While covering the BUKU Music + Arts Project, we were lucky enough to do some interviews. One of those was with Lettuce and it particularly special for us. We were joined by an all-star cast of funk musicians, including Adam Deitch and Nigel Hall, for a round robbin’ on electronic music, NOLA and Lettuce
Eric Krasno Neal Evans Adam Deitch Erick Coomes Adam Smirnoff Sam Kininger Ryan Zoidis Nigel Hall
DubEra.com: What makes New Orleans so special for music?
Erick ‘Jesus’ Coombs: They made up the idea of a drum set here. This place is incredible. It’s magical. You can feel it as soon as you get here. There’s people playing on the street that are just incredible musicians that you’ll never hear again. You hear them just walking down the street.
Adam ‘Shmeeans’ Smirnoff: Some Cities just have a natural pulse and energy. When you walk around New Orleans you can just feel it. It’s always going there’s this crazy pulse, this crazy beat everywhere you walk.
DubEra: Adam (Deitch), how do you feel about bridging the gap between organic-sounding music with Lettuce and the more more electronic Break Science.
Adam Deitch: I just feel like it’s all about balance, about yin and yang. You know, you can’t just do electronic all day and you can’t just do organic all day. I feel like in today’s times you gotta mix it up. All these guys listen to electronic music and they all love hip hop and J Dilla, that’s the original electronic American music. Our funk, our organic-sounding stuff is influenced by that, I would say more than most funk bands. We’re heavily influenced by that.
Jesus: That’s a great fuckin’ answer.
DubEra: And looking in to the future, where do you see the marriage of those two styles going?
Nigel Hall: I mean electronic music isn’t just now starting to be popular. It’s existed since 1968, since Bob Moog made a synthesizer. And anybody who played keyboards or anything that you’ve heard from ’74 on is electronic music. Fender Rowlands is an electronic piano. We been plugging’ in for years. It’s evolution of the foundation. And there is a resurgence. People are really starting to get a sense, now, of what real music is because we’ve been drenched in shit for so long, you know? Drenched. Spray shit. And now people are starting to clean the shit off and they’re wanting something real and they’re starting to look toward the real shit to find where you go. Because somebody said, when you come up with sounds and an idea, the music will tell you where it needs to go.
DubEra: So you’re saying now music is in a much better place than we were, say, 10 years ago.
Nigel: Oh, yeah.
DubEra: Do you think in another 10 years we will be that much better off?
Jesus: It depends on what the people do. The technology is good and if the people use the technology to make awesome shit then we will be.
Adam: For instance, like Gramatik. He’s just like one of the funkiest dudes out there. He’s really into organic sounding stuff. He loves Lettuce and electronic music really has that funk. People love funk in any shape or form.
Nigel: And you can’t deny the funk!
Jesus: I wanna say one thing about electronic music and hip hop and rap. I think that it’s rare that you find a drummer that can play a pocketed beat for an extended amount of time. It’s rare that the ‘feel’ really feels great and that’s why a lot of the time we take the 4 bars that we chop up and make hip hop out of it. Because that 4 bars felt amazing and now you’re whole song feels amazing. I think that shows that it’s not that easy of a thing to do on drums and we’re lucky to have Deitch around to make it feel good for 3-4 hours because we grew up listening to sample and looped music. That was a must. It wasn’t like “maybe it should feel good all the way through the song,” – it HAS to feel great all the way through the song.
Nigel: I never met anyone that understood such a simple concept. It’s like play the beat – just play the beat.
Adam: That’s the whole philosophy of this whole thing. These guys have been taken me from a guy who wanted to be a soloist or whatever and then just play the beat and watch the crowd and watch the build.
Ryan Zoidis (to Adam): That’s a perfect example of the evolution of music where you listened to 90s hip-hop, you grew up on it, you were making beats like that from 10 years old or whenever you started making beats. So the way that integrated in to your drumming is a perfect example of how music is evolving because of electronic music. Musicians are evolving because of it.
Jesus: I agree
Adam: A lot of our music friends are kind of copying machines and creating this hybrid between humans and machines and it’s exciting to watch.
Shmeeans: It’s definitely pushing the envelope of musicianship today.
Jesus: And if you’re a musician, don’t write off electronic music. Like, “oh that’s not real.” What’s real? What does that even mean?
DubEra: And I think that elitism is starting to disappear.
Adam: And we’ve always been in support of that too. This band is different than most bands that play instruments. We respect that whole thing and there’s good and bad in every genre just like Duke Ellington said.
Nigel: Duke Ellington said that!
Jesus: “What kind of music you like?” GOOD Music.
DubEra: And speaking of good music…
Jesus: KANYE WEST!
DubEra: Haha no. With Wanee and Purple Hatters Ball coming up, we want to know what you think sets the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park apart from other venues.
Adam: We love the Suwannee. That whole family that puts it on is awesome. From Paul and Lyle to Whitney, that whole crew they just really take care of us and love funk music and love the whole thing. That family aspect mixed with the beautiful Suwannee, everything about it: the trees and everything.
Shmeeans: I never got to experience or meet Bill Graham or anything like that when they talk about the 1960s and people who put on concerts back then. I’ve always imagined that like Paul and Lyle have what I imagine that Bill Graham vibe to be because they’re friends with all the artists and they care and they make us want to play beautifully and have a great time at their festivals.
DubEra: What can we expect coming up from Lettuce?
Jesus: Lettucefunk.com, we have our tour dates up there. In May we may be coming through your town.
Shmeeans: We got the Purple Hatters Ball. We have a festival in Baltimore. We have Summer Camp.
Jesus: Electric Forest, Summer Camp… BUKU! We’re gonna be at BUKU. No, wait… we just did that.
Shmeeans: We’re playing the Brooklyn Bowl.
Adam: I wanna send a huge shoutout to our friends Soulive who are playing the Brooklyn Bowl right now.
Shmeeans: Yeah, Bowl-Live. Holdin’ it down for us in New York.