Using the two days of studio time they were awarded from their EMP Sound Off! victory, local jazz and hip-hop fusion eight-piece Dyno Jamz recently dropped their debut record, a stellar 11-track effort available on their Band Camp page. Reverb sat down with the group's frontman Zac Millan, aka MC Turtle Toes, and drummer Saba Samakar over big bowls of ph? to talk about managing Sound Off! momentum, rockism in hip-hop and how fans pestering the band for mp3s sparked (and saved) their debut record's creation.
I think it was tough after doing a year of shows after Sound Off! and seeing our buzz start to die because we didn't have anything tangible to give people. The EP we put out right after Sound Off!--I never really liked it. I think we rushed in to that, and it probably would've been a better idea just to keep our nose to the grindstone. Sound Off! forced us to become a band, and once it went away we were like, "Oh shit, what do we do now? Might as well make an album."Samakar on how the fans kept them making music:
If it weren't for all the fans looking for mp3s of our music, we probably wouldn't have made an album. When I say there was hype around us, it was really just hype because we won Sound Off!--but there were fans that really liked the songs, and more than anything else that's what made us make this album. We honestly made it for the fans.Turtle Toes on finding a direction for the group:
People in this group have such different ideas and such different lives, and the whole record was a challenge--not in terms of personality, but logistically. I like the traditional produced sound of hip-hop, but at the same time you can't match the energy of a live band with a beat. So in that way I like recording with produced hip-hop, but I like performing all live. This album was a learning process, and now I see a focus on where we want to move.Samakar on how playing hip-hop with a full band isn't rockist:
We have the cut "Lunar Ops" which is all produced--the drums aren't even my drums. But when we play it live, I'm going to play it exactly how it is on record. If you can play hip-hop live and not turn it into rock 'n' roll, which is really challenging, I think that's way tight. If you're playing hip-hop live and you've got crazy distortion and crashing cymbals the whole time, you're just rapping over a rock song. But if you can channel the elements of soul and funk and R&B, that's just fun.