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.
The first weekend of this beautiful sun soaked month, the Ganjaology team made our way up to Merritt, BC – the new home of BC’s boutique music festival – Bass Coast. In prior years, the event has been held on native land in Squamish just North of Vancouver. As the event was growing, it became apparent after last year that it was time for a larger, more scaleable venue. With their eyes glistening, and their hearts open, organizers Andrea Graham and Liz Thomson – better known as the Bass Coast Girls – set out to find Bass Coast a new home. When they found themselves nestled in the hills beside the Coldwater River in Merrit BC, they knew that they had struck gold.
It is here in Merrit that all the magic happened. With more than a handful of world class music acts, several various types of workshops, a feast of food, the headiest of art vendors and installations, and the freshest of fashion – Bass Coast was a marketplace of imagination.
Three massive stages housed the music acts, each equipped with enough sound to curl your hair. Maybe being around all this bass is what gives The Librarian those tight bouncy curls which she playfully threw around during her set on the Bassment Stage. The backdrop for the Bassment was an awesome array or hexagonal shapes, which when illuminated created an incredible display of geometric intricacies. Other acts to perform on the stage include Machinedrum, Daega Sound, Evy Jane, Justin Martin, Calamalka, Self Evident, Taal Mala, Goth Trad, Lorne B, Grenier, Luciterra and Chris Murdoch, Dark Sky, Sanctums, Natasha Kmeto, and Jets.
Across the way from the Bassment was the infamous Radio Stage which was home to the morning radio show each day. In the evening, the frequencies intensified, allowing for darker, deeper energies to surface. Home to Mat The Alien, Om Unit, Max Ulis, Neighbour, and DJ Cure to name a few, the Radio Stage held space for some of the most radical of music acts. Others to perform on this pulchritudinous platform include Funk Hunters, Barisone, Little Dinosaur, Kir Mokem, Erica Dee, The Fungineers, Adam Shaikh, Willisist, Desert Dwellers, Westerly, Sweet Anomaly, Tor, Paul Brooks, JPod, Humans, Longwalkshortdock, Nautilus, Jimmy Edgar, and Spilt Milk.
Finally, one of my personal favorite stages, was the Slay Bay. Nestled in the trees by the calm flowing river, Slay Bay provided a respite from the high energy, sun soaked spirit of the other stages. Standout acts included Michael Red and Random Rab, with their monday morning close out sets. Other highlights from this zone include the Lighta! Reggae Jam, Philth kids, Alphabets Heaven, Dan Solo, Wax Romeo, Mama Miche, HxDB, Woodhead, Isis Graham, Tank Gyal and Mandai, JF Killah, and Ryan Wells.
When we weren’t raging near the subs, snuggled in a hammock, cooling off in the water, or simply listening… One might find us at the smaller, alternative stages which hosted an incredible array of music and workshops. The Bigger Brain and Alter Stages housed these more intimate gatherings. While enjoying yoga, meditation and breathing, or delving into the magical world of alchemy and spice – whether transfixed by the science of Mantra, engaged in contact improvisation dance, jumping in on the freestyle cypher, or twirling yourself with Sacred Circus – these spaces held fast for participants to… Well yes, to participate. Big up to Michael Red and Gabriel Soloman of Chambers and Ydna Murd, the 8 limbed DnB drummer for turning my world inside out from deep within the Bigger Brain.
All in all, I must say… Bass Coast was bigger, badder and busier than ever this year. I simply loved it. From the music and art to the workshops and water sports, Bass Coast participants had their hands and hearts full of enlivening experience to create a wonder filled weekend. We look forward to another rendezvous in the forest this time again next year. Until then, we will be buzzing, building and abounding with positivity… basically bursting at the seems with anticipation for the next installment by the Bass Coast Girls. Big thanks to all that had a hand in the creation of this simply stunning event.
Bravo y’all. Much love and appreciation…
PS. Big Thanks to Cody Puckett for all of the spectacular photos seen here.
More from Cody at his website!
Be sure to check back for the Bass Coast Residual Frequencies Interview Series here at Ganjaology… Stay tuned!
More info about the Bass Coast Project here:
If you’re not already a part of the Vancouver bass music scene, you likely aren’t yet privy to the distinct sounds of Self Evident. This BC native is known for his high grade, genre flexing DJ sets and masterful production. Sticking mostly to the heady, subterranean type vibes, Self Evident’s sets move through dubstep, future bass, raw dub, trap, footwork, jungle, juke and other ill defined contemporary frequencies. The bottom line is that the man has a knack for creating sonic landscapes which push the musical envelope and create opportunity for vibrating gyrations of the pelvic kind.
I recently had the chance to catch up with Self Evident when he was performing in Seattle. While kicking back and enjoying some classy beverages, we chatted about everything from birds to bees to bass… Check out the interview below.
Also, I’ve included some essential sounds by Self Evident. Feel free to toggle to your hearts desire. Just today, he is releasing his 8 track album, Rubbaman with Really Good Recordings. Be sure to cop that on Beatport!
In just a few short days, Self Evident will be headed up to Merrit for the weekend to participate in BC’s most bossed up bass music festival… Bass Coast. He will be performing among other superb acts including the whole team from Lighta! Sound, the infamous Librarian, Michael Red, Goth Trad, Machinedrum, HxDB, Om Unit, Dan Solo, Daega Sound, DJ Cure, Neightbour, Mat The Alien, Random Rab, The Fungineers, Alphabets Heaven, Calamalka, and many more. If you’re going, don’t miss Self Evident’s solo set along with the Lighta! Reggae Jam…
Here’s the interview. Big up and many thanks to Ben for his kindness in sharing with us!
GANJAOLOGY: Alright… We are here in Seattle. This is Mickey Mars with Ganjaology. I’m here with Self Evident. He’s from Vancouver BC. So do you want to just tell us a little bit about yourself?
SELF EVIDENT: Self Evident. Vancouver BC. Representing Lighta Sound!.
GANJAOLOGY: Nice. Very nice. Welcome. So ya, this is your first night playing in Seattle?
SELF EVIDENT: Ya
GANJAOLOGY: Nice. Well we are looking forward to checking it out. I hope you are enjoying your time in Seattle so far.
SELF EVIDENT: It’s beautiful here.
GANJAOLOGY: Great! Let’s start with the basics. How did you originally get into music?
SELF EVIDENT: Definitely having older siblings helps, like my brother’s four years older than me, and he got into electronic music pretty early. He introduced me to a lot of seriously old school dance music which gave me sort of that leg up that a lot of those british guys have, as far as knowing about electronic music when they were kids. And then… How did I get into shit?
GANJAOLOGY: Did you play any instruments in school?
SELF EVIDENT: I did, I was a musician. I was in a few bands, like playing guitar and stuff. And I guess Max had DJ’d for a long time, I’ve been producing for a long time. And then we sort of traded off those skills a little bit, so that helped. And then, a huge influence was when my brother did a Tuesday weekly called Grime Sessions out of the back room in Shine Night Club in Vancouver, and that still has such a huge impression on me. I used to go to every Tuesday and get really drunk and dance super hard to grime music, and I still… that’s probably the biggest influence on me besides like, dancehall is pretty big for me. But grime does something deep inside of me that I can’t explain, like more than any other style.
GANJAOLOGY: Nice, that’s funny. Well my next question was what is your biggest inspiration, haha…
SELF EVIDENT: Well I still collect grime on vinyl. It’s like one of my hobbies. I have a pretty serious vinyl grime collection, and also UKG and two step. Still collect that on vinyl.
GANJAOLOGY: Any specific artists?
SELF EVIDENT: Ahhhh… Nope.
GANJAOLOGY: Nice. Perfect. Haha. That’s awesome man, well we’re looking forward to seeing what you play tonight.
SELF EVIDENT: I guess hip-hop is a huge influence on me too. Gangster stuff. I remember, I think, that my brother bought this NWA tape, “Hundred Miles and Runnin'” And back then you actually had to be of a certain age to buy a thing that was explicit material. I remember him buying that. I couldn’t have bought it at the time. And listening to it. That was a big influence for sure. Lot’s of hip hop. Big influence.
GANJAOLOGY: My mom made me return the Cash Money Millionaires, Juvenile album.
SELF EVIDENT: Oh my god, hahaha. Hilarious.
GANJAOLOGY: Right!? Anyway, I’ve seen you perform a couple times. Always in Canada. I gotta say Canada is unbelievable. The bass scene up there is pretty awesome. Vancouver primarily, but Canada in general. So what can you say about that?
SELF EVIDENT: Ya, I feel really blessed with what’s going on in Vancouver right now. We’ll even get headliners in from London who are like… The scene is even more into the music than in England. You know what I mean, like really dedicated fans. And not only that but fans that know their shit. Like I learn shit from my fans. “You need to check out this” or “you need to check out that” They’re on to it. And their really… Maybe a lot of conditioning from the early Dub Forms parties, but people are open to hear something that they never heard before. They’re almost expecting that from me and from other DJs, you know. They’re ready to give me the fucking, “What the fuck is that shit stuff”
GANJAOLOGY: Ya that’s awesome! So ya, we spoke a little bit about your brother, but I have to ask. Obviously you guys are connected. I’ve seen you at the same events, doing the same shows, stuff like that. You came out with the Eastsiders EP last year, which was awesome! That one track has been echoing in my head all summer.
SELF EVIDENT: “Numba One Stunna?”
SELF EVIDENT: Oh Nice
GANJAOLOGY: “Move ya, Move, Move…” Like aaahhhh. So do you guys have any new releases that you’ve been working on together?
SELF EVIDENT: Working on lots of stuff with my bro. He’s very meticulous about what he puts out so don’t know when that stuff will surface. Really stoked for my collabos with Subcorr. Double Intention is our R&B one, and Blockout is the grime one that we’re working on. Those are going along really well.
GANJAOLOGY: Nice. Are those going to be EPs or full length?
SELF EVIDENT: We have a whole album produced with the R&B one. We’re just working with a vocalist right now to write some songs. And then the Blockout one, we have about five or six tunes just about done. Just about to start chopping them to labels. Grime with a little bit of dubstep with a future kind of influence.
GANJAOLOGY: Nice that’s awesome. Ya I think one of the things that has majorly impressed me personally is your ability to transition between different genres, and really to just bring a certain level of play. It’s like your sound, but yet you’re moving through a lot of different stuff. I wanted to ask specifically about the Wepa! album. I heard that and it’s just way different, and super cool. So would you tell us a little bit about that one.
SELF EVIDENT: Ya, I met this guy Will Eede from Argentina, and my buddy Dustin (Gameboy) spent a little time in Mexico. And they kinda had a history with Cumbia music and they introduced me to Cumbia, and it was really intersting. Anytime I hear something that’s like so out of the pallet that I know, it’s always like wow. There’s something I can take from that. Whenever I hear something super fresh, I instantly have to go and make something with that influence right away. Anyway, through working with them got super influenced by a lot of the Latin artists. Chancha Via Circuito, Super Guachin, Black Mandingo. But right now kinda working on a little bit of a druggy, trippy sort of indiginious music influenced thing with Will Eede. And then, with Gameboy, we’re hopefully gonna be doing a project with Lido Pimienta who’s out of Toronto. Really, really talented singer who’s originally out of Columbia. So that’s on the horizon for that.
GANJAOLOGY: Cool, Nice.
SELF EVIDENT: And if possible, I’d like to mention my co-lab with Yan Zombie that we’re working on right now. It’s like some mad Dr. Dre Chronic shit meets future bass. Really, really excited for that. That man is a king on the keyboards. Which kinda gives me that thing which I don’t have quite yet, which is that live keyboard playing.
GANJAOLOGY: Great. So I’ve seen you a couple festivals as well as clubs. Do you have a specific favorite place to play or general vibe that you like?
SELF EVIDENT: Ya, my brother’s night’s at Open Studios are pretty legendary. Just such a good vibe there. He always puts together a great lineup. Michael Red of course used to put on the Dub Forms parties there in the really early dubstep days, bringing all the early dubstep innovators before people were on to that shit. So that space is amazing. Obviously I have my monthly at the Astoria which is a little more grubby gangsta style.
GANJAOLOGY: What’s the name of that night?
SELF EVIDENT: That’s a good question. I’ve been doing it for over a year now and I still don’t have a name for my monthly. Haha, I actually thought about one while laying in bed last night… And I forgot it. I though it was the one though. It will come back to me. Thinking of a name for something is hard!
GANJAOLOGY: Any big plans for the summer, plans for the year? Anything you are particularly excited about?
SELF EVIDENT: Well Bass Coast Festival of course. Probably… As far as like, for real heads, future heads… I don’t see another lineup in all of North America which has that much quality at the top of it. You know what I mean? Like, not just… I don’t want to name names, but not just shit that the masses are into or know about. You know, like stuff that the real heads wanna see super bad. It’s just a massive lineup, in that sense. Andrea, her taste in music… To have someone picking all the music like that, it’s awesome.
GANJAOLOGY: Yes. Very excited. We’ll be there for sure.
SELF EVIDENT: It’s weird. It’s the only festival I’m playing this year though. I go five last year so…
GANJAOLOGY: You’re pushing the production then, huh?
SELF EVIDENT: Working on it, ya. Oh for sure. Working on a whole album right now. It’s kinda grime, dubstep, kinda thing. It’s weird, there’s a wickid resurgence in dubstep right now. Proper dubstep is coming back. People like Kahn obviously. He’s a big part of why this is coming about. A lot of people are like, “Oh shit. I wanna hear this again” Daega has been saying it to me for a couple months, or even longer than that. I just played in New York City for a guy that does a monthly called Reconstruct, They have a serious following for proper dubstep in NYC right now. Their shows are selling out and they’re bringing all those big names again, and they’re doing it proper.
GANJAOLOGY: Anything you care to share that you haven’t said already?
SELF EVIDENT: August 23rd I’m doing a show at the Astoria with Monolithium from Victoria, and Bevvy Swift from Montreal, and Crusha who just got a release on Mad Decent! And Kimmy K, it will be one of her first sets. She’ll be opening up. Should be good. I think that’s it. And shout out to HxDB, everyone in Lighta! of course, Librarian… Who else should I shout out? Oh my god, they’ll hate me. Ok that’s about it.
GANJAOLOGY: Awesome. Thanks!