This photo shoot/interview sesh involved Valerie's super fun light writing photography, and was a whole mess of fun to help out with. No photoshop necessary, all light effects in the photos were "written" live at the shoot by Emily, Aran, Joe, and me.
I also asked Emily Slaughter and Aran Keating about the mixtape, the new album they are working on, the show on Friday at the Windup Space, and hypothetical photo shoot-based scenarios. Read on to peep the interview, pics, and mixtape.
You just dropped a free mixtape, what went into putting this together?
Aran: It's a DJ mix that I have wanted to do for a while. It is basically a vehicle for a bunch of tracks that we don't really think of as fullly-produced "songs." So we took all these tracks that we have been doing live for a long time, where the beat is really just a loop of a song we liked and I linked em all together with other tracks, acapellas, instrumentals and live stuff that we wanted to use. It is especially fun to take other people's acapellas and hear what, say, Yung Joc sounds like on an AK Slaughter beat. Then I did some new mixes of our tracks and made it all do the mashed potato and I'm pretty happy with the result.
Your mixtape ranges from sampling Elvis to Cutty Ranks to the Cardigans... who are your biggest influences and in what way have you incorporated them with AK Slaughter's music?
Emily: Aran and I both listen to a bunch of different music, I think that shows in our own music... especially our super sample heavy beats. He listens to way more rap than I ever have and I would say is more lyrically influenced by rap music than I am (is that true Aran?). When I listen to rap, I mostly listen to the old school girls having fun stuff like Roxanne Shante, her rivals JJ Fad and Salt n' Pepa. If I could write lyrics like Kool Keith I would die like a thousand times. Country ballads like The Carter Family's "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes", Tammy Wynette's "The Ways to Love a Man" and "Apartment Number 9" have a big influence on me lyrically. Any music about shit going bad basically rules and serves as fodder for my songs, like Joy Division for example. We're working on a new song that samples Bananarama, oh yes.
Aran: We are always gonna pull samples from everywhere that we can think of: if we dig it we'll sample it. So, I like to think that we are more influenced by this old-school mid 80s mindset of artists like Rick Rubin or Prince Paul who would sample a Doobie Brothers or some obscure garage rock song as easily as a james brown drum break or a rap song that was just released. I think what's great about hip-hop is that you can be really shameless about where your samples are coming from....as long as you are flipping a track in a new way, you can jack an entire song (like we've done with out Hall and Oates jams) or you can pull small bits of samples from all over the place and compose something from the ground up.
I had fun attempting to draw upside down crosses over your heads. You both dig pentagrams, apparently. Emily tells me you guys are working on your next album, are you moving in a more black metal direction with your stuff? Do you have some dark metal party jams in store for us?
Aran: Yes and yes.
Emily: I only got into black metal like a year ago. I've always listened to the more mainstream stuff, like Metallica and whatnot, but I kept hearing about these insane Nordic guys and I had to check them out. My adventures in the realm of darkness have been kind of half-assed: I read Lords of Chaos and got a friend to give me copies of Mayhem, Celtic Frost albums... etc. I really really like the way it sounds, it is exciting and kind of exhilarating, I need to make more of an effort to expand my library. I'm also really into the imagery and the history of the movement. The album and t-shirt art is amazing, we actually based our own t-shirts on that aesthetic. The contemporary history of the genre is pretty ridiculous (with the church burnings and murders and all) but the I think Norse history and folklore is very interesting.... I've been researching the pagan rituals and the gods associated with them for various projects.
As for AK Slaughter, I'd say the t-shirts and the casual use of pentagrams and upside down crosses will be about as far as we go into the dark world. I think a black metal/rap hybrid would end up sounding like rap rock and no one wants to hear that.
Yeah, probably a
Aran: I loved it when Emily vomited into my mouth. It was a happy accident.
Emily: The Roman Colosseum. It sucked. I writhed in the grass for several hours while my friend toured the ruins with his parents.
If you were climbing out of an abyss and only one of you could make it out alive, who wouldn't get sucked into the theoretical neon chasm?
Emily: Aran and I are a team. We would help each other out of this hypothetical abyss and then high five in the air.
Aran: Em and I are tighter than C3PO's underoos. We would tunnel out of that bitch with our bare hands.
You guys have a pretty rad show this Friday night at the Windup Space, whats your favorite Height w/Friends jam? Lizz King jaunt? Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez song?
Emily: Picking a favorite Height track is hard... narrowing it down to just Height with Friends songs makes it a bit easier, because there are less of them. When I listen to Mike Stone, I can't help but stomp and shake, it is totally cool in every way. I'll say Mike Stone for now (check out the video!) but tomorrow I'll probably have another favorite. Lizz King is the bomb.
Aran: I feel that AK Slaughter has a lot in common with Lizz King. Her music is part weird, part dance, part theatrics, part rock, part trad...I dig her stuff a lot. I also really can't wait to hear the new Height record. That song Link Wray and the one called Something Lagoon I've heard live a few times and are blowin my brain.
Photos all by Valerie