Yo! Welcome to the long-anticipated LIFESTYLE Spain trip recap! Earlier this summer, we were fortunate enough to have the chance to spend two weeks in Barcelona and Madrid, enjoying the first LIFESTYLE reunion in some time while also pursuing opportunities to create and collaborate with other artists.
We started the trip out in Barcelona, a familiar place that nonetheless presented us with new experiences, interactions, spaces, and inspirations. We set up our one-week HUB in an apartment in the dope neighborhood of Raval – a centralized barrio with narrow, vibrant cobblestone streets and and a distinctly timeless and hardwearing energy.
Throughout the week, ACTIVE was the agenda of the day. We worked on some new projects including a couple of amazing live RR interviews with local artists Javier Blanco and David Figueroa. (Be on the lookout for their words coming at the Collective in the coming weeks!)
We set up shop right on the Barceloneta beach area and played some tunes on acoustic guitar, featuring tracks from P’s album Shake This Maze along with some classic covers.
V’s “Shop Sign Studies” drawings were inspired by the local Raval landscape, full of classic, hand-painted shop signs, each with their own distinct character. Lookout for more artwork to come!
La Ria, a small corner bar in El Gótico became our jumpoff point for playing two shows in the neighborhood. We connected with the owner of the spot one afternoon while having a café, and the following night P played an acoustic set there that also turned into an impromptu jam session with Franck – the cook – who happened to be the dopest percussionist.
The show the next night was at a bar down the street called Las Cuevas del Sorté – in their tiled basement venue with rough stone walls and an unparalleled sound. Friends and fam came out for a show that started as a live looping set that transitioned into an intimate acoustic session, before concluding with a reggaeton DJ set with one of our brothers from the city.
We spent the second leg of the trip in Madrid, which was quite a farewell tour for P, who had been living there for the past two years teaching English and developing a Hip Hop English Education curriculum for elementary-age students. After also completing four albums for the LIFESTYLE Studios, collaborating across the open seas from Madrid to Brooklyn, it was time to head back stateside, on to the next building block.
The last few days in Madrid were a time of celebration and preparation for the road ahead. It all came together for the goodbye concert, “La Despedida de Peter Muller,” at the underground cave at RepubliK Club – a session featuring live looping and beat building with multi-lingual freestyles, along with a late night acoustic session. An unforgettable finale to the LIFESTYLE’s European venture.
A few weeks ago I went on my first LIFESTYLE-organized tour of looping/DJ sets. I started out with three performances in two days.Two sessions were to be at bars (Republik Club in Madrid and La Iguana in Granada) and one at a hostel also in Granada (Casa Bombo) overlooking the historic Alhambra. However, I ended up finding an opportunity to spit lyrics from Shake This Maze at a weekly jam session at the Boogaclub in Granada at the end of the weekend. Below is a photo/written recap of the First LIFESTYLE Tour.
We’ll start with the tour poster, designed by none other than LIFESTYLE co-facilitator Vicken Donikian.
V conceptualized and completed the piece during a weekly marathon Skype session as we discussed tour goals and possibilities. Part of what makes a LIFESTYLE tour is the important idea of spreading the Collective in order to learn from and collaborate with those who practice Reflection and Response in different contexts. Below are the fliers I brought along for the ride to present to creators (Also by Vicken):
First up for the tour was a session in the cavernous basement at Republik Club in Madrid. I made the connect at Republik because the same family that owns the bar also has a locutorio three buildings away. Before I got internet in my apartment in Madrid I would visit the locutorio to both work on projects and try spit game at the super cute girl that worked the register.
After packing up for my 8 AM bus ticket the next day, I headed out to Republik for the first session. I listen to the end of a blues jam in the cave and with the homies Chema and Richard, then set up my laptop and APC 40 at 12:30, ready to rock.
A lot of my Madrid people came out- word to those who made the cave rock for a solid three hours. After grabbing some late night pizza I went home to sleep for a supposed 2 hours.
5 hours later I had slept through my alarm and missed my bus while managing to leave both my camera and an audio cable that goes from my external soundcard (Traktor Audio 2) to RCA inputs. I booked a later bus ticket and hailed a cab going straight to an audio store to pick up a replacement cable. I had to hop out of the cab and leave the driver with everything- laptop, APC, clothes, while I ducked in to pick up the piece. After purchasing a new 8 meter cable, I headed outside to a street with no cabs. For 5 minutes the world stopped and had forgotten about me. I started considering how many English classes I would have to teach to replace my stuff.
Then, suddenly I heard the cab driver whistling to me on foot. He started to run to the cab parked a few meters away, I followed and we jumped in. As we neared the station told me that he would never rob the tools someone uses to work with- a good omen after a stressful beginning to the tour.
The show at Casa Bombo was supposed to start at 6. However, as I knocked on the door at 7:30, one of the managers greeted me warmly and showed me the room I was to stay in for the night in exchange for the session, where I showered up and prepared the show. The patio of the hostel had this view of the Alhambra:
I ate some bomb homemade Italian food (most of the managers were Italian), then hit a session in their sala (you can see Reflection and Response Vol. 1: the ‘zine next to the fliers):
After looping for about an hour and a half I headed out to a bar called La Iguana for the third session of the tour. Rubén, the bar’s owner, met me outside and I quickly set up and started in with Funk Around, which has become my opening track for sessions. Rubén kept the tapas coming, and again I set up the #LRR Fliers near the setup.
Rubén is one of the most legit bar owners I’ve met and I was stoked when we made plans to kick it the next day. After sleeping in at Casa Bombo, I headed out to check into my second hostel and met up with Rubén, his awesome girlfriend Pilar, and some other homies to grab some tapas. They let me know that there was a jam session with an opportunity to perform that night at the Boogaclub, a bigger venue in the city. We agreed to meet up later on.
As I walked back to the hostel from tapas with the crew I snapped a few pictures with my phone.
I feel the idea that these images could come from wherever. The Reflection and Response detailed in the scenes bring up this anti-territorial, global nature of R&R. Skaters want to declare their innocence anywhere, and blues is advertised in places far from Route 66.
The biggest surprise of the tour almost never happened. I met Ruben and Pilar at Booga around 11 P.M. After listening to a jazz band kill it for an hour, the homies had had enough and had to go home to get some sleep. I was ready to leave too until I saw a guitar player standing outside the club who assured me that we would be able to perform. I headed back down to the stage this time unaccompanied. I spotted another guitar player tuning up and asked him what type of stuff he was going to play. He introduced himself as Mario, and said he does funky Red Hot Chili Peppers-esque grooves. I realized with the abundance of guitar players, I would have to bring something unique to the stage, so I let him know I was interested in rapping a few verses over the instrumental groove he was about to set up. He sounded excited and when we hit the stage, it felt right to spit “Wake Up,” as part of a once-in a lifetime remix.
This moment encapsulated what the LIFESTYLE on tour is all about- Promoting Collaboration and Community Through Practicing Reflection and Response. Mario and I had just met, but when we were done with our set we realized the common thread of R&R breeds Collective- wherever that collective happens to be. Be on the lookout for Mario and Ruben’s Features coming through soon!
This track came about from the Berkeley Sessions that V, Megan, and I had back over New Years. Cue banjo, Synth sounds from Massive, Reason 5 drums, some electric guitar work, Ableton mixing via this new crazy Akai Apc 40, Megan and my vocals and you have “Pay.” I’ll be debuting the track live at an upcoming show at Andy’s Bar in Madrid this Wednesday.
The lyrics came from two sessions. My first verse was recorded a few days before we did any work with Megan. However Megan, V, and I went out for some food at Lilly’s, the famous North Berkeley Chinese food spot and we discussed family and how sometimes at the beginning of our twenties we can think we’re ready for huge responsibilities. The lyrics I recorded during the previous session deal with age- it was almost serendipitous that we had that conversation at lunch. We later touched on these ideas in the chorus.
“I don’t ever wanna pay for aging that is just something that I don’t do. And I don’t ever wanna laugh for ages, I just wanna hold you.”
“Pay for aging, not enough. Insane we make things, let’s live for once.”
Monday, January 21st, Madrid. About a month ago my dude Federico hit me up to ask if I would be interested in hosting an event with him. he wanted to organize an Open Mic at Cafe La Palma. The first thing I did after meeting up with German , one of the owners of the venue, and Fede was to talk to V to get the above official logo done. You can see the logo over at Cafe La Palma’s concert calendar.
A week ago Fede and myself hosted our first “Open Mic Sessions.” The inaugural session on Sunday, January 13th went very well and we had to turn artists away based on demand. Some of the artists who graced the stage include Vivian Garcia, Mary Elaine Jenkins, Amber Stills, Miguel Gonzalez, Sally Smith, and others. The event has started it’s own blog where we’ll be posting pictures and other media from the events. Word up to Madrid Ocio for their shout out on their Facebook page.
Open Mic Sessions is at a well-known venue and the level of performance suits the stage. Our next event is this Sunday, January 2. After a meeting today with one of the owners of Cafe la Palma, we’re looking to improve on the last showing and to make this event an important show of talent in Madrid.
I hope everybody had a dope holiday season. Here in Madrid I’m without internet at home and hella places are closed because it’s El Día de los Reyes Magos. Props to Ojála (where I also did some mastering of Cold Bed) for being open and having good ass Wifi. Also shout out to “Message From Ancient Days,” the textbook my pops used to teach to 8th graders in Alameda, which serves as a great stand for the Novation Launchpad I was using. This New Years Megan, V, and I reunited for the first time as a group in over a year. Whenever we meet I try and get a session in with Megan (see He’s Your Guy Acoustic) who has a dope and unique voice. V snapped some Tools of the Trade pics while we worked. The forthcoming track features some new instrumentation I haven’t had the chance to really explore in a while such as banjo and electric guitar. Look out for the track coming up on the LIFESTYLE Original Monday Series!
Installment No. 2: The Things That Bring PeopleTogether.
The Patchwork: Questions collaboration series involves a process of reconstructing the written word. Through weaving together words from Samuel Bostick’s Questions project, I seek to create opportunities for readers to visuallyinteract with original texts. The content for this piece comes from Questions, Take 3.
I’ve always been interested in the aesthetics of words and lettering, and Samuel’s “Questions, Take 2” from a couple weeks ago inspired me to explore this interest in a new way. I built this piece similarly to how one would build a poem word by word, line by line, but I looked at re-interpreting several visual characteristics such as font, color, size, and placement. Starting at the beginning of Samuel’s poem, I gradually wrote down each line, but without a linear structure. Lines that were successively linked in the original writing were separated, and other lines were either layered over them or woven through them.
To me, breaking down and re-creating the original poem opens up the text to multiple new meanings and readings that may have been submerged previously. Words and lines that are woven together or placed near each other can be read separately to retain their original meanings but can also be read together to form new sentences with expanded meaning. This is another example of what I think of as “visual sampling,” where the viewer’s interaction with the piece is a central part of the process of visually breaking-down and reconstructing Samuel’s powerful words.