Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Amuck "Asymmetry" EP Is The Real Deal
photography by Emily Boarts
Pittsburgh music fans definitely got an early Christmas present this summer with the release of Asymmetry from Amuck. This is a very aggressive album that reengergizes your senses and feelings towards music in 2011. This is a hard hitting release with some talented features. Great production by Sikes on all tracks with the exception of Amalgamate which was produced by Kiltervision, Amuck and Sikes. Pearl Dragon, Kiltervision and Onry Ozzborn brought some great vocals as solid features on the album. Amuck's genuine and dynamic lyrical ability make this refreshing becasue this is the music these men wanted to make at the end of the day. No one is telling these talented artists what to do or what to put out. That fact along with music that inspires me is why I definitely put my stamp on this EP. I was able to sit down and talk to Amuck about Asymmetry and dig deeper into this effort.
Cosmological Poise is a strong opener for the EP, what was the choice to place this as the opener?
It’s funny; this was actually a beat that Sikes made for me a whopping three years ago. I wrote some stuff for it and it almost made the Improbabilities disc, but it just felt too contrived and it ended up getting scrapped.
A little while later I heard the Big Boi track “Feel Me”, which is the intro to the “Sir Lucious Left Foot” LP. It totally blew me out of the water. Even though it was only a few minutes long, I found that it had more longevity and replay value than any other track on the disc (which says a lot because it’s a great disc). I was inspired and I wanted to set the kind of tone on my next album that would leave people saying, “Damn...and that was just the intro!”
So I went back to that beat with the proper mindset and this time around I was able to do it justice. I knew there was a reason that the beat stuck with me for three years, and hopefully it sticks with my listeners for much longer than that.
Couldn’t help but notice the lines in Divergence of Character where you call out Wiz Khalifa. Can you elaborate a little more on your reasoning for doing so?
I think his music is terrible. I actually think that a lot of people around here feel the same way but are afraid to express it. They’re afraid because Pittsburgh doesn’t have any other mainstream “Rap Stars”, so they feel like if they don’t support the local guy they are doing a disservice to the city. The reality is that they are doing a bigger disservice to the city by supporting him. It perpetuates this idea that we (Pittsburgers) will gladly eat up whatever runny, steamy pile of elephant shit the big labels want to drop on us, given that the runny, steamy pile of elephant shit happens to come in black and yellow wrapping paper. It’s exploitation at its finest.
In my experiences, whenever Wiz Khalifa is criticized, there’s always that one guy in the room that goes to bat for him by saying “Yeah, but he seems like a really chill dude”. I fell into that category, deterred from the attack because he seems like a perfectly harmless, mouth-breathing, stoned-out stick-bug of a man. He’s certainly not messing with me, so why should I mess with him? Nobody likes a bully.
But that is crooked logic. He could be the most “chill”, well-intended guy on the planet in real life, but it bears no relevance on the fact that his music is unintelligent, cookie-cutter garbage. If this guy was from a city that had a shitty football team, he’d be bussing tables at Denny’s, and that’s the honest-to-God truth. I’m not going to dedicate my career to trying to expose him, music is a subjective animal and people can listen to whatever they please for whatever reason they please…but at the same time, I’m done tiptoeing around my feelings on the matter. I think that Wiz Khalifa has no talent what-so-ever and I’m throwing it out there.
I feel most people who work their jobs they might not be passionate about can really relate to 99%. Was there anything specific that sparked you to write that song?
I think that in general, the working class is preconditioned to eat shit and like it. There is such a perverse, unhealthy fixation with obtaining wealth in this country and it brainwashes people – the guys at the bottom don’t complain about working conditions or wages because they think that if they are obedient for long enough that they can move up and become the guys at the top. This means that workers empathize more with their superiors than their peers, and the superiors use this disconnect to their advantage and string them along. Any worker who’s adopted that sort of self-deprecating mindset is unlikely to unionize or rally for change because they’ve been stripped of the self-confidence it would require to do so. Everyone’s so caught up with the pipe dream of becoming rich that they’re distracted from the reality that they’re poor.
The sour reality is that in the bigger picture, we are ALL the guys on the bottom. We are fighting amongst ourselves over table scraps in a system where one percent of the nation owns and controls everything. It’s a very clever, very intentional diversion, and sadly it’s one that’s been working the last hundred years and it’s about to get a lot worse. They don’t share our struggles; issues like the affordability of healthcare, quality of public education and reliability of public transportation are totally immaterial to them. In fact, they are actively coming up with new ways to minimize the paltry morsels of funds that we do have to work with now. But the end of the day, there are way more of us than there are of them, and the eventual realization of this fact will shake the very foundations of this country.
Amalgamate has some aggressive lyrics from Onry Ozzborn and Kiltervision that fit well with your style. How do you feel the features you did with them as well as Pearl Dragon turned out for Asymmetry?
I have the utmost respect for Onry’s body of work, from Old Dominion to Grayskul to Darktime Sunshine. It was a real pleasure to be able to collaborate with him. He came out of left field with his verse; it was very unorthodox and it really challenged me as a lyricist. I think that while we come from slightly different realms musically, we have a strong common denominator in the fact that we take a lot of pride in defying people’s expectations and keeping our sound unpredictable. We have both carved out distinctions for ourselves and were not going to be confused with any other artists or groups out there.
Add my life-long friend Kiltervision to the mix for “Amalgamate” and that’s all she wrote. I’ve worked with him a lot in the past and I never hesitate to get him on a track because he’s a guy that always delivers. I was very impressed with what they both brought to the table and I’m very proud of the way that song turned out.
I also had a blast working with Pearl Dragon and I think that our styles really complement one another. My verses in “Divergence of Character” are pretty explosive and abrasive, and he was able to keep that in-check by laying down a hook that was very smooth and subdued. I think the guy has a great creative instinct and I would love to sit down and work on something more involved with him in the future. We have great chemistry. Now that we’ve got a taste of how Pearl get’s down in Amuck’s world, what would the result be if Amuck got down on a Champagne Champagne record? That’s a prospect that I find very, very interesting.
I truly feel you hit a homerun with Anglerfish, can you express the emotions that went into this song. It really seems to take you somewhere mentally when you do this song live.
I was in an abysmal, abysmal mood one day and I wanted nothing more than to chew someone’s face off. Rather than actually chew someone’s face off and spend significant time in prison, I wrote a song called “Anglerfish”. It’s an ugly, un-nerving and brutal stream of consciousness where I run down any and everything from mild irritations to the banes of my existence.
I’m not someone that promotes pessimism in my personal life, but I do have negative feelings and the difference between me and a lot of people is that I don’t hide them. I embrace them, make art out of them, and get the hell over them. I’ve always felt it’s important to be transparent with your emotions, good or bad. I’m sure that there are people that think my song is “angsty” or a bad influence or whatever, but those are the same people who will probably pour tens of thousands of dollars into psychiatric help over the course of their lives because they never learned how to properly express themselves.
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