Today, we have the final part of our three part interview with Louis Dorley aka Louis Logic. Today, he talks about his new project with Denmark, Beatman & Rockin’, known as Spork Kills. The press release for Spork Kills states:
“Madness! It can’t be true!” This was the headline in world news when it was announced that someone had finally found a way to fuse rap and rock without sucking. The year was 2004 & unsuspecting indie rap renegade, Louis Dorley née louis logic, was about to step foot into another routine overseas collaboration, this time with Copenhagen production syndicate Nobody Beats the Beats. As fate would have it, the engineer who was to record this magical session fell ill and was replaced by flamenco guitarist extraordinaire, Laust “Juelz” Jeppesen. It was a classic case of loathe at first site when the two discovered they shared the same disdain for the monotony of 1994 rap revivalists. Three hours and one run of the mill rap song later, plans for a secret summit were orchestrated to invent something the hip hop world hadn’t seen in years: The Next Cool.
In attendance at this freak show power summit were Jeppesen, Dorley and former hitman turned teen idol, Rolf Sigurd Heat. The discussion began simply enough with the objective to shun all things reeking of regimented rapping and banal beat-smithing. In no time the ill fated trio had whipped up a helping of original, sample-free, live music smacking of an early Roots album outtake. It was then that they realized they must go further. Their travels took them into unfamiliar territory, hacking their way through the overgrown forest of 50′s and 60′s white music “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” style.
At first, it was the ooze of sleazy lounge lizard jazz, which gave way to circus like waltzes and even histrionic Anglo spy scores. Then, born in the wake of a series of personal tragedies, sanctimonious late night speeches about reaching true potential and ice cold beers, the first Surf Rap song in the history of mankind materialized. Naturally, as was the case with man’s first walk on the moon, something so exciting could not simply be explored once. Or rather, it could, but this trio was determined, neigh, bent on reshaping the rap game into something silly enough to enjoy once again. So it was that in this the year of our lord 2008, Spork Kills would rise to fame as the Fathers of Surf Rap.
I’ve always been a firm believer that just because something is different and original DOES NOT automatically make it good. I’m a big fan of things being original, but only if it’s done right, which means that it’s still good music. Too many times, I hear something is “the next thing”, and it falls flat on it’s face. That’s so not the case with Spork Kills. While the hodge podge of musical styles might initially throw up a yellow flag to some, the sound they have conjured up is natural, unforced and very original…in a good way. It might not be for everyone, but those that have an open mind, enjoy good music, or just listen to a wide variety of music will dig their new EP, “Beaches Love Us.”
Things are starting to look up for Lou and the Spork Kills project. The group just recently got their video on MTVU and received rave reviews and hopefully will be moving up the music channel’s ladder of musical channels. The video consisted of several cult classic movies such as The Shining and even Teen Wolf. Lou talks of going back over to Europe to get things set up before releasing the full fury of Spork Kills on the states. Hopefully, Lou who is growing as an artist and a person, reaches his full potential with this project, which could turn out to be something special, and not just in the rap world, but in the music world.
W: You eventually get over there, and what happened?
LD: They had a few sketches they had started by the time I got there. They played me a sketch; it’s hard to call them beats, cause they are not really beats in a traditional sense. They are rock songs if I wasn’t rapping on them. Anyway, we are sitting there and he hits play and this surf beat comes out and I was like, “WHAT THE???? Oh my god dude, this is innnnnnncreeeeeeedible. Holy shit, this is so cool man! Why has no one done this before?” It was so vintage too, so I asked them how they got it to sound so vintage. They researched and studied how they made these old records. They used the old techniques. They didn’t record into the board, they didn’t record into a software directly, like Pro Tools or anything. They used mic amplifiers, they bought as much vintage stuff as they could. They bought tube powered amplifiers and microphones. And they would mic them four or five feet away from the amplifiers, so it’d catch all the room noise and really do it like they did it in the 50′s & 60′s. It would give us this really vintage sound. They used real vintage guitar pedals and guitars and stuff.
We ended up writing a song to the first sketch that night. No one’s heard that one yet, but I honestly think that it might be one of our first break through singles. Then we made two more on that trip, one is “Spits”, which should show up somewhere. We made an appointment for another session. I came back and we made three more songs, two of them are on Beaches Love Us, the EP. Both “Black Widow” and “Blast From the Past”. The third time, we made “Night of the Hip N’ Dead” and the “Business or Pleasure”. By that time, we had eleven songs that we loved. Theoretically we could have put it out as an album. We decided to make an EP and put some of it out there. Then a video director reached out to me and had a real promising situation that he brought to me. I was supposed to do a tour, and this was in May, so I asked the group I was touring with if they could book the tour and I could fund a trip to LA before the tour started. I would need three or four days to shoot the video then the tour would start in LA. So we made a video for “The Night of the Hip N’ Dead”, and I’m happ
y to tell you, Trav, that I’m getting my first video ever on MTV. I just found that out like four days ago (Trav’s note: this interview took place in March, it’s already on MTV now).
LD: It has to start on MTVU, which is not as exciting as being on MTV or MTV2, but it counts.
W: Hey, it works….
LD: Yeah, we have to possibility of moving up to the bigger MTV networks, if the video is successful. I’ve never had a video on any incarnation of MTV, so this is a great break through and I’ve very excited about it. It’s the first time I’m going to be exposed to a bunch of people who wouldn’t have any idea of who I am.
W: That’s good though….
LD: That’s one of the things that has been happening with the Spork Kills project though. Because it’s so different and it’s still very fun and very catchy, I’m finding that people that other wise wouldn’t pay attention to me are raising their heads and taking notice. We even got interviewed by Vice magazine, who are usually the snobbiest jerks in journalism business. Whether or not we’ll actually make it into the magazine, I don’t know, but the fact that they sent someone to interview us in both Copenhagen and New York really surprised me.
W: Are you finding that it’s more of the indie crowd that is following you now or…
LD: It’s a mixture. It’s what I always wanted. I’m finding hip hop heads who are totally down with it and want to go there with me and sing this records praises and push it out there and promote it. Then I’m finding people that don’t care about hip hop at all are totally into it and calling it hip hop music that they would actually listen to. It’s been exciting for me. I wouldn’t try to convince anybody my sole purpose to try to gain fans that wouldn’t normally listen to hip hop…I mean, yes, I do, but that’s not the point. I do like the idea that I might make a good ambassador for hip hop music. To show people that might not otherwise give it a chance that there is hip hop that you might like even if you don’t like what you think hip hop is.
W: That’s a good thing, because I tell people that I listen to hip hop and they always reply back, “That radio shit?”, and I’m like, “nah, nah, nah.”
LD: And often people don’t know what you mean by that, they are like, “Well, then what?” Ya know?
W: Exactly, they are like, “There is more than that?” I’m like, “Yeah, there is a lot more than that.”
LD: Ah man, there is so many little subdivisions of hip hop anymore, that it’s ridiculous.
W: It’s crazy, it really is. Going back to the Spork Kills EP, I was reading the press release for it, and it mentions that Spork Kills is a combination of, among other things, Surf Rock and Balkan music…. before we jump into the Surf Rap thing, and excuse me for my ignorance on this one, but what the hell is “Balkan music”?
LD: (Laughs) I’m glad you asked man, see that is a good question. When I say this stuff, I just assume that people know it, or they are going to google it or whatever. And they should know about this, because it’s an exciting part of what’s happening in our mixture on any Spork Kills record.
Balkan stuff is typical of eastern European region, very Russian sounding. It easily has really laggy timing, like a tango or something like that. Tangos are just something that is a bit more popular sounding from that region. Balkan uses a little different instrumentation and Tango isn’t Balkan. But they both kinda sound like (maheeerrrrrrrr, maaaaaheeerrrrr sounds). It’s a dragging and tension, it’s almost like eastern European gypsy music. There are a few indie rock bands out there that use Balkan. One would be Gogol Bordello; Beirut did a ton of Balkan stuff on their first album. Also a group out of Denver, DeVotchKa, which does a lot of Balkan sounding stuff.
In our particular case, we’ve done a lot of Balkan trumpet and piano stuff. Here is a good example, if you listen to the second verse in “The Night of the Hip ‘N Dead”, it has a Balkan horn and piano section in it. So if you are curious, you go back and check that out, and you’ll hear this little piano bar that’s like (starts humming out the keys), the pauses and delays are really dramatic. It’s something that is quite common in that type of music.
W: What about all the other hodge podge of musical influences that can be caught in the Spork Kills project?
LD: We also infuse some Afro-Beat in our music as well. You can catch an example of that at the end of the song, “Black Widow”, with that multi-layered trumpet section that finishes song out. Then there is the surf element of course…..
W: Do you own any surf records? When I read that description, it took me by some what of surprise….
LD: Only stuff that I ended up digging up after the fact. For research and reference more or less. I’ve listened to a lot of The Ventures, The Dakotas, more of the instrumental stuff for some reason. When Laust and Rolfe were concocting this stuff, they wanted to show me something that they had in mind and directions they wanted to go as well as what they wanted to do as far as mixing and creating a sound for it. I wouldn’t say historically, I was in to surf records. I wouldn’t call the Beach Boys a surf group, they were just called the Beach Boys. They had some surf influence in them, but they are more like the American Beatles than a surf band. I’m a huge Beach Boys fan. I also like some indie groups that are influenced by that type of sound, like The Shins, who are obviously influenced by the Beach Boys.
LD: I’ve heard of the name, but I’m not familiar with their music.
W: The EP was all samples from surf music, if I’m not mistaking.
LD: What’s his name?
W: Tone Tank…
LD: Oh, someone sent me a link to that once and I checked it out. I thought it was cool actually. I’d love the dude to get wind of what I’m doing and to hit me up and talk. I did appreciate and respect what he did with it. The only thing different with his was it was only surf and it was only guitar and there wasn’t really anything added to it. It was literally a surf instrumental with him rapping on it. I still dug it and I thought it worked really well. He’s the only other example I’ve heard of.
W: You two are the first ones I’ve heard of on that context…
LD: A fan of the Spork Kills project from Belgium sent me a link to that. I haven’t said anything about it to Tone. I don’t want to start any shit up, I don’t want him to think I’m like a biter or something. I don’t know what kind of dude he is. In my mind, we should be allies. We both did something that was very different.
W: I’ve never talked to them personally. I know they are part of the Nuclear family and close with Junk Science, who is signed to Def Jux, so maybe if you are still cool with El-P, you can reach him through that way or something.
LD: I think I’m still cool with El-P. That whole situation made our relationship a little different, but we’ve ran into each other since and he bought me a couple drinks.
Going back to Balkan, which I hope I explained well enough….
LD: It’s really crazy music man, I’m surprised more hip hop people don’t fuck with it. It lends itself very well to hip hop. Here is something that might inspire your curiosity; A lot of the early J-Zone stuff with all the cooky sounds and stuff going on it, a lot of that was Balkan.
W: That makes sense, since he is a little eclectic on his samples and stuff. Speaking of J-Zone, I was talking to him and I mentioned that I was interviewing you and he said, “Yeah that EP is great, but I keep telling him to take it over to the European market.” He would basically go on to say that American audience wouldn’t/couldn’t appreciate the music and that it would do better in Europe. What is your view on that?
LD: He is not wrong about that, that’s what everyone tells me. A close personal friend of mine, I had a conversation with him before I went public with the Spork Kills project. I asked him what he thought of it, the first thing he said was “This is awesome, it’s really different and really cool, and I’ve always found what you do as really inspiring You just need to move to Denmark and tour this thing non-stop for a year and blow it up over there. Then you can come back here and you’d already have a jewel in the crown.” I think this is where it’s all leading, me going over to Denmark for an extended amount of time.
This has been a real illuminating interview, a lot of stuff is coming to light that I really haven’t talked to anybody about yet. It’s just timing, you happened to show up when I got more to say.
W: Good timing then. I’m assuming that you are putting a whole album out for the Spork Kills project then, correct?
LD: Well, I don’t know actually. Obviously that is the intention and I’ve bent enough to say, Yes, we are, we’ll find a way and I really do think this is a project that I’m getting a different and new kind of reaction out of people. This is the first record that I’ve ever made that if I go to a show or house party or anything that nobody knows me and I play one of those songs, people are coming up to me all night and asking me, “What is that? That is so cool!” I’ve never had music like that before. I’ve done some stuff that is pretty innovative that nobody else has tried. I’ve played entire tours and short sets that it’s just me and a piano, no rappers have ever done anything like that before. But even then, people say it’s cool and all, it doesn’t get the same kind of reaction as the Spork Kills stuff does.
I get great reactions out of my live shows. I put a lot of energy into my stage show and that comes from touring as much as I have and having a great touring partner like J.J. for so many years. This new stuff though, it’s so upbeat, happy and catchy. It instantly catches people. I’ve tried it several times, I’ve shown up at a loft party or something and plugged my iPhone into the mixer and played them the instrumental for “Black Widow” or something and people’s jaws just drop. All night long they are asking me, “Where can I get that?”
So I feel like there will be an album. How it’s going to happen, I couldn’t tell you, but there will be an album. I’m fairly certain that the way it’s going to happen is that I will be moving to Europe for awhile and touring like a nut there, putting out a full length album, then bringing it back over here.
W: Why do you think that European audience is much more open to different things than the United States is?
LD: For artists that have been touring over there the last fifteen years or so, this isn’t really a secret. They know that European audience is a little more apt to seek out new things and decide for themselves what’s good and what’s cool. I think it’s because the media and marketing machine doesn’t work nearly as well on people over there as it does here. I don’t really blame the kids here for not opening their minds and their ears. The system here is so effective. If you were a high school kid in the middle of nowhere and you didn’t know all the words to the Lil Wayne songs, people would think you are a weirdo. That is a big part of going to a public school, is to fit in, so you can have friends, have a social life, get laid and all that shit. Over there, that’s not as important. The machine doesn’t work nearly as efficiently as it does over here. The kids are way more open minded to the concept of digging and seeking out their own music. That’s a cooler thing to them. It’s more important to them to know about bands that others don’t know about.
I haven’t ac
tually made any concrete plans on what is going to happen next. We have been having doors open for us in the Scandinavian countries, that have never opened for me here. We found out just a couple weeks ago that a big Scandinavian commercial radio station is playing “Black Widow” in their rotation. When I saw the playlist, it was Depeche Mode, Franz Ferdinad, and Spork Kills. I think it’s quite possible that J-Zone is right.
W: Did you release the EP on a label, or is it a do-it-yourself type of thing right now?
LD: I released the EP on my wallet. Which is a difficult thing to do, but I’m happy to say that my street team and my partners overseas, Laust and Rolfe have been a great team and we have been making great strides in getting the word out in this very poisoned music scene. We are getting attention and reactions out of people. It’s been slow going, but it’s beginning to work.
W: It did kind of sneak up on me. I consider myself a pretty big fan of yours and I didn’t know about it until one of your people emailed me.
LD: There was never any official release date or any of that. It just kind of appeared one day. Instead of saving up a bunch of money then spending it on some big official release, we did a grass roots/ground up team of dedicated individuals who believe in the project and slowly pushed it out there. I owe a lot of what’s going on in terms of notoriety that the project has been getting to my street team.
W: Let’s wrap this up then, any last words or anything that I might have missed?
LD: Yeah, just to reiterate to everybody, all these ideas and efforts to keeping experimentation and innovation of high art, the first and foremost priority, that’s really important. I think everyone should read “The Fountainhead”, by Ayn Rand. It’s just a great example of that kind of thinking. I used it as my own bible in a sense when it comes to artistic integrity. The very spirit of how you should conduct yourself as an artist. Go out and read “The Fountainhead”, so when you go out and make your art, you are making it with the highest principles in mind. Because it is worth it, even if it’s your own perils at risk, it is worth it, at least I think so.