Friday, April 13, 2007

Snoop dogg's troubles

Snoop Dogg has just been given five years probation and 800 hours of community service on gun and drug charges. He could have gone to jail instead, so he must be pretty happy with the verdict.

Still, I don't get Snoop. I mean, why is he still living like this? I interviewed him years ago, shortly after his dear friend Tupac had been killed & we had a good chat about gangster life and about his feelings for Tupac, etc.

We really hit off, because he realized that I actually understood what he was talking about. In my teenage years (before MTV) I mixed with some pretty shady characters myself in Amsterdam and witnessed things young girls wouldn't and shouldn't normally witness. Even so, my earlier experiences into the darker side of life did help me in situations like this Snoop Dogg interview. Because I understand that there are worlds within worlds, where normal rules and reasoning don't apply. It's hard to understand unless you've witnessed it from within.

Snoop totally opened up to me and I could feel a level of trust that is unusual in many interviews. Afterwards he said to me: 'You know, I thought that we would be the total opposites of each other, with you having grown up as a rich white European girl, and me a poor black guy from the hood...but we're not so different after all, are we?'

And he was right. I totally 'got where he was coming from'. But what I don't 'get' is why guns, drugs, etc. are still part of his life. There just is no need for that anymore. He is a successful artist, a father, a business man and he is enormously rich. There is no need for him to still be going round in 'those circles' where you can't be safe unless you're armed & also..didn't he give up drugs before? He really needs to start thinking about what he could be throwing away.

I do wonder if these rappers understand that you don't actually have to keep living a gangster life to be able to rap about or relate to gangster life? And anyway, what's the public's obsession with this lifestyle anyhow? It's not a lot fun and it actually is not tough or even clever. Most 'gangsters' I've met haven't been the sharpest tool in the box and that's why they all end up killing each other. As soon as there's a disagreement or misunderstanding, they shoot. It's dumb and it shows the level of fear that's actually underneath it all. Kill before anyone gets the chance to kill me. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

So Snoop, sort your f***ing life out. Be an example to your children and all those misguided wannabe gangster kids out there. Even if it were to cost you your career. Even if no one wants to listen to you anymore when you start sprouting out some more uplifting lyrics (you may even want to try rapping about women in a more respectful manner) I believe that it's better to have no more hit records then to be a successful inmate. And I think that your children will agree with me on that.

Good luck Dogg!

P.S. After the interview I went on to kick Snoop's arse at a game of pool, which I thought was pretty cool. I'm normally crap at pool, but for some mysterious reason I played really well that day : )

Monday, April 09, 2007

This email made me laugh..

I received this great email titled 'my mum and Simone'. I wasn't sure if it was some kind of spam, but opened it anyhow. And this is it...isn't it funny?


A strange title for an e-mail I know but I must explain I am from the UK and now live in Australia. My mum was clearing out my old room and came across three video tapes which she proceeded to send to me in Australia with a message saying, I thought you may want what is on these rather than me throw them out.

Anyway the other night I put one of the video tapes in the player and it was, wait for it, MTV's Party Zone from 1992 / 1993. It was excellent to watch it back and the opening line from you is "Hello I'm Simone, I'm a little bit fluey today but that's what you get when you go out clubbing a lot (chuckle) and of course you're watching the Party Zone" I laughed my head off. I used to watch your show every week back then and used to hate it when you were off on holiday and Lisa I'anson would present instead as she would attempt to dance around the studio but not very well and simply end up rocking from side to side and clicking her fingers.

My girlfriend at the time always used to say I was going to run off and marry you instead of her as I would be glued to the screen when you came on. Ironic really seeing as I have been living very happily with my boyfriend Phil in Australia for the last few years.

Also on the tape was the video for your song "Let This Feeling" With you and Ray Cokes dancing in front of it when you appeared as a guest on Most Wanted.

I remember once being a student and absolutely wasted bumping into Paul King at a 120 Minutes gig in London where the Ozric Tentacles were playing and hassling him about how I could become an MTV presenter. Needless to say he took one look at me wasted and brushed me aside.

So after watching the video I decided to Google you and low and behold your blog came up. It's been fascinating to see what you and other ex VJ's have been up to. MTV was great in those days, they actually played music rather than the really bad U.S. "reality" shows that dominate the channel these days. We only have one MTV channel in Australia and it just isn't that great.

Thank you for your blog and all the best with your family and The Belize Jungle Dome.

Cheers, Stevie

Love it!!!!

James Hyman played this Dan Le Sac VS Scroobious Pip track recently on the Rinse. I nearly crashed the car trying to follow what the guy was saying. Great pop culture references. Very clever.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Is it even possible to improve on the original?

Whenever I've heard any attempt to re-record Sgt. Pepper, It's been a let-down. So will the same be true for this 40th anniversary makeover? The line-up is good ( I especially love James Morrison), but I still can't imagine that anyone can make the tracks sound as good as the Beatles did.

From the brilliant NME music website:

Oasis & The Killers to record new version of 'Sgt Pepper'

The Beatles classic gets a 40th anniversary makeover
(10 hours ago)

Oasis, The Killers and Kaiser Chiefs are to cover songs from The Beatles' 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' to mark the 40th anniversary of the classic album's release.

The original album was released on June 1, 1967 and to mark the event the big names will all be covering tracks from the record for a BBC2 special to be aired on June 2.

Razorlight, James Morrison, The Fratellis and Travis are among the other acts taking part.The BBC reports that Geoff Emerick, the engineer in charge of the original sessions will use the same equipment to record the new versions.

Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas said: "This will be not only a unique radio event, but a very special musical moment."The range and quality of artists involved ensure that this will be a fitting tribute to one of the great albums of all time."

There is no news yet on which track the artists concerned will cover.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

What the Belizean press had to say about the recent Norman Cook/Andy Palacio recording

The Channel 7 report: Fatboy Slim & Andy Palacio: Garifuna Meets British Dance

One of them is a British producer who draws thousands to all night raves; the other is a Barranco boy who recorded his latest album in a thatch house on Hopkins Beach. Put them together and what do you get? A little bit of international dance musical sensation Fatboy Slim, and a little Bit of Garifuna superstar Andy Palacio. The two recorded last week in San Pedro and courtesy of Stonetree Records we have the videos from the four day session. Here's what it looked and sounded like.

Jules Vasquez Reporting,The Stonetree Crew flew out so San Pedro to Mata Grande Studios, four miles north of San Pedro Town to meet Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim. His idea is to marry dance music popular in Europe with Garifuna instruments, styles and singers. Add a little of the Grandmaster to that and you've got….something.

Fatboy Slim,"See what happens when English music met Belizean."

And from his end, Fatboy Slim brings a lot. As a vastly popular British DJ and much sought after remixer, he's played to tends of thousands, sold hundreds of thousands of records, and won an MTV Best Video Music Award for this song weapon of choice. But now, he's in Belize looking for new inspirations and experimenting. On what? He doesn't know.

Fatboy Slim,"You can't really explain experiments or experimental."

And that experimental urge led him to the Garifuna Collective. He wanted to see how their sounds would work on his records.

Fatboy Slim,"We arrived here with no real songs, no real ideas. I came here with a CD with beats and bass sounds from England and about half an idea of what to do and over the last four days we've hang out with the local musicians, listen to what they do, try to match the two and see what happens."

But how does Garifuna music with its African rhythms that go back centuries intersect with electronic music pioneered over the last two decades? Well, right here. In fact, this could be the textbook study. Joshua Arana playing the Primera Drum showed Fatboy how he could slow the pace, and seamlessly ride his electronic rhythm track.

After getting the percussion pattern from Cook, Giovanni Chi did pretty much the same for the turtle shell and it hit the spot for Fatboy Slim. And while Lugua Centeno was circumspect, Grandmaster felt it, right off.

You could call it roots funk - and to make it even funkier, how about putting a wah pedal on a drum? To our knowledge its never been done but between Stone Tree's Al Obando and Fatboy, they weren't afraid to try. For those who don't know the wah pedal is made for a guitar, and alters its tone. Here's how it sounded in the Fatboy track.

A murky mystery of a tone - but that's where the spirit of experimentation took them. And its that kind of experimentation that made the tracks starts to come together to the satisfaction of artists from both traditions.

But while he may aspire to play the drums, Andy isn't ready to go into electronic dance music at least not just yet. He did write a song, worked it out with Fatboy, and delivered. Backup singers Cella Torres and Deseree Arana also got in on tracks. And if that sounds plain, this is how it sounded in the mix.

After a few days of that, Arana too was made into a believer. And by the time, Fatboy Slim had finished four days of recording, he, the Garifuna Collective and the engineers had put together three tracks - which he says is just a start.

Fatboy Slim says that definitely two of the tracks will make his next album. He may also do a remix of one of the tracks from Watina. After that session, Andy Palacio headed to Europe, where he will make a live television appearance in France in support of his new album Watina.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Swimming with sharks and playing turtle shells, yes it's another hard day at the office...

Well, we're back from the jamming sessions with Norman Cook and Belizean the artists Andy Palacio, the Grandmaster and the Garifuna collective. It was just the nicest week ever with night time drumming sessions on the beach, snorkeling trips, jamming, fishing, recording songs, sunbathing and walking barefeet on the beach. It really couldn't have been any more perfect.

The first day was a bit chaotic as there were so many people at once, but things soon slowed down and good music was made in the process. Norman recorded 3 songs whilst he was here, with my favorite being a slighly more down-tempo track with Andy Palacio and the Grandmaster, which I think will be called 'GMT'. The stuff that was recorded here will not be released as Fatboy Slim, but as the Mighty Dub Katz on Norman's label Southern Fried Records.

One of the things that was interesting to see was the interaction between someone like Norman, who is of course a big time DJ/producers & these local musicians, none of which are professionals (even Andy Palacio, the biggest Belizean star, is a diplomat as well as an artist). Norman was surprised to see how all the Belizeans just froze the minute the recordings started in the studio. The whole set-up was just too alien for them & they struggled to create a vibe like they had the night before when drumming on the beach.

Ivan Duran from the Belizean label StoneTree Records explained that this was a common problem and that all their albums are therefor recorded in people's houses, with the singer set up in the kitchen, the drummers in the bedroom, etc.

Still, Norman patiently persevered and eventually managed to get some great stuff out of everybody.

Setting things up.

Norman trying to figure out where 'the vibe' has gone:

We were all so sad to leave. Maybe the following pictures will help explain why...

Caroline Prothero from Prohibition, Nathan from Southern Fried, Norman, Andy, the kids and I on our way to Shark Ray Alley, where we snorkeled with nurse sharks, sting rays, eagle rays, turtles and more.

One of the daily fishing sessions at the end of the pier (hoping to catch dinner). Much was caught, including a crab, but nothing big enough to feed us.

The biggest fish of the week was caught by Aidan. Sadly though, it was made of fabric. Lucas' 6-year-old friend Justin kept telling people that he had caught 'a slapper' the night before, which we believe was the snapper that the boys had caught (we didn't correct him as we all found it too funny)

Drummer playing the turtle shells. Norman loved the sound that night, but was less keen on them when he got awoken at 7 am the next morning by the 'tuning of the shells' outside his bedroom door. Still, it's all part of being in the tropics.