Anna Denejkina

Category: Future Entertainment

Travie McCoy, Gym Class Heroes – The Jitters Never Go Away, Interview

Travie McCoy – The Jitters Never Go Away

Written for Future Entertainment

Originally published on March 12, 2012

From punk, emo, and indie rock, to death metal, comedy and feminist slam poetry bills. It is hard to picture a band that has been part of every clashing niche imaginable, and even more difficult to keep your mouth shut when hearing of an outfit that not only successfully managed to permeate each scene, but did this as an alternative hip hop troupe with its routes of inception planted in a high school gym class.

The seed was planted in 1997, their fifth studio album was released in the latter part of 2011, but their beginnings are still an interesting, and even humorous talking point, underlining that genre segregation is not an essential path to undertake when faced with a difficulty of describing even your own musical sound.

“We played with basically anyone who would let us get on a bill with them. Death metal bands, to slam poets, to comedians. There was no scene that we fit into,” reflected Travie McCoy, also known as the front-man and lead vocalist of one of the most recognizable and diverse alternative hip hop fusions, Gym Class Heroes.

“In a sense, we kind of dabbled in all of them [live scenes],” he continued. “After a while of not being accepted in any of them, there came a point where we were embraced by all of them. And I think that’s kind of when we knew that we had something special.

“The fact that we could do a tour with Fall Out Boy, or a tour with a band like Fear Before the March of Flames [Fear Before], or even Bring Me the Horizon for that matter, and then do a tour with T-Pain and Lil Wayne, I think there’s not a lot of bands that can do that.”

The fusion of hip hop, reggae, jazz, rock and even pop music elements is overtly heard throughout the band’s eclectic career, with their Warped Tour stint and the current Future Music Festival tour trek acting as a further beacon to the Gym Class Heroes’ wide-spread reach.

Following three years between releases, Gym Class Heroes’ latest studio record, The Papercut Chronicles II, came as a sequel to their 2005 effort and second studio album, The Papercut Chronicles, to re-visit the quartet’s history and the band’s simpler days. This week has additionally seen the outfit hit their inaugural number one position on the Australian ARIA charts with single ‘Ass Back Home’ [featuring Neon Hitch], following the album’s charting on the US Billboard 200 and Top Rap Albums, as well as the UK’s R&B Albums Chart in 2011.

“I think it’s more of an anxious feeling, rather than a nervous feeling,” expressed Travie, as he pondered the sentiment of anticipation before their fifth studio album dropped on the world in 2011.

“We’ve spent so much time kind of nurturing these songs… and to present it to the world, I compare it to waiting nine months for your child to be nurtured, and the release date is like the date-of-birth in a sense. It’s all anticipation and anxiety, and then you want to show it off to the world and find out whether or not the world thinks your baby is ugly or cute,” he laughed.

Overtly, Australian fans are indeed ecstatic about Gym Class Heroes’ latest child birth: a baby that represents not only the rich history of the outfit, but indeed takes a step back to revisit the themes and music of a record that Travie described as their opening to the world.

“In retrospect, The Papercut Chronicles was our introduction to the world in a sense, and it’s an album that I feel like a lot of people connected with,” he explained. “So to expand on that album, to kind of revisit some of those themes in the music and some of the tones that the album had, was awesome and fun for us. I think at the end of the day, we make music for us first and foremost, and our friends secondly, and the world last,” Travie commented with a humorous tone.

But stepping over decade into the past also brings an unavoidable wave of melancholia, and with such a life-style the strain is similarly inevitable. Nevertheless, for Travie it has become a relationship in itself and one that he has worked to prefect.

“With the touring [life] style, time goes by so fast and it’s crazy to think that this is our fifth studio album. Where the fuck did all this time go?!” he exclaimed in rhetoric. “So you kind of have a chance to reflect on our very first album, which, in a sense you have your entire life to write, so it was kind of a trip.

“But I think over the years I’ve definitely become much better at trying to find a balance,” he continued. “But I mean, realistically, this whole life style is a relationship itself, a girlfriend. So to try to balance two relationships is definitely a tough thing, but I think I’m getting better at it, in a good way.”

Travie McCoy’s work with Gym Class Heroes as well as his solo musical endeavor has taken him onto a path that no matter how influential, infrequently receives mention. This aspect of Travie’s life is his participation and work with various charities and humanitarian organisations, in particular, the Staying Alive Foundation, a HIV/AIDS awareness campaign which he joined in 2009 as an ambassador, raising awareness for an issue that is admittedly very close to his heart.

“It’s something that’s definitely very, very close to my heart,” Travie began.

“When I was younger, I had someone very close to me die from HIV complications. And when you’re that young, you don’t really understand just death in general, but it’s a disease that still has so many stigmas attached to it.”

Speaking slowly and with a tone of uncertainty, Travie continued to describe the past, seemingly searching for the right words to express his passionate views through a sense of a lingering guilt.

“There is this kind of tremendous amount of guilt that I carried with myself for thinking that this person was living a terrible lifestyle, and it just happened and it was unfortunate. Working with Staying Alive is a way for me to kind of get back and kind of [get] retribution for all the time I spent feeling that way and falling for all the stigmas that were, in a sense, implanted in our brains as kids.

“It’s just all about being educated and educating yourself,” he expressed, “and taking that knowledge and spreading it in the hopes that the people that you share it with will do the same.”

For more information on the Staying Alive Foundation, please visit: http://foundation.staying-alive.org

Original Article:

http://www.futureentertainment.com.au/music/interviews/1419-travie-mccoy-the-jitters-never-go-away

Tinie Tempah – Just a Kid from South London, Interview

Tinie Tempah – Just a Kid from South London

Written for Future Entertainment

Originally published on February 23, 2012

“I still consider myself as just that kid fromSouth London, that’s trying to make something happen with my music.” With nominations spanning from the Urban Music Awards to the coveted The Mercury Prize, and wins at the Ivor Novello Awards, the BET Awards and the Brit Awards, these are Tinie Tempah’s frank words, and the epitome of him trying not to lose his head in the course of his out-breaking success.

His breakthrough record, the aptly titled ‘Disc-Overy’, was also his inaugural full-length release – and still riding the wave of what the current musical climate rarely allows: success from the first album, Tinie Tempah is returning to Australia for The Future Music Festival and his never ending summers.

“The fact that people on the other side of the world have been able to hear it [my music] and have been able to react in the way that they have, and receive it so well, it’s been a blessing and it’s been so incredible for me!” exclaimed Tinie.

“To be able to come out there and showcase my music, and even hear people sing it and rap it back, has been just as awesome,” he continued. “So I’m very, very flattered and honored.”

Since the 2010 release of Tempah’s aforementioned debut, ‘Disc-Overy’, and through the hysteria and pandemonium of the last eighteen months, the English rapper has been writing and recording his as-yet-untitled sophomore album, which is currently, and very tentatively, scheduled for an August release, with the first single ready to drop around May.

“I feel like I needed this amount of time to get it right and get it ready… it’s definitely going to be worth the wait,” began Tinie. “I just really wanted to take my time with it and get it right. I’m currently in the middle of it trying to wrap it up – just after I get back from Australia.”

Describing the excitement he feels for the forthcoming release and its sound, Tinie continued to unfurl more about his new work. “There is so much new music for people to enjoy and go crazy to, get emotional about, and really listen to how much I’ve grown as a person.”

With rumors of album delays circulating via the world-wide-web, Tinie clarified that the timing of the new release was completely in his own predilection, following his frantic promotional schedule of ‘Disc-Overy’, and the blurred and unclear vision that this life-style can bring.

“If I’m being quite honest with you, there wasn’t actually any delay, it was a personal preference,” he began. “I always thought that after I released my first album, I would love to release another one near an exact year after it. But after the entire promo schedule we did, I just felt like it wouldn’t be the right thing to do, like it would be at a detriment to myself,” he expressed.

“I didn’t have the clearest head in the world because I was so overwhelmed with everything that was going on,” Tinie continued. “I thought it would be an injustice to make an album where I really wasn’t explaining everything in the greatest detail that I could at the time.”

Tinie’s candid descriptions and his allusions to the personal tension that this existence can bring were unified in his explanation of the lyrical concepts behind his new record; notions dealing with his reality since the release of the first album. Calling it music in “real time” and “relative” to his current state-of-mind, experiences and the pathway to getting into his present position, what the audience sees, hears and reads about the artist, is what he confers through his lyrics.

“Whatever you see on the T.V. and whatever you see people spin in the papers, and whatever you see when you read my interviews or see me in the viral, on the YouTube videos, more or less, what I’m talking about over some pretty amazing music – in some pretty fine detail – is letting people know that I got here and you can get here too. Or “I got here and it fucking fucked up”, or “I got here and it’s amazing and I’ve done this, and I’ve seen this thing, and I’ve met these people…” So as you can imagine, over the past eighteen months, so many thing have happened. Oh god so many things!” he laughed, with his smile being felt through the telephone conversation. “More than you’d ever imagine, more so than it happened through a life time before it took me to write the first album.

“It should be pretty fun to see how people react to it,” Tinie said. “Because it definitely has advanced and I’m really excited about it.”

Tempah’s well publicized friendship with Adele has lead to more hearsay regarding their collaboration, which, to this date, has not thrived, and yet, hasty commentators have supposed otherwise. Remarking that he has not worked with Adele, “we’ve just become really good friends,” Tinie’s musical ambitions became clear in that of his want to create a personal bequest, and never use another’s success in order to push his own title.

“I’ve mentioned it [collaboration] to her,” he commented, “but she is in a crazy position and I totally respect that. She has been able to do the unthinkable with ‘21’ and it is really a colossal feat. God knows where my headspace was after the success of my album…

“If the right song does come about and we’re both in the right place at the right time, then why not… but I want to create my legacy,” Tinie explained. “More than anything that’s inspired me: it is to know that if you put your head down you can make a consistently great record that you know the whole world can connect with and wants to go out there and support. So I reckon you can do that on your own, you don’t have to have any other eyes – not saying that I won’t, but it’s definitely inspired me to start thinking a bit more like that. So, if it happens it would be great, but either way it will be alright.”

Feeling overwhelmed through his life changes following his debut release, Tinie expressed how fortunate he was in the recording of his forthcoming studio album. Giving descriptions of an anxiety when faced with the prospect of recoding in New York, his team did not allow for more pressure, sending him to his home, to London, and to the first studio he has recorded in, allowing him the space and trust of the people he knows, and for himself to be completely honest and open with his creativity and his writing of some of the most personal work to date.

“I was supposed to record the album in New York and I was like: “Shit I can’t record this album in New York! I can’t be away from London and what’s going on in London; away from my family and away from the person who usually records my music – or all the producers I know and love and I can get really personal with – to be in some flaky studio in New York with a sound engineer I’ve never met, recording an album that is supposed to be about some of the most personal experiences over the past eighteen months!” That’s not going to work.”

Despite the wear-and-tear of the beloved studio, humorously describing it as “a little shoddy”, Tinie was home, he was finally grounded, and his head was in the right space. “It’s nice, it’s a little bit of a juxtaposition, but more importantly, it makes me feel really comfortable,” he expressed.

“For that reason alone, it’s been amazing. I can literally go to the studio and go to my Mom’s house, or go to the studio and hang out with Dizzee [Rascal] or Tinchy [Stryder] or Chris Martin, because everyone is in London, and I didn’t have all these things before…. So I think it’s nothing but a good thing. I’m feeling really good about it.”

Original Article:

http://www.futureentertainment.com.au/music/interviews/1390-tinie-tempah-just-a-kid-from-south-london

Alex Metric – My Heart is in the Studio, Interview

Alex Metric – My Heart is in the Studio

Written for Future Entertainment

Originally published on February 14, 2012

Envisage the aptitude of an artist who is in unremitting demand by other musicians to remix their work. Merge this with his background as a musician, producer, remixer, band member, DJ and above all, solo artist. Take the plethora of his undertaken projects, including work on Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys and Phoenix, and now understand the fertility of Alex Metric.

Through the above, and his countless, unmentioned works, it is a difficulty to suppose that Alex Metric only reached prominence in 2008, as he has rapidly managed to create an undoubtedly inspiring resume, and one that whets the appetites of anyone who yearns for his position.

Metric’s Australian visits have been very, very few, and to be precise, just one in particular. A club tour many years ago, that Alex himself cannot distinctly remember. Nonetheless, 2012 will see him live at the rapidly approaching Future Music Festival, on the back of his most recent release, a compilation of his remix and production work, entitled ‘Open Your Eyes’, which has mistakenly been dubbed as his inaugural full-length record, a misconception which Alex was quick to put to rest.

“That’s not really a full length album,” he began to explain; “it’s kind of a collection of remixes and some original stuff up to date… my debut album is yet to come.”

His forthcoming opus does hold a precursor which found itself scrapped due to the length of time Metric took to create it, and owing to this time, the record found itself too dissimilar from his concepts with its inception, to the final product delivered. For Alex, who admittedly finds a huge importance in only releasing music that represents him in that moment, he found this erasure “quite [a] liberating thing to do and a quite scary thing to do at the same time.”

“I just feel like if you take a long time over a record, you when you started and you when you’ve finished are two completely different things,” he continued. “I felt like the record I’d just finished didn’t really represent [me], I didn’t feel like I could then take that forward for another two years touring and promoting it. I just felt like it wasn’t what I wanted to say at that point in time… whether it’s a single or remix, or an album, I’m really particular about what I do, and making sure that what I put out there represents me at that time, and so I can be one-hundred-percent proud of every bit of the music I put out.”

Describing that he is moving into a “different territory” with the new record, but asserting that the music is still distinctly Metric, thrown in with experimentation of sound and beats, Alex portrayed the record’s niche as eclectic, rather than detailing something which may not come to realization at its completion.

Currently six tracks into the new album, a number which unexpectedly surprised Metric himself – due to the swift nature of his present writing process; “not thinking about it, just doing it,” – a number of singles are due for release this year as a taster for the album, which will additionally feature “a collaboration with one of my all time heroes, producer heroes,” he exclaimed.

As can be guessed, this collaboration, or the possible others which will feature on the imminent record, was not revealed, but according to Metric, the name would be easily worked out as “there are very few people that I revere and hold up as one of my main influences in making electronic music, so I’m sure people can put two-and-two together.” Perhaps not too easily, as Steve Angello is not that man.

“… it’s somebody who has inspired me massively from when I was a teenager growing up; first listening to electronic music, so obviously Steve’s a fantastic producer, but this is somebody that’s kind of really been there as a prominent, driving creative force with what I do, for many years.”

Alex’s extensive remix catalogue highlights the prominent names of the Bloc Party, Ladyhawke and the Gorillaz – to blatantly name a minute few – and yet, it has been well publicized, rarely has Metric asked to remix a band, having approached only two artists himself: Phoenix and Nikki and the Dove. The others, they have all come to him, and from this, the majority are turned away with a predominant reason of Alex’s lack of connection with their music.

“I kind of turn down probably three-times more mixes than I do, just because I want the ones I actually really care about and have a connection with.”

“I turned down one of my favourite bands recently,” he commented with regard to one of his beloved, TV On The Radio, “and I’d said that I could do the remix, and I actually got in on the computer, got it going, and just couldn’t find anything that really got me, and that I was proud of. So I had to go back and say that it wasn’t something I could do, which is a shame.”

“Sometimes that happens,” Alex continued. “Sometimes I [would] rather go back and not turn out something disappointing for one of my favourite bands, than turn out something that’s kind of average and that doesn’t really please anyone.

“So it’s good to be critical and it’s good to be strict on these things.”

Most recently having worked on Mike Snow and Snow Patrol remixes, Alex mused that these will be the last remix projects he undertakes for some time, albeit humorously adding that every time he mentions the ending of this process, “people like Mike Snow and Snow Patrol come along and I can’t really say no, and I love the records!”

“But hopefully for a bit, it will be the end of remixing,” he began, “and I [can] just crack on with some new stuff and who knows, you know if something that excites me comes in, I’ll do it, as long as I’m excited with it’s vibe, then I’ll do it over.”

Overtly holding a love for performing, Metric candidly admitted that his “heart is in the studio,” whilst speaking of the partiality for performance or writing. However, commenting on his forthcoming Australian tour, Alex described his view of the six-feet-down-under audience as “pretty clued up,” and as his latest two releases have done quite well on our shores, it is in perfect timing for his visit.

“They seem to really love what I do and get what I do… I don’t think that I’ll have to feel like I have to do anything other than just play what I want, and play the music I love,” he expressed.

Original Article:

www.futureentertainment.com.au/music/interviews/1370-alex-metric-my-heart-is-in-the-studio

Juan MacLean – A Heavy Price To Pay, Interview

Juan MacLean – A Heavy Price to Pay

Written for Future Entertainment

Originally published on February 14, 2012

From the foundation of Six Finger Satellite’s post-hardcore sound, he fell into a natural progression within electronica. Today, whilst holding over a decade of music behind his name, The Juan MacLean is only weeks from returning to Australia for yet another, innumerable run of shows on his perpetually demanding schedule.

The man responsible for the massive ‘Less Than Human’, ‘Visitations’ and one of DFA’s strongest releases, ‘The Future Will Come’, has roused the appetites of fans who have been waiting for his return for over three years. And as the anticipation rises and the touring is in an uninterrupted advance, the life style is taking its toll, leaving a shadow of destruction on personal and romantic relationships, and a feeling of apprehension for returning home.

“I think that’s just the trade-off [for] living this kind of life,” began John. “I’ve played somewhere around two-hundred shows last year; most of my life [is] on the road – which is amazing, it’s a pretty magical life… – but I still say that it is a pretty heavy price that you pay in terms of your personal life, just because you’re gone so much.”

Seen a cult figure amid fans of DFA’s work, Juan MacLean’s (real name: John MacLean) distinct musical sound is infused with lyrical content surrounded by the subject matter of this trade-off, and as he described, “it has been a big theme all along,” specifically within his latest work with Nancy Whang (LCD Soundsystem).

“For my last album, when we were writing lyrics, I feel like that was pretty much the central theme of the entire album, our experiences of living that way – spending pretty much our [whole] adult lives playing, and being touring musicians, and the fall-out of that,” he commented.

“It’s just such a different experience out there on the road, and [when] you come home, personally, I get very antsy. I don’t really want to be home very much.”

For John, the emotional conflict of living on the road has not turned toward a ‘sex, drugs and rock n’ roll’ platitude, and “I think that’s allowed me to have that kind of a schedule.”

“I think if you’re really getting messed up on drugs or drinking every night, and waking up just ruined every morning – then it’s pretty much impossible…” he explained, before reminiscing on a time when the DFA collective found dusty Polaroid shots taken before their real, ten-year touring and DJing cycle began, highlighting the before-and-after of their lifestyles.

“The affects of that were pretty astonishing,” he laughed. “I think it ages you exponentially.”

MacLean’s latest studio effort, ‘Everybody Get Close’ (2011) was an overtly emotive record, despite John’s admitted lack of deliberation for the balance of emotional tone within his music. But it is his attraction to melancholia that answers the above: an attraction that began with his musical roots and the influences of New Order and Joy Division, and a personal endeavor of combining the dark and the light within a progression of a single song.

“I think it has a lot to do with music I got really into when I was young,” explained John. “As a teenager, one of the biggest influences on me was New Order, and I was a big Joy Division fan before that, when I was a kid.

“I think being into that type of music really set the attraction for music that seems to be both uplifting and sad at the same time. It’s a tone that I’ve always tried to recreate as much as possible in my music, and I think it’s a very difficult thing to do.

“It’s easy to make overtly happy and upbeat music, or go in the other direction and make very dark music. But to somehow combine those element over the course of a single song, I think is a really difficult thing to do and something I’ve always aspired to do, and have been attracted to in other people’s music.”

John’s forthcoming turn on the Future Music Festival tour will be a reunion for the DFA Records collective, and this gathering is not only appreciated by the fans of the label, “I’ve looked forward to it for months!” he said. Undeniably, the musicians gracing the DFA stage have become a family that seldom sees each other, and unlike the customary traditions of family-ties coming loose, this is, once more, a touring ramification.

“The most exciting thing for me is having everyone in our DFA family together, on the same stage, playing the same festival,” John exclaimed. “All of us are on the road so much, a lot of the time we don’t get to see each other any-more – unless we cross paths somewhere else out in the world whilst we’re on tour. So to get everyone together on the same stage, and have a unified aesthetic going on that we’re in charge of, is really fun.”

The aesthetic mentioned by MacLean is a concept of taking the New York City life into Australia, giving James Murphy, Pat Mahoney and Juan MacLean, along with a slew of others gracing the stage, free rein in curating their Nightlife Exchange Program.

Ironically, however, for John “the fact is that night-life in New York kind of sucks at this point.” And in frankness, he continued. “Most of the nights that everyone is DJing are happening in new, boutique hotels that have clubs in them,” he emphasized with a tone of disdain and condescension for this trend. “Just New York, in terms of DJ culture has not been very good for a long time.”

The questions of loss of authenticity within the city that never sleeps are met with an explanation that is explicitly reminiscent to that of our own music industry irritations: ones that will be effortlessly understood and are frequently felt by musicians yearning for a space to perform.

“The problem is there are lots of amazing DJs and producers in New York, as much as there ever have been, and I think a lot of it has to do with zoning laws in the city,” he began.

“It’s just very difficult to open a club… and maintain a proper club. You essentially have to pay for a license to allow people to dance, and if you don’t have this license they will shut you simply by coming in and seeing people dance to music… so that’s really killed of a lot of night life in New York.”

Currently writing his new album with Nancy Whang, John clarified that the record is tentatively scheduled for a release at the conclusion of this year, or the beginning of 2013.

Original Article:

www.futureentertainment.com.au/music/interviews/1368–juan-maclean-a-heavy-price-to-pay

Professor Green, Update

Originally written for Future Entertainment, my interview with Professor Green was picked up by Brisvegas’ Scene Magazine (Feb. ’12) The article ran as the cover story… so, huzzah!

Full article: https://annadenejkina.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/interview-with-professor-green/

www.scenemagazine.com.au

www.futureentertainment.com.au

Interview with Professor Green

Professor Green, Bringing Music to Life

Written for Future Entertainment

Originally published on January 17, 2012

‘Alive Till I’m Dead’ was his breaking debut; one year on, the sophomore release of ‘At Your Inconvenience’ came as an intimate portrayal of the life of an artist who managed to crush the music scene in what appeared to be over-night. But Professor Green’s success is now a decade in its making, following the inadvertent discovery of his ability for rap at the age of eighteen.

From the plethora of media coverage concentrating on a pop-culture-entertainment side of his niche, including the obvious platitude of being compared to the likes of Eminem, it has become effortless to forget to look further than the aesthetic of a musician who has released an album that is laden with intimate events, and the challenge of setting free such a personal chronicle.

“I found it a bit of a worry, because when people heard it, what they were effectively commenting on was my life,” commented Professor Green, real name Stephen Manderson, on his latest studio release, ‘At Your Inconvenience’.

Always writing from personal experience, even when the lyric may seem to be coming from another’s perspective, the course of creating this album became a progression of his internal understanding and the discovery of what was really inside of him.

“For me, writing it was quite – and I know it’s a cliché – it was quite a therapeutic process,” he continued. “It helped me understand what was going on in my head better than anything else.

“Talking to people doesn’t really help me figure much out. There’s something quite challenging about it – but I don’t only take from negative situations, you know there are happy records, I do get happy like twice a month,” he laughed.

Green’s lyrics are filled with irony, honesty and humour, and this sharp sense translates to his telephone manner, as he took to the much-loved tongue-in-cheek ways of describing what he really thought of his comparisons to the aforementioned Eminem and shockingly, Vanilla Ice.

“A lot of people are not really a fan of the genre, so they only know the rappers that they hear of commercially – not to say that [Eminem] is a commercial rapper, he has more than paid his dues – so instead of then maybe comparing me to another rapper who has humour in his records, or just talking about me in my own right, god forbid,” the comparisons continuously lie in the easiest scapegoats.

“There are worse people to be compared to, the best I can [do] is to take it with a pinch of salt. It’s a bit of a wind-up sometimes … but I suppose the one similarity is that we both tell our stories,” he asserted.

A certain stigma has easily attached itself to white rappers within the industry, albeit this view is not held by Green, specifically due to his multicultural upbringing in Hackney,England, an overtly different environment to that of the US and its musical climate within the genre.

“We all live amongst each other; there’s now segregation here,” described Green. “In my [class] at school there were only two white kids: one was me and the other [one] was Turkish. I come form a very, very, very multicultural background; I’m lucky for that, because people here don’t tend to look at people by their colour.

“[England] is more class divided,” he continued, “and even with that there has to be a certain amount of council housing – the Square Mile – you all live on top of each other, you’re all amongst each other, which makes it such a special place.”

Even through his turbulent history, Manderson’s appreciation of where he is from became clear, and this was indeed the path that led him onto a career which was in effect uncovered by accident with a teasing push from friends. This path ultimately took him into the rap-battle arena, a space in which he rapidly gained respect through his talent and quick wit, but additionally a niche which left him with a lot to prove.

“I did have a lot to prove because there is quite a heavy stigma attached to battle rappers in that they can’t often make music: they’re great at battling, but they can’t really make music that people want to listen to. I’m just glad to have broken that mode,” he detailed, “It’s nice to be the exception to the rule.”

Already working on follow-up material to his 2011 release, ‘At Your Inconvenience’, Green stated that it would be easy for him to go in-depth in describing the details of the impending, new album – a title for which has already been established – but these minutiae he would not give away, keeping them as “something to surprise people with.”

“It has pretty much been studio hibernation in this past week,” he explained. “It’s rare that I get so much time in the studio, but I’ve just been taking every waking moment I haven’t got a gig coming up to get my arse in here and get some bloody work done.

“For me, on my days off I come to the studio, this part of it is all still fun for me and that’s the most important thing. I think as long as I still like that, I will be able to continue to put out music. I hope that never changes! Parts of it are work, but the studio I don’t look at as work – that could never be work. I enjoy writing music too much.”

Admittedly a meticulous writer, Green expressed that he doesn’t listen to his albums following their release. This is can be explained as self-preservation due the criticism he places toward himself, and the internal questions of “why didn’t I do this instead?” which, for him, come from the action of hearing an older record.

“The thing with music, and I’m sure it’s the same with any kind of art form, nothing is ever finished,” he began. “I don’t listen to my albums once they’re out, if I did it would drive me crazy, because you progress, you change, and you hear things differently.

“You can’t find perfect, you strive for it, but it comes to the point where you have to just let something go.”

Professor Green’s return to Australia falls to this March for the annual Future Music Festival, a run of dates which additionally mark his inaugural Australian tour in his own right, something which he stressed was meant to come earlier than the forthcoming shows.

“I was actually meant to come back in 2008,” he explained, “but it was a toss up between finishing the album [At Your Inconvenience] or coming to Australia to tour. And as much as I would have liked to have what would affectively have been a holiday for me, it was the album.”

Green’s impact on the music industry has openly come within the last four years, and specifically, following the release of his debut studio effort in 2010. But the ten years of his work haven’t changed his views and love of what he does, admitting that a permanence of performing and writing is still his main goal.

“To be able to continue to perform myself, by doing something that I love, to still have my music well received: that would be more than enough for me to be honest,” commented Green. “That, and world domination,” he exclaimed in jest.

And to what his fans should expect from him on his forthcoming dates: simply put, it is “the music brought to life. Completely brought to life,” he concluded.

Interview with DJ Tiga

Tiga, Always Caring

Written for Future Entertainment

Originally published on December 20, 2011

“Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes to all those things,” Tiga responded through the telephone line, discussing the silence he kept on his project with Munich-based Zombie Nation, under the moniker of ZZT – an endeavor of a personal and musical escape, as compared to his solo work, and an escape from attention and, ironically, the media.

“… I don’t get so involved in it,” he continued. “First of all, I live in Montreal; most of my work is inEurope, and it’s not like I live inLondon, or live inBerlinor something. So I’m a bit removed, and that’s kind of deliberate.”

His intentional removal from the hackneyed “hype” holds its pros and cons, albeit Tiga [James Sontag] described himself as lucky not to care so much for the content of the coverage – specifically, never feeling particularly criticized – and not being sucked into what he calls the “distorting” place, an emotive space created through judgment and myriad of opinion.

“If anything, one thing that is a little stressful now is that now there is so much coverage of everything,” he expressed. “It’s all on blogs and at the end of the year in the Pitchfork, in the Resident Advisor, in the DJ mag [sic], in the charts and the lists.

“What I do find is that everyone gets kind of sucked in to a little bit of this… I don’t know how to say it,” – almost getting lost in thought, he began to underline his view of how an artist can become absorbed by the discussion surrounding them. “… I find it can be a little bit – what’s the word I’m looking for – distorting. It’s easy to get sucked into this thing of “okay, where does your music fit in with all these different little groups and opinions”, which is not a healthy thing to care about.

“I guess there’s this part [to] the modern age. There’s so much information, and there’s so much discussion and so much of it’s out there, it’s easy to sometimes get caught up in that, and it’s not such a healthy place to be if you’re trying to make [music] – best to ignore it all.”

Returning to the Australian shores for the annual and imminent run of new-year-celebration music festivals, the topic of changes within these circuits, globally and generally, came through the concept of producers and DJs taking to performing with a full band line up. Indeed this is a change that makes sense to Tiga, due to the increasingly rising popularity of DJs as headlining acts and pop stars, but it is one that also signifies a transformation in the notion, the connection and interaction of the artist with his audience.

“I think the days of just one, lone figure standing off in the distance and playing his records alone – that might be a thing of the past. I might be one of the last,” he commented, for whom the idea of a full line-up has crossed the mind, but was never thought of seriously. “I guess me personally, I always thought it was kind of lame,” he stressed, “it just seems so fake.”

“The DJs that I always liked,” he continued, “the DJs that I always looked up to when I was really young – it was just a completely different aesthetic. The DJ was providing the soundtrack; obviously he was still the star, we were aware of him, but [there] was just much more modesty involved. It was more: heads down, everyone dancing, and [now] it’s just been transformed into like a kind of cheerleader type of thing. And I’ve no criticism of that – it’s just a different aesthetic.”

Through Tiga’s above portrayals, and his previous commentary that the 2011 ZZT full-length release, ‘Partys Over Earth’, was pointing fun at how bizarre the development of big festival and big party music has become – asking the question of “what’s next?” – a sense of cynicism began to linger behind his words on the current musical climate. But this idea was misheard and misread, as “I’m actually, I’m pretty optimistic,” he explained.

“Like anybody I have my moments of doubt and everything. But no, I’m pretty optimistic actually. I think there’s a lot of amazing music being made right now, and I think there’s a lot or really, really exciting stuff.

“There was a period of time,” he continued, “I think the past couple of years, but I think it was more personal.” As he minutely alluded to his private moments of doubt, Tiga returned to the growth of the industry, its evolution and its overt changes.

“… There have been so many changes; I think that’s the thing. I think dance music, not electronic music in particular, but music in general, has gone through kind of a revolution during the past five years or so, I mean really much more than most industries,” he expressed.

“How people access music, how people buy it or don’t buy it, the styles; the popularity; everything has really changed quite a lot…”

“I mean, just as a stupid example,” he began, “when my first record came out… I don’t think there was even such a thing as Facebook, there was no social [networking], there was nothing. You go from a period where that’s not even in existence, to a period where that’s like the dominant PR tool.

“So there are some major changes, and with those changes there are moments… I guess there are moments of cynicism because that’s human nature. You kind of [think] “oh god, I liked it how it was”. But all of that has disappeared for me now, and I think it’s a glorious, golden era that we’re heading into right now.”

Having been active as a musician, producer and DJ for over a decade, it was bracing to hear Tiga’s words come through hand-in-hand with overt passion. Fittingly depicting himself as an artists who does not take much conciliation in the past, Tiga spoke of the intended follow-up to his 2009 sophomore studio effort, ‘Ciao!’. Describing the stages of planning and scheming, and “when you actually start to get anxious,” Tiga currently falls into the latter of the three phases, “which is a good stage to be at.”

“For me, about a month after a record is finished, I’m like “oh god, I haven’t done anything. What am I going to do!?” So I’m kind of deep in to that right now, where I’m very excited.”

He continued, “I feel lucky to be in the position I’m in, I’m very excited to make something new and to kind of redefine myself. I’m looking forward to it.”

With a feeling of zero external pressure whilst working on a new record, Tiga explained that his pressures grow internally; massively, “like uncomfortably massive,” he laughed.

“It feels like not, not, not especially pleasant,” he began to illustrate. “It’s easier once you really get started, once you’re really working on something, then it becomes more manageable – because you’re tackling individual music problems… But when you’re just planning in broad strokes, it’s easy to get carried away with too much expectation from yourself.

“It’s dangerous. Sometimes you start, and that’s when artists lose the plot, when they’re too obsessed – “it’s gotta be new, or it’s gotta be different, and it’s gotta be original”… these things are all illusions anyway.”

Revealing his ultimate anxiety, Tiga voiced that his “greatest fear is just not caring anymore.” Nevertheless, this idea does not fall under the cover of becoming stale or redundant within the niche, purely two concepts which he emphasized to be someone else’s judgments.

“It’s different… my ultimate nightmare is just that I don’t care.”

“If you just wake up one morning and you just don’t have that drive. You just don’t have the ambition anymore; you don’t have the desire… I would say it is losing desire,” he explained.

Giving an allegory of “it’s not someone else saying you’re not attractive, it’s you not caring if you could sleep with them or not,” for his above beliefs, Tiga spoke of what is behind his passion to continue creating music, something that came forth as a metaphorical puzzle, which he is still trying to piece together.

“I have quite eclectic tastes,” he began. “There are all these different things that I really love – I kind of love simple pop music, I love techno; I love kind of deep dance, kind of dark dance music and acid. I like all these things that don’t necessarily fit together, and I feel like in albums of my work I’ve kind of always been trying to fit them together, and I don’t feel like I’ve ever really gotten it totally right.

“At this stage, for a third album, for me the ambition, the drive, it’s to kind of really find a way of putting those pieces together. Like properly. That’s how I see it now.”

Growing up in the 80’s with a love for classic, vintage, synth pop, the 90’s saw Tiga fall deeply into the techno, acid and rave culture, “and I don’t know too many people where those were their real informative influences,” he expressed. “I guess it’s my mission to try to find it, and forget intelligent, just a cool way of putting those things together.”

“I’ve come close on occasion,” he continued, “but I think there’s room for improvement.”

Interview with Marco V

Marco V, The Master-Mind

Written for Future Entertainment [on line]

Originally published on August 11, 2011

His musical presence was first felt in 1998, and now, over a decade later, Dutch-born producer and DJ, Marco V, is known as one the leading minds within the electronic music scene all over the world.

Accredited as the master-mind behind the fusion and creation of the tech-trance sound, and yet, through all of his success, Marco keeps to a character that is humble as he explains his thoughts on the grandeur of his music and reputation.

“It is something that people stick on you,” he said, “and it’s great to get credit for that, but for me at that point I was just doing what I really wanted to do.”

“I was creating something differently, I really liked techno at that time, and I really liked trance, so that’s something I combined, it worked for me and I really enjoyed it.”

Returning to the Australian shores later this year as part of the annual Godskitchen event, where Marco will be sharing the stage with the likes of Richard Durand, John Askew and Ben Gold, he expressed his excitement for the forthcoming visit, retuning to an audience, which he described as incredible.

“The audience in Australia is just fantastic!” he exclaimed. “You know, you get so much great reaction from the crowd when you’re playing your tracks. So that’s the biggest difference, from even Europe. I’m really excited to be back,” explained Marco, “you know I did Godskitchen once before… and I really enjoyed that. I was with Richard Durand last week in Taiwan and really enjoyed his set, so I’m looking forward to being back with him as well for this tour.”

A man without any pre-performance rituals – only checking that all of his technical specs and equipment is at hand prior to going on stage – Marco’s love for his music and touring was continually growing flagrant in his expression and explanation of what persists to push him, and why he loves what he does – overtly, the fans’ reaction to his music.

“My favourite part is the reaction I get from the crowd when I play out my own tunes, that’s the best part, always…” Marco stated with enthusiasm, “it [gives] you such a feeling, it’s hard to describe it, you know? Making music in the studio, and then playing it for the audience, and then you get a great response, it’s just the best feeling I can get as a DJ.”

2009 saw the release of two pioneering albums from Marco V, entitled ‘Propaganda’, part I and II, which came coupled with a graphic novel from London-based digital illustrator, Vee Ladwa.

“Somebody knew somebody, who knew somebody who knew Ladwa,” laughed Marco when speaking about how the idea of this collaboration came to light. “Yeah, we wanted to do something more, it was just a fun thing, the whole comic thing in the CD. It was something different, and I like it.” And even through his innovative and forward thinking mind, Marco let Ladwa be inspired by his music in creating the aesthetic of the graphic novel, rather than giving own ideas and input. “It’s a creative thing,” he explained, “so I didn’t, and I didn’t even want to be involved – that is his baby – and he had to make it the way he likes it to be.”

Marco V is known as one of the most versatile and altering musicians in his field, so it came as no surprise when in 2010 he decided to push the boundaries once more, with the creation of The Art Of, a new multimedia concept, encompassing more DJ’s and everything of the night becoming a way of art.

“Yeah, again I wanted to do something more,” said Marco, “Before I had my ‘In Charge’ parties, I was playing all by myself the whole night long, but now I want to do something more and something different. It’s more ‘hands in the air’, happiness stuff that I’m doing with The Art Of, while my ‘In Charge’ stuff is a bit deeper and harder, so that’s why we put a new name on it as well.”

Throwing the first TAO party in New York last year, this event could be something that his Australian fans may expect to see in the future!

“Never say never!” He continued to speak after soft laughter, “at the moment there are no plans, but there could be. There is a good possibility that we’re gonna do a big tour with that, but for the moment there are no plans.”

Recently collaborating with Dutch indie-pop outfit Moke, Marco V is consistently composing new music, with new releases set to come in the next few weeks.

“Yeah! There’s a lot of new music coming out,” he said, “I did a new collaboration with a big Dutch band called the Moke, and the great vocalist [Felix Maginn] who did the vocals on the new song, ‘Be There In The Morning’, and that’s coming out in a few weeks. But I also did a lot of new pop tunes, that are coming out in the next couple of weeks – and remixes, I remixed for a lot of people.”

Holding a preference to working with vocalists rather than instrumentalists, Marco V expressed his happiness with the result of the recent collaboration with Moke, mentioning that at times it is difficult, and quite forced, to put an anthemic club sound over a band track.

“[Felix] has an amazing vocal and I like the work he did,” he continued. “He did the song with his guitar, and then we built this whole club anthem around it. Most of the time, it doesn’t work to give a club beat to a band, and then they have to put lyrics on it, it doesn’t really flow, [but] now it was more like a pop song and then we built the club song around it.”

Marco’s music comes through as organic in its composition, approaching him not only in the studio, but in day-to-day environments; plane, bed, “or wherever I am,” he said. Marco continues, “… they also come in the studio in a natural way. But the melodies that jump in my head are also coming naturally, because suddenly you have a melody and think “oh! I can do something with that.” But it also approaches in the studio – you’re working on a beat and think “wow, this could be a cool melody, or a cool vocal” or whatever.

Marco’s relationship with his fans is a very important connection for him, as they are not only the ones that make it possible for him to do what he is doing, but are also there to give a gauge on his new music, something that he likes to test out prior to an official release, he describes it as a “different way of producing”, but one that works.

“Yeah that’s the thing, nowadays when I create music I test it out [before] the audience. You know, you make something, you play on the weekend and you make some changes here and there. So basically nowadays it’s more a process between me and the crowd, you know, if they don’t react the way I want it I change it.”

“So it’s a different way of producing, that’s how it works now, but it’s a good way because when I put a song out I know it works for the crowd because I test it out so many times,” Marco expressed.

Having toured Australia prior to this year’s Godskitchen tour, Marco still has plans to see more of the country and its nature in between shows. “I think I’ve seen a lot in Australia, but we’re gonna spend a few days in Sydney,” he said, “so I think I’m gonna rent a car and do some driving there, go to the Blue Mountains, I’ve been there before but it’s nice to see them again and see what else is going on.”

And with regard to those critical of the trance and techno genre, Marco had only this to say, “What can I say to people that are dumb?” he laughed, “There is no music easy to make, you know, even children’s songs are difficult to make, to make the right ones. It’s easy to say that something is easy.”

“I think everyone should do what they really like to do most,” he continued with guidance for up-and-coming musicians, “too many people want to make it as a DJ or a producer… you can look up to some other [musicians] but don’t copy them. We already have Carl Cox, Swedish House Mafia, and if you wanna be like them, it’s much harder to get success than create something for yourself, you know, and that’s what I think more people should do.”

Interview with Nick Littlemore of PNAU

PNAU, Standing on Solid Ground

Written for Future Entertainment [on line]

Originally published on July 26, 2011

Unlike its predecessor, 2007’s self-titled release, PNAU’s latest effort, ‘Soft Universe’, was written during a tumultuous period of heartbreak and depression for vocalist and composer, Nick Littlemore.

“It’s a bitter sweet record for me,” he explains, “because, thematically, I was going through a lot of shit with my ex and this was a way of dealing with that, but now I look at some of the lyrics and [think] ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe I wrote that.’”

The new record, the fourth studio album from the Australian, and now UK and US based outfit, was influenced by Littlemore’s bout of depression; something, which he says, has been a creative presence throughout his life.

“Yeah, I think depression has been my main influence in my whole life… until recently; I fell in love again recently, which is wonderful,” commented Nick, who, escaping London by moving to New York, only a few days past landed in Sydney to a current climate and an atmosphere reminiscent to that of England.

“I just set up house in New York, we just finished in the studio in London – Peter lives there, in London – I just can’t live in London anymore, I just can’t handle it.”

“I need the sky,” he continued, “I need some perspective and I like the American way of life, or maybe the New York way of life, maybe that’s more accurate.”

“It’s really peaceful in that city, I love the galleries… It just feels more grown up for me to be there,” his love for the Big Apple growing more palpable with each word of the explanation, holding great tones of nostalgia.

“I’ve always wanted to live there, I went there first when I was twenty-one, and I loved it so much but it wasn’t time for me to be there, and I always said when I was thirty-five – well I got there a bit earlier than that – it’s a special place. There’s a great energy, and songs write themselves there. There’s such a history of creation and ideas and modernism. It’s great.”

A man that is admittedly driven by his sentiment, Nick stated that his is not good at hiding his emotion, something that overtly comes through in his writing.

“I think that I’m so driven by my emotions that it’s hard to get away from that,” he said. “Whenever you shoot something out of your mouth it tends to be about what’s really going on.”

His feeling toward the release of Soft Universe came forth as nonchalant and his humble character was under no solid expectations. “I have no aspirations of grandeur,” he affirmed, before explaining the differences behind the new album as compared to their earlier efforts.

“Yeah, it felt like a natural progression from our point of view, to step up to the plate I guess, and after the Empire [Empire Of The Sun] thing to kind of do something more vocal for PNAU.”

Only recently completing their studio rehearsals for the forthcoming Australian tour, Nick is optimistic about their live performance, a positivity coming through his voice as he spoke about the impending shows.

“It will be interesting to perform it,” he asserted, “we were rehearsing in the day time, as I popped over for a week… and it feels really good, it’s quite legitimate, we sing and play it acoustically – which is kind of amazing for us, because we’ve always been so electronic and backing-track based.”

He continued, “like Daft Punk, or any of those people, you can’t create that sound live without thirty keyboard players, it would be impossible. So we’ve been doing it with two acoustics and as four singers and it’s so cool, it’s like a hippie sort of thing.”

Nick expressed the new balance within the outfit, and in its live setting, also amusingly commenting on their latest use of in-ear monitors.

“We have these “in-ear” things so you can actually hear yourself,” he exclaimed, “I’ve never heard myself in fifteen years of doing shows – it’s always been this maddening, liminal state of losing my fucking mind and screaming at everyone, which has been great and fun, but now it feels like music for the first time.”

Their brand new record, ‘Soft Universe’, holds a definite transition from dance to pop and rock, something that Nick stated was somewhat of a conscious decision, enthused by their former manager.

“We had a manager for a time who originally signed U2 and he was talking to us about reframing what we do in a more anthemic, stadium-esque – for want of a better term – kind of way.”

“I toiled with, or dabbled rather, with the rockier sound with Teenager”, Nick’s art-rock side project with Phillipa Brown a.k.a. Ladyhawke, “but it was all kind of experimental and never really formed into anything as a song.”

For PNAU, their song-writing came in an opposite way to what, as Nick has described, people normally do, which is “starting with just guitars and pianos and singing, and then [going] into production after ten years of doing that.” But for PNAU, however, production came as the forerunner, beginning when the duo were kids. “Electronic [music] is kind of production, the way you write,” Nick explained, “so I feel like now we’ve almost come full circle, we understand the whole process, the production side as well as the song writing side and the live aspect.”

Peter Mayes [guitars, production], has previously expressed that PNAU have developed into better songwriters, and in Nick’s opinion, “well, we couldn’t get any worse. So I’m glad that we’ve gotten better,” he laughs.

With the release of their new album, it has been made clear that the duo is changing their live scenery, in particular, beginning to distance themselves from the club scene, an environment that, as Nick expressed, has not been in his favor for some time.

“I don’t want to be in sweaty night clubs anymore,” he said, “I mean, I haven’t wanted to be for a long time actually.”He continued, “My brother makes club music and I know a lot of people that make club music, but I just don’t, I don’t really respond to it. It’s a bit like renaissance art to me, it doesn’t influence my culture, [and] I don’t understand where it comes from anymore.”

“I’ve never really loved club music, that’s what I was talking about with Cirque”, Nick explained in reference to the band’s work for Cirque Du Soleil, for which PNAU is currently scoring with production scheduled for this September. “It’s more like German acid music, which was way more melodic and it’s more like a journey, it’s not just hitting you in the head for five hours.”

“I find that music not that musical,” he affirmed, “and if I’m going to listen to something that’s atonal, then I’ll listen to something that’s truly atonal like Ryuichi Sakamoto, Steve Reich or modern classical music.”

Nick’s want for change and challenge was made clear further as he spoke of the natural growth that PNAU has taken from, as he described, their “dancy-dance stuff”, to the release of ‘Soft Universe’ and their work with Cirque Du Soleil

“I think it’s good to challenge yourself… I think it’s just natural to change what you do because you’re just going to get bored. I don’t understand how one person can do the same thing throughout their whole career; it doesn’t make any sense to me,” he concluded.

PNAU’s current work with Elton John has made him not only the band’s mentor, but for Nick personally, a touchstone, and someone that has been able to give Nick a new perspective.

“He’s been through a lot of dark times,” said Nick, “so he was really good with me personally, putting things in perspective. We kind of took all his multi tracks that he ever had,” Nick began to explain the collaborative effort between PNAU and Elton, “about five-hundred-odd songs, and every show he’s ever recorded, which is pretty much from the 70’s till now, and we’re just pretty much doing whatever we want with it.”

Nick likened these musical compositions to that of the Avalanches with samples of Elton John, an effort that for him is “really cool, but [something that] takes forever.”

“I’m not classically trained”, stated Nick, “I’m the most ill refined person you’re ever going to meet,” he expressed jokingly with regard to any formal training that he may have in music. “All I wanted to do was make movies,” he reminisced over his film and art school past, “but I just got caught in this thing.”

Nick’s modest character held a sense of self-judgment as he concluded by comically – or perhaps in light-hearted cynicism – stating that his problems were only first world problems. “They’re not real problems,” he said, “I’m just a little bourgeois bitch. I can eat and I can walk, pretty much.” But he still wants to make movies, and to this day, he continues to write stories, something that came forth as his strong infatuation, “that’s really what I just want to do, is write stories.”

Film Review – ‘Bad Teacher’

This was my first film review, and to date, only film review. 
 

Movie Review: Bad Teacher

Written for Future Entertainment [on line]

Originally published on July 20, 2011

“She just doesn’t give an F” is the perfect byline to Bad Teacher and its leading “lady” Elizabeth Halsey, played superbly by Cameron Diaz, who may be the hottest teacher there has ever been. The drinking, cigarette and marijuana smoking Elizabeth has the personality of a kick-arse rock star, rather than that of a teacher, a role that Diaz manages to pull off greatly alongside a stellar and hilarious cast of Justin Timberlake, Lucy Punch, Jason Segel and Phyllis Smith.

Definitely not a children’s comedy, perhaps unlike to what the title may suggest, Bad Teacher is a push in the right direction from screenwriters Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, and director Jake Kasdan [Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story], who never invites the audience to pity Diaz’s character, instead, making us shriek at her conniving, scheming and misleading plots in order to gain more of what she loves best – that being the materialistic, the shallow, and in particular a breast augmentation, which is the main ideal that surrounds her in the quest to raise money.

Diaz’s physical transformation, at times from scene-to-scene is amusing and cringe-worthy; the sexy, Louboutin-wearing teacher, the hung-over educator with not a penny to spend; the junky, street crawler looking for a cigarette lighter and ultimately sharing a Christmas meal with a student’s family, definitely invokes a nauseating part to her character.

Additionally, Bad Teacher plays host to the most hilarious “sex” scene that I’ve ever laid my eyes upon between Diaz and Timberlake, underlining that there is definitely a good amount of laugh-out-loud moments in this comedy. Timberlake, who plays the rich substitute teacher Scott Delacorte, and Diaz’s gold-digging interest is a dumb character at best, and at worst, well, you’ll have to see the film. Jason Segel, who plays the unfit gym teacher, Russell Gettis, is smitten by Diaz, but do not assume that this is a gross, cliché love story, as Segel and Diaz stray from romanticism, bonding over sarcasm, cynicism, alcohol and pot instead.

Of course, a music cameo summoning the 1995 classic, Dangerous Minds, is fittingly present, with the soundtrack, the one-and-only “Gangsta’s Paradise” playing over footage of the train-wreck teacher that is Diaz.

Thankfully, this film is based on the notion that every character and the entire plot is exceptionally fictional, letting us immerse ourselves in the hilarity of a terribly ill-fitting school teacher, the cringe-worthy plot-line and most of the unconventional characters around her.

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