wmc interview: Wasting time with Madlib at the Creek

Ask him yourself: according to Madlib, a half-hour spent out of the studio is a half-hour wasted. How else would this productive Oxnard, California native create his eccentric beats and experimental projects inspired from an extensive collection of jazz, funk and soul records?

After dropping Soundpieces: Da Antidote with his slept-on hip hop trio Lootpack in 1999 (with DJ Romes and Wild Child), he linked up with Stones Throw label owner Peanut Butter Wolf and, concealed behind his alter ego Quasimoto, he released the equivocal Unseen LP, which made underground hip hop fanatics piss in their pants. A year later, he scrutinized the boundaries of acid jazz and played all the instruments on Yesterday’s New Quintet and is currently finishing an album with Jay Dee.

Madlib’s assiduous nature and innovative techniques put him in a league of his own in the hip hop game. Chatting with him at the Stones Throw party at the Creek Hotel last Thursday, L&A attempted to extract a little info out of this outlandish character for our readers:

Q: You seem to like veiling yourself behind pseudonyms such as Quasimoto and Yesterday’s New Quintet. Why do you keep obscure identities?
M: I don’t want it to just be Madlib, Madlib, Madlib all the time, you know? I wanna do some different shit, I wanna confuse people. Quasimoto, he doesn’t tour, he’s the Unseen. But I’m working on a Jaylib album and we’ll probably do some touring, so you can catch us then.

Q: What stimulates you to produce unusual and bugged-out beats?
M: With music, I don’t really think about it. It’s hard to explain. I do stuff I wanna hear that I don’t be hearing, you know? I guess it’s what happens when I be doing shrooms…

Q: What kind of music has influenced you?
M: Jazz, reggae, funk…Sun Ra, David Axelrod, Stylistics…I mean, there are too many to mention.

Q: What’s up the youth and jazz days? Why aren’t the younger heads listening to jazz?
M: Unfortunately, jazz is kinda dead [with young people]. All music runs in cycles and it’s hip hop that’s going on right now. But I’ve been working on Yesterday’s New Quintet like crazy. I got like 30 albums worth of material and it won’t stop.

Q: So I guess jazz isn’t dead for you. What about Winter Music Conference? What’s your impression and opinion of the event?
M: WMC? I don’t know. It’s my first time attending it and I been in my room the whole time, so I don’t know too much about it.

Q: Last question, so we don’t waste any more time. Since you said music runs in cycles, how long is hip hop gonna last?
M: Mainstream hip hop? It’s gonna keep blinging, man. The hip hop that we do is dying though. I don’t know how long it’ll last, but the underground, we’re just doing it for us.

For more info, go to www.stonesthrow.com

Omar Sommereyns can be reached at SOASIS@aol.com.