I'm moving into a new apartment next week. Moving is never a cakewalk, but for DJs, the task is particularly hellish. For example, I have to pack, transport, unpack, and refile roughly 4,000 vinyl LPs. For those of you who only deal in CDs or MP3s, that translates to a ton of records. Literally. My arms hurt just thinking about it.
The Sharpshooters Dj Spinnachop Suey, 1325 E. Madison St., 206-324-8000, $10 adv.9 p.m. Fri., Feb. 28
But I'm small potatoes compared to Seattle duo the Sharpshooters, DJ Sureshot (alias Shane Hunt) and Mr. Supreme (Danny Clavesilla). Sureshot estimates his collection at between 10,000 and 11,000 slabs of wax. "Supreme has me beat by two to three times that many," he adds. "There is very little square footage in his home that isn't covered in records."
The sum of the contents of that library? "Close to fifty thousand," Supreme admits, smiling quietly. Last time he moved, his records alone required multiple trips in a fully loaded U-Haul.
For a hint of just how extensiveand esotericthe Sharpshooters' collections are, take a close look at the cover of their new album, Twice as Nice (Light in the Attic). Behind the two DJ-producers are a couple rows of rare soul, funk, and reggae titles by the Mohawks, Turner Bros., U-Roy, and other treasures. Two copies of each disc are pictured. While it may appear that the mirror-image effect was created via digital trickery, it wasn't; both Supreme and Sureshot own individual copies of every single one of those sought-after platters.
All that vinyl came in handy while the two were fashioning the follow-up to their 1996 offering, Choked Up. "The new album has some live instruments," says Sureshot, "but there's also a lot more sampling." Although Twice as Nice features noteworthy contributions from local players, like Gary Gibson's vibes on the playful "Dewdrops," more often than not, the pair opt to capture the sound in their heads by re-purposing whatever obscure old groove inspired it.
But Twice as Nice wasn't designed for the amusement of head-nodding record collectorsthis is a party platter, and a damn savvy one, too. Continuing the Sharpshooters' tradition of alternating longer cuts with brief interludes, the 29-track disc spans an array of moods and tempos, starting off slow with the melancholy "Love Walked Past," building in excitement to the old-school disco beats of "Have It Your Way" and "Party Time," then gradually winding down again.
"The music we're listening to now is different from the stuff we were listening to five years ago," explains Sureshot of the new disc's varied character. The duo had little interest in rehashing the mid-'90s heyday of acid jazz and rare groove. "When I listen to a lot of the music from that era, it sounds really dated now. [The new record] still has a little jazz-funk flavor, but not as much of a strict jazz influence."
Even the disc's lone cover, a woozy rendition of the Gershwin standard "Summertime," isn't what one might expect. "Obviously, we're not the first or last artists that will do that song, but we wanted it to sound completely different from anything anybody else has done," says Sureshot. Rather than base their rendition around a sample culled from some time-honored Blue Note version, the Sharpshooters used a promotional LP of strings and accordion called Music to Eat Pizza By. "And it wasn't [a version of] 'Summertime' we sampled."
The duo attribute their long hiatus between releases to several factors, including a variety of personal dramas and concentrating on their Conception Records label (which, despite distribution snafus, is still in operation). But with the continued rise of like-minded DJ-producers such as Peanut Butter Wolf and Madlib and the resurgence of early hip-hop pioneers like Jazzy Jeff, the Sharpshooters decided to return to the fray.
To kick off their comeback, they have assembled an impressive talent lineup for this Friday's Chop Suey gigincluding a set by fellow traveler DJ Spinnathat reflects their dedication to championing overlooked music, particularly of Northwest origin. One of the evening's special guests is local jazz-funk piano great Overton Berry. "A lot of people our age probably don't know him, unless they're heavy record collectors," says Sureshot. "But our parents went out to see him in the late '60s and early '70s, so it's an honor to have him.
"This whole night is about good music," Sureshot concludes. "It's a record-release party for us, but it's more of a celebration. Hopefully people will come and hear a lot of sounds they've never heard before."
Bravo. But if you fall in love with one of those rare records Supreme or Sureshot pulls from his crate, and decide you simply must own it, just remember: Each one of those LPs weighs half a pound. And they add up fast.