March 12, 2009

soso & Dj Kutdown

soso & Dj Kutdown
Illustration by Pearl Rachinsky
Long time Canadian hip hop producers, soso and Dj Kutdown, recently collloborated their skills on an instrumental album titled All They Found was Water at the Bottom of the Sea. I had the chance to catch up with these beatsmiths and to talk about pancakes, eggs, toast and beats!

Introduce yourselves, crews, affiliations etc…

soso: This is soso of the long lost beatcomber crew. I own and operate a number of small and not too successful rap related operations including the label Clothes Horse Records and I am affiliated with the Montreal based label, Endemik Music and Hue Records, Japan. I subscribe to the world wide PLUR movement and rep for legendary dj’s Chaps and Kutdown.

DJ Kutdown: Michael Arnone aka Dj Kutdown. I’m affiliated with Frek Sho, Foultone, Clothes Horse Records, Up In Arms Recording, Junkyards International Beer banging Coalition, and a slew of other Canadian hip hop artists.

You guys have a new instrumental album out called All They Found was Water at the Bottom of the Sea. What is the significance of the title?

soso: I wanted to build the album around an ocean theme. The title was lifted from one of my favourite JD Walker songs. Something about that line really resonates with me… it makes me think about unfulfilled expectation, disappointment and the absence of mystery in the world.

You two live in different cities, Saskatoon and Winnipeg respectively, what were the challenges associated with the geography and not living in the same city?

soso: We roughed out the majority of the album in Winnipeg. It was nice for me to be away from the distractions of my regular life and concentrate on music. Of course completing the thing was a different matter altogether. I think we experienced that “out of sight, out of mind” effect.

DJ Kutdown: Thinking back it made it really exciting for me. Once soso booked the flight and I knew I had a great friend coming to visit and at the same time make a record: that could be one of my favorite times in my music career. The distance made us grind hard during the week to get as much as we could completed, but once soso headed home I think it also delayed the outcome. That being said, I got to experience that same feeling of having a great friend visit again and complete the lp!

What was the creative process like for this album? Who handled what in regards to the music and both being producers, how did you decide who would do what?

soso: We decided to play to our strengths… I love pretty samples and Kut loves drums. I selected samples and worked on arrangements and Kut did the drum programming. We made decisions about sequencing, cut arrangements and the final mix together. Making an album can be quite tedious at times and I really appreciated another set of hands and ears.

DJ Kutdown: When we decided to make this record it was pretty obvious to us who would do what. soso came in the studio, I gave him a crash course on how my studio is routed and how the ASR-10 works, and off he went. I would go to work during the day, he would chop records creating melodies. At 5pm I would return, then we could recap his days work, eat some food, then it was my turn to add the drums, and cuts. This was a challenge for me, as I always write my music starting with the drums then adding the melody. Some days soso would stick around others he would go get loaded up in our local pubs with Winnipeg’s elite hip hop community.

How long in the making was this record?

soso: I think we started it in 2005. I wish I could make up some elaborate lie about investing all our time in building custom instruments for the recording or how we tinkered with the final mix for 18 months or how I was on house arrest or something. Truth of the matter is, we both have procrastination issues and it took us that long to get mad enough to finish the damn thing!

DJ Kutdown: I think it was about a year of scheming, I week laying out the skeleton of the beats in 2005, a 3 year hiatus, and 1 week to put the record together in ’08. So about 4 years, and 2 weeks.

I hear the two of you are no strangers to dining out for breakfast. What is your favorite place to go for breakfast and what do you usually order?

soso: We joked about doing a breakfast tour of Canada at one point. Winnipeg has no shortage of greasy spoons. I like basted eggs (medium) with hash browns and dry rye toast. A bottomless cup of black coffee is also essential.

DJ Kutdown: I’d have to say in Winnipeg we frequent the Pancake House quite often. I would get the Strawberry, Banana waffle, and about 5 cups of ambition. In Saskatoon I like that little place called the Broadway Café. You know all this Chaps, you’re usually there.

You both have produced many tracks and albums for mc’s how does that process compare to the process of making instrumental tracks?

soso: The considerations are a bit different. Typically the mc shapes the content and my role is to provide a platform. I usually try to evoke some sort of feeling through sample selection and drum sequencing and add a bit of interest in the arrangement of samples, etc. Instrumental music however requires a slightly more elaborate approach… I think of how individual tracks build and how the album unfolds or reveals itself to the listener.

DJ Kutdown: Its really hard for me to compare. I can say it was really nice to not have to mix vocals though.

Is there a theme throughout the record? How did you decide the track order and what kind of experience are you guys trying to create for the listener?

soso: I wanted to unify the album with an ocean theme. I pulled together some nice vocal samples from a record about whales. I had this floppy 5 inch square record of humpback whale songs from a National Geographic magazine. Kut had this record about Thunder Bay (his hometown) that had a surprising amount of marine references.

DJ Kutdown: I believe one day in ’06 soso sent me a rough mix of some of our songs with ocean and whale noises mixed on it. We sat on that idea for two years, and when soso came out to finish the album he brought the source for those noises and we ran with it. We went as far as recording my furnace, dryer, and wood floors creaking. I have known soso for a very long time as a friend and fellow musician, so going into this record I knew he would come with off-the-wall ideas as to sequencing and creating a feel and atmosphere for it. He knows what he wants it to sound like and is not happy until it does. Even with the cuts, he would make the cut sounds with his mouth and that’s what I would lay down in my own way. This goes back to the Heater in My Truck record. soso would send me the song with cuts already on the beat done by him, then I would take the same samples and re-cut them. soso is always five steps ahead. He is a composer, musician, flipping the composition.

Will you guys continue to make music together or is this a one time project and will it be of the instrumental variety if you do?

soso: We talked about working together on another project… maybe with rappers we like.

DJ Kutdown: I think soso and I will continue to make music to some degree. We have tossed a few ideas around about another project, instrumental, or with vocals, who knows what will materialize.

31 Responses

  1. fuckin rights. soso and kutdown are my existential heros. im fucking drunk right now.

    1. What do you mean by looped? There are two tracks you can listen to at the end of the interview.

    2. I missed the tracks when I posted last night. And yeah, mushroom breath nailed it, but noyz fixed it, so it’s all gravy! Good tracks. I’m amped for the full release.

  2. in kutdowns response to the creative process question his answer is written twice, i think thats what he was referring to Chaps..

    But good interview! i need to get this album still!

  3. Damn SoSo, why don’t you colloborate with someone in Edmonton so you can get loaded up at our local pubs.

    Looking forward to hearing this.


      These tracks included on here are sick as hell guys. im pretty sure i need this disc!

  4. Yup, be sure to hook up all of us radio hosts. Hard copy or digital, whatever works.

  5. This sounds very good. Great! Can’t wait to get my ears on this! Vinyl release?

  6. thanks for the nice words everybody. I feel a bit sheepish servicing radio/press with digital… I’ll have to rethink that! We’re contemplating a 7″ but haven’t really confirmed anything yet. word em up

  7. played an epic song while djing at the empress last thursday
    and a woman came up and frantically asked me “IS THIS SOSO?!!?”

    i think it was a soso beat though

  8. Nice stuff guys! Looking forward to getting my hands on this as well for my show, not just b/c it’s Cancon but that I truly appreciate good inst. hip-hop. Hook a brother up at CFUV in Victoria!!

  9. I would buy two copies of a vinyl release. Nice work, dudes. It’s very grim and salty water foam coated goodness. It should be the soundtrack to The Misadventures of Flapjack (cartoon network).

  10. i remember when soso came to winnipeg to write this, glad you guys are getting good response, i STILL want to hear it….where do you buy it in MTL?

    two greats of canadas hip hop scene – go buy this now!