For this installment of Heal Yourself and Move, I talked to a bit of an known unknown. Vancouver resident Jason Lev has been quietly making some of the craziest edits being released these days, under the name Truth Is Light. As he says below, three new 12-inches will be coming out in the near future, and you should snag the previous eight if you fuck with bugged-out music. For some reason I don't see these on DJ charts or playlists as often as I would think; even though the tracks are obscure and raw they lack nothing in the dancefloor department. The first few 12-inchess of the series were definitely more of a modern soul vibe than I usually play when I DJ, but starting at around TIL #6 with the amazing slow cooker "Give It To Me," Jason started to really latch onto my brain with these tunes. TIL #7 and #8 go further into rugged, obscure edits made with an acute sense of the odd. Each new TIL track seems to have more catchy yet extremely weird vocals, wild effects, and a crazy sense of production that comes when you edit, for instance, all-black New Wave groups from ’80s San Diego, or impossible-to-find disco rock songs ("Rock ’n' Roll Disco" from TIL #7)
Truth Is Light is distributed exclusively through the amazing Earcave, and through the week, you can use the coupon code "FADER" on the site and get 20% off the goods, until this Friday, March 19. Shout out to Andrew Morgan of Earcave/Peoples Potential Unlimited for the good look! On to the interview...
What were your first forays into music/edits/production?
Jason: My first record was an electronic release of a fairly dubious nature. It came out at the end of '98 and was done mostly out of the need to go through the process of pressing something on my own, even if it was a sorry experiment. Going through the stages of mix downs, recording, mastering and then the actual pressing was something I knew nothing about and wanted to see from start to finish. This was all still analogue at the time too. I remember bringing my finished DAT to Archer in Detroit and was more excited about Ron Murphy cutting my lacquer than I was about trying to sell this thing.
How did the Truth of Light series come about? Is there a unifying concept to the releases besides "great edits of obscure tracks"?
The idea for an edit label came about when I was on a record buying trip in NY in 2003. A super old disco dealer out there had a huge amount of edits finished that he said I could use for 500 bucks. It seemed like a fair deal and I bought them all. Lots of great stuff was in there but it was just too NY and too straight. I tended to lean towards more oddball sounds and was way more into the Ron Hardy style of edits at the time, so when I got back to Vancouver I had mentioned this idea to my friends and mentors in Chicago, Mark Grusane and Mike Cole of what is now Peabody Records. They obviously had loads of finished edits as well and when I heard some of the work they did, it just seemed far more in theme of what I imagined I wanted to release. I then started Truth Is Light with Mark and Mike's two records and the idea to release more unusual finds that cater to collectors and dj's with a similar taste for the obscure and ethereal. At the time there were only a couple other artists that had released the occasional edit and DJ Harvey's Black Cock label was long gone. This was at least five years before everyone threw around the term "edit" to cover any bullshit remix. For me though, it was just something I felt people who loved rare records would want to hear and DJs who really spent time finding elusive cuts would appreciate how limited each pressing was.
"Give it to Me"
Whats the story behind "Give it to Me?"
Well one of the mandates of how I choose which songs to edit are usually the length of them, how many dated sounding bridges there are, and if the real juice of the song is too short and needs lengthening. With this George Perkins 45, the song was just begging to be made longer which made it much more epic than it's original three.
Whats the story behind "Cloud 9"
This is a very strange record by the group Play by Numbers. I couldn't quite figure out what the deal with it was other than it was a NY group doing a cover of a Temptations song singing with a fake British accent. My guess was that it was some punk related group where they thought it was cooler at the time to sound foreign. It was released on a 12-inch in 1983 and is the only 12 format I have ever edited so far. This is usually because if it had made it to a 12-inch release, there already was a lot of things done to it that I normally would do with 45s or LPs. With this however, there were two mixes, both of which had amazing moments throughout, but the absolute worst high energy bridges imaginable. So we took out all of them, glued both sides together in one longer mix and released an updated proto-monster.
Whats the story behind "Calling You?"
My good friend Tom Noble of Lotus Land brought this record to my attention many years ago as he knows my affinity for early use drum machines. I hadn't payed much attention to it at the time because it was so fast. The original song was almost 160ish BPMs if not more. It was one of those rare private press finds that you come across in Southern California that never made it out of the state. An all black punk outfit from San Diego or some smaller city like that (you can tell I'm not giving up this record so easily as it's important to keep people digging for records), all drum machines and all really wild. On this one, it was endless what we could have done because it was so easy to make clean cuts, but we made a completely new intro, extended each part, took out some unnecessary parts and most importantly slowed that mother fucker down to a proper speed.
Whats up next for TIL?
I began working with Andrew Morgan of Peoples Potential Unlimited in getting these records out over a year ago. He has been paramount in lighting a fire under me to get releases done and without him, there would probably only be a record every couple years. So as for upcoming, there are three new 12-inches coming out in the next two months that I'm really excited about. I feel the releases are getting more and more gutsy with every record and that people are actually digging the craziest songs the most. We are really trying to push the envelope some more with these next ones so people know that a record doesn't have to be of just one genre or style. As well, there is a new Truth Is Light 45 series coming out which will be a limited edition hand stamp-painted sleeves of some way over the top tools that I feel could really be what blows peoples minds permanently.