by EDGAR ROMAN
You know immediately when you hear something – a sound, a rhythm, a pattern, a voice, and the overall ambiance in combination, and it makes you excited – you know you’ve come across a gem. When I listened Smoked Mood Vol. 2 from start to finish, and I repeated the process over again (many times) – I was in love with the creation because I understood what I meant to me, a music taster. Smoked Mood Vol. 2 is what I consider the maintenance of authenticity, a work of art that doesn’t seek to modify sound into rhythm-less or obscure patterns. This is music with soul – this is the history that we shall seek to maintain if we ever plan on having a history in the future. Ladies and gentlemen, this is my exclusive interview with the creator of Smoked Mood Vol. 2 – SmokedBeat.
For those who don’t know who SmokedBeat is, can you please introduce yourself to the world?
Hi, I’m SmokedBeat. I’m 34 years old, born in Cannes, France, but for the last ten years I’ve been living in Montreal, Canada. I discovered the Hip Hop culture through graffiti and DJ-ing around 95/96 and then through MC-ing at little later. Around the year 2000 a friend of mine (Guylux) gave me Reason 2.0 and I started to do some loops as instrumentals for myself. Three years later I now make beats and take it more seriously with more passion, time and work involved in the process. I began by making two remixes albums. The first one I made with my friend SoLead, and we remixed US rap artists. The second one I did alone and remixed French rap artists.
Then I wanted to do an instrumental album, which is a really different process. I started to group together all of my ”chilled” tracks and created the first Smoked Mood album. I had the chance to have some friends involved like the singers, Lizzy Parks and Calline. I also collaborated with the beatmaker, Dee La Kream. My photographer friend Kares suggested the ‘Swiss lac’ picture as the background, and my Graffiti/Tattoo artist friend Franck Pellegrino did the Art Work. Then my friend Fred2KN made a great video trailer. In the end I really liked it. For me this is when it really started. I enjoyed making Smoked Mood so much that I already knew that there would be additional volumes.
Smoked Mood Vol. 2 is your new album and in listening thoroughly, I’m hearing a musical range that captures many emotions, rhythms, and multi-genre influences – tell us about the overall album concept?
For SM2 [Smoked Mood Vol. 2] the process was the same… emotions lead. I’d get home after work and depending on which mood I was in I would start to dig in old stuff. I enjoy Jazz, Soul, Funk, Reggae, Bossa Nova and that all reflects in the album, but it can come from different styles too, like old variety French songs or an old Serbian player with his homemade violin. After all it’s just a matter of taste. If it speaks to me, I go for it!
Once I had my final selection I sent some beats to people that I wanted to collaborate with, like Lizzy Parks and Calline who were both on the first volume. This time I also had the pleasure to work with Mennel Sullivan, Plaisir and Awakening Dawn, which was a great experience, we did it at a 6000KM distance!!
I also had the chance to get Stu Wershof of Freak Motif, who did some great guitar riffs on three tracks, and Mr. Tam who played additional drums on A King’s Speech Part I. SBV2 is continuity of the first one. It’s basically the translation of my emotions in music.
The album cover is one of the freshest covers I seen in a while – it’s art! Where was the cover shot?
Thank you! We kept the Artwork by Franck Pellegrino from Volume 1. Martin Karas took the picture. It’s a hundred years old trail lost in the middle of the Czech Republic. Fred2KN took care of the blend!
I like how you incorporated Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech in A King’s Speech Part 1 – what transpired in the creation of this track? What’s amazing is how you made the speech into a song. This includes Part II – can you enlighten us on that track as well?
A King’s Speech was a concept that I wanted to use for an album and take a speech of someone who had an impact on the world and put it in music. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” was obviously one of my first choices, Gandhi too. That’s why I used some dialogues from the movie with Ben Kingsley for part II. I guess that I’ll continue the series with people like the Dalai Lama, Mandela, and even Mother Theresa. There are not many humans who had their impact or did what they did and that’s my tribute to them!
In producing this album – do you ever categorize each song by favorites, if so, can you give us some insight into which songs are your most favorite, which songs stick out and why?
That’s a tricky one! I have to say that it took me almost two years to make this album because I wanted to love every track of it. I really can’t say which one is my favorite, but I have to admit that ‘Simple Pleasure’ with Mennel Sullivan is particularly one. Firstly because of her superb voice, plus the fact that I made the beat specifically for her, this is not what I would usually do. Mennel wanted something specific and I had the chance to understand what it was.
Tell us about your collaborations with Mennel Sullivan (on Simple Pleasure), Lizzy Parks (on My Man), Calline (on Sunny), Plaisir (on The Heart Break), and Awakening Dawn (on This Is How it Started)?
I’ve been in touch with Mennel via Soundcloud. I had a crush on her voice and style right away, and what happened next? You know it already!
Lizzy is a good friend of mine. She’s a great Jazz singer and we already had the chance to do something together on Volume 1. She was really busy but kind enough to accept and do something on Volume 2. I wasn’t ready to “not” have her on it. I sent her some beats and she chose the Jazziest one and came up with that wonderful track that is ‘My Man’.
Calline is my friend and coworker. She used to sing in gospel choir and in some Haitian bands. She was also on Volume 1, and this time we chose to make a cover version of Marva Whitney & James Brown’s Sunny, but in a Reggae style which was kind of challenge for me since it’s not really a part of my expertise. But I really enjoyed the result.
I met Plaisir in Montreal through my friend Kares and we started a track together, but we never had the chance to finish it because she went back to Paris. I asked her to try something for the new album later on and she choose the beat and came up with ‘The Heart Break,’ a really Jazzy oriented song with some tempo variation. Plaisir brought her game of backing vocals to play with the swing.
Awakening Dawn was the latest collaboration. She’s another Millennium Jazz Music artist and does some great songs. I love her writing, no doubt. I know her through MJM and recording with Gadget. Dawn knows exactly what she wants and is really professional! The beat she chose wasn’t going to make it on the album’s final track list but she convinced me and came up with ‘This is not how it started.’ Once I heard that I definitely changed my mind. She really brought what was missing and I love the result.
I must admit; your collaborations each have their distinct character and are perfect combinations. But I don’t think I’ve heard genuinely talented voices like your collaborators in one album other than in classic soul and jazz records. It showcases your visionary style to the world. For example, when I heard Simple Pleasure – I was blown away. Then My Man came up, followed by Sunny, and The Heart Break. By the time I got to This Is How It Ends – I got goose bumps and teary-eyed because of the sheer joy of listening and finding meaning in the entire album. The combination of every track’s rhythmic character, lyrics, the meaning of the words and sounds, and the sound bytes –it was truly an experience. After the first listen – it got me to realize that Smoked Mood Vol. 2 is authentic! I hear passion, I hear the time it took, the love germinating as the album progresses.
You have no idea how much of what you wrote means a lot to me. I can’t thank you enough for this because my only goal is to share my music with people and if they feel it as I do I can’t be happier!
Aside from collaborating with a few artists and musicians, what you can mention about the collaboration between you and Millennium Jazz Music in releasing the album? And will we be expecting more releases via MJM?
The first time I heard about Gadget was on The French Touch Connection’s ‘Chronicles of a Flashback’ album and we’ve been in touch since then. He asked me if I wanted to do some work with the Jazz Jousters and I said, “yes” right away! The time goes on and we keep working on stuff together. He knew that I was working on SM2 and it came naturally. Gadget asked me if I wanted to be a part of MJM and of course I said yes!! MJM is one of the most prolific underground labels that I know of. All projects are done seriously with deadlines and that’s what keeps us productive. I’m also a huge fan of other MJM artists like Stay Classy, Bones The Beat Head, RickMal, Awakening Dawn and of course Gadget!
So the answer is, ”yes”. Definitely, there will be more releases via MJM. I already have two tracks on the brand new ‘Ruff Graft’ – Millennium Jazz Music tribute to Jay Dilla album, which will be re-released to all major digital stores and on limited Cd at the end of the month (March 2014).
Will you be releasing any visuals (videos) to accompany some songs off the Smoked Mood Vol. 2?
My friend Fred2KN is working on the video teaser for the album release as I’m writing these lines and hopefully you’ll see it soon. I’d like to do some more vids but unfortunately I can’t do everything and I don’t have much time or the skills for it!
Where can folks get a hold of Smoked Mood Volume 2?
What about your Social Networks?
Thank you again for making time in your day to chat with us on STERYO. Any shouts you’d like to give?
I’d like to thank Edgar and STERYO for giving me an opportunity to talk about my work and to share my music. Shout outs to Millennium Jazz Music, my man Gadget who mentored me with this album. I’d also like to thank all people involved in this the album… it means a lot to me! Also props to Fred 2KN, Franck Pellegrino, A.P, Nacho, Hamid, Le Premier Sens, The French Touch Connection, Dee La Kream, and all my friends who support me.