Guest List: Cadence Weapon Guest List by Rollie Pemberton Welcome to the latest edition of Pitchfork's Guest List. Each week, we ask one of our favorite artists to fill us in on what they've been up to lately: which tracks they can't stop spinning, what books they can't put down, and what new bands they've caught on tour. This week it's Cadence Weapon, aka ex-P4k writer Rollie Pemberton, who discusses covering Billy Joel, listening to Bob Dylan's radio show, and the puzzling British accents of the characters on TV's "Rome".
>> Favorite Songs from the Past Year
Santogold: "Creator" It's produced by FreQ Nasty, and it's got this huge, massive beat, and it's really unpredictable. It's got these little synth lines and it's crazy. I love it. It's got this vocalist-- he's from Brooklyn I guess-- and it's unbelievable. It's someone who's like M.I.A. or something, but it's different. I play tons of records by Switch. I think he's a great producer, I like all of his remixes. I DJ as well, and I play a lot of his stuff.
Tinchy Stryder [ft. Wiley]: "Uptown Girl" I'm really into this cheesy remake of "Uptown Girl" by Wiley and Tinchy Stryder.
>> Favorite Older Songs at the Moment
Steely Dan: "Kid Charlemagne" I've been listening to a lot of Steely Dan, a lot of stuff from the album Gaucho. But I really like "Kid Charlemagne". I appreciate their dark sarcasm [laughs], but a lot of people, like De La Soul, sampled them a lot and I just think they have so many interesting sounds. I like them a lot.
Billy Joel: "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" I've also been listening to a lot of Billy Joel. I've been working on a cover of "Movin' Out" by Billy Joel. It's my friend's going-away party tonight, and I told him I'd perform a version of that, as a band, so I'm doing that tonight.
Allen Toussaint: "Worldwide" It's sampled by tons of people, but I really like the original.
Rolling Stones: "Miss You" I've been mixing that in a lot of sets, it's got a really good floor for the beats. It's really nice.
Run-DMC: "Rock Box" And as always, and forever, I'm bumping Run-DMC's "Rock Box". It's the hardest song ever, in history.
>> Favorite New Artist(s)
Harlem Shakes I'm really into this band called the Harlem Shakes; I think they're based in New York. A lot of people would say they sound kind of Strokes-y, but I definitely think that the singer has got this really original way of singing. Sometimes he sounds like he's choking on his own voice, and I like it. I think they're going to be pretty big if they get the right kind of run.
Macromantics I'm really into these two female rappers: Macromantics, who's from Australia and, of course, Kid Sister. Macromantics, I think, is one of the best rappers in the world. Her flow is unbelievable. I've been working on some beats for her, and I was just talking to her the other day, and we were talking about underground rappers that we like, and she was just rattling off all the legends, you know? Like West Coast joints like Freestyle Fellowship and shit. I feel like these are rappers that are coming from listening to the last generation of rap-- but different schools of it-- and this is how they're developing.
Kid Sister Everyone's been talking about Kid Sister. I feel like she's getting more press than M.I.A. did when she first came out. It's totally warranted, though; she's great live. I don't like rappers who seem limited to one subject, and [many] female rappers tend to talk about sexual proclivities a lot. But I find that Kid Sister brings back that old school vibe, where it's more about party rocking, but it's done really competently. The thing about them is that you could put them up against any rappers that are out in the underground today, and they'd totally stand up.
>> Favorite Song Ever
DJ Technics: "Let the Music Rock" When I was younger, my favorite song ever was probably "Big Bang Baby" by Stone Temple Pilots. I think that's still a slamming track. I definitely should cover that song. But my current favorite song-- and I always play it when I DJ, almost like clockwork-- is this Baltimore house remix of "The Music Sounds Better with You" by Stardust. The remix, I think, is done by DJ Technics, and it's called "Let the Music Rock". It's this overriding voice being like "Let the music rock! Let the music rock!" [laughs]. And then it just chops in parts of the Stardust song. I think it's just hilarious, and a really slamming track.
>> Best Recent Concert
Les Savy Fav, SXSW
Probably the best show I've seen is actually South by Southwest. I finally got to see Les Savy Fav. That was totally fucking crazy. I've seen video of it, and I've always been familiar with his music, but Tim Harrington, he's probably the best frontman alive. And the whole idea of interacting with the crowd in that capacity is really interesting to me; it's something I try and do a lot. A lot of people are not used to going to a show and having people throw beer on them or touch them or have contact with them in any way, and this guy is totally the opposite of that. He's totally in your face, and I love that, I love involving other people. And it's kind of funny, because when you see him in between the songs, he's not totally freaking out, when he's just talking, he seems really shy, which keeps my thinking "I wonder how people found out that he could do this?" Like they got him drunk at a party or something and he started screaming on a mic and everyone was like "Holy shit! That's really good!" [laughs]. I don't know. But it was an unbelievable show. He hung upside-down from the balcony and he was singing... I've never seen anything like it.
>> Last Great Film I Saw
Children of Men and Idiocracy I've got a couple movies that I've seen that I actually really like, and they're all kind of similar, in a weird way. I really like Children of Men and Idiocracy. Idiocracy is by Mike Judge, who did "Beavis and Butthead". Basically the idea is that there's this really average guy, he goes into this military program that's supposed to send him ahead in the future one year, to prove that you could freeze people for a certain amount of time, but he being frozen for like 500 years. And then when he comes out society has gotten way way way dumber, to the point where he goes to a hospital, and the person isn't even talking to him but they have this touchpad with different stick people with different expressions [laughs]. And one of them is surrounded by question marks [laughs]. So he just pushes this button and looks at them. It's just like that the idea: Ssociety's gotten so automated that people don't even know that you shouldn't water plants with Gatorade [laughs]. I think it's really good, and Children of Men is the same in a way because it's a dystopian, future society, and I think they both achieve their goals. I usually have lots of complaints about movies; I'm kind of a bad guy to go to movies with, because not only do I talk throughout the entire movie but I also complain about it a lot, but I didn't have any complaints with these movies. I liked them both for the same and different reasons, I guess.
>> Last Great Book I Read
Lester Bangs: Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste You know, I'm going to sound like a real troll, but I don't really read a lot of books. I get a lot of books, and I always say that I'm going to read them, and I always have lots of time to reads books with like touring and stuff, but I never have time to do it. I'll start a book and for some reason when I'm on tour I end up discovering the city or something. Or I'll end up sleeping. Or I'll end up writing. I don't know, but something about just sitting down and looking at something sometimes is kind of a weird concept to me.
But probably the last book I read was Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste by Lester Bangs. I know it's kind of a cliché for a music writer to be talking about Lester Bangs, but I definitely think that anybody who reads this-- definitely check that book out. He's the G.O.A.T. of hipster criticism.
>> Favorite Piece of Musical Equipment
I actually don't use a lot of traditional musical equipment, it's usually computer stuff, but I'm going to say right now I'm really into my hand. I find a lot of people don't think about the human element when they're making beats in the hip hop world. And someone like Timbaland-- I love Timbaland, I idolize him. You know he does a lot of beatboxing in his beats, and you think about that Björk album that was almost all human sounds. I've been working on stuff like that. I recently made a beat for my next album where all the sounds are generated by either my voice or on my body, so it's like me clapping and snapping and slapping my legs, and I do kind of a barbershop thing. I'm trying to make something that's largely mechanical and digital seem more and more human as I go along. And the idea of combining samples and human sounds-- I'm trying to get it to the point where it's like one thing, you know. And it's hard to really think that way, but I think I'm getting closer to it.
>> Favorite Record Shop
I buy tons of records. It's probably one of the only things I buy. I have lots of different picks for different reasons, but I'll say that, all around, my favorite record store is probably Play De Record in Toronto. They just have probably the best selection, all around, that I've seen in North America, I believe. They always have the most current records. I feel like it's my go-to place to get the hottest records.
I go to my local record store a lot. I'm huge into Blackbyrd Myoosik, they're like three blocks away from where I live, so I go there all the time, and they're so knowledgeable there. As well as Listen Records. They're both in Edmonton. And I've got to give props to Fat Beats, in New York, because that record store is totally fucking unbelievable. It has all the current rap singles, all the old-school shit, but all their singles are so cheap. It's cheaper than anywhere in North America by far, and I don't really understand why. I feel like maybe they get so many of them, you know, and realistically a lot of them are supposed to be just promos, and people will oversell them at other places because they're so hard to get for them. But considering they're based in New York and they probably get tons of records, they can afford to sell them for like five bucks. And I think that's awesome.
>> Best Purchase of the Past Year
External Hard Drive I bought an external hard drive for my computer. I really, really needed it. I'd been running on fumes for so long. And when you're making music and stuff, and when you're dealing with so many huge files, it's totally a necessity. So I got this 250GB external hard drive, and it's been really nice. Now I can separate things the way I really want to, and I can really go crazy. I feel like it gives me a lot more breathing room. I love it.
>> Best Thing I Did This Year
I've been DJing a lot more lately, in the past year, and I'm pretty happy about that. It's probably my favorite thing to do, I guess, now.
I finished my second album recently, and I feel really good about it. I signed with Epitaph, and that was kind of a huge deal for me. It's a label that I've kind of grown up on, and it's really becoming a realistic thing for me now, like I'm actually really thinking about it because people keep talking to me about it. And I'm like "wow, this might actually be a big deal."
And I've been growing out my hair. This is the first time I've actually done this. I was rocking the bald head for a while, and I don't know what happened. I had a couple of lack relationships and I decided to just give up. I decided to get my sweatpant game in control and just not get my hair cut. Right now I have a huge sort of shag, like that Pharcyde line: "in my younger days I used to rock a shag." I'm doing that. But I'm thinking that, once I do my photos and stuff for my album cover I'm going to keep it, and then after I'm done with photos I'm going to cut this shit off, because I can imagine in the summer I'll be a real sweatbox.
>> Favorite Music Venue
I have a couple, I really like the Ford Plant in Brantford, Ontario. And probably my favorite venue ever is the Shark Tank in Edmonton. It's actually changed names, recently, it was closed down for a while, but now it's called Kilohertz. And I feel like they're kind of like total holes in the wall, but from a performing aspect I really like to have maximum interaction with people. Like at Kilohertz the stage isn't really raised that high, like anyone could just walk up there, and I like the idea of really having – I don't like to have separation from people I'm performing for, either DJing or rapping. So I like places like that the most, and I've had probably my best shows at those places, just fun-wise. And when you perform at a place that you could probably sneak liquor into, realistically, I feel like the people get hyper, and it's younger people and it's people that really actively like music. And you go somewhere like to a show in New York, and sometimes people are like "Oh, well, I see ten shows a day." But Brantford, Ontario, does not get a lot of shows. But Edmonton, we get pretty good shows, but not as frequently as any other major city. So it's a big deal when there's a crazy thing like that, and I appreciate it when people really give a shit.
>> Favorite TV Show
I don't have cable at all, but I download a lot of TV programs. Probably my favorite one is "Heroes"-- I feel like such a big slut because everyone likes "Heroes," but I think it's really so amusing. The effects are great, and the characters are really likeable and... I don't know, it's just got a really cool story arc.
The reason I don't really like "Lost" anymore-- I used to be huge into "Lost"-- but I'm feeling like they kind of don't know what they're doing anymore, they're just kind of making shit up as they go along. It actually really feels like that now. And I feel like in "Heroes" it looks really obvious to me that they know what's going on and it seems like so many things are inter-connecting that it's, like, "this really makes sense." But with "Lost", it's just been going on for so long I feel like every episode is just another bullshit secret that they're trying to get me to keep watching the show. And you know what, it's like, "Stop it. Deal with some of these problems that you've created in the past three years."
And I just started watching "Rome", and I think that show's really cool. Historically it looks great, the sets are unbelievable looking. It's really easy to get enamored in a show when the sets are so perfect, and when the whole thing looks so professional. However, I do have issues sometimes when the characters seem to have like English accents and shit... They all have just like mad different accents, like some of them sound Italian, which is okay, but some of them sound way British. I think that might just be them fucking up sometimes, though.
>> Favorite Video Game
"Guitar Hero 2" This is a very easy question for me. I recently picked up "Guitar Hero 2," and this game has become a major part of my life. I'll say I've become totally insufferable because of this game, it's all I talk about, and I play it pretty much a couple hours every day. I recently won an electric guitar, from the Canadian Independent Music Awards, the trophy was a guitar. Like an actual guitar. Like an Epiphone guitar. I haven't fucking touched the thing, because I've got Guitar Hero. I'm playing this fucking fake guitar instead of my real on. I love this game. I mean, it's got all the cheeseball rock hits, and it's so easy to pick up, anyone can pick it up and play it, it's a great party game. I've had people over just getting drunk and playing this game is so much fun. It doesn't matter how good you are, it's just entertaining to see the way people look when they're playing it.
Here's a good example: my girlfriend does not play video games, she has no knowledge of video games, she doesn't have any systems or anything. And she came over and was like "What is this game you're playing?" And I'm like, "It's 'Guitar Hero,' check it out." So she starts playing, and she's not very good the first time, then the second time she gets like 100 times better already. Then I went out for a few hours, and I come back and she's still playing it. She's been playing it for five hours straight. She didn't leave. She had homework and shit to do, but she'd been playing "Guitar Hero 2" for five hours straight. So that's kind of the power of the game.
I'm thinking of maybe designing some club night directly based around "Guitar Hero 2." Like with people just hanging out, drinking beers, and playing "Guitar Hero 2." I think that's the future of club technology. Or if everyone-- I don't even know if this is possible-- but maybe a dancefloor where everyone has a Guitar Hero controller, and there's multiple screens...
>> Favorite Radio Show
I have a couple. I don't really listen to the radio-- I actually never listen to the radio, but when I do it's usually internet stuff. I really like Bob Dylan's "Theme Time". I think it's awesome, and just the mix of songs that he puts on there is so interesting. And you can't help but think, every time you listen to a song on the thing it's like "Bob Dylan likes this song? That is so weird! Bob Dylan likes the Clash? That is so cool."
And my homegirl Sheri Barclay has a radio show in Edmonton called the "Sheri Barclay Radio Hour." It's on 88.5. It's pretty amusing; she is so abrasive and... kind of... I want to say snotty [laughs]. But she's a popular character in Edmonton, she used to be in Brooklyn, and it's a great radio show.
And I also love East Village Radio, the theatre show that they have is great.
>> My Ringtone
Maceo: "Nextel Chirp" It's this rap song about people calling you on your cell phone to talk about selling drugs. This is a bad idea, right? Because according to Maceo the feds are listening, and frankly he doesn't want to get caught up in a case because you are asking him for drugs on his cellphone. And basically the idea is that it uses the Nextel Chirp sound effect from the Nextel phone, when you try to do the instant talking thing [laughs]. I don't know, I find it very amusing, and I like the idea of having a cellphone ring that samples a cellphone sound. It's a meta-cellphone ring.