Today I’m headed back to the recording studio in Echo Park where I’ve been working with my friend Jordan Katz. He’s been incredible throughout this whole album process. He’s a trumpet player who’s been the music director, touring with people Brother Ali and Big Daddy Kane and is currently producing the new De La Soul record! I met Katz a few years ago when he and Martin Starr did a show opening for Adam WarRock in LA. I remember watching Starr on Freaks and Geeks as a kid and then being surprised to see him rapping – he’s actually a genuinely nice guy a great storyteller when it comes to songwriting. (He’s currently killing it as a disgruntled programmer on Silicon Valley, the new Mike Judge show on HBO… Frontalot agrees with me, it’s great!)
Starr has a great, Big Boi-esque flow when it comes to rapping. Yesterday we wrote and demoed funny song together about the origin of Easter… I came up with the first verse, he took it to a surprisingly place with the second, and then we brought it home to share the surprise origin of Easter in the third. From projecting a character, to trying to piece together a story and trying to recreate an imaginary scene for the audience, rapping is a lot like acting. I’m happy with the track and I was really glad Jordan could connect us.
This morning I was thinking about the concept of celebrity and how important it is to stay down to earth. I’ve always tried to keep that optimism about building your own world in the shadow of corporate media and how you can use that infrastructure to your advantage, without sacrificing quality in your work. I remember in 2008 my room had a view of Capitol Records building. “The Graduate” had finally recouped, I remember looking out the window and thinking how I was thankful for the people and industries that the major labels and industry had brought to this city, but that I didn’t need that world. That’s why the robot is cutting through the Capitol Records Building on the cover of my second album. He’s destroying the flat mass culture, literally.
It’s been a long education but I feel like I see things clearly, and as the Flobot also said in 2008, “I see the strings that control the systems.” Growing up and starting my career as a rapper during the invention of media and social media has been interesting to say the least. I was talking to my former guitarist Mike Russo on the phone about this last night. We reminisced about how back in the 90s, AOL served as the proto-Internet, which was the start of everything. For kids my age, it helped teach me a lot about the music industry with how labels and artists treated fans. I gained a distaste for major labels and an appreciation for artists who had time to communicate with their fans online, doing things like the AOL Live Chats where they answered questions. It was a shift in culture and media and I was fortunate to witness how everything changed, but as a fan and as an artist.
DJ has just been hired to record all of the vocals for the album. He did most of the vocal production work on “the Laptop EP” and “the Edgar Allan Poe EP” – he always gets the best out of me and the dude has an amazing ear. He doesn’t use his Stanford music degree enough, so Horris Records and I are working on remedying that with this album. Ha!!
Off to the studio!! Thanks to anyone who’s still reading these ruminations. More to come.