As we step into day two of the Smile Rays week here on WYDU, we talk to the crew’s producer Batsauce and the soulful Daisey. The husband and wife team make up two-thirds of the Smile Rays with the AB’s Therapy. To me, it’s these two that make the group stand out and make the group rather unique. Batsauce’s beats are simply incredible and is possibly the best producer that you’ve never heard of. He covers everything from the smooth background for Daisey to sing to, to the dirty, stankin, stinkin’, cosmic slop funk found on the title track of “Smilin’ On You“. Extremely versatile as a producer in a group that already contains one gifted producer in Therapy, Bat really adds a “sound” to the group. A sign of a good producer to me is someone that can be diverse, but still carry that signature sound that makes you go, “Oh ish, that’s so&so”, which Bat does.
Then there is Daisey. She adds a different scope to the group. Her beautiful crooning, and soulful singing adds another dimension to the group. Daisey is one of those interesting hippy chicks that sees things in a different light than the normal person (that’s a compliment!). She’s seen the country as a child traveling with her parents as a musical group themselves. That background that she brings to the table really makes the group what it is. The two together also form the backbone for Daisey’s solo project, Lady Daisey, which was recently changed from Heavenly Noise. Daisey does her soul singing over delicious Batsauce beats. It’s a different style of music that might not be for the average hip hop head, but for those with open minds, and can accept that good music knows no genre boundaries, then you will enjoy the music.
You combine what they do with Therapy’s “at your throat” rhyme style, or perhaps his “chilled as a cold 40oz” flow on other songs, and you have a group that is both diverse and classic hip hop all in one.
I had a chance to converse with Daisey and Bat recently and here is what transpired….
Open Your Mouth and Let Your Teeth Shine; Daisey and Batsauce of the Smile Rays
WYDU: Big thanks to Daisey and Batsauce for sitting down to talk to us. I’ve been a big fan of the group as well as Bat’s beats and Daisey’s beautiful singing since discovering their music on myspace a couple years ago, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. Let’s start with the proper introductions, can you tell the people who you are and what exactly you have going as far as musical projects?
Batsauce: Hey-Hey-Hey! Peace & love to all my fellow earthlings. My name is Batsauce, but my mama calls me Britt. I make music, beats, produce, & write songs. I engineer because no one else would. I am in the Smile Rays, Heavenly Noise, and produce & write for Lady Daisey… I also did a project with singer Patrick Evan called Spooney. I try to sell beats… I cook & like to eat. Yes, I am married to Lady Daisey… Yes, I smoke too much weed but gave up cigarettes. I am also working on solo project(s). I love that I get to make music with my friends!
Daisey: That’s the best part… doing something you love doing with people you admire. Batsauce and I have been doing the Heavenly Noise thing for the past 6 years now. Then we hooked up with Therapy and started rockin’ the Smile Rays. Then I realized “hey, wait. There’s Therapy. There’s Batsauce. And then there’s – that chick that sings in Heavenly Noise & the Smile Rays” And then out of that, it just made sense for me to come out as Lady Daisey, so I can have my own identity to work with as a solo artist.
B: I have been producing for about fifteen years…hip hop for ten years. I actually started out with experimental music and free jazz. I drifted into hip hop after meeting some cats in Count Basie’s Bigband. They told me that ultimately people had to be able to tap their foot to the music. At that time, what they said really f’ed my whole head up. Its funny to me that some old jazz cats are the ones that really got me into makin’ beats & hip hop. As my friend Patrick said…”Aint that something, from the past, we create the future.” My influences are every sound, some more than others. Jimi Hendrix, Public Enemy, & Sonic Youth was my youth. Then Coltrane & Funkadelic. Then World Music. Then Lee Scratch Perry. Then Duke Ellington. DJ Premier was essential–and still is. And I love singers, especially Aretha Franklin….& Lady Daisey…
B: Really, I love music…and beyond that, sounds. Screeches, howls, whistles & chirps.
D: I remember when we first hooked up, we were walking down by the river and I said “shhh… listen to this…” and there’s this weird soft clucking noise I can make with my tongue, so I did it in his ear. He started bouncing around and said “ohhhh SHIT!!! she even comes with her own SOUNDS!!!” I knew I won him over at that moment… (laughs)
W: (Laughing) Nice….Now I know why I love Bat’s beats so much. I’m crazy about weird sounds in production as well. Bat, what kind of studio set up do you have? I’ve heard you use computer software, but your beats are so much “fuller” than a lot of the computer based beats I’ve heard.
B: Thanks! I run everything on a laptop. I use computer (pc) software as well as live instruments and my MPC stays on at all times. I got keys, basses, guitars, drums, percussion, a few mics, but none of it is fancy. Everything’s on a show string budget! No matter what I use to make music, I always strive to make it sound organic. It makes my ears happy. I want you to wonder if its live or what…especially them drums!
W: Daisey, Therapy mentioned something about you growing up with parents that performed, can you give some insight on your background as a child and how that factors into what you do today with the Smile Rays as well as your other projects?
D: I grew up in a Winnebego I called home / The US of A my backyard / like riding in the seat of a shopping cart / up and down the aisles, the flavors the styles / from city to city coast to coast / what I dug the most / was constantly being on the go… I’d have to say the biggest impact my childhood had on my life is that I’m ALWAYS ready to pack it up and head out. My parents were in a top 40 band during the 70′s-80′s. They played whatever was popular on the radio at the time, so it covered disco, the 80′s (both good and bad – ha!) I grew up listening to them practice, so I’m like a walking jukebox when it comes to lyrics from that era. My pops played keyboard and had the full wrap around piano deal with racks and racks of digital things around him, he was WAY ahead of his time! My mom played drums, ranging from the full set with embedded twinkley lights to Roland octapads, whatever was hip at the time. They both sang. Of course, back then, hotels used to hire house bands for a few weeks at a time, and that included room and board. So we bounced around the country – a few weeks here, a couple weeks there – living in hotels and eating well! I was home schooled by my mom, which was great because if we were studying geology, we would actually go outside and find rocks, break them open and really get into the nitty gritty of whatever it was we were studying that day. I’d fall asleep in one state and wake up and say “mommy, what state are we in NOW?” I started singing with them when I was like 5. It started with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and over the years, developed into doing Michael Jackson, Sister Sledge, Cindy Lauper, Donna Summers, etc. At one point, I knew enough songs to do my own set, but could only get by with it when we were playing outdoor venues. I’d pass a big pickle jar around and make mad tips!!
W: Not to often in this genre you see a husband and wife team working together. You work together as the Lady Daisey as well as part of the Smile Rays. How does that add to what you guys do? Are there any disadvantages to being married and working together?
B: Its the icing on the cake. We love the fact that we get to go out together and do all of this together. And with the Smile Rays, we get to make music with a great friend and in doing so, it has enhanced our music, all of our music. Really, music has enhanced my life. I hate to get too corny about it, but most of my best friends have come through music. A lot of the truths I hold dear came through music. So, in the end it all feels right.
D: I love it! It goes back to doing something you love with people you admire. And really, being in a band IS a lot like being in a relationship… so if you can really nail down the relationship aspect of it, then the rest is, as Batsauce said “icing on the cake”. I hear a lot of musician’s girlfriends griping about “all he ever does is make music! uarghgh!!” and all I can think is “damn sister, you need to either find something you’re equally as passionate about, or set a brother free!” We both understand it’s time consuming, it’s a full-time job, it’s good times, bad times, halfway times… but because we’re both in this together, we can work through it together and we don’t have to waste time explaining what’s up… it just IS. We feed off of each other. It’s nice to have an idea bouncing around in my head at ANY given time of day and just lay it down, without having to be like “ring ring, yo! i’ve got an idea for a hook! let’s… oh, you can’t until Thursday?” Nawww… none of that. It’s right there, on-the-spot. Plus, we have the BEST talks on the way home from gigs, on so many levels.
B: As far as any disadvantages… I can’t say really. I try not to think or dwell on these things, y’know?
D: Ha! The ONLY disadvantage is there’s no one to hold the camera cuz we’re BOTH on stage!!! (Laughts)
D: Ha! Batsauce always gives this question to me… And I never get tired of telling it. It was open mic night – Tuesday at the Voodoo (downtown Jacksonville ’02) and Batsauce was up there slingin’ beats. I was pretty new on the scene and I had enough of a buzz that I jumped up on stage and just started scattin’, doing my thing… and Batsauce said he was pushing buttons, doing whatever and he heard this voice and was like “WOAH!! What’s THAT!??!” So after the set, he came up, we exchanged our stories and email addresses. I’ve got a studio plus you sing equals let’s hook up. That sort of thing. Then I get this email from Batsauce “yo, let’s get up and make a heavenly noise” — uh huh, you see where THIS is going… hahaha!!! (that later became the name of our band) So we did hook up, under the pretense of making music, but… after a couple days of hanging out… I LOST MY VOICE!!! For a MONTH!!! Like, all I could make were raspy beeps and clicks like some broken sci-fi robot. But we hung out anyway, listened to music, he’d play in the studio, I’d sit by him and draw/paint/whatever, we just hung out and really started digging each other. Then once my voice came back, we were like “hey, now… how about that music…” I’m truly grateful that I lost my voice, to be honest. Who knows how it would have worked out otherwise. I mean, we could have hooked up, I could have laid down a track or 2 and then we could could have gone our own separate ways. But we were given that month of silence, almost like a test.
B: Yeah, its true. Its not a soundbite. We met onstage. People think we made that up. See, I told you the great things in my life have come through music!
W: Daisey, from listening to your other musical projects, I have to admit that it is somewhat surprising to see you in a hip-hop group. What is your background with hip-hop? Is it something that you have always been into or was it something that Bat got you into?
D: Well, I definitely dug old school hip hop back before it was “old” if you know what I mean — Biz Markie, De La Soul, Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, Afrika Bambaataa… but then in high school, I took the alternative route, wore a jean jacket full of patches and safety pins, painted my nails black and listened to Portishead, the Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, Bjork. Then I switched it up again, busted out the patchouli and followed the Grateful Dead for a minute, Phish, Widespread Panic, etc. Then I was a jazz junkie: Keith Jarrett, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk. I guess I just went with whatever felt good at that time of my life. Whatever my soul was searching for, music filled that spot, and since our souls are forever changing, I suppose my taste in music changed as well. Then Batsauce came along and flipped my shit. He made mixed CDs for me with Aretha Franklin, Roy Aires, the JBs, James Brown. So yeah, I suppose Bat did come along and get me on a path leading back to hip hop, although it was already an integral part of my musical being. A funny story… we were dating for a couple of months and Bat realized, “if I’m going to be coming over here on the regular, this girl needs a record player” I was a huge Hello Kitty collector at the time. He bought me a Hello Kitty Japanese Columbia portable record player!!! Then it was ON!!! I bought my first James Brown record at the thrift shop for 25 cents!!
W: (Laughing) Hmm, how was that for scratching? haha….Bat, how is it different working as a hip hop producer, to working as a more “traditional” type of musical producer, when working on Daisey’s solo music?
B: I have to keep it in the pocket no matter what! but I suppose with hip hop you can’t compete too much with the emcee. You have to boil melodies down to their essence. Like sampling, you take the best pieces of songs and use that to express the meat of the matter. Really though, when I’m makin music, I don’t really think about who its for…I just try to capture the vibe. And the mood of a track sometime works better for emcees than singers, or vice versa.
W: Talk about the initial conception of how the Smile Rays came about. Therapy discussed some of the beginnings, but what’s your guys take on it all?
B: Well, we recorded a few songs first. I think it was “By Design Three” first. It was easy and fun and on playback, we all really liked it. We all kinda knew it was special. We didn’t really say too much, but we all felt it, for sure. Then, Therapy said we should form a group–do a side project from Heavenly Noise & the AB’s. He joked about being in a band with white people.
D: Hey! I’m Puerto Rican! (laughing)
B: But we were all excited, and realized the possibilities.. And I was personally honored because Therapy makes dope beats, not to mention being nasty on the mic. We recorded seven songs in three weeks. And then, abruptly, Daisey & I moved to China for six months.
When we returned, we started right back at it, with a sense of renewed purpose. No record deals, no recognition, no shows, no nothing. Just camaraderie and blunts, oh and lots of talks about Dilla and life. We recorded the next twenty or more songs over the next fifteen months.
All the songs were made the old fashioned, time-honored way. We hung out day-in, day-out makin music…listening to music together. Eating together. Smoking together. Just like a band is supposed to. Most days, I felt a great sense of purpose.