Taking it Back with Harriet Brown

Harriet Brown’s hypnotic R&B music sounds like something straight from the early 2000s done completely differently. His addition of loop machines and love of electronic music bring it deep into the new millennium, while slick guitar licks and outlandish on-point wails bring it to a Prince place. He’s seeping soul from every era, past present and future.

We talked to him before he took the stage with fellow Popscure features Opal and Dazeases this coming Thursday. Jasmine Rodriguez of No Preserves was kind enough to dive deep into his discography – namely, his latest endeavor Mall of Fortune – and ask him a few questions

 

Your album cover for Mall of Fortune screams “early 2000s.” Was this done on purpose, or did it naturally turn out this way?

It actually was done on purpose! But not necessarily with just “early 2000s” in mind, but more with specific artists and albums that I was particularly influenced by during the making of the album, like 702, Janet Jackson, Missy Elliott, etc.

Since we are on the topic of visuals, I felt like the music video for “Driver’s Seat” was an artifact obtained from an early ’00s vault. Everything from the clothing to the lighting to the panning shots gave off that vibe. I know you are heavily influenced by the music and vibes of that era, so was that planned as well?

Yes, it definitely was planned. Some of the main videos I was inspired by were the videos for SWV’s Someone and Total’s “Trippin'”.

Were you listening to anything in particular during the writing process, or leading up to the writing process, of Mall of Fortune that influenced you?

Yes! I supposed I hinted at this a bit already, but both 702’s self-titled album and their album “Star” were on heavy rotation for me during the time. I had also gotten super into that gospel, double-time slow jam feel found on a lot of R&B records circa ’97 or ’98, like Kenny Lattimore’s “Days Like This,” or Chico Debarge. Janet Jackson’s “All For You” album is also a big one for this record – such a varied but seamless mashup of styles.

I love a lot of electronic music, too, and I was particularly interested in how R&B albums like this actually had really tight, technical production that, to me at least, are on the same level as the IDM and earlier Warp Records stuff that electronic heads revere so highly. I had gotten really into the connections between the two.

Were there any challenges, musically, that occurred during the writing/production period?

Sure, as always. This was my first time writing and producing an entire album from start to finish within a finite period of time – in this case about 5 or 6 months – and I definitely learned a lot in the process. It was also the first time I was making the whole thing at my own studio at home. I really had to learn to trust myself and my ears. But with that said, because I was using such heavy bass on a lot of the tracks, my ears definitely got pretty strained at times.

Also, I’m naturally a night owl, but I really let myself go during this time, often working until 8 or 9 or even 10am at times, and waking up sometimes as the sun was setting. While that definitely added to the extremely personal, intimate and surreal aspects of the album, it definitely was not the healthiest thing to do, haha. I would try to be more balanced and healthy about the work flow next time around.

The album seems to encompass themes of love/existentialism (“Method,” “Outerworld,” “Cinnamon Sky”) as well as a sense of yearning for authentic human interaction (“Window Shopping,” “Retail Therapy,” “Bag Away.”) Was there a central feeling or specific moment in time that influenced you to write about these topics? Have your feelings on these topics changed since you wrote the album?

Wow, you really listened! Thank you! And yes. After having been in LA for four years and dealing with the music industry in general for the first time, as well as cycling through different music scenes in search of my “tribe,” I was feeling a bit drained, low and isolated, misunderstood, taken advantage of, and jaded. And consequently, my guard went super way up, and I had become a bit paranoid and wasn’t going out very much, even questioning the genuineness of my own personal friendships.

Most of my contact with other people, aside from my partner, were just through the internet, email or social media. So that’s where I was at when I began working on Mall of Fortune. I was definitely yearning for some real human interaction, but was also having major trust issues and instead was going inside myself for escape. I was very aware of all these things, and knew that something had to change, but was just having a very hard time doing so, which is why the album contains both moments of self-love, self-encouragement, right alongside heavy moments of self-doubt and paranoia and anxiety – myself trying to push me along.

After the album was done, I started going out again, trying to see people, and realized that a lot of people had actually been going through the same thing as I was, and were now really starved for real human interaction. I also came to acknowledge the need to prune the relationships in my life, to stop giving energy to relationships that made me feel anxious and doubtful, and instead concentrate that energy on relationships that made me feel loved and secure. Also started going to therapy!

So yes, sorry for the long response, but now, after MOF, and after having lived in LA for five years, I am finally feeling like it’s home, and have finally found the people that I feel are like family to me. And I’d say that the process of creating Mall of Fortune was the beginning of this inner examination and resulting change that has now taken place.

What do you feel like is the biggest lesson you learned throughout the process of writing/finishing Mall of Fortune?

Listen to my gut! Listen to my heart! Trust myself! I know what I want more than anyone else does (in music and in life).

Should people know anything about your current Mall of Fortune Summer Tour that they don’t already know?

It might be hot outside, but it’s even hotter on stage.

 

It’s gonna get hot at Charlie’s

Thursday, July 18th.

get your tickets here

before they burn up 🔥

Feel the Funk: Catching Up With Stimulator Jones

by Shannon Jay

Fresh off his first Stones Throw release, Samuel Jones Lunsford (his middle the root of all his personas) is flying high. He’s on tour promoting the record full of funky slow jams, and told Popscure all about his road to his new sound.  He’ll be playing at Charlie’s on Saturday alongside Hampton Road’s best R&B and rock & roll, the perfect median for Lunsford’s sound.

 

How’d you first become interested in playing music?

I was raised in a musical family with an older brother, parents, uncles, and grandparents who all played and sang.  There were instruments all around my house growing up and music was constantly being played or listened to on the family stereo.  It has always been a huge part of my life since I was born.

Since you started out as a DJ, what were some of your favorite songs that made it into most of your sets?

I first started DJ’ing at friend’s birthday parties around 1996 when I was in 6th grade using a primitive setup consisting of a boombox and/or CD Walkman plugged into a guitar amp.  I had the DJ Kool “Let Me Clear My Throat” CD Maxi-Single and definitely played that every single time.

How did funky beats break out of the bluegrass-heavy music scene of your hometown of Roanoke? Is there a solid soul scene or something that needs to be brought to the forefront, you think?

I was always in my own world quite separate from my surroundings – when I was growing up I paid much more attention to what was on TV or radio than what was happening around me locally – I also devoted a lot of time to discovering and devouring tons of different albums.  So I was way more influenced by things outside of my hometown.  There are certainly a lot of talented musicians and singers of all sorts of genres in the Roanoke area though.  

Stimulator Jones by Joneski

Stimulator Jones is much softer than the raps of Joneski, what different sides of yourself are you trying to work out through each persona? 

I had spent so much of my life focusing on creating within the framework of straight-forward traditional hip hop, the Stimulator Jones project was intended to be a vehicle to challenge myself to branch off and expand upon the sounds I was crafting as Joneski and stretch out beyond the basic format of sampled beats, 16 bar rhymes, and scratches and to incorporate more melodic elements, singing, live instrumentation and radio-ready song structure into the material – yet still having it all be filtered through my knowledge of and experience with loop-based programming, DJ’ing, crate-digging, and hip hop culture.

Said you studied a lot of producers and artists in lieu of your debut, “Exotic Worlds and Masterful Treasures.” Which eras and artists were the most influential?

As far as this album goes – I was influenced by a lot of heavy hitters from various eras like Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, DeVante Swing, Prince, Jesse Johnson, Ernie Isley, Chris Jasper, Barry White, Kool & The Gang, Dam Funk, Daz Dillinger, DJ Quik, Roger Troutman, Keith Sweat, Mary J. Blige, Yvette Michele, Teddy Riley, Aaron Hall, Jamiroquai, Michael Jackson, D’angelo, Beatminerz, Ohbliv, DJ Harrison, Tuamie, and many others…

What’s the ideal setting or scenario you imagine the record being the soundtrack to?

Dreaming, wishing, longing, fantasizing, dancing, loving, cruising, vacationing, chilling, smoking, sipping, tripping, exploring, adventuring, celebrating, barbecuing, hooping, crying, laughing, moving, grooving, balling, bouncing, rocking, skating, rolling…

Exotic Worlds and Masterful Treasures by Stimulator Jones

How’d you get picked up for Stones Throw and first link up with Peanut Butter Wolf?

In late 2015, Sofie Fatouretchi, a wonderful DJ/producer/musician and former employee of both Stones Throw and Boiler Room found my music online and contacted me out of nowhere to ask if I’d be interested in contributing some material to a compilation album she was curating for Stones Throw (‘Sofie’s SOS Tape’).  I sent her a folder full of tracks including “Soon Never Comes” which she ended up selecting for inclusion. Apparently Peanut Butter Wolf really liked the song and she put me in touch with him.  We had a phone conversation and I ended up coming to LA to meet him and the Stones Throw fam.  We hit it off and by the time I flew home we had agreed to work together on releasing some more of my music.

From picking up “My Vinyl Weighs A Ton” back in 8th grade to having PBW help you record, how does it feel and is it how you might’ve expected?

It still feels kind of like a dream, it’s wild to think of the trajectory from listening to that album on my boombox up in my bedroom to now being a part of the Stones Throw roster and a friend of people that I’ve admired and wished I could collaborate with for years.  I’m incredibly proud of this accomplishment, but I still have a lot of work to do and I’ve got to keep growing and pushing myself forward.

What’s next for the newly signed Stimulator Jones?

A US tour in October, an EP of some tracks from the ‘Exotic Worlds’ sessions that couldn’t fit on the record, a new album from my rock & roll band The Young Sinclairs, and a self-published book of some utterly insane and hilarious stories and twisted humor I wrote when I was a kid.

Monthly Mix: Ella Hu$$le

EVERY MONTH, WE’LL BE FEATURING A MIX OF SONGS FROM DJS, WHIPPED UP ESPECIALLY FOR POPSCURE

Her name is Dionna Edmondson, but you can call her Ella. Clubgoers in NYC know her as Ella Hu$$le, where she serves looks and spins jams any given weekend intertwining classic hip-hop hits seamlessly. If you can’t make it to the big apple for her set, catch her show “Hu$$le in the House” every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month on waxx.fm.

For this mix, she toughened up her love for R&B with rap tracks, creating a perfect blend of hard and soft. Throw this collection of remixes on at your next party for guaranteed grooves. 

Tracklist

Walk It Like I Like (Talk It Edit) – Radical One
Oops – Mitchell Yard x Pasquinel
New Freezer (Dembow Remix) – Rich da Kid
Paper Planes (Remix) – Uki
Dude (Remix) – Beanie Man
Murder She Wrote – Chaka Demus
Bizzey (Kazkid remix) – Traag
Taste Riddim – Jamesy
Only You (Edit) – Ashanti
Ton – NA Horeyezon
Ride or Die – Joslyvio (Masquraid x Ravish edit)
Phone Down – Eryka Badu (Kingdom Edit) 
Frontin (Edit) – Pasquinel
Shake (Remix) – Rilla Force
Interlude (Remix) – SDP
WYWD (Remix) – Girl Unit ft Kelela
Fin de Demand – Radical One

Popscure Presents: Opal

POPSCURE PRESENTS TAKES LOCAL & TOURING ARTISTS, RECORDS INTIMATE SESSIONS WITH A FEW SONGS AND CHATS ABOUT THEIR PROCESS, INSPIRATIONS, AND NON SEQUITURS IN BETWEEN

When I first came up with the idea of POPSCURE PRESENTS, Opal Dillard immediately popped up as a possibility. She’s a multifaceted artist from my hometown, who makes unique R&B music and pretty much any clothes she wears. Somewhat of an enigma, everyone and myself have been curious to know what she’s been working on.

For a special edition of our live sessions, we took away the song aspect and let the auteur speak for herself. Sprinkled between her words of wisdom are clips of her upcoming fashion line, and unreleased music that shows a tougher side — “the real Opal,” according to her.

Special thanks to Mike Washington of Rosewood Chapter for capturing the video, Andrew Briggs for making it all sound crispy, and Opal for graciously welcoming us into her home. I’m excited for this one.

-Shannon

Monthly Mix: Milky$hake

EVERY MONTH, WE’LL BE FEATURING A MIX OF SONGS FROM DJS, WHIPPED UP ESPECIALLY FOR POPSCURE

“When you mentioned 2000s R&B love songs, I knew almost immediately the route I wanted to go,” said NYC DJ Khloe Gatmaitan, aka MILKY$HAKE. Originally from VB, she moved to NYC to pursue a career in fashion merchandising. There she started spinning more seriously, and has played feminine, flirty tracks at clubs a-plenty & beauty conferences for Ipsy, NYX, and others.

She went and above and beyond for this romantic mix of nostalgic and soulful songs, just in time for Valentine’s Day. This 35-minute set is oficially titled “Kiss Me Slowly” Peep her wonderful album art for the full tracklist!