Exclusive Stream/Q+A: Doctor Delay’s Eastern Block Party

July 24, 2008

Over here at FADER it's been established that we're a bunch of long hairs (mostly in spirit) who spend our days listening to Outkast behind beaded curtains, or lay on straw mats while jamming The Tough Alliance. Some days we also just listen to Animal Collective bootlegs all day. What we're saying is we like a lot of stuff, so Dr. Delay's mixes are generally right up our alley, especially when our alley has lately been Mixes Of Music We Have Never Heard And Won't Ever See In A Store. We're curious! Delay's new CD mixes bar rock from Communist era Eastern Europe with underutilized '80s rap acapellas (and also Bonecrusher), and it's real heady and swirly and puts us in a slouchy, sweaty mood—in a good way. The mix is out soon, and you can purchase it here or at Turntable Lab in the coming weeks. Can't wait? Stream the entire mix below, and while you're doing it read our Q+A with Delay about Eastern Block Party, Polish rock finds in Greenpoint, and his love of the oft-misconstrued psych genre.

You began with an interest in hip-hop and psych, when did you figure out that these were two things you could actually put together?

Well, I wouldn’t really consider the Eastern European mix psych. It’s more late ‘70s, early ‘80s rock stuff. It’s more like blues, heavy metal. Standard bar rock stuff. I think people overuse the word “psych.” There’s a limit to what psych is and what it’s not. It’s kind of like noir—it’s not really a genre, it’s more like a number of symptoms. You know what I mean? It would have to be in this year range and have a fuzz guitar and maybe some off-key vocals or whatever. I wouldn’t say anything I used on the mix would really be psych. Anyway, I was buying those records for years for samples and stuff, and I looked at them and I said, “what am I going to do with all these things?” But the whole idea of making a thematic—I regret using the word mashup or blend or whatever—but instead of doing one track, doing a whole thing that’s thematic. That’s attractive to me. It’s so easy to do one song, but can you do a whole CD? So that’s what I was trying to do. For instance, the psych-crunk thing, they’re kind of influenced at a stylistic level by drugs. [For this mix] these musicians in Eastern Europe were poor, they were oppressed, they were disgruntled, same as a lot of these mid-late ‘80s New York rappers. A lot of people had hard lives to it’s kind of that contrast.

Is the thematic element something you’re shooting for on every mix you do?

Not every mix I do—some of them are just stuff I like. But I definitely try to create a mood. It’s never about region, I mean, region is kind of interesting to me, but I wouldn’t say it’s like, Oh these two regions meet each other. It’s more of a sound I’d like to accomplish.

Putting this one together specifically, I imagine you were sifting through hundreds of records on both sides of the spectrum…

Oh especially the hip-hop ones, there are so many acapellas that everyone’s used to death already for as long as I’ve been DJing—what, 15 years? I got things I really hadn’t heard anyone use. That was my main criteria, with the exception of “Never Scared” and a couple other things that just worked.

I was going to ask you about that actually, it’s a stylistic departure from the rest of the mix, but it fits.

It just worked so well I couldn’t resist.

When you first started DJing and putting mixes together, was there ever a moment when you realized you could create blends of entirely disparate things and make it your signature?

Yeah, I mean isn’t that what it’s all about? Like, wow I never knew it would work on that. If something’s really good to begin with you’re kind of doing it a disservice, you’re doing yourself a disservice by trying to compare your creation to its original format. Trying to make it different is really the best thing you can do. If it sucks to begin with you can do whatever you want, but, like, Common Sense? Come on. The name if the song is “Communism so there’s—

You already have the connection there. It seems like a mix like this would take forever.

If you include looking for the records then yeah, it takes forever. But if you already have the arsenal…Not to say I have a world-class record collection or anything, but I have a pretty hefty amount of records, which makes it easier. I ran through and finished that in about a month.

Did the concept for this one come first?

Well I was just like, Oh I want to make another mix, what can I do? I was looking around and I was like, What do I have a lot of? I have a shit-ton of hip-hop records and I have a shit-ton of Eastern European records. What really put me over the top was—I live in Greenpoint and this Polish lady cuts my hair down the block, Alina’s Cut and Style is the name of the place—and I’ve been going there for like five years. We got to talking one day and she found out I collected records and she said, “Oh my husband has all these records from Poland.” And I said, “Oh really?” And she said “I’ve got to look for them, I don’t know where they are.” Like a year passed and then she said, “I have records for you in the car.” So she cut my hair and I went out and opened the trunk and I had to make two trips. I had two boxes of Polish records and I had already amassed a pretty large collection of Polish breaks, but when I got those it sent me over the edge and I was like Okay now I can do something.

And this is mostly Eastern European bar rock?

For the most part. I would say all the instrumentation on the mix is from Communist-era Eastern Europe—be it Bulgaria or Romania or Poland or the Czech Republic—although I guess it was Czechoslovakia at the time—or Russia or whatever. So every piece of music on there—with the exception of the vocals, is from Communist era Eastern Europe. There are a few things on there that you could consider psych, but for the most part they were really into rock, like metal in the ‘80s and just straight forward—

What you blended Bonecrusher’s “Never Scared” with sounded kind of like Sabbath.

Yeah! Actually that’s a blues group called Breakout. They still play weddings and stuff in Poland. They still put out records. They’re still a name and a force to be dealt with in Warsaw and Krakow.

I think the reason I misconstrued the music as psych, is that it reminded me a lot of Turkish psych and prog that I had heard.

I would definitely say prog before I said psych. Prog is a more noodly academic sound that I steer clear of. I kind of don’t like it, but there’s an occasional prog record I like—especially the Italian ones but that’s a whole different story. When it comes to psych, you can’t really beat North and South America, which are definitely my favorites. Turkey’s cool, but it has its own sound.

Posted: July 24, 2008
Exclusive Stream/Q+A: Doctor Delay’s Eastern Block Party