The Hundred in the Hands Talks War, Peace, Hip-Hop, the '80s, and Geeking Out Over Art
The topics ranged from THITH's namesake ("A Native American battle from the 1800s," Friedman explained) to collecting printed matter, defying this hyperdigital age, and returning to the studio.
Today, the conversation continues with a mildly meandering discussion of war, peace, hip-hop, the '80s, and geeking out over art.
Crossfade: Being named after a bloody frontier battle, is it war or peace in the studio?
Jason Friedman: Well, we're around each other all the time, so we definitely take our work home with us. In the studio, it can be fiery at times. But in the end, we're just trying to find the difference. We've both had experiences where we stuck to what we thought should happen and it definitely proved to be the right move. And that also means that we both gave up at some point and that was the right move. To try and figure out which side you're on, though, it would really be helpful to have a third person.
What's worse, the studio or the tour bus?
Friedman: I think, when we're on tour, it's a little easier because there's nothing to figure out. We both know what our job is. That's what we're always arguing about, "What is this job going to become?" So, when we're on tour it's easy to just sort of keep the peace.
Prowling around your website reveals old-school hip-hop to be a big touchstone for Hundred in the Hands. How does rap figure into the sonic makeup of your stuff?
Eleanore Everdell: I think in comes in a few different forms. There's the romantic history of hip-hop. And I think that's really tied with the history and culture in New York over the past 33 years. A big chunk of the proto hip-hop world like ska and dub stuff coming from Jamaica and the really early hip-hop is kind of more of the source of influence than gangster rap.
And then there's the level of production, because we're really involved in the production part of things too. The strides that have been made in production through hip-hop as opposed to rock 'n' roll in the past 30 years are really inspiring to someone who's making music, any kind of music.
I think also there's an element to [our music] that incorporates a really heavy rhythm section -- beats that move you physically, whether it's crazy low-end or a bass line that makes you move even though you don't realize that it's a dance song. There's just so much to draw from that world. And for both of us coming from a rock background ... It just blows your mind.
Is the synth-y '80s esthetic another big point of reference?
Friedman: I think the '80s stuff is by accident. It's not really a big point for us. But we kind of figured it out, obviously, because a lot of people ask about it. I think maybe we have a lot of influences that people in the '80s had. Like a lot of post-punk stuff and a lot dub. We have prog rock or hip-hop, and it was obviously filtering into everyone's palette at that time. So I think that we've come to some of the same conclusions. Also, just thinking about instrumentation, you can pick up gear that was made in the '80s and it automatically sounds like the '80s, whether you're actually making '80s music or not.
What about non-musical influences? What feeds your brain when your ears need a rest?
Everdell: I think that New York City. Obviously, it's kind of cliché to say so. But it's a vibrant and amazing place to be. And there's a lot that you can draw from different aspects of the art world there. We try and check stuff out as much as we can when we're in the city. I would say visual art, period.
The Hundred in the Hands, hosted by Grace Jones with Benton, Laura of Miami, Will Renualt, and Uchi. Thursday, June 23. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $10 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-456-5613 or visit electricpicklemiami.com.
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