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Bizarre Ride

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bizarre Ride

Art-Rap Legend Busdriver Got Racially Profiled in Arizona

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Wed, Oct 29, 2014 at 3:45 AM
Busdriver - PHOTO BY DIANA DALSASSO
  • Photo by Diana Dalsasso
  • Busdriver
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. Follow him on twitter and also check out his archives.]

Several hours after they crossed the Arizona border, the nauseating flash of lights and sirens forced their rented car to the roadside. The Pillsbury-faced cop commanded the driver to step outside the vehicle.

The charge: exceeding the speed limit by three miles an hour.

“I repeatedly apologized and told him we’re in a band … the car is new… I’m still getting a handle,” recalls Busdriver, L.A. art-rap legend, who was driving with his tourmates, rapper Milo and producer Kenny Segal.

“We made headway until he took my license and said it’s suspended,” Busdriver continues. “That was news to me. Then he called for backup.”

En route to a show in New Mexico, the trio had the misfortune of “driving while black” through Payson, Arizona — a rural town whose claim to fame is “the longest continuous rodeo in the world.” Its population is 15,000. Ninety-five percent are white; 0.26 percent are black. If Chuck D had a place in mind when he wrote “By the Time I Get to Arizona,” it’s Payson.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bizarre Ride

When Rock Stars Need Vintage Recording Gear, They Go to Charlie Bolois

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Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 3:45 AM
PHOTO COURTESY OF CHARLIE BOLOIS
  • Photo courtesy of Charlie Bolois
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. Follow him on twitter and also check out his archives.]

With Charlie Bolois, it’s hard to know what story to begin with.

Do you recount when the proprietor of Vertigo Recording Services was just 21, working for Motown, and tasked to deliver audio equipment to Marvin Gaye’s brand-new Hidden Hills mansion? When he arrived, he discovered the soul legend accompanied by an identically dressed “mini-me,” both eating watermelon beside an empty pool, wearing flannels and beanies in the sweltering Valley sun.

Then there’s the afternoon that Dr. Dre summoned Bolois to his estate in a gated community. When Bolois arrived, the Doc was absent and his front lawn was filled with intimidating associates washing Escalades and Ferraris. Suddenly, the sprinklers turned on and sent everyone scurrying. Bolois calmly entered the house and effortlessly fixed what ailed Dre’s analog studio.

Or there’s the time Snoop Dogg recruited him to fix Jam Master Jay’s original boombox.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bizarre Ride

DJ Carisma Is L.A. Radio's Biggest Champion of West Coast Hip-Hop

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Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 3:45 AM
DJ Carisma - PHOTO BY  LALO THE GIANT
  • Photo by LaLo the Giant
  • DJ Carisma
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. Follow him on Twitter and also check out his archives.]

You could stroll back and forth down this blah stretch of Burbank and never realize that you’d passed one of the most influential corners of West Coast hip-hop.

The nerve center of Young California can’t be seen from the street. The only signage attached to the sunbaked taupe building belongs to an insurance company, a psychic and some plumbers.

But should you enter through the back parking lot, you’ll hear DJ Carisma controlling the microphone, surrounded by vinyl records and perched behind a permanently open laptop.

Over the last few years, the Power 106 DJ has helped break more local R&B and rap records than any of her peers. In addition, she’s built her Young California crew (formed in partnership with the Bay Area’s DJ Amen) into a major force for West Coast rap artists, whether through hosting mixtapes, online radio shows or the collective’s blog.

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bizarre Ride

Peaking Lights Boast Music and Parenting Skills Like No One Else

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Wed, Oct 8, 2014 at 3:45 AM
Peaking Lights - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
  • Photo courtesy of the artist
  • Peaking Lights
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. Follow him on twitter and also check out his archives.]

It’s time for the interview but, before it begins, more pressing questions persist in the Peaking Lights household.

“Should we put on Ponyo for the kids?” the psychedelic pop duo’s drummer-singer Indra Dunis asks her husband, beat conductor Aaron Coyes.

“They just watched Ponyo. How about we put on Raffi?”

“What about My Neighbor Totoro,” Dunis counters, offering a different cinematic option from Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.

Resolution achieved, Dunis puts on a DVD for the couple’s towheaded offspring, 3-year-old Mikko and 18-month-old Marlon. The toddlers’ rambunctiousness temporarily quelled, the Echo Park Hills residents sit down to answer questions about their latest album, this month’s Cosmic Logic, released on Weird World, a subsidiary of Domino.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Boogie - PHOTO BY JACK WAGNER
  • Photo by Jack Wagner
  • Boogie
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. Follow him on twitter and also check out his archives.]

The thirst is too real and close to ignore. Open up any social media app and squint at the surfeit of selfies and excessive stunting on haters; no one is absolved from scrutiny. Long Beach’s Boogie understands these online addictions and lust for likes all too well.

“Twitter turned lying into talent. It’s crazy how people get on there and create a new identity,” the 25-year old rapper says, repeating a line from his June mixtape, Thirst 48 — one of the year’s best. “The underlying theme of the tape is my own personal thirstiness for a girl, but also the thirstiness of this generation. We need to get it under control.”

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bizarre Ride

At This School, You Can Learn to Be a DJ

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Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 3:45 AM
PHOTO COURTESY OF DUBSPOT DJ STUDIO
  • Photo courtesy of Dubspot DJ Studio
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. Follow him on twitter and also check out his archives.]

In the modern musical era, there’s never been a lower barrier to professional entry than there is to being a DJ. Get a cracked copy of Ableton or Traktor, illegally download MP3s, buy fake Twitter followers, practice in the basement for a week and you, too, can be booked. At least, that’s the aspirational ideal for many.

It’s a warped version of punk rock’s anyone-can-do-it ethos, except devoid of ideology or original songwriting. The space bar can be the new guitar solo.

A decade ago, DJing remained a massive financial and technical commitment. It meant plunking down thousands on Technics turntables and mixers, plus a record collection that could cost as much as a condo. You had to know what you were doing or the party would turn down forever.

Those days are dead. Plenty of outstanding DJs still exist and spin nightly in Los Angeles, but the field has been opened up to mediocrities with no business attempting to move a crowd.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bizarre Ride

The DIY Grind and L.A. Roots 
of Atlanta Rap Star Makonnen

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Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 3:45 AM
ILoveMakonnen album art
  • ILoveMakonnen album art
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. Follow him on twitter and also check out his archives.]

Until two months ago, Tuesday was the most neglected day of the week. It lacked the queasy terror of Monday, the euphoric potential of the weekend; it couldn’t even trump Wednesday’s rebranding as “Hump Day.” ILoveMakonnen changed everything.

Even if the West Adams–raised, Atlanta-adopted rap crooner never records another song, he reformed the Gregorian calendar with the psychedelic slump “Club Going Up on a Tuesday.”

If you haven’t heard it or its Drake remix, it chronicles 25-year-old Makonnen Sheran getting stoned in a stonewashed denim vest, wearily sipping liquor in a club corner and issuing falsetto laments about house arrest and a 24/7 trapping schedule.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bizarre Ride

What the Dodgers’ Players’ Music Says About Them

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Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 3:45 AM
LA Dodgers' Matt Kemp - ILLUSTRATION BY FRED HARPER
  • Illustration by Fred Harper
  • LA Dodgers' Matt Kemp
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. Follow him on twitter and also check out his archives.]

In case you’re among the 63 percent of L.A. residents unable to watch Dodger games due to Time Warner Cable cupidity, L.A.’s oldest professional sports franchise has run up a small lead over the Giants in the National League West. So it goes when you have the highest payroll in professional baseball history plus Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in blue since Sandy Koufax.

It’s been more than a quarter century since Chavez Ravine has seen a World Series, but this season might represent the Dodgers’ best odds since Kirk Gibson’s reign of terror. The National League boasts few marquee teams, and the Dodgers have a deep veteran lineup. Yet with the playoffs looming, it’s anyone’s guess to how far they will advance. Thus, this column turns to the most scientific way to assess team chemistry and playoff potential: by evaluating the Dodgers players’ at-bat and walk-up music.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bizarre Ride

Alexander's Greek Kitchen Is the Most Punk New Restaurant in L.A.

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Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 3:45 AM
The punks running the place: Konstantin Sotirhos and Alex Sotirhos - PHOTO BY TAYLOR SCALISE
  • Photo by Taylor Scalise
  • The punks running the place: Konstantin Sotirhos and Alex Sotirhos
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. Follow him on twitter and also check out his archives.]

The most punk new restaurant in L.A. might be Alexander’s Greek Kitchen, a 90-day-old storefront tucked into a strip mall in Vernon. This is a weird sentence to write for several reasons.

A) There’s nothing inherently punk about a pork gyro dripping with tzatziki sauce, no matter how serrated the French fries stuffed inside are.

B) Vernon is an industrial tract known mostly for grotesque municipal corruption and a Farmer John hot dog plant — not fine dining.

C) If you’re catering to a clientele of mostly factory workers, common sense dictates that they don’t want to spend their lunch hours barraged by a duo of “electronic body mutants” named High-Functioning Flesh.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bizarre Ride

You Know Martin Starr, But Did You Know He Raps?

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Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 3:45 AM
Martin Starr - PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE
  • Photo by Gage Skidmore
  • Martin Starr
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. Follow him on twitter and also check out his archives.]

Before redefining the geek archetype as caterer and hard sci-fi screenwriter Roman DeBeers on Starz’s Party Down and computer programmer Gilfoyle on HBO’s Silicon Valley, bespectacled 32-year old actor Martin Starr spent his high school years bumping Tupac’s All Eyez on Me at obscene volumes through the streets of West L.A.

Granted, this was standard operating procedure for any Angeleno teenager during Clinton’s second term.

But most didn’t drop out of the L.A. County High School for the Arts to star on Freaks and Geeks, the short-lived but seminal Judd Apatow show that jumpstarted the careers of Starr and his friends and castmates, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen and James Franco.

“During and after filming, [Rogen], [Segel], Jay Baruchel and I would write and rap funny comedy songs. Nothing too deep, but really fun to make,” Starr says, describing his first recordings over hamburgers and fries at the Golden State on Fairfax.

“It wasn’t parody. We were all hip-hop heads and weren’t fucking around. It was similar to The Beastie Boys. The last one was recorded in my room a long time ago. It was called ‘Shit Is Hot’ and it’s ridiculous.”

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