LIGHT SWEET CRUDE | Act 1: Hybrid — About the Producers


My new album started out as a personal journey, like my previous ones. But at some point along the way, one collaboration lead to another which lead to another, and so on. The idea evolved into a collaborative one, where the songs I was writing took on other shapes and meanings. New songs developed through these creative comminglings. ‘Light Sweet Crude’ has been very much like a spiral starting from one point, moving outwards and opening into a dynamic and complex formation.

Each producer comes from such a unique perspective. At the same time, there’s a commonality that runs through all of their music, a sonic connection which translates into a philosophical one. I love how these connections create a thread which runs through the album, and how their differences lead to an exciting asymmetry and disambiguation. My thoughts on each Producer, in alphabetical order…

—  Vanessa Daou

André Baum is a master at sonic synthesis. His library of sounds is vast – finding the slightest hum of a fan fascinating, André can turn what might seem like an ordinary sound into an audible sculptural form, giving meaning to what would otherwise go unheard. His work emphasizes the inchoate aspects of existence, the immense importance of listening, of hearing – and beyond that – of tuning-in to the world. André’s ‘sound’ is in and of itself a Thesis Statement, that the world we live in is alive sonically, oscillating and pulsing invisibly, reminding us that everything is waiting to be heard, listened to, uncloaked, decoded.

Bopa King Carré is a Master Percussionist, who has brought his immense talent and love of the drums into the electronic realm. It is a rare skill that he has, to lock into the steady rhythms of a DJ’s set with his live playing. The way he plays is a deeply immersive and expressive act, heightening the experience of listening into an act of feeling. It is a physical response to the music, but also a primal, intrinsic one. Music, rhythm, beat, breath, they are all connected. Bopa reminds us of this with everything he touches.

Da Poet is one of Turkey’s premiere and most revered Hip Hop artist/poets. His music speaks to the dispossessed, the disenfranchised, the dispirited, and in the way only Poets can do, his art sets forth an openness, where the door isn’t closed by oppression, but open to hope and infinite possibility. He achieves communicating t/his message through his deft use of language and sound, where the complexity belies a kind of universal truth which is both undeniable and unassailable. His words are poetic, but also prophetic. He speaks not only to his listeners, but for them.

Gray Devio is a Violinist who brings the conservative tradition of the instrument into the new century, with a distinctive rootsy sound, yet, a newness which is incredibly exciting. I’ve always loved traditional instruments such as the Violin, Mandolin and Banjo, yet there are few who have found a new language which resonates with the contemporary moment. Gray has found that way

DJ Hen Boogie has roots in Soul, Funk, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Electronic music. His creative spirit is vast, it embraces all of these forms deeply and thoroughly. My new material has a lot to do with identity and a cross-cultural mindset which echews making ethnic distinctions and checking off that dreaded box marked ‘White’, ‘Black’, or ‘Hispanic’. Those who tap into his music – as I did immediately and powerfully – are the ones who check the box marked ‘Other’. When you listen to his music, you feel the immense possibility of everything: of Love, existence, unity. His music expresses hope and belief and faith and wonder all at once: a true sonic melting pot.

DJ Timka’s sound seamlessly fuses Eastern and Western influences. It is a reflection of his extensive travels, cross-cultural ancestry, and deep love of the Exotic. Beyond being a DJ, he is a sonic alchemist, masterfully merging sounds, energies and rhythms. His love of the exotic touches everything he creates, which translates into a sensuality that is embedded in his music: it is palpable and immediate.

Charles Lindsay is a multi media artist whose music & sound experiments play an integral role in his work. He is a scientist, adventurer, photojournalist, and environmental activist, and The SETI Institute’s first artist in residence. He received a 2010 Guggenheim Fellowship to further develop his work. On my song ‘Break Me’ I used one of the sounds emitted from his sculptural assemblage called “Rocket Brain”, an interactive work built from salvaged parts from a 1970’s missile guidance system. Although Charles wasn’t a producer, per se, on the album, we’re planning a collaboration which further explores his sonic philosophies mixed with my vocals and Poetry. Working with Charles’ sound was a creative catalyst. I consider ‘Break Me’ to be a hinge song on the album, one that hints at future and further directions.

Ganga (Christian Rønn) is a Danish composer of film music, whose downtempo electronic compositions are sonic landscapes: they are journeys, taking you places. While written Poetry attempts to put the inchoate into words, sonic poetry has perhaps no one word to express it, in English at least. His work is Cinematic, and beyond that, it is elegiac. It embraces and celebrates the fullness of existence – our humanity, Sexuality, Sensuality, Nature, the Universe. His work is subliminal; in it you can feel the mystery of those invisible forces which exert their influence on our bodies and minds. It celebrates sound as well as silence.

Lem Springsteen’s music is grounded in American R&B, Rock, Jazz, Gospel & House. His approach is layered, almost architectural; Lem builds his tracks structurally, so that when you listen, you are not only hearing his music, you are in it. Listening to his music is a spatial and incredibly immersive experience. In a way, you can say it’s an existential argument he is making with his music. We are the listeners, but we are also the ‘existers’. The self-realization and heightened awareness that he creates with the subtle layering of sounds makes listening to his music a philosophical as well as sonic experience.

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