As Berlin production duo Modeseleker prepare for their April 24 DJ set at Sankey’s in NYC for the Bleep:10 party celebrating Bleep.com’s 10 year anniversary, we caught up with them about their music, touring, the Berlin music scene, and working with Thom Yorke!
Giant Step: Let’s talk a little bit about the upcoming Modeselektion Vol 3 and how it came about.
Modeselektor: The idea of “modeselektion” is to bring musicians we met and admire together on one compilation. It’s an imprint of our music influences and musical taste. All tracks are produced exclusively for this compilation. The result is a tracklist with different styles of music, which we bring together as curators bring together.
GS: How’s the Moderat 2014 tour going so far? Anything special planned for upcoming Bleep 10 show in NYC?
MS: We did the massive tour part in the beginning of 2014. It took about 10 shows to evolve into a perfect mode. The main part of the tour is finished and now we will continue to play festivals all over the world. For the Bleep party we will bring our massive Modeselektor DJ set and TR 909 drummachines for more pressure.
GS: What was it like working with Thom Yorke? Any new tracks in the pipeline with him?
MS: Working with Thom Yorke was great; he is a nice person and of course a great musician. We had always a good time at the studio. He loves music, studio gear and good food. He’s a friend!
GS: How’s the current Berlin music scene?
MS: Good question. Berlin’s music scene is very eclectic. There are a lot of influences, and it’s very international. Berlin is a city for immigrants, creative people, more poor than rich people, creative and idealistic people, and the working class. The most important thing is that Berlin is not a money-business spot like Paris, London, or New York. Here in Berlin there’s a lot of space to do things you like. It’s an easy going city!
Bleep:10 presents Modeselektor + Special Guests
Thursday, April 24
29 West 36th Street
New York, NY
Words by Korby Benoit
Amanda Seales and Kris Bowers recently debuted their live collaboration Mo’ Betta Wu at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York. Mo’ Betta Wu is a one of a kind show where the artists reinterpret hip hop classics by the Wu-Tang Clan as jazz standards. It all results into a spirited and comedic performance that will amuse hip hop heads and jazz cats alike.
Backed by an accompanying 4 piece band dubbed The Shinobis, Seales handles all the vocal duties as the character Killandra Bea (the name is a play on the term ‘killa bee’). Killandra is a long-time resident of Staten Island’s Stapleton housing projects. She is bold and quick witted, as she engages the audience with clever quips in between the reworked Wu-Tang bangers. Songs like “C.R.E.A.M.”, “Shimmy, Shimmy Ya” and “Triumph” are presented in a manner in which most hip hop fans would never imagine.
Seales flexes some impressive vocal range, while the arrangements of jazz pianist Kris Bowers manage to retain the head nodding appeal of the original Wu-Tang material. The beats are easy to recognize yet unfold in new ways. This was a significant challenge for, Bowers as he explained, “That was a worry of mine as an arranger. Whether or not people were going to hear the samples through what we were playing. So I was glad that the audience picked it up.”
Much of the show is driven by the chemistry between the artists and the audience. Amanda Seales displays a certain awareness which allows her to be playful and improvise much of her performance as Killandra Bea. She states, “It comes from a genuine connection to the audience. I’ve been really lucky to have that intuition and to be able to feel. And this is going to sound really existential, but to be able to feel beyond what people are showing me. It’s what helps me be a good comic. It’s what helps me be a good DJ and good performer.”
With the 20th anniversary of Wu-Tang’s seminal Enter The 36 Chambers upon us, as well as other hip hop masterpieces such as Nas‘ Illmatic, it is refreshing to see artists pay homage. Perhaps projects like Mo’ Betta Wu are a way to remind us of hip hop’s limitless potential.
Gilles Peterson gives the 1981 classic (and one of our all time favorite tunes) “Southern Freeez” a beautiful electro-bossa rework for his upcoming 7-inch that drops on April 19 for Record Store Day.
Hear the original below!