Whether it was Mozart’s introduction of Baroque influences into his treatment of then-current genres of classical music, Brian Wilson’s fusing of trendy surf music with Phil Spector’s "wall of sound" studio techniques or Steely Dan’s heavenly marriage of jazz and ’70s-era rock’n'roll, great moments in musical history often result from novel combinations of existing styles.
Lalla Land today takes a look at two visiting artists who find themselves between genres, combining their own rich musical perspectives on contemporary genres such as breakbeat, in the case of Vancouver’s Myagi, or for Toronto keyboard whiz John Kameel Farah, with IDM and breakcore.
"There are always going to be some who resist when exposed to something they’re not used to," tells Kameel Farah, "but it always evokes a strong response. Using beats may be perceived as lowbrow by some conservative musicians, but I don’t care about the tools – you can use anything as material to arouse emotion through music."
Farah says he’s been quite blessed with interest from classical composers, accomplished musicians and various electronic producers on the path that he’s taken. "More are prepared to ‘go there’ than you’d think. And it’s inevitable that these worlds come together. But really I don’t have much of a choice in how I create. I have to satisfy the pianist, improviser, composer and producer within myself, and reassembling those worlds into these ‘electro-piano concertos’ is my way of integrating them into a cohesive, meaningful experience."
"Believe it or not," Kameel Farah points out somewhat reluctantly, "I actually think the criticisms come less from the classical or jazz world but more from the indie scene, where sometimes a high level of skill on your instrument is held against you."
John Kameel Farah brings his stunning sonic, compositional and manual dexterity to a Saturday, May 3, show at McAuslan Brewery’s St-Ambroise Centre alongside "trippy turntable duo" InsideAmind and breakcore/dubstep/yachtstep/Intelligent Tiki Music/drill’n'bass malcontent Blake Market (9 p.m. at 5080 St-Ambroise St.).
Myagi, DJing at Vinyl’s Don’t Fake the Break weekly Friday with residents Rhys Taylor, Murdock, Melon and Spacekadet, is happy to keep one foot in the breakbeat genre but insists on constant exploration of its boundaries. Myagi’s upcoming album, 3 Years of Sunrise, scheduled for release on Freddy Fresh’s Howlin’ imprint, will feature remixes from Dub Pistols, Malente, Cut La Roc, Phat Conductor and more.
"Breaks are a main influence for sure," Myagi offers, "but I have no idea what to call my sound anymore and that makes me both proud and energized. A lot of the CD will be dance floor for sure, and the first few singles have been the highlights of my sets, but overall the album is more 1995 in its approach in that there is a mash-up of many, many influences."
Myagi acknowledges Freddy Fresh’s role in his evolution. "He gave me my start to a certain extent. Certainly, from my point of view, my most important achievement came from my work with him – and that was getting played by the late John Peel. John, for those who don’t know, is widely credited as ‘breaking’ punk music to the masses and also was the conduit for the legendary Peel Sessions which were career highlights for everyone from UB40 to The Chemical Brothers, Deep Purple or Joy Division.
"Howlin’ was a perfect home for the album as certainly, from my point of view, I’ve come full circle and am back at the beginning. When I started out I didn’t know what ‘breaks’ were, I was just experimenting and writing fun music. After a six- or seven-year detour into the somewhat puritanical genre, it’s nice to get back to this stage where I’m making music which I can’t identify."
Happy International Workers’ Day, labourers of the world – long live the revolution! Death to Videodrome!