Between his music and notorious live show, Santa Cruz based Bassnectar is one of EMD’s most distinguished producers. This summer, he got together with hip-hop duo Zion I (Zumbi and AMP) and collaborated on a remix for the Oakland pair’s track ,”Human Being.” Bassnectar is in the midst of a tour and just dropped the Freestyle EP, while Zion I is traversing the country to promote their new album, ShadowBoxing. The three artists did manage to get together for a quick conversation for URB while on the road, where they talk ShadowBoxing, trap music, and martial arts.
Bassnectar: What’s the concept behind your latest release? Tell me some of the details, the philosophy or the sound?
Zumbi: ShadowBoxing is about looking within and dealing with the inner demons that create chaos and confusion in our lives. It’s really like dealing with the subconscious mind. What we feed our minds really shapes our behaviors, so it’s as much about proper discipline, as it is with confronting one’s self. These are all things that I’ve been working on in my personal space, so it’s only right that the music reflect it.
Bassnectar: Damn, that’s some serious stuff. Do you always take an album this seriously? What disciplines have you been practicing? Let’s get deep!
Zumbi: No..not always. Some albums are more lighthearted than others, but I’ve been going through it in some ways, and the music is my way to ventilate. I’ve been practicing Chen style Tai Chi as my main discipline. It’s the original root of this internal style and is characterized by the same slow, graceful movements that are usually associated with Tai Chi, but it also has short bursts of quick, powerful movements. It’s generally thought of as more martial than other styles. I’ve also been studying Wushu, and Bagua specifically. These practices have helped me channel my energy in a positive direction.
Bassnectar: How’s the tour going?
Zumbi: So far, dope! It’s a trip because we’ve done crazy shows with you (Bassnectar) and Pretty Lights, but this is our first full tour with an electronic act (Minnesota). So far, the crowds have meshed really well, as our fans like to dance and the EDM fans also enjoy the groove.
Bassnectar: Minnesota is one of my favorite up & coming producers. The Zion I sound seems unlimited to me and very widely appealing: do you prefer to incorporate lots of different styles and influences, or rather stay true to a classic sound?
Zumbi: I enjoy staying true to my message of knowing one’s self, and acknowledging the sacred space within. But, the backdrop for the message has always been in flux. We’ve been making music for a while now, and the great adventure of it is to explore new sounds and styles. Some people aren’t readily adaptable to change and they want us to return to samples and boom bap production. For me, limiting the creativity is indicative of stagnation. Making art is so dope because there are no rules. We keep evolving.
AMP: We definitely like to associate with differents styles. It’s always fun doing shows with these different types of artist. This is our first time really touring with a more DJ format artist. So far it’s been tight.
Bassnectar: You guys have been making massive 808 hip-hop since as far back as I can remember. What are your feelings on the latest rise of “Trap Music”
Zumbi: In all honesty, I don’t know what Trap Music is. It just sounds like bass-heavy 808 hip-hop to me.
Bassnectar: I absolutely love that you said that. I agree completely!
Zumbi: For real! I feel like every few months there’s a new term to describe a style of music. Often times when I hear it played, it sounds like a bunch of other music I’ve heard before that didn’t have that title. So yeah, I guess I like some of it — though I’d just call it “slap” at the end of the day.
AMP: I like it and also produce it. At first I was thinking that it was just 808 music that they already play on commercial radio. I think the producers now are starting to put a different twist on it, which is cool. It’s a progression. At this point most music is recycled, so as long as their is new twist being added I am ok with it.
BN: What’s the plan for 2013?
Zumbi: Looking forward to acting and producing in this kung fu short with my homie Pete Lee. I’m also working on a book of rhymes. I have another project with the Burnerz that’s ready to go, as well as dropping more music with Zion I. We’ve got to keep it lit!!
AMP: More music. A lot, actually.