In this second installment of the ThrdCoast Showcase Countdown, I had the chance to talk with electronic jazz-hop artist Edo Lee. In anticipation of his performance this Friday, we discussed his artistic roots, melding styles in his music, and his collaborative projects with fellow beatsmiths Iota and Matas.
ThrdCoast: Tell me about your musical background, and how you started collaborating with Iota and Matas.
Edo Lee: So, I first got into music playing sax and some piano, from grade school up through high school. My mom also taught me guitar, mostly folk and samba stuff. In high school we would have a lot of late-night jam sessions with me on bass, my brother on guitar (he taught me tons), Justin [Iota] on drums, and other friends freestyling and singing occasionally. I’ve always been addicted to finding music, and we were really into underground hip hop, like People Under the Stairs, Madlib, Nujabes, Flylo, as well as all the good 90s shit coming out of New York. Sometime in our sophomore year, Justin got an Akai MPD and started chopping stuff up which blew me away, so I got my own MPK in the spring of 2012. I was always trying to catch up to his sample skills, though we taught each other a lot. My dad has a crazy amount of instruments he’s collected around the world, as well as a ton of tapes and vinyl that Justin and I still dig through to find really obscure chops. We had both known Ben [Matas] for a while through friends, but we didn't start making music together until a year ago or so. He's about to graduate from the sonic arts program at City College in Harlem, and he really brought both of us into the light on the technical side of producing. He's also crazy good on the guitar and keyboard, and he inspired me not to rely on samples so much.
TC: What sort of atmosphere and style are you going for in your music?
EL: Between the three of us we've got an interesting balance, like past, present and future. Justin with the old school hip hop and smoky jazz chops, Ben with the organic textures, and an electronic/futuristic vibe with a Latin twist, and then me somewhere in the middle I guess. In my music I think I go for that smooth, nostalgic sound, but I’m constantly looking to evolve and experiment with different instruments, samples, and textures. I really try and put love into the music so you can feel it. Music has given me so much, so if mine can do the same for someone else I couldn’t ask for more.
TC: What’s on your iPod these days?
TC: Do you have any new releases or other projects coming up soon?
EL: Now that we've created our collective Budo Kiba, after talking about it forever, it’s nice because people know we’re a unit that flow off each other—there’s always a give and take when we make stuff, individually or as collaborators. Justin and I are going to release our ten-track instrumental beat-tape The Archive in a couple weeks, which has been a long time coming. After that will be a debut EP from another big part of our group, Ajax Abernathy, a.k.a. Tru Type, who's a ridiculously good drummer and beat-maker. He's been selling beats without a moniker for a long time now, but he's finally ready to show people his dope shit. Farther down the line we’re going to put out the first Budo Kiba compilation, which will have tracks from the four of us, as well as other good friends like m∞n [a.k.a. Bryan Moon], and Ian Ewing from Milwaukee.