Sunday, September 24, 2006

I'm so emotional I hug the block... head.

Producer and sonic mystic Blockhead took some time out to talk to Cigarbox's Green Hornet about New York City, working with Aesop Rock, and forthcoming projects, among other things. We even found a way to work in our obligatory Wu-Tang reference.

cigarbox guitars: it SO goes there

So, just to get started, some background stuff, like who was your first concert?

The first concert I ever went to was a Boogie Down Productions show at SOB's in Manhattan. I got in underage and it later became part of the BDP live album.

Do you have a favorite spot in NYC to dig for records?

There's a flea market on 17th st. I hit and Academy records in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I really only rock those spots cause they have dollar bins.


Are there any bands / musicians that you appreciate that might surprise people? Like, Holy Shit, Blockhead digs Celine Dion / The Dead Kennedys / Tchaikovsky? I didn't see that coming.

Donovan is my shit. I like Ween, a lot of random shit like that. But on the rap side, I like old ignorant gangster rap more than anything. Willie D is one of my favorite MCs ever.


I definitely didn't see Donovan coming. "Sunshine Superman" is my shit, maybe just cuz I'm a comic dork and I love hearing him mention the Green Lantern. You ever try and listen to the BDP live album to catch yourself in the mix or anything? My friend's sister loves to play people the Ani DiFranco live record where you can hear her saying something about something, I'm not sure what. So I mean, aside from Boogie Down Productions, who would you list as some big NYC influences? Not necessarily in the sound of your music, but just in getting you to want to make music.

I've listened to the album (I mean, I own it and everything) but I never heard myself on it. But that's not surprising, cause I was young and very much playing the wall that night. NYC influences? Basically anything between '88 and '96. Post '94, the underground movement was huge to me, fondle 'em, co-flow, godfather don, shit like that. But pre '94, major labels were still putting out dope shit. Juice crew and the native tongues were huge to me, as were D.I.T.C. (before they had that moniker). All that shit.


Speaking of NYC between '88 and '96, Wu-Tang Corp. released a statement saying that Raekwon the Chef is "now accepting beats" for future projects. Would you ever consider passing something his way? Have you had any chances to work with any of those artists that you see as big influences?

I'd definitely do some shit with Raekwon, any Wu guy really. I wouldn't even know where to begin about getting beats to him though. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to work with any of my favorites from the older days. At this point, as much as I would definitely like to work with them, I'm good with just listening to the older shit and enjoying it. A lof of them are past their prime anyway.


So on the other end of the spectrum, are there any up and coming MCs you've enjoyed working with, or would like to work with?

Up and coming? I've been working with this guy Despot. He's gonna put out an album on Def Jux in the future. I'm pretty much handling the majority of his beats. So far we have some seriously dope joints. As for up and comers who I'd like to work with, I'm honestly so far removed from who's new today that it's hard to say. I kinda stopped paying attention around 2002.


Any idea how far into the future we can expect to see the Despot project released?

I think there's an EP planned for '07 and then an album in '08. The EP is pretty much done. We just gotta mix and master it.


Any other Blockhead projects on the horizon that we can look forward to?

I got a new album dropping in '07 tentatively called Uncle Tony's Fun Time Coloring Book. It's a little different than my other albums. It's all more upbeat. It started as more of a side project but the label liked what they heard so they decided to make a real album release out of it. I'm also working on an album with a female vocalist named Joanna Erdos, along with my Party Fun Action Committee partner Jeremy Gibson. It's turning out really dope so far. Kinda down tempo-ish with vocals, but a weird pop sensibility.


Any future plans for the Party Fun Action Committee? I caught a performance at SUNY Purcahse like 3 years ago on Halloween and I honestly thought it was a student thing until I saw them on your myspace like a week ago. I enjoyed the hell out of it at the time though.

Not Really. That album was the most fun I've ever had making music, but it took a lot of work and time. I don't honestly think I can spare that time nowadays (especially considering that it didn't make any money), but I love that shit.


What's your take on RJD2 saying he wants to go "completely rap free"? Do you see yourself ever moving away from your hip hop roots?

It's what he wants to do. I mean, he actually plays instruments so it's not a huge stretch. I don't know how I feel about announcing that you're "leaving hip hop", but I don't really blame him for that, that's more the article writer's fault. And to be honest, I'm not planning on ever becoming a person who doesn't sample so him leaving is probably good for me. Less competition in the instrumental hip hop field. I wish him the best though and I'm sure whatever he does will be dope. He's a talented guy.


Well put. How does your friendship with Aesop Rock affect the music you've made with him? Do you approach a beat differently when you know you're making it for him to rhyme on?

It helps. Being close friends opens the door for honesty. If either of us does some shit the other doesn't like, we'll say it. With someone you don't know as well it might be a little awkward. As far as making beats for him, I used to try, but he tends to like the beats I never think he'll like. So I just make beats and he takes the ones he likes.


Two of my favorite Aesop songs are "Nightlight" and "Daylight". When you made the beat for "Nightlight" was it made knowing that Aes was going to flip it as this darker version of "Daylight"?

Not really, but when I made it I KNEW he was gonna love it. It was so up his alley at the time, when I made it I was like, "wow, this is 100% getting used." Then he had the idea for "Nightlight" and I played it for him. It was pretty much a perfect match.


So, your questions blog is proof enough that you're on the web a good amount. Are there any blogs, hip hop, music, or otherwise, that you keep up with?

Nope. I basically use the internet for e-mail, myspace, porn, and sports. Every now and then I'll peep some message boards, but overall I don't keep up with much.

2 comments:

Passion of the Weiss said...

Nice interview. Blockhead might be the most underrated producer in hip-hop and its nice to see what he's got going on. Though I must confess, I'm upset that no Party Fun Action committee album is in the works.

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