Friday, September 12, 2014

My Top 15 Most Influential Films

There is a new one of those annoying games circulating around facebook lately, to compile a list of your 15 most influential films. After being tagged (dominated) by my mate Andrew Lindsay, I rolled my eyes a little, shrugged it off, ...and then spent the rest of the day mentally obsessing on it, digging up old memories of the films that are significant to who I am today. This was actually an annoying game I could sink my teeth into.
Narrowing this down to 15 movies is near impossible, and to battle this I've created an 'honorable mention' for some of these films, similar movies that hold the same value for me.
These are in no order whatsoever, and by no means a list of my all-time favorite films, this is a list of the films that shaped my brain from a young age. ...and as the list was compiling it became clear that my adult brain is apparently better suited for technicolor nonsense in a fantastical galaxy far far away...

Here we go....

Fantasia (1940)The first film I ever saw in the movie theater (I was 5), accompanied by my mom and dad at the super cool old Laurel Theater in San Carlos. Until viewing Fantasia many years later, as a child all I remembered from that night are vague memories of the funny dancing hippos and the little bare-cheeked cherubs (which my dad nicknamed 'no pants wilsons'), and I recall me and my parents laughing and laughing. ...and I remember being really frightened during the sorcerer Mickey sequence with the scary lifelike brooms. I also remember really enjoying my first helping of classical music and being mesmerized by the ornate fountain and the plush blood red interior of the theater lobby. Fantasia is the first memory I have of animation, and I was instantly hooked by my Disney gateway drug. In the years that followed, we'd often pay a visit to the Laurel for more seminal animated classics like Snow White, Bambi, Jungle Book, and when I was old enough I'd attend the Animation Festival with my brother Bill or my father, usually held at the Varsity Theater in Palo Alto. My love for animation never ceased.
(honorable mention: The Rescuers, The Triplets of Belleville, Yellow Submarine, Up)

2001 A Space Odyssey (1968) : A cinematic masterpiece equally sparse and lush, electronically advanced yet primitive. I saw this in the theater in my early teens and it wasn't what I expected at all. I was thinking it would be along the lines of Star Wars. It was visually glorious, but at the time for me it was lonnnng and dull. How come nobody is talking? I didn't get it at all.
Maybe it's because I was in the mood for more action, but likely it was because I was on one of my first movie dates with a girl from 8th Grade (name witheld) at the Hillsdale Cinema and I was too concerned about intentionally pressing against her knee or touching hands at the same time reaching for popcorn.
Since then, the Also sprach Zarathustra overture plays in my head during potential intimate situations. Not a good influence at all... Obviously my young brain was not ready at first, but over the years I've seen this movie several times, and I pick up something new with each viewing.. iconic modern furnishings by the greats: Saarenin, Nelson, Jacobson, Mourgue... early IBM computer gear displaying modern font typefaces such as Futura and Eurostile... the expansive sets and revolutionary special effects...  I get it now. I really REALLY get it. A big impact on my design style, 2001 is elegantly dynamic & slow burning, a truly epic film with multiple layers of commentary on our society that resonates even more today.

M Hulot's Holiday (1953) : My first taste of the masterful Jacques Tati, I saw this film with my parents at the Stanford Theater when I was 13 years old. My father considered himself a dime store Tati in his own right and possessed his own brand of Tati-esque moves and wobbles, and any slapstick comedy like Laurel & Hardy, The Three Stooges or Martin & Lewis hit his funny bone like a tickle machine. As any father feels it's his duty to pass on his interests to his children, dad loved to force feed our family with films highlighting the silly antics of his comedic heroes. This then, was the creme de la creme of dad's preferred humor, Tati executes these scenarios with a highbrow slapstick style all his own. Mr. Hulot's Holiday was my mom & dad's favorite film which says a lot about their personalities. Perhaps the origin of my obsession with French culture.

Willie Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) : This one blew my little mind. I was around 10 years old watching it with my mom and dad on our klunky television, eating a platter of cold cuts, bread and mustard (super bowl food as dad called it), trying to absorb every delicious detail of the film sets & costumes and thinking Gene Wilder was not really a very nice man at all. I remember a year later when I had to sell those expensive 'world's finest' chocolate bars at school, I tried to make a 'golden ticket' to insert into one of the wrappers in the box of 16, but once the wrapper was off I would just eat the chocolate bar every time. That was an expensive school year for my parents, I was waaay more Augustus Gloop than Charlie.

(and thankfully, I didn't see this in the theater at the time or The Wondrous Boat Ride scene would've damaged my little brain even more.)
(honorable mention: Mary Poppins, Escape To Witch Mountain)

The Party (1968) : The mighty Peter Sellers in top form. This Blake Edwards swinging cocktail hiccup of a film has you bumbling about in the back pocket of Peter Sellers' indian character Hrundi V Bakshi while he desperately tries to fit in with the in crowd at a swanky film industry party where he doesn't belong. We've all been there! So quintessentially late 60's in decor and costuming, with a groovy often sitar-driven soundtrack by Henri Mancini. The film's pacing is unbearably awkward and hilarious, Hrundi tries to fake his way from room to room with mixed results, all extremely funny. This is a classic fish-out-of water tale with well-executed sight gags (including the famous 'birdy num-num' scene) showcasing the brilliant timing of Peter Sellers, a movie which teaches us it's okay to be a little geeky and mad as long as you believe in yourself. One of my favorite 60's films and the reason I started wearing red socks.

(honorable mention: Murderer's Row, Bedazzled, Cinderfella, Billie)

Quadrophenia (1979) : Like many of us, this was my introduction to the british Mod subculture style and attitude that has defined me for most of my life. I saw the film in early 1986 at a friend's house (Brent Willson) when I was 15 years old, and it captivated me even more than the New Wave and punk music & fashion I was cutting my teeth on at the time. After hunting high and low for the MODS book and subscribing to WHA-A-AM! Magazine at the insistence of the only Mod I knew (Mark Harvey), I quickly got a handle on the niceties and details of the Mod styings (albeit a loose one, American mod kids in the 80's tried our best with little to go on) By August that year I had purchased a minty 1979 Vespa P200 and a closet full of Fred Perry shirts from the thrift store, was making ritual trips to the tailor for suit alterations, bought my first fishtail parka from a military supply store in San Mateo, and had stolen my first pair of bowling shoes from San Carlos Bowl. Quadrophenia has stuck with me all these years, in 2011, a bunch of us Bay Area old-timers had a ride out to see the film on the big screen at the Castro Theater for the San Francisco Film Festival, and in 2012 a small group of us went to see The Who performing Quadrophenia at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. All together now... "We are the mods, we are the mods, we are..."

(honorable mention: Absolute Beginners, Repo Man, Valley Girl, Straight To Hell, The Decline of Western Civilization, URGH! A Music War, Dance Craze, The Wall, Suburbia)

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992) : I am a big David Lynch fan and I spent 2 years of my life riveted to the television every week  dissecting who killed Laura Palmer when Twin Peaks originally aired from 1990-91 (it helped that I had a huge crush on Sherilyn Fenn), and while not the most epic piece of film making on this list, to see this seemingly normal but tweaked-out suburban mountain-folk multi-dimensional universe created by Mark Frost and David Lynch come to life on the big screen was a big thrill at the time. I hate scary movies with splat and gore but I really enjoy psychologically disturbing fantasies of a very real stylized unreality, and I can't remember being more excited to see a new movie. We were there on opening night complete with tailgate party in the parking lot, entering the UA6 Theater in Redwood City like kids going into a fun-house, and leaving with foggy terrible visions of BOB in our minds. But it was done, we had our needed closure of the Twin Peaks saga... except BOB has had this nagging way of popping into my head in dark alleys and rooms ever since.

(honorable mention: Santa Sangre, Dead Ringers, Silence Of The Lambs, Sling Blade, Blue Velvet)

Star Wars (1977) : This movie inspired most of my creative playtime fantasies as a little boy ever since seeing it in the theater during it's original release. Finally pressured by me and my best friend at the time (Kenny Austin) because every other kid in our school had seen it already, our moms took us to Century Theater in San Jose. It was 1978 (I was 7), and the 'big' cinema was a scary place for me and Kenny. We sat together, and our moms were two seats away. I remember a lot of other kids in that theater but we had to be some of the youngest. We were glued to the screen the entire time except to look at each other with tandem mouth-gaping expressions of disbelief. After the film, Kenny and I were instantly fighting in the lobby with air light-sabres and making zsew-zsew laser noises, yeahhhh...NOW we knew what the fuss was about! They had a merchandise stand there, and our moms let us buy 'something little, you can't have the Darth Vader mask honey'... I bought a large 5" pin of Luke Skywalker, and Kenny bought one of Han Solo, thus cementing our make-believe roles from then on. Later that year my mom constructed a Chewbacca costume for me for Halloween, and I was well on my way with my Star Wars figure collection.
(honorable mention: The Empire Strikes Back)

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004) :  Wes Anderson can do no wrong. I absolutely loved Rushmore. I dug The Royal Tenenbaums as well. But when Mr. Anderson created The Life Aquatic, for me he created a perfect film. All the right touches are here, the impeccable sets, the colors, the dialogue, the awkwardness, the triumph... The incredible soundtrack featuring Seu Jorge, David Bowie, Mark Mothersbaugh and Sigur Ros., The choice of actors (Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Anjelica Houston, Jeff Goldblum..) This movie is flawless. I'm not sure how Wes Anderson manages to create his weird vintage-esque environments for all of his films while maintaining a strong sense of the present day, each are distinctive yet feel like the same time-period, but we aren't exactly sure when that time-period is. He is one of the great film making geniuses of our time and a massive inspiration.
(honorable mention: Moonrise Kingdom, The Science of Sleep, You Me And Everyone We Know)

E.T. (1982) : I saw this seminal Steven Spielberg film during it's original release at the UA6 Theaters in Redwood City. I was 11 years old and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried like a baby when E.T. died in the incubation scene, only to explode with raining tears of joy and pleasure when he came back to life minutes later. This was my first experience with crying in the theater, I wasn't aware that fabricated situations with actors and props could stir up these deep emotions. I was a wreck over that little alien. I saw E.T. again not too long ago, and it is a definite classic at any age, the soundtrack by John Williams is unmistakable... whenever I hear the lilt of the main theme I get a fuzzy feeling. After seeing this movie I kept the ticket stub, the first time I'd ever done that. And I still have it ferreted away at the bottom of a box somewhere.   

Vertigo (1958) : Another flawless film for me. I didn't see this until I was around 17 years old, I had seen Rear Window in the theater with my dad a couple years before which I thought was great, but Vertigo spearheaded an obsession with Alfred Hitchcock and a devout worship for the graphic design style of Saul Bass, passions that haven't let up since. ..and grrr... the subtle heat of mysterious Kim Novak smolders like a handful of pine needles thrown into a campfire. (just don't ask me for my Jimmy Stewart impersonation, you will be instantly disappointed and irritated).. Being from San Francisco adds another personal level to the movie, it's fun to see the locations in the film how they were, some of these SF places I pass by every day.
(honorable mention: The Birds, North By Northwest, Psycho)

Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill (1965) : This list would not be complete without a Russ Meyer film, and in my opinion Faster Pussycat Kill Kill is his finest work. Russ Meyer hit the nail on the head with this black & white outing, epitomizing the genre of his own design: B movies with questionable story lines featuring buxom babes dominating mousy men. The angles and scenarios here are bold and choppy, stylized and aggressive as is the script, but all we really care about is Tura Satana in her black leather outfit and those cars that the rouge female gang buzzes around in (1959 MG A, 1963 MG B, 1965 Porsche 365, 1958 Triumph TR3A), eye candy at every turn. I saw this in the theater in 1997 in Las Vegas, fueling my appreciation for hot-rod culture. A year later, I was the proud owner of a 1954 Chevy Bel-Air 2 door hardtop roaring down the Las Vegas Strip.
(honorable mention: Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, Hot Rods To Hell)

Mars Attacks (1996) :  A guilty campy pleasure, and my favorite movie from the mind of Tim Burton. When I lived in Las Vegas in the mid 90's, Alberta and I had a pad at The Diplomat Apartments, conveniently located around the corner from the closed-down Landmark Hotel, a spiked astro doorknob building sticking into the sky, so perfect and so googy atomic-age looking. (the details of our love affair with the Landmark and how we got to know her interior intimately despite the closed doors are fodder for another blog post).. One night at work I heard a rumor they were imploding the Landmark building at 4am the next day for use in an 'upcoming blockbuster' ...so at 2am I hustled out of our apartment with my camera to catch the action. Sure enough, the building came down at 4am, with explosions and actors and crew running around everywhere. I was one of the few bystanders there, the Las Vegas Times interviewed me for the newspaper. A very sad moment but cool to be in that mix, and discovering later that it was featured in Mars Attacks was the ideal reward. Besides my personal connection with the movie, it has everything I require from a twisted throbbing oozing brain of a film. Purely strange and abnormal fun. The only other movie on this list besides Star Wars that I purchased action figures of, in fact the year of the release, I was so nuts about Mars Attacks, I paid $75 for the Martian Spy Girl figure at a comic book shop, I had the bug bad. Not the best influence!
(honorable mention: Edward Scissorhands, Serial Mom, Hairspray)

Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961) : This film has so much going on for me influence-wise. The completely drop dead gorgeous Audrey Hepburn, the cucumber cool of young George Peppard, politicially un-correct and ridiculously asian Mickey Rooney. Underlined by the butter soft yet swinging soundtrack by Henry Mancini (which features most prominently in one of the best movie party scenes ever), This is a time-capsule-perfect vision into mainstream early 60's New York society style, clumsily radiating with the romantic ambiance of a thousand moonlit rivers dotted with pollywogs.
(honorable mention: Auntie Mame, Pillow Talk)

Foul Play (1978) : Another film set in San Francisco, this movie was my first time experiencing three legendary comedy actors.. Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Dudley Moore. This was another 'living room cinema' moment with my dad ogling our prehistoric TV, this time I remember laying on the floor together on our hideous rust-colored shag carpeting and eating from a large box of Sun-Maid raisins. I was around 8 years old at the time. I can't remember why exactly I liked this movie so much, but as far as influence goes, because of Foul Play and Chevy & Goldie, I discovered both Saturday Night Live and Laugh-In, opening up a massive and expansive catalog of clever and left field humor that has been with me my whole life. It also introduced me to the man of my nightmares as a young child, the albino character (played by William Frankfather) haunted me for years and years, while watching the film with dad that night, every time he came on the screen I'd jump out of my skin and hop over my dad ...and was only able to barely peek over his shoulder to look at the TV. (honorable mention: '10')

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mixtape Mondays 2007-2008 : The Top Ten Years

Top Spins - May 11th 2007

Container Ship Ten - June 12th 2007
A pic of an APL ship I snapped on SF Bay

Ahhh, 2007-2008.
Such significant years. For me personally, a time of resurgence and reinvention. For me musically, a time of rediscovery and obsessive tendencies for the hottest sounds. My 'mixtapes' during these years were a series of graphically intensive top ten lists I'd create and trade via email with my best mate Artie who was living in London at the time. This was an unscheduled ritual for us... the tunes and imagery culled from whatever was going on in my life at the current given moment, traded in a 'tag you're it' fashion. During this period my tastes were wide open and morphing, some days I'd be diving into obscure French/Canadian garage sounds of the 60's, other days I'd be exploring the latest independent techno twinged bands or obscure groovy ambient tracks (circa 60's to present) that had somehow missed my radar. I was still buying records like mad, with frequent trips to Tower Records, Virgin Megastore & Amoeba, focusing my attention on quirky stuff I'd heard about in passing and the perpetual acquisition of slippery vintage classics. Many hours were spent digging through the new releases and the clearance bins in search of all things groovy... without limitations.
What you see above and below is some of the artwork I created for the lists and emailed to Artie to share my ten favorite new-found sounds of the moment. I never imagined that I'd be able to find much of this music again today, so color my surprise searching Spotify to find almost all of it there. A lot of this stuff was completely unknown or impossible to get during the time I compiled these Top 10's, and has since been sold or disappeared from my collection, so clicking and hearing these tracks again & compiling a playlist has been the highlight and the soundtrack of my last couple weeks.
Give it a listen. And don't mind if it gets too weird in places for you, stick with it or click through, there's sure to be a song just around the corner that you will bug out on.
Cheers dudes
Top Ten-Pack - The Now Sound of Fred's Turntable circa 2007/08 

Taupe 10 - January 27th 2007

Dust & Scratches, Themes for an Auction House - April 14th 2007

It's A Gas Baby - August 24th 2008

Fredwind Presents: Mad Props - November 5th 2007

Jack Purcell's Lonely Mix - February 12th, 2008
Artie had left his shoes on my deck before leaving for London and they remained untouched.
6 months later I snapped this pic

Mixtape for a Dumpy Traveler - December 17th, 2007

Success Stinks - February 4th 2008

Club Oxbow Presents RHLNDR - September 11th, 2007

Crate Digger - March 9th, 2007

Foreplay Mix - February 25th, 2007
A picture of my set of golf clubs.

Do Not Cross, The Mortgage Mix - July 20th, 2008
The photo is a foreclosure home in Lodi that my brother & I cleared out.

Hot Mess - April 30th, 2007

Maximum T & T - September 1st, 2008

Oh  sXit! - February 13th 2008
Artie had just fried his laptop by spilling a Vitamin Water on his keyboard.
I re-inacted the crime scene.

Stovetop Ten - May 24th 2007

Soundtrack to a Bright Future - July 31st, 2008
A pic I snapped of the USCG Barque Eagle sailing past the SF waterfront.

Gitanatop Ten - May 20th 2007
My little tribute to my favorite sailing team at the time.

Groundwerk Volume 1 - December 22nd, 2007
The schematic artwork is by my brother, a conceptual look at a putter I was in the midst of designing.  

Isle Tones - April 21st, 2007

The Real Nowhere Man Mix - December 4th, 2007

Trimaran Rock City - April 1st, 2007
An obvious swipe of the iconic Sub Pop 7" graphic style. 

Aquaphenia - May 22, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mixtape Mondays - Mad Hatters : 50 Britpop Brimmers & Baggy Headhangers

In 1989 at a friend's party in SF, I was introduced to two crazy British fellas named Jesse and Julius who were visiting from Oswestry, friendly and engaging lads with a heavy dose of lazyitis who were eager to perform an awkward hip hop-inspired handshake upon meeting another authentic Californian. Wide-eyed and baggy-tailed, their style was spot on in a cleverly assembled scrubby manner, outfitting themselves in the latest thrifted 60's gear with just the correct amount of Fred Perry & Adidas flourishes ...a wardrobe recipe that fit right in with our equally tuned-in yet ramshackle posse. While seemingly harmless at the time, these two gentlemen ended up crawling under my skin from that day forward like a squirrel with a box of Triscuits, a power couple that would change my life forever. The initial union at that party was crazy cool, both of them flaunted a ridiculous sense of humor, incredible taste in music, impressive drinking stamina.. and were quite proud to have assimilated 'dude' into their vocabulary so effortlessly. We instantly got on like a house on fire.. (or maybe rather like a duplex with a blown out water heater and a smoldering rubbish bin, but...) It was evident, these cats were birds of a feather. At one point toward the end of the evening they informed our crew that they were leaving for LA the next day. You're WHAT? No..no... Obviously we weren't going to let that happen. We trapped them in San Francisco for the rest of their stay, and those days we spent together were some of the craziest memories of my later teenage years. We called ourselves the Mad Hatters, never leaving the house without a hat on our heads... and, yer.. the mad part is a given. I hadn't even been to the UK yet but I was well mad for it...
The next year, Jess and Jules were at school in Manchester and we planned a visit. My brother and I were already organizing a little tour of Europe and we decided to swap out our plans for London in favor of a stint in Manchester. It was to be the final stop of our month-long tour, and up until then and all throughout Paris, Geneva, Munich & Amsterdam, me and my bro were gearing up for our visit to the musical motherland with a tape I'd made featuring the likes of The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, Ride, Happy Mondays & My Bloody Valentine.
Our arrival and subsequent week in Manchester is a complete blur, excessively quiet pubs disturbed by Scrumpy antics, sleeping on stairs, failed attempts at using a mythical 'AT&T Card', dice games and early morning mohawk-shaving sessions not withstanding... our late night visits to The Hacienda and hungover afternoons in the Northern Quarter record shopping seem like a dream now, if it weren't for the vinyl purchases to prove we were actually there, I wouldn't remember any of it. We bought so many records we had to ship them to SF, and opening the packages back home was like an extended Christmas morning, instantly turning our West Coast friends on to the new sound of England.
I've kept in touch with Jesse & Julius over the years, and with many thanks to facebook, last year I had the pleasure to visit them in London for a Mad Hatter's reunion. It was like time had stopped, we were as retarded as ever, still behaving like little juvenile delinquents in the adult world. Jesse is now an accomplished writer, most famous for his series Peep Show with partner Sam Bain, and Julius is most famous for being on another planet entirely, his tweets are crazy cool, we're bound to see him gracing the mainstream airwaves with his obtuse humor anytime soon. Both dudes are happily married with kids, they've finally achieved Dadrock status. Living the dream.
This mixtape covers everything I love about the Britpop scene... an homage to the raw emotions of freedom from those early days of '89/'90... all of the attitude, the funk, the dissonance, the grooves, the drugs, the swagger & the rock n roll in tact... I hope you enjoy it too. http://bit.ly/pophattersmix
Cheers big ears,

Mad Hatters Reunion Tour, chilling with Jess and Jules at chez Armstrong in London last year.

Me in 1999 on one of my DJ nights 'Tomorrowland' at The Orbit Room SF

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mixtape Mondays

My first experience with a mix tape was when I was 11 years old during a weekend stay at my brother Bill's bachelor pad during his fraternity days at San Jose State. It was 1982 and my brother was a full-blown new waver and record collecting nut, consuming new release vinyl the second it hit the shelves at Tower Records. This was one of the most exciting times in musical history, the late 70's and early 80's music scene was dynamic and outrageous, new bands were coming out of nowhere with imagery and sounds projecting both style and substance in a revolutionary pop art punk fashion causing an overthrow of  the classic rock anthems and cheesy novelty disco acts dominating the radio airwaves. Bill's tastes were my guide map, he was finely tuned to the cream of the New Wave crop, and my eyes and ears were wide open and fixated on discovering this good weird stuff too. Sitting on his floor flipping through his records that weekend was like browsing an outrageous miniature art collection that seemed to come from another planet...
My little mind was blown!
What resulted from that session was a mix tape my brother dubbed 'Tyke's Tunes' featuring bands like The Vibrators, Madness, Devo, B-52's, Missing Persons, Adam & The Ants, Dead Kennedys, Human League, The Ramones, The Pretenders, The English Beat, The Residents and so many others...the best of the best. That 90 minute tape was like gold to me and ultimately changed my life. New wave and punk became my soundtrack, 'Tyke's Tunes' was like a prolific trend setting transmission beamed down from outer space to my world of little classmates who were happy settling with The Eagles and The Carpenters. I would play the mix tape everyday, learning all the words to the songs, cautiously adhering to the promise I'd made to Bill to not play 'Too Drunk To Fuck' if mom or dad were in the room.

Not too long after my life changing weekend with Bill, I remember feeling inspired and cramming a cheapo 60 minute Radio Shack cassette into my parents hi-fi after school one day. Already dialed in to Dr. Don Rose on KFRC, I was ready to groove out to the new hot sounds of 1983. The cassette ran the whole time as I sat and watched the tape on the tiny wheels dwindle down... hoping they wouldn't run out in the middle of Rockwell's 'Somebody's Watchin' Me'. The resulting mix and the songs I'd grabbed were less than great, complete with commercials and Don's knack of talking over the intro of every song... but still I loved it. Dude. I made my own mix!
...although this time on the more socially acceptable tip of popular music, the tape featured hits like Steve Miller's 'Abracadabra', 'Designer Music' by Lipps Inc, 'Rumors' by Timex Social Club, and 'Man Eater' by Hall And Oates. It kept me occupied for the moment, but I counted the days until I could have another opportunity to travel to Bill's pad again for another freakout session to listen to the 'good' bands, often calling him to ask about new records he had bought.

I never looked back from those early days and by 1990 I was fully equipped with two turntables, a crappy Realistic mixer and a kick-ass Nakamichi tape deck thanks to Bill. Forever my mentor, my bro helped me get everything dialed in, teaching me about grounding wires, recording levels, recording time, needle wear, record handling, fade outs and segues. In the 90's, my reputation for my record collection and my mix tapes defined me. Those who know me understand what I'm talking about.... for those who don't... stay tuned... that'll have to be another blog post.

Flash forward to 2014. While technology has surpassed the physical presence of a cassette tape, the idea of making and trading mixes is still fresh in my mind. My preferred online resource for making a playlist is Spotify, and while not completely comprehensive for obscure and rare tracks or contemporary music that was released before the 70s, the Spotify library is relatively complete and does the job for me. The interface is simple and efficient, the streaming solid and fast, click and go and before long you've made a mix and are able to share the link for anyone with an internet connection to listen to anywhere.

BUT... My big problem with this scenario is it doesn't completely capture the mix tape experience. Everyone whose created or been given a mix knows that half the fun of a good mix is the artwork! The anonymous personalization capacity of Spotify beyond a profile picture is something to be addressed, so for now I create my own artwork in Photoshop while I am compiling a playlist, cutting and pasting and free-transforming while I am simultaneously clicking away tracks online. Takes me right back to the fun process of designing a tape cover, an even better experience in many aspects. The new style of the artwork production has replaced the tactile procedure of arranging clippys and text with gummy spray adhesive thumbs and a xacto blade... and is not limited to the restrictive cassette cover size!

So... here are a few modern 'mixtapes' for your listening enjoyment.
If you'd like to keep up with my playlists, you can find me here: fred eagle on spotify
I'd love to hear yours too, cheers!

PS: If you need a little inspiration for your next mix tape artwork, have a look at my brother's incredible photography. He's still got it. ; ) - misterbigidea on flickr

'Swizzle Sticks' is my latest mix, a compilation of  audio cocktails and sonic bar snacks suitable for a perfect evening out and about or cozy soiree buzzing around about at home. The cocktail genre has always been my forte, but seeing as many of my cocktail genre mixtape staples in the easy listening/incredibly strange/go-go vein are unavailable on Spotify, I've opted to create a less predictable and less retro mix. This playlist still includes some googie-era favorites and some go-goers, but features a few modern groovers you may not be familiar with, and also a shot of pop & soul classics tossed in for good measure. The resulting mix pours out crisp and clean, a bubbly concoction of past and future grooves to soundtrack the ultimate vibe at your favorite hole in the wall or patch of outer space. The now sound of the space-age bachelor pad at chez fred eagle.

On my most recent trip to Paris, I spent 2 weeks at the home of my friend Thierry, a professor and historian who lives in an apartment in the 13th arrondissement with his incredible collection of books and records. Thierry lives in the building which was the former location of the Atlantic Records recording studio, known most famously as the home of several Serge Gainsbourg's recordings and the place Louis Armstrong layed down his first Paris sessions in the early 1950's. Thierry's apartment is on the first floor, directly above the basement that housed the original studio. There are obviously some old souls seeping through the floorboards there... Thierry and I couldn't stop playing records the entire time I was there... transitioning between punk and jazz, britpop and french music seamlessly. It was raining hard throughout my stay and we would stay up into the wee hours with the windows wide open trading stories and flipping discs of our favorites while we enjoyed some nice bottles of wine and cheese. This mix takes me right back to that happy place... listening to the rain, rocking out, feeling sentimental, feeling old and feeling young at the same time.

Widely recognized among my friends as one of the greatest wedding receptions we've ever experienced, my good friends Jon and Karen pulled out all the stops for their celebration of marriage. This reception was like a homecoming and a family reunion, Karen and Jon have a beautiful collection of artistic friends and we all know each other in some way... catching up with everyone was so so cool. The soundtrack for the event was especially perfect, delivered by an ace deejay panel.... difficult to go wrong with the lineup of supreme music afficionados Carrie Swing, Carlos Perez, Otto von Stroheim, Dean Curtis, Alec Palao, Sean Cavanaugh and Michael Beller behind the decks. We danced and danced, we laughed, we cried, we hugged.. we ate and drank until the place shut down to the sound of all of these tunes. I will never forget that day, I love Jon & Karen and their union means the world to me too ... and to everyone in attendance, a special time for all of us to share. I held the distinction of being Karen's 'something blue' and had dyed my hair Tiffany Blue to coordinate with the theme, quel honneur! This mix tape was my gift to the happy couple to thank them and commemorate the event, albeit with minor apologies to the deejays as some of their cool songs were unavailable on Spotify...  

A compilation for my girl Alberta, my musical soul mate... We've shared 22 years of musical discovery and obsessive vinyl collecting together... making analog mix tapes with perfect transitions and DJing parties were some of our favorite leisure activities back in the olden times before computers. 'Bertie's Bag' will be an ongoing series, this particular mix is jam packed with a batch of  60 of her all-time 'hot hits'. This mix features songs you know and love, and the songs you don't know are surely soon to be favorites too. An ultimate party soundtrack... also great for cleaning, vacuuming, doing the dishes and walking the dog... which all of them I better do soon or I'm going to be listening to 'Bertie's Nag'

If you are feeling thirsty by now, Alberta is one of the top mixologists around and has been at the forefront of cocktail culture for many years... have a look at cocktails on the fly and freshen up your hi-ball with new flavors to complement your listening experience.

Inside the music mind state of master sailor Loick Peyron. What exactly does Loick listen to at sea?  I spent some time with him dissecting this question resulting in the Spotify playlist 'loick's offshore mix' featuring a tune Loick listened to on board during many of the races throughout his career. Always a purveyor of fine taste, Loick's musical interests are diverse and in the pocket. Everything you need is here, music from some of his favorites: The Who, JJ Cale, The Police, Serge Gainsbourg, The Doors... soundtracks he digs: Game Of Thrones, Red Dead Redemption, Star Wars... hip tracks by The Black Keys and Air.. and many more. Loick's taste in music is sophisticated but mischievous not unlike the man himself. His playlist sets a idyllic ambiance for your next maxi-trimaran trip around the world, or your next session at the breakfast table with a p'ti cafe and a smoke ...while you plan your current top-secret strategic attack on the water.
loick peyron's offshore mixtape

Until next time, happy listening...

Friday, February 28, 2014

What Difference Does It Make? SF Screening w/ François K

If you aren't yet hip to this film documenting the search for the soul of music, do yourself some couch digging and plug in for a heavy dose of optimism. 'What Difference Does It Make' is a film all it's own, a supreme audio visual testament to the power of creativity. A must see for deejays, musicians, record collectors, knob-twiddlers, and next-big-things, this hour and a half long journey throughout New York as experienced by the eyes, ears and musical prowess of the Red Bull Music Academy members provides for an engaging collage of textures and vibes, both mellow and chaotic. The freestyle emotions and undefinable reverence that the art of making music holds for these individuals (and all of us) is realized with a slick yet gritty sensitivity. The stylish editing and surprise guest appearances from music legends & household names (Brian Eno, Debbie Harry, Giorgio Moroder, Philip Glass, Erykah Badu, Rakim & many more) fuel the story as it extends it's tendrils across the city with no apparent rhyme or reason, flowing and imperfect like an impromptu jazz session. The experiences of the students as they noodle together in the fully equipped RBMA studio to find their groove will resonate deeply with the fellow artists in the audience struggling to make sense of music's fickle obsessive nature and the relationships we create while creating music. The freedom of discovery is celebrated with armchair philosophy and gold-plated words from our musical heroes who encourage viewers to keep the creative flow going no matter what.

If 'IT' is in you, 'IT' needs to come out.

Bad bad Leroy Webb, my favorite artist in the film. Subway goosebumps.

'What Difference Does It Make' is moving and poignant, groovy, encouraging, hopeless, refreshing and completely human. It would be impossible to finish this film without a smile on your face and itching to get back to that dope track you were working on. Or that painting you just started. Or that book you were writing...
To watch it online at the Red Bull Music Academy site or download to your desktop, click on our old mate Lee 'Scratch' Perry below

Red Bull have their fingers on the pulse for sure. Always poised to provide a memorable night of forward-thinking youth culture while recognizing the pioneers of the genre, the San Francisco screening for 'What Difference Does It Make' was true to form, a double bill which included a moderated discussion with legendary French ex-pat deejay François K. As a celebration of 15 years of the RBMA, this free event had been highly publicized and on my radar for quite awhile... I'd shot in my rsvp well in advance along with a handful of my mates in the extended Sweater Funk crew, and at exactly 7pm on the 22nd we were in the heart of The Mission, filing out of Pancho Villa taqueria with full bellies and our eye on the prize. Smart thinking. By 7:30pm there was a line all the way down the block from the Victoria Theater, this was easily a sold out gig.

Once inside and settled in, the ambiance was super chilled out with an electric playful attitude courtesy of the Academy members in attendance we'd soon meet on the big screen. The hour long discussion with François treated us to intimate anecdotes from the glory days of DJ life, we happily would have listened to him all night while he dove in and out of his vast catalog of tunes and memories with host Shawn Reynaldo from XLR8RFrançois sharing his experiences with us was cool to be a part of, like listening to an old family friend. The man is as multi-faceted as he is humble, François is reserved and soft spoken, clever and insightful... and a total Dude. 
A brief clip to illustrate la classe. François reflects on Larry Levan and begins to talk about the worldwide rebirth of the NYC DJ.
Merci pour votre temps, grand mec.

Front and Center. Shane, Kirk, Ileah, Brian, Sue & Danika
...and zee French Touch, pausing for a photo with François K.

Many thanks to the Red Bull Music Academy for what you do.  Keep The Faith!
#FollowFriday on twitter RBMA  RedBullSFO  Do415  François K
And a special shout out to my new Jedi Master : Tom Moulton for flagging this bomb for us.
Currently in heavy rotation