Just a few weeks post-release of the amazing “Hulusi” EP release, we sent a few questions over to Piper Street Sound. He was able to fill us in on how the new record came together. He schooled us on music history and teased some juicy details about the next project!
Thank you so much for your time, we are excited to talk to you about your new project!!
Thanks for having me. I’m happy to talk.
Tell us about how you met Subatomic Sound System, Andy Bassford and General Pecos?
The short answer would be that I met them all online, on the internet, on some social media of some sort. Sounds a bit boring though doesn’t it? The longer answer, luckily, includes some human IRL action.
Emch from Subatomic and I had some mutual connections via my day job as manager for ZZK Records. One of our bands, Frikstailers, had done a remix of Anthony B and Subatomic’s ‘Dem Can’t Stop We From Talk’, which was released on their album Son de Paz (issued by ZZK Records). I had kept up with Subatomic’s work for years. I decided to reach out to Emch for a remix because I thought this song would work really nicely with his style of mixing. We had a nice long phone call. I realized pretty quickly that we had a lot in common and would work nicely together. He also mastered the whole EP. What a talent.
Meeting Andy Bassford
Andy Bassford is someone I’ve followed for years on social media, and we’ve previously collaborated on an EP called Black Eyed Peace. He’s a friend and has become like a mentor to me. Andy is not only extremely experienced but very open about his experiences and willing to share his knowledge. He’s like a conduit to an earlier era, unfiltered, and it’s pretty rare to find a pure direct source like this. He’s played with everyone from Horace Andy, Dennis Brown, Toots, Culture, Lloyd Parks, Monty Alexander, Roots Radics, Coxsone Dodd and the list goes on (check his discography here). He can talk endlessly about music – from gear to theory to technique to history. And the music business side of it too, and it is all high quality info – like pure water from the well. He who has ears to hear, let him ask Andy.
We have more works in progress now. What a fantastic musician. We actually had the chance to meet up in person a few months ago. He came to Atlanta, where I live, to play a show with Derrick Barnett. He’s like my father from another grandmother.
Meeting General Pecos
General Pecos was someone who Justin Butler, of Boom One Records and Boom One Sound System, recommended to me. We’ve done about an album’s worth of tracks together at this point. So stay tuned for more there. He originally was known from the digital dancehall/ragga era of the late ’80s and early ’90s working with Steely & Clevie on some big tunes, like Body Workshop, but since then shifted to a more Roots oriented approach, singing more, though he can still voice in a really fast early ’90s chatting style. So he’s fun to work with because he’s a veteran and he’s versatile.
We are interested to know more about the creative process for the new EP “Hulusi.” How does this project compare to your others?
The creative process for the EP was a long and drawn out one. I started this rhythm idea years ago and kind of worked on it a bit at a time. But I didn’t have a complete idea of what I would do with it, or how I would release it. 2 or 3 years ago I pulled it up in the studio and decided to finish it.
How was the experience of working online during the pandemic? Were you able to record any of the EP in person?
The pandemic definitely made it harder to collaborate IRL. But yes, I was able to record a bit in person prior to the pandemic lockdown taking effect. I reached out to frequent collaborator Brian Daggett, who’s based in Myrtle Beach and has a great home studio set up to record drums. I had him replace my scratch drums with his fantastic live drumming. It was augmented by some layers of programmed synth drums that I put in the mix. I then built up the song with my guitar/bass/keys instrumentation. The lead organ and synths from Christo Case. The guitar is from James Keane of DubConscious (my old bandmate). And Jonathan Lloyd (also of DubConscious) came and played the trombone in late 2019 at my home studio.
I wasn’t able to record a live horn section like I would’ve liked due to the pandemic. In the end, I think the song didn’t need it. The Hulusi has so much going on in the mix; electronic elements, dub effects, Chinese Flutes, and multiple layers of trombone lines. J Lloyd is a superb harmonizer and is tight rhythmically so he can layer his trombone lines perfectly creating a trombone horn section by himself.
According to the press release the title is based on an instrument called Hulusi. Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind the title “Hulusi’? Have you played a Hulusi?
I own a Hulusi, and though I’m not by any means an expert, I can play it well enough to get a part recorded that I like enough to use, really it just needed to evoke a mood. My first instruments were tin whistle and Clarinet, and the Hulusi in its basic element isn’t too hard to play. An expert player can add tonality and subtleties to it that I can’t, but yeah, that’s me playing my Hulusi on the song, so I named the rhythm track after the distinct instrument on it, before the song had any lyrics.
A Hulusi is made up of three reed flutes connected side by side through a resonating gourd. The central reed flute is controlled by changing the fingering of the holes like an end blown flute. And two side flutes that just drone the I and the V of the key. So it’s very much a folk instrument, unable to break out of the pentatonic kind of key that it is set in. Kind of reminds me of a bag pipe. With some spring reverb and delay, it added a nice mood to the track.
What’s next for Piper Street Sound?
I have an album of remixes coming out next, featuring remixes of my 2020 EP Small Plate / Rid Them, by a bunch of producers and artists I admire, not just Reggae and Dub artists, but extending into Cumbia and other Afro-Latin sounds, electronic music, etc. This album also features more collaborations with General Pecos.
I’m working with artists, Mad Professor and Naram for example, on a Dub remix EP of Black Eyed Peace, my 2021 instrumental Reggae EP featuring Andy Bassford.
I have another instrumental Reggae project in the works with Andy Bassford. I have some special guests like Dwight Pinkney (Zap Pow, Roots Radics, The Sharks [who backed the Wailers at Studio One]) appearing on these up coming songs, and I’m including some instrumentation that is a bit outside of the standard Reggae sphere, like country fiddle, marimba, and some other surprises.
I’m also steadily working on remixes for others. I’m lucky to frequently get the opportunity from various labels and artists to remix tracks outside of the realm of Reggae and employ my dub remix style in more diverse ways. For example remixing Cumbia and other Afro-Latin music, using the processes of dub remixing, but with rhythms and instrumentation that isn’t typical of Reggae. You can check out my work with Colombian band Plu Con Pla, or the iconic label Palenque Records to hear some of it.
Do you have plans to tour?
I have no plans to tour now. Managing ZZK Records, plus keeping up with my own productions leaves me very little time to do much else. I’m very committed to my family and have a nice thing going now here in Clarkston where I live. I toured and played many many shows, for a good part of my 20’s and 30’s with various bands (DubConscious for example) and my ears are a bit tired.
But who knows? When the right opportunity arises I have been known to leave the cave and go play some shows. Andy and I have discussed doing a live dub set together. With me on a mixing board with backing tracks, and him playing live guitars. So if someone wants to book Piper Street Sound, just holler!