Exclusive: Knowing Thy Self with NoThySelf

by Edgar Roman

 “In his music you’ll hear him pouring his heart out over classic jazz samples and drum patterns that are vividly characterized as “personal anthems,” music that revitalizes the soul.”

NoThySelf was born and raised in Southern California. Formally known as DJ Knowledge, his name, NoThySelf was chosen during an enlightening and transitional phase of his life. The heavy weight of interpersonal struggles leads one to become lost, but those moments become life lessons, one’s that are important if learned and later on used correctly to make wise decisions. As he began to make wise decisions and the results of honest work, he improved and thus deconditioned his mind of old and destructive habits and ways of thinking.

He chose the name, NoThySelf, because he wanted a personal name that was significant, a name to remind him that he could always be “one with my true self” and not a “false ego self.” He says, “Initially I hated the name because at the time I wasn’t fully living in the NOW, and being true.” That’s when he realized that NoThySelf was an essential name for that time of life.

He originally became acquainted with music during his start as a DJ/turntablist, in where he was intimately drawn in by the allure of scratching Hip Hop records. Gradually he graduated from scratching to collecting records, eventually leading him to broaden his taste for “good” music across several genres other than Hip Hop.

DJ’ing led him to collaborate with many artists in the Greater Los Angeles area, but he settled on becoming a member of the Locally Grown Collective, a Hip Hop group from Orange County, CA that represents freedom of expression, good vibes and love through their music.

Some of his influences are DJ Shadow, J Dilla, Madlib, Cut Chemist, J-Rocc, DJ Rhettmatic, Dan the Automator, Flying Lotus, Mndsgn, KANKICK, Tall Black Guy, Peanut Butter Wolf, just to name a few.

The music he creates has a personal connection, which has been part of his own personal struggles and achievements throughout various states of his life. In his music you’ll hear him pouring his heart out over classic jazz samples and drum patterns that are vividly characterized as “personal anthems,” music that revitalizes the soul.

The following is NoThySelf’s exposure of his music in his own words:

Tell me about Mind You:

Mind You is a track I made early 2012 with dreamy and ethereal sounds played on my keyboard, I sampled drums from vinyl, including a horn sample from the Great Henry Mancini. This is an instrumental to a track soon to be released called “Doin’ our Thang” coming December 2012. Can you further explain the significance of the voice sample about the mind and religion? It’s a funny synchronicity on how that sample ended up in the track. I was playing Mind You in iTunes to check if it recorded properly, and Pema Chodron, a teacher and follower of Tibetan Buddhism came on right after the track ended. Never really hearing this particular track in her lecture series “Bodhisattva Mind,” her words completely resonated with me. She touches on the habitual characteristic of the human realm that has been going on since ancient times. It ends of by how everyone is focusing on his or her thoughts and actions, which are all a source of the mind. It’s a short clip from a lengthy and very enlightening lecture but what I got out of it is that Mind is everything as well as the Heart.

What’s Errol and The Gang about?

Errol & The Gang was made on a bright day in sunny California, I was vibin’ at the Los Angeles Beat swap meet and picked up a few Errol Garner Records. I love this man’s work; he is a truly gifted vessel of God. I arranged and time-stretched his piano, hi-passed it as well as low passed it for bass. In search for another complementary sound I came across a Kool and the Gang record, which has a beautifully sweet horn, the two made this track, I simply arranged it to pay homage to their work, Hence the name Errol & The Gang.

Pretty Flask features Maiselph, an artist who is growing on me. What’s this track about?

Pretty Flask, originally named Byrd, was a track I made in late 2011. Heavily inspired by one of my favorite producers Pete Rock and of course Donald Byrd for the amazing sample. MC Maiselph reached out to me after hearing the beat, which is now a solid track featured on his album Politically Incorrect.

What is behind Loopu – Hillcrest Park Sessions, I hear a few samples?

Loopu – HillCrest Park Sessions was also made in late 2011; I ditched school to take some time to myself and went to Hillcrest Park, a local park in Fullerton, California. The main looped sample is the Legendary Cal Tjader, a master vibraphonist. Horns are from a Henry Mancini record, and you’ll find some percussion from Curtis Mayfield. I also add my own instrumentation using a Glockenspiel. This track will be a collaboration track to be featured on Endz’ album, “No Colored Flowers” featuring Los Angeles’ very own Reverie Love

Reflections is powerful, explain that?

Reflections is a collaboration piece created by three talented musicians, Flown, Griffith Sharp, and I. No samples except for the drums, which are sampled from vinyl. I chose the name reflections because it only seemed proper given that whatever each of us added to the composition was a reflection of our soul expressed through music.

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