JEL AND ODD NOSDAM: TOO MUCH RED MEAT FOR THE FUTURE
As Anticon’s resident beat maestros, Jel and Odd Nosdam have developed a great kinship over their love and mastery of crafting gritty but emotive instrumentals. Their beats convinced a new generation of kids that music without vocals isn’t necessarily always background music, but also established the perfect platform for the rhymes of their labelmates. This interview by Amorn Bholsangngam.
What do you like best about Low End Theory?
Jel: It’s a very cool spot where people who are interested in a certain sound can come and enjoy themselves. The L.A. beat scene has been catching some good publicity lately with Japan and Europe going crazy over Flying Lotus, so as a place, it’s come up as a whole. It’s good to have a place where producers can come and let loose by playing completely new beats. The focus is on producers getting off—not so much the MCs—which is rare. And there’s an environment here where you feel like you could get some constructive critiquing.
Odd Nosdam: It’s run by Daddy Kev, whom we’ve known for a long time, and it’s got some really dope resident DJs like D-Styles and Gaslamp Killer. The night is dedicated to beat heavy, bass heavy instrumental music played on a big banging sound system.
What’s most special about performing in L.A.?
Odd Nosdam: Playing L.A. is always a unique experience. There’s a strong fanbase for Anticon down here that isn’t quite matched elsewhere. The people that come out to our shows in L.A. seem to be much more dedicated and much more open than other cities. I think the style of music Anticon has become known for makes sense to kids here looking for forward thinking music.
Jel: I’m always exposed to lots of new stuff from the L.A. scene when I play here. I have a ton of old records, so I’m usually not consciously seeking out new music. But sometimes I’ll play with new people and they’ll blow me away in places like L.A. It’s one of the only ways I’m exposed to new music.
You’ve known each other for years—how complicated is your history with each other?
Odd Nosdam: It’s actually pretty simple. I’ve known him for eleven years, and we’ve collaborated in many ways. When I was playing with cLOUDDEAD, Jel played drums on the tour. Although I’m confident enough now in a live setting, Jel’s been playing live much longer, so I felt that he was someone that would be great to perform with, especially since most of our sets are improvised. Though we usually stick to a certain set of sounds, it comes out different all the time depending on the crowds and the atmosphere. We also have a weekly DJ set at the Missouri Lounge in Berkeley. Jel is a master of rhythm; I just try to stay on beat with him.
Jel: When I was living in Chicago, Doseone introduced me to Yoni [Wolf of Why?], and Dave [Odd Nosdam] was working with them in the studio. He had his Dr. Sample, and I brought my SP-1200. He was intrigued with my machine over his, and I showed him how to use it a bit. He always seemed to be around and watching whenever I made music. We collaborated on [Jel’s debut] Soft Money, but we’ve become close friends from living in the same area, starting with DJing together. DJing is what sparked us. The two of us are in sync when we’re DJing a set with one another, and we try to bring that feeling into our live set. I’m probably the person that works with him best because he might piss off other people who don’t communicate as well with him. I love his aesthetic; Nosdam is all about sound. So our friendship and similar interests in sound are what makes this combination good.
Where do you think music is headed in the 2010s?
Odd Nosdam: I can’t even figure out exactly what happened musically this past decade. I would like to see people getting back to hearing music on a record played on a good sound system instead of an iPod. The MP3—especially if it’s at a low bitrate—is the most compromised form; it’s not the way music was meant to be experienced. I’d like to also see the low end aspect of music being pushed. Ambient is going in an interesting direction, and I’ve been incorporating some drum ‘n’ bass elements into my music. I want to get back to putting stuff on beat because the sloppy, off beat stuff gives me a headache sometimes. A steady four-on-the-floor beat would be nice to hear again.
Jel: I think in the next decade, there’s going to be a giant regurgitation of the past—regardless of whether it’s pop, R&B, country, or rock and roll. It’s going to be the same thing. Like Revelations in the Bible, it’s always just a cycle—oversaturation of the same forms of music until they’ve exhausted their commercial potential for the time being. But there will always be hungry motherfuckers making creative shit and changing things that aren’t necessarily selling millions of records. There’s going to be a wider separation between creativity and business; business will always find a way to bastardize creativity. There will always be filthy rich singers and producers that make a bunch of money off the creative people. Lady Gaga will fall the fuck off, Justin Timberlake will get old and have colon cancer. There’s just too much red meat for the future. Nostradamus will come back, and the world will implode. There will be a resurgence of the Fat Boys in 2026.
What decade of music would you feel most at home in?
Jel: Feeling most at home in is one thing, but being intrigued is another. I would probably feel most at home in the ‘60s. There was so much music and creativity bursting from people at the time. From soul to rock to the drug-induced shit—although I don’t care too much about the drugs themselves—it’s a period that I would love to listen to and watch with my own ears and eyes. Maybe in the next few years, there’ll be a way of doing that. I would be intrigued with kicking it with George Clinton during his doo-wop phase or with Can in Germany. I would hang around with them in their church, looping tapes, jamming, and doing acid, although I’ve never done of that myself.
Odd Nosdam: I’d like to say the mid-‘70s in Jamaica—not that I would ever fit in—since some of the most amazing music that I connect with on a deep level was made during that time. The mid to late ‘60s, when people started doing exciting things in the studio and the birth of psychedelic music. Late ‘80s New York—if it wasn’t for hip-hop, I wouldn’t be in California talking to you right now.
If you could construct the perfect song out of elements from any of those decades, what would it be made out of?
Odd Nosdam: I would have drums from the first Meters record, some blown out, fuzzy guitars from Flying Saucer Attack, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry mixing it, and Prince Paul fucking around with the faders.
Jel: Moondog would compose the orchestration, Tony Allen on drums, James Brown can conduct and be one of the backing vocalists but not the lead. And I’d put Tim Dog up front.
JEL AND ODD NOSDAM ON WED., JAN. 20, AT LOW END THEORY AT THE AIRLINER, 2419 N. BROADWAY, LOS ANGELES. 10PM / $10 GUESTS / $5 MEMBERS / 18+. LOWENDTHEORYCLUB.COM. AND ON FRI., JAN. 22, AT THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF CALLING ALL KIDS AT HYPERION TAVERN, 1941 HYPERION AVE., SILVER LAKE. 9 PM / FREE / ALL AGES. HYPERIONTAVERN.COM. VISIT JEL AT MYSPACE.COM/JELANTICON AND ODD NOSDAM AT MYSPACE.COM/NOSDAM.