Damu the Fudgemunk Interview

For any fan of hip hop beatmaking, Damu the Fudgemunk should need no introduction. An impeccable producer crafting boom bap styled beats, reminiscent of the golden era sound that hooked so many of us. Over the past 12 years as part of his Redefinition Records label he has brought us album after album of sublime instrumental hip hop himself, introduced artists like Klaus Layer and K.A.A.N to the wider scene and provided a home for classic and established artists such as K-Def and Kev Brown amongst others. For those unaware I can only advise you get make acquaintance with his music. You won’t be disappointed.

Southsiders spoke at length with Damu recently, covering topics on his production methods, catching up to technology, dream collaborations, his new EP with Blu and looking forward to exciting projects next year.


I want to start with the labels mission statement which is “Quality over Quantity.” If you can speak on that for a minute and let me know what that means to you and how that influences everything?

As far as “Quality over Quantity,” I mean it’s a phrase, I don’t know when it first appeared, what country it originated in but yeah, it became our business model because originally Redefinition started out… you know it didn’t really start out as a brand with a vision to become a label. I think at the time I linked with my business partner, Redef was already in business, it was maybe within months of my debut album, Travel at Your Own Pace [As Y Society with emcee Insight on Tres Records] which came out 2007. Redef’s first release was a release with Ski Beats and Camp Lo. My partner had a relationship with them and Camp Lo and Ski Beats had gone on to other ventures but initially it was my partner John and Ski who founded Redef in 2007. But then a few months from forming Redef, John and I met up in New York and we had an informal meeting, we were like minded individuals, we had similar interests and you know he brought some things to the table and I brought some things to the table creatively so we pretty much set out on this journey to try to do something with my music career. And it wasn’t like “Oh you know, Damu the Fudgemunk needs to be this Redef artist.” It became a necessity over time because the idea was that we are going to push and manage my creative output to other brands, other labels. And then we saw challenges there. Either people saying my music was too risky or there’s no market for instrumental music you know? It was label, or brand after brand, distributer after distributer with closed doors over and over. So it was like “Hey, why don’t we just figure this out and invest in our ideas?” So one record turned into two records and then eventually all these other closed doors started opening up when we were getting distribution and it was the same people who were rejecting us. And then we had a very slow release plan, everything was just tailored to whenever I had a release completed. And at that time also I had a day job so between creating content and working a 9 to 5, and with it being a hobby, there wasn’t really a schedule that we were following. And like I said one release spiralled into two and three but we were definitely not operating at the capacity that some of the other labels, you know putting out other artists, putting out other records.

Sure.

So the small quantity…we definitely weren’t competing… pretty much playing a numbers game as far as with the releases we had but we knew, based on the response and reaction, and just the content that we were able to put together, that it was quality.

Yeah.

So the few and far between, that became our model. Even as we started investing in other acts and just trying other ventures. And yeah, we’ve always worked with a select group of individuals that I guess cater to our aesthetic or people that we thought worked well with us on a personal level or a creative level. So that’s where that comes from.

Yeah, I think that still rings true today to be honest. As you mention there you’ve got a generally small label roster but it is one that you see time and time again coming back and releasing things. So it’s quite a loyal and seems quite a tight-knit community you’ve created within your label.

Yeah. We’ve been a business, at this point we’re fortunate to be in business for over 12 years. Just a lot of things have changed and as I mentioned to your previous question, at the time people were saying what we do was very risky, there’s no market for it, record stores were closing, record sales were going down, mp3 was the biggest threat [laughing] to the music industry…and streaming and file sharing. And look where we’re at now. You know, record plants were closing, record companies were going out of business. So I mean there was a lot of smoke in the music industry.

Not only was there a void for the type of music that we did but actually it created a lane where we could experiment and cultivate a niche audience because others were too afraid at the time to invest in the music industry. Where it is now, being able to survive through that time, you see vinyl is killing it. The mp3, people are still consuming mp3’s but the platform and how they are distributed and steaming, it eclipses everything and the way we consume content all together. So we are very fortunate to exist to this point and we realise that at the pace things are consumed, the “Quality over Quantity” approach is still an important part of our model but even looking at myself as an artist, in order to compete at today’s pace and today’s attention span, I definitely need to keep the quality at a high level but I also need to amplify my quantity because that’s just the way that people and technology helps people consume and interact with art.

Of course. That’s definitely true. And I think with your label I’ve grown up with from the start even and myself and others… I think you have a loyal following and it is the type of demographic that will go out and spend money on vinyl and will consume that. And I think it’s a different market that you’re aiming for than the bigger labels potentially. So you’ve created your own lane and it’s good to see you carrying on year after year.

So I wanted to talk about the technology we have. Your style of music and style of sampling people would say is a throwback. You’re sampling directly from vinyl typically. How do you think that compares to the modern digital technology and do you embrace that or do you feel the limitation almost of what you are using, you know the mpc and the short sample times, forces your innovation?

Ahhh… Good, good question.[Damu pauses to respond] I would say, and this ties into my previous answer in that, embracing technology in general is always, in my opinion, important for any art of it’s time. I think that I didn’t always have that perspective. When I started I had this concept of “Okay, I use records” and obviously it had a lot to do with the era I grew up in and the concept I had “Okay, if you wanna make hip-hop you gotta get the sampler. You gotta get the drum machine and some records and learn how to DJ “. And as times have changed that concept and that approach, you know, it’s not mandatory but technology has made the artform of music creation and hip hop production, music production, music recording and even just content creation, it’s a consumer product. People can edit videos on their phone, they can edit photos, they can record themselves, mix and master all from their mobile devices and laptops, so not only can you create on these devices you have the ability to instantly publish. It’s created, definitely, a lot more competition in the industry and a lot more noise but at the same time it’s helped people embrace and discover creativity in a way that maybe previously they wouldn’t have been able to access just because the commercial aspect of creating art and content has always created a fine line between those that quote/ unquote “have talent” or the ability to do those things versus just the average person.

Yeah

” I’ve always thought, there’s always going to be records that people haven’t touched, there’s always going to records that people have explored that can be explored in a different way”

In regards to my approach, I was very dedicated and still am, but I was very dedicated to my methods and you know not only mastering those methods but innovating those methods, even as the technology aged I’ve always tried to find a challenge like “how can I take this further?”. And also just the genre and the sound, a lot of people over the years, because it’s considered throwback they think that there’s nothing to explore and I’ve always thought, there’s always going to be records that people haven’t touched, there’s always going to records that people have explored that can be explored in a different way which is a different way of storytelling. So being able to take technology from the past and make it work twenty-something years later I really enjoy that.

But then on the other hand, by neglecting modern technology, I’m not going to say it’s hurt me but it’s also given me a handicap because while I’m still stuck 20 or 30 years ago, people are doing amazing things with the modern technology that I just don’t know how to do, I don’t have that skill set. So when it comes to being qualified for the new work or being able to work at a certain pace, know the language of the latest technology, whether it’s software, equipment and just other tips and tricks that other people are using, I have a handicap. So ultimately my product and niche market doesn’t really care but trying to grow as an artist, embracing technology, is definitely a part of evolving art. And I think maybe in the last two or three years I’ve had to come to that realisation on my own but by embracing that it’s definitely opened up the doors to where I can innovate past technology even more because I have a better understanding of what’s going on currently. And the thing that helped me get through that challenge was thinking about, even several decades ago, for example music was all acoustic instruments then they created the electric guitar and amplification. There was an audience of purists at the time that were like “using these synthesisers, using this drum machine or putting your music on record takes away from the live performance.” “You can’t play blues using an electric guitar”. All those very things that were dismissed or undervalued was what music so great as it progressed so now in order to make music even better you have to continue to embrace new technology.

Definitely. I think as you say, you need to look to the past as well as to the future or things won’t change. You know, things haven’t changed in the past by staying the same. You’re obviously pretty open to things at the moment. And on that point I wonder if you’ve heard of Tracklib? I just wanted to hear your thoughts on that because obviously traditionally you would be digging through the crates and finding your samples that way. I just wondered what you thought of this online record shop effectively and in terms of clearing samples, it seems quite an innovative way to do that?

I mean, me personally, I don’t use the service…there’s Tracklib and a few other services that pretty much provide those options for music creators. I think in general I don’t see anything wrong with it. I think maybe fifteen years ago when I was, you know, in my 20’s and a little bit more anal about my concept of about what’s right or wrong [I wouldn’t agree with it]. But now I see it as a positive thing and if there’s something within that site or within the service like that, that speaks to your creativity and something that inspires you, like that’s all you could really ask for.

Yeah.

For me it’s always been digging records and at this point even creating music from scratch but thinking about the times that we are in, we are in the generation that people, you know, curate things. So if I go to a record store to dig or if I go to a garage I’m looking at a collection of records that they’ve curated to put in this environment that I can go through and find something. And it’s no different than the site it’s just, the only difference is, they are pretty much wearing it on their sleeve. “Hey, come and use this resource to make your music.” But I think it’s all in the name of making great stuff and it’s up to the creators to do new and innovative things but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter to the listener. All that really matters is how they feel when they interact with the piece of music. You know?

Yeah.

The days of people going “Oh you know, how’d he find that record? Damn when you hear the drums on this thing…” I mean you’re going to have some listeners that listen that way but just the average person that’s listening now? They are just going by “man this is dope. This is funky, I like this.” They’re not going “they got that off of Tracklib” or “they got that off of Splice.” You know, “that’s the sample pack from here.” “He sampled such and such.” Really all that matters is how good is what you’re hearing and how does it make you feel in the moment.

Yeah. One hundred percent.  As you said, the curation… you were going to certain people I suppose and certain stores where you know the record shops taste or the record shops style.  With Tracklib I guess everything is there but… There’s also advantages in terms of you can search by specifics, if you knew you wanted a bpm of 90. It’s definitely a different method but as you say at the end of the day if the music is good who’s to blame it I suppose.

But then also when you think about the pace in which people are creating… If people were to work at the pace that I am… I’m working at a pace that was normal twenty something years ago. And the thing is, during that time, people were putting out records every two, three years… every four years. But if someone needs you to make a record, an album, a single every week, every two weeks like, you don’t really have time

[laughter]

to sit in front of your machine where your technology requires you to sit there for hours upon hours and chop stuff and put it into a computer, however you are sampling. By embracing, not only the technology and services like that, it helps creators keep up with the pace of today’s marketplace. So by them having the pitch and the key or the bpm you can instantly filter based on the genre and field, certain keywords. If you want to turn in a song or have a track come out every other day and you have a service that does that work for you, why wouldn’t you use it?

Sure. And I guess for people in remote locations or don’t have access to multiple record shops or contacts…

Exactly.

I guess it opens up a whole new thing for them.

Exactly. Yup. I mean there’s so many benefits for that. But as far as my personal opinion? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way. You don’t have to sample records or go digging. We are definitely in a different age. Really it’s just about loving what it is you’re doing. So if that’s your process and you’re passionate about it, how can someone be ostracised for it, you know?

Yeah. Exactly. And I guess on the flip side of this, again with technology. WhoSampled is obviously quite a prominent thing now. Do you feel that takes away some of the intrigue and mystery of “the dig” I suppose when you can just search for someone’s song and find out what they’ve sampled? Is that something that… I remember hearing you say something about you wouldn’t sample something unless you had the original pressing. Does that “hunt” keep you on your toes and keep you motivated?

Yeah. I would… Yeah! I would still subscribe to those rules. And I think, you know for me, in order to make things fun, and especially when you’ve been doing things for so long. Or even taking pride in what you do, at least for me, I was in awe of people that were very talented that made me go “Man, how did this person do that?” I still look for those things. I think the mystery for me, as a practitioner of my craft, especially when it comes to evaluating other musicians… Like if I can sit there and break down every single component of what’s taking place… And sometimes it’s a gift and a curse because sometimes it’s a great idea that I’m not even enjoying because I’m sitting there dissecting…

[laughs]

…every single piece of what I’m listening to versus just enjoying the music. But for myself I think the reason… it ties back into your question about my process… You know, having certain rules, having certain restrictions and adding a certain level of difficulty… Whether it’s finding the source material, using the samplers or just rules that I really have had a certain discipline with, it makes my process fun. You know, knowing there’s a challenge but with that challenge I can be proud of what I’ve done versus embracing an easier model.

Yeah.

But then again it’s like, that’s the side, that’s more of the artistic side. But from a commercial perspective, when it comes time to monetise, it’s not always the best business decision when you are trying to compete with others that may not have the same restrictions. Sometimes it’s about me questioning like “why am I taking this approach? Is this for me? Is it for my fans? Is it for my Ego?” [laughing]

[also laughing] Yeah.

You know. What is it about? But ultimately when I’m really excited about something that I’m working on and it really feels fulfilling in that moment I’m trying to create as many restrictions as possible because most of the people that inspired me were following certain restrictions that was just around at the time. So I guess the bar that I measure myself against isn’t necessarily to today’s standard being that today’s standard allows you so many other options.

Yeah. I think sometimes though restrictions and things like that actually force innovation so if you have unlimited options you can be lazy. So I think sometimes having those kind of guidelines actually force you to try things that are different that you wouldn’t otherwise need to.

Right. And as far as your question on sampling a record, only having an original copy. Like I said I’ve been doing this for a long time so when I started there was no Serato so the idea was “Man, I’ve gotta find some kind of way to get my hands on this thing in order to incorporate that.” So having a DJ background, going to a record store, trying to get your hands on a promo copy, or like a record that might have an a capella, the retail version had the instrumental… your record collection really set you apart from the other DJ’s, your contemporaries, because not everyone had access to the same content. Whereas today with YouTube, and just the digging culture, it’s more widely available. Like all these songs and records that were hard to find or people just didn’t know. This demographic of creators that spoke this language is widely accessible. I still subscribe to digging for the original records because I know that… yeah I know I could go and find this thousand dollar record or this record they only made five copies of all over the internet and sample it and people wouldn’t even know. But just the challenge of adding that to my collection or even just the wait and having the discipline of not to is just something I have embraced. And as far as WhoSampled, I can’t necessarily say it’s a good or a bad thing. I’m not crazy on the idea of the site just because, as a producer… I think if people weren’t getting sued [laughing]… by information, it would be a lot easier. There’s just been a lot of lawsuits that have taken place by people posting this information. And also just the site itself growing and becoming more of a corporate business.

Sure. Sure.

 Just the perception of “oh wow, such and such sampled this song.” And then whoever owns the copyright knocking on someone’s door from thirty years ago, thinking there’s a big cheque in it. And obviously there’s laws and stuff but the people, I’m just assuming, whoever’s behind the site, they’re definitely passionate about music discovery. And it’s done a lot in terms of making people more inquisitive about music of today, music of the past and just sample based creation in general. I guess one element that they, I’m not going to say they disregarded that, this element, but it didn’t stop them creating this platform. People weren’t just going around saying “oh, this is the sample.” I mean if you knew, you knew. Or if the artist legally cleared it, you’re looking at sample credits or it’s an obvious song. No one was freely saying “oh, they sampled these drums. There’s the hi-hat from here and at 3:52 this thing comes in.” So I feel like that part of sample based culture and digging, that is non-existent when you are in that platform.

Yeah, it steals some of the mystery I suppose, and that intrigue, that “hunt” for samples. It is what it is but it’s, maybe as you say, an unintended consequence of the site.

Yeah.

You have, from what I’ve heard, thousands of floppy disks, again quite an old format but I’m sure they are just filled with demos, half finished and fully finished tracks. When do you decide a beat is finished verses one to revisit? Do you find giving that music breathing room beneficial? Because, even with How it Should Sound [series of albums from 1-5] most of them are 2007, 2008, you’ve come back to them. Is that beneficial to your process or is that just part of your creative process where you have so much going on that you kind of have to revisit multiple things to get your ideas out?

I’m definitely a perfectionist. But also because of my process, and it’s kind of proprietary at this point, and I suffer from this, trying to create challenges and difficulties during my creative process makes me more of a perfectionist. Because it’s just a lot more to manage or I’ll conceive these ideas that just take a lot of resources, as far as time, to execute. It’s like the beats exist but because they are so complex, or there’s so much going on, it’s a real challenge to mix. So that adds to the process but then just sonically trying to challenge what I’ve already made. So at times I might say “oh yeah I made this beat!” but then two days later I’m over it and I’m already chasing this other idea. So I think “the hunt”, the same way going into a record store and digging for samples is very inspiring and motivating, it became that way with chasing ideas too. It was like “oh man, I’ve got this idea. I’m going to do this and this. Breakdown here.” I can see… I make all the beats in my head and then I’ll sit down and actually make it. I proved to myself I could do it, I’m not even thinking about putting out the music or how people are going to interact with it, I just end up chasing idea after idea within my own space and then before you know it I have, you know, stacks of beats that never see the light of day or stacks of records that I’m supposed to chop up and sample. But then I just continue to distract myself searching for the high of the next idea that seems challenging. Which has affected the frequency of how often things come out, just learning from a business perspective and then trying to find a comfortable way to create such complex ideas that aren’t as taxing. And that ties into embracing newer technology or just trying to learn new tips or tricks that have made my process much easier to how I was doing them previously.

Yeah.

And then now in 2019 I find myself saying “Wow.” Even though I’m using old MPC”s and records and stuff… And you know it is a slower process… I could have made modifications six/seven years ago that would have made things easier. Like “if I’d known this, I would have put out a lot more music.” But now I’m a lot more excited to release music knowing the technical challenges are a lot less by embracing newer ideas.

Yeah. And I guess with your most recent release is with Blu – Ground & Water. I know he’s also worked with you on a Flex Matthews EP and also with other guys on the label, K-Def and Klaus Layer. I mean you obviously have a good connection with him and it seems, I guess natural almost that this should come out, but how did that come to fruition?

We reached out to Blu maybe about… seven years ago and I mean he’s always collaborated with contemporaries or peers and he’s a very prolific artist so reaching out to him… he was aware of what we were doing, he and I were actually label mates you know at one point and his debut album came out the same year as mine so we’ve always crossed paths like even doing shows years ago. And so reaching out to him, we started out with one song and then at that point we built a relationship, at one point it was a partner in his own New World Color label which we did a few releases with. But just over the years he’s always just been down to contribute, he’s a fan of K-Def, he liked what Klaus Layer was doing, you know Flex Matthews, Raw Poetic. He’s always been extended family of Redef since the start of our relationship. We’ve been fortunate enough to have a working relationship with him because everything we’ve done with him has been well received. So yeah, as far as the new record that started in 2018 and that started maybe about the winter…no, fall/winter of 2018 and it was all recorded. But the first half of 2019 I was actually recording the beats and mixing, that kind of thing, among other things. Another recent release was the Roc Marciano 45 that just came out a few weeks ago.

Yeah. “Blizzard”.

The Blu vinyl actually is shipping now so yeah those are my latest vinyl releases that both ship in the month of November.

Yeah. And obviously both of them are with emcees over your own production. Does your beat making process change at all if, you know, there’s going to be an emcee on the top of it or is it pretty much “same thing goes.” And especially with these ones where the artist is going to be on top of them, do you maybe tailor it towards them?

Yeah I would say as far as the anatomy of my music is concerned, it doesn’t really change but maybe the sonic direction and the textures do change, thinking about their voice and how to capture the mood of their personality. I’ll make those adjustments. But when it comes to different elements and reoccurring themes of my music or production I try to keep those things intact. So, you mentioned Flex Matthews…

Yeah.

…I would go on a more kind of happier tone just to match his voice and his personalities or there’s accordions, just themes on his album that I probably wouldn’t use for Blu, or working with Insight, or producing for Roc Mar. So if you play those records side by side the production values are pretty consistent but just the choice of samples and choice of instruments or instrumentation is tailored to those artists.

Exactly.

And that’s just talking about the beats. Now as far as producing and actually finishing the songs, you know I do all the scratching and do all the mixing and mastering and stuff, so bringing those concepts home that’s a whole other piece but that also doesn’t change it’s just a matter of whatever the concept and the feel of the song is determines what approach I’m going to take when producing the record verses just worrying about the beat production.

That’s interesting. And on that point, or something similar, is there anyone that you would love to have on top of your production. I remember seeing years and years ago, I think it was something saying Jay-Z or Jay Electronica had some beats of yours? Is there anyone you want to work with or that has your beats at the moment?

Oh yeah. I don’t think I said… I could of, who knows. The person that has my beats is tied to Jay-Z’s legacy.

Right.

But it’s neither one of those artists. And obviously those are great emcees that I would enjoy producing for. As far as new artists go, I mean I am a fan of Kendrick Lamar. There’s definitely a lot of modern artist that can rap. I think at this point in my career I’ve been thinking, it doesn’t really matter how this person sounds or whether they are similar to what I do or completely different. I’m looking at it more from a production standpoint.

Yeah.

I’m actually more open with working with anyone, trying to find new challenges in music. Because I’ve created this isolation, trying to create music that feeds my own ego and my own creativity, working by myself most of my career I’ve alienated myself from a lot of collaborations, so the opportunity for people to actually hear a diverse group of ideas over my production has been limited because of that personal decision that I’ve made. So by working with new artists or going into different dimensions it gives me a new motivation and I’m curious to see where that going to go.

I’ve created this isolation, trying to create music that feeds my own ego and my own creativity, working by myself most of my career I’ve alienated myself from a lot of collaborations

I’m actually in a few hours, I’m not going to say this person’s name but I’m meeting up with a new artist later this evening and hopefully something will materialise with that and I’ve been in talks with some other modern acts to see about collaborating. As far as dream collaborations, I’d definitely love… and I’m a big LL Cool J fan… I’d love to do beats for LL. I mean Chubb Rock, Special Ed, most of my favourite rappers, for the most part, came out in the 80’s. People from that generation, you know Jeru the Damaja, Black Thought. People that have been great their whole careers.

Yeah. I think the best collaborations as well, they change each other’s perceptions and attitude. I find that’s the best collaborations. You bounce off each other and change each other’s production or methods.

Yeah.

Even within your own ranks of Redef, someone like K.A.A.N, I don’t think… have you produced anything for him?

I’ve executive produced for him. But actually he and I have been talking about actually working together on some projects. I’m sorry I purposefully didn’t mention his name because we are about to start recording some music together. But also he’s very adaptable. He can do modern pop, modern hip-hop, rap, he can do quote/ unquote “90’s stuff” – the classic. He has so many different skill sets. He can use his voice in so many different ways that I’m curious to see what’s going to materialise when we work together. And just being around him for so many years,  having access to his perspective, having released some of his music, and even some of the points I made earlier in this interview, informs just by having access to the way he sees things.

Yeah.

And that’s been very valuable. And also by bringing him into our world he’s gotten a firsthand experience of someone from my generation or someone with my skill set. Whether he’s coming to my studio “Hey this is a SP1200. Here’s how I make my beats. Here’s how we press our records.” So he didn’t really know that, all he knew was Soundcloud…

[Laughs]

…and YouTube. So it’s been a very organic relationship and when you asked about him, that’s why we’ve waited to do this because we wanted to be fans of each other and just stay out of each other’s way but at the right time come together to make a record. I mean he and I talk regularly. He’s amazing.

Yeah. I agree. As you say he’s so adaptable, with the boom bap stuff, with Smuff last year [Subtle Meditation produced primarily by Ukrainian Smuff tha Quiz] and then he’s done his own as you say pop-ier stuff. And even now I’m hearing, is it correct he’s working with Dr. Dre?

Uh yes. Yes. That’s been ongoing so… But as far as his model that’s not stopping him from doing the existing records and things on his own independently. It’s a very exciting time for him and if you are a fan of what he’s doing…

Yeah I’ve been following him for a while.

And not to mention one of the most recent Redef releases is the K.A.A.N and Ski Beatz album so it’s bringing it full circle. One of the founders of Roc-a-Fella and Redef is back 12 years later working with one of our flagship artists K.A.A.N.

Yeah it’s great to see the two generations collaborating and as you say, yeah, another style there with Ski’s production.

Definitely. Definitely.

We usually finish our interviews with a cohesive question, a debate usually among the writers. So at the moment it’s between OutKast and their albums Aquemini and ATLiens? It’s just purely, what is your preference and why?

I mean, OutKast in my opinion, it goes without saying, are one of the greatest hip-hop groups ever and definitely one of the greatest groups of the last 30 years of any genre. Very, very important and very influential.

Yeah.

Hmm… I guess as far as debating those albums I would say they are both great records… I guess I would have to go with Aquemini. And mainly because what they were able to accomplish and from their first album, their trajectory to Aquemini, you can listen and hear the evolution. But by the time they got to Aquemini they introduced so many different sounds and rhythms and were able to incorporate some older ideas but incorporate a whole new approach. Not only from their demographic in the US but also globally.

But then consider their demographic, they were able to make something that really transcended where they were from but also the climate in the hip-hop community at the time. Right now, Atlanta or the South is still pretty much at the top of the food chain, but maybe during that time the west-coast had it’s time. Outkast were among the few artists from the area that was really able to open the doors to today’s artists. So not only from a business impact but sonically, so many of those ideas became normal, especially by today’s standards. You can look at someone like a Kendrick Lamar that has a wide range of ideas and feels throughout his albums or even other artists embracing different genres, different rhythms. Just creating a whole different listening experience that isn’t just a generic hip-hop record. I think Aquemini was definitely a very important album to do that. It still to this day is influencing today’s music and what we consider normal.

Yeah that’s pretty comprehensive. It’s a tough one but that’s why we throw them in at the end as well, a bit unexpected.

Cool. Definitely throughout my career I’ve used a lot of Outkast scratches. Actually if you listen to the Blu album on the very first song, the intro, I scratch a cut from elevators “One for the money/ the start of something good.” That’s the way the Blu album starts. Here goes a collaboration that people weren’t really expecting but it’s the start of something great so brace yourself. On the Flex Matthews’s album I use “Da Art of Storytelling” on the very last song “Dreaming”. “Get the hump off your back” and the vocals were in tune with the music so the scratch really lent itself well to that.

Awesome. Well unless there’s anything else you want to mention or speak about…?

I guess the only thing I would say is mention some of the new stuff in the works that people can look forward to. I guess in between the Ground & Water album Raw Poetic and I have recorded about 5 albums that I’m currently mixing now. One of those albums we recorded this August with the legendary jazz musician Archie Shepp. We have a few albums we recorded with him so most of 2020 you’re going to expect more output from Damu the Fudgemunk as an artist. The new releases that are in the works definitely goes in a different direction and speaking of Aquemini, Aquemini’s influence on us is very evident, even back to The Reflecting Sea album we dropped in 2017 if you listen to the range, it’s kind of an unorthodox record, pretty much we are going to explore that with the upcoming records. We have live musicians, legendary Jazz saxophonist and just an unlimited plethora of textures and sounds and instruments. We’re listening to stuff and thinking “man, this doesn’t sound like anything else.” I’m really excited about that. It speaks to where I am creatively now but also it’s me displaying how I have embraced new technology and just incorporating new ideas into my music and combining that with my foundation of the past 20 years. So it’s really going to be an interesting combination. I’m excited to share. Everything’s recorded and now I’m mixing. I just turned in a mastered version of the album which is called Ocean Bridges.

Ocean Bridges?

Yeah. Ocean Bridges. It features myself and Raw Poetic. Archie Shepp is the main performer but we have a live band. It’s all live, all live instruments. I’m on the turntables and scratching and then we have some guest musicians. Archie Shepp is playing Soprano and I think Alto Sax. Raw Poetic is the primary vocalist. And the title of that album connects to our previous release The Reflecting Sea, and that was Jason’s way of paying homage to what we did previously and what we are going to do, so it’s like a bridge between the two albums. So Ocean Bridge and there’s four other albums that follow so hopefully they can take place in 2020 and that speaks to us trying to do new things to compete with today’s market. People expect a release every two months so let’s try to work and create this archive of stuff that’s ready to go so we don’t have to keep up, we’re already in a position to unload. We’re very excited to see where this takes us.

We have live musicians, legendary Jazz saxophonist and just an unlimited plethora of textures and sounds and instruments.

Yeah that sounds really interesting and as you were saying before it’s a change in dimension for you I guess with the live band.

Oh yeah. Most definitely.

Awesome. Looking forward to that.

Thank you.


Ground & Water by Blu and Damu the Fudgemunk is out now on Redefinition Records.

2 thoughts on “Damu the Fudgemunk Interview

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