Farm Fresh – The Space EP (1994)

 

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RR: Sonically, the sound of the tape took a massive departure from just a couple years earlier with songs like “Celine Dion”. Duck Duck Goose is perhaps the closest we get, but I am curious, What was the influence in making the shift towards a darker toned, gloomier project?

DJ Hunnicut: The sonic evolution from our earlier stuff we made in 92′ and 93′ and the songs that ultimately ended up on The Space EP was a direct result of the technology available to us. Songs like “Celine Dion,” “Pop Tha Lid” and “Farm Fresh Sucks” were literally produced as pause tapes. All we had at our disposal was an SSM-2100 Realistic mixer from Radio Shack, a CD Player, Rod’s parent’s turntable with maybe a +/- 4% pitch control and a dual cassette deck. We’d find open drums on a rap 12″ and then find the sample we’d wanna use on a CD, layer them together with the mixer and recorded that blend onto a cassette. Then using the dual cassette deck, we would arrange the structure of the song using the “pause tape” method. Because of this process was tricky and our sample sources were limited, we found ourselves using longer, easier-to-find-samples (The Doors sample on “Celine Dion,” for example, is found right at them beginning of the song and is four bars long).

By the end of 93′ we had bought ourselves a Gemini 8-bit sampler. Even this basic sampler was a big leap forward for us. We were still arranging songs with pause tapes, but what we were able to sample was expanded by this sampler. We could pluck one bar out of the middle of a jazz record and pitch it up or down by 50%. That ability instantly resulted in the darker tone (you pitch anything down 50% it’s gonna sound dark). Suddenly we were able to make beats more like the artists we were into at the time – ATCQ, The Beatnuts, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Gang Starr. The beats for “Space Part I and II” were originally made on the Gemini sampler just by grabbing random bars out of “Red Clay” by Freddie Hubbard and looping them and pitching them down to see what sounded good. We were no longer confined by needling linger samples and by the +/- 4% pitch adjustment of our turntable.

The ultimate evolution came, however, when Rod bought the AKAI S0-1 sampler. This was our first real piece of production equipment. The sky was the limit with this device (or so we felt at the time!) We remade the “Space Parts I and II” beats on this sampler, as well as the rest of the Space EP, including “Duck, Duck, Goose.”

RR: Perhaps this is a question better suited for Rod, but did you ever envision P&C becoming the brand that it is, when you first dropped this tape? Did you personally expect to expand at all beyond the Farm Fresh material?

DJ Hunnicut: Peanuts & Corn became a label because, when putting out the Space EP, and designing the label, as record collectors we knew there was supposed to be a label, and there was supposed to be a catalogue number on the spine. So calling the label Peanuts & Corn Records was an eleventh-hour decision, and the name was based on an off-handed joke one of us had made, that the label should be Peanuts & Corn Records, and the slogan should be “Coming out with THE SHIT!”

It was decided shortly after The Space EP came out that Mood Ruff first record, that was going to be produced by Rod, would come out on P&C. So, as soon and a second record comes out on the label, you know, it’s officially a label. So Mood Ruff’s Maxim came out in the late spring, about a half year after The Space EP, and then Farm Fresh’s second EP, Crazy Friction, came out in the fall. We were buying ads in the local music magazine, Stylus, and sending tapes to radio, so all of the sudden, within less than a year, we were acting like a label.

RR: Mood Ruff appears on the tape. Was this the first recordings of Mood Ruff? Their Maxim and Fluid tapes were both released on P&C afterwards. How did you link up with those guys?

DJ Hunnicut: Rod moved to Winnipeg immediately after high school to go to university while Patrick and I stayed in Brandon. He made friends in University who introduced him to Odario (Garfield) and Eli of Mood Ruff. They got along and became pals, but Patrick and I never met them until the summer of 94′. Rod was in back in Brandon because Farm Fresh was headlining the Brandon Folk Festival. Rod had been hanging out with these two rappers from Winnipeg that Patrick and I hadn’t met yet, but invited them out to rap with us that night. The idea was to do a posse cut with Farm Fresh, Mood Ruff and a group I had been helping produce in Brandon called Pheaskoe (Pip name drops this group in “Duck, Duck, Goose.). But the show had begun and we were on stage and Mood Ruff hadn’t arrived yet. Then, about two songs before we were done, an old Chevette comes peeling across the grass of the Keystone Centre fairgrounds to the backstage, and Odario and Eli clamber out. They hop on stage and dance around during our song and then they grab the mics and instantly charm the audience. Shane and Rob from Pheaskoe join us on stage and we do our posse cut “Six Turkeys” and that is the first time I personally met Mood Ruff, on stage, mid-show.

RR: Do you have any stories regarding recording the EP? Or promoting it afterwards?

DJ Hunnicut: Because Patrick and I were still living in Brandon, we drove to Winnipeg and recorded the Space EP over a weekend. “Space Parts I and II” and “Duck Duck Goose” were already songs that had been written and maybe even performed live a few times, but “Space Part III” and “T.A.B.S.” were written together that weekend. I remember Eli laying on the floor of Rod’s apartment in the Lady Adele writing his verse for “T.A.B.S.” That’s probably why Eli and Patrick ended up accidentally using the same simile on the song: Eli says “My man has got you covered like a blanket” and Patrick says “Cover Brandon like a blanket.” I wonder why none of us caught that!

I remember it being very, very late at night on the Sunday when Patrick and I were recording the “Outrolude,” and we knew we still had to do the two-hour drive home. Thats why were sound so giddy and deliriously tired and silly on that track. Just giggling and trying to crack each other up. The “Introlude” and “Outrolude” were of course just improvised over some extra beats that Rod had made.

We released the Space EP on December 8, 1994 – my 20th birthday – at a daytime assembly at Vincent Massey High School In Brandon. I’m not sure how we got the gig – none of were even in high school anymore! But it was the high school Patrick had gone to, where, for a school project two years earlier, he had written and recorded his first rap songs that Rod and I produced, that were essentially the first Farm Fresh songs. So in a way it was apropos, and since Patrick never graduated from there, it was kind a way of coming back and showing the naysayers he had done something interesting. Thats at least how I look back on it.

Regardless, it was a bizarre choice to do our release there. The event was kind of a “We Day”-esque event. I remember a gal opening for us by covering a Disney song on piano. But we were popular with those Brandon kids at this point, having been performing for nearly two years, so I guess we thought it would be the right audience. We put teaser posters around town: “FARM FRESH, THE SPACE EP, 12.08.94”

Rod brought 500 copies of the cassette from Winnipeg the night before. He had dubbed each copy individually and put the labels on each side, scored and folded the covers and put each one in their case. It was a pretty exciting feeling for Patrick and I to open up that cardboard box in our pal Jason’s living room and see all those P&C001 spines all in a row pointing up at us. Rod probably hated the sight of them.

We sold a shitload of those tapes that day for $5 each.

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Jonhut – Warping Solid States (1995)

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RR: This is a much quieter album in many regards than most of your early input. Skeletonized has this fuzzy drum loop with extremely soft vocals overtop, tracks like Adverse Circumstances and Complex Research are Tom Waits stylized acoustic jams. Hell, even the most chaotic moments like Brilliant Array of Thinking aren’t nearly as aggressive on the onset as something like what we heard on Smock. I think in a lot of ways, the speed of this record (or lack thereof) allowed you to take a breath, and experiment a little bit more, going into more hip-hop oriented circles (yet still I would not consider you to be making rap records at this stage). Do you think that this record served as one of the major stepping stones, and learning experiences for your eventual change into a more hip-hop direction?

Jonhut: I would agree with you. Taking the time to experiment with making slower songs was definitely something that led me to consider a different approach to music. I remember J LaPointe telling me, “You can’t put an acoustic song on an industrial record.” Me being a bit rebellious and stubborn, I did just that.

RR: Ant’s bandcamp shows Musca Antlia Musca as a “radio edit” I can’t imagine any of this material getting radio play. Although this is the most groove-centered song on the record by far, and has a catchy element, I still find it hard to believe considering almost half the track is dedicated to the sounds of people getting tortured haha. Were you getting much, or any for that matter, radio play on this record?

Jonhut: Musca Antlia Musca “radio edit” was titled this way because the original recording went on for about 10 minutes or so. It was also me joking around that my stuff would never actually get played on top 40 radio stations. If my music was played on radio it would have been played at campus stations. During my Recyclone days some of my Jonhut songs were played on university stations, such as CKDU.

RR: This is easiest the shortest release out of the early catalog at 20 minutes. With 7 songs, and most running only a couple minutes in length, were you considering this an EP upon its release?

Jonhut: My main reason for making this EP was to show not only J, but others that you can release any kind of songs no matter what the style or genera. It was a protest album in a way. I wanted to show people that music is music, you don’t have to conform to labels and ideas of what defines an album or an artist. I find it funny looking back that Skinny Puppy released an acoustic track on their 1996 album.

RR: Do you have any stories regarding this release?

Jonhut: Most of this album was recorded at my buddy Dan MacDonald’s apartment when he was in art school. The acoustic songs; Adverse Circumstances and Complex Research were recorded on his back deck. You can hear people talking, birds and cars going by. The song Compatible with the messed up electronic sounds at the end was recorded when I had a bad cold. That’s why my voice was all messed up. The electronic sounds were a broken toy keyboard. “Smallest in the whole world” line was a reference to our record label, Ant Records”.

Jonhut – Smock (1994)

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RR: In many ways, Smock is not a hip-hop album at all. Lyrically there are roots, and you can tell some of the musical elements would fit into the wonkier more industrial shit that labels like Anticon, Def Juxx, and Ninja Tune would later adopt, but my question to you is, did you have any hip-hop influences going into this project? The song Don’t Be Bodied seems to be the most hip-hop oriented track on here.

Jonhut: My musical influences for this album were mainly industrial, such as Skinny Puppy and Ministry, I may have had a Public Enemy mixtape that I ordered from Columbia records, I was also a huge fan of Big Black at that time, a Steve Albini rock band that used a drum machine. I was also a huge fan of Caracas, a British melodic death metal band at the time and still am.

RR: Was it all recorded by yourself alone? Or did other members of Motes contribute to the music? (Guitar, drums, etc.)

Jonhut: The entire album was recorded and all the instruments were performed by me. Like my albums that followed, Smoke was a way for me to learn how to play instruments, record and master my own style and find a musical genre.

RR: What can you tell me about the cover art? The crayon art stands out as one of my favourite things about this release. Moves’ Hiss 1 also released on Ant had a similar aesthetic. Who drew this up?

Jonhut: With permission, the album art was created by a resident of a group home that I worked at. I thought their art was so interesting that I wanted to use it for some project somehow. When I completed my first solo album I knew that it was the perfect choice.

RR: Do you have any stories regarding this release?

Jonhut: Smock was recorded in my home at the time on Church Street in Tatamagouche. The drums were recorded in the basement of my home and the rest of the tracks were recorded in my small bedroom. My electric guitar was played through a portable, Citizen (Sears brand) 4 C battery operated guitar amp. When it was overloaded it would feedback and chirp like a bird. A lot of the samples on the album were recorded on a cassette dictaphone that I would carry with me wherever I went. On Butchered Groceries I captured a mom talking to her kids at a grocery store.

Hip Club Groove – Trailer Park Hip Hop (1994)

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RR: The album cover. Trailer Park 34. Where was that shot?

Derek MacKenzie (M88Kenzie): That was Cory Bowles ( Check Love ) house. The Bible Hill Estates in Bible Hill Nova Scotia. Photo was taken by Catherine Stockhausen. Her and Chris Murphy of Sloan came to Truro to take some photos of us because we got signed to Sloan’s label Murderecords. We were still in High School and that was pretty big deal to us. Weird twist of fate with Cory’s old hood is that he returned decades later to direct episodes of the Trailer Park Boys in the same trailer park he grew up in. That’s kind of bad ass if you ask me.

RR: How much of the content on Trailer Park Hip-Hop was recycled from demo tapes such as The Art Tapes in 1992?

Derek MacKenzie (M88Kenzie): Hmmm, thats a good question and since it was such a long time ago I am not sure but I don’t think there was much overlap. We had all the songs written and we had preformed them a lot at house parties and school events before we had the chance to record those songs. We ended up recording the Trailer Park Hip Hop record in two weekends at a studio called Adinsound in Halifax.

RR: Can we talk about Stinkin’ Rich’s involvement on Jizz? This was really the first of his quote on quote “Uncle Climax” tracks. Picking him for THAT song, was that the type of rhymes he was kickin’ around that time? Did you know he would fit the part so to speak?

Derek MacKenzie (M88Kenzie): Haha, I think Rich thought the whole idea of the song was hilarious and he had no problem getting on Jizz. Don’t get it twisted, “uncle climax”  was not just a fictional character. He was alive and well inside of Rich. He could get durty with his rhymes. He quite possibly influenced us to write that song. Who knows. We were all super close friends and supported each others projects. I still to this day love his verse on that track. I was talking about this the other day with some people who were at our shows back then. We would be playing all ages gigs and shooting “jizz” out of shaving cream bottles all over underage crowds……. Just happy cell phones were not around back then.

RR: Do you have any stories relating to the release of the album? Or promoting it shortly after its release? I imagine touring with Sloan and Len would have granted you many of these.

Derek MacKenzie (M88Kenzie): Honestly, this is too big of a question to answer. What story would you like to hear? There are so many epic insane nights. Lets just say that people would pay money to come and see what would happen at our shows. We were known to get a little “loose”.  Len used to open up for us back then. Haha, There was a night in Edmonton with Len. The show was cancelled because of a stabbing at the venue the night before so the night ended up with Big Bear malt liquor, LSD, hells angles and a pyromaniac. Just another night for Hip Club Groove back then.

That was such a fun time. Everything was new. Every town, every venue, every band we had the pleasure to play with. Honestly, even after everything that happened after those years, I look back at these years with the biggest smile on my face. We were young and naive and that made it fucking perfect.