Interviews

Interview

KAMASI WASHINGTON: I’M REACHING FOR SOMETHING

July 21st, 2015

Raised in a pocket of Black L.A. that carved out a place for forefathers and history, Kamasi Washington was able to channel his universal teenage restlessness into laser-like focus on his instrument. He honed his craft with childhood friends like the Bruner brothers and Terrance Martin and while studying in UCLA was already touring, using his powerful horn to back up Snoop Dogg on his way to performing with Chaka Khan. He has various projects and innumerable live shows to his credit already, but for many his most recent release—the 3-LP The Epic—is an introduction. When I spoke with Washington about the vibrancy in Black L.A. jazz, his own journey in music and the impetus behind his Brainfeeder debut, I’m reminded that masters transcend their instrument. We’re living a moment of transcendence in American music and that gift is irreplaceable. Kamasi Washington performs Saturday at California Plaza. This interview by sweeney kovar.

Interview

COZZ: I’M A MYSTERY TO MYSELF

July 16th, 2015

It was never truly dead, but hip-hop from the West Coast has recently risen to a stature it hasn’t enjoyed in years. One of the young artists looking to make a mark is South Central’s Cozz. Since last summer Cozz has been a Dreamville artist. But what does it mean for a young man from South Central to go from trying out his first bars at 16 to signing a deal at 20? I got the “Dreams” rapper on the phone to talk about what he learned from attending high school a few miles south and a world away in Manhattan Beach, the impact he’s looking to make and how it feels to be finding yourself while knee-deep in the rap game. Cozz performs Sun., July 19, with J. Cole and more at Staples Center. This interview by sweeney kovar.

Interview

DRUG CABIN: PUMP THE CHLORINE

July 13th, 2015

Drug Cabin have their own special California sound, matching the clean and pristine guitar—and pedal steel, too!—of the “Wasn’t Born To Follow” Byrds to the subtle wit and less-is-more rhythm of someone like Ned Doheny. Founder Nathan Thelen met Marcus Congleton after an informal invite to play a little guitar together and discovered him to be just the partner he needed; as Drug Cabin, they would be explosively prolific enough to put out two full albums earlier this year, with another taking form right now. They are in residency every Tuesday in July at Three Clubs. This interview by Chris Ziegler.

Interview

LEON RUSSELL: ACTUALLY, I’M A MAGICIAN

July 8th, 2015

Leon Russell is the Okie Trojan Horse of rock ‘n’ roll music—he dropped acid with Willie Nelson, played the piano intro on ‘Strangers In The Night,’ wrote Gary Lewis’ ‘This Diamond Ring’ and made Elton John cry into his Adidas tracksuit. In the thought-lost but just-released film A Poem Is A Naked Person by the late Les Blank, you get to see the most laconic man in the business—except for when he once stood on top of his piano and shouted down Phil Spector—eat BBQ, preach for twelve minutes and reveal the true connection between Hank Williams and the Lord Jesus Christ’s gospel choir. A Poem Is A Naked Person screens tonight at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel with a Q&A with Leon and Harrod Blank, moderated by T-Bone Burnett, with further screenings at Cinefamily. This interview by Nick Waterhouse.

Interview

BILL KREUTZMANN OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD: WHAT IS A HIPPIE?

July 4th, 2015

When Bill Kreutzmann learned how to play the drums as a kid he immediately realized that he was hooked; he did not, however, know that he’d go on to play over 2,300 shows as a drummer in one of the longest-running, hardest-partying bands in the U.S. (if not the entire world!). Now Kreutzmann has written an unfaltering account of what it was like to spend nearly three decades touring non-stop in a band that broke nearly every unwritten rule in the business (such as encouraging audiences to make and trade their own recordings of live shows, and routinely dragging a grand piano along with them on tour). Bill joined us from a hotel lobby in New Orleans and talked about the CIA, what it means to be a hippie, and his bandmate Bob Weir’s short shorts. This interview by Kristina Benson.

Interview

THE CUT RATE: I WANT TO GO BEYOND

June 25th, 2015

Oliver Jones of The Cut-Rate is quite the interesting fellow. He built insane imports. Then he bought a motorcycle, and never built a car again. His first motorcycle—he brought it home, rode it around for a few hours, then stripped it all the way down to the frame to build an incredible custom. He’s a Born Free invited builder with an incredible eye for detail and a style all his own. Saying he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty is an understatement. Let’s see what our friend has up his sleeve for this year! This interview by Frankie Alvaro.

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