Artist To Artist: Rennie Foster & Amir Alexander
With Amir Alexander having just created a remix of Rennie Foster's 'Call The Sun' that comfortably exceeded the original creator's expectations, the pair are understandably on rather good terms.
We decided that it would be best to let them interview each other, giving them the freedom to find out exactly what each of them wanted to know about the other. Here's how they got on;
Rennie Foster interviews Amir Alexander
RF – First of all, your remix for "Call The Sun" is the absolute truth, I was so hyped when you turned that in. The kick drum has that old-school, Relief Records sort of distortion vibe, very tough. The spoken vocal you added also really works, and represents the "conscious techno" vibe I am striving toward with the RF label. What inspired those particular elements?
AA – Thank you very much Rennie. I was happy to find out that you were pleased with my efforts. With the kick I just tried to stay true to the original. I sampled a single quarter note kick from you. Life, opportunity, relevance, our shared North American geographical origins, and the need to express that very message were the things that inspired the vocal.
RF – The "Gutter Flex" record is really the thing that woke me up to what you were doing, it became a sort of a theme song for me, before I even knew you. What is your intended message with that track? How does that compare with your "Call The Sun" remix?
AA – The Gutter Flex is a very visceral/ self explanatory composition, I believe. The intended message is stated in the vocal chant. "Deep into the gutter. Way way down. We represent the streets. Kids from the underground" It is what it is. Personally, I could/would not try to compare them as I can see no similarities other than the fact that Amir Alexander made them. One is melodically driven and the other is rhythmic in nature. One is a remix in which I reinterpret and try to compliment/enhance the clearly defined material that is Call The Sun and the other is an original composition that was transmitted through me at a particular moment in time on a very exact vibrational frequency.
RF – What is Vanguard Sound all about, and what is coming up next for that?
AA – Personal Elevation, Excellence, Accountability, Artistry, Freedom of Expression, Dancing and Positive Promotion of Dance Music Culture, Equal Rights for all regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, Questioning Authority, Being Original, and Thinking For Yourself. We're also an artist's collective (consisting of members Dakini9, G. Marcell, Chris Mitchell, Hakim Murphy, DJ Spider, and Myself), a record label, and a cultural movement.
Up next with the label is an EP by Chris Mitchell followed by releases from G. Marcell, and then DJ Spider to finish this year and begin the new one.
RF – That sounds dope, I’m a big fan of what Chris Mitchell is doing recently and playing his work a lot in my sets. You are currently living in Europe, and originally from Chicago? What made you decide to leave America, and do you plan to return someday to live?
AA – Being that I am on an endless tour, one could say that for all intents and purposes that I am E.U. Based. I am a professional recording artist – producer – disk jokey. I put a lot of time and effort into being the best that I can be at what I do. Part of that effort is educating myself about all aspects of this culture on an international level. So, being as dedicated to my craft as I am, I must work within the international nucleus of the global scene, The E.U. It is what it is and knowledge is power. I don't really live anywhere, yet I do have a couple home bases I guess. I really cannot say what my plans for the future are as far as being completely based in the States. At this point in my life I am only about 25% done with a do or die plan that took effect in September of 2012 so to be thinking about not being close to the action, so to speak is illogical and a waste of time to a person like me.
RF – What keeps you inspired to keep making music?
I was put on this earth to do what I do. So as long as I keep the negative forces, excessive stress(es), bullshit, and those without direction out of my immediate sphere, while attracting and nurturing kindness, compassion, inner peace, good health, and positive vibrations I will always be inspired because life and living inspire me.
I only get the writers block when my life is out of harmonic balance, but I have been teaching myself to channel those energies into positive results artistically lately. Anything and everything can be potentially inspiring. Now that I have a newborn son the thought of being someone he can be proud of inspires me as well.
Amir Alexander interviews Rennie Foster
AA – The RF label and it's new releases/reissues are getting a warm reception. At present, you seem to be striking a nice balance with the digital and physical releases, as well as your artwork and visual presentation. How much of, if any of this was blue printed before you actually moved back to North America and began to do what you are now doing?
RF – Actually, the idea came together after I had returned to N.America. I did 2 releases on vinyl only under the RF label while I was still in Japan, but it was through a P&D. It wasn’t until a year later that I decided to create the digital aspect of the label, and merge so much material, new and old, under the RF brand. I have no affinity for one format over another, I am exploring all formats. This includes the artwork. I am interested in involving physical artwork, like paintings, drawings, multi-media collage, real graffiti and street art, in the release artwork, not just digital graphic art, although that is part of it too, obviously. The artists involved are really close homies, like Erik Van Kobra from Wolf/Sheep Arthouse in BC, Canada. Wolf/Sheep is a big part of the artistic vibe of the label. So is Hans Fear aka Ghost, who was a mentor and inspiration to me during my first ever experiences creating art that others saw, namely Graffiti. Sadly Hans took his own life in 2001, unfortunately, he suffered greatly from mental illness, perhaps as a price for his extraordinary artistic genius. I have some of his drawings, a gift from his brother Alfons Fear, who played trumpet on the "Childish Things" release, earlier this year. I am turning these drawings into artwork for some of the releases. This is the style of RF, or rather the meaning, it's about these sorts of connections. Documenting and sharing them through music and art.
AA – For those who are more recent fans of your work, can you give them a brief overview of what your origins were and how you came to become a DJ/Producer/Label Owner?
RF – I have been making music, dancing and making art since the 80s. I first started making music as a member of a rap group in the late 80s, and I am still really into Hip Hop. I have always been dedicated to a sort of fusion between subculture, so I see what I do as a fusion of several things, not any one pure thing. I am not at all a purist. I started DJing with the inspiration to share different music, like House music when it was emerging to the world in the later 80s, with my crew and the scene I was involved in. I then became more and more dedicated to the craft, and exploring music creation with the dance floor as a catalyst. The new RF label was created as a way to control the intent behind the release of my music, and get back to the DIY mindset that motivated me to begin making music.
AA – As a new father I draw inspiration from heads like yourself, Jus ED, Big Strick, Qu, and Joey Anderson. Can you share any insights with other aspiring artists taking care of little shorties?
RF – Yeah man. Keep being yourself and doing what makes you happy. You do not have to give up doing art, or conform to society’s expectations of a breadwinner to take care of a child. There is no specific “right” or “wrong” way to do it, and your child wants you to be happy, just like you want them to be happy. What children need most of all is love and understanding, not fancy health foods or special schooling or whatever else people think they need to provide. All you really have to do is try. Being yourself is the best example to show them that they can be themselves too, and support their dreams, even if it’s not what you had in mind for them. A disappointed parent can be a real challenge for a kid. As artists, I firmly believe it is important NOT to consider your children as some sort of “sacrifice” you had to make, or think parenthood is a burden on your artistic career. That sort of thinking can be felt by them, and hurt their self esteem maybe. Actually, the amount of inspiration available to you as a parent can help the creation process, I know it has done that for me, so I am grateful to my kids for the benefit they have been to my art. I tell them everyday how much I love them, and how happy I am they are in my life. I’m a lucky papa, and I'll tell ya, doing it on my own has really made me appreciate all the single moms out there, including my own. Those are the real heroes in my mind, not all these superstars. Big respect to the single mommies out there.
AA – It seems that you and I had very similar interests as adolescents. B-Boying, Skateboarding, Punk Rock, Drawing and Painting, Jazz, Electro… Being that you find yourself in the old school category, how much of a part do those activities play in your daily life now?
RF – These aspects are still a huge part of what I do, and I feel that keeping them part of me helps me from falling into some of the trends and cliches of the electronic music scene. Keeps my perspective unique. I obviously don’t bomb walls in the middle of the night, or slide across dance floors on my head anymore, but I still stay involved, and try to get out and skate when I can, not as much as I should though! Lots of my close friends are involved in Hip Hop, and Punk too, so I like to go out to those shows to get a break from “clubs”, and get some fresh musical inspiration.
AA – And as a skater are you regular or goofy footed? Huge boned ollies, or perfectly executed kick-flips, Hand rails or curbs? And lastly
Style or Technique?
RF – I skate goofy. I am not such a talented skateboarder to be honest. I enjoy it a lot, and was a lot better when I was younger, but I still have fun doing it. I prefer curbs, pushing around the streets and mellow transition myself. Definitely style over tech, but I can appreciate a great technical skater too. I really like imaginative skaters, who do original, artistic, expressive tricks, rather than just scary or athletic. I think I had better grab a board and go for a shred now. Later!
Rennie Foster's Call The Sun (w/Amir Alexander remix) is out now on RF.
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