Interview with Raw Thought Artist Grumpy Green About Their Life, Love & Art

 

By Lisa Rein

As we begin the interview, Grumpy’s cat, “Freddie Mercury” knocks over some brushes in water in a water bottle all over a piece of beautiful artwork sitting on the living room table.

“It’s okay,” Grumpy says. “I’ve already scanned it.”

Aha! Great opportunity for me: “Hey if that’s garbage to you now would you please sign it and give it to me?” They promise to sign it and let me take it with me. It’s the creature in black, above, at the beginning of this article.)

Lisa Rein: So tell me about your radio show.

Grumpy Green: It’s on S.P.A.Z. radio.

LR: That’s an Internet Station?

GG: Yeah it’s on SPAZ.org, it’s an anarchist collective and they stream radio from Guadalajara, from Portland, from Amsterdam, and from all over the world. Every broadcast comes from a different location. It’s also available via pirate radio in San Francisco, but not yet in Oakland. (Coming soon.) In San Francisco it’s at 103.5.

LR: Awesome. And this will be your first show this Sunday?

GG: Yes! Our show is called #LiveAmmunition and it’s every Sunday from 2pm to 5pm.

LR: Are your shows recorded if folks miss the live ones?

GG: Yes. The next day, at 8am in the archives. (Link to Sunday, Jan 6, 2019 show)

LR: Great! I will link to it!

GG: It’s me (Grumpy) my other friend Traveiza and our other friend Chi Hai. They are all DJs and really incredible artists, and we all bring a little bit different flavor to club music.

We started recently, just in the underground music scene, playing shows together. And we started tag teaming DJ sets. Like we’ll do back to back and each do two songs. We started doing it just for fun a few months ago and we just all worked so well together. This opportunity came up to do the radio show and we decided to do it altogether, and bring on local queer and trans and really give a platform to the Oakland underground scene, specifically the queer underground scene.

 

LR: Is there an instagram just for the show?

GG: Yes. It’s just the name of our show is “@LiveAmmunition” We also do an advice segment for people that wanna call in.

LR: How did you come up with “Grumpy Green?”

GG: Well my last name is “Green.” And “Grumpy” is something that my ex-partner – I guess my first real relationship – they would always call me “Grumpy,” but as a way to kind of point out when my mental illness was acting up. Because I have Borderline Personality Disorder and I have really intense mood swings, which is why I smoke so much weed, because it really helps me stay like baseline. Otherwise I feel like 50 things a day and I’ll be like crying and then I’ll be like “ha ha ha ha” – just like really crazy. But we would fight a lot, and whenever I’d get upset he would try to be like “da da da, you’re being Grumpy.”

And a while after we broke up and decided I didn’t want to go by my birth name any more, and it started out just for my art. But I don’t go by my birth name ever ever now. Because I feel very dysphoric about it. So it started out as just like a pseudonym for my artwork, but it was sort of a reclamation and acknowledgement of my mood disorder and mental illness, but being like “I’m fucked up, but that is beautiful.”

From “Lucid Dreams”

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A Conversation with DJ Cain MacWitish – Part One

You should read Aaron Swartz’s blog here.

Cain MacWitish is a member of the Aaron Swartz Day Raw Thought Crew. He will be performing at the next RAW THOUGHT (A Dance Night with a Psychedelic Chill Room). On January 11, 2019 at the DNA Lounge, – 10pm – 2am. See You There! TICKETS

Also, since this January 11 will be the sixth anniversary of Aaron’s death, and some folks have asked for a Q & A event, there will be a dinner & discussion event beforehand, at the DNA Lounge, from 7:30-9:30pm. Please RSVP to AaronSwartzDay@gmail.com. 

LR: So the November 9, 2018 show that you performed last month was your first show in three years. How did it feel to perform again?

CW: It was great. I worked on a whole new DJ set for four months straight leading up to the show. So playing that for the crowd and seeing how they reacted to what I put together was really awesome.

For each set I do, I have kind of a specific theme in mind usually. I put together a whole new theme for that performance. I hadn’t played it in a club yet, and when I put things together in my, mind it’s different from actually playing it for people out on the dance floor.

My most successful set I’ve ever put together was my Ibiza set. I did that for a club – it’s up on my mixcloud and it has almost 9,000 plays. So that’s very heavy minimal techno and house set. So that’s what this set will be: minimal techno and house. Mainly for me, Pig & Dan – every time I hear a new Pig & Dan track it’s like “oh that’s such a good song.” They hardly ever have a song I don’t like. They actually produce dance tracks; minimal techno. They would probably label themselves just as “techno” – that’s usually how they label themselves, but every time they put out a new track, it’s just awesome to me.

LR: Aha! I’ve been looking for a descriptive term for your music: “minimal techno.” It’s been killing me trying to describe it; but it was definitely a thing. I’ve been saying “it’s percussion heavy without heavy percussion.”

CW: I don’t even know how to classify what I produce. It’s all over the map. But as far as my DJ sets go – that’s minimal techno. And that one I did, my Ibiza set.

LR: At our show, your set will be “minimal techno?”

CW: Yes. Most of the dancier tracks on Kompakt Records – do you know that label? They are out of Cologne, Germany.

They’re actually the biggest label in Europe right now. They’re bigger than Warner Brothers or anything like that, out there. They have all sorts of genres – they got their start putting out these compilations of minimal techno and house. They called it “The Kompact Total Collection” – every year, starting in 1999, they put one out at the end of the year. So we’re up to Compact 17 or 18 or whatever it is now.

 

LR: Techno is a lot more popular in Europe generally. Wouldn’t you say? I remember hearing it on the AM radio when I was there.

CW: Oh yeah. If you are a techno and house DJ, you usually don’t work in the states. You work in Europe usually. One of my favorite DJs here, Loco Dice. He’s from New York City, but he works in Europe. He’s probably my favorite current American DJ.

Loco Dice

LR: So what does “minimal techno” really mean?

CW: Minimal techno and house. Most people are pretty familiar with how techno and house sounds, right? So you take the techo elements and just strip them way down, to like the rawest elements. And then you add in like an interesting sound here or interesting sound there, but it’s not like, super over done with the production. So it’s just like super stripped down to the beat, right? Like for dance music, the beat’s the main thing, right? And then, any element you put right on top of the beat, you really think long and hard about. How is this gonna sound? Is it too much? As little as you can put on top of the beat and still make it interesting to listen to. That’s basically how I would describe it.

LR: Aha! So my previous description still works: “it’s percussion heavy, without any heavy percussion.” — hehe. And you do everything with your computer — when you perform your show live. Are there any prerecorded elements. Are you playing along with prerecorded elements or is it all prerecorded.

CW: For a DJ set I am just mixing prerecorded songs. I’m not doing a live set of original material – that would be a whole other thing. It’s interesting to me that you picked up that my original stuff is very percussive because I’m trained as a drummer since I was 8.

LR: Aha! No coincidence. 🙂

How long would you say this “minimal techno” stuff has been around?

CW: Since the late 90s. Since about 1999. It really kind of peaked in Europe in 2010-2012

Here’s “Its” from Cain Macwitish:

LR: How ’bout a few more examples of this genre so I can link to them 🙂

CW: Yes it’s interesting how many producers might do a minimal techno track or two, even if it isn’t their main thing. Gui Perano. Pretty much everything that Kompact used to put out is minimal techo. Their big artists are Voight and Voight. They have some really good tracks. Rex the Dog.

LR: You said it has been three years since you performed because you were in a motorcycle accident?

Is this like a “lucky to be alive” kind of thing?

CW: Yes very “lucky to be alive.” I spent a month in the hospital after the accident. I was in a coma for two weeks. The whole right side of my body got trashed pretty much. My lungs were collapsed. They had to reconstruct my face. Just minor things… (Laughs.)

LR: (Laughs.) Just a few scratches.

CW: For me, it’s been about two years of physical therapy. To get back to as good as I’m going to be. So, it wasn’t till the beginning of this year that I really started to feel like I could go out and be a regular person again.

LR: Ok well let’s check out some stuff from your bandcamp page here’s a cover of ACDC’s Back in Black.

(Listen to Cain’s Ibiza set)

A Conversation with Tha Spyryt – A Raw Thought DJ Performing January 11 at the DNA Lounge

By Lisa Rein

Tha Spyryt is a member of Aaron Swartz Day’s Raw Thought Crew that performed for the first time together on November 9, 2018.

If “Raw Thought” sounds familiar, it should. It was the name of Aaron’s prolific blog – and one of the main goals of these events – besides providing a great place to meet people and dance – is to continue to spread Aaron’s knowledge and ideas to a larger audience.

Tha Spyryt will be performing at 11:30 pm, at the next RAW THOUGHT at the DNA Lounge (A Dance Night with a Psychedelic Chill Room) on January 11, 2019 at the DNA Lounge – 10pm – 2am. Also performing: Mochipet, Ozlo Glowing and Cain MacWitish.

Tha Spyryt has just released “Noble Noise”

Check out Tha Spyryt’s set from the premier “Raw Thought” opening night party, November 9, 2018.

We spoke to Tha Spyryt briefly, in between flights…

LR: So how long have you been creating music?

Tha Spyryt: Creating music? Music is more of a translation or interpretation of creation.

Four years off and on learning production seriously, my friend Moda Graphik taught me Ableton in 15 minutes which got me into it, however stopped for awhile and now refocused on it as a means to harness all mediums of art I work on, or “create” / translate. Before that spent many years in the underground, club, and festival scene performing live visuals with major headliners, participating in tour life, or creating new media content and being immersed in music production/event culture.

I have always been surrounded by music growing up since kindergarten in school, or private lessons, and made some beats on Fruity Loops or GarageBand (PC) (Mac) around high school but nothing really of interest.

From Tha Spyryt’s “My head” music video.

 

 

Watch the music video for: Tha Spyryt’s My head

LR: Are you from San Francisco? How long have you been here?

TS: Tha Spyryt is from San Francisco, or rather outer space. It is a city that welcomes fresh sounds. Bay Area born, and raised, though it has been about 10 years in SF, or a touching transit connect away.

LR: What’s your favorite new piece of equipment?

TS: My friends :). Making noise with people seems to be one of the best parts about performing or playing instruments music what have you. Lately I have been learning to understand that we are all the best machines we will ever need.

Technology is just an extension, but implementing our strengths can be a place that new possibilities arise. + Along with new friends is new studios, new instruments, and new spaces to travel to. Experience, vision, & inspiration: equipment that is intangible yet crucial to the construction of any piece. Bliss random answers always serve hot meals, though a miracle is often the luck of decisive reaction.

LR: Describe your music with words…

TS: Hazey, Muddy, and Weird. #notnormal

Our definitions of genre only seem to be a current understanding of what is possible and not its true potential. To describe what you are creating would be to write history. We are our own makers; only the reflections resonate the halls of heroes. With the music the intention is to bring some type of healing vibes and heavy bass where one can dance furiously into the oblivion of the moment.

LR: You’ve been in the studio recently, right? Is your new stuff taking on any new sounds you weren’t expecting?

TS: Insanely profound. Revelations FOR SURE. Going further than I understand and learning on the go. Scaring the experienced and welcoming the new babes. Every moment we set out on our next task it seems to become the best work ever because it is the one that has always been there; our constant learning… and remembering who we are.

Tha Spyryt spinning at the DNA Lounge.

Check out Tha Spyryt’s set from our premier show at the DNA Lounge on November 9, 2018.

Come to our next “Raw Thought” – a Dance Night with a Psychedelic Chill Room, on Friday night January 11, 2019, from 10pm-2am at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco. DJs include: Mochipet, Tha Spyryt, Ozlo Glowing and Cain MacWitish.

TICKETS

(From Left to Right) Madison, Tha Spyryt, Projekt Seahorse. Taken at the Sixth Annual Aaron Swartz Day Evening Event at the Internet Archive, November 10, 2018.