World music is not something immediately associated to the world of electronic dance, but over the years there have been some exceptional albums from artists like Natacha Atlas and Afro-Celt Sound System. Jazz however plays its part more obviously in the works of Laurent Garnier, LTJ Bukem and others.
Rab & Mooves have taken that aesthetic one step further. Both highly skilled musicians, they recently joined forces and are experimenting with a hybrid sound of Jazz, Electronica and World Music influences. These guys are by no means wet behind the ears, Rabs, known primarily as a guitarist and composer, has been making albums for Ropeadope Records, Quirk Audio, and Maximum Jazz for over a decade, and won awards for his 2008 album – Leopardism. Mooves has releases on Philthtrax Records and Phyla Digital.
This year Rabs and Mooves also became composers for the television show Food Factory USA, and are presently working on their 2nd album for release in Spring/Summer 2016. Intrepid A&R Simon Huxtable tracked Rabs down recently to find out a little more about them.
Hi Rabs, hows it going? I was in Canada about this time last year (Toronto) and I was struck by just how cold it was! Canadians are a tough bunch eh?!
It’s true. The cold is getting to me right now, so I’ve dropped a mix to warm us up!
Tell us about growing up in Canada. What you do for fun back then, and where did the music come into your life?
I actually grew up in Ontario, a few hours north of Toronto. As a kid I was really into sports. I grew up skiing at my local mountain Georgian Peaks, and I played basketball for my school and county. I loved music from a young age, and took up guitar as a teenager. Just campfire stuff, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, and that brand of hippie folk. I didn’t read a note until shortly before I moved to British Columbia in my early 20’s and began studying music in earnest at various Universities and Colleges.
Who were your heroes?
The musicians that inspired me to unravel the music language were mostly guitar players, John Scofield, Ed Bickert, Trey Anastasio, and Kurt Rosenwinkel. Me and some buds from the band Hedone went to Rochester, New York in the late 1990’s, to catch Medeski, Martin, and Wood. We were completely blown away. The freedom that these guys played with, and the density of the groove they were laying down really made me want to figure out “how does one do that?” About the same time I discovered Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, and the Good Looking Records crew, and this brand of creative electronica also really informed my growth.
You’re known for your work as a Jazz guitarist primarily, but along with your buddy Mooves, you’ve become an electronic act. Talk us through the development of the band.
I’ve been keeping an eye on Mooves for almost a decade. I used to play in a live drum n’ bass trio, doppler defect, which he had peeped in Fernie BC when we were on tour. He was an appreciator of my projects, and I of his (Kashoo, Man in Havana) for many years before we were able to collaborate. When his Kashoo project became inactive, I was working at a restaurant with his girlfriend Mandy Lawson. Not that Mandy brought us together exactly, but I believe my friendship with her helped us to trust each other, so that in 2014 we began capturing source sounds with an ear towards creating an original music EP of latin influenced electronica.
How have you been received by the Jazz community?
My bass brethren seem to really dig it, drummers seem a little more skeptical. Local Musician of the Year Jesse Lee has been very supportive, and that means the world to me. When we perform, the instrumentation is: Rabs on Fender Rhodes and effects, and Mooves on MPC, triggering sounds, sequences, and live bass lines. I feel like my Jazz drummer buddies would like to hear live drums (and usually themselves) in the project. Fortunately, Mooves is an excellent working drummer in our community, and we could go that direction if we’re feeling it.
Seems you have the golden touch : Second album in production and some soundtrack work for Canadian TV. How did you land that? Are you a fan of Food Factory?
I don’t watch much TV, but I do dig Food Factory. I have a couple of excellent childhood friends who have been steadily working their way through the ranks of the commercial, film, and television industries. I’ve been pitching them for many years, coming close a few times, but never landing a gig. On the strength of the Huevos EP my producer homey Thomas Chenoweth gave us an opportunity to compose some modern electronic music for Food Factory. His taking a chance on us has enabled a real tightening of our process. Huevos took over a year to produce, where now, we can turn out a quality track in a week or less.
Is it harder than regular production in your opinion? What are the big differences?
I feel like it was harder at first, but now it’s easier. In our case, the TV program is dominated by voice over actors. This means that we are ultimately supporting their verbiage. The result has us composing tracks that have less dynamic range, and a little less ‘rattle the foundation’ bass than we might usually produce. The pieces we compose for television are also much shorter, so you have to get to the point a little quicker. No long creative intros or breakdowns, just steady hooks that support the pace of the video edit.
We understand you’ve played gigs with another band we featured from Canada – Snowday. How did you guys hook up?
Paul Hinrichs from On the Road Productions introduced me to Snowday and their music. Cam Sloan is the bandleader from Snowday, and he is a very positive and motivated dude. Not only was he persistent in finding a gig in Nelson (which can be difficult), but in the months leading up to the gig he was in regular contact with myself and Mooves, doing collaborative promotion including radio interviews, postering, and all out internet campaigns.
So along with the second album, do you have tour dates in places? Where can we see you live?
Our next live performance will be on the talk show The Lineup on January 30th. We will be featured in interview and performance at Shambhala Hall at the monthly taping hosted by Jenna Raider. We’re hoping to have our 2nd release available for the 2016 festival season in British Columbia, and hopefully you’ll see us at Starbelly, Tiny Lights, Kaslo Jazzfest, and Shambhala, or at least one of those Festies.
Will you be picking anything from the album to release over the course of the year?
Right now we’re really figuring out how specific our sound will be for this next release. Unlike many electronic producers, Mooves and I are not at all defined by genre or tempo. Huevos spans about 30 or 40 bpm from beginning to end, and we’re about to push that a lot further. We’ve been working on material up in the 160+ bpm range lately. I think it’s safe to say that we’d love to do a vinyl release, even if it we’re just a 12″. We both have great affection for latin/cuban inflections in electronic music (as my mix will illustrate), but we don’t want that to define our sound either.
01// Benny More – Santa Isabel De Las Lajas
02// Danay Suarez – Open Letter
03// The Roots – Sacrifice
04// Diegojah – Step Inna Di Dance
05// Big Toe’s HiFi – Sound System White Noise
06// Mbongwana Star – Masobele
07// Adham Shaikh – Rumba Dub
08// The Gaff – Mambo No. 5
09// Jack Costanzo – La La La
10// Rabs & Mooves – Todos
11// Chico Mann – Dilo Como Yo (Te Están Llamando)
12// Pitch Black – Freefall (Friends Electric remix)
13// Rabs & Mooves – Dos Mas
14// Seven Davis Jr – Welcome Back (Yoruba Soul Inst)
15// Quantic – Prelude To Happening
16// Bruk Boggie Kru – Do Me Right [Vince Vella & Boston Rodriguez Main Mix]
17// Marley Carroll – Water Drumming
18// DJ Olive – Bamboo