The Lost Tapes Pt. 2 w/ Michael Red – Interview from Bass Coast 2013
From the depths comes the mysterious echoing frequencies of a man enchanted. With a rare spirit and extraordinary delivery, Michael Red is a creator of magic. Through his many beautifully overlapping projects, this man works in the medium of sound and light, mixing them effortlessly with space and darkness.
As head of the forward thinking Vancouver sound system collective Lighta! Sound, Michael Red reigns supreme in the dance. In another light, he channels an alternative energy, a deeper emotional expression with Low Indigo. Going deeper still, you might find the music of souns, another more exploratory AV creation of Michael’s. Most recently, he has paired with Gabriel Solomon aka GBS of Yellow Swans to create Chambers, a name which quite accurately suggests the style and sound. Through these many channels, Michael Red crafts a collection of frequencies all his own.
Last year at Bass Coast, I had the chance to speak with Michael about his music and his involvement with the Bass Coast Project. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the interview was never published, until now. Like a vaulted wine, ingesting these words and rhythms will provide you a taste of Red which would stimulate the palate of any contemporary music connoisseur.
Check out the interview below, and be sure to have a sample of the many sounding flavors of Michael Red. For those headed to Bass Coast this weekend, BIG UP YOURSELF. It’s going to be superb. More info on Bass Coast here.
GANJAOLOGY :: We are here with Michael Red at Bass Coast 2013. Maybe we can start with a brief intro…
MICHAEL :: My name is Michael Red. I’m from Halifax Nova Scotia, and I’ve been Vancouver based since ’98. And, I’m into all sorts of different things.
GANJAOLOGY :: Excellent. I know that you’re a part of Lighta! Sound and you have some other independent projects. I guess let’s start with Lighta! Tell us about that.
MICHAEL :: Ok, I’m not exactly sure when we formed, but it may have been 2004ish. It started off initially rooted in ragga jungle, dancehall, and soundsystem culture. At the time when it was forming, it started off as a fusion between dancehall and jungle. Later on it started to define itself more. Now, we can backtrace it to say “Oh, that’s what’s happening.” But, at the time it was just fresh and really moving fast. Slowly artists came on board… It’s definitely Vancouver based. I like to think it has a West Coast flavor with a real Vancouver identity.
GANJAOLOGY :: Who were the originals and who is involved now?
MICHAEL :: The originals… Well I invited everyone on. It starts with the logo, which I view as an icon. It has an impact. it’s a kind of statement to be perceived in a certain way. I had the image in my head for years before putting it into physical form.
Because we were strongly rooted in Jungle and fusions around that, the starting members were people that are not active now. But that was Condition Red, who is from Victoria. He’s the Jungle archivist here on the west coast. He’s got the biggest collection and the most knowledge. That made sense. This guy knows his stuff and we were playing shows together. And then after that it was Angst, who is San Fran based now. I think he’s from San Fran originally and he came up to Vancouver, spent some time and then went back down. He was very much holding a torch for Ragga Jungle up here. He was on it with the Ragga Jungle resurgence which was happening at that time.
Next I believe It was Calamalka. I met him at a party and he gave me a record he had pressed himself. It was like hip hop dub fusion. Very rooted in dub… that whole dub aesthetic.
Essentially what it is now and where it comes from is sound system culture. It’s about the live experience. Today it’s a lot of dancehall reggae. That’s a very strong element which will always exist. And also, modern sound system culture… What dubstep was and arguably still is in a purest sense. And any extensions of that. My view, and I think our collective view of sound system culture is always pushing forward. When you look at Jamaica and that sound, it’s always the next thing. Lighta! is so diversified now… with all of our different members and what they do.
GANJAOLOGY :: You said you had 12 on stage today. Who are they?
MICHAEL :: Myself, Calamalka, Max Ulis, Self Evident, DJ Tusk, Tank Gyal, Mandai, DJ Cure, Daega Sound, Taal Mala, and…
We haven’t made an official announcement yet, but it’s no secret. Our latest member is Librarian. And we’re all super excited about that. And it just makes sense. It’s not really any sort of decision. She’s just obviously part of the family. We’re a family you know.
GANJAOLOGY :: I honestly thought she was already party of the crew.
MICHAEL :: That’s why. A lot of people are like “oh, she’s not a part?” So that’s why. And that speaks to my personal interpretation of the whole thing. That’s just what makes sense and feels good. It’s right. It feels right. That’s kind of what people want it to be. It’s already understood.
GANJAOLOGY :: Anything else you want to share about Lighta?
MICHAEL :: I don’t know… We’re stoked. It’s cool. There remains a potential which is really strong. It’s in no way stagnant. Theres lots of room. There’s lots of direction. There’s lots of future pockets to be filled. You know, we’re a family… and we’re excited.
GANJAOLOGY :: It’s a pretty inspiring group for sure.
MICHAEL :: It’s a collective, you know. It’s bigger than the sum of all of us.
GANJAOLOGY :: So that’s one project. There’s this other project, maybe similar. Chambers… Can you talk about that?
MICHAEL :: Sure. Chambers. We started about a year ago. It’s me and Gabriel Solomon aka GBS. He was a part of a duo called Yellow Swans. If you want to talk about intuition and ethereal stuff, we came together in a very dreamy way. I feel, and I think he would agree, that it’s not even realized yet. It just feels right, and we’re going somewhere and we’re not sure where. It feels good. It’s a lot of improvisation. It’s absolutely rooted in dub. In traditional dub aesthetics.
GANJAOLOGY :: Is it live?
MICHAEL :: Ya it’s live. He’s playing guitar with analog effects like delays and reverbs with a mixer. He also uses cassette tape loops. I have my live PA setup which is three midi controllers. I take a live feed of what he does and I put more effects on that. And live, we jam. It’s about spaciousness and attention to space. It’s minimal with a focus on the deep details. The micro details. it’s heady. You know, you can lose yourself in it. I do. He does. I know others can too. I’ll say, It’s heavy in a subdued way. I think that is accurate.
GANJAOLOGY :: The other major project that I know you’re involved with is Low Indigo. Tell us about that.
MICHAEL :: So… in sequence from all that you’ve asked, Low Indigo is the most undefined. And undefined in a very comfortable way. It’s like my experience with Lighta’ and how it formed, and made sense later. From that experience, I’m kind of surrendering and letting it go to see where it ends up.
Musically speaking, on average Low Indigo is more left field, abstrakt, slower, more moody, chilled out, and more on the fringe. It’s not main room. The way Lighta! would be main room, we can do the hype party kind of thing. Low Indigo is what was the rave chillout room. That is the place for more exploration. It’s more participatory as well and thats the way I kind of left it undefined and it’s kind of slowly defining itself over time. Through the FB group, people are contributing with “Hey check out this artist, or check out that project.”
There’s a rap artist, Sol from Anticon. He and I got the chance to collab on a track some years ago. I think he just makes lyrics up off the top of his head, like he’s channeling something. I always remember one of his phrases in that rap. He says, “that which is perfect is finished.” As soon as you define something, it has boundaries. And people can say it’s this. It’s not that. It’s black and white…
I’m interested in the grey. I’m interested in the organic reflecting real life which is not defined. It’s exploratory. “Let’s see how this goes” kind of thing. I view Low Indigo to have it’s own soul. And for now I’m a facilitator of that. So I guide it and we’ll see where it ends up. And Like I said, it’s rooted in the more exploratory fringe stuff so naturally that equates to left field, fringe thought as well. Like those sparkles of inspiration. In a setting like this at Bass Coast, I’m interested in affecting individuals so they’re like, “I’m gonna change my whole life right now.” You know, it may or may not happen but it’s those moments, regardless of what happens next. I’m interested in those moments of inspiration and life changing epiphanies and stuff like that. Which I think a lot of that music lends itself to. That dreamy, lose yourself, meditative introspection.
GANJAOLOGY :: What can you say about Bass Coast?
MICHAEL :: From the very start… Well, let me tell you for a second. As soon as I saw Andrea, the Librarian in Whislter… Wow. She was DJ’ing with myself, Daega Sound, 2562 and Mat The Alien at his night up in Whistler. She was opening up and none of us knew her and Mat was like… “Ya man, she’ll do a good job”. As soon as I saw her and heard her selections and her vibe, I literally said to her… We need to work on some stuff. Tell me what you’re up to because… Let’s do something. And she says, “well actually I’m thinking about doing this festival called Bass Coast this coming summer” And I was like alright! let’s keep in touch!
GANJAOLOGY :: You were quick to support.
MICHAEL :: Absolutely. In an instant. A bunch of Lighta artists got booked and we supported it all the way. It was very clear to see that big things for Bass Coast were soon to come!
I think that the amount of growth and potential that Bass Coast has, at this point is still pretty much infinite. A lot of people that come here feel that as well. And that is one of the reasons why I believe in it and support it wholly. Because it’s a feeling. People come here because it’s larger than just the experience itself. We all have the potential for larger than what the media might tell us. Or in our day to day, what we might believe, our ego; we are larger than that. Here’s a place that actually realizes that and expresses that and helps facilitate people growing in that way. That’s what I think Bass Coast is… and that’s why I love it!
GANJAOLOGY :: It’s been almost a year and Bass Coast 2014 is around the corner. Last year you were working on a release with Modern Math, plus your Low Indigo music and of course Chambers. Any updates?
MICHAEL :: Absolutely. The Modern Math EP since dropped and did pretty well. Chambers has secured two vinyl releases for Digitalis. One in the fall and the other in the winter. Very stoked to have it mastered and pressed by D&M and distro’d by Forced Inc. Plus Boomkat going to get behind it and the artwork is developing quite nicely. I’ve just completed my work for the debut vinyl for Undone, a really great Vancouver-based blog who are branching out into releasing music now. That release is split with Taal Mala. We each have a tune on there, and are remixing each others work on there too. Low Indigo’s got a few more releases out since we last spoke. Lots more releases being incubated currently, plus a video coming out this September and a much healthy distro network secured now too. Two tunes for South Fork Sound before the end of the year, a souns tape for Digitalis and a remix on a limited CD for IO Sound, and lots more being worked on as well. Had my first vinyl appearance earlier this year on a Hybridity comp – a remix for Sabota, which I’m happy how it turned out. ..Busy and excited, basically.
GANJAOLOGY :: What excites you most about Bass Coast this year?
MICHAEL :: Genuinely very excited to check out a pile of friend’s sets this year, like any year though really. I know a few folks have been pouring their hearts into live sets that they are going to be debuting this year. Not going to miss those. And just being surrounded by the extended family that makes up everyone there, you know.. stoked to be “home” again.
Big Thanks to Michael Red, Lighta! Sound, Bass Coast Project and everyone out there listening and sharing this extraordinary music. #Respect
Lost Tapes Pt 1. w/ Daega Sound Here.
Posted on July 29, 2014, in Ganjaology and tagged Andrea Graham, Bass Coast, Bass Coast Mutiny, Bass Coast Project, Calamalka, Chambers, Daega Sound, Dancehall, DJ Cure, DJ Tusk, dubstep, Jungle, Lighta! Sound, Low Indigo, Lowi 1, Lowi 2, Mandai, Mat The Alien, Max Ulis, Michael Red, Modern Math, ragga, reggae, Self Evident, Souns, Space Toast, Taal Mala, Tank Gyal, techno. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.