Birdapres & Rob Crooks’ New Single “Pump Up the Volume”

bird-rob-art2(1)        Birdapres and I are different than most rappers you may meet in Winnipeg. We’re both poor men’s intellectuals, with a long reading list of paper backs resting on our bedside tables. Although we are fundamentally influenced by the movement that came out of the Bronx in the 1970s, our musical influences reach far beyond hip-hop in space and time. All this is not to say that we are special in some way, but only to point out where our collaboration began.

We made an album together by meeting on Sunday afternoons, drinking tea and listening to beats through a pair of headphones that were jacked up as loud as they would go. We would talk about the things that had struck us as interesting throughout the course of the week, and the directions we wanted our music to take. We wanted to create a concept album. S0 we did. Here is the first single from our eight track EP Argyle. It’s called “Pump Up the Volume.”

 

       

        Argyle will be available for pay-what-you-can/want download on May 28th, from Marathon of Dope. Here’s a little a write up about the upcoming album that you can read if you can read:

“For the first time ever Birdapres has teamed up with Rob Crooks to bring you Argyle. Named for both an alternative high school in Winnipeg and the pattern that adorns school uniforms, this eight track EP harkens back to the days of low-hanging backpacks, mind-numbing classes and juvenile delinquency. Although Bird and Crooks are well beyond their teenage years, they artfully use the theme of high school to express the feelings of alienation and ennui that followed them well into adulthood.

The poetic insight that laid the theme for Argyle came from Birdapres’ observation that most people had a friend or classmate tragically pass away during the months or days surrounding graduation. From that dark inspiration came the pensive “Bus Stop Blues,” a song that developed the overarching concept for this brand new EP. Other songs cover topics such as adolescent drug-use (“High School High”), skipping class to smoke “Cigarettes” (feat. Pip Skid) and the dreaded “Summer School.”

Sonically, Argyle is contrastingly upbeat and fun. Rob Crooks, playing the role of producer in addition to emcee, took records supplied by the walking-vinyl-encyclopedia Birdapres and fed them through his sampler to create beats influenced by Krautrock to Miami Bass. Samples from classic 80s and 90s high-school movies are sprinkled throughout the EP adding a narrative that takes the listener from the first day of school to graduation and beyond.

The final result is a hip-hop album unlike any other, relating the experiences of angst-ridden high-school students to the existential problems facing us as grown-ups today.”

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Witchpolice Radio

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A few years ago, my old friend Sam Thompson and I started a website called Witchpolice. Named after a song by our band Dynamo, the impetus for creating Witchpolice was originally a very simple and practical one: We needed a place to host our new album. Once the website was launched however, it almost immediately became something larger, serving simultaneously as a digital archive for all the music we and our friends had recorded over the years.

This was really nothing novel for us at the time. Sam and I have been friends since junior high, when we started our first band and even produced a (very) short run of a zine together. Since we both share music as our first love, most of our activities since meeting have centred around that passion. We’ve been creating music and music-themed things together and apart since we’ve met, making videos and even participating in one or two websites along the way.

As time went on, Witchpolice.com began to grow into something much larger than either of us had imagined. It has since transformed from a place where only we and our friends contributed content to a place that hosts music, prints interviews and showcases videos by musicians and artists from all over Winnipeg, North America and even the world. Today the website boasts a huge collection of exclusive content available for free download, in addition to the ever growing archive of lost demos, basement recordings and other such cultural waste waiting to be sifted through.

However, these days it’s not quite the joint venture that it was originally meant to be. As we grow older, our priorities switch from hanging out with our friends to focusing on our careers and families. More recently I’ve devoted more and more time to my music while Sam has been devoting more and more time to his family, running Witchpolice from his basement between the hours of putting his kid to bed and going to bed himself.

When we sort-of off the cuff decided to make a Witchpolice podcast, more than anything else it was an excuse for Sam and I, along with our other old friend Jon (the Mouth-Boat, Shoshaku Jushaku) to sit around, play music for each other and just generally hang out. Since then Witchpolice Radio has grown into something we’re all much more proud of and devoted to.

After the first couple of episodes we decided that for the sake of structure it would make more sense to pick a theme every week, rather than playing songs willy-nilly. We decided a random word generator, like anyone that can be found from a quick google search, would be a good way to pick a theme. Past themes have included drugs, trauma and Chicago.

Another way we try to make the show more interesting to potential listeners is by having guests as often as possible. Sam, Jon and I have known each other for almost twenty years, and it’s quite easy for us to slip back into our old inside jokes, which are neither interesting nor funny to most people. So by adding a guest each week it keeps both the conversation and the music choices fresh. Some past guests have included, Nestor Wynrush, Greg Arcade, JD Ormand of Ultra Mega, Birdapres and former editor of Uptown Magazine John Kendle.

Our twentieth episode was made available for download last week and the listenership is steadily growing. Our show has also been picked up by the University of Manitoba’s radio station, CJUM 101.5 for air every Monday night at 11pm. But the best part of it is that Sam, Jon and I have an excuse to make time to hang out each and every week and talk about the things that made us friends in the first place: music.

For more information or to find out about new episodes follow Witchpolice Radio on Twitter, like Witchpolice on Facebook or keep up-to-date straight from the website.

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