Happy freakin’ Monday morning to all of you. Hopefully everyone made it through another weekend safe and sound. We have a special week planned here at WYDU. I’m not just an old school head, I’m into the newer music being done out there, I’m just a bit more pickier than I used to be. If you are a regular reader of WYDU, you know I have my current favorites out there, Cunninlynguists, Little Brother, Archetype among others. Another group I have pumped up any chance I get is the Jacksonville, Florida group, The Smile Rays. I named both of their albums in my personal Top 40 Albums of 2007, Party…Place at #7 and Smilin On You at #12. In all honesty, if I had more than a month to listen to both of them, they would have both been higher than that even. Their Japan only release Party…Place will see a proper American release hopefully sometime this year and the Rawkus 50 effort Smilin’ On You was released as a digital only album to celebrate the whole Rawkus marketing thing they had going on. Well it WAS a digital only release. They are releasing a proper version of Smilin’ On You this week on 6Hole/Rawkus and to celebrate that occasion, this week is The Smile Rays week on WYDU.
All three members, Therapy, Batsauce and Daisey have been active in the in planning of this week and will be appearing through out the week. We have plenty planned for the week, which we will bring up as we go along this week. For those of you that I have hipped to their music in the past, you should know this group’s steez and music. For those of you new to the Smile Rays, this is your chance to catch one of the more talented groups to emerge in awhile, they have the WYDU stamp of approval. Their music ranges from the easy listening, happy-go-lucky (Pick Flowers) to traditional straight-up-in-your-face hip hop (Rap Battle) and just about everything in between. For those of you unfamiliar with the group, it consists of Therapy of AB’s fame (formerly Asamov) handling the MC duties, Daisey who handles the vocal duties and Batsauce “the best producer to ever touch a personal computer”. The latter two also work together and form Lady Daisey (formerly known as Heavenly Noise). I’m pleased and proud to present The Smile Rays Week at WYDU.
“Ya gotta see ‘em. Ya gotta hear ‘em. Ya’ll smell this.”
– George Clinton
“No doubt, Rap Battle is the hot hot shit, with that classic hip hop feel.”
– Kool Moe Dee
“hiphop ain’t dead, it REALLY lives in the South right now
and The Smile Rays are living proof of that”
– DJ Jaycee, Ludacris’ DeeJay
“They better not put out their debut album without me on it.”
“I was BLOWN AWAY by “The Toast”.
It gives me hope for real hip hop.”
– DJ Scientist, Ying Yang Twins’ DeeJay
“The Smile Rays: just fucking amazing.
The three performers, Daisey, Therapy and DJ Batsauce,
are so very obviously meant for live performance
it is just impossible not to lose your mind for these cats.”
– Reax Magazine
“Hands down…best MUSIC I’ve heard since
Buhloone Mindstate (De La Soul). Listen. Love it. Repeat.”
– Haji P, Brown Co.
To kick-off Smile Rays week, I sat down with Therapy and we kicked it over the phone. It was truly the most enjoyable and funniest interview I’ve done to date, and I’m not just saying that because we are devoting a week to them. It was just like kicking it with an old friend discussing music and the such and add that to the fact that Therapy is just that crazy dude that makes you laugh in the first place. Those of you unfamiliar with who the Smile Rays are and what they stand for, this interview is an excellent introduction. You want to know who came up with the name The Smile Rays and why? It’s in this interview.
The story behind this interview is actually pretty long. It took awhile to get the interview set up, with phone calls going back and forth between Therapy and I trying to make the right time to interview all three at the same time. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be as Bat and Daisey had something come up the day of the interview. After already doing numerous rescheduling the past couple months, Therapy and I decided to go ahead with the interview and then hit up Bat and Dais later. Once we got it done, it took me longer than anticipated to write out the interview. That actually turned out to be a good thing as it’s what started the idea for the whole Smile Rays week.
So, I present the interview that started it all. This is a great interview, even if I have to say so myself. It was a lot of fun and a good start to the week……
WYDU: First off thanks for sitting down with us. I’ve been a fan of you personally for awhile and the Smile Rays since first hearing y’all’s music on myspace late 2006, early 2007.
Therapy: Absolutely man, shit, I appreciate it too. We need the publicity and I’m just trying to talk to the people.
W: Before we get too much further, why don’t we get the introductions out of of the way, tell the good people who you are, what you do and what you stand for.
T: I’m Therapy, I’m in the group the Smile Rays as well as The AB’s, formally known as Asamov and the tour DJ and back up rapper for Mr. Lif and Akrobatic as solo artists as well as The Perceptionists. I’m also a father.
W: A man of many hats….
T: Many, many hats…
W: haha….Let’s start from the beginning, how did you get your start? Why did you want to become an artist and perform and all that good stuff.
T: I think just basically my mom raised me as an artist. I was surrounded as a kid with more visual art. I was always the kid who would just buy up music. Eventually, when I was graduating high school, I decided I wanted to rap, make beats and DJ. Basically, I tried it all. I used to do graffiti, I tried my hand at b-boying. I was just that dude that wanted to try to do everything.
W: Got all four elements covered then. What were some of your early influences, meaning what molded you as the artist you are today?
T: Just the whole culture really. I remember as a kid having a transistor radio and just listening to anything that sounded like what I thought was a hip hop beat in the 80′s. As far as influences….I’d say James Brown and that sort of vibe, just being funky. As far as rap and MCing, I just appreciated any great song that has come a long. As far as wanting to make this music, I was more influenced by just the whole sound, just liking the funky shit.
W: I didn’t realize this, but I was checking out some of Akrobatik’s early albums and you had some production credit on his 2003 album, Balance. Then of course you’ve been with the AB’s for awhile as well. How did you come together with those particular artists?
T: Ak and I grew up together in Boston. I’m originally from Boston and we’ve known each since we were kids. At one point, I had moved to Chicago and we didn’t talk for years. I would find out later that my old friend is an up and coming hip hop artist and by this time I was in Jacksonville, Florida. I was just making beats and rhyming and we reconnected and he ended up getting some beats. It was like “What’s up, you want some beats? Pay me”….(laughs)…Nah, we just wanted to do something together. It was great hooking back up and reconnecting when we did. Now, we just work on a lot of stuff together.
As far as the AB’s, once again I had moved from Chicago down to Jacksonville in the mid 90′s. I immediately immersed myself into whatever was going on here, which wasn’t too much, but I started DJing out and being at the open mics and throwing open mics and just doing all of that. The other cats in the AB’s were the cats that were dominate at those events. They were my peoples, I had met them when I came down. When it was time to do a record, I was like “Let’s do the Asamov record, let’s do this group thing”.
W: Like you’ve mentioned, you kind of do a little bit of everything, from MCing, to producing to DJing to performing on stage, is there on particular thing I like to do than anything else?
T: I just told somebody the other night at a Smile Rays show that performing is my shit. I had been on the road with Ak and Lif, got home, threw together a show the night before, didn’t have much time to build with Bat and Daisey, ran out there and just knocked it down. I love every aspect of it. Maybe its just right now because I’m on the road so much, but I love being on stage and being able to communicate the shit on stage and just rock live. That’s my favorite thing.
W: I also hear that you are quite the crate digger…..
T: Yeah, that’s why I say my influence in hip hop is really going to someone like James Brown because really when I first started to write rhymes around ’89, I had decided I was going to be more than just a fan. It was slow, kind of a five year thing, just fucking around. When I was doing that, the records were just so important to me. They were like that physical thing that represented what the actual hip hop culture was. Whether you take it from the aspect of how the old records make hip hop music what it is or the fact that Kool Herc taking all these sounds to make the actual idea of what is hip hop. So yeah, I love records. I still dig and I’m always diggin. When I was writing my first rhymes, I had my crate of records that I jacked from my pops and ever since then the records are just as important as the beats, just as important as the rhymes. They all come in hand and hand, so now I have like a house full of records.
T: Ahh man, its wack man, because Ak and Lif, they don’t care! I’m always struggling with them in particular to find the time to go out to some of the stores. I usually have friends of mine, dealers or other diggers to go out with. I was lucky the last time I was out, I got to stop in Portland and spend a couple hours and a friend of mine happened to have a stash waitin’ for me. It’s tough when I’m with the rappers. When I’m with the AB’s, Willie and I can say “let’s go dig”, but me and my man Basic are the true diggin’ partners, from way back. Willie don’t give a damn, he just sample whatever in the hell. I’ll always find the time though.
W: Do you have a prize piece in your collection?
T: I have a bunch of big records, you know, but if I had to say my prized piece, it would be this one record…..fuck it, I’ll say the name of it, I don’t give a shit….(laughs)…..it’s about to come out anyway, I lifted a little piece off of it that I really liked. It’s off a record called “The Black Show”, its out of the Cape Verde Islands. My mom is Cape Verdeian. My mom and my dad always had a great collection, which I always jacked. They were big into buying records, jazz, soul and all of that. At some point, I mean I guess I jacked all their records so they didn’t have shit left (more laughter from the both of us), so I guess their tastes changed as they got older. I guess they listen to, shit, I don’t know, maybe Celine Dion or something like that (hahaa). Long story short, they finally went to the Cape Verde Islands where my mom is from. They came back and they said they bought me a record. I was very skeptical. First of all, it was from the 80′s, number two, I know they were doing it just to be nice and get me a record because they were there. In my head I’m thinking like a jerk, I probably don’t want to hear it, but Thank You! I put the needle on the joint and the second song in has this massive like break with this crazy organ stab piece comes on and this little bass melody comes in. I’m just going bonkers and it’s legitimately a crazy break. I was like WOW…..that is my prized possession. I’m sure no one else has it and the fact it came from my parents just makes it that much more special.
W: (still laughing from listening Therapy tell the story in the most animated of ways)…wow, nice. Alright, so you are residing in Jacksonville, which probably isn’t the most known place for hip hop. How does that play into your whole sound and what is the scene like down there exactly?
T: Jacksonville is cool. I’m going to be here awhile in the terms of where I am when I’m not on the road. There is not much of a scene, but the cats that are here are pretty hardcore. I’m talking really really really hardcore about their craft. It comes from being in a place where if you are serious about it, you deluge into your own zone. They be doing their own thing. There is some dirty south stuff going on down here, I know all them dudes too. There are some real ill cats here in Jacksonville.
W: Time for one of those real boring questions that you’ve probably been asked a million times by now: How did you, Bat and Daisey hook up?
T: I’ve known Batsauce for years and he is married to Daisey. I met her a couple times previously. I’ve known Bat even before all that. I was in a live band before as a DJ and he was the photographer. He used to hand me beat CD’s back then and I was like “whoooooo”. Then at some point, after the AB’s first record, I came home from off the road and started hangin’ out with Bat. Through hanging out daily, he just started playing beats for me and we just started talking music. We must have talked music for months. Finally we were like “we should do something” and I was like “yeah, let’s do a group, let’s call it the Smile Rays”. We just dove in on the idea of music and I wanted to do something different, something even different than my solo shit would be and at the same time I wanted to work with Bat and I wanted to work with Daisey because she too is really really talented. That’s pretty much how it happened. Then for like the next year, I was over at their house almost every day, just hanging out, smoking and eating and just makin’ music.
W: I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the live set, but from what I’ve heard and read, the three of you have a pretty dynamic stage show and great chemistry on stage. How did that evolve? Did you start performing first or….
T: Daisey grew up as a performer. Daisey is performer by nature and I’m a performer by nature. The stage, individually is where Daisey and I want to be. Hanging out for the last couple years and developing the friendship has helped, I mean Daisey is like my sister and I talk to them everyday. It was very natural, from the beginning. We are not only comfortable in our own skin on stage, but we are just comfortable with each other. There is nothing unsaid between Bat, Daisey and myself. I mean, I’m the crazy dude and I say the craziest things and they are a married couple and they sit there and embrace it, so it works well.
W: How important is it to you to have an ill stage show?
T: How important is it to have an ill stage show?!?! Ahhhh man, in this day and age it separates the boys from the men so to say. It’s very important to me. The AB’s have always taken our stage show seriously, Lif takes the stage show seriously, Ak, everyone I fuck with is on a whole nuther’ level when it comes to performing. The Smile Rays, we practice before every show and we talk how to formulate the show. We don’t do the same thing every time, we switch it up. I wanted us to be more like the classic band and we perform our songs very tightly on stage and have this great chemistry. That’s how I wanted it to be, but at the same time, you gotta do things to make it a show, put effort into it and get people amped up. Plus you don’t want to be on stage and have people not screaming and yelling. Y’all as fans better do something, or I’m going to feel like a chump….hahaha.
Part Two of the Therapy Sessions Coming Tonight…..That’s tonight!!!