September 1, 2011

Knives and Gasoline (Deeskee & Stacey Dee)

Knives and Gasoline (Deeskee & Stacey Dee)
Knives and Gasoline is a San Francisco Bay Area native band based out of Los Angeles consisting of Noel “Deeskee” DeMello (keyboards, guitar, bass, percussion, drum programming, turntables) and Stacey Dee (vocals, guitar, bass, harmonica, percussion). Deeskee, a staple of the west coast underground who has consistently produced heat for your favorite west coast underground rappers, and Stacey Dee, a punk rock renegade whose band you have likely nollie kick-flip k-grinded to while playing “Tony Hawk’s Underground”, have been friends for most of their lives and have more recently joined forces to create Love Songs For Crime Scenes. While this is not their first project together (in 2009 they released an album with 2Mex of The Visionaries and Die of the Shapeshifters under the umbrella of “The Returners”), it is definitely their most personal. Love Songs For Crime Scenes could definitely stand on its own as an instrumental album, but it doesn’t have to. Deeskee’s production on the album creates the perfect atmosphere for Stacey to showcase her ability to flawlessly weave in and out of different genres without the listener questioning her capabilities. If you want to get to know Deeskee and Stacey Dee, pick this album up and give it a listen! A few days before the release of Love Songs For Crime Scenes I shot Deeskee and Stacey some questions and they answered them. Enjoy.

Before you hit the studio to record Love Songs For Crime Scenes, what was discussed as far as direction for the album?

Stacey –  When we decided to make this record…. We had no idea or plan of what we wanted it to sound like. We’re just two long time friends who decided to write music organically and see what came out. I guess that would be the only plan behind the record. We didn’t go in trying to sound like anyone or anything else. Just us. Making music, because we love it, we trust each other and we love gettin’ weird! We created every song naturally. What came to us is the path we went down. Noel created a lot of great music and I instantly came up with melodies and lyrical ideas.

The album is very diverse and spans a handful of genres. Are you at all worried that it may be too diverse to connect with an audience?

Stacey – Nope. I think there is something for everyone on the record. It’s produced and performed so well… I have showed it to people of all ages that love it. I think the spanning of all the genres lends to the fact that most people listen to different genres when it comes to pop music that they’d be able to relate to this record. And if they don’t, I know at least the real musicians will. This record is me and Noel pouring our hearts out to everybody that wants to listen. And I know it is filled with subject matter that everyone can relate to. Love and Hate… Life.

Are you going to tour on this album?

Deeskee –  yeah…we actually just got home from a small tour of the us southwest. Probably no Canada though. They won’t let me in.

Stacey – Yeah we plan on touring this album. We have been talking about a lot of things…. so keep posted. We just went out with 2Mex and Thavius Beck for our first tour out to El Paso. I think we were well received even though we were so different.

There aren’t any guest vocalists on the album (with the exception of some backup vocals); was that a conscious decision? I would assume that there would have been a gang of artists that would have loved to lace a track or two.

Deeskee – We were considering maybe one guest vocalist on the album, but it didn’t really make sense to me. The kind of album we were shooting for isn’t really where you’d put a guest. This one was really personal to us.

Stacey –  I think Noel and I wanted to make this record as much of just he and I as possible. 2Mex was on “Mirror Girl.” Bus (Busdriver) sang some backups on “Breadcrumbs” and we did have a few guest back up singers. But we knew what we wanted to do, and we work so well together that we wanted to keep it between he and I.

There are certainly some tracks on the album that I feel have commercial appeal (Trainwreck, Mirror Girl, Stage Coach Road). If Joan Jett would have performed “Mirror Girl” at the height of her career I have no doubt it would have been a number one hit. I know Stacey had some commercial success with her band Angry Amputees landing a song on the soundtrack for “Tony Hawk’s Underground”; once you receive that kind of attention, is there any sort of pressure, either from yourself or others, to consistently produce a commercially viable product?

Stacey – First off, thank you. I am always searching for a commercially appealing sound. I listen to stuff most people shouldn’t listen to just so I can understand what a hit song sounds like. How it’s written and performed and recorded. I listen for all those tiny backups in the song that make it sparkle. I am a fan of pop music for sure, so with my punk back ground I think I brought some of that pop punk to those songs for sure. I don’t feel any sense of pressure to be what I once was. I think I’m a better songwriter now and that’s all I can ask for. P.S. Joan Jett and I have the same birthday! 

I’m listening to the track “76” right now. It seems pretty personal. Is there any sort of story/background to this song?

Deeskee – Stacey can elaborate on this one a bit more…but yeah that was a very personal song. That was the second song we recorded for the album and she freestyled it in one take. No kidding.

Stacey – “76” is an awesome song. That song is completely organic. Noel had the basic track. It was late at night and we just finished another song. And I said, let me have a go at this new one, (76), and see what comes out. I went into the booth and just started singing and didn’t stop. I freestyled that whole song; and it has a very personal meaning. It is between Noel and I and it cuts deep. Again, we come from the same background and place and grew up together and sometimes share the same feelings; which aren’t always healthy. To be honest, the song is about taking yourself out of this world. Can you print that? Ha…

Stacey, what kind of feedback, if any, have you received from your punk rock fan base with respect to your projects with Deeskee?

You know that’s funny. My hardcore group of people I have been making music with for a long time have a hard time understanding it. But they respect it. However, all of my fans from the punk scene and friends of mine in the punk scene, and the real musicians I have showed it to in the punk scene have given me nothing but rave reviews. I have had a few of them tell me that this is what is going to make me a true artist. I know the hardcore punkers might give me a little shit, but I don’t care at all. I dare them to try to make a record like Love Songs For Crime Scenes. It just couldn’t happen. But for the most part, NO, everyone has been super supportive. They all want to see me succeed at what I live to do. 

I saw The Returners play their first live set at the Owl Hours (Awol One & Factor) release party at the Knitting Factory in LA and there was definitely something special happening on stage as far as Stacey, Die and 2Mex feeding off each other and whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Will The Returners ever record another album?

Noel – yeah that was a fun show! We had a great time recording that album, and we’re all really good friends so we’ll always have that energy live and in the studio. As far as another returners album, we can’t say yes or no. we’re only half of the group.

Stacey – The Returners…. All I can say is, you never know! We do have fun on stage and working together. So, I learned a long time ago…. never say never. 

Stacey, are there any collaborations in the works between you and other west coast rappers?

Not at the moment! But I am always game to work with anyone. Everyone knows I love to sing, and if I am around and you’re recording, I will probably be singing on your record. But at the moment, no I don’t. I am super focused on Knives and Gasoline! I truly believe we have something new and interesting and totally relevant going for us at the moment and I want to take it as far as we can! 

Just from knowing some rappers and producers, I know that albums get made and never get released for one reason or another, usually financial; do either of you have any projects that you have worked on that will never see the light of day?

Deeskee – we do both have albums sitting on the shelf….never say never!

Stacey –  DUDE, I have so much music that no one will ever hear; unless you send me your email and ask for me to send it to you. I have done SOOO much music that will never come out. Even with the Angry Amputees. It’s sad really. I think this is where having too many projects can hurt you as an artist. I have Knives and Gasoline, Bad Cop/ Bad Cop and The City (Acoustic) right now. And that’s a lot. Knives and Gasoline is my main priority and comes first and foremost. Bad Cop / Bad Cop is super cute and is releasing a 5 song EP in the coming months as well. No label yet, but people seem to really like it. The City recordings never got released. Some Compton SF stuff never got released. I had a band in London called Park Royal and we recorded a full length and that will never be released. You should see the amount of songs I have recorded on my own that will never see the light of day. Unless of course I die… and my really good friends get into my computer… mix and master everything for me. A final farewell if you will. That would be awesome. I should do a massive mixed tape of everything I have done that’s good with all of the people I have gotten to work with. It would probably be really good. 

Deeskee, I recently re-read an interview you did back in 2003 for Urban Smarts where you said you felt like a guest in L.A.; is that still the case?

I feel I’ll always be a guest here, at least as long as I’m here. Most of my LA homies have known each other 20+ years so I’ll always in some sense be the new guy. I’ve been hazed for the last 8 years. I’m used to it now. It’s all good.?

Deeskee, is there an artist out there you haven’t produced for that you would like to?

There are definitely a few artists out there that I’d like to work with, but nothing I’m pursuing.

Stacey, is there a particular rapper out there that you would like to collaborate with?

Yes…. there are lots. I wanna work with Del. I wanna work with Aceyalone, I wanna work with all of the artists on Grimm Image. Shit, I’d sing on a Dr. Dre hook if he wanted me to.

How do you feel about the Canadian underground hip hop scene, do either of you have any desire to tour up here in the near future?

Deeskee – I love the Canadian hip hop scene, or at least what I know about it from reading and listening to records…never been there.

Stacey – I want to go to Canada so bad!!! I am a huge fan of KOTD and the Canadian battle rap scene. Chedda Cheese and shit. Ha. Those kids up there are really fucking good. You Canadians are good at everything you do. You got a real good sense of humor and a good sense of music. I like Canadians a lot. You guys rule! 

Love Songs For Crime Scenes was released August 30th on Grimm Image Records. Grimm Image Records has been the label behind a great deal of dope projects that have come out of the west coast in recent years. Is the future indeed Grimm?


Stacey – I am certainly a very lucky girl to be part of the Grimm family…. And indeed the future is Grimm….. we are on route to taking California back. We are an unstoppable rebel force! 

Any last words or shout outs?

Stacey – First, I just want to say thanks to Noel. Without him, we would have never been able to make this record. Which is the first great record I have made in my life. Secondly, I would like to thank Grimm Image for giving us the opportunity to make one of the best records we have ever made. Their support has been unbelievable, from the owners to the other artists…. Grimm Image is one of a kind! I am forever grateful! I would also like to thank everyone that believes in me and Noel and understands that we are the lucky ones who know what ours passions are and aren’t afraid to live it.

2 Responses

  1. I really like the beats, haunting & romantic. Her voice is sweet & reminds me of garbage or bif naked. The Hip Hop track is pretty sick but the bread crumbs needs to be downloaded.
    ! LUV