Dubspot Podcast 023: Captain Planet (Bastard Jazz / LA) – Sympathetic Vibrations Mix

The cooking metaphor is seared deep into Captain Planet‘s worldly persona, with gumbo and it’s all-encompassing nature being the main point of reference. He has firm roots in the crate digging and sampling tradition, and combines these obscure, global finds with a love for contemporary artists working in current genres. All these influences are thrown into one pot and together inform the identity of his DJ sets, blog outlet, and production work. He just released a new LP on Bastard Jazz Recordings called Cookin’ Gumbo which brings together hip hop, Hindu vibes, afrobeat, neo soul and vintage synths for starters. On his blog, Mixtape Riot, a reader can find UK funky and US bass next to soul music and dancehall. And his sets follow a similar pattern, such as the mixtape below where he choses to focus on the artists of today who share a similar outlook with his own recipe of ‘global gumbo funk’. -MS

Tracklist here

What is your production set up?

My main mixing platform is Protools, which I’ve been using ever since 2003 when there was still a free version available (with no MBOX needed!). I do programming and get a lot of sounds from Reason, which I’ve also been using since about that time. I still mess with my Boss SP-303 to try out loops and ideas (the SP-202 was my first sampler ever). I have the MicroKORG which I love. I have a Kaossilator that’s fun for sound effects and textures. My most recent addition is the Roland SPD-S drum pad which is a lot of fun, especially since I come from a drumming background. I do most of my recording on a AT4040 condenser mic or the classic Shure SM58. I love my pre-amp too, which is Universal Audio LA610.

I actually sold my MPC and a couple vintage synths I had in order to help move across country. Truth is, I don’t really miss ‘em. My general philosophy is that you should be able to make the most with whatever you have around you. Of course there’s huge sound quality benefits and a greater level of control with particular tools, but I think what I care about most in music is the spirit behind it and the ideas that are expressed. If you get comfortable with a set of tools, no matter what those tools are, you can learn to express what you want through them.

How do you record vocals?

In my closet. I keep my dirty laundry in there to add some extra stank. Sometimes I’ll record in the hall or bathroom too.

When did you realize the possibilities of making instrumental music and how did that change your approach to building a track?

The first instrumental music I really got into was probably The Meters early stuff – by way of tracing hip hop samples. I grew up with my pops playing Coltrane and Charlie Parker, but I didn’t really start appreciating jazz myself until high school. Greyboy’s Land Of The Lost was an early inspiration as an entirely instrumental album. It had that boom bap backbone with jazz soloing. DJ Shadow‘s early records (even though they often used vocal samples) also were in heavy rotation back then. I spent most of high school in the Bay Area where “Acid Jazz” & “Downtempo” were definitely in full-effect.

In my own work, I have been making beats for various hip hop groups that I’ve been a part of since I was 16 (on a Tascam cassette 4-track back then). Sometimes I would make a beat that had so much going on, multiple switch-ups or really intricate rhythms, and I just realized it could stand on its own. As long as you give an instrumental some type of lead voice for people to follow, it can still speak and be just as compelling as words.

[DJ Center - "Center's Groove (Captain Planet RMX)"]

Tell us about your involvement with the world music library at Lincoln Center’s Public Library?

Oh the hours I spent there! During my early years hosting and DJing the “Passport” radio show on WNYU, I would make a weekly stop up there and take out the maximum number of CD’s (10 at a time), then proceed to burn each one and even go so far as to photocopy the booklet and tracklist. Eventually I filled up like seven of those huge black CD books and realized I had pretty much exhausted their complete collection. Keep in mind, all the while I was steady digging for obscure international vinyl too, and even receiving anonymous donations of crates to the station from generous listeners. It was a time of musical gluttony.

How many samples does an average track on Cookin’ contain?

I think “Speakin’ Nuyorican” has 6 or 7 samples, but then “Ningane” has none. Then again if you mean individual hits that I’ve sampled, the number goes way up. I took a single note from a guitar and then transposed it to make my own keyboard sound for “Ningane”. I also will take selective snares and kicks from different sources, so if you include little touches like that then the number of samples goes way up. But if you’re reading this and work for the copyright control FBI, then rest assured: I used no samples, I’m just good at making things sound old.

How do you incorporate them into a track?

I chop, add heat, saute in grease, mix with other samples, stir in special herbs and spices, and EQ until it’s ready to be served to a hungry dancefloor.

Do you credit your samples or keep it secret?

I credit my samples through spiritual homage. Truth is, sometimes I couldn’t even tell you the name of the record I sampled. I can probably remember what the cover looks like, or where it is in my library, but I’m bad with names.

Was sample clearance an issue for Cookin’?

Are you trying to get me in trouble? I sense a trap, and for that reason, I plead the 5th.

Did you solicit original instrumental material for the album?

Yes. I’m blessed to know many insanely talented musicians who’ve added elements throughout this album. One of my oldest musical friends Minimum Tek plays guitar on a couple tracks – his band Outernational have recorded with Tom Morello & Chad Smith (of the Chili Peppers). My boy Billy White aka Billy Blanco, who has a new jazz album out. There’s other cats on here too, and I’m really excited about new collaborations already in the works.

As a vinyl lover, do you dislike the use of digital DJ equipment?

As a person who’s experienced extreme back pain from lugging heavy ass crates up to a 3rd floor aptartment for years, I’m EXTREMELY grateful for digital DJ equipment. I earned my stripes and I have no qualms about using Serato (hit me up with a sponsorship yo!).

[Captain Planet - "Dame Agua"]

You’ve been blogging since the heydays of ’05. How did you get into it?

My buddy told me to check out Soul-Sides.com run by O-Dub (still going strong), and after he posted Roberto Roena’s “Que Se Sepa” I was hooked. My original blog Captain’s Crate featured mostly rare vinyl that I was digitizing – Bollywood disco, Ethiopian jazz, Brazilian psych, Afrobeat…

What’s changed over the years?

The blog world blew up. There are so many blogs out there, even putting up whole albums, so that now even extremely obscure records can be acquired with a simple Google search of the title plus “rar” or “zip”. It took a lot of the fun away. I also started to feel a bit confined by just posting old international records when there’s so many contemporary artists I’m listening to and want to give shine to. I’ve always been about picking select tracks and making playlists that turn people on to a wide range of sounds that don’t tend to be played side by side. So many blogs are hyper focused and perpetuate genres, sub-genres, and trends. My goal has always been to look beyond those typical barriers. To expose people to new things through eclecticism and diversity (while still maintaining a clear voice). The other big change is that I’m putting out a LOT of original material, so my blog has become an outlet for my own tracks, remixes, and mixtapes.

You take a pretty liberal approach with making music available for download on the blog. Do you ever run into problems?

I’ve been doing this for years, with a pretty big readership that still continues to grow, and I’ve only been asked to take down one MP3 (I posted MGMT before they blew up). Occasionally a label will ask that I exchange the MP3 with a lower quality version (I try to keep it 320kbps for the most part), but I think it’s generally accepted now by the entire music industry that love from blogs is a good thing.

Tell us a bit about the Sympathetic Vibrations mixtape.

On this latest mix I wanted to highlight some of the contemporary producers making moves right now that I’m really feeling inspired by. Sympathetic vibration occurs when something (or someone) is hit with a soundwave and begins to vibrate in harmony with the source of the soundwave. It’s nerdy, but a very big part of me is a record geek. Because of the timing, aligned with the release of my new album, I also wanted to mix in a bunch of Captain Planet material that shows the breadth of my style as a producer (from vintage sounding tracks to more future-focused ones). A few months back I made a different mix with my brother where I really flexed my obscure vintage international vinyl collection (check International Thief Thief mixed by The Funk Bros, an alias for DJ Murphy’s Law and Captain Planet as a duo) so this is a sort of companion mix that shows how a lot of artists today from around the world are keeping that global gumbo funk tradition alive. Towards the end there’s also a few exclusive unreleased remixes to give you a little taste of what’s to come.

Sonic Vibrations Tracklisting:
1. Ta-ku – Hey Kids
2. Mayer Hawthorne – Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out (Captain Planet Remix)
3. Lord Echo – Thinking Of You
4. Captain Planet – Get You Some
5. El Guincho – Bombay
6. Amadou & Mariam – Artistiya (Sabo Disco Edit)
7. Crowdpleaser – Nenekri (Mickey Moonlight Remix)
8. Owiny Sigoma Band – Doyoi Nyajo Nam (Quantic Dub)
9. Gregor Salto & Mokoomba – Messe Messe (Afro Dub)
10. Havana Cultura – La Revolucion Del Cuerpo (Captain Planet Remix)
11. Jali Bakary Konteh – Combination (Hatnhoodie Remix)
12. Sabbo – Come To Me
13. Yage – Marimba De Chonta
14. Chip Wickham – Hit & Run (Captain Planet Remix)
15. Round Table Knights – Calypso ft. Bauchamp
16. Omar & Zed Bias – Dancing
17. The Pimps Of Joytime – Keep That Music Playin (Captain Planet Remix)
18. Debruit – Nigeria What?
19. The Hackney Empire ft. Kastro – Fraudian Slip (Uproot Andy Remix)
20. Little Dragon – Ritual Union (Captain Planet Remix)
21. Mia Doi Todd – Paraty (Captain Planet Remix)

  • Sympathetic Vibrations Mix | Mixtape Riot
  • 9/19/2011

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