Interview with Performing Artist / Knifeshow | Edition XV
BL: Where did you guys meet?
Jack: At NYU, wee both wen for music technology over there.
BL: How many years ago?
Jack: We graduated in ’08 so in ’04.
BGH: How do ya’ll feel about the radio?
Nat: Oh I love the radio, honestly I feel sad about the radio. Where the radio is right now, the same three companies own every radio station all across the country and everyone knows that. It’s Clear Channel–
BL: The big ones, Viacom?
Nat: and BMI Universal. So, that’s not the worst thing in the world because you still have Hot 97, which is Clear Channel but is till fun to listen to.
Jack: But also, more fun when I was growing up.
AG: Totally, totally.
BGH: On the radio that’s how you sell records.
AG: Hot97 was so hot, so hype in the 90’s it was ridiculous.
Nat: That’s what I’m saying
BL: It governed the streets.
Nat: The internet allows artists to do more things ever now.
(brief smoking intermission)
Jack: There something I want to say about the whole DJ thing just to clarify about the DJ’s that get to us the most and really piss us off. There are a lot of party DJ’s who consider themselves producers or musicians and they’ve never made a song. So they’re making a living off of playing other people’s music and they’re trying to say that they’re doing the same thing as we are. It’s just weird right now because it’s easy to trick the average person, you can’t explain this to them. They’re like ‘Well why do I care? If it makes me dance I don’t give a fuck.’
Nat: It’s all good to be just a DJ, but to be just a DJ with a musicians attitude is just absurd.
Jack: Those dudes might as well be wedding DJ’s that’s the same shit. But they end up making more money.
BL: If you’re willing to sell out it like –
Nat: You get money.
Jack: You got dude’s that sound like Girl Talk, selling records and doing shows just like copy, paste, copy, paste. It’s crazy.
BL: What equipment do you guys use?
Jack: Ableton with a few midi controllers, sometimes Nat uses Cubase, and we spin with Serato.
Nat: Mics, MPC turntables.
Jack: We have more plug ins than people would ever touch because we steal them.
Nat: I’m trying to – right now – to get into circuit bending. Getting toys and opening up a toy and crossing wires in a toy it just sounds crazy.
Jack: He introduced to me the whole concept of like yea making beats is cool but first I’m going to create this sound from scratch. Out of nowhere he’s making his own sound and then writing a song with it. So you build the tool and you use the tool. You can hear the difference.
BL: How is your song development responsibility ratio?
Jack: Like some songs fall more on him and vice versa but we try to keep a balance because otherwise it doesn’t feel like a collaborative thing. It there is something where he has done like 80% of the work I’m like, dude that’s your track. Finish that as you.
Nat: If there were any tip of the scale it would just be I’m better at sound design, rhythm shit, and he’s way better at melody and phrasing and song pacing.
Jack: Well because I come from like I said years of hip hop. I put out like five CD’s of my own shit but then I also recorded all the local rappers by my spot and I must have done like five thousand songs from age thirteen to eighteen. I did like Rakim’s nephew — local dudes.
AG: Tell him about your album “Hip Hop is Dead”.
Jack: Yea I put out Hip Hop is Dead before Nas like maybe two, three–
AG: Way before.
Jack: Yeah maybe before that.
BL: You know he has to know that.
Jack: Yeah, the dude that was managing me at the time assured me that he gave a copy to Nas and that was in 2003. Hip Hop is Dead came out in like 2007.
AG: 2009 maybe.
Jack: I got crucified for that shit one time. This is funny. The manager that was managing me at the time booked me for a show. I’d made t-shirts for the Hip Hop is Dead CD, it really wasn’t accepted at the time. He booked me for a show at a community college. It paid $200. I’m like cool I’ll wear my HHID t-shirt. I show up and it’s a Kwanzaa festival. I’m a white kid up on stage with a Hip Hop is dead shirt. And the way I opened my show was with this spoken word shit just like, killing hip hop, so they were ripping on me the whole night but by the end of the show the beats were hot enough they felt it.
Jake: I interned at battery studios they would record anything from Havoc to Britney Spears. It was in midtown and they went bankrupt while I was interning, that’s how bad it was. It wasn’t just like a small studio, they did Jessica Simpson, Rhianna. For them to close down and not have enough money says a lot about where things are at.
BL: Could you also tell me where the name Knifeshow came from?
Jack: Knifeshow the name came from cable show. Three in the morning there is a TV show called Knife Show that is a home shopping network – you’ve never seen it? It’s like ‘We got a set of eighteen knives’.
BL: (Remembering) Yeah, I used to watch that show all the time!
Words: Barakat Livan