Tonight, we have the second part of talking to Daisey and Batsauce of the Smile Rays. The interview is highlited by the story of how George Clinton ended up being on the Party…Place album. It’s refreshing to hear something different in the hip hop arena, and these two are bringing that to the table. It’s also great to hear just that raw hip hop ish up in your headphones, and that’s what Therapy does.
The Smile Rays Are For The Babies: Bat & Daisey Interview Part Two
W: Daisey, your roll in the group is one that isn’t part of most hip hop groups. How do you feel about your roll and how do you feel you will contribute in future projects?
D: I think I add a nice splash of femininity to an otherwise male dominated scene. And the fact that I’m not letting it all hang out, I’m trying to project a vibe of “Yeah, I’m a chick. I’m hip hop. I can rock this shit too… WITH my clothes on! WHAT!!!” I’m so tired of seeing all these greased up hootchie mama videos and I really feel we have what it takes to change the game and bring it back to Bambaataa’s original 3 principals: peace, love & having FUN!! I mean dayummm… De La, the Tribe – it was FUN, it was innocent and it’s proven to be timeless. Just like anything else, every art starts out with a purpose, then becomes overly saturated and slowly degrades into sex, money & an image that doesn’t even accurately reflect who you are. It loses truth. So, to bring it back to the question – my role? Past, present AND future… to keep it real for the girls out there who respect themselves as the beautiful females that they are. Be innocent, be creative, have fun, sing, laugh, and SMILE!!! Cuz deep down, we’re ALL Smile Rays…
W: Let’s talk about the Smile Rays. You have two albums out, the Japanese only release of Party…Place as well as Smilin’ On You, which is getting a proper release soon. How does it feel to work together, all three of the members, on the albums and what’s been accomplished so far?
B: I think we all set the bar pretty high…and want to impress each other. I know that Therapy has the most critical ears of anyone I’ve ever worked with. Usually thats a cool thing… a necessary skill for making a decent record… but, boy, sometimes his ears would catch something I was trying to slide past him, and he’d always catch it, & have me working extra hours! Had me thinkin’ of goin’ Van Gogh… hahaha… But I am proud of what we do — and have fun doin’ it …and thats why I want to continue doing it.
D: I’m proud of us! We’ve accomplished so much in a short period of time. Not only the albums, but also, our relationship as a trio has grown over the years, we’ve made a ton of contacts, played festivals, shaped our sound, developed our stage presence, built our fan base and we’ve proven to ourselves that we can do whatever we put our minds to. All it takes is having a vision and sticking to it… and I’m in good company as far as that goes, because both Therapy and Batsauce are amazing artists with an insatiable hunger for success… I love it!
W: Do you guys have a favorite song? Bat, the beat for the title track is….SLAMMIN’ for a lack of a better word, where are those horns from?
D: I remember the 3 of us driving back to Therapy’s house one night, listening to that track over and over and over, absolutely geeking over how freaking cool that shit is!! We’re like “Yeaaaahhhh… we’re the Smile Rays… WHAT!!!”
B: Ha! Thanks. Those horns are from the parting heavens (laughs). I say that because Therapy gave me this Don Patterson 45. & I slowed it down, chopped it into the title track. After he heard, he said thats a Smile Rays track for sure!! & then he said “Gimme my damn record back!!!” (laughing) True story, I shit you not! As far as favorites, it depends on which way the wind blows, but “Dead Rockers” (on “Party…Place) is the only track we’ve done that gives me goose bumps.
D: I like “To Do List” cuz it feels like some after school special Sesame Street shit. But “A Toast” is my all-star favorite, mainly because of the message. I’m all about the message. And “Rap Battle” cuz Therapy tears it up.
W: Smilin’ On You was originally part of the Rawkus 50 promotional thing they had going. What is your view on that project? It’s good to see it going to a physical release as well.
B: We saw it as an opportunity for more exposure & being from Jacksonville Florida we are hungry for exposure. So we looked at this like a mixtape. Not to mention, our man Slopfunkdust. He’s a cool cat. We fucks with him. Big shout out to Brother Desi for makin that happen on CD! 6Hole is gonna drop it as a CD this spring. We hope this collection of songs will help express our versatility… a teaser of things to come.
D: Like Therapy said, we didn’t really go into the Rawkus deal with high expectations. We saw it as an “additional” avenue for marketing and promotions, not the end-all-be-all. And, we had enough material to comfortably hand them a record without feeling like we we had to make a “choice” between this and another opportunity… there’s plenty of music to go ’round. And since we’re doing all of our marketing and promotions ourselves, we’re experimenting to see what works best, ie: digital downloads, vs. physical copy, label vs. independent. Although, I have to admit, as the graphic artist of the group, I smile every time I drop that Rawkus logo on one of our ads.
W: When I was talking to Therapy, I mentioned to him about the wide variety of subjects that appear on the Japanese released “Party…Place”, how do you think your different backgrounds come into play with that?
B: First of all, “Party…Place” is our baby. That record is a reflection of our dynamic. I think it also hints of where we want to take things. I hope we get the opportunity to continue to explore our potential as a group. I kinda am pushing for us to go beyond the normal rap dialogs. I want us to make songs that transcend the genre without ever leaving it.
I think that we are all intelligent people…who have been fortunate to be exposed to all kinds of shizit. I think we all appreciate life and all of its ironies. Therapy said I look at things like an intellect…but he might have been just trying to be nice, I don’t know. But my folks are teachers. My brother is a teacher in Saudi Arabia. I was an art teacher myself for ten years. So, I think we are inspired by life and try to reflect our lives & times in our music. & I think our dialogs as a group, our comedy and banter, our heart to hearts and shared dreams helps us to make songs of substance.
D: And obviously, I’m the flower power hippie chick in the group, always singing about peace, love and harmony.
W: Therapy told me I had to ask you two about the George Clinton story, who does a guest appearance “Fresh Tradition” from the Party…Place album. Apparently the unabridged version, so you have to give up the good stuff….and remember, this isn’t exactly a PG rated blog…(laughs)
B: WoW! The more I tell the further a hole I’ll fall into! I was on a flight from L.A. to Jacksonville reading every word of the Wax Poetics issue on Funkadelic & Parliament. Its a huge issue. In Houston, during a layover, I got a call from George’s manager. He said George needed to record some vocals on some track. I think really they were looking for a free, low-profile place to record and late at night. Shiiiitt, I am just the dude.
At four in the morning. George and his manager show up. No entourage or groupies, no fanfare. Not even a limo. Just the two of them. I dapped George, told him he was a huge influence & an honor to have in my studio. His manager soon thanked us and left. Now of course I had a beat, one of my beats, playing in the studio. Within seconds of walking in the studio, George said… “What is that?” “Who Made that?” I’m thinkin: Ahhh Yeah!
He told me to keep it playing and I did….for hours as we proceeded to get high, each on our respective poisons. I offered a lil’ herbal blessings to him. He said: “Naw, I don’t fuck with that shit.”
All the while, he was freestyling, drifting from writtens to any topic, including our beagle. It was amazing. I kept pivoting in my seat every so often, looking over at Daisey, locking eyes just long enough to exchange that look of utter surprise. A few hours later, Daisey went to bed and George and I recorded his vocals over the track they brought.
To my suprise it was a Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry track. I couldn’t believe it! Two huge influences…together in my studio. It was one of those moments I will never forget. Yet, in the back of my mind, I was thinking: Damn, I should have recorded him freestyling over my beat. It was approaching seven in the morning. I knew he’d be too tired.
But I was wrong. As soon as he finished with the mellow roots track, George perked up. He told me to put my track back on. He proceeded to scream at the top of his lungs over the instrumental. He layered it four or five times. By the end, we listened to it. It sounded like sheer madness. I looked over at him and he was smiling, nodding his head. Of course, I was too cause this had been the supreme moment for me. And I knew that I could reduce those vocal tracks down to something ill. George’s manager soon returned about eight in the morning. They left in cab a half an hour later. I don’t think any of us were going immediately to bed.
George’s passion for music is inspiring. Before coming to my crib, he’d done a three hour concert. He sang at my pad for at least four hours. Who do you know with that kind of stamina and passion…at any age much less the mid-sixties? He is truly inspiring…and a funky genius.
D: And we didn’t get a single picture!! We didn’t want to cheese out and ruin the natural vibe of it all, so it just lives in our minds… and on a DOPE ass Smile Rays track!!! hahahaa!
W: Classic! Simply classic….. I hear y’all are wicked live, how does performing in front of people rank in the overall stature of being an artist?
B: For me its just one of the aspects of making music–but a vital one. From teaching school, I learned to shed my inhibitions. With the Smile Rays, my greatest thrill on stage is to be up there with my two friends, usually behind them, in the DJ booth, seeing them rip it and being live brings it all back home. It’s instant death or instant gratification.
D: I love being on stage. To me, everything else is just a necessity to get to the point of being on stage, rocking that shit live. And Therapy has fantastic stage presence. I enjoy being up there with him, he’s so live and vivacious. We definitely feed off of each other, but of course, we also feed off the energy of the audience… so no 2 shows are ever alike because there’s so many factors coming together. And being up there, enveloped in Batsauce beats… the three of us, doing our thing. It’s a beautiful feeling.
W: I think I read this question in one of your other interviews, but I’ll ask it anyway, how are the crowds different from those at a Smile Rays show and those at a Heavenly Noise/ Lady Daisey show?
B: Well, increasingly they are crossing over. But traditionally, I would say that Heavenly Noise/Lady Daisey shows have a more eclectic crowd, more hippies. The Smile Rays get the the true hip-hoppers, both male and female, and you know how rare it is to see an excited female at a hip hop show. I think that with proper exposure, the audiences would be very much one and the same.
D: It’s true, they are starting to cross-over and I love that! If someone at a Smile Rays show gives me props on my singing, I’ll be sure to mention an upcoming Heavenly Noise / Lady Daisey show. And vice versa… if someone is diggin’ the beats at a Heavenly Noise / Lady Daisey show, we always plug the Smile Rays. I’ve heard a lot of Heavenly Noise / Lady Daisey fans say “I don’t even like rap, but I like the Smile Rays!” I’m not sure what that means exactly, but it’s nice to know we’re broadening people’s musical taste buds to reach out and listen to more than what’s in their typical comfort zone.
W: So what is next on the slate for Lady Daisey and The Smile Rays, I heard about a trip to Germany?
D: Awwww yeah! We’re doing a European tour in August/September, opening for the Perceptionists. So Batsauce and I decided to go a few months early, just to see what we can get into. I’ve been reaching out to venues and promoters all over Europe, trying to line things up, making connections. I have faith things will jump off once we get there. There’s only SO much you can do via myspace… but dayumm.. I can’t imagine how people used to set up tours prior to the internet!
And a HUGE part of music, even before you put pen to paper, is to experience. To live. Plain and simple. Who we are today is based on what we lived yesterday. And THAT’S where a lot of our material comes from. From our experiences. So unless we want to get to the point where all we write about is making music, then we need to remember to balance it out with some real life stories, shit worth writing about, memories that resonate and stir emotions… that’s where music comes from. I think that’s what the people want to hear. Plus, I’m ready for a vacation.
W: Any last parting words either of you want to drop?
B: Once again…thanks for the great questions, and the shine….we truly appreciate it. Also, lookout for The Lady Daisey project, the Paten Locke (aka Therapy) project, and the Batsauce project. Holler at us. Be good people. And share good music, its all we have left!!!
D: Seriously, Travisimo… thanks for the love you’ve given us since the very beginning. That’s some feel good shit.
W: Many thanks and best of luck!
D: Open ya face, let ya teeth air out and SMILE!!!