Monday, January 25, 2021

Music industry professionals demand change after speaking out about its dark side

Paul McKessar

Scott Mclachlan

Alison Mau, senior journalist and #metoonz editor at Stuff, wrote this important piece in the Sunday Star Times, it's a must read: "Music industry professionals demand change after speaking out about its dark side". (warning: SA)

"Young music professionals and artists are demanding change in an industry they say is rife with sexual harassment and exploitation.

A months-long Stuff investigation has uncovered allegations by women and non-binary people of harassment by male artists, international acts and executives - and has prompted an extraordinary admission and apology from one of the industry’s best-known names..."

The two music managers highlighted for their behaviour in the article are Paul McKessar (CRS Management, who list Benee, Brooke Fraser, Mala as clients and he's also former head of Flying Nun Records) and Lorde's former manager Scott McLachlan, who made the admission and apology mentioned above.

"Maclachlan confirmed he lost his position as Senior Vice President at Warner Australasia and was banned from Warner Music’s Australian offices and gigs, after the company commissioned a sexual harassment investigation in 2018.

"A former employee at the Auckland-based management company he founded, Saiko Management, said Maclachlan also sexually harassed and emotionally manipulated her while she worked for him. Maclachlan has admitted her claims are true.

"Three years after his business relationship with Lorde ended in 2015, UK-born Maclachlan was plucked from Saiko Management to take the role of Senior Vice President of A&R at Warner Music Australasia. He retained a role at Saiko, but the Warner job - split between Sydney and Auckland - made headlines in the music press.

"Within five months, Maclachlan had been banned from the music giant’s Australian offices after an external investigation into a sexual harassment complaint.

"Maclachlan was demoted but stayed with the company as an A & R specialist in Auckland. Stuff understands privacy requirements meant few Warner New Zealand employees were told of the investigation, or its outcome."

On Sunday night Warner Music NZ decided to fire Mclachlan

"…. Plows claimed McKessar broke off the relationship after being questioned by his partner - but that he was “really upset” when Plows wanted to end the business relationship as a result.

“He said it would be really embarrassing and it would look bad for his career and no-one would know why we’d left.”

Mau wrote "McKessar declined to answer a number of questions put to him by Stuff, saying he “won’t be making any comment about my private life, or about a consensual relationship with a former partner.”

McKessar's co-owner of CRS, Cambell Smith, posted a message on Twitter this morning, notable for two things - no mention of McKessar by name, and no use of the word 'sorry'.

via Stuff: "Campbell Smith, McKessar’s business partner at management company CRS, also posted a statement to Instagram on Monday, saying the company had not met standards “to provide a safe environment to our clients”.

Campbell Smith did not respond to multiple requests for comment. His post on Instagram said the company would “engage independent advisors to help us strengthen our company culture and refine policy and processes to ensure that we do always meet this (safety) standard”.

Mckessar posted an apology on his Instagram and returned a music award from 2020 for best manager (Benee) given out by the MMF (Music Managers Forum). No word if McLachlan will return his awards from MMF for best international manager from 2014 and 2015.

Several commenters on Instagram responding to McKessar's apology said 'this is the bare, performative mininimum." and another said  "this is clearly you trying to save face -  if you really cared you would take some accountablity for what you did rather than shift the blame to the [music] community."

Musician Villette tweeted "Until nz music managers lose more than the survivors that out them, there is no justice."

I'm totally in agreement with  DJ Sirvere's sentiments: 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Ring The Alarm playlist, 16 January

The Honeydrippers - Impeach the President
Marva Whitney - Things got to get better
The JBs - Giving up food for funk pt1&pt2
Parliament - P-funk wants to get funked up
Allen Toussaint - Goin' down
Lulu - Feelin' alright
Cyril Neville - Gossip 
Joyce Jones - Help me make up my mind
The Commodores - Keep on dancing
TSU Toronadoes - Getting the corners
Oscar Brown Jr - Chicken heads
Claudia Lennear - Everything I do gonna be funky
Stovall Sisters - Hang on in there
Eldridge Holmes - Pop popcorn children
Young Holt Unlimited - Wahwah man
Black Haze Express  -Won't nobody listen
Little Richard - Nuki suki
Willie West - Fairchild
Marlena Shaw - Woman of the ghetto (live)
Sisters Underground - In the neighbourhood (Pacifican acoustic mix)
Suns of Arqa - Acid tabla remix
Unitone Hifi - Lucky strike (Rockers Hifi remix)
Tanya Stephens - It's a pity
Sean Paul - Get busy
Nelly Furtado - Turn off the light (reggae mix)
Pinchers - Bandolero
Mckay - Take me over
Pyramid Blue - River Niger in dub
Jazmine Sullivan - Need u bad (Moody Boyz rmix)

Saturday, January 09, 2021

Ring The Alarm playlist, 9 January

Billy Preston feat Sly Stone - Can't she tell
Ruben Wright - Crazy baby
Patti Drew - Turn away from me
Patrice Holloway - Evidence
Gene Dozier and the Brotherhood - Soul stroll
Clydie King - Shing-a-ling
Aretha Franklin - Rough lover
The Ikettes - Don't feel sorry for me
Little Ann -  What should I do
Thelma Houston - Baby mine
David McCallum - The edge
American Gypsy - The champ (Evil Smarty edit)
Will Powers - Adventures in success (dub copy)
Orchestra of Spheres - Aby
Mala - Como como (Theo Parrish remix)
S-Tone Inc - Rendezvous a minuit
Ray Barretto - Acid
Cal Tjader - La bamba
Jimmy Sabater - Yroco
Noro Morales - Saona (Gilles Peterson and Simbad remix)
Willie Bobo - La descarga del Bobo (MAW remix)
Sault - Wildfires
Ardijah - Way around U (Allcity remix by Manuel Bundy and Submariner)
Chilites - Stoned out of my mind
Della Reese - If it feels good, do it
James Brown - I've got money
Penny and the Quarters - You and me
Troy Kingi - Chronophonic disco
Trinity Roots - Sense and cents (live at Studio 9, 1999)
Stinky Jim - Angry bisque (MPFU)

Monday, January 04, 2021

Archiving is a form of activism

I ended up reading a news article yesterday about The KLF on that led me to this video from 2018, titled 'How to be a responsible music fan in the age of Spotify'. It's based on an article by musician Damon Krukowski (Galaxie 500).

Towards the end of the article he talked about small getsures... "The actions outlined here may seem very small in comparison to the power of a corporation like Spotify, whose upcoming IPO is expected to be valued at as much as $19 billion, much less that of the biggest tech company in the world, Apple.

... The small gestures we make directly to one another are real. And sharing is a beautiful gesture. It might be the most fundamental gesture behind all music.

So share your money deliberately when you spend it on music, and it will be a real gesture with a real effect. Share the context of your information online, and its content won’t be stripped from you..." 
There's a discussion in the video on how Spotify playlists strip out context, eg what musicians played on the song, who produced it, where was it recorded, and so on, information they note you can find on sites like Bandcamp and Discogs. 

As part of that discussion, they throw up this quote from historian, writer and activist Howard Zinn, which caught my attention: "Archiving is a form of activism." 
Okay who is Howard Zinn and what's he on about? Read his biography here. He was born in Brookyln in a working class, immigrant family, worked on the shipyards, enlisted in WWII and then went to college on the GI Bill.
Howard Zinn

"From 1956 to 1963, he taught at Spelman College [an all African American, all female school] in Atlanta, Georgia, where he became active in the Civil Rights Movement. After being fired by Spelman for his support for student protesters, Zinn became a professor of political science at Boston University, where he taught until his retirement in 1988." He passed away in 2010.
He wrote many books, most notably A People's History of the United States, published in 1980, which went on to sell over two million copies, and has been described as "changing the way we look at history of the United States." 
In recent years the book, often used in US schools, has come under attack from arch-conservatives trying to ban it from schools, and attracted the ire of President Trump in mid 2020, who  falsely slammed Zinn for writing propaganda tracts, at an event called the White House Conference on American History. No African American historians were there.

 So what was Zinn  on about with archiving being activism? I found this piece from 2010, quoting a speech Zinn gave back in 1970 to the Society of Amercian Archivists, decrying the traditional notion that archiving had to maintain neutrality.

"The whole notion, said Zinn, was a “fake,” a cop-out, a dangerously passive avoidance of the inherently political nature of the archival endeavor. Neutrality allowed the archivist to perpetuate the status quo, to reflect and reinforce society’s economic and political disparities, and to preserve the interests of the rich, powerful, literate, or otherwise privileged, at the expense of the less so.

Zinn: “The existence, preservation, and availability of archives, documents and records in our society are very much determined by the distribution of wealth and power. That is, the most powerful, the richest elements in society have the greatest capacity to find documents, preserve them, and decide what is or is not available to the public. This means that government, business, and the military are dominant.”

"Zinn challenged his audience to question their own unwitting acquiescence to entrenched power, to campaign against government secrecy, and to acknowledge and confront the societal biases that ignore the marginal, the poor, the non-literate, and even the ordinary; in essence, to embrace an activist rather than passive mindset.

"This generated a considerable amount of controversy at the time, but in the 40 years since, numerous writers and participants in archival discourse have invoked the word activist in calling for new approaches to a range of archival concepts and practices, including ownership, diversity, non-textual cultural heritage, information rights, community archives, the definition of the record, user participation, ethical codes, and the responsibilities of the archivist."


Saturday, January 02, 2021

Ring The Alarm playlist, 2 January

Dreamcast Moe - Up 2 U
Lord Echo - Just do you
Charles Wright and Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band - Watts towers
Lewis McCallum - Back home
Wilson Pickett - Don't know my love
Irma Thomas - Lady Marmalade
Stovall Sisters - Hang on in there
Detroit Sex Machines - Funky crawl (J Rocc's edit)
Betty Davis - Anti love song
Donny Hathaway - Come little children
Marc Hype and Jim Dunloop - The Mexican
Sylvia Striplin - Can't turn me away
Wild Magnolias - Soul, soul, soul
Lou Donaldson - If there's hell below (we all gonna go)
Overproof Sound System - Get with it
Donovan Carless - Be thankful
Lovejoys - Let me rock you now
Sonsine - Believ'n
Lightning Head - Superfunky bird (extended version)
Etta James - Can't shake it
Bobby McClure - Peak of love
Little Ann - Lean lanky daddy

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Top 10 fave second hand vinyl finds for 2020

This time of year I'm often scanning all those 'best of'' lists from various music sources, seeing what I heard and what I missed. I discovered Little Dragon dropped a new album back in March, that flew past me, but we were going into lockdown so, yeah...Anyways, here's an idea I borrowed from Mauri (thanks): my top 10 second hand scores for this year. (links go to youtube audio)

Coati Mundi - Me No Pop I 7"
Been after this for a while. There's a fun Bigga Bush remix of it too out there somewhere in digitaland.
Jackie Wilson And Count Basie - Funky Broadway 7"
Big, brassy take on this gem.
I own a ton of Chaka singles, a cool 5 CD box set of her first handful of albums (that retails for $20, grab it) but no LPs. Fixed that this year.
Dee Dee Warwick - Suspicious Minds 7" 
Great soul take on the Elvis classic. Found this at Dingbats (above Real Groovy) for three bucks.
Miltown Stowaways - Tension Melee LP 
Auckland outfit from early 1980s, best known for the song Strong and True, included this LP. There's some cool angular post-punk funk biz on here that's aged surprisingly well. A lot of NZ recordings of this era have aged horribly.

This was on a Northern soul DJ set I heard somewhere online this year, made a note of the name, and it turned up at the record fair last month for a dollar.
Manny Corchado ‎– Chicken And Booze 7"
I've had this tune on digital for a while and picked up this reissue at The Other Crate record fair off Geezer Guy, who also sold me a very cool Fulgeance remix of Doug Carn on 7, thanks! 
Ardijah - Way around U 12"
I didn't even know this existed til a few years ago, when Andy Morton told me about the remix he and Maunuel Bundy did for it. Also has two great remixes by Soane on it. Came out in 1999. Another record fair score.

Because you always need more War records. 
Celia Cruz Con La Sonora Matancera - La Dinamica! LP
The wonderfully lively sound of Celia Cruz. Totally worth a tenner.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Two Syllables Volume Seventeen drops

From First Word: "If you’re reading this, you made it. You got through this year and right now, that’s enough. There are far more eloquent people than me who have dissected the ins and outs, rights and wrongs and ups and downs of this year. My feeling is that 2020 put everything under the microscope: the good, the bad, and very definitely the ugly too. Relationships were tested, our normal ways of existing were discarded and for many, their very survival was pushed to the limit. It’s tough to get through years like this on your own, which is why I remain ever grateful for the musical family we’ve built at First Word. That all of our artists managed to create, write and just get through the damn day over these last 12 months is worth celebrating.

So, to the music on this compilation - there’s selections from every artist who released something with us this year, including newcomers Werkha, Allysha Joy, Takuya Kuroda and Olivier St.Louis. There’s a couple of exclusives from our extended family in Mo Fingaz and Jake Milliner. There’s a festive favourite from Tawiah and a sneak peek at the next record from the one and only Kaidi Tatham. We’ve included three tracks that reflect this year in a very specific way: our good friends at CoOp Presents leant us Reginald Omas Mamode IV’s ‘400 Years’ which sits alongside Essa’s ‘Justice’ as reminders of how far we still have to go in finding justice and peace for people of colour.

I also had to remember those we’ve lost this year, and foremost in my mind was Ty. He was a relentless supporter of ours, encouraging us from the early days of the label and also as massive inspiration to us through his music, particularly 2004’s ‘Upwards’. We never released a track featuring Ty rapping or producing, but we do have an interlude from Homecut’s ‘No Freedom Without Sacrifice’ album, recorded on a club in a boat in Paris in 2008. Listening to it makes me smile - I can still picture him stood by the bar of an empty venue, glancing at us over his glasses before delivering exactly what we wanted in one take. We miss you Ty, Rest in Peace.

This album is free to download, a Christmas gift. If you do want to pay for it, all proceeds will be donated to Southwark Food Bank (part of the Trussell Trust)  

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Ring The Alarm playlist, 19 December

Sault - Bow
Guy One - Estre
Y-Bayani  -We are the band of enlightenment
Sun Ra - That's how I feel
IG Culture - Girl you need a change of mind
Erykah Badu  - Bag lady (Cheebah sac mix)
Elivs Costello and The Roots - Come the meantimes
Dreamcast Moe - Up 2 U
Clarence Reid - I get my kicks
The Meters - Soul machine
Jody Gayle - You gotta push
Patti Jo - Make me believe in you (Black Science Orchestra edit)
Society's Bag - Let it crawl
Rasputin's Stash - Mr cool
Macondo - Almendra
Larry Morris - Who do we think we're fooling
Collision - You can dance
Manuel Bundy - Jazzy bizz
Che Fu - Without a doubt (DLT remix)
James Brown - Let's make Christmas mean something this year
Bill Withers - Let us love
Fulgeance  -Tribute to Masekela
Kutiman - Elimi Tut
Tony Allen - NEPA dance dub
Dele Sosimi x Medlar -Gudu gudu kan (Daz I Kue remix)

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Ring The Alarm playlist, 12 December

Kahil El Zabar - Express yourself
Godtet - Cactus dance
Pigalle Connection - Church and casino
Tracey Thorn - Sister (Andrew Weatherall remix)
SOS Band - Just be good to me
Janet Jackson - Say you do
Ardijah - Way around u (All City remix feat Tha Feelstyle)
Brand New Heavies - Sometimes (Ummah remix)
Lole - Just wanna
Sola Rosa - Shine on
The Roughness - Cold cold cold
Quantic - Get a move on
Rufus Thomas - Itch and scratch pt1
Booker T and the MGs - Tic tac toe
Jeanne and the Darlings - Hang me now
Otis Redding - Loving by the pound (take 2)
Bacao Rhythm and Steel Band - My Jamaican dub (Peter Mac edit)
Cal Tjader - Soul sauce
Mike Nock Underground - Wax planet
Philip Cohran and the Artistic Heritage Ensemble - Malcolm X
Bobbi Humphrey - Blacks and blues
Doug Carn - Suratal Ihklas (Fulgeance smartbangin' remix)
Keith Le Blanc - Einstein (extended mix)

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Godtet album out now

Wonderfully wonky vibes... "With ‘III’, guitarist and bandleader Godriguez signs off the final LP in this GODTET trilogy, marking his 2nd LP release in 6 months.

Praise for GODTET’s LPs ‘I’ and ‘II’ spanned all across BBC Radio, his music has been included in a BBC Radio 1 Guest Mix from Ross From Friends, supported by Jamz Supernova on BBC Radio 1XTRA, Radio 3’s Late Junction, plus Gilles Peterson, Huey Morgan, Tom Ravenscroft all are enthusiasts over at BBC Radio 6 Music. 
Here on GODTET ‘III’, producer of Sampa the Great's ‘The Great Mixtape’, Godriguez has marshalled together some of the best musicians of Sydney’s new generation: A head priest of the Cuban Ifa religion, the step-son of Australia’s greatest ever funk and soul musician, Australia's leading drummer in this new era plus a highly gifted pianist from New Zealand [Andrew Bruce]. These disparate backgrounds culminate with incredibly sensitive musical and emotional connections to form this final chapter of the GODTET trilogy." 
Out now on digital/LP

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Ring The Alarm playlist, 5 December

Sharon Jones and the Dapkings - Aint no chimneys in the projects
Menahan St Band - Karina
Hank Ballard and the Midnighters - It's love baby (24 hours of the day)
The C.O.D.'s - Michael
Dusty Springfield - Stay a while
Aretha Franklin - Jump
Curtis Mayfield - We got to have peace
Major Lance - Little young lover
Baby Huey and the babysitters - Hard times
James Brown - Funky drummer
Nuyorican Soul - Nautilus (Mawtilus)
Yosi Horikawa - Wandering (Rough Fileds remix)
Souleance - Sulette
Dele Sosimi and Medlar - Gudu gudu kan (Daz I Kue remix)
DNA feat Suzanne Vega - Tom's diner remix
Roberto Roena - Take five (Nicola Conte remix)
Bobby Valentin - Use it before you lose it
La Lupe - Fever
Jack Costanzo - Green onions
Eddie Palmieri and Cal Tjader - Picadillo
Mark de Clive Lowe - El dia perfecto
Unitone Hifi - Lucky strike (Rockers Hifi remix)
Overproof Sound System - Kingstep (Unitone Hifi dub)
Salmonella Dub - Problems (Zion Train remix)

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Ring The Alarm playlist, 28 November

Souleance - Disco sega
Kutiman - Elimi Tut
New Mastersounds  -Witness
Stance Brothers - On top (guitar and flute)
Harold Burrage - Things aint what they used to be
Mr Bloe - Groovin' with Mr Bloe
Bob Marshall and the A/Cs - Funky fox
Gene Faith - Family man
Sharon Jones and the Dapkings - New shoes
Barbara Lynn - Money
James Brown - Get up offa that thing
Lyn Collins - You can't love me if you don't respect me
Fred Wesley and the JBs - Blow your head (undubbed version)
Oscar Brown Jr - Chicken heads
Labelle - Moon shadow
Earth Wind & Fire - Bad tune
Aretha Franklin - Rocksteady (alt mix)
Allen Toussaint - Goin' down
Tami Lynn - Mo Jo Hanna
Chaka Khan - What cha gonna do for me
Scritti Politti - Absolute (version)
Ardijah -Way around u (swing-gat mix)
Madhouse - 6
Narhan Haines - Lady J (video mix)
Dr Tree - Eugino D
Shogun Orchestra - River of Sanzu
Scratch22 - Shivani strut
Boogaloo Assassins - No no no

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Kutiman - Maasai In Dub (free download)

New single from Kutiman, free download ahead of the release of  Wachaga In Dub on December 4th.

"Kutiman’s Tanzania-meets-psych-jazz album, Wachaga, released earlier this year, is an epic and incredibly uplifting work of art, blending traditional Tanzanian sounds with free jazz, psychedelia, afrobeat and soul. On ‘Wachaga in Dub’ we see Kutiman turn inward, amplifying the deepest sounds within the album’s standouts, in turn creating a far more psychedelic experience.

Born out of a profoundly affecting experience, following an invitation to collaborate with the Maasai & Wachaga nations in Tanzania, ‘Wachaga” has been championed by the likes of Gilles Peterson, Uncut, Jamie Cullum, & The Wire. ‘Wachaga In Dub’ takes the original source material as a starting point and adds delay, reverb and phasers to elevate the music into new hallucinogenic heights. 

In the spirit of classic dub albums of the past, Kutiman selects and rearranges parts of the original songs to present them to listeners in a different light."

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Ring The Alarm playlist, 14 November

 Grace Jones - Nipple to the bottle
Liam Bailey - Champion
Conray - The flower fair
El Michels Affair - C.R.E.A.M.
Lee Fields - My world is empty without you    
Charles Bradley - You think I don't know but I know
Stevie Wonder - Fingertips (pt1)
Brassroots - Good life
Cannibal and the headhunters - Land of a thousand dances
The Mixtures - Poochum
David and Reuben - I love her so much it hurts me
Mary Wells - Can't you see (you're losing me)
Shirley Ellis - Soul time
Melba Moore - The magic touch
Marvin Gaye - This love starved heart of mine
Joe Tex - Under your powerful love
Cloud One - Atmosphere strut remix
Bohannon - Summertime groove
Fonda Rae - Over like a fat rat
Sun Ra - Where pathways meet
Cedric Im Brooks & Sound Dimension - Mun dun go
Jackie Mittoo - Totally together
Pitch Black - Speech (International Observer remix)
Black Seeds - Make a move (Downtown Brown remix feat Mighty Asterix)
Lord Echo And Jennifer B - Rhythms of 77
Godtet - Cactus dance
Sola Rosa - My love

Saturday, November 07, 2020

Scrimshire X Omar

New single from Scrimshire feat Omar, off the forthcoming album Believers Vol 1 out Nov 13.

The final preview of new Scrimshire album Believers Vol. 1 features UK soul legend Omar alongside Mercury nominated Seed Ensemble collaborator XANA and Resonators front woman Faye Houston. The massive lineup deliver a deep piece of UK soul, with clear synth influences from classic 70s era Stevie Wonder and a powerful message about equality and unity. What initially seems like a mellow soul cut builds to an explosive crescendo of voices and rhythms.

“This song was an early part of making the album, and when I made it, I thought "Omar would sound amazing on this" and immediately put the madness to the back of my mind. But it turns out, it is possible to make mad things happen. It is 2020 after all.

To give it everything I could imagine, I also spoke with XANA who made a massive impact on me with Afronaut on the Mercury nominated SEED Ensemble album last year. And to truly sprinkle magic all over, I asked Faye Houston to be a part of the amazing energy amassed here.

‘Believers Vol.1’ represents warmth and hope. Everyone I worked with early in lockdown, seemed to want to express those longings for physical and emotional connection too. The whole album reaches out, I think it’s full of long embraces. But it is also, for me personally a love letter to black music and the black artists that shaped everything I care about sonically, from my very first memories of music until now. It draws from sounds I grew up around in the early to mid eighties, classic records from the seventies that I’ve never tired of, but important dance records from the late nineties and early 2000s that celebrated and subverted those ideas too.”