Tag Archives: MNDSGN

Artist of the Week: Swarvy’s Multifaceted Blend of Hip-Hop, Jazz, & Soul

Though Mark Sweeney, A.K.A. Swarvy, has released a dozen records through various labels, he doesn’t consider a single one of them to be his debut. Part of this is due to the beatmaker’s exacting nature. Born just outside of Philadelphia, Swarvy is a methodical and precise composer who plays bass, keyboards, drums, and guitar, and stresses in-person collaborations.

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A Guide to the Prolific Rap, Punk, and Soul of Pink Siifu

Pink Siifu

Photo by Yng Kara

No one will ever accuse Pink Siifu of making the same album twice. His prolificacy stems from his affinity for a wide variety of genres, including rap, neo-soul, and, more recently, punk. “I really have to [make music every day],” says the 26-year-old rapper/producer/singer born Livingston Matthews. Though he’s lived in Los Angeles since 2013, Matthews is spending the summer in New York with the hope of exploring more musical possibilities. “When I’m here, I have a different creative energy,” he explains. “There’s a lot of black and brown people here, so there’s cultural inspiration, too.”

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Album of the Day: Ivan Ave, “Every Eye”

On Every Eye, Norwegian rapper Ivan Ave reunites with producer Mndsgn, building upon the synergy they set on 2014’s Low Jams. But while that EP dabbled in repurposed jazz and hypnotic drum loops, Every Eye doesn’t feel like a rap record: over a bed of synth-driven funk and R&B, Ave spits abstract bars about fickle lovers, conspiracy theories, and biohazards.

In a way, Every Eye feels like a companion piece to Mndsgn’s great 2016 album, Body Wash, which eschewed the producer’s crate-digging aesthetic for nostalgic, danceable grooves. Here, Mndsgn’s keys and synth work have mesmerizing effects, and Ave sounds very comfortable on the beats laid out for him. Ave and Mndsgn aren’t the only stars, though: On “Steaming,” guest producers Dâm-Funk and Kaytranada fuse skittering drums and airy synths, setting the table for Ave’s drifting vocal delivery. On songs “Monitor” and “Fast Forward,” pianist Arthur Kay Piene and multi-instrumentalist DJ Harrison add delicate keys to their respective tracks.

“Young Eye” is perhaps the best example of how Ave has evolved. In years past, he would’ve only relied on gritty boom-bap to present himself. But on this song, with its blaring trumpet loop and dark piano chords, Ave reminds us that, above all else, we’re all victims of societal conditioning: “Neo-Nazis marchin’ in Stockholm again though / Half of those fools caught in the Stockholm Syndrome / I ain’t making no excuses for a Nazi or defending them, but / I still ain’t seen a newborn with an emblem on.” As an artist known for his subtlety, Every Eye might be Ave’s strongest statement to date.

-Jesse Fairfax

Suzi Analogue Doesn’t Need Your Cosign

Suzi Analog

In 2016, Suzi Analogue moved abruptly to Miami; the cold in New York City was just that tough. “I had a really hard winter,” says the DJ, MC, and producer, born Maya Simone Shipman. “I was going through a lot, as far as anxiety is concerned. I didn’t feel healthy. It was cold, dry air. I was like, ‘You know what? I just need to go. I just need to go and experience something different.’”

The result is Analogue’s new beat tape, ZONEZ V.3, on which she begins to acclimate to her sunny new home. The inspiration for the song “BeachCruiser” was quite literal. “Yup, beach cruising is a thing [in Miami],” she says. “I wanted to tap into the idea of, ‘What does a beach cruiser sound like?’”

Sonically, the track employs darting synths and frenetic, stabbing bass. “This ZONEZ is very New York to Miami,” Analogue says. “I have the island and dance vibes, but then I’m also bringing some more hardcore vibes, inspirations from my nightlife culture in New York [where it’s] cutthroat—the bass has to be banging, the drums have to be hitting. This ZONEZ is a meeting of both of those worlds. I really like that fusion.”

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DIY in The River City: Richmond’s Thriving Underground Hip-hop Scene

BSTFRND

BSTFRND

Sitting almost perfectly in the center of Virginia, Richmond is a city of dual identities. On one side, it is home to a host of Fortune 500 companies; on the other, more than 25 percent of its population lives below the poverty line. Known as ‘The River City,’ the music of Richmond has a similar duality. Home to influential rapper Mad Skillz and the source of whatever divine supernatural forces brought D’Angelo into this world, the city also gave us Lamb of God and cosplay-chic shock rockers GWAR. With a population of just over 200,000, Richmond punches far beyond its musical weight. But in hip-hop circles, the city is largely ignored. Still, as MCs like Fly Anakin and the André 3000-heralded Divine Council rep the RVA, behind the scenes, a new generation of genre-spanning producers are slowly amassing a humbling body of work. “In Richmond, it’s all about a group of people and how hard their talent is,” says Tuamie, a musician and Richmond native now living in Georgia. “That’s what kept me creating while I was there, and what keeps me doing it when I’m not. Richmond will never stop, that’s a guarantee.”

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Jazz Trombonist Jonah Levine Is Making His Own Lane In L.A.’s Rap Scene

The Jonah Levine Collective

The Jonah Levine Collective by Calmatic

When you think of the L.A. beat scene, a few names come to mind: Knxwledge, Mndsgn, The Gaslamp Killer, Flying Lotus. But on Attention Deficit, the debut album from the city’s Jonah Levine Collective, the group puts its own spin on the airy head-nodders for which L.A. is known. With Emile Martinez on trumpet, Josh Johnson on alto saxophone, Owen Clapp on bass, Jonathan Pinson on drums, and Kiefer Shackelford on piano, Levine uses his trombone to carefully craft songs that display both a discerning sense of melody and a wide array of influences. He has a knack for lumping non-traditional influences into traditional jazz melodies.

“False Alarm,” for instance, opens in classical fashion—with light drum taps, floating keys and melodic horns. Yet two songs later, on “French Song Reprise,” the group drifts into alt-rap territory, constructing a beat—with guest Iman Omari—that resembles something Knxwledge would create. Vocalist (and Levine’s former bandmate) Aditya Prakash sings Indian hymns atop “Rakia Nightmares,” and producer Mndsgn lends his acid-washed beat-scene ethos to “Zootcase.” Despite the features, Levine’s strength is in the way he weaves his own band into the mix. There’s a strong sense of synergy in this collective, which has played together since Levine’s days as an undergrad student at UCLA. It doesn’t hurt that they’re close friends in real life. We spoke with Levine about his kinship with jazz, the patience it took to compile this album, and how touring with mainstream artists impacted his art.

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The Best Albums of 2016: #20 – 1

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Collage by Valentina Montagna.

If there’s one thing we learned since we launched Bandcamp Daily this past June, it’s that the world of Bandcamp is enormous—encompassing everything from emo in China to cumbia punk in Tucson, Arizona to just about everything in between. So narrowing our Best Albums of the Year down to 100 choices was a daunting task. Here, at last, are our Top 20 Albums of 2016.

More “Best of 2016”:
The Best Albums of 2016: #100 – 81
The Best Albums of 2016: #80 – 61
The Best Albums of 2016: #60 – 41
The Best Albums of 2016: #40 – 21

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Swarvy Shares His Most Essential Bandcamp Releases

Swarvy. Photo by Theo Jemison.

Swarvy. Photo by Theo Jemison.

In June 2011, a group of beatmakers gathered in Philadelphia’s Little Bar to honor jazz legend Miles Davis’s landmark album Bitches Brew. The producers were tasked with reworking portions of Davis’s songs, as local rapper Stainless Steele spit bars over their creations. A studio version of the results appeared online several months later in the form of Blasphemous Jazz: The Bitches Brew Sessions, a Low End Theory-meets-Jazzmatazz collage of sounds showcasing the talents of composers like Mndsgn and Knxwledge.

Among the group was a producer named Swarvy, a multi-instrumentalist who was just getting his feet wet when Blasphemous Jazz was released. “It’s everybody there back in Philly playing together, and it was based off this show,” Swarvy says of the event and the album. “[Producer] Sir Froderick had this place and wanted to make events like that one a monthly thing, but we only ended up doing it once.” Swarvy only had a few projects to his credit at the time; as of this feature, he has 21 total Bandcamp releases. We spoke with Swarvy, who walked us through his catalog, pointing out a few projects that might’ve gotten missed along the way.

Swarvy. Photo by Theo Jemison.

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