Tag Archives: ModyWorks

Aman Ellis interview

Originally from Alabama and now based in Brooklyn, ModyWorks signing Aman Ellis makes electronic music that varies from extra-terrestrial-minded techno (All The Things) to down-south trip-hop (The Cacti). I spoke to him about his recent releases, his ongoing efforts in crossing musical boundaries, and how he’s inspired by BBQ.

First of all, what was the starting point for your recent Cacti EP?

Well, I’ve always been interested in the beat culture, specially the West Coast stuff. So I’ve always wanted to do a record that way. It’s a totally different style of production. One day I stumbled upon this hidden record store in Brooklyn with all the pristine records for $1. There were all these great old school records; jazz, classical, Hawaiian. Stuff like Exotic Strings, ya know! Now it’s my secret spot where I can go and I’m guaranteed to find something crazy.

I bought a bunch of vinyls in the hopes of doing the kind of record I’d always admired. I wanted a very melodic record with a melancholic, almost antique vibe to it. I wanted the dirt from the records. The scratches and pops play a big part in the way this EP sounds. For me, it’s the scratchy sounds and off-beat rhythms juxtaposed against the very pleasant melodies that makes it cool.
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sixty seconds of hum. ambient, melodic hum. a glissando followed by an electronic kick. this introduction sums up the cacti ep, the latest work from aman ellis on modyworks. the last time i wrote about him he was looking to the skies and dealing with extra-terrestrial soundscapes, but this time he’s back on this planet. it’s an new attempt at the chopped-up, cut-and-paste efforts from the likes of dj shadow and rjd2. as the title suggests, it sounds like it’d be perfect listening in the hazy wilds of the us desert.

seinfeld basslines, repeated vocal samples, snippets of old tv show themes, lashings of glass bells, nightmare phone conversations, it’s late-night lazing music, gentle enough to relax to, but interesting enough to ensure you stay alert. there’s even a hint of a dubstep wobble on hello, which ends with about three seconds of folson prison blues. and why not. i think my favourite track has to be a man in alabama, which calls to mind the turn-of-the-century stylings of the likes of the avalanches and groove armada. what this really evokes for me is the soundtrack to the uk tv comedy green wing, put together by jonathan whitehead, aka trellis. it’s mainly the slow tempo, lazy feel and the wailing trumpet sounds, all of which add up to form a languid, enjoyable breeze through this thoroughly engaging project.

Aman Ellis – The Cacti EP (direct link)

Almamy interview

Almamy is the singer/songwriter behing the ModyWorks label, home to a couple of artists I’ve featured previously (Paco De Moor, F.r.a.c.t.a.l). As well as that, he’s also a dancer, poet and film-maker. I was recently lucky enough to get an interview with this enigmatic character.

Tell me a bit about yourself, your life in Senegal and how you ended up in New York?

Growing up in Dakar was great and all but I knew from a very young age that I didn’t want to stay there my whole life. I wanted to see the world. I was into theatre and dance but my dad wasn’t ecstatic about it, even though he did some acting himself in his youth, so I ran away from home in my teens to go to Paris to dance professionally. I stayed there for a couple of years then I moved to New York cause that’s the place to be when you’re a dancer.

How did your clubbing experiences in New York influence what would become your musical style?

When I first moved to New York I felt isolated, because my days were spent in a dance studio. I would write poetry, or entries in my diary, on how miserable and lonely I was. (Laughs) Then at night I would hit the clubs, Shelter, Filter 14, Cielo etc… I was a regular at the Subliminal Sessions parties. I was also hanging out at Brian ‘Footwork’ Green’s House Dance Conference. I would dance by myself or just sit in the DJ booth and sing my poems over the banging house and juke beats. It was a lot of fun. One thing led to another, next thing you know I’m a singer and making music inspired by what I was hearing in the clubs.

What brought about your singing style? There aren’t many singers like yourself out there right now.

I didn’t really have a reference in terms of singing when I first started out. Like some singers I wanted to emulate or something. House and club music were what inspired me to get into it, I just wanted to sing my words over those sick beats. It’s afterwards that I realized that my singing style was kinda different, cause everybody had something to say about it.

You’re also behind ModyWorks, how do you split your time between singing/performing, writing/recording and label business?

I wake up early and I don’t have a social life. (Laughs)

Some of the acts on the label are from quite far-flung locations. How do you find acts, and what does someone need to feature on your label?

Well obviously I have to be a fan of their music. I wouldn’t sign an act that I’m not a 100% passionate about. I find acts through my friends, bloggers who refer them to me, DJs I know, demos we receive, etc… As long as I love what they do and I know they’re serious about it, I don’t care where they’re from. They could be from Jupiter!

You’ve spoken before about being influenced by experimental cinema – can you give me some examples of some films that have inspired you?

The Short Films of David Lynch, Android 207 by Paul Whittington, Dimensions of Dialogue, Alice, The Flat and Lunacy by Jan Svankmajer, Electroma by Daft Punk, The Cremaster Cycle and Drawing Restraint 9 by Matthew Barney. I love experimental films that you see in exhibitions and museums. So inspiring. I’m also a big fan of film noir and old sci-fi flicks like Forbidden Planet, Alphaville, Metropolis etc…

Would film-making ever be a route you might consider?

I’m currently working a film to go with my next release. It’s short film directed by my good friend Jeffrey Moore. We intend to make a lot of films together in the future and I may direct or co-direct one of them. So to answer your question, yes film-making is definitely something I plan on doing. It’s an art form that I like.

What are your live shows like?

My live show is combination of contemporary dance, theatre and art combined with my music. It’s like an installation. But sometimes I just don’t wanna bother and I just get up there and sing my songs. I guess it depends on my mood and on what I wanna say.

What’s next for you in 2010?

A project called The Love coming out soon. It’s both a record and a film. My cover of Daft Punk’s Digital Love will be the first single and will launch the whole project. Also a lot of touring and hopefully a second film by the end of the year. Wish me luck!

Official site

more than the sum of its parts

modyworks, the team behind young paco de moor, have put out another nutso release this week. coming from f.r.a.c.t.a.l, the brainchild of jérémie kaminski, “a self-taught musician and mad sonicist who thrives on always re-inventing himself and exploring new grounds”, it’s a wild and energetic affair.

opener obselete is a delightful slow burner with a haunting organ chord throughout, a squelchy synth adds to the air of menace and melancholy, while a searing drone dances overhead. it concludes with a sort of daft punk-esque fadeout, suggesting a future of uncertainity and fear. the only words i can think of to describe arise are glitch bounce. it’s underpinned by a dirty, distorted bass and propelled by a wowee lead. it gets the blood pumping alright. paperboy keeps things going at a frantic pace, with a whole lot more angry distortion over some shuffling beats. a crazy robotic voice pops up towards the end – i’m guessing that’s the eponymous paperboy. battlefield, which is available as a free download, is quite that. it sounds like an apocyalptic rave going on in the middle of a war, or maybe it’s a war going on in the middle of a rave. either way, it’s exciting, and it near blows you away. resurrection is another appropriately titled track, closing the ep with a hint of redemption. it takes the tempo back down again, and, again using those funky shuffling beats, returns to the ethereal synths of obsolete, but not without retaining a healthy dose of that menacing distortion.

what’s great about this release is that each track has something interesting going on, but nothing outstays its welcome – the longest track clocks in at a mere 4.17, so you’re not kept waiting for bits to drop or for themes to develop. if only more producers worked like this. as well as the ep though, which is available for preview on soundcloud and for sale on juno, f.r.a.c.t.a.l has put together the tabula rasa mixtape, which is well worth a look.

totally wasted

it’s 2010 yeah? so i should really start talking about new music. i was thinking about a top 5 yesterday and was pretty stumped… so that’s a big sign telling me i need to get on top of things!

“You’re hungover/Totally wasted/You wake up dead/Intoxicated/Your head still aches/Your stomach is sick/The alcohol starts to kick”

sounds pretty familiar right? that’s funny, these are the lyrics put together by belgian wunderkid paco de moor. apparently born in the early 90s, he probably shouldn’t be that familiar with the perils of alcohol… yeah yeah. anyway his track the morning after is pretty impressive. to me it sounds like a harder version of hugg & pepp‘s sweet rosie. the plodding bass and synths, the distorted vocals, the relentless groove – while both tracks are pretty much defined by their electronic qualities, neither ever sacrifices any funk. he’s also just put out an insane mixtape to go with his single release (on juno and itunes) – it’s called the morning after mixtape but i think i would actually die if i heard this too early. he’s got some of my favourite people on there – tiga, shadow dancer – as well as some of his own tracks, and even some re-edits from his modyworks label mates. just be careful if you’re walking on that treacherous ice and listening to this – it might lead to an increase of pace and thus a subsequent battle with gravity…

Paco De Moor – The Morning After Mixtape

1. Paco De Moor – Morning After (Drunken Robot Acapella)
2. Toxic Avenger – Toxic Is Dead (Cyberpunkers Remix)
3. Tom Deluxx – Reactivate
4. Just A Band – Burn It Out (Djedjotronic Remix)
5. Tiga – What You Need (Proxy Remix)
6. Paco De Moor – SICK
7. Depuis 91 – Erothiq
8. Djedjotronic – Turn Off
9. Project Cyborg – Oh Oh Oh (Keatch Remix)
10. Paco De Moor – Morning After
11. Djedjotronic – Gum Attack
12. Tiga – Move My Body (Only4Erol Mix)
13. Cassette Jam – Never Going Home
14. SebastiAn – Walkman (Fractured Extended Edit)
15. Cécile – Never Trust
16. Shadow Dancer – Poke