Beacon Streets

Scroll to Info & Navigation

Gwenno James: With An Artist’s Touch.

A few weeks ago I was walking down the end of East Main Street when I realized that I had yet to interview Ms. Gwenno James or even step into her Beacon clothing boutique for a quick hello. This would have to be remedied I thought to myself. 

The first thing I noticed when I entered Ms. James store was the vibrancy of the colors of her clothes. Playful woodland greens and deep floral blues seemed to inhabit every usable inch of space within the studio creating, giving the impression of being lost outside, perhaps in a Welsh meadow which Ms. James used to delight in as a child. The entire space just exudes a wonderfully inviting and enticing aura; and the clothes ain’t half bad either. But I digress. 

After a lengthy discussion about silk screening Ms. James was gracious enough to let me interview her. The interview follows below.

Read more

Return of the Mack: Chade Summerset Talks about his Yellow Room/Cold Winter EP, and the Future of Change Prism. 
Over the past few months I have come to know and a love the members of Beacon’s local hip-hop collective, Change Prism. Their music is intangible and deeply moving as it is irreverent and decidedly millennial. In many ways they embody and adeptly employ all the best aspects of modern, production-heavy styles of electronic music. In laymen’s terms: Shit’s good. Real good. 
A full stream of the album can be heard for free at this link: https://soundcloud.com/chadesummerset/cold-winter-full-album-stream
To many music fans, myself included, these kinds of projects, and the artists that make them, are a true godsend. These are the types of albums that strike through the heartless banality of modern popular music and touch upon why we love music in the first place. Heartfelt and alluring, haunting and painful at times, Chade Summerset’s Yellow Room/Cold Winter EP, Change Prism’s latest major release is such a project.
The album lingers and lumbers along like a cloud in the blackest hue of midnight, a spiderweb lost somewhere in a dream. Throughout the tracks ambient downtempo piano chords splash into trappy high-hat grunge; juxtaposing and highlighting spacious echoes and cymbal crashes. Occasionally the sound of lazer will resound with deafening crack while other entities mix and beguile the listener deeper into Mr. Summerset’s highly orchestrated trance. 
On August 20th I met up with Chade Summerset of Change Prism to talk to him about the feverish pace of the group, their last few performances in NYC, their upcoming projects, and what the future holds for this very talented and dynamic group of young artists. 
[[MORE]]
Keenan Boyd: Lets talk about the new Yellow Room/Cold Winter LP. I love the decidedly downtempo instrumental feel of the tracks. This feels like a vaguely nostalgic nod to old trip-hop, ambient, trap, hip-hop, and medley of other styles combined into one. Tell us about the recording process and how this album coalesced into its final incarnation. 
Chade Summerset:  I recorded this entire album in an old bedroom of mine. I was still living in Beacon with a couple roommates, (shout out to my big bros Tariq and Rob), near the base of the mountain and my room was yellow.
We were talking about this before in your previous interview, but in between then and the release I ended up just stepping away from this whole emotional thing. I had made a lot of songs trying to get closure, move past or get over one thing and then down the line when it hit summer, I tried to cut a lot of that other bullshit and I switched it up. I wanted to make something really fitting for the summer weather that you could just ride around and cruise to. 
KB: Yeah it’s nice. The opening tracks have a kind of chill vibe and then you have a trap thing going on towards the end. 
CS: Yeah, well I wanted to take it from…I always like to create something that’s a journey. So I try to take it from one very clear starting point, and by the finale, I want it to be on the entire other end of the spectrum.
So I kind of wanted to give something for everybody, that type of situation. so I opened up with that really dark Sucio track which is kind of like a nod to the offbeat J Dilla high hats type of feel. It’s grungy. Then it goes into some kind of old hip-hoppy stuff that’s kind of light. Then it begins to move forwards, but it all vibes. Gradually I’m shifting it all under you, so at the end the track has a whole different feel. 
KB: Yeah, because it feels cohesive but it’s definitely mixed up. 
CS: I think that’s because the difference in between the tracks is my doing. Each track is placed where it is on the project for a specific reason. 
KB: Do you think that the next project you do will be a jump in one musical direction or the other? Will you try to replicate the same mix of downtempo and then punchy trap? For example, let’s talk about the track Swagheli. It’s right in the middle of the album and it’s like bang, bang, bang. It definitely wakes up the listener and grabs their attention. I love that song by the way. 
CS: People do love that song. I was in Brooklyn for a show…a few months back before we started going hard with our shows. And this guy came up to me and was like “Oh my girlfriend loves that song! I played it and I got laid to it!” 
KB: (laughs.) That’s awesome. 
CS: So I was like, ‘dude you just made my month, bro!” 
KB: That’s the best compliment I think a musician can get. Your music got me laid man! (laughs.)
CS: Actually it happened twice. I’m not gonna’ lie, I’m not gonna’ say any names of anything… but I was shipping my albums around to a friend of mine, and other various acquaintances, and I got a text back that night that said, “Oh dude, I just had sex to your whole album!” 
KB: (laughs.)
CS: That’s so crazy to me man! I mean that’s not why I’m making this.
KB: But its an added bonus right? If people want to fuck to your music it’s obviously pretty good. Right? 
CS: Yeah I’m all for that. That’s the ultimate stamp of approval. That’s the highest honor. I guess Swagheli’s got the right tempo for that. 
KB: It’s a fucking snappy number dude. Everybody likes that shit. 
CS: (laughs.) Oh god. Beyond all that though, to answer your actual question from before, I feel like between each project I do I hit this huge level of growth in between. And I’m trying to. I’m purposefully trying to x10 myself in between. And I think I managed to x100 myself in between these last two. I was more track oriented with my first EP. Then I hit the Ambient Acid background thing.
KB: On the Red Panda EP. 
CS: Yeah Red Panda. Now on this one I just kind of refine my style and I think I show that I have multiple styles. So on the next EP it could be something more like Yellow Room or Cold Winter, which is more of a collage where Im taking you from one end of the spectrum to the other, but it could be more direction minded. I’ve been messing around with a lot of piano lately, and I kind of want to take my sound that way for the next project. 
KB: I really liked the piano parts your featured on the intro track. 
CS: Thanks man. Yeah we’ve been experimenting with waves, and you know just crazy basses. I’ve been learning a lot from Noah, (Noah B.), about bass lines. Now he’s my guru for that shit because he’s been killing that whole thing. I’ve been telling him a lot lately that he’s on his next sound, and he’s got to put this album out of all this new material he’s making because his bass lines are so crazy right now. 
KB: Does he play bass in the classical sense?  
CS: Well…no. Everything that we do is a lot of ear and a lot of sitting down and doing it, and if it sound wrong then we did it wrong. So one of the things that I’m going to do when I go down south is actually take some time to take some serious lessons as far as guitar or piano. I know that will transfer backwards through what I’m doing and then I’ll know, “Oh I need this chord, I need this chord. The song is in this key,” that will just take things to the next level. 
KB: Definitely. I don’t know if we covered this before in the previous interviews but it seems like you have been performing at more live shows since we last talked. Can you tell us about those performances and were people can see you perform in the future? 
CS: These performances…Ultimately what we really wanted to do this summer, when we were first talking, during your first interview, we wanted to take things that we do on a typical weekend and bring it to town, and that was the mission at that point. And largely, I feel like we’ve accomplished that.
We were able to do the album release party here in Beacon and it was packed wall to wall. Shout out to Dogwood: It was awesome! A huge thank you to them for opening the doors to that sort of level of performance. It was cool.
I feel like were really changing. Like nothing changed with us, but people’s eyes opened up. There was this time when we went from doing this on our own, and we always had the faith to believe in ourselves, but then everybody else caught on, and now they’re like, “Oh, this is so cool! When are you guys performing? When is this happening?”
And once that started happening people started reaching out to us instead of us reaching out to them. When we stopped and just took our hands off, and let things happen organically, then it just kind of happened.
And since then we’ve performed in Manhattan, and then recently in Brooklyn, and we’ve also performed here in Beacon. So we’ve had three big shows and they’ve all turned out really well. 
KB: Yeah man I think you’re getting the word out in all the right places. 
CS: Yeah, it’s been cool. I was at the bar in Beacon and I had to leave and go finish up a few things, a few last minute tweaks for my set, and then I saw girls I haven’t seen in years walking up and saying, “Isn’t this your party? Where are you going?” So this is crazy. I don’t really advertise the fact that I make music. I’m so low key about it. 
KB: Word’s out now man. 
CS: Word is out now. Yes. 
KB: Let’s talk about your equipment and your recording process, I know you guys record with Ableton but what sort of Hardware did you use on your new LP and what do you use when you perform live? 
CS: You know I’m still rocking my MPD32 by Akai. In between somewhere in the middle I bought a MIDI keyboard. Also the same day I bought my keyboard I bought a guitar, and you can hear the influence of that right away. Even in Sucio, that deep guitar…I actually played that through on keyboard, but I’m actually starting to think about how I can flip sounds and just play that on the guitar. So little things like that are beginning to influence me. Ultimately I want to move to electric guitar, plug it right in and plan bass lines and other sound out by out myself. 
KB: What kind of guitar? Did you go electric or acoustic? 
CS: I went acoustic. It’s a Fender. Just so I can learn the ropes and move on. I think that the fundamentals are so important. For everything that you do, if you don’t learn it through and through at the most basic level than you can’t move on. It’s just the way it is.
When I perform, as of right now I only bring out my drum pad. The MPD. It’s the same machine that I use to make production for my beats, but you can MIDI map it out. So I can have it where when I touch the pad and then instead of it being a drum, now it’s a one-shot tag. I can have it where I can control the tempo, the volume, individual tracks, so I have this really dynamic feel for it where I’m not playing the music through a playlist. I’m playing one song and then I can really mix the next one up. It’s not just a stop start, stop start. I try to make it really fluent in between songs.
I try to make it hard to tell when another song is coming or when the last one ended.  I’ve kind of done everything that I can do with this format or style of performance so I’m looking to branch out and learn some new stuff. What’s going to be new for me as far as performance is that I want to do live beat building. I’ll make a beat right on the spot, in the middle of my set. I think thats cool, I’ve seen people do that and that’s the next level shit. 
KB: Some Araabmuzik kind of shit. 
CS: Exactly. You start with one clip. You lock in the drums, you lock in the snare, you lock in this, you lock in that. Now you’ve got a song that you just made on the fly. I think that encompasses the next level of showmanship, and until you do that I can’t really be like, “Oh, I’m so great!” Whatever. I’m trying to get better. 
KB: Awesome. What’s next for Change Prism? What are Noah B. and C. Grey up to?
CS: What’s actually next for the Change Prism is neither Noah B. or C. Grey, it’s actually all about my dude Jalal Salaam.
We recently completed the merger between House of Sages and Change Prism, so we kind of fall under this larger umbrella, whereas we’re all just having a good time working together. We’ve been all working together interchangeably in groups of two or three, or all four of us (when we have the time to all get together,) for awhile now. It was only natural.
So Jalal’s dropping this new project called Mathematics ^2 in a couple weeks, and we’ve been totally supportive of the album. It’s great. We’ve been listening to it for awhile now. So we’re trying to get the final mix and mastering of it done and get it out. So that’s whats immediately next.
We’re also going to put out this track, “As Above, sSo Below,” this upcoming Tuesday. So it’s like a posse cut. So a couple guys created the track, GRiMM Doza and Ricky Reasonz, so Jalal has a couple verses, Ricky Reasonz has a verse, C. Grey has a verse, I have a verse, then Noah closes the track and it’s just like a crazy…I think it’s going to blow shit wide open. 
A full stream of this new track can be heard for free at this link: https://soundcloud.com/changeprism/jalal-salaam-as-above-so-below-feat-ricky-reasonz-x-prod-by-grimm-doza-x-ricky-reasonz
KB: Sounds great man. So is there any other projects you want to let us know about? 
CS: Noah has like a whole album of material on private on band camp. I’ve heard it obviously but nobody else has. He’s got at least two albums worth of material, low key, stashed away. There was one week were Noah and I made a beat together every single day. We just got up every single day of the week and went somewhere, and we banged it out. So that’s an EP in and of itself, shelved.
C. Grey is working on his album which is called “King’s Return,” which is going great. That’s going to come out right after Jalal Salaam’s project.
Now that my album is done, I’m going to take this back seat role. I’m going to go away for a little while, and try to get to my next level and also play this supportive role while we get the rest of the team’s albums out.
Noah’s next commercial album is a collaboration between Noah and Jalal, which is gonna drop right after C. Grey’s, and then there’s the infamous super top-secret Change Prism album, which we have a lot of material stacked up for. 
KB: It’s just album, album, album with you guys. 
CS: Album, album, album. Yup. Right now we’re trying to take a step back from just releasing these loose tracks, and we’re trying to just get our projects out. And I think that’s only right; and from there the process begins again, it builds up. But I’m burnt out on music right now, I just need to kick my feet up and play guitar. 
KB: So I hear that your going on Vacation. Where are you going to kick your feet up?  
CS: I’m gonna’ go kick my feet up down south. Officially for the interview I’m not going to say where I’m going. But you know…
KB: So your rabid fans don’t chase you down there and hunt you down? (laughs.) 
CS: I still don’t perceive myself as having fans but I was in Brooklyn and a girl came up to me and said, “This is gonna’ sound weird but are you that Summerset music guy?” I was at a completely different music festival. I wasn’t performing or anything. I was shocked.
So for this vacation I’ll be between North Carolina and Atlanta, and then back to New York. I’m gonna’ go clear my head, and find new inspiration. I feel like New York is so hustle bustle, and so fast paced. I’ve been working three different jobs. I’ll go to work during the day, go straight into music sessions, go straight into other creative sessions. I was also working on a graphic novel. I just need a break from all of it. 
KB: You get tired working that hard man. 
CS: Yeah. I never knew how much hard work it would take to maintain a level that were at right now. And to get to the level that we ultimately want to be it’s not going to stop, we just have to keep grinding, and there’s no sleep. I’d rather get no sleep somewhere where I don’t have to wake up the next morning and work. You know? So that’s the big difference about me leaving here. Taking myself out of the confines of a normal life where I have routine and heading to where I feel I can just be and create at my own leisure and rate. I’ve been calling this trip the Hyperbolic Time Chamber Era, and that’s where I’ll be training. DBZ man, I’m just trying to go Super Saiyan 2! 
KB: Cheers to that and congratulations Chade on all your success! As always it was a pleasure. 
CS: Thank you. 
Links to Both the Yellow Room/ Cold Winter EP and the new Jalal Salaam Change Prism ‘As above, so below,’ will be made available on my following posts. 

Return of the Mack: Chade Summerset Talks about his Yellow Room/Cold Winter EP, and the Future of Change Prism. 

Over the past few months I have come to know and a love the members of Beacon’s local hip-hop collective, Change Prism. Their music is intangible and deeply moving as it is irreverent and decidedly millennial. In many ways they embody and adeptly employ all the best aspects of modern, production-heavy styles of electronic music. In laymen’s terms: Shit’s good. Real good. 

A full stream of the album can be heard for free at this link: https://soundcloud.com/chadesummerset/cold-winter-full-album-stream

To many music fans, myself included, these kinds of projects, and the artists that make them, are a true godsend. These are the types of albums that strike through the heartless banality of modern popular music and touch upon why we love music in the first place. Heartfelt and alluring, haunting and painful at times, Chade Summerset’s Yellow Room/Cold Winter EP, Change Prism’s latest major release is such a project.

The album lingers and lumbers along like a cloud in the blackest hue of midnight, a spiderweb lost somewhere in a dream. Throughout the tracks ambient downtempo piano chords splash into trappy high-hat grunge; juxtaposing and highlighting spacious echoes and cymbal crashes. Occasionally the sound of lazer will resound with deafening crack while other entities mix and beguile the listener deeper into Mr. Summerset’s highly orchestrated trance. 

On August 20th I met up with Chade Summerset of Change Prism to talk to him about the feverish pace of the group, their last few performances in NYC, their upcoming projects, and what the future holds for this very talented and dynamic group of young artists. 

Read more

An Explanation For A Hiatus at Beacon Streets

I slowed my pace here at Beacon Streets in August for a number of proximate causes, but the largest reason is the most prosaic: we are in the midst of — simultaneously — a kitchen renovation at our home and the renovation of a new investment property we’ve acquired, a block away. 

The good news is that we actually have access to a kitchen at the South Brett property while the kitchen in our South Cedar home is unusable. So we haven’t been eating take-out every night.

Other reasons for the radio silence include too much work in my primary occupation as a tech analyst/futurist working for Gigaom Research, which is a high class problem to have.

I will be getting back into my normal garrulous writing groove in the next few weeks, once the dust settles on the various renovations.

Is Virgin America Coming To Stewart Airport?

A recent piece by Craig Wolf in the Poughkeepsie Journal suggests that an unnamed airline is in discussions about starting service from Stewart Airport in Newburgh to the West Coast.

While he didn’t name the airline, he dropped a hint:

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Harrison said of the unnamed airline, “They have a high level of interest.” A key for a deal to be made is that the airline would need to acquire more aircraft, which it is in the process of doing, he said.

Virgin Atlantic is involved in an initial public offering — an IPO — to raise money to fund expansion such as this. And hopefully Virgin will stock up on the Airbus A320 model, which can easily fly direct to the West Coast from Stewart.

And of course, this is a two way street. It’s not just locals that can profit by the easier travel to points west: we would also see an influx of tourists and travelers to the region from the West Coast, as well.

Meanwhile, Stewart is continuing the repaveing of the runways, which should be concluded by Thanksgiving. And passenger count is on the rise, due to Allegiant Air’s routes to Florida.