FADER Mix: Co La
The Baltimorean drops off a conceptual mix that’s by turn ambient, avant-garde, and anxious.
This week's FADER Mix comes by way of Baltimore producer Co La. Never one to shy away from a formalistic challenge, Co La's mix is highly conceptual—its full title is actually "Shrink — Season 1, Episode 1: Redemption," based on the premise of a reality show about psychologists—and it plays on themes of unease and melancholy; it's safe to say that this is not a mix for the club. Rather, it's a selection better suited for headphones, or maybe a sparse art space somewhere. It is to be absorbed in isolation, in its entirety. The music within is at turns ambient, avant-garde, anxious, and/or all of the above, taking cues from Baltimore club beats, soca, and dancehall. Get lost in the producer's headspace below, and read on for a glimpse into the mind behind the vibes. Plus, pick up his new album No No via Software on October 9 (pre-order it here).
Where are you right now? Please describe your surroundings.
I'm on Amtak NE Regional heading to New York. Cafe car. Bar inexplicably out of all beers except Sam Adams so my hand has been forced. Mother and baby opposite, chill.
Tell us a bit about the mix—what do you imagine people doing while listening to it?
This mix is 100% Baltimore/ex-Baltimore crew. A lot of unreleased, or soon-to-be released stuff. It's not a mix for dancing—this music is strange, ambient sometimes, brutal sometimes, fun sometimes. I think it works to treat this like Netflix: no velocity, no movement, just attention.
Have to ask: what is your album title declining?
It declines nothing. A No No can mean something that is off-limits. In baseball, it refers to a no-hitter—when one team makes no hits, usually because a single pitcher throws a perfect game.
How has your approach to music making changed over the years?
Early on, this project was all about taking inspiration from other music, transforming it, updating it. Now, I focus more on effect—I'm interested in building from memory, triggering sounds, physical sounds, surprising sounds. I'm looking for intent, I'm a prosecutor. I put sounds in an order that begins to prove or disprove a theory. I clarify or confuse depending on the charges.
What draws you to dancehall samples, and why do you frame them the way you do?
I actually haven't sampled very much dancehall. I tend to dig deeper for jazz, or just straight up foley. If you are talking about "Crank" from No No—I can say that I built that song in a functional way. I live in a neighborhood where soca and dancehall bleeds out of car systems and into my studio, into my dreams, into my kitchen. I needed to make a track that sounded like a summer party, but unfolded more realistically, with disappointment, and anxiety, with reflection.
What's the last book you read that had a big impact on you?
Millennium by Hakim Bey had an effect.
And finally, what's your favorite dish to cook and how do you make it?
This is the beginning of the season when I make a dish called "Bag of Leaves with Food"—it's a slow roasting technique for root vegetables. The knife-work is important, you need to cut whatever you have—beets, potato, rutabaga, turnips—into rock-shaped chunks. A good technique is to just insert the knife into a vegetable and turn it until it breaks. These shapes look very much like rocks. 475-degree oven, vegetables in a ceramic dish, oil, fat, vinegar, pepper flake, anise, clove, salt, pepper—roast it COVERED until just fork tender, probably 40 mins. Then, remove from oven, coat with honey, maybe 2 tablespoons. Continue to roast UNCOVERED at high heat until the sugars are burnt. Remove, set aside. While the vegetables roast, collect fallen leaves, as colorful as possible. Wash them in cold water, shake dry, salt and toast at 475 for 5 mins, be careful not to let them burn. Place 1 handful of toasted leaves in a paper bag, then the roasted roots (now blackened /stone-like), then a few bonito flakes, more leaves, more roots, more bonito. Cut 1 lime in half. Shake the bag. Set the bag on ceramic tray & light it on fire with a cooking torch—as soon as it's lit—squeeze the lime over the bag to extinguish flame. That's Bag of Leaves with Food.
4 P.M. - Sukiyaki (Lover's Groove Radio Mix)
AM 4 - The Sadness Of Yuki
Jeremy Hyman - Couch - Future Times
Phork - Hara (Shff - Falling)
Phork - Gurun (Orp Turning Sphere)
Joe Williams - Solo Lost Boy Legato (12 O' Clock Boys OST)
Jer Hy & Co La - 2014/2015 Transition (Club Undo)
Sentinl - Lifestyle
Co La - Anxiety Suite
Co La - I Comb My Hair (Diagnosis Version)
Tallesen - Shines Itself
Lifted - ???
Motion Graphics - Softbank Arcade
Justin Kelly - Shenzen NeXt
Max D - ??? - Future Times