Nov 29, 2010

Edison

by
Edison

Photos by Mattie Bills
For those that don’t understand the Monome, studying the works of Edison is a great introduction. A San Francisco resident, Edison has been button pushing his way to a high seat as a beat lord to keep an eye out for, especially after the recent release of the well-crafted Les Swashbuckling Napoleons (Bleubird + Thesis Sahib + Edison) album Fuck! on Grimm Image (which also features his production and a few of his raps to boot).

For those that don’t know you, who are you, what do you do, what do you build, and how do you build what you build?

Hi… I’m Edison, originally from Burnt Hills, NY… I now call SF my home. I make noise, then make beats out of said noise, and then bang em out live on a bunch of custom button boxes. I build my button boxes out of monome kits (monome.org) and plastic lunchboxes. I also make some things out of playstation controllers too… these boxes control my laptop, via MIDI. It’s all kinda like an extra nerdy MPC on PCP, just getting over the flu… a little cranky and almost working like it should.

How long have you been interested in experimental beat composition?

Been messing with beats for the past 10 or 11 years, and I’ve been messing with live beat performances for the past 5 or 6. I’ve been a musician since childhood, and I’ve been eating beets all my life.

What skills do you need to build a monome? How did you decide on this as your beat making machine?

Actually, to build a monome, you really just need patience and a bit o’ soldering chops. The kit instructions are really straight forward and if you run into problems, the folks in the community are AMAZING with helping out… literally the most supportive place on the internet. The really hard part is figuring out what case you can put it in and how. I decided I needed a monome after I saw the demo videos tehn did (he’s the inventor). I saw all the dope shit it could do and it just blew my freaking mind, so I sold my samplers and within a month had one in the mail. I knew if I messed up building the kit, I sold my samplers in vain, but F-it… gotta sell the farm for the dog races sometimes… man up.

64 buttons, 64 noises, no loops running

Do you do workshops of any sort related to your craft?

Why yes, I’ve done a few. I’ve spoken / performed at Princeton University twice, through the monome community… once at GAFFTA here in SF (gaffta.org), once at maker’s faire in San Mateo, and also once at the california academy of the arts here in SF as well. Gotta say, doing an open forum type of deal is really dope! Folks ask a lot of questions and there is usually a good mix of people who know what’s up with production and people who don’t… makes for good talk and I get to show off my nerdery.

You are featured on the new Les Swashbuckling Napoleons album, Fuck!. How did you get conscripted for this project and how did you construct the beats?

Yes yes… this was an awesome project to be asked to do. Basically, my rap group papervehicle and babelfishh were working on a 10″ split with Thesis Sahib… we talked over some emails… the ten inch never worked out… but Bleubird and Thesis liked my ish and asked me to produce the new record. I was stoked! But there was some time constraints, I was leaving for a European tour and all beats had to be turned in before… so basically I had like 3 weeks to do the record… shit was intense, but it got finished…. so really, it was a “throw everything at it” type of project… ya know, fuckin’ pull up the suspenders and do shit like you mean it.

What’s up with the ship imagery?

Well, I think that Bird and Thesis are pretty much the epitome of traveling, seat o’ the pants, artful, face-chewing, rap bandits… those doods put in work and miles. The pirate ship mantra is perfect… for me, I’m more grounded in lifestyle… but the grimy, chivalrous, we might spit on your mom type of vibe fits real good.

What’s the deal with the 667 guild? Are you guys into Satan or something?

667 guild is the cleaver league. We are a motley family who like to chew faces, swing sharp things and leave the villagers stung. It consists of myself, mildew, home, the beastmaster, babelfishh, evak1, filkoe, visitor, lewee regal, simantic, frkses… we don’t worship Satan, but we do live rather close to him, we’ve studied him, and we’ve learned many of his tricks and class clownery… at present he’s convinced me to smoke weed again — I haven’t in years — I think im gonna do it for the snack food and psychedelic banter… all damn day.

Edison

What new projects do you have lined up?

Well, my third solo instrumental album is dropping on Kid Without Radio, hopefully first or second month of the two-oh-eleven… it’s called People are Bad Animals… far as i’m concerned it’s easily the best thing I’ve ever done. I just put out a couple of 30 minute beat tapes on 900bats.com (free download yo!). I’m also doing a series of seven, six song EPs, with six different emcees… we just finished up the first one (babelfishh) and I’m mixing the second (evak1). On top of that I hope to get a project together for your label (Divergent Series!!!!) and I will hopefully be working on a controller/music project for STEIM amsterdam this year… sting!!!!!

You live in San Francisco. What’s your favorite burrito shop?

Ohhhhh… this is tough… I’ve found that burrito shop preferences change with neighborhood location. The shop I go to the most right now, is El Faro, it’s on Kearney St. downtown… honestly it kinda sucks, but it’s hella close to work. I used to live right next to Gordo’s and would frequent that shit frequently, but since I moved I’ve only been back a few times. Overall i’d have to say one of the best I’ve had, was El Burrito Express out in the sunset… it’s the hideaway sleeper shop that oh too few have been to… the beastmaster took me there… it’s… bam! So, I guess the moral of the story is, the burrito is an absolute pillar and staple, the shop will always change.

What’s the music scene in SF like? Do you get out to the East Bay (Oakland/Berkeley/etc.) or do you feel isolated living in SF?

Heyooooooo… the music scene is kinda strange here… there is a really dope scene… there are amazing folks who are really trying to make things happen… lots of nights and artist groups… but i’d say at the end of the day, it is discombobulated. I feel like it’s one of the harder places to get a show in. A lot of the times, it feels like a city of artists and no organizers. As for the East Bay…I dig it, but i’m never there. Their art walks are dope as hell!… but I don’t own a car and have a small loathing for public transport, so i’m isolated.

You’ve been on tour a few times…any more trips planned?

Well, nothing solid quite yet… but definitely something to support the new record… maybe February or March. I might take a road trip to LA and throw down some Low End Theory action soon too… thats about it for now. I’m getting married on the East Coast in June, so, we’re trying to save and keep travel to a minimum right now… yup yup… locking it down.

“Long Winded After the Fact” from Edison’s upcoming LP People are Bad Animals

What other stuff are you interested in? I heard you like bicycles.

Yesssss… I love bikes. I’ve always been into them since I was a kid and I think I’ve been into riding every different kind… but at the moment, i’m on a fixie… it’s all blue and yellow and a complete SF cliche’… but, I ride like 12 miles a day or so and this is my favorite bike I’ve ever owned. As far as other stuff… i’m into drawing and painting, but over the past two years I’ve managed to completely neglect those hobbies, due to a full noise load. Others: campfires, acoustic guitars, archery and vegetables… especially beets.

What kind of visual art do you do?

Mostly painting… although it’s been a while… but when I do, I use acrylic and sharpie. I think that visual art and music production go hand in hand. When I was painting a lot, it always inspired more songs and the songs would in turn drive imagery… ahhhh starving artistry.

Any shout outs/beat recipes?

Big shouts!… to maggie boom my love… papervehicle… the league…. egadz… mattie bills and kristin… landry…. colin, justin and alex, 900bats yo!… Bird and Thesis… monome.org…. bomarr… big sole… knertz…. aes rock…. my manager…. alpha pup distro…. moldover… richDDT… cyclyst… nonagon… spacecat… anon day… STEIM…. artlarking.com… the list is looooonngggg… sting!

  • 4 medium red or golden beets (4 ounces each), stems and root ends removed
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower-seed oil
  • 2 ounces goat cheese

Heat oven to 400°F. Wrap each beet in foil. Roast until soft, about 1 hour. Cool slightly; remove foil. Rub off skins; cut into wedges. Toss with nuts and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Add oil; toss. Divide among 4 plates; crumble cheese on top.

edisonsdemo.tumblr.com
facebook.com/edisonbuttons
twitter.com/edisonsbeats
myspace.com/bearless

12 Comments

  1. such a cool guy, he kills it live

  2. pretty cool
    needs to truncate his samples better
    full of clicks

  3. JON DRAMBO

    That clicking’s ill.

  4. Nice interview, this guy is sick!

  5. Went Edison’s show recently at Bottom of the Hill. Sick , perfect performance and his antics… Balls!

  6. deejay emoh betta

    nice interview!

  7. more big shouts…
    grimm image, ivdt.net, endemic music…..
    thanks ya’ll

  8. metawon

    Copped me his beat tapes. All good beat action. Proper.

  9. This dude literally saved my life!
    no shit…
    one night some freak pulled a blade on me
    and edison beet the shit out of him
    he was all red
    sting!

  10. I forgot to mention that Edison is the the beat compositional equivalent of YES. So fuk’n progged out, so fuk’n infernal, so fuk’n true, so fuk’n tech.

Read Next
Onry Ozzborn (Dark Time Sunshine)
Onry Ozzborn

Close