Babe Rainbow is the name of Vancouver-based Cameron Reed’s experiments in electronic music. I’m a big fan of his sound, the deranged moods, funky beats, chilly melodies, and intelligent structures. This is fresh music. Babe Rainbow’s got a lot of buzz going, so I’m pleased to have this interview. He’s put out a lot of tracks online, including some great screwed&chopped remixes of rap classics, and a collection of brilliant ambient work. There’s also the Shaved E.P. on Warp Records, a really beautiful selection of tunes from spooksville, with an apt cover by local conceptualist James Nizam. This interview was conducted via e-mail.
Q: The name Babe Rainbow, is it a reference to your circle of friends?
No, I was taking an art class in school saw a painting by pop artist Peter Blake entitled ‘Babe Rainbow’. I remember thinking it would be a ridiculous band name, kinda mocking the whole ‘put two unconnected words together as a band name’ idea (Twin Shadow, Neon Indian, Crystal Castles, etc). So when I start BR I needed a name to make a MySpace page and just used that name. Now I’m stuck with it. I don’t mind it though.
Q: Is there a piece of gear or was it a piece of music that inspired you to try making music in this style?
I’ve always made these kinds of moody soundscapes. Even when I was younger recording acoustic guitar on a 4-track I was making these loops of layers and layers of guitar. They all ended up pretty dark or moody. When I started making this music I just did was cam natural.
Q: When you begin a fresh tune, do you start with a sample or a drum loop, or where does a song start?
More often than not it’s a tone. I just start fucking with sounds and play around. Sometimes I’ll start with drums. I’m just starting to get more into sampling now.
Q: Is anyone else in your family gifted with music?
No one else in my family really plays music. They enjoy it but in a sort of passive way. I’m the only person in my immediate family that is really immersed in it.
Q: I can’t immediately solve your song titles, what’s the naming process for Shaved and its various pieces?
There’s no real method to it. Often just the first thing that comes to mind.
Q: Do you include other musicians in BR creative process?
I’m trying to do a lot more collaborating. But no, it’s really just been me for the most part.
Q: Local weather, tree species, ocean tides, island system, seclusion, Satanism, oddities, what do you most identify with that is part of this place, our home, Vancouver, BC?
Isolation/seclusion. It’s weird,
I can’t imagine what it must be like for other cultures that immigrate here. It would make sense why many of them maintain and stick so closely to the culture from where they move from.
Q: What is your experience with audiences here in town? Do they dig BR?
Yeah, everyone is usually very supportive. Some have said very nice things. It’s not dance-y music so if people just stand and watch without leaving it’s a success.
Q: Are you involved in other music projects outside Babe Rainbow?
No, not really. I’d like to play guitar in a band again.
Q: Have you reached out to other artists to collaborate with on Babe Rainbow tracks?
Yes, I’ll be working with more MCs in 2011. I’m very excited about it.
Q: How about the importance of Dj Screw for electronic music these days?
I don’t really know how that became so massively injected into electronic, it’s interesting. I pull a lot of inspiration from hip hop so it made sense to me. I assume it’s the same for most of these other artists utilizing his techniques.
Q: You know a lot about Vancouver after dark via Music Waste and being sociable and so on, I wanted your recommendations for each night of the week’s best dark locations?
Biltmore, Goody, Astoria, Six Acres, China Cloud, Fortune, the Narrow. I end up at those places most often.
Q: What are some of the first places you played live in the city as Babe Rainbow?
Funky Winkerbeans and Astoria were my first live shows,
Q: Even the loud noise music in town has been pretty crunk in the past few years — I think the Mutators were the crunkest. Looking back at a band like The Mutators, what do you remember the most?
I feel really lucky to have been a part/been friends with so many people in that noise punk community. The Emergency Room and all of the music that came out of there inspired me beyond words.
So much raw, youthful energy. DIY on a hundred thousand trillion.
Q: Music here in Vancouver, often great. You put together a super mix of local stuff for CBC Radio 3. What was the first Vancouver group you ever heard? What’s the latest you’re excited about?
Probably bands like Red Light Sting, the Doers, and Black Rice were the first I remember seeing that really impacted me. Around 2002 or so.
There are tons of bands I like now. Basketball, No Gold, White Lung, Heavy Chains, Defektora, Bison, Peace, and so on forever. Too many to name.
Q: I wonder if the 21st century’s pace of rap mixtapes and rap beat production has put more pressure on dub styles like yours to drop a lot of tracks frequently, in order to not look like a slouch on the blogs, etc? I know the rap scene as a daily conversation, and electronic singles are starting to appear almost as regularly…?
Yeah, in some ways maybe the quality control has gone down but who care. Music is so temporal most of the time anyways. And in my case, I’m just doing it for fun, so if I like it even though maybe it’s not the best or polished, why not share it. No harm.
Q: does a contract – rider for a live gig really depend on how popular your music is with drug dealers?
Q: 2010’s critical rappers?
Curren$y had a huge year. Big fan. Freddie Gibbs. Odd Future. Dad Racist.
Q: What are your thoughts on Aphex Twin?
He is a legend that has inspired an entire generation of musicians. He needs to release more music.
Q: You’re the first Vancouverite signed to Warp records. Do they have a west coast A&R? how did you meet the label, how did that all come about?
No, I’ve been in contact with their A&R/creative director out of London. He’s great. He got in touch with me to do an EP after some of my songs started to do the rounds online.
Q: Warp has a special history in modern electronic music. When they signed you, did they tell you to ignore all that?
Ha! No, they did not, however, I do try to ignore it. Only because a lot of negative reviews of BR stuff is coming from old school IDM heads who just want Warp to relive their 90s output forever.
Q: what kind of relationship do you have with Warp, is it encouraging, tampering, or hands-off? What does an artist like BR want from a label relationship?
I’m always in contact, sending them songs, demos, or just shit I’m into. It’s a great relationship. It’s very encouraging. They are pretty ideal as far as my situation goes. If they were requiring me to go on huge tours to ‘move units’ it would be different.
Q: Is one question Warp asks you when you sign is if you plan on doing BR for the long haul and want to be making music as BR for ten-twenty years? Is commitment a factor in your decision to make music solo with Warp?
No, we’ve never said anything like that. If they wanted to stop working with me they probably just would.
Q: Your label has a pretty significant history of doing videos, and you’ve done a suite of vids for your E.P. I’m wondering if part of the fun is that Warp encourages you to make visuals for your tunes?
It’s mostly just me doing it without consulting them. Since it’s only an EP they don’t really have a budget for it so I’ve just made my own, relying on the good will of talented friends, or funded them myself.
Q: What’s your next project with visuals?
I’m working with two friends who both did their Masters at Emily Carr. I’m really excited. They are both insanely talented.
Q: Ok so what is your next project for Warp?
We’re talking about a couple more EPs. Looking to put out two EPs around April.
Q: Did Music Waste start with zero budget?
Music waste still has zero budget
by Lee | Filed under Audio
In tribute to her iron vacation, Warp Records‘ first-ever Vancouver signee, Babe Rainbow, just sent me his draggy spooked remix of Lindsay Lohan’s tune ‘Stuck’ and the match is pretty hellish hot. Babe Rainbow will premiere the remix at MoMA’s Warm Up Show on July 31st, so if you are near the five boroughs around that time, check him out. Update: Just learned the track also appears on this free Triangle mixtape with a few other mean-muggin’ witch house artists remixing Lohan. Incarcerated Babefaces.
Vancouver has a few scarce rappers, more now than back in the day. But wowza, we got one MC named Jae Slym. I don’t know anything about Slym, just happened on him after being linked to a MHS vid, Jae Slym might live next door to me, for all I know, he might be living in Bad Manors, but sounds like Slim’s from the down in the Dirty, like an East Van repping Young Bleed. His YouTube tracks are banana nuts. He’s the best rapper I think I’ve ever heard from East Van. Has he bro’d down with the — slightly-less qualified– Money Hungry Syndicate? Is Slym working with Babe Rainbow yet?
( props to Mount Pleasant kickin it: Lil’ Joe Hizzle!)
by Lee | Filed under Audio
Vancouver is always a place to go for weird noise of all variety. I’ve been a fan of weird Vancouver noise for fifteen or twenty years, since the days of when I could see Chanchre and Pork Queen play live, anyway. But the city is fresh again — it freshens up every year with new crucial groups — and right now with a storm of strange ambient noise music, beat-making, post-dub nightmare, lo-fi bedroom recording weirdos. Noise has been a city staple for decades, yes, definitely, punk and improv and onkyo and feedback, but it’s been a while, or maybe never, that Vancouver has had really super-solid laptop artists. But that’s starting to happen. I’m really big into Babe Rainbow, and his CBC playlist of local music covers a great deal of the most mindblowing stuff like Calamalka, Myths, Basketball, and Tassels. I’m also getting into the creepy vinyl tapeloop simplicity of all that Tassels is doing. At first I misspelled it. But I am feeling Tassels. Reminds me of CC Nova’s stuff for Milk Cult or a funkier Philip Jeck. A few nights a week I see Tassels live because the composer plays soccer outside where I live, and I know him as a photographer and writer as well. Tassels. Click on some Tassels for links to his tunes. Tassles.