessary to give credit where it’s due. Leave your comments in the C-Section below, and let me know how you feel.
What I find amazing is when I find something amazing that’s been residing in my city for some time unbeknownst to me.
Stuff in my city that I find amazing: the ever growing music scene, the progressive nature of citizen idea, booty shorts, and the openness of our community. This openness gives artists a basis for starting on a path to achieve their goals, and to reach a specific and gracious audience.
Last night while drinking a few beverages with AKA I was introduced to an artist I had never heard before. I became that specific and gracious audience member.
I mean I am into artists who go hard, I am into artists with great beats, and I am definitely into artists with flashy videos, that which still come across as true to life; however, finding an artist with all three of these qualities can be a daunting task. Last night this task was fulfilled just by going to a friend’s house in South Minneapolis. This friend has musically inclined acquaintances whom he put me on to.
As I have said before, I don’t really try. Things seem to fall from the sky.
This night of drinks started with politics and went straight to hip-hop as usual. He threw the Homeless and Big Cats video for “The Food Chain” on and I was taken away. I love hip-hop that is raw, original, and moderately offensive in a clever way. I would say that “The Food Chain” encompasses what I truly enjoy about this genre of music.
Underground Hip-Hop is not dead even if it is six feet underground, this video is testament to that. This sound is underground.
One can truly be whatever they want to be, and then (whether on the side, or for full-time) create art which reaches a unique and expanding audience, speaking to them in esoteric ways to garner loyalty. Someone may be a writer by day and a hip-hop mogul at night, you pick your poison.
This song is worth hearing. Homeless is clever, creative, and truly relatable. That is something I find amazing in Minneapolis.
I find this video addictive and at the same time incredibly real. Real enough to want to hear more.
Alt-J blew people away at the First Ave venue last night, expectedly. So what I will tell you is, if you can see them live, and you don’t take the opportunity, you are missing out. Not to be presumptuous, but it’s factual-sorry.
And that is about all I can say. I mean I could tell you it was spiritual, it was enlightening, and it was something of a great act to witness, but you already know that. I could really, but who is going to believe me? It was all of those things and more. They simply put on a great show, there is no doubt in my mind as to the reason why Alt-J sold out the Main Room both nights; not to mention the latter added date of Sept. 8th, it’s because they are truly amazing artists. They take a simple yet classical sound and make it new, heavy, complex, and refreshing. Seeing Alt-J makes me think of, if it were somehow possible, seeing Led Zeppelin, or Radiohead, maybe even Pink Floyd, before they became über famous/timeless, and impossible to see live. The crowd at First Ave got a stand up treat from this band on the rise. Take the time to listen, and check them out in person. It is something I won’t soon forget.
(Take in my words and the mediocre photos my Windows Phone could afford, and enjoy. That’s all you need to know. There are more amateur camera phone photos and words below about time leading up to the show, thoughts, and lucky people getting in.)
Lord Huron opened to much delight. Starting slow and eventually garnering enough energy to bring the lion’s share of the crowd into their set, and possibly into their loins. I tweeted, before LH started getting a bit flashy, the tweet read something along the lines of “opening bands are like commercials while you wait for your favorite show to start.” I could give a shit less about an opener band, especially at an Alt-J show; however, I was almost eating my words 10 minute later. Hit me up at on Twitter: @sirterryscott.
How I came to love Alt-J:
The story goes I went to smoke some with a friend after work and she would play An Awesome Wave over and over again. One night I caught on, I said, “Play that song again.” She did, then I inquired as to who and what they were. I was amazed. She had ripped the song from a torrent and sent me a downloaded copy. I never actually used what she had sent me, I was occupied with pressing play and repeat play on Youtube, of Breezeblocks. In turn I had found out the meaning to the song, and I had become entranced by the harmony, wave of sound, and sonic power of Alt-J. 89.3 The Current started playing one, then two, then three of their songs. Now they play most of the album. A friend later Facebook messaged me and gave me the scoop on the First Ave show. Knowing they would sellout the venue I waited til the moment they became available, and then I made my purchase. I should have bought 6, the limit, but I bought 3 instead. I could have doubled my money. I didn’t have enough dough that day though. A few hours later all of the tickets were gone and I sat in satisfaction at my quick choice. And that is how I got into the show.
Standing outside in line people came up to me asking for tickets. The interesting thing was there weren’t really any scalpers, but there were people asking for tickets. A show so coveted that people bought the tickets for themselves and actually went to see good music. Wow, some tickets online were as much as $200. It must have been 5 people walked up and inquired. By this time I had already bummed two cigarettes and a RedBull from some complete strangers ahead of me in line. I was feeling great waiting in line at 7:30 pm, plenty of time to take in the hot night. At home earlier while indulging in homework and horror films I sat on the couch sweating in our AC lacking one bedroom apt. The fan blew its best, but it didn’t really help. Sweat beaded and crawled down my face. I changed my shirt a few times. I took a shower and brushed my teeth. I spoke German. And then I went to wait in line.
With the extra two tickets I felt almost over prepared, which by my standards is almost impossible. I waited until the day before to start the bidding. Three people in all contacted me. The tickets went to the most passionate. Also, a few people whom I spoke with were too intimidated to bid on them, so I figured they must not have wanted to go really.
The lucky guests I brought drove two hours to get here on word of a promise to get tickets. I thought of them as I waited in line. I asked those who inquired about extra tickets how much they would pay. They wouldn’t say, I am not sure if they got in. I was about 15ft from the door when my guests arrived. They were in disbelief, literally exalted at the idea they would see a band they loved. Having been burned twice before T. was so happy. I think as we came closer to actually getting in her spirits piqued. She handed me the money the moment she arrived. I enjoyed this. The sky was pink, the line was long, and the day was cooling off. Heat became a friend of every nook, cranny, and crevasse throughout the city proper. The bike ride and the light material of my black button up were comforting. The sunset stood aglow over the Hennepin Ave Bridge as I crossed 3rd Ave, over the Mississippi, past pedestrians, and aside cars. A glacier like cloud hung over the sun; a sort of arrowhead array of bright lights contrasting with deep purple clouds shadowing certain parts for quiet a large puppet show etched across the darkening horizon. A line of clouds, directly above, shown soft and full, as they slipped through the sky. Planes took off going in two different directions. I biked South-ish to First Ave. to wait in line. I watched the ground below slide past; rocks and broken glass reflected on how they had come to where they lie. They watched all appreciatively as I went by.
I was just biking to see a band I had wanted to see since I first heard a song.
Waking up this morning, after the run and such, I was brought to a smile by something I so effortlessly had stumbled upon. The smile was from understanding, and newly rediscovering what artistry and creativity had been harboring in my hometown area. I found an artist I had been following for sometime, I had reintroduced my ears to Hyphon.
I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised.
I did something, just a click, and sat back to listen. I found myself mesmerized for the next couple of minutes, and in a better way, more open-minded to my surroundings. I thought of Hyphon’s lyrics, I felt at a coffee shop, reading a book, I felt the general idea of expanding my mind, my situation, and my musical diversity. I felt comforted at the sound of growth, at the use of imagination, and something even more, a piece of La Crosse, at an artist from my birth place stretching the boundaries and producing a unique sound that I could feel comfortable listening to anywhere.
I had been sitting on this song, and then we realize hesitation kills. I had been forgetful when thinking about time I had spent perusing the ever interactive internet, the time we all had spent. I found myself listening to a song by Hyphon, I found myself satisfied with the lyrics (use of words, vocab), sound, and production. He is an acquaintance, an artist, and he has motivated me today, especially, to search for more. To indulge in what we would normally pass up. I invite you to click and listen. You will be taken somewhere, and wherever it is, at least you went. We all go learning something new along the way, learn today that there is artistry everywhere, especially in La Crosse. All one has to do is open their ears-have a listen.
I have probably said enough, maybe not, but you do owe yourself a listen. It is worth your time.
Hyphon brings a bureau of words, ideas, and deep imagery, true underground, fresh…
Listen to this in the morning with coffee, and prepare to have your thoughts provoked.
When artists begin collaborating with each other online, there’s really no telling what’s going to happen. They might only collaborate on a few tracks through e-mail, or they could end up releasing volumes of vivacious music. Tyler Keyes & M.i collaborated copiously on the 2011 album Prep Time; this was done entirely through phone calls and e-mails. After visiting Austin, Texas for the South By Southwest Festival, Keyes left the Twin Cities to form a more proximal working relationship with M.i – a bold and wise choice.
Last night I experienced something so unforgettable and so mind-blowing that I am just happy to share with the readers on Mindinversion.net. I love music so much, yet I find it incredibly hard to write to an audience while being succinct, to the point, factual-in great depth, and at the same time remain fair, interesting, and unbiased. Like, this is what I truly listen to. I am not just pushing this to promote someone I know. So when I come across an experience such as this I must share. I am going to avoid the small details, not do a bio, and stick to what I know in this piece-I am going to stick to the subjective perspective of the audience member involved: Me.
Let me preface by saying, I had little knowledge of Father John Misty before the show itself. In fact, I had only heard a few songs of his on The Current, and I had read a brief bio (forwarded through email by a friend), or intro, or something in a local magazine. The point is not that I knew of Father John Misty before going to the show, or that I was a mega-fan, or to write an A&E biography of the guy, the point is that if you have the opportunity to see Father John Misty, or you haven’t heard of his music, you should. He is the shit, and that is what’s happening.
Last night I attended a Father John Misty show at First Avenue, and I was stunned by the sound, the performance, the vulgarities, the honesty, the attraction, the allure, and the general idea of Father John Misty himself. He is a simple paradox, a dichotomy of a human being, a split personality of oneself, a diversity of contrast, not to be oxymoronic or redundant. He is the embodiment of a true performer, one of very very few existing on earth.
My significant other had purchased tickets a few months back and had expressed that I could join if I cared to. I accepted the offer, thankfully. As now I am writing about something amazing that happened in my life.
We biked to First Ave. from NE Minneapolis, in the rain. Arriving at around 9 PM, obviating the opening band, Solid Gold (for no apparent reason at all). We arrived wet and soaked to the bone. After entering we promptly ordered whiskeys and gazed over the massive sold-out crowd of the main room floor. Walking towards the stage we found a spot near the right side, just above the lower-level standing room area, and watched as the roadies set the stage for what was going to be a show. After 15 minutes of waiting the band entered the room to a roar, the floor lights went dim and a spotlight hit the man at center stage. The show was on, and this is what transpired, in broken prose and obscure paragraphs:
Electric rock blues country indie psychedelic sound with 100% heart within the live performance. Haunting, chilling, numbing, and genuinely real. Sorrow was on display. Realism was tangible. A dark gospel was in session.
Father John Misty, the true performer. Like Mercury and Morrison on stage; at times pure evil, at times sultan of seduction, at times almost bringing you to tears, or terror, and all at once, had you laughing moments later.
He performed the hits, some new material, and even for an encore (1 of the 3 songs) pleaser he did a rendition of The Beatles’, Happiness Is a Warm Gun.
His [Father John Misty] antics and ad-libs added to the amusement and brought humor and a human aspect to the set: pokes on Prince, America, and humanity rang true and effective. I felt like I knew him by the end. At the start I wasn’t sure if I was even a fan, at the conclusion I knew I had seen something amazing, and I needed to delve more into his musical catalog. Fantastic.
Authentic, yet almost vulnerable on stage, something that garnered an emotional cord with the crowd; I was moved at his artistry and the way the lighting made the theatre on stage come alive; I was not just at a concert, I was on a journey. Father John Misty at the helm.
At one point, during Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings, one of the best songs of the evening, I thought someone (Father John Misty himself) was going to choke on a mic cord; however, not to worry all was crescendo, breakdown, and lights after that. There was an encore with 3 songs (as mentioned above) and that was it. I stood in awe. I was impressed.
End of What Transpired.
All that said, Father John Misty is a talented live performer. The set he created delivered to someone who was an ignorant fan, even the backdrop was well-done. His material has been on the radio for some time, I’ll be it more tame and polished than at the live show, but what the performance offered in dark and grit was a catalytic reflection of the manifestation of artist from album to live performance. If you have a chance to see Father John Misty, or you haven’t purchased the album, I suggest you get on that. Father John Misty has given us some very interesting and relatable art to listen to, however subtle and manipulated on the record, a great listen all around.
Father John Misty is a true performer, a real performer, someone who can put on a captivating show and not fret about reviews. He may have shocked an awed, but he is a true artist from what I have seen. Now, have a look for yourself.
For those of you who don’t know, Tyler Keyes is a producer from the Midwest who relocated to Austin, Texas so that he could make music with his partner in crime – M.i. He left everything behind in the hopes for a bright future in the music industry, and judging by the sounds on Pushing Keyes, he’s well on his way. From living with and interning for the mad man MPC deity Exile, to hooking up beats for Chamillionaire, he’s writing chapters for a book that’s already impressive to say the least. Fresh off the heels of releasing Pushing Keyes, Tyler sat down with me to answer a few questions about the album but also his experiences and influences.
Tim Althaus: Hey Tyler, how’s it going?
Tyler Keyes: It’s going well, how about you?
TA: I’m doing well man. First and foremost, I wanted to congratulate you and thank you at the same time; I know the release of the album is an exciting time for you and M.i, and I’m sure that you’ve had your hands full with promoting the album.
TK: Of course. Your site has been a long time supporter, so it’s a pleasure.
TA: We appreciate that here at Mind Inversion. First off, you know how important production is to me when it comes to determining the overall quality of a record. On Pushing Keyes, you’ve definitely pulled out all of the stops, and your drum game sounds stronger than ever. Ever since Prep Time came out, I’ve known you’re a fan of sampling, but on Pushing Keyes, it seems as though you’ve taken some cues from Ryan Lewis – in terms of an organic instrumentation feel. With that being said, how much studio instrumentation did you use on the album?
TK: Yeah, there’s a lot of live instrumentation on this project; more than I’ve ever used before. We had live recordings for tuba, violin, cello, trombone, bass, trumpet, guitar and percussion. I think that live instrumentation adds a certain dynamic that keyboard production just can’t emulate. But I also did a lot of work off of my keyboard as well.
TA: Everything just seems to have an organic feel to it. From M.i’s rhymes to the beats on the album – even the sampled tracks – everything feels very natural, and I really like that. I’m sure a large part of the feel has to do with the chemistry that you and M.i share as a producer emcee duo. That kind of leads me to my next question: You and M.i have been working together for the last year in Texas, and a year prior as well, but didn’t you start collaborating when you were living in Minneapolis? How did that working relationship start and progress?
TK: Yeah, we’ve been tag teaming it for a little while now. The Prep Time project was completed entirely through email and phone calls. When we started discussing the idea of making Pushing Keyes, I guess I was the paper, rock, scissors loser. I already had a couple of the beats made for the album, so I moved down to Austin after being in town for SXSW.
TA: Even though M.i is a great emcee, he’s also a very talented producer and jack-of-all-trades. How did you two determine that you were only going to use beats from yourself for the album?
TK: There’s an unreleased version where I handle all of the rapping and M is on the beats. Look for us to be interchanging our clothes along with the microphone for the live performance. (laughs) Nah, I leave the vocals to the professionals. We have a good chemistry when it comes to working together. A one producer and one emcee album is rare to come by, but when you do, it’s something special because the work can be so much more cohesive. You’re right about M.i being a great producer in his own respect – so him trusting me to handle all of the duties is awesome.
TA: You couldn’t be more right man. One emcee, one producer combinations are my favorite instances in Hip-Hop. When you think about duos like Gangstarr, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, and even newer cats like Blu & Exile, it’s obvious that they were meant to work together, and they were able to draw things out of each other that no one else could.
TK: You said it. Blu & Exile’s album Below the Heavens kinda laid out the blueprint in our case.
TA: Speaking of Blu, you guys were able to work with him on “Church West Texas” – which is one of my favorite songs on the album. He hasn’t been in the game for a very long time, but he’s got a strong following, and to many, Below the Heavens is a modern day classic. How does it feel for you guys to have him on the album, and how did that collaboration come about?
TK: We had Blu picked out for that song right away. A few years back I was living with his producer – Exile - in L.A. while he was completing Fashawn’s album – Boy Meets World. I got to learn from him and see how he approached sessions. He is notorious for producing full albums, and watching it taught me not to over-control and keep trust in your writer/collaborator. Coincidentally, our video director Aaron had struck up a working relationship with Blu, so bridging the talents naturally came together.
TA: To me, Boy Meets World is a classic album, and one of the best debut albums in recent memory right alongside Below the Heavens; I can’t even imagine what it was like to watch Fashawn & Exile collaborate on that project.
TK: Yeah, it’s a great album. They were in the final stages of it when I arrived. Then the focus shifted to DagSav – the joint project with Johaz. Did you ever hear that one?
TA: Nah, I can’t say I’ve heard it
TA: (laughs) I’ll definitely check it out tonight.
TA: You guys were also able to link up with Chamillionaire for the project, and you’ve produced tracks for him a couple of different times. He’s a Grammy Award winner, and he has an extensive following in Texas. What led to you two collaborating, and ultimately ending up on the album?
TK: Yeah, he’s the man. The first beat I produced for him – “Never Enough“- was set aside for M.i in the early stages, but Pushing Keyes didn’t go in that direction. Cham heard it right before Ammunition was released; he scrapped the original outro he had, and he cut the new record in a couple of days. As time went on I started sliding him some of the material I was recording with M.i., and when I asked him what he thought about hopping on “Nothing You Can Do”, he was all about it.
TA: That’s awesome that you were able to make that connection man. You guys have definitely have good relationships with other emcees, but I’ve also noticed that you guys maintain good relationships and get some serious love from some of the biggest Hip-Hop blogs on the internet (i.e 2Dopeboyz, The Smoking Section, Okayplayer, Kevin Nottingham). How does that feel for you guys as artists?
TK: It’s an honor, and it reassures us that we’re doing something right. The internet is the main highway for modern day music, and those sites are some of the most heavily trafficked out there; I’ve been visiting some personally for years because of their good consistent musical content, so it’s dope that they consider our material in that same category.
TA: My personal favorite from the album is “No Money”, and you mentioned that the other day that it has been the Twitter favorite as well. M.i’s lyrics are heartfelt and ridiculously on-point, your beat is insane, and to top it all off, you got the kids from the “Hot Cheetos and Takis” video to lay down some vocals (that I absolutely love). What is your favorite track on the album? and why?
TK: My #1 song changes with the days. “Comes & Goes” and “Throwing Stones” are two of my favorites though; they both have some personal meaning to me in the lyrics. I think the beat for “Throwing Stones” is my favorite overall.
TA: “Throwing Stones” is a great song, me and Steve (mutual friend) were talking about how M.i shouts out La Crosse on that song the other day. Upon my initial listen, I didn’t even realize that he spit a verse from your point of view, and I thought that was really interesting. Did you actually write the lyrics for that or provide guidance? Or did M.i just craft those words himself?
TK: That’s actually something that we thought to do towards the end of recording, and I wish we could have done more. I had a notebook of written bars and jump off points that M could run with. He took it, and he wrote everything in his own words.
TA: It’s amazing that M.i was able to convey your thoughts so well on “Throwing Stones”, and as the song mentions, you moved from La Crosse to Minneapolis to Austin, Texas. Was leaving your comfort zone and family in the Midwest for a certain level of uncertainty a hard thing for you to do? Or was it something you were dead set on?
TK: Definitely not an easy move. I not only separated myself from my family, but also my friends and my people I came up doing music with. Austin was something that I wanted to do for myself and my career. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of the people from back home fly down for visits at least once. The city is incredible which makes for an easy transition too.
TA: Without risk, there’s no reward.
TK: There’s a lot of truth behind that.
TA: You’ve told me before that you’re heavily influenced by cats like Just Blaze, Mike Shinoda and Classified, but I’m curious, what producers are you into right now that make you want to elevate your production game?
TK: If anyone pushes my sound right now its No I.D.; his recent work with Common, Nas and Mikkey Halsted has me on my game. I also like what Soundwave is doing for Kendrick Lamar and them. Always I’m paying attention to what Kanye and Pharrell are doing musically as well.
TA: I forgot to mention Ye because I know you’re a huge fan of his, but I can’t agree more with No I.D.; everything he has been doing lately is absolutely genius.
TK: No I.D.’s got the crown right now in my opinion.
TA: Mind Inversion is a Midwest minded blog, and you’ve been a resident of both Minnesota and Wisconsin. Besides your family and friends, what’s one thing that you really miss from each state?
TK: I miss being able to say “pop” instead of soda and not catch a weird look from someone. Also, there’s nobody down here that can compare to a Wisconsinite when it comes to drinking; ya’ll can wear that title belt proudly.
TA: They definitely don’t generalize Wisconsinites as strong drinkers for nothing.
TK: It really all comes out during Oktoberfest week in my experiences; I need to go to another one of those. I’ll be the guy singing off key to Asher Roth “I Love College”.
TA: (laughs) oh man…. Are you guys going to be heading to the Midwest for any tour dates to support Pushing Keyes?
TK: For sure. I can’t wait to do a show up there; plus, M has never been properly acquainted to my mom’s strawberry rhubarb pie, so that in itself is worth a trip up north.
TA: I’m definitely looking forward to catching you guys live, so you’ll have to let me know when you’re making it this way. As a last question I have to ask, if you could work with any emcee in the game right now, who would it be?
TK: Will Smith! I think he’s still got something left in the tank, and I think I could set him up on a nice Fresh Prince type stage. That would be legendary (laughs).
TA: It sounds like the 90′s all over again. I would play the shit out of that!
TK: I just saw him performing “Summertime” on Letterman the other day – still sounding like the illest.
TA: Him and Jazzy Jeff were ahead of their time without a doubt.
TK: Pioneer status.
TA: Agreed. Well, I want to thank you for your time man, it’s much appreciated, and I hope that Pushing Keyes continues to gain momentum because it’s an incredible project. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
TK: Thanks for having me. I also want to say thank you to you and the other people out there who have been taking the music in and responding to it. We put it all out there for free so as many ears as possible would hear it and let it be their life’s soundtrack for a little while. That’s what its all about.
TA: I appreciate it Tyler, and thank you again.
Pushing Keyes is out now, and you can download it for free here.