Brandon Armstrong – Dislocated Joints

by Horror Sleaze Trash on May 28, 2011

Dislocated Joints, Vol. 1 by Gasoline Monk

Forrest Armstrong is from Boston.  He is the author of The Deadheart Shelters and makes hip hop under the name Gasoline Monk.  He basically lives off of Cocoa Pebbles.  His art has been compared to Dante and Milton (what?) and a lot more of his mental energy goes to stupid nonsensical things that don’t exist than real life things.  Like brushing teeth and shit.  If you ask him right now the prettiest thing he can imagine is if you cracked open a chestnut, egg or a lemon and a bluebird flew out.

Me and Brandon have been friends for a while now and it is my real pleasure to share his new mix tape, Dislocated Joints.  We mixed a few drinks, smoke a bit of herb and this is what fell out of our heads-

Oh, yeah, Get all his Mix Tapes for free here.

HST: Dislocated Joints is your newest production, its dynamite. It sounds like its enveloped in something. Coming from and inside something – give a dumbed down version of the process for me.

BA: Thanks man! The process just starts with really drowning myself in music, more than I’m usually doing. With the Dislocated Joints series, I’m goin for a sorta steady blend of unknown music with older beats that people’ve maybe forgotten or haven’t heard yet, plus some music that’s just come out that I’m really excited about (like J-Rocc’s Some Cold Rock Stuf or Meyhem Lauren, or Edo. G’s newest or the Celph Titled & Buckwild album). I’m just drowning myself first and seeing what I can’t resist mixing in, also hitting up my homies in Boston like Rosie Oh! or here in Denmark who are making really fresh stuff and are basically pure unknown, and then just listening to my ear, as I’m putting it together maybe something just appears in my head as the inevitable next track – which is why I dropped stuff like Royal Flush’s “Worldwide”.

It’s not a live mix – so the process of building it is the same process as writing a book, and also immediate the way DJing a party is. You explore and intuitively feel what you’re gonna do next and build things up and rip them down if they’re falling out of alignment with the direction that’s becoming increasingly clear in your head. Like, Tyler the Creator originally started this mixtape off, a little blend with Tyler and Special Teamz from Boston and Burnt Batch (who’re a really great underground hip hop group from the 90s) and a great Danish beatmaker called HORS. But I had to rip it off to start with J-Rocc and if I had a couple more days I maybe wouldn’t have been able to resist ripping off a little more from the tape. But I’m happy it’s the way it is now.

I’ve DJed a while – I started on real shit CD mixers so I learned how to beatmatch and EQ blend without relying on any tricks like filters or whatever. And when I’d rock parties kids would actually really respect that, cause I was keeping a fly mix going without anything fancy, and not everybody can do that these days with stuff like Traktor or Ableton. So when I’m actually weaving songs together, that’s easy – it’s no problem, it’s embedded in me. Then I’m trying to be more creative, treat the job of mixing almost like producing and really digging into the tracks I use and making them my own, by chopping the beat or looping certain sections or just making them change a way a DJ in the 90s would never think to do, or couldn’t do. Of course the only point of doing any of this is creating an hour-plus set of music that doesn’t get silent in between tracks and doesn’t let songs play long enough to get boring – and you don’t have to wait for them to build up to the parts that’re the illest, either – it’s just those ill parts dropping one after another in a way that’s gotta keep you on your toes, because since I’m digitally DJing, I could do whatever I want, you know? You don’t have the chance to get comfortable with cutbacks and scratches, whatever – it could be some crazy glitch transition stuff that you’d only hear in digitally-arranged music.

HIP HOP 1 (Dislocated Joints, Vol 1 pt. 2/7) by Gasoline Monk

HST: Is that final feel a conscious effort or would you say, and forgive me if i sound like a wanker, is the music more born – then you follow where its going?

BA: It’s so much something I gotta follow. I wouldn’t want to know where it’s going. I never do, also when I’m just sitting down making a single track. All I know is which tracks I’m bringing to the table every time I was sitting down to mix, but then I’d end up ditching half of them every time and last minute grabbing a bunch more and maybe rushing through and doing twenty minutes at once and maybe spending all afternoon on two blends. Just to keep it fresh, making sure I’m being creative. If I knew already it’d be paint-by-numbers, and then I don’t know how much good it would’ve been for me to actually sit down and do it.

HST: I was hoping you would say that, i mean, the mix does fucking move. Its like having sex on drugs. From the warming up, into the hiphop, the dance and then the after sex ciggerette. How close can the two genres mash together before a new form is made?

BA: Hip hop and house? Or sex and drugs? Sex and drugs can mash together as much as they fucking want. Hip hop and house is a much harder question, one I wonder about a lot. I just played Plugout Festival here in Denmark, and kids really went crazy at my set and that was rad as fuck and almost surprising because all weekend was electronic music, particularly dance stuff. And I came out blasting Grand Puba’s “Very Special” and right away, the kids’ heads were knocking and the tent was just pure throbbing. And that same set, within 45 minutes, I was playing some tribal house. I think it’s just about being clever with how you go from A to B, so there’s not such a disconnect between the two points. The kind of hip hop I like has a lot to do with energy and dancing, and the good house music, the tribal-ish stuff and the pure rhythm tech stuff, is nothing but energy and dancing. It never seemed too far apart to me but then there’s definitely people who love one and hate the other. That’s a big question for me man, especially now as my production style has gotten a lot more free and I’m making house tracks as well as the old hip hop stuff and even some pure electro stuff I don’t know what to call. Let’s hope there’s enough people like me in the world to understand what all this shit is about!

HST: You have been in Denmark recently right, what the go there?

BA: I’ve been living here for almost half a year, and I’m returning to Boston at the end of June. But I’m studying electronic music here with Spejderrobot, who is one of the most artistic guys I’ve ever met in terms of sound creation, just really opening my eyes – you know, I was all about samples, in fact I recorded my own rim hit on an old track of mine called “Fuck It, Let’s Fuck” and I actually felt guilty about that, that I didn’t find the time to dig out a sample of a rim hit instead. Now my production style is much tighter, and much broader – I’m programming synths and fucking with sounds in ways I never would if I’d stayed in Boston, just seeing all the possibilities when making a track and not sticking to a comfortable process. It required a lot of self-doubt, actually, that phase where the more you learn the more you realize you didn’t know before. But I’ve come out the other side a much better artist.

Yo, here in Denmark there’s a lot of crazy talent, I can hardly believe how much considering how small a country it is. I’m also studying with the dudes from Greased Up Records (Shatter Hands, Sylle Struck, HORS, Lokode – who’re all repped on the mixtape) and my number one DJ homie here is a Norwegian called Luftwaffel, who’s upgraded my knowledge of the tribal/tech stuff and who actually taught me how to mix vinyls and shit. Then there’s dudes like Tue Track and Den Sorte Skole just killing it with their hip hop style. A lotta lotta tight DJs in Denmark, man.

HST: I bet you got a lot of stories, right? Tell me a story man, something. Anything.

BA: This is a hard question, man. I can say that the first month here in Denmark was fucking bananas. We were getting trash-drunk all the time (not a bad thing on most days…), maybe the only productive thing we were doing was DJing. I mean we were doing shit like kicking in the kitchen door at the school to make toast at 4 am and then not doing shit we should’ve like fixed the door or payed for it. These kind of things kept happening, me and Luftwaffel and some kids as crazy about party-&-bullshit stuff as us and one night this kid was walking around wearing a cop uniform, which I don’t even know what the laws are in USA but in Denmark, is not even legal to wear, not even to a costume party. And that night he got the drunkest any of us had gotten this whole crazy month. And I bet you think you’ve seen drunker, and I figured I must have too, but in retrospect, I don’t think I have, not in all the years I’ve spent with bozos (I mean that with love) who’re always flushed with cheap vodka and 40s and shit. I mean this kid was a zombie, you would put him in bed and go shut the door and listen from outside and hear him trying to stand up out of bed again, crashing his head on the walls over and over and shit, so obviously we had to keep putting him back to bed. This went on over an hour, him following us down the halls if we walked backwards with his arms stretched out like a zombie, and if he did grab us he’d just sort of hold/pull us with this weird drunken grip. We did shit that woulda been sick in other situations, like just turning a fire hose on him, or knocking him pretty solid in the face, just pure bullshit that you’d think would definitely at least spark an ounce of sense in him. But nothing. And when the police came (fuck the fact that they did but after all this somebody ended up calling) he was standing there, half the buttons undone from his shirt, soaking wet in water, eyes like fuckin fog, just saying “1999” over and over. Some surreal shit. And you know, he was wearing the cop uniform and all, telling the cops “Fuck you man” almost as much as he was saying “1999” and you know, we didn’t see that kid again for a while.

HST: Hahaha! Thats brilliant, i happen to know a few zombie drunks my self. On the surreal subject, how about your writing front? whats news?

BA: Not much news, but ideas. I’m talking to Jeremy from Swallowdown Press on the regular still, always, man. I love Swallowdown man and I’m diehard for that, but writing hasn’t been very busy lately, I’m just not pointing my energy in that direction. It’s no problem. I hope it’s not such a problem to other people, because of course there will eventually be another Forrest Armstrong book. But for now man, people’re really feeling The Deadheart Shelters and I’m proud of it, feel like the five years I spent busting my ass writing really crystalized with that one. So hey, no news, but ideas, and vague promises for eventual things. Just listen to Gasoline Monk in between.

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