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Vans OTW presents
a new and exciting project called “What’s Good Los Angeles,” partnering with local independent record label, Friends of Friends, to explore some of the finest artists the city has to offer. Bringing together members of some of the best cultural movements in LA, the result is a 5 song EP including exclusive brand new tunes from the likes of Stones Throw artist and Funkmosphere founder Dam Funk, Body High co-founder Jerome LOL, electronic crooner and Anticon artist Baths, infamous LA DJ/Producer and Peacemaker founder Salva collaborating with Compton rapper Problem and Hodgy Beats of Odd Future rapping over a beat from Soulection/Team Supreme member, Mr. Carmack.
mastered by Low End Theory and Alpha Pup founder Daddy Kev (tracks available for download on desktop browser)
The industry cliché says that artists should stick to one sub-genre or sound. After all, branding becomes simpler when something can be streamlined in 140 characters or BPMs. Plenty of producers are known for one signature tic, but the ones we remember are the musically curious, those constantly unlocking new doors. It’s in this complex design where you’ll find Salva, rocking the party in permanent possession of a creative skeleton key.
Let’s start with the new: Salva is a DJ on the BBC’s prestigious, “In New DJs We Trust” program. The leader of the Friends of Friends movement frequently throws down jump-off mixes that electrify the weekend airwaves on LA urban radio behemoth, Power 106. His most recent EP, Odd Furniture—released on Friends of Friends— found his production hailed by Pitchfork for a “virtuosity and restlessness...like few of his peers.” His previous full-length, 2011’s Complex Housing was declared by Fact to be “an excellent record...darting between ornate hip-hop, miniature pop and wide- legged funk.”
“I've experimented with every single sound I came across while coming up. I didn't know what I wanted because I loved everything,” Salva says. “I fell in love with sampling and synthesizer based music. I was always told not to be a jack-of-all trades and only focus on one sound. But I always knew that’s how I wanted to leave my mark—by making contradictory genres of music and conquering all these styles.
In 2012, Salva and RL Grime’s remix of Kanye West’s “Mercy” became dance music’s hottest anthem, racking up 1.7 million Soundcloud streams and dynamiting DJ sets from Diplo, A-Trak, Just Blaze, and Skream and Benga. It also inadvertently helped kickstart the trap trend. But trap was just another weapon for the polymath fluent in Baltimore club and boom-bap, boogie funk, drum and bass, and disco.
Raised in Chicago, the city’s house music tradition influenced him as much as juke and Twista. Subsequent moves to Milwaukee, Miami, and San Francisco each left their mark. You can hear the booty- shake of Miami bass in the way his beats induce dance floor mobs. In
the Bay, he created the Frite Nite label, a movement at the vanguard of Cali-based funk and dance music—one that earned plaudits from British radio linchpins, Gilles Peterson and Benji B.
Salva has owned sit-down gallery shows and large festivals like Lollapalooza, HARD, Coachella, and Spain’s Sonar Festival. He’s played battered old bars, at the world-famous Do-Over, and before the bottle-service brigade at Drai’s Hollywood and XS in Las Vegas. As the LA Weekly said: “he’s not only one of the best producers and party-rocking DJs in LA...he’s one of the finest in bass music....one unmatched at blending rap and dance music.”
During an era when rap producers want to make dance music and vice-versa, Salva has been at this nexus for years. Over the last 12 months, the Red Bull Music Academy alumni has collaborated with Freddie Gibbs, Young Thug, Boys Noize Ty$, DJ Shadow, and Kurupt. After experimenting with every style under the sun, he’s poised to become one of the biggest forces in club and pop production. He’s no longer a man of many sounds. Those sounds have become synthesized as Salva.
“I gravitated to songs because I was mystified by a melody, an atmosphere, the timbre of the drum production or a rhythm,” says Salva. “No matter the style or the energy, if its minimal, funky, uplifting, hard, or musical, I just want to give people that same experience, and bring it out of the artists I work with. It’s all about that irresistible element that you just love, but don’t know why.
Germany born, Compton, CA raised artist Problem is on the fast track to stardom with a string of hits that has Complex Magazine naming him one of the 2012 "10 LA Rappers To Watch Out For.”
In the Spring of 2013, Problem catapulted into the national spotlight with his radio smash “Like Whaaat”. The trendsetting single topped playlists all over the West Coast and it’s music video spent several weeks on BET’s 106 And Park countdown. The single received praise from the biggest hip-hop executives in the business including Diddy, Snoop Dogg and NAME. The music video is full of hip-hop ambassadors (Snoop Dogg, Dogg Pound, E-40, etc.) and quickly surpassed 1 million views on YouTube, generating immeasurable buzz. 2014 has continued the same trend with Top 10 radio smash "Walk Thru" with Rich Homie Quan and Game's new single "Or Nah."
Never one to stay within genre lines, Problem will continue his exploration in the EDM world following his Coachella appearance and collaborations with A-TRAK, RL Grime, Salva, UZ on a feature with House DJ and Hard Events founder Destructo.
Jerome Potter's talents first found a home within the electronic duo LOL Boys, a collaborative project sparked via an online message board with likeminded DJ/producer Markus Garcia. Around the same time, Jerome also ignited a relationship with fellow LA resident Samo Sound Boy that devloped into them starting the record label BODY HIGH, a preeminent platform for underground club music in America that's housed releases from the likes of Todd Edwards, DJ Sliink, DJ Funeral and more.
In September of 2012, after multiple releases under the LOL Boys pseudonym - including the critically acclaimed Changes EP - Jerome and Markus decided to go their separate ways birthing Jerome's solo enterprise, Jerome LOL.
Since the parting, Jerome LOL's touring and DIY releases have been essentially non-stop, debuting his innovative "One Day" music series as well as multiple remixes for the likes of Classixx, Tomas Barfod, D33J, and more. With all this under his belt, Jerome LOL is set to make his official debut on Friends of Friends with the four-track EP "Deleted/Fool." The EP is a continuation of the dualities Jerome explored in his "One Day" series. He shows us how easily he can manipulate satisfaction into melancholy, evoking an array of emotions.
If you heard Obsidian last year, you already understand. On his sophomore album as Baths, Will Wiesenfeld fully shed of his sonic influences with a staggering work of graveyard beauty. Contrasts to the other artists became null. Giving it an 8.6 “Best New Music,” Pitchfork hailed it as a “subversive work that gets uncomfortably close to pop, confronting closed minds with what they don’t want to believe.”
Always a gifted musician, Baths became a fully conceived artist: a songwriter of uncommon sensitivity, a whimsical and romantic spirit, and a lay-me-gently-down falsetto. Think of his Anticon EP, Ocean Death, as a companion piece—the Dia De Los Muertos to Obsidian’s Halloween. It’s title and the eponymous opening track existed before a single note of 2010’s Cerulean had been recorded. Darker in tone, they were always targeted for a sophomore album, but wound up a different cut of gem.
Ocean Death is the exquisite setting. Just five songs and a shade over 20 minutes, the idea was to avoid over-thinking. Songs were perfected not embellished. The subject matter remains dark-tinted pop. “Ocean Death” reclines in the aquatic seabed. The lyrics are simple and bleak, but the effect is celestial. The 3 a.m. introspection and heart beat pulse are almost reminiscent of Four Tet or Pantha Du Prince. The pulse is almost minimal techno, but it’s suffused with maximalist emotion.
A small part of Ocean Death was recorded in a hotel room in Spain, but it was mostly done at a friend’s home in LA, the same place where Obsidian was completed. Both records traverse similar terrain: morbid lyricism, direct vocal melodies, a felicity in subsuming electronic experiments into pop songs. It’s about death, apathy, and loneliness. It sounds like a final love letter to a chapter of life that has already ended—and maybe it has. Songs are currently being theorized for a third full-length, and the direction is vastly different.
It’s not normally in Baths’ nature to rehash old ideas. In a sense, Ocean Death was an experiment to animate these beautiful but discarded fragments. We’re lucky they survived. Baths has a rare gift for cloaking melancholy with gorgeous arrangements. The emotions are raw, but the musicianship is refined. Guitars are scraped and processed. Vocals are clipped and layered, drowned and resurrected. But what lingers are the songs themselves; ideas fully formed and immortalized, built to haunt forever.
Known as Los Angeles' "Ambassador of Boogie Funk," Dam-Funk represents the citizens of the Funkmosphere. Headquartered in the Leimert Park section of L.A., Dãm (pronounced: 'Dame' as in Damon) spent the last few years cultivating a musical renaissance rooted in the early-'80s styles known as Boogie, Modern Soul and Electro-Funk.
As a DJ/selector, Dãm attracts the most discerning Boogie Funk afficionados within driving distance of his storied Monday-night Funkmosphere parties. But it's not just collectors at the bar toasting to the melodic sounds. Anyone who grooves to the likes of Slave, Aurra, early Prince, Prelude Records and the like, will get a dose of those groups' unknown contemporaries – more obscure but equally Funk-worthy.
Hodgy Beats was an original member of OFWGKTA along with Tyler the Creator, Left Brain, The Super 3, and Casey Veggies. Hodgy was the first member of Odd Future to release a solo record, with 'The Dena Tape' in 2009. As a member of the duo MellowHype with Left Brain, he has released three albums; ‘YelloWhite', ‘BlackenedWhite', and ‘Numbers'.
Hodgy Beats has been featured on various albums including 'Bastard, Goblin and Wolf' by Tyler The Creator, ‘Earl' by Earl
Sweatshirt, 'Rolling Papers' by Domo Genesis, ‘119' by Trash Talk, and 'The Odd Future Tape', ‘Radical' and 'The OF Tape Vol. 2' with Odd Future. He appeared on "Outta Control", a song from Stones Throw rapper M.E.D.'s album ‘Classic', produced by fellow Los Angeles native Madlib. Hodgy also appeared in the music video for that song which came out after the song was released.
Hodgy Beats has released three solo mixtapes: 'The Dena Tape', 'Untitled EP', and 'Untitled 2 EP'. The most recent, 'Untitled EP 2' was released on June 1, 2013. The mixtape featured guest appearances from Left Brain and Lee Spielman along with production primarily by Left Brain. On October 31, 2013, MellowHigh (Left Brain, Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis) released their debut album 'MellowHigh' on Odd Future Records. The album debuted at number 89 on the US Billboard 200.
Music is what Mr. Carmack does. Also, he does it extremely well and without a care about what you think. With a keen pair of parentals who've always been supportive and musical, it's really no surprise that Mr. Carmack is able to combine so many different styles into one, cohesive sound. With a background as a pianist since the age of 3, a drummer [who followed in his mother's percussive footsteps] with a hip hop sensibility, a lover of house music and a knack for heavy hitting sounds, Mr. Carmack has really carved a unique style into the electronic music ecosystem.
Carmack doesn't like to beef up his accomplishments or pat himself on the back, but if you walk into a conscious dance club on any given night around the globe, you will probably her a Carmack production or two without even knowing it. He's stealth like that. Supported by worldwide tastemakers like RL Grime, Kaytranada, Djemba Djemba, Okayplayer and BBC Radio 1, Mr. Carmack has only begun to show us what he's capable of – always leaving folks patiently anticipating his next musical moves.