Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Chrono-Archeologist: BC (Red Tide) Interview

I was thinking recently about doing a blog post on Florida group Red Tide. They were a tight, I guess you'd say back-packer group that came out in the 90's and released a bunch of quality, overlooked material. So I figured I'd write about their debut EP or 12" or something... when I serendipitously got an e-mail from Lazy, Red Tide's DJ, telling me that one of their MCs - BC - was coming out with an all new solo EP, and was wondering if I'd be interested. Hell yeah, I was. So we wound up connecting and doing a full-length interview. And here it is:

To start out, how did Red Tide come together?

I met the other members of Red Tide when I was in college. I was going to school in Sarasota, Ringling School of Art. I was doing some MCing with some friends of mine… just more recreationally; and there was an open mic night at New College, where the other members of Red Tide went. It was kind of like this weird… things coming full circle. I had met Lazy before at this club. So I went to this open mic with another friend of mine, and I got on the mic with Skoolz, and we got to rhymin'. We kinda it hit off, and he was like, oh, let me introduce you to some of my friends. And so he re-introduces me to Lazy, and also 2%.

And, for a short time, we had another MC, Demo, who went off and did his own thing shortly after we all formed up. They already had Red Tide started as a concept shortly before they met me.

So, your first release was Rogue MC's

You know, what's funny about that, I think we were, as a group, starting to get to know one another when we did Rogue MC's. It was kind of just a collage of stuff we started doing when we got together, started listening to beats and writing; and we just put out what we got. Also, too, our time was limited, because by that point, 2% had left New College and was living in Tampa. So we would drive back and forth between Sarasota and Tampa, which was an hour drive. It was a really long commute. So, really, that was just us pushing to get something out. It was very experimental, not just musically, but as far as our artistic process, to see if we could get something out.

So, how would you compare that, then, to the "Fabric Addicts" single? Do you think that was a lot stronger…?

Yeah, I definitely do. I really do feel like we were gaining our stride more. Actually, that song was not really working… and then 2per came up with the track… because we had experimented with some beats, and we left it thinking it wasn't really working. And then when we came back to the studio in Tampa, 2per had this amazing track in there. And the rest is history.

Also, when we did Rogue MC's, I didn't have as much material; I wasn't as prolific at the time. "Fabric Addicts" was something where I actually began the writing process for that song, which isn't the case with a lot of the other songs. I wrote a verse, and that was about it.

It does sound like Rogue MC's has more almost freestyle-type material.

Yeah, it's very conceptually loose. The songs weren't as pointed in their direction. We did have a couple, but… Actually, there's a couple songs that just Skoolz was on, and I feel those were conceptually more pointed; but the stuff we did together was definitely much more of a collage process, and just feeling each other out.

It's so funny, for me listening to that material. Like, every so often I'll pull out the CD. It's just a world away from what we developed into later. And obviously it's a world away from what we've gone on to do, our own separate ways. Like Skoolz has his group Grafitti Death Threat, and I've just released my solo stuff. It just feels like a really long time ago.

Well, I guess it was - like over ten years.

Yeah, it's been a minute.

But it seems like, maybe not regularly, but sometimes Red Tide still performs together?

Yeah, we performed together up until like probably a better part of a year ago. We kept performing, and we had a lot of songs we didn't get out, which I'm still interested in still mixing down and putting online or whatever. So hopefully you'll see some stuff on the website popping up.

Well, I know you had a live album that had some songs that weren't on the other releases.

Yeah, we did one EP we called the Beta EP that was a really limited run we sold on Warped Tour. We also had one called Fear and Loathing In Florida

Those weren't live, though?

No, those weren't live, but they had new material. You know, I know we did something with some live music, and I can't even remember what happened to it. We made very small runs of everything, and I don't think I even have a copy of it, to be honest.

Well, back then, I think I was mostly following you guys through what came out on Atak. How did that hook-up come about, because I think P was mostly putting out music by California artists, because that's where he's from.

You know, I think that hook-up happened through Skoolz, because he was originally from Cali. That was really none of my doing. I'm probably the least technologically and networking savy person in the group. I'm like a caveman. I sit back and write and up until now - when I've been forced to be a little bit more up on the networking and communicating - back then, I was very kind of reclusive in that sense. So I think that connection was through Skoolz.

Would he've been the connection for DJ CheapShot[of Styles of Beyond], too? Because he seemed to be the only artist outside of your kind of clique that you seemed to collaborate with.

Yes. Actually, what happened was, Skoolz left and did the Hyphen Tirade EP before they changed their name to Grafitti Death Threat. And on the GDP stuff he got Cheapshot - and I think he might've gotten him on some of the Hyphen Tirade stuff, too - and he also got T-Rock, who's a pretty known DJ as well. But yeah, all that stuff was pretty much through Skoolz.

I did a single with Hyphen Tirade, and also the Grafitti Death Threat stuff… but that was basically me flying out, contributing my verses and being like ok, peace. It was like an experience where I was like, oh cool, so that's what that sounds like, after it got done.

So, coming out of Florida, especially in the beginning in the 90's, you were sort of a part of and apart from the 4-track tape movement that was happening on the West coast. Do you feel that it hurt you, being on the outside of it, just geographically; or did it helped because you got kind of a local scene to yourselves?

I think both. I think definitely a lot of people recognized us… we did stick out. But also, while we stuck out, I don't think everyone viewed that as positive. We played tons of shows in Florida and people looked at us like we were from Mars. 'Cause our influences were like what was coming out of The Good Life, or New York like Def Jux… This was back before even file sharing. So, I remember Lazy just giving guys money if they went to do shows, like, just give me anything Company Flow or get me whatever you find at the record stores… And we'd get the vinyl back and be listening to that stuff.

So that's who our influences were, like Freestyle Fellowship or whoever. So presenting material that was like that, especially in some of our really early shows, mostly based in Sarasota. There were a lot of people that were just like… ok. And what's funny is we found mostly just eclectic audiences who liked it, more than those who considered themselves hip-hop heads, but people who just like electronica or the whole spectrum. And they'd even roll up on us like yo, that's not even like hip-hop; it's like some crazy, intelligent music. I'd be like… hip-hop can be intelligent. (Laughs) Hip-hop can be all these things, you know. But it's just what they were exposed to.

It also seems like, had you come up someplace like in California, you'd've been doing guest appearances on everybody's tapes like Deeskee and all them, and sharing audiences. But it's like you guys were coming out of a vacuum almost.

Yeah. We definitely had our influences because we were listening to stuff, but as far as being around that, nah. I also think another reason for our being different was us being open from our backgrounds. Like, I was an art school student and they were in The New School for mostly like gifted students and stuff. So like, before Demo left… he was almost like a spoken word cat. And like I said, Skoolz had come from Cali… so he already had a bit of that flavor. Even when I first did that open mic night with him, I knew that his style was not born of anything that was happening around us. And me? I don't know. I just always kinda wanted to be different. Like, I didn't care what people thought was dope; I just wanted to do what I could come up with, throw it against the wall and see what sticks. I was just lucky enough to find like-minded people who supported that and made me feel comfortable.

Ok, so now there's a bit of a gap between the last Red Tide project and your current release… so what've you been up to in between?

Well, like I said, there is Red Tide material that hasn't yet seen the light of day. And a lot of material in Time Pieces was written in that gap. And if it wasn't written, it was conceived. And I was doing a lot of live performances, but you know… it was just life getting in the way, quite honestly. Just got out of college, jobs happen, girls happen… stuff like that. I just finally looked at myself and quite frankly, was like, well I'm not getting any younger. I need to quit bullshittin' and really do it. Especially since I'm nearing the end of the age for an MC - hip-hop is a young man's game. So I was like, I really need to get this stuff out that's been in my head for a long time. So I just took a leap; quit the day job. Plus, it was just like getting fed up. I think, if you're an artist… you can only let that pent-up frustration fester for so long until you make a move. So, a little over a year ago, I quit my job.

Also, in the interim of the last Red Tide stuff, I developed a relationship with my homeboy who's now my roommate and also works at the same club that I do. This guy Mudd, who used to be in a crew called The Void; and those cats were one of the few who really approached us and were on the same tip as we were; so we just hit it off right away. And Mudd is an excellent producer. So when it became time to get this thing out, he just really helped me out a lot. He produced the majority of the cuts on Time Pieces. Some of the tracks, like I said, I had ideas and was working on Time Pieces for years… one of the producers was an industrial musician, and I was just like, I like those sounds. So "Pop World" and Fusion?" Those were my friend Vinnie's, and I had those beats on a hard drive literally for years. And all the while, the whole narrative was developing. So it was just time.

So me and Mudd got in the studio, we resurrected the old stuff, mixed it, mastered it. I got my lyrics ready, recorded 'em. And we had his beats, too; and I wrote over that. We just went all out and got the EP done.

So, now obviously times have completely changed since the early Red Tide days as far as putting out music, with file-sharing etc. Do you think this is a really bad time, or do you think it's opening doors…?

Umm Wow. Well, I will say that I am thankful for this electronic age that we're in as far as dissemination of the music. Maybe file-sharing and all this stuff diminishes what you actually sell, but I think for an artist like myself… I want as many people to hear the music as possible. So the short answer to your question is: I think it's a good thing. I'm totally down with the internet and the way music is distributed now. I think it's great. Because a poor person like myself who's not signed wouldn't be able to disseminate his music with the ease of today.

And also, I think it just means that artists need to up their live game. They just need to go places and rip live shows - that's the way you get paid. I definitely have made more money from doing shows live than selling CDs. But yeah, I want people to hear and know the music; that's the most important thing for me. I think first and foremost like an artist. It's definitely something I want to become more financially viable as I start to move on, but at this point, my goal for this EP is really just to get my name out there as a solo artist.

Now you have a lot of remixes on your website by some notable people, like Bomarr or Thavius Beck… How did that happen? Were they Red Tide fans, or did you just reach out o them out of the blue?

We kinda just reached out to most of these cats out of the blue. We were just like hey, we got this thing that we're doing, here's some acapellas, here's the breakdown to all the tracks… It was kinda more just based on: are you feeling it? Ok, cool. We definitely broke some of 'em off some money. (Laughs) Everybody gotta get paid. But some of 'em were just like, I like it; I'ma go ahead and do this.

And I guess on a similar note, I should ask you about Saul Williams. He's a pretty major guest for an independent production. How did that come about?

Actually, that track is the oldest track on the EP. And I felt like that it just kind of, in a very serendipitous way, fit with the narrative of the EP. I met Saul at artist residency at a place called Atlantic Center for the Arts. He was one of the master artists at the residency, and it was just three weeks of intense discussion and making work. And I had this fragment of that song in my rhyme book, and I got there and it was a real interesting time. It was right after 9/11 and we were all thinking they might cancel the residency, but everyone showed up and I just got real inspirited to finish my song. And I finished my verse Then I met this guy, Levi, and he was feeling what I was doing lyrically and we made the track. And then we were just like, maybe we can get Saul on it.

And Saul being the cool, super down to Earth guy that he is was like, cool, let me listen to it; let me listen to what you got. Give me a copy of your verse, and he just kind of…

So he's doing your material on there?

No, no, no. He got a copy of my verse so he could respond to it. His verse on the song is his material.

It's interesting, because he's got a flow on there… He doesn't sound "spoken word" on there like I was expecting when I saw his name come up.

Yeah! What's funny is I felt like my flow was more like gravitating more towards his kinda flow, while he gravitated towards more of a traditional hip-hop type flow. Which was really cool. Because, you know, Saul has a background of writing raps as well. At the residency, he recited some of his old rhymes, which was a lot less mature subject matter than what he does now. But he was heavily influenced by hip-hop.

What's funny, too, is that song became like really relevant to me again, given the times, the whole recession and all that. So I was like, this has to go on there. Because I'd been threatening to release it for a long time. And I've seen him a couple times… every time he comes through here I go to the shows, we talk, he's real cool. He's like put it out, put it out. I'm always like, this isn't gonna step on any labels toes? And he's just like put it out. I was always worried about it, but I was like, this needs to go on this EP.

Well, you've mentioned it a couple times, so maybe explain the concept of Time Pieces.

It is a story told through the eyes of this guy who's a chrono-archeologist. And this chrono-archeologist comes from this world that's in our future called Pop World, but Pop World isn't a good place. You can hear in the opening track, titled "Pop World," which is a very vivid description of this world that has suffered through pollution and all of the things that we're currently doing. So the chrono-archeologist decides he's going to go back in time and figure out what got them to this point. But at this point in the story, he's stuck back in our time. So the only thing he can do is chronicle what's happening and try to warn people to avert a future crisis. So that's where we are in this one story.

I kind of started when I wrote "Future Pop," which to me was like what would cats rhyme about in the future? And then I started questioning the world, like what kind of world does this come out of? Then I wrote "Pop World." But there's always been this concept playing in my head of what's happening in the present affecting the future. And this one I titled Time Capsule because it's just that, it's all these things that actually in a way made me feel like I was traveling through time. Because there were fragments here and there, and this was like the skeleton of this world I'm gonna flesh out.

So, hopefully I'll get the second one out soon. I'm looking at probably March, April next year.

Oh, cool. So you've done a lot of it already?

Yeah, I've already got a lot done on it. It'll probably be about the same length. This was definitely designed to be a three-part concept album. Originally, I had this grandiose plan to make this really long-ass concept album. But I was like, wow, this is really daunting. So I said, let's break this thing up. And it also gives me time to explore and keep it relevant, because while it is a sci-fi album, it's really politics wrapped in a sci-fi metaphor. I like to keep current with the news and stuff, so when the next one comes out, I want to be able to discuss things that are happening in the present and what I think their consequences will be. This album will still see the character sliding, at least mentally, back into the future, into the present and back into the future.

It's interesting, because though I think you've improved or developed, and your production has - and even though now it's not all by the same guys - there's still a real feel of natural progression from the Red Tide material. Like it's not you've gone left field. Usually when somebody comes out, it sounds pretty different, and often not in a good way. But this EP still feels like more music from the Red Tide MC we knew from ten years ago.

Oh yeah. I still feel like there's a lot of fertile ground in the area that I'm in. And in some ways I feel that Red Tide never reached its full potential. Not because of the talents of the individual members, but life happens. They have girlfriends, they have jobs, they have personal agendas. Myself included. A group is tough to work with, because the more moving parts, the more than can go wrong.

Yeah, especially when you're not being subsidized by a label.

Exactly. And I feel the other members of Red Tide are very like-minded people as me. So even though this is an EP completely seen through my eyes and I had complete control, it's my world. But I don't think that the world that comes out of my head is all that much different from their world. It might be a slightly alternate universe, but it's not so far out there.

Also, too, Lazy did produce one of the tracks. He produced "Future Pop." And you'll see more Lazy production on the next one, probably two tracks of his. I still like working with those cats. Red Tide doesn't exist, but I still have relationships. Lazy not only still produces but has become in many ways like a mentor and has been real helpful in me managing my solo efforts. I owe a lot of the success this EP has had, as far as getting out there, to him and his being on the grind for me.

And let me wrap this up with an obvious question… We've already sort of touched on it, but what's up with the other Red Tide members today, and is there hope for a Red Tide reunion? I know you're still collaborating like you've said, so do you think about a new group album?

You know, I don't know. As far as what they're up to, Skoolz is out in Cali; he's married. I don't even know how active Graffiti Death Threat is. He's the one that I have the least amount of contact with anymore. Also, 2per works with us. It's funny, most of the people involved in the production of this EP, we all work in the same place. We all work in a small music venue called The Orpheum here in Tampa. And Lazy's got a wife and kids, so he's doing that. And you know, a kid is a job. His kid is gonna be 2 in January, so he's got his hands full there. And 2per manages the club, so he's got his hands full with that.

And I think he's got some side rock and roll projects going on. He's a bass guitarist. That's actually kinda been under wraps. I know some of the cats he's working with, but I haven't even gotten to hear any of their material yet.

As far as a Red Tide reunion? I don't know. I would definitely do it; I think it would be fun. But honestly, it's not something that I'm pushing for at this point. I feel like our relationships have evolved, and I'm really comfortable with where I'm at, work-wise. There's a lot more immediacy to what I do, because I'm not running everything two or three other people. This is my vision, this is what's gonna happen. So, artistically, if a record comes out, it's all on me, which I'm actually really enjoying. I love all my homies in Red Tide and I love all the people I've worked with… I don't ever work with people that I feel iffy about. But at the same time, I enjoy having this creative control and really rolling on my own time schedule. I definitely feel at this time in my life, there's a definite sense of urgency, as far as producing work.

I will say this, though: I do want to involve those guys more on the upcoming EPs as well. So hopefully you'll be seeing some more production and guest appearances from Skoolz and the other members of Red Tide.

BC(which stands for Black Child, by the way)'s EP (Time Pieces part 1, Time Capsule) is out now... you can order it digitally through itunes and the usual spots. And I'm pleased to report hard-copies are available, too. It's just $5 from his site,, and the booklet folds out into a mini-poster, which is definitely cool. And he's also got a myspace here, so check it out. It's good stuff.

Update! DJ Lazy e-mailed me a few comments on this interview (which he said was ok for me to go ahead and share on here):
"you know to follow up a couple things
we actually hit deeskee up about doin a remix but he couldn't fit it in.
And the hook up to atak came about through my talking to celph titled who used to run p-minus' website for him.
Later on when skoolz went back to cali they became friends but initially it was us knowin celph and both bein from florida that caused him to get p to include us on atak.
bc was outta the loop with a lotta that stuff just based on the fact that like he says "he's a cavemen with regards to technology" hahaha
cheapshot was a younger cat that went to the same high school as skoolz back in cali who thought skoolz was fresh back in high school. he later went on to form styles of beyond and then they re-connected when cheapshot started up his short lived label."

No comments:

Post a Comment