MP3: “Heart Seed” Feat. Leah Alvarez & Martin Perna [of Antibalas]
For the past two decades, DJ SUN has contributed to the live soundtrack of Houston, Texas with an aural palette of funk, soul, jazz, disco, early hip-hop and even more modern genres such as trip hop. It is his ability to seamlessly blend those elements and find ways to shape the music to the contours of the many rooms in which he spins records that has made him a Houston standard, a classic. Indeed, DJ Sun, is sometimes so ubiquitous in Houston nightlife that he appears to be everywhere at once (hence the name?).
Still, that’s not all for which he is known. What time he doesn’t spend behind the turntables — either in a live setting or on his long running Pacifica radio show Soular Grooves — he has been spending in the studio.
One Hundred is the culmination of years of work for DJ Sun. With the release of his “Monday Drive” EP in 2007, he put himself on the map as a producer, following that up with another EP and a couple of singles. True to the buildup to One Hundred, four songs from those releases are included, but with fifteen new tracks to complete the gumbo.
These songs benefit from Sun’s proficient use of samplers, but with his own Farfisa, Korg, Wurlitzer and Rhodes keyboard playing as well as plenty of live instrumentation and singing from more than a half dozen Houston artists. The familiar bits of songs you hear shimmering over those warm keyboard parts and headlines get stretched out and layered the way Sun hears them, forming new structures of melody and new directions in each track.
This is a nod to the wide swath of influences to which DJ Sun was exposed while splitting his formative years between Rotterdam, Houston and the South American country of Suriname. A historical document, if you will, of the sounds that shaped his own musical upbringing, a contemporary swing that sews up his work so far and opens the door for what will follow.
Receiving collaborative assistance from 3-time Grammy winner, Tim Ruiz (La Mafia) to engineer the project and lend additional instrumentation (guitar, bass, keys) has further enhanced the ideas with which DJ Sun came to the table. Topping it off, Dave McNair (formerly of Masterdisk and Sterling Sound), a well-known mastering engineer with credits ranging from Bob Dylan to Los Lobos, Willie Nelson to The String Cheese Incident, K’Naan, Bruce Springsteen, The Doobie Brothers, and many others, performed the mastering of the album and the mixing of “Heart Seed,” the one song on the album with a vocalist.
Further collaborations include the first track “Tomorrow,” with E’s E from Names You Can Trust out of Brooklyn, a result of numerous trips into the Kensington area of the NY borough. Meghan Hendley, Mark Sound (aka Mark Speer), and Jessica Zweback, respectively of Tyagaraja, Grandfather Child, and Sky Blue 72 all lent keyboard help to “Break Remix,” “Marksonthekeys,” and “Ten.”
For the lead single of “Heart Seed feat Leah Alvarez,” DJ Sun recruited fellow producer/dj, The Are to do a hip-hop styled boom-bap kind of remix. The Are, also a Houston native is a multiplatinum producer from the Trackmasters production group who has recently had the production credits on respective lead singles for LL Cool J (“Take It feat Joe”) and Keyshia Cole (“I Ain’t Thru”).