Pase Rock Interview
Blowing your own horn is sometimes the best way to get noticed in a sea of musicians all striving for the same thing; success. And lets just say Ohioan DJ, Pase Rock has an amplifier attached to that horn. Along with a massive dose of tongue in cheek braggadocio, Pase has been killin’ kids on the wheels of steels for the last 10 years with his mash up of Hip Hop Booty Bass bangers that has seen him working alongside peeps such as Spank Rock, XXXChange, Darko, M.I.A., Santagold and Amanda Blank to name a few. The self proclaimed ‘greatest dj in the world’ will be hitting our shores for his very first solo tour (after visiting three times with Spank Rock) courtesy of the cool cats at Roxanne Parlour in conjunction with Sneaker Freaker favourites, Opulent Magazine. We caught up with Pase to talk music, kicks and his new label Fully Fitted.
Yo Pase, what’s been crackin’ in the lab these days?
Just recording a lot with XXXchange and Eli Escobar. That's pretty much it. We're just working out the kinks to a few different projects and having lots of fun. These guys are the best. Alex still hasn't kicked me out of his house. I don’t know why.
We see a lot of guest spots and remixes from your fine self, is there an album dropping anytime soon?
Hopefully. I'm dropping an EP before the year is out, mostly of stuff that's already leaked on the Internet and a few new songs. There will probably be an album by Spring 09.
So how many times have you rocked our shores? You’ve come down for shows with Spank Rock but never on your own tour. How does the solo tour differ and what can we expect from the Pase Rock madness?
I've been to Australia three times I think. I did Big Day Out with Devlin and Darko, which was pretty much a Pase Rock show. That's when Naeem (Spankrock) got arrested. This go round is just a DJ tour as I'm pretty much just DJing these days. I’m not doing live stuff just yet. But I'm kind of the greatest DJ alive ever of all times, so you can pretty much expect the sky to fall, the ocean to part and all of that crazy shit you read about in revelations, to all happen on the dance floor while I'm DJing. Armageddon, and not that great Bruce Willis movie. Armageddon on the dance floor. That's the new name of this tour.
How was the scene for you growing up in Ohio? Where you exposed to a lot of great music or did you have to hunt and travel to find gems to rock at parties?
Ohio was simultaneously boring and stimulating at the same time. When I was coming up there was a lot of good people doing music and 'creating culture' like Mood, Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek, Mr. Dibbs, The Anticon guys, Dose One and those guys, Why?, my good friend Boom Bip who is now doing Neon Neon and my group Five Deez. We had a good community of artists and we made our own little scene. We threw our own parties including this festival called Scribble Jam, which I did for about 10 years. Ohio has a rich musical history so we grew up with that. The Isley Brothers, Bootsy Collins, Roger Troutman and Zapp, The Ohio Players, King Records which is where James Brown released the bulk of his early material. All this happened in and around Cincinnati where I'm from. So via my parents and grandparents you kind of inherit this rich music culture and I think it indirectly and directly affected how I perceive and do music to this day.
How long have you been behind the ones and twos and what drew you to become a party starter?
Well, here's the long answer, I've been interested in DJing ever since I was really little, probably like 4 or 5 years old. I had older cousins who were into Hip Hop and Breakdancing when I was little but that was the thing in the early-mid 80's. It was like Hannah Montana is now. It was the biggest culture movement of the time. Breakdancing, Rap Music and Michael Jackson. That was it. Those are my earliest memories. The first piece of vinyl I ever owned was 'Space Cowboy' by the Jonzun crew on Tommy Boy records. I won it at a church raffle when I was about 5 or 6 years old. Ever since then I've had an affinity for records and dance music. So I taught myself how to scratch on my grandmother’s turntable when I was about 8 or 9. It was the coolest thing. She had a direct drive turntable that I inherited. She never used it and I was always playing with it so she gave it to me. It had a cassette player attached and you could record the radio on the cassette so when Run DMC would come on the radio I would practice scratching Jam Master Jay's parts to like ‘Peter Piper’ or something. I had to do it with the volume knob and the music would cut out, but that's how I learned.
I could never afford proper DJ equipment but I would go to my friend’s house and maybe they had some. They were surprised that I knew how to scratch. They would be like ‘I didn’t know you DJ'd’ and I'd just lie and be like ‘yeah man’. Nobody ever questioned it because I could scratch pretty decent. So when we had house parties in high school I would DJ them. I had the most records of all my friends and my friend Rich had a little crappy set up so I started to DJ in high school about age 14 doing a few parties here and then. I finally got my own turntables in like 1998 or so, and I've never looked back. Boom Bip used to do this party in Cincinnati that was so fun. I really kind of got a feel for what I'm doing now, at his parties. It was at this tiny restaurant but it was super sexy and so much good fun and music. I've thrown a lot of parties since then and had a few residencies in the proper Hip Hop clubs and House clubs in Cincinnati and now New York City, which is where I've been the last few years. The short answer is I've been properly and professionally DJing for over 10 years.
You’ve worked with a whole host of dope artists and you are coming up in a group of seriously talented musicians who are changing the face of dance music. How did you all come to know each and who is really making your head nod?
I don't know, I guess you're talking about this little east coast crew that I've been associated with. (Philly, Baltimore, NYC) Name drop time! I guess what happened, is in 2005, I booked the Spankrock crew (Naeem, XXXchange, Devlin and Darko and Amanda Blank), Diplo, Cosmo Baker and DJ Ayres for a Hip Hop festival I was throwing in Cincinnati which was Scribble Jam. It's traditional hip hop to the core with MC battles, B-boy battles, and DJ battles, the whole nine yards. Things kind of started to change around 2000 or so, all the way to 2004, I would say. Not to discount anybody or anything, but I was pretty disinterested in what was happening with hip hop, underground hip hop especially. I think we all had just moved on but here I was at the helm of this huge hip hop festival with two of my good friends Fat Nick and Tony Heitz. Luckily it was our 10-year anniversary and we partnered up with The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati (look it up, it's amazing) to do an exhibit in commemoration. So Nick and I curated an exhibition at the museum to coincide with Scribble Jam. The exhibit was called TEN. We picked ten artists to represent the 10 years and the exhibit ran for 10 days. We got The Barnstormers, Brent Rollins, George Thompson, Aaron Horkey, Carter Gillis, Joey Whiteley, Jamil GS and The Homie Ross One all contributing to the exhibit. This gave me an excuse to book some more interesting and let's say ‘left field’ acts for the festival and the parties that coincided.
I caught a lot of flack for it at the time but now I think they understand what I was doing. I tried to book M.I.A. too but between January and July of 2005 she got to be out of our price range. Anyway, longer story shorter, a few months before the festival I left Cincinnati and moved to New York. Cosmo and Ayres DJ'd the opening at the Museum, and I got to be really good friends with them. Diplo played the after party in this crazy old brewery and it turned into a rave. There were Midwest hipsters coming out the woodwork. Regrettably Spankrock played really early the next day to about 200 people. That doesn’t sound so bad but the space held 6,000. This was before they had a record out and they had just signed to Big Dada. I think ‘Put That Pussy On Me’ came out a few weeks later. They definitely made an impression on all the kids waiting to see Masta Ace, Brother Ali and Lyrics Born. I was really happy with the way it turned out and we've all just been hanging out, getting drunk, cooking good food, and making music ever since. Cut to NYC in 2005 and I was starting a new chapter in my life, such good times.
It's a small community in New York but Roxy Cottontail is still throwing parties. The Cut guys are doing parties. There's great bands like !!!, Brazilian Girls, Kudu and Stiffed (which you now know as Santogold) playing every weekend. We threw and went to a lot of good parties and it never really slows down here, but now all of us are all over the place and it's good to just keep it moving. The kids are always alright.
Tell us about Fully Fitted, your new label. How did all that come about?
Alex (XXXchange) and I wanted to have a way to release stuff without having to pitch it to anybody, just kind of have our own imprint. We wanted to put out Amanda's first 12" and my Lindsay Lohan 12". That's how it came about. Having Darko around, he's kinda like the most motivated guy ever when it comes to getting stuff done, which is a blessing and a curse. So it's just the four of us. Devlin and Darko, Alex and me fucking shit up. We have a blog too, www.fullyfitted.blogspot.com. We're always leaking music on there.
What can we expect from the label and who will you be promoting and pushing as the next break out artist on the scene? Who should we be keeping our ears peeled for?
Not sure. There's nobody running the label yet so it's just us and projects that a bigger label wouldn’t have time to properly promote or spend energy on that we know that our core group of kids are into. And we can get it to them easily. We all have like 8,000 projects going on at once and are pretty much constantly on tour, so it's pretty hectic over at Fully Fitted HQ. Right now I'm really into this husband and wife duo from Brooklyn called New Look.
Can we talk sneakers for a second? The shoe game goes hand in hand with the demographic your music is geared towards. Are there any favourite brands you rock and are you still an avid sneaker shopper or collector?
I used to be. I slowed down a bit the past couple of years, as I’m not into sneakers that much anymore. My collection is ridiculous, like really really outta hand. Imelda Marcos would be like ‘dude, what the fuck is wrong with you?’ Right now I'm doing Camper and Clae pretty heavy.
You’ve collaborated with Steve Aoki’s brand Dim Mak with your own t-shirt and now you have just released the Fully Fitted tees. Are you hoping to branch out further into fashion at all?
That was Darko! He did the Fully Fitted tees by himself. I didn't even know he was doing it. You see what I mean? This fucking guy! But yeah I'm really into fashion. I've had a t-shirt line on the back burner for some years now; I just don't have time to do all of this stuff. That's kind of why I did the shirts with Steve and Dim Mak. He was like, just give me the design and I'll get it done. I'm going to be in Australasia for almost 6 weeks so you can't run a proper business like that. It's probably time to get an office and an assistant. I've been doing shirts in Japan for about seven years but never a proper brand. Just one offs and merchandise for the music projects I do. I'm doing a limited run of rings that I designed with Bijulesnyc. We've been working on those for the better part of this year and I just got the samples back so I'm wearing those at the moment. They will probably hit stores early next year or Spring 09.
What are you looking forward to the most when you get back down to OZ?
The weather! I think you guys take it for granted that it never really gets cold there. That and just hanging out with my friend in Sydney. Picnics and the like.
For more details about his Melbourne show go here