Once upon a time a guy with mixed brazilian and Southern U.S. roots that brought to my ears a great pair of works that we can call “conceptual collaboration” or mash-ups, if you prefer.
That guy’s name is Amerigo Gazaway, beatmaker, producer and musician from Nashville, TN. Today we finally reached him and we had a very interesting chat about music and Hip-Hop.
First of all, who really is Amerigo Gazaway? I mean, we know you for your amazing works, from the mash-ups, to the beat-tapes but where your music take inspiration from?
My music takes inspiration from a lot of places, (including but not limited to the local record store). Some other sources that come to mind right now are Miles Davis, Carl Sagan, videogames, Brazilian music, southern hip-hop, soul, funk, pop culture, etc. I like to think of myself as an “audio archeologist“, someone who digs up sonic treasures and breathes new life into them.
I was blown away when I first heard the “Yasiin Gaye” mash-up. My first thought was “how can it be possible to mix two different kind of music in a so clean way?”. How do you choose whom to mix together?
I usually try to pick artists that have something in common with one another, whether it be their musical approach, their philosophy, their lyrical content, etc. What I’m really trying to do is get these artists to have a musical conversation with one another across space and time.
I think that means a deep knowledge of the musical catalogue of both artists involved in the final mashup. I bet you are a great Hip-Hop fan but there’s diggin process before start working to a new project?
Definitely. I spend a good amount of my time digging for records, hunting for acapellas, and listening for samples. I also try to learn as much as I can about the artists through reading autobiographies, interviews, watching documentaries, etc. It’s actually a really rewarding process because you get to appreciate the music and the artists that made it in a whole new way.
Your latest two project are truly amazing: “The Miseducation of Eunice Waymon” and “The B.I.G. Payback” blends together some of my favorite artists ever. I grew up listening to Biggie and Lauryn and i really was excited when you announced the mashups. Tell something about the creative process behind this two records.
The Nina x Lauryn project came about when I was giving a talk at the EMP Pop Conference in Seattle WA, and Professor Zandria Robinson challenged me to create a project celebrating women artists. I happily accepted the challenge and began working on what would later become “The Miseducation of Eunice Waymon”.
The Notorious J.B.’s is actually is a spin-off of another project I did called J.B. & The Soul Mates – The Big Payback Vol. 3. This was a three part tribute series with DJ Scratch, J.Period, and myself remixing classic James Brown tracks. One of those tracks was “The Notorious J.B.’s -Sex Machine Gun Funk”, and the response was so good that fans have been begging me for a full James Brown x Notorious B.I.G. project ever since.
How the Soul Mates Project supports you in your works? I know you and Rickey (Mindlin ndr.) are long time friends and he’s credited as “executive producer” for almost all of the releases. Are you trying to connect hip-hop and its predecessors by using the mashup works?
Yes, my creative partner Rickey and I created the Soul Mates Project as a platform to explore the connection between hip-hop and the other genres that influenced it. Right now we’re already doing that through our “conceptual collaboration” projects, but we’re hoping to expand Soul Mates brand to include more blog articles, original content, interviews, mixes, podcasts etc. I want Soul Mates to be a resource for people looking to learn more about the history of hip-hop, funk, soul, and remix culture.
That’s probably one of the best way to bring knowledge to the masses. How important is the knowledge of what was there before? The roots of any culture should be learned before everything else. Tell us what you think about.
I definitely think it’s important to study and appreciate the roots and where things came from. But at the same time I also think it’s important to not get stuck holding on to the past. I personally think these two things go hand in hand, meaning you should have a clear understanding of the origins of a culture if you wish to successfully push that culture forward in new directions.
A list of the TOP 50 emcess caused quite a stir on the web lately. I will not ask your top 50 emcess of all time, but at least your TOP 5 and who do you dream of working with someday?
Black Thought is on my list for sure. I’d also love to work with all artists I’ve remixed so far: Yasiin Bey, Common, Bun B, Lauryn Hill, De La Soul, etc. Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests from people about doing something with Talib Kweli so we’ll see. I’m always open to collaborating with artists and creating something new.
What can we expect from your new releases? There are any chances to listen a “volume 2” of your previous mashups? Spoil something, if you want.
Right now I’m working on a project with a talented Bay Area singer Xiomara called “Nineteen Ninety”. It’s all original production and vocals with a 90’s R&B twist.
We’re really excited about the album and can’t wait to share what we’ve been working on. As far as remixes go we’ll see, I’ve definitely thought about doing a volume 2 of “Fela Soul” so maybe I will explore that idea further down the road.
We really want to thank Amerigo for his precious time and we look forward to listen some new project.
To keep in touch with him and Soul Mates Project follow the links below: