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More Than A Record Store: Profond Music and Art looks to be a hub for the Philly DJ community

For most people the Detroit Tigers logo is simply that: the emblem of a professional baseball team in Michigan.

But when you see it on the wall in Profond Music and Art, the newest record shop in Northern Liberties, it stands for something much deeper. Profond, a boutique specializing in electronic, house, hip hop, jazz and soul, opened the first week of August.

Owner Gabor K., a former DJ, is ready to provide for a community he knows is strong in Philadelphia but hasn’t yet had a store of its own to cater to it specifically. And he’s using his own prior experience to help shape his business model.

“My main thing is that I could never find what I was looking for,” Gabor says about shopping for records. “So we’re very cautious of what we carry here. We carry what we like and we want to be appealing to the DJ community, which is huge in Philly but it’s pretty much underground.” Continue reading →

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Interview: Meg Baird on stage fright, recording Light and holding on to her Phillies hat

Meg Baird | Photo by Akshay Sawhney | akshaysawhney.com
Meg Baird | Photo by Akshay Sawhney | akshaysawhney.com

There’s a type of folk music that’s difficult to listen to in an abstract way, a type that’s difficult to extricate from the rich context of its history. A type that seems to always evoke a sort of timelessness, along with its most prominent practitioners and all of the artists who have carried it into the modern era. Nick Drake. Fairport Convention. Pentangle.

Oh, and “The Battle Of Evermore. “ Obviously.

Toward the end of her until-then lifelong residency in the Philadelphia area, in December of 2010, Meg Baird opened for the late great folk singer and guitarist Bert Jansch at Johnny Brenda’s, at what would be his last appearance here. Shortly following that show – in retrospect, an evening on which the proverbial torch of this tradition and this artistry was arguably passed, metaphorically speaking, between its masters in two generations – Jansch would pass away, sadly, and Baird would uproot, and relocate to the West Coast. Continue reading →

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Interview: Kamasi Washington on breaking down the boundaries of jazz with The Epic

Kamasi Washington | Photo by Mike Park | courtesy of the artist
Kamasi Washington | Photo by Mike Park | courtesy of the artist

“West Coast Jazz” means something very specific to most listeners – cool, intellectual, played by guys in short sleeves and horn-rimmed glasses whose calmer brand of hip evoked a more laid-back atmosphere than the frantic pace of New York City. It’s an image, as that description implies, that’s not only reductive but locked in the 1950s, reflecting the eclipsing effect that New York has on other areas of the jazz landscape.

With the release of The Epic, Kamasi Washington explodes that image with the force of a supernova. The saxophonist/composer’s sprawling, monumental three-disc debut is an ambitious Afro-futurist opus that swirls in elements of jazz, funk, hip-hop, electronica and soul, as well as a 32-piece orchestra and 20-person choir supplementing the adventurous sound of his core ten-piece band. That band consists of fellow members of a collective known alternately as The West Coast Get Down or The Next Step, a group of like-minded, genre-leaping artists who grew up together in the Leimert Park section of South Central Los Angeles. Their combined efforts suggest something transformational happening in the incubator of the L.A. music scene. Continue reading →

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Higher Purpose: Mic Stewart talks about his new EP and sabbatical in Dallas

Mic Stew | Photo via instagram.com/micstewartmusic
Mic Stewart | Photo via instagram.com/micstewartmusic

On the cusp of releasing his Higher Purpose EP and relocating to Dallas for six months starting in September, Mic Stewart is filled with nothing but good vibes and positive energy.  Always a favorite of mine for talking all things hip-hop, I got another chance to sit down with the Philly emcee and preview his six track EP last week.  The interview wasn’t too different from our first conversation back in February in that I found myself steering clear of written questions and more having a conversation with a guy whose plan and motivation is all-consuming. Continue reading →

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Founders of Slit Jockey Records chat about grime, Silk City and the creation of their label

Dev79 and Starkey of Slit Jockey Records | Photo courtesy of the artist
Dev79 and Starkey of Slit Jockey Records | Photo courtesy of the artist

Dev79 and Starkey are two thirds of a group that masterminded their way to form Slit Jockey Records, one of the first and only record labels that cater to the rap/garage/dancehall subgenre known as grime.  In the midst of managing a label and putting out a 38-track compilation celebrating the already 10 years of their existence, the group is gearing up for their Philly Silk City performance this Sunday, August 2nd.  Looking to learn more about these Philly guys behind some pretty sick mixes, I was fortunate enough to get some of my questions answered by Dev79 and Starkey themselves. Continue reading →

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Jason Isbell covers Todd Snider for XPN’s Copy That

Jason Isbell at WXPN | Photo by Eric Schuman
Jason Isbell at WXPN | Photo by Eric Schuman

Every week, we invite an artist to our studio to play a cover tune live on the air for a little thing we call Copy That. This week, we were joined by one of our favorite singer-songwriters: Jason Isbell. Following the release of his new album, Something More Than Free, and hot off a set at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival, Jason joined me in the studio to talk about his new (chart-topping!) record, as well as the lasting impact of Bob Dylan’s performance at Newport in 1965. Jason caps off the visit with a rousing performance of Todd Snider’s “Play A Train Song” (which has also been covered in the past by Robert Earl Keen). Check out the performance and interview below, plus hear his performance at Newport via NPR Music. Continue reading →

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Interview: Dave Hause discusses moving away from Philly and touring with family

Dave Hause. Source: hitthefloor.com
Dave Hause | Photo via hitthefloor.com

Any regular Key reader or XPN listener is familiar with Dave Hause. The Philadelphia native and Loved Ones frontman turned solo artist has been a much beloved fixture of The Key, and rightfully so. Hause pretty much embodies the spirit of the local scene, even if he now finds solace in residing on the opposite coast (we’ll forgive him).  And if his seemingly never-ending slew of tour dates and side projects popping up implies anything, it’s that he’s not planning on slowing down any time soon. His sophomore album Devour is painful, and beautifully so. A retrospective and heart-wrenching record, it is arguably one of the most raw things Hause has written, including his more punk-centric back catalog. I had the chance to chat with him about moving on after Devour, working with family, and his migration west. You can read the full interview below. Continue reading →

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Pitchfork gazes into the future of Will Yip and Studio 4

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese

Pitchfork recently published a feature story about Will Yip, the celebrated and highly-regarded producer based in Conshohocken, and the studio and scene surrounding his work.

Yip has produced albums for numerous Pennsylvania bands, including Circa Survive, Title Fight, Tigers Jaw, Balance and Composure, Nothing, and Superheaven. He works out of Studio 4, a legendary area recording space run by Phil Nicolo. The article explores his work with some of these bands in-depth, observing their genre-bending tendencies that draw heavily from music of the latter 20th century. It also touches on the fact that Yip’s bands have reached younger generations that are constantly told underground music scenes are “dead”. Continue reading →

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She Got It: Lee Mazin talks about climbing the Dreamchasers ranks and making the perfect summer jam

Lee Mazin | Photo via facebook.com/LeeMazin
Lee Mazin | Photo via facebook.com/LeeMazin

First Lady of Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers camp, Lee Mazin has emerged along with artist like Tink, Angel Haze and Nitty Scott MC as being the new guard of women emerging on the national hip-hop scene.  Much like the other artists mentioned, Lee displays a distinct sound all her own.  Cunning and witty with a rawness in her flow that can only come from her Philly roots, Lee’s newest anthem “She Got It” is just about ready to blow up and be her biggest single yet – it’s perfect for the summer.  Luckily I got a chance to briefly talk with Mazin and discuss working with her mentor Meek, along with her own music and what’s coming up in the future. Continue reading →

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Bethlehem’s VoirVoir reminds us what local music is really about

VoirVoir | photo by Jess Cuttic | via facebook.com/Voirvoir
VoirVoir | photo by Jess Cuttic | via facebook.com/Voirvoir

Bethlehem, PA was once a towering empire, thanks to Bethlehem Steel, America’s second largest steel producer during much of the 20th century. Now, as the buildings and machinery of a bygone era rust away, a new empire is taking the reins in Bethlehem: the music scene.

With the help of annual events like Musikfest, as well as the addition of the SteelStacks and Sands Bethlehem Casino venues, Bethlehem’s music scene is growing at an astounding rate. Behind the scenes, local and underground venues are popping up all over the city. This is good news for bands that are working their way through the music world. One of these bands is indie rock outfit VoirVoir.

I had a chance to talk with one of the band’s masterminds, Matt Molchany. We chatted about the recording of VoirVoir’s debut album, their upcoming shows, and what’s happening in the Bethlehem music scene. Continue reading →