Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gummy Soul: Amerigo Gazaway

CONCRETE: How and when did you get into DJing?
Amerigo: I started DJing probably early 2000. I was freshman in high school. I got my first Gemini starter set. I just started collecting any kind of records I could get my hands on, mostly 99¢ bin records, dollar bins, hand-me-downs from people's basements, attics, whatever. My record collections at the time was mostly that type of stuff. As time went on I got further involved with jazz, funk, old bossa nova, different types of stuff. My dad (Gary Gazaway/El Buho) is a jazz musician. Through that I've been exposed to a lot of different types of world music. He's played with bands like Phish, Soundtribe Sector 9 and different jam bands. He's been big in the jam band circuit doing his thing for the past 20 or 30 years. So I've always been into music. I grew up around keyboards and samplers and mini-controllers and stuff. So I started as a DJ.

CONCRETE: Your father is deep in the jam band scene. How did you discover hip-hop?
Amerigo: It was through my older brother and sister. They were into hip-hop when I was in middle school. My brother left for college and went to UT Knoxville. I found this shoebox of hip-hop cassette tapes that he left behind when he went to Knoxville. Except none of the cassette tapes were in it. It was all empty covers for Black Moon and Gang Starr, De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest. I was in middle school when I found it, and was like, 'I'm going to go out and buy these.' So I started buying these albums I'd found in the shoe box. I got into hip-hop that way. Then I got my first DJ turntable set, and started collecting any records I could find.

CONCRETE: At what point did you go from just playing music to producing your own music?
Amerigo: It really didn't take long. When I was a freshman or sophomore in high school I got my firs copy of Acid Pro. Which was the program to use back then. So I spent four or five years making beats on Acid Pro with whatever samples I could find. My senior in high school, my hard drive crashed. I lost everything. I lost all the beats I made freshman thru senior year of high school. When that happened I went out and got a Mac. I got a bunch of new programs. That's when me and Josh (Wally Clark) started hanging out. I started relearning in all these new programs like Reason. We kind of learned together. I taught him what I knew. He was really big into soul and funk and he put me on to that. Cause I was always a big jazz head. I was always into weird stuff like sound tracks, kids records, all types of weirdo records. Hanging out with him, he got me really deep into the whole soul thing. That's when Gummy Soul came about.

CONCRETE: You rap too. When did you start rapping?
Amerigo: It just kind of happened. I think just being around it. Going to Hillsboro, they had the studio with Mr. Gabany. A lot of what I did came out of that. Skipping class and going to the studio. Hanging out with people and free-styling. Riding around and free-styling. It was just a natural kind of thing. I never intended on being a rapper. I wanted to be the DJ, cause I didn't like being out in front of people. I wanted to be playing the background. One thing led to another and I started rapping.

CONCRETE: What was the first rap you released?
Amerigo: I haven't released a whole lot. I released that track "Dragon Park" little bit earlier this year, before the "Flood" song. This year in particular has been my first official releases to come out. I released an instrumental album last year on the label Cold Busted and instrumental hip-hop, trip-hop label out of Colorado. As far as the rap goes I've just kind of been sitting on it for a long time. I've been in school is the other thing. I've been in school for like the past 6 years going to MTSU. I haven't had time to work on music like I wanted to. Music got put on hold. Now that I just graduated like a month ago, it's taking off again. I'm really back into the music. And with this new project it's really blown up.

CONCRETE: What was the project you did for Cold Bsuted?
Amerigo: It's called Selective Hearing Volume 1. It's basically what the title implies. I have selective hearing. I hear what I want to hear. I listen to these records and I take only the piece that I want to hear the most and create a beat out of it. That's how the title came about. It seemed like the perfect title for what I do. It's on BeatPort, Amazon, Pandora. That's what's really cool about the label, I didn't have to do much. Just release the album and they get on all these outlets for me. It's been pretty successful. It's been featured on some radio shows in Germany. It's cool to see how that stuff spreads. It's crazy the time we live in.

CONCRETE: Can you break down your new project Fela Soul?
Amerigo: Basically what I did was took samples from Fela Kuti, the father of Afro beat music, and made beats with it. Then I took De La Soul a cappellas and put those on top of it to create new songs or remixes. When people hear mash-up they think Pearl Jam with Jay-Z or Weezer meats Lil Wayne.

CONCRETE: How did you pick the materials from the careers of each?
Amerigo: I was kind of limited in terms of the a cappellas I could find for De La. It was hard to track down some of those a cappellas. I had to order Stakes Is High off ebay and wait like a month for that to show up. It was worth it. I knew that I wanted to have that song, and it ended up being the first track on the album. I'm really glad I waited and actually got ahold of that. I was kind of limited in terms of that. And Fela Kuti is all over the place. If you listen to his music it's really different and cool, but it's really difficult to try and marry the two together and get it to sound right. We had the idea for it last year, fall 2010. Then I forgot about for a long time, cause I was busy with school. It was some time this summer I sat down and started making a beat and I started humming a sample from a Fela Kuti song and I just remembered. The whole idea and vision for it came back to me. So I obsessed over it for two or three weeks and did it.

CONCRETE: What are some of the cool things that have happened since you released it?
Amerigo: It's funny, cause we weren't going to release it until later this year. I was still fine tuning it, tweaking it, trying to get it to sound just right. But then Questlove came in town to play a DJ set at Mai. Anyone who is a fan of The Roots or Questlove knows how big of a Fela Kuti fan he is and how much of a De La fan he is. So me and Josh (Wally Clark) found out he was coming to town decided 'we're going to give him this CD.' So I brought my camera down there and posed as a press photographera dn Josh reached up. The super giant that he is, he was able to reach up on the huge DJ booth of Mai and stick the CD up there so Questlove could see it. We were determined to get this CD to Questlove. Once we were successful at doing that we knew that we had a week to actually release it before Questlove would just forget about it and go on with his life. We got everything together. I mixed the album. I mastered it. We did the video to go with it. We did liner notes. And we released it a week later on Tuesday, September 13. Since then it blew up. Questlove tweeted it to his 2+ million followers. It got a feature on and which is Questlove's website. I really owe a lot to them because they really got the ball rolling. If they didn't pick it up I'm not sure it would have blown up like it did. Big shout out to Questlove for posting it. After that we didn't do much. It spread virally on the internet. In the first two weeks we did over 10,000 downloads and 80,000 plays. That's from our bandcamp. I also found out it's been uploaded to torrent sites and it got a lot of activity there also.

CONCRETE: What are you working on next?
Amerigo: I want to follow it up, but I don't think I want to follow it up with another mash-up project. I think the next thing I want to do is a full length rap album of myself and Gummy Soul. We want to release a Gummy Soul album with myself, Kurtis Stanley and Wally featuring all 3 of us. So I think those are the two projects I'm going to focus on for the next few months. Everybody's been begging me for my rap album forever, and I've been in school and haven't had time. I've just been releasing instrumentals and remixes. That's where my true passion lies, so that's something I have to cross off my bucket list so I can move on to other projects. I think that's where we're headed. We got a lot of stuff in the works. Kurt Stanley has a video coming out for his tracks off the Gummy Soul album. We're going to be releasing singles in the mean time just to keep the buzz going.

CONCRETE: DJ, producer, rapper, which is your favorite?
Amerigo: That's a tough one. I think when I started making beats that was cool because I felt like I was one of the only dudes in my high school that did it. Now everybody's a producer. Everybody's a DJ. And everybody's a rapper, but I think rapping is unique. The way I put words together is unlike anything that other people are doing. Everybody's different in terms of lyrics. So I'm going to go with rap.

CONCRETE: Any last words or shout-outs?
Amerigo: Shout out to everybody who downloaded Fela Soul and reposted it., for getting the ball rolling. All my Nashville peeps and people who have supported me over the years. My brother (Rickey Mindlin) he's my manager and he's been a huge help through all of this. And my parents.

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