For our new album, Retouched, we reached out to our musical friends and family: producers, DJs, and bands, and asked them to choose a song from one of our three previous albums to remix, cover or rework in some way. The roster assembled is a diverse one, with remixers hailing from Tokyo, Austin, Okinawa, Pittsburgh, Kyoto, California, Canada and our hometown Seattle.
Some remixers chose more of a cover song approach (check Funkscribe’s analog synth-heavy version of “The Hidden Valley”), whereas other remixers, such as Pittsburgh’s Smooth Tutors, took only a small sample of one of our songs (“Paisley Garden”) and built a whole new track around it. Other notable remixers include 9dw (whose debut album was released on Wax Poetics Records), Grammy-winning producer Art Hodge (Santana, Fight Club), and my brother Aja West (producer of funk supergroup The Mackrosoft).
Also included on Retouched are twelve outtakes from our previous albums: short grooves and musical ideas that never became full songs.
More about the remixers (and how we came to be connected):
I first crossed paths with Funkscribe in 2005 when I responded to his Craigslist post about wanting to create an analog synth club in Seattle. The club never came to fruition (I was the only one who responded to his ad), but he and I kept in touch and eventually met when I called him in to play synth on our Pass the Information album. Funkscribe has released several albums of George Clinton-esque funk and manages We Coast Records, releasing dope 45s from various soul and funk bands here in Seattle.
I met Art Hodge back in 1998 when I was 18 and interviewing for a job with the Dust Brothers (he’s responsible for coining my nickname Cheeba after misreading my last name Cheever on my resume). He was one of their on-staff producers, helping with numerous productions and remixes for artists such as Beck, Money Mark and Linkin Park. He won a Grammy for Album of the Year in 2000 for producing a track on Santana’s Supernatural album and is also responsible for much of the Fight Club score. He lives in Carlsbad, California.
Tokyo-based 9dw is led by producer/multi-instrumentalist Kensuke Saito. Back in 2007, I was browsing MySpace when I came across 9dw’s page and instantly fell in love with their funky analog synth-heavy music. We mailed each other our albums and have been friends since, though we didn’t meet in person until 2012 when, with Kensuke’s help, I headed to Japan for my first DJ tour in the country. 9dw’s debut album was released in 2009 by Wax Poetics Records (the first contemporary album to be released on the label). In addition to his work as a producer and remixer, Kensuke also manages Catune Records, an independent label founded in 2001.
Aja West and I have been rolling deep for 35 years as he’s my older brother. He’s the bandleader/producer of funk supergroup The Mackrosoft who have released nine studio albums since 2003, with the tenth album Mackister Ludi: The Glass Weed Game to be released this year. He’s also released several albums as Aja West including Total Recall 2012 featuring Reggie Watts on lead vocals. He and I joined forces in 2005 to release Flash & Snowball, an instrumental jazz-funk tribute to our childhood cats.
DJ Shinya seems to preside over the strong vinyl/DJ scene that exists in Kyoto, Japan. Not only is he the buyer at local record store Japonica, he also organizes a quarterly live event called Butter (celebrating their 10th anniversary this year) which brings together the dopest DJs, bands and visual artists from the area. As a DJ and producer himself, DJ Shinya has released several funky 45s and numerous mix CDs. He kindly hosted me in Kyoto during my 2012 tour and is also helping to organize my forthcoming Japan tour in support of this album.
AFTERNOONS IN STEREO:
Afternoons In Stereo is the pseudonym of Canadian musician and graphic designer Greg Vickers. With his unique mixture of jazz, funk and electronic-based grooves, Afternoons In Stereo has released five studio albums and six EPs over the last decade in addition to hosting the weekly radio program Urban Modernists on CFMU in Hamilton, Ontario. Greg and I met through our Facebook page this past year when he responded to a post of ours asking our fans to share links to their own music.
DJ Duct has been active in Tokyo’s hip-hop and breakbeat scene since the 90s, making a name for himself because of his distinctive one turntable style of DJ’ing, adopting a “less is more” approach. Using one turntable, a mixer, sampler, Kaoss pads, and other effects, he collages and reconstructs the bits and pieces of sounds he captures from the records on the spot. He and I met at a shared DJ gig in Tokyo in 2012. In addition to several full-length albums, DJ Duct has released numerous mixes, remixes and EPs and has collaborated with rappers such as J-Live and Mike Ladd.
EVERY SHAPE A DIAMOND:
Every Shape A Diamond (ESD) is a duo (Joshua LaRue and David Pavkovic) from Austin, Texas. Josh and I connected through MySpace back in 2008 but didn’t meet in person until 2013 when I was visiting Austin and stopped by Breakaway Records, an all vinyl store he co-owns. ESD make what they refer to as “post-jazz-rock-nu-wave” music with Larue on guitar, Pavkovic on drums and a healthy dose of electronic sounds mixed in. Their debut album is completed and set to be released in 2015.
Smooth Tutors are a Pittsburgh-based instrumental jazz funk band fronted by cousins Luke Starcher and Zack Curl. In 2013, Luke bought our Pass the Information album through Bandcamp and sent along a nice message, which led to me discovering the music of Smooth Tutors who had released two thoroughly funky EPs at that point (one of which was a split 12” with 9dw, our friend and fellow remixer on this album). We’re thrilled to be releasing the first official Smooth Tutors remix.
My brother first met EarDr.Umz while digging for records at Jive Time Records in Seattle. I met him at the same record store a couple years later, traded albums and have kept in touch since. He’s a staple on the hip-hop DJ scene in Seattle and is constantly churning out dope beats for his solo albums, remixes and productions for other artists such as Dr. Oop’s The Grateful Dread album.
Naoki Yoda is a Kyoto-based DJ and producer who studied sound design at the London College of Communication. He and I DJ’d together in Kyoto in 2012 and became fast friends. On my day off, he showed me around Kyoto, taking me to a beautiful temple in the hills and the insanely crowded Gion Festival downtown. He works at Japonica Records.
Based in Okinawa, Japan, morommy is a DJ and also helps manage Honey Records. He and I met when we were DJ’ing together in Kyoto. His remix on this album is his first released production.
Back in 1998, I was fortunate to land a job working for music producers The Dust Brothers (Beastie Boys, Beck). After three years with them, doing everything from cleaning bongs to editing tracks for the Fight Club score, I parted ways to focus on my own productions. I released the first Cheebacabra album Metamorphosis in 2003, followed by Exile In The Woods and Pass the Information. It is an honor to have songs from those albums remixed by my musical friends and family.
Mastered by Rick Fisher at RFI Mastering
Remixer Portraits by Ashley Montague
Executive Produced by Paul Cheever