Our new track “Knees On The Ground” might benefit from an explanation. This is the most unguarded I ever intend to be when writing about Clipping.
What had happened was this: our very brief UK/Europe trip got called-off the day before we were supposed to get on a plane to London. Since we didn’t have any other plans, we met up in the studio with an idea to crank out a new track. On our list of songs to finish was one particular piece aimed directly at the club (or, at least, our twisted idea of what clubs should play). But none of us were in the mood for it. Each of us had spent the previous several days following the news of protests in Ferguson, MO. It was the only thing on our minds. We couldn’t bring ourselves to think about anything else, so we decided to direct our fear, our revulsion, our heartbreak into a new track.
The problem was that we’d defined our band — in interviews and to each other — as decidedly-not-an-activist-project. Diggs’s lyrics have been criticized for seeming apolitical, at least in comparison to what many listeners (perhaps rightly) expect to hear from an ‘experimental’ rap group. I have many times said (perhaps naïvely) that our politics lie in our structures, in our formal engagement with the rap genre. We love its conventions, its clichés, and we’re not above them. We see our participation in rap as something resembling an old punk flyer — an out-of-context collage of charged images with an fractured, contradictory, multiple point-of-view. I hope that our more dedicated listeners hear this and understand that we’re not interested in spoon-feeding them a position. At the same time, I’ve always assumed that they pretty much agree with us on most issues anyway. (We have yet to meet the misogynist, homophobic, white supremacist Clipping fan with an MBA and an NRA membership).
So what do we do when all we can think about, all we can feel, is a profound injustice — yet another young unarmed person of color is murdered by a police officer? How does a band, which overtly rejects affect and the emotions, address something that is, for its authors, a deeply felt, deeply affecting topic? Well, we don’t entirely know. But the fact is: there’s more truth in Diggs’s lyrics than we generally let on. “Inside Out” describes a drive-by shooting in Oakland, “Chain” is about three stick-ups. They are presented with a lot of detail and specificity (perhaps the result of personal experience). But at the same time, they represent archetypal scenarios within rap music. One trope we had yet to explore as Clipping was the anti-police rap — the lineage of Public Enemy, NWA and Paris, straight through The Coup, and all the way into the ‘stop snitching’ panic of the early 2000s. “Knees On The Ground” is a paradigmatic white-cop-kills-an-unarmed-black-kid-and-gets-away-with-it tale — a story that happens all the fucking time in the US. What we have learned — from our first hand experience in Oakland in 2009, and from the media coverage of Ferguson in 2014 — is that the second part of this story involves a police response better suited to a war zone than to an American city. Cops think they’re playing Call Of Duty when they’re supposed to be part of a community. If Ferguson were in Iraq, Obama would have sent in an airstrike already.
This is the least obtuse Diggs’s lyrics will ever get. We’re embarrassed by the timeliness of this track. We do not intend to capitalize on what is, undoubtedly, a terrible tragedy. But journalists make think-pieces and we make songs. Writers write what they know, and this is what we know right fucking now.
Hungry Cloud Darkening is the collaborative all-analog recording project of Nicholas Wilbur, Allyson Foster, and Paul Benson. Each song is co-written in a slightly different way- all with priorities in variety and spectrum and fidelity. The three grew up in Mountain Home, Arkansas and Nixa, Missouri but have resided and operated in Anacortes, Washington for the past 6 years collectively. The project inhabits recording/event space the Anacortes Unknown, where Nich is the head engineer. Nich, Allyson, and Paul have toured in Mount Eerie and have occasionally appeared in recent recordings. The band currently plans a thorough northwest to southwest U.S.A. tour for November 2014. The official release date for LP/digital and CD versions of Glossy Recall is set for October 7th, 2014.
The office received a really important letter today. (see above)
Every so often something like a message of profound inspiration comes into these ears and it’s a great reminder of what’s completely positive and out of control in our world. Letters are the best, and most of the time when Off Tempo gets a message, it’s an order for something we’ve published. Usually there isn’t a personality attached or any indication of why someone ordered works that Off Tempo has released. There’s nothing wrong with that, and no one is obliged to attach love letters to everything. (but it is greatly appreciated)
This one was particularly heartwarming with the final line, “You make me want to do more with my label! Have a rad day!”
Please, Ryan Birkner, do more with your label, and anything your heart desires.
Off Tempo has been a thing since 2007, and there is no way to truly know how it’s influenced others, but these are great little reminders of how all of the music documenting, publishing, and digital ephemera that we produce can be a positive force in the world.
We’ve been on a break. It’s been a long one, but there has been a different undisclosed project taken on since November. However, this whole documentation project hasn’t stopped. There’s been planning, development, and still, recording happening in the meantime. The planning is about how to best present the troves of live recordings to the world, still for free. There really is a lot of it, and a some weird stuff from 2007/08 that still hasn’t come out yet. Like, the Adrian Orange recording from the Tri-Cities in September 2007, sometime before Adrian started performing his AOK material, during the Adrian Orange & Her Band era. There is so much stuff. Most of it is audio.
Anyway, rest assure that things are still happening but it’s been in a long planning process, specifically a with new website that will serve as a concise archive, and hopefully a good resource for bands that people mostly forgot about, shows that were low in attendance and magical, and hearing people unknowingly speak into a microphone. Pure gold.
The plan is to have things finished in the fall. Off Tempo will also be resuming publishing works in some capacity but further details are to be revealed in due time. Ordering records and other wares from us will help these future works. (hint hint obviously plug plug)
Erin Birgy lives in Seattle, Washington and performs as lead guitarist and singer in Mega Bog. Last summer She Shreds sat down in a restroom with Birgy after a Portland show (the acoustics were better) to talk about guitar heroes, music origins, and moms and grandmas.
SS: Are there any guitarist you admired when you first started learning guitar? Someone you looked up to?
EB: I was so into Nirvana. I was just so deeply into Nirvana. I just wanted to be Kurt Cobain. I feel like I still want to be Kurt Cobain.
San Diego/Iceland native Just Another Snake Cult’s Thor Bogason is a musical genius. Having spent the past summer at home in San Diego, Bogason decided to create a set of six songs using an old Ensoniq SQ80 keyboard that had been stowed away in his parent’s garage. It’s really no surprise…
The results from Pitchfork People’s List were published today, and 88% of voters were male. (12% were female, there wasn’t an “other” option, fwiw.) Since I Am The Twelve Percent and I spend a lot of my time talking about and thinking about and writing about music, I wanted to ask a couple…