The Weeknd

COOL COMPANY’S SLICE OF PARADISE
November 7, 2016 9:00 am

Are you ready to take a trip with Cool Company? The Brooklyn duo recently released their Slice of Paradise LP, and it’s a sublime taste of a tropical summer holiday, perfect for escaping these blustery autumn days.

ATYPICAL SOUNDS got to engage in some correspondence with Cool Yan and Fat Matt, and got the inside story on the album’s creation.

Congratulations on the recent release of your album Slice of Paradise. What’s the most important thing you learned during its production?
Y: I think on this project we really started to break out of our shell and take ownership of our style. We started being a little more experimental and just did what felt right to us even if we were bending some rules we may have been previously trying to abide by.

M: We developed a few techniques for processing Yan’s voice that I didn’t perfect until the end of the recording process. I was also learning about some of the Native Instruments Komplete plugins as I went, but that is just a part of being a musician. You are always better after working on a project than you were before.

Is there anything you were looking to do on the album that you couldn’t do on your previous releases?
M: On this album, we were able to bring in some talented instrumentalists and vocalists to add their sounds to the work. Yan and I can cover everything if we need, but adding back up vocals, brass, and guitar from people who were much more skilled in those specific areas gave the sound an extra dimension.

The songs on Slice of Paradise seem a lot less silly (for lack of a better term) than “Call You Back”, the song many of your fans may know you for. Was there a conscious effort to make more “serious” music?
Y: I think we’ve always made serious music since the beginning, but when it comes to the singles and one-off releases, we like to have a little fun and keep things light for our audience.  At the same time, with every song that we write, we continue to grow and some of this new music is representative of our continued growth.

Were you two friends in high school? I read you met in choir class.
M: We came from different grades and friend groups, but I think we each thought the other one was funny and we started hanging out. We also had Latin class together and Yan would always fall asleep because it was right after lunch. The Latin teacher would always get flustered when she saw him asleep and yell at him.

What was it like to meet back up in 2012? How did the creation of Cool Company come about?
Y: We started making music for fun with a bunch of our hometown homies and sometimes it’d just be the two of us chilling making tracks and writing raps. We noticed it had a totally different vibe and style than when we would all work together and it just sort of grew from there.

Are both of you originally from Brooklyn?
M: We are both from New Jersey; we moved to Brooklyn after releasing our first album. I guess we are part of the change; lots of creative types move into the city seeking an outlet to express themselves.

Is it financially difficult to be a musician in the city? Are you in a position where you need to balance a day job with your musical career?
M: It definitely requires some differences in lifestyle from friends of ours with full time jobs in Manhattan. People take Uber everywhere; I don’t even have the app on my phone. We get by by living relatively far out in Bushwick, sharing a big apartment with a bunch of other people, cooking meals instead of ordering, and generally trying to take care of things ourselves instead of paying someone else to do it.

For money, I work out of our studio recording, producing and mixing for other NYC artists, and teaching lessons. Yan works in a restaurant and occasionally does graphic design and songwriting and recording work.

Are there any bands in Brooklyn you feel deserve more attention?
M: There are a lot of great contemporary acts in BK, and we’ve been fortunate to be able to play shows with a few of them. Lewis Lane, Greg Banks, Lawrence, Blood Cultures, Lady Moon & the Eclipse, and The Northern Orchard are some of our favorites

What kind of music are you currently listening to?
Y: Right now I’m listening to a lot of top 40 stuff cuz I like stay in the loop, but I also listen to a lot of alternative R&B as well as some old school Motown. I’m always trying to find new music that I haven’t heard as well as keep up with what new stuff is being released, whether it’s real popular or more grassroots.

What albums would you recommend for someone looking to get more into soul and R&B music?
Y: I love anything from Frank Ocean, Anderson .Paak, The Weeknd (especially his earlier stuff, even though I still love his more current pop sound). Emily King, Esperanza Spalding, R. Kelly, Majid Jordan, there’s so much good stuff out there.

M: I’d recommend Emily King and Anderson .Paak as well, also King, this amazing group of 3 ladies making beautiful R&B music. For classic stuff, my favorites are Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield and Sly & The Family Stone.

What is your favorite NYC pizzeria?
M: My favorite is BD Pizza on Stanton St. near Arlene’s Grocery. It’s the only dollar pizza place I’ve found that gives you parmesan, plus the fact that it is a dollar makes it so much tastier.

What’s next? Are you planning to tour?
Y: We been really preoccupied with the Slice of Paradise record, so we haven’t been able to invest much energy into our live shows. But now that we’ve dropped the album, our next priority is gigging around the city, so look out for us playing around in the next few months or so. We also may set up a tour for next summer and hit some festivals. My family is from London, so we are also trying to get over to Europe for a few shows too.

JamCam & The Spectrum of Human Archetypes
September 29, 2015 2:19 pm

Is JamCam too foreign for a yokel like me? Too intangible? Or is this just the music/social app I’ve been looking for? I don’t want to find new music, and I don’t want to find new friends. I just want to watch strangers lip-sync pop songs. Not the entire song either–no that would be exhausting. I want short, 15-second, Snapchat-esque selfie videos. “Who are these people?” I ask. “What are their stories? Do they feel what I feel when I listen to Justin Bieber’s ‘What Do You Mean’?”

That was a trick question, of course, because I’d never listen to that song (or feel anything if I did). Don’t make me laugh.

JamCam app

As far as I can tell JamCam is Vine meets Chatroulette, with a little bit of Snapchat and a lot bit of top-40 hits. I do not picture myself sending my friends JamCam videos (no matter how much they miss me), nor would I otherwise be listening to the selection of songs featured on the app. However, I am totally fascinated by the people in the videos. I love people, looking at them and stuff. Comparing them to myself, trying to analyze where I fall on the great spectrum of human archetypes. And JamCam has people, you better believe it. People I can relate to, people I can’t relate to, people who make me look in the mirror and question everything I’ve ever known. “Who am I, how did I get here, and where am I going?!”

About half the time, the person is a child: Preteen girl lip-syncing Ke$ha into her phone. Skinny boy with glasses screaming “Let It Go.” Baby on swingset with “Gangnam Style.” Sometimes they seem appropriately innocent, just a girl taking a selfie video at school. A few concern me though, the way my mother might be concerned if she saw a very young girl mouthing The Weeknd’s “The Hills.” This girl really understands what she’s singing, but I’d rather she didn’t.

More revealing though are the adults. My cursory analysis suggests about a 50/50 split between kids and grown-ups, but the 50 that can vote are a lot more varied in character. A woman in Lululemon singing “Dancing Queen” on the stairmaster. A scruffy, chubby, white dude blasting Rob Zombie in the car at night. A shameless older black woman absolutely crushing “Stayin’ Alive.” These are human beings just like me. They talk and poop and love. They film themselves singing “Moves Like Jagger” while driving, because multitasking is easy! They don’t need your attitude, thank you very much. “What a great song, watch me sing it!”

And then out of nowhere everybody’s vaping (thanks a lot hipsters)! Smoke and Drake just pouring out of their mouths. I’d love to figure out some sort of correlation/causation situation here, but it doesn’t seem to be limited to any particular demographic. College girls vape in groups. Older bros vape on the street (or wherever the hell they want, bro). Suspiciously young-looking people stare proudly into the camera as they suck down that vapor. Ooo, delicious!

Now I’m not one to get carried away with things, but I just cannot stop watching the seemingly endless amateur karaoke show that is JamCam. I even posted my own video (The Killers’ “Somebody Told Me”) but then grumpily deleted it because I looked terrible. Couldn’t pull it off, sorry. Better to focus on other people’s lives, how they spend their time, what their priorities are, who they lip-sync Backstreet Boys hits with. Am I like them? Would I have looked so innocent at that age (had I a smartphone and JamCam)? Should I vape? What can I learn from these strangers? Can I amass enough data to positively alter my social interactions? Am I changing how I see others and, in turn, myself? Do I actually like “What Do You Mean”?

None of these questions have an answer, and that’s a good thing. Ignorance is bliss. I don’t wanna know. Don’t think about it. It doesn’t have to make sense. All I need is a 15 second glimpse into the musical life of a stranger, and I’m good. Butter me up and serve me at dinner, baby. I’ll just be over here, watching me-as-a-kid vaping along to “Trap Queen.”