Edan’s Beauty and The Beat was one of my favorites albums of the last 10 years. It’s still so fun and all the nuances never get old. But it’s not just about a particular release, more so, it’s about Edan’s versatility and complete catalogue. From radio shows to guest spots, from mixes to his increasingly layered beats, everything is very detail oriented.
It’s been about 5 years since Beauty… and turns out his next move was Echo Party, a frenzied 30-minute opus that sounds like something out of a futuristic Black Ark studio. Now that it’s here and has sunk in, I got Edan on the phone to explain the project in his own words, what he’s been doing, and what’s up next. In the process, you’ll hear new tracks, rarities, and a song sent to us by Edan for readers to check out. Thanks E!
Explain to people how Echo Party and everything with Traffic went down.
I had a longtime friend at Traffic. I know those guys because they’ve distributed my records for a long time. And you know, they have a lot of access to a lot of stuff; Paul Winley, Peter Brown, all these old acts. They’re like the Rhino of old hip-hop. So they figured, it would be cool to have me do a mix for them. They offered me a little dough and that was that.
At what point did you decide to make it more involved than just a standard mix?
I knew that in this day and age, a mix of someone cutting up two copies of “Smokin’ Cheebe Cheeba” is not that interesting. And I don’t like to do things on consignment, which this basically was, so I figured if I’m gonna do it I might as well make it fresh. So I started fucking with it and realized that I should be real technical and showcase some sort of creativity. It wasn’t one of those mixes where I could just bank on the obscurity of the records just to impress the record community. So I basically decided to go the route that I went, which is make a record that was on some bugged out, freewheeling shit in the lab.
You mentioned collecting and not banking on obscure records. Have you grabbed anything interesting lately?
Yes! There’s this fucking record I got at this year’s WFMU Record Fair and it’s just perfect. It’s this one song called “Lookin’ in The Toaster” by this group called Research 1-6-12. The song is just this dude looking into a toaster and the lyrics are a trip [sings: Lookin’ in my toaster, lookin’ in my toaster, the face I see is mine. Weird is the image like a Hendrix poster, like a dream I had one time]. I got the test pressing which just had a piece of paper glued to the front. Once I heard it, I listened to it like 10 times. You want an MP3 of it to put up with this interview?
Let’s utilize modern technology shall we? [Takes down email, sends song]. Giving your readers some goodies!
“Lookin’ In The Toaster” by Research 1-6-12
Did you have to put projects on hold to make Echo Party?
I think I did a rhyme cameo for Cut Chemist and made a beat for Lif. But ultimately, I couldn’t focus on anything else. And I don’t think when Traffic envisioned me doing this they thought I was gonna put this much work into it. I didn’t think it was gonna necessarily prevent me from doing other shit, but that’s just how I am anyways.
Describe the project for us.
I don’t really know. It’s kinda like a megamix done with extra ambition. I used records, focused on that late ‘70s early ‘80s flavor, whether it be early b-boy rap shit or some punk and funk. Out of what I was given access to, I had to ask myself what I want to do with it. I started getting into stereo imaging, so there’s a lot of stuff that’s being panned left to right. There was other stuff I just diced together, a la Latin Rascals and Mantronix and stuff like that.
What are some of the things you did on this?
There are moments on the record which I hadn’t explored before in previous works so it was nice to get into it more. And plus I had all this choppy type shit that I got a chance to improve on. I also played glockenshpiel too. I added a kazoo medley on there. I actually put that kazoo through a lot of phasing, which is basically like fucking with delay, but putting the delay setting so close to the original sound that it creates sort of a flange effect. I played guitar on it, had a sequential circuits drum machine, used space echos, tape echos, mini moogs, whatever. I just used shit at my disposal ontop of these records to make the project more of my own. I was just having fun. I’m telling you all this shit so you have an idea of what I did for the sake of like 8 seconds of sound.
And you’re doing all the LP covers by hand too?
I’m not even done with that shit yet. It’s a pain in the ass, actually. I’m continually agreeing to do shit that is a pain in the ass for me. I just wanted it to be something nice. The CDs are mass-produced, but I’m stamping the record jackets by hand with rubber stamps and ink. At first, I wanted to make each unique, but soon I realized that if I tried to pull a Van Gough on each one, I’d gonna lose my fucking mind. So, now I have certain designs and templates that are easy to replicate. Even the fact that the artist is doing it by hand makes it special and there are some variations in it just by nature of me making each myself.
You’re on that new Whitefield Brothers’ project too. How did that come about?
I know Egon, he ran it by me, and played me a bunch of songs off the record. After hearing them all, I picked that one and got Mr. Lif on it to share the load with me. I liked how it turned out. It’s just a classy little number. We let the flute player grab the second verse, I did the first and Lif did the third.
“The Gift” by The Whitefield Brothers (feat. Edan & Mr. Lif)
What’s up with your radio shows? Will there be a part 3?
I’m talking to someone now about possibly doing it weekly. I want to explore a subscription thing where people pay a very small reasonable amount each month and get the 4 shows and scans and info on every record used. We’ll see how it goes. I think it’ll go towards me solidifying my web presence in general because I’m just so bad at that.
DOWNLOAD SHOW #1
DOWNLOAD SHOW #2
If I just do it for free, you’ll get a new episode like every 5 months or some shit. I enjoy doing it and am not sure if asking for a little bit of change is that bad of a thing. It’ll be one of those things where you wanna support or you’re crafty and want to find it on the web. I wanna step up the radio shows for sure though.
I got a couple questions about stuff I’ve found on the internet that there isn’t much info about. First, when did you do that ‘80s mix, Quick Mix Party?
That was just something I did for the fuck of it and became one of those bonus things you get when you order shit from a website. That’s all it was. I cannot remember if I did it specifically for promotional shit or if it was just something laying around that I gave them. That was like 2002, a while ago.
Quick Mix Party (track 1/5)
What about that Fake Live Show with Skillz Ferguson? That wasn’t official either right?
Same thing. Some website coerced me into adding bonus shit to spice up an upcoming release. I just recorded it back in the day in the bedroom. Yeah, that’s early. That routine I did with Skillz Ferguson ended up on Sprain Your Tapedeck though. I actually do that routine to this day. I just get whoever I’m traveling with to learn that shit and we do it live. My voice sounds young on it. That was just an honest little thing we did a long time ago.
“Clinical Rhymes w/Skillz Ferguson” [Fake Live Show]
What’s your next move? Another rap album? Strictly instrumentals?
I don’t know. I just want to keep improving as a producer. I just want to get better at this shit and be one of the best. My approach for the last 2 years has been loose where I’d only be ambitious if I had shit in front of me. But now I think I’m coming into my own and working at a much more constant rate.
Any specific ideas in the works?
One idea would be to do a Fantastic Planet type film where I’d get animators to hold down the visual aspect, but I would do the music. Maybe I’d do an album for it too where someone like Lif or another friend of mine could be the main vocal presence and I would just do the soundscapes. That was one idea.
What’s your next more once all the promotional stuff for Echo Party is finished?
I think once I’m done with these gigs to promote Echo Party, I’m just gonna be making new tracks. No vocals, just getting my production in full swing. I’m just trying to do it constantly and learn about myself through all that repetition. I have a knack and passion for this. I obviously want financial stability, but I’m a believer that if your art’s great than the rest will follow.