Edan the DJ make Fast-Rap and Funky Drummer mixtapes. Edan the rapper make Prince Paul, LL Cool, and The Hollies play nice. Jewish critical cabal say, “Beauty and The Beat better than The Go-Gos.”  Edan release Echo Party. We Like Very Much. Edan talk to Passion of the Weiss from Brooklyn Flea Market. Edan purchase Gold Label pressing of “Forever Changes.” Edan have good taste.  

How did you link up with the people at Traffic Records to make Echo Party?

A long time ago, when I lived in Boston, I used to make these old cassette hip-hop mixes, you know with whatever was cool at the time, Nas, Gangstarr, etc. I put my phone number on the mixes for some networking shit. So one day this guy Matt Welch called me to tell me that he liked it and we ended up becoming friends and roommates. I indirectly got him a job at LandSpeed, the company that became Traffic. Landspeed didn’t exactly have the best reputation, but they eventually got it together, shuffled around some staff and became Traffic. Now they’re a lot more reputable and a more formal business that distributes records all over the world.

Traffic was getting this new label off the ground called 5 day weekend. They started with a Peanut Butter Wolf project called 45 Live, which was all mixes of 7-inches. Then they approached me about maybe doing a mix of stuff that they had in their back catalogue. It wasn’t supposed to be as elaborate as it ended up being, but I’m a passionate artist and I ended up giving them more, cutting up doubles of “Smoking Cheeba Cheeba” and all kinds of stuff like that. I haven’t done anything in a while and I sort of view this as an interim project, but I put all my life into it. Life is too precious and art is too precious to fuck around and half-ass it, so I went all-out.

How was your approach different from the Fast Rap and Funky Drummer tapes? 

Those were almost more of documentarian type things; this was more of an artistic project. It’s more than a mix to me. Really, if you’re calling it a mix you’re underselling it. The precedent is those old classic Hollywood disco mixes, those old cut up records. I don’t know. It seems unique to some degree, at least I hope it does.

What instruments and programs did you use to make the record?

I played the kazoo. I played a nylon string guitar attached to a distortion pedal. I used a space echoplex, a mini moog synthesizer, a chord synthesizer with a vocoder, I used a ring modulator. I also emulate old style phasing by basically recording the phases that I wanted and then phased it out and recorded it digitally on Serrato record. I’ve seen two DJ’s play at the same time to create a blending effect and I wanted to capture that feel. Basically, I used whatever I had at my disposal — definitely a lot of stereo imaging and panning from left to right. The inspiration for it came from a lot of vintage electronic albums.

Like Stockhausen and Steve Reich?

I love Stockhausen and hope to one day be considered in that tradition. I’m fascinated by the early days of electronic music, when people were enthused by the new technology and starting to get busy with enormous patch bays and synths. A lot of the early compositions were  ridiculous in the way they used the stereo sound and literally created sounds out of nothing. Hearing cats do it like that 50 years ago, the least I can do is at least try my bullshit.

Do you feel apart from the contemporary norms of hip-hop at a time when some rappers release 100 songs a year and other than this mixtape, you’ve probably released five songs in five. 

That’s definitely a common approach and I respect the beauty of human effort. But some people are more interested in making songs quickly, and I think sometimes in hip-hop there’s a culture that frowns on extended effort on one project, or if you put too much thought into a song that it’ll kill your creativity. Of course, there are your moments where you’re inspired and make something spontaneously with no thought. But that’s not going to happen every time out. It can be an arduous process that’s heavy on the mind, but you have to have the patience to grind it out slowly — the wherewithal to see that the final outcome will be more than worth it and you’ll create something beautiful. There’s a lot of trial and error involved, but I think it makes you a better artist to explore more and now more. You always end up learning something that you didn’t know at the beginning of the process.

Sometimes I work with cats and they get frustrated that I’m not easily satisfied. But I intend to remain that way, it’s just how I am. Sometimes the songs come out in 30 minutes and sometimes they take 3 weeks. On this project, I’d spend eight hours days and only get 20 seconds that were usable. Then the next day I’d wake up and spend six hours to get 45 seconds right. That may be a testament to my lack of talent, or I’d hope that it meant that I have the critical eye to say that’s it’s not where it needs to be.

Do you feel like that sort of diligence is your way of rebelling against the disposability of much of modern music?

The beautiful thing is that a record allows us to capture moments. It’s like a time capsule or a message in a bottle. 30 years later, someone can play it and it can travel across that metaphoric ocean and reach you on a desert island. The goal is to create something that affirms someone’s belief in humanity. That’s the thing I’m seeking, to thread the past with the future.  That’s why records are so amazing, that’s why photos and the visual arts are incredible — you can remove that obstacle of time. You get there with something like a Billie Holliday record and that’s what I’m in it for, I’m not trying to cash in, if the money comes that’s wonderful, it’s always about the art. One way to separate yourself from people is that there’s this undying wave of artists who can make a mix or an album in two weeks, but you can distance yourself by putting it more effort to make it superior.

I want to be on a lofty plane with the people that inspire me and I’m going to be working hard in the next ten years to get there. I’m very dedicated to the music, and my discipline is on the up. I want to get to the level of  someone like Max Ernst, who was dedicated to finding that next form. I haven’t jusitifed the comparison yet, but in ten years I’ll hopefully have an oeuvre I’m proud. With Echo Party, I feel like I could’ve phoned it in, but now I have a nice little addition to my catalogue. I’m proud of it, and it’s nice to make things that make people feel good. It’s a fun record and a cerebral record at the same time.

You were working on Echo Party for about a year, but what were you doing in the interim between then and Beauty and the Beat

Well, I would do the occasional song. Like Egon from Stones Throw hit me up to make a song with Lif called “Sagitarrius Rap.” would pop up. Basically, I was living life, doing a lot of shows. I moved from Boston to Brooklyn, and I’ve been doing little things here and there. I’ve been doing things with Lif, but nothing substantial other than Echo Party. Now I’m stamping all these vinyl covers like an idiot. It’ll take another 2 to 3 weeks to finish that, but I plan on making a lot of music soon. I’m going to focus on production and getting some beats together.  I might do a full-length with Lif, but we’ll see.  There’s some interesting stuff for me in NYC, I’ve met some people who are established and we’ll see if any of that results in music being made.

What about records with you rapping?

We’ll see. I really don’t know. I’m going to start writing more. While I was doing Echo Party, which took  eight months of work off and on, it was tough to focus on that. But writing and production is something I’m going to focus on — it could very well lead to another solo record, but I don’t feel like I need to force anything. I just want to do what feels right. As long as I can keep a roof over my head and maintain a semblance of a life, I’ll just follow my inspiration. I just want to make sure I have something important to say. We’re so inundated with shit that isn’t even physically presented, it’s all text on an iTunes menu. Other people have the approach where they work prolifically and just see what sticks. I’d rather sharpen one dart and try to hit the bullseye.

MP3: Whitefield Brothers ft. Edan & Mr. Lif – “The Gift”

MP3: Edan – “Echo Party Snippet”

ZIP:  Edan Radio Show Episode #1 (Left-Click)
ZIP: Edan Radio Show Episode # 2 (Left-Click)

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